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Thursday 27 February 2014


Since the 1970s when issues of oil and hydro power emerged at the top of the Government’s policy agenda, the public could always be assured that the leading natural resource Minister is a heavyweight; one of the Government’s best.

Exactly when that tradition ended is moot.  For certain the current Minister, Derrick Dalley, leaves no doubt he is not one of them.   

As the Province increasingly finds itself beyond the tipping point of the $7.7 billion Muskrat Falls project, it should not have to worry that the talent of the Government is so depleted that it was forced to promote one as light as he.  That is not to suggest either Marshall or Kennedy ever were in the ranks of the heavy hitters. But Dalley is not even in their league.

Telegram Reporter James McLeod's news articles confirm  ‘there is no one home’ in the Department of Natural Resources.
The Telegram ran two stories, this week, on the issue of “oversight” of Muskrat Falls.  They are revealing and, if you take the time to listen to the audio version of his interviews, you will discover that they further uncloak the scary reality of his incompetence.     

Presaging the interviews was the denial of McLeod’s Access to Information Request for “documents or other communications” between the Independent Engineer (IE) and the Government.  The IE’s review of the Project and its continuing oversight is a “Condition Precedent” to the Federal Loan Guarantee.  The IE’s services are paid for by Nalcor.  

On Thursday of last week McLeod was informed no Report had been received by Government (even though the Feds had received it in mid-November. The Federal Loan Guarantee was issued before Christmas).  On Friday, one day later, he was advised that the Report had arrived in Nalcor’s inbox.

McLeod attempted to have Dalley justify its sudden appearance but found himself extracting NOT the Report (he says it contains “commercially sensitive” information and must be kept under wraps) but several admissions of just how cavalier is the Minister on the oversight issue.

Dalley could not answer why his Department had not received the IE’s Report in November. “Good question” he told McLeod, “…ask the Government of Canada”, forgetting the IE is on his payroll. 

Where was the Report in the meantime? Dalley asserts it was contained “in the data room on the (Muskrat Falls) project” confirming the highly questionable condition that documents can be in Government’s possession even as officials arbitrarily circumscribe the intent of the Act governing access to information (an issue for another day).

Dalley took care to note that the November Report of the IE was an “interim” and not a final Report.

Rightfully, McLeod pursued the Minister on the point expressing incredulity that the Feds had issued the $5 billion Loan Guarantee based only upon an “interim” Report. Asked McLeod, “do you see how that seems nuts to me?”

Wrote McLeod, “Dalley insisted the November report was only an interim draft report, but it was good enough to satisfy the federal government to authorize the federal loan guarantee.” Even the Report, Dalley received “was not the final final report” according to the Minister. 

In the face of this disclosure, you might recall Nalcor V-P Derrick Sturge’s tirade against Telegram Columnist, Russell Wangersky, reminding him how hard his people had worked to give the Feds confidence in the Project. 

In my Post, on Monday, I reminded Sturge that it was Federal Minister Peter McKay’s efforts that secured the FLG; Muskrat being of far greater benefit Nova Scotians than to this Province.  The FLG had nothing to do with Nalcor’s work.  Dalley has given further proof to that assertion. 

Now, aghast that the Department of Natural Resources had ignored the only independent oversight report conducted on the Project, McLeod returned to that issue and the role Dalley’s Department plays in the process. 

Dalley tells McLeod that Muskrat oversight was provided through Nalcor Board Meetings, Annual General Meetings, MHI, Dr. Wade Locke (though he was a booster not an Overseer), the Report of the Public Utilities Board (though it was based only on preliminary numbers and ripped out of their hands) and goes on to suggest that the Auditor General had reviewed the Project (though by the 
A-G’s own admission, he has never gone near the project).

McLeod decides to dig deeper.  He asks “What mechanism for oversight is there….is there a committee within the department…a specific individual responsible for the project?”

Dalley replies, “there is a broad approach I guess; Ed Martin is the key…the deputy minister would be the primary point of contact, I guess…” Then he goes on to admit that his Department does not possess the engineering expertise. …”we leave it to the experts at Nalcor”, Dalley adds, finally.

McLeod grills an unskilled and uninformed Minister.  In the end, you are forced to come to grips with this reality: no one is looking out for the public interest.

$3 billion into the $7.7 Muskrat Falls Project and three months after the initial Report of the Independent Engineer has been issued neither Dalley nor his officials have even read it!

Dalley’s performance, caught on tape, constitutes further proof, if more were needed:  the Tory Cabinet is so shallow it has no Minister to put in charge.  The problem is greater than a failed former Premier Dunderdale.  It’s the whole lot!

Secrecy is the only glue that is keeping this Government from completely falling apart.

The classic question asked by a concerned public, one in shock over such a political unwinding, is this: who is actually governing?

Mr. Dalley essentially answers:  we no longer govern…we are advised.  He as much as says: I don’t really know what’s going on…that’s someone else’s job…I’m not concerned…someone else (he assumes Ed Martin) is dealing with it.

Dalley admits he doesn’t even have the tools to assess the most costly Project in the history of the Province; yet, he is content that that the ‘experts’ at Nalcor have it all in hand.  In essence he is saying, ‘I don’t care…it’s is all OK’. 

McLeod’s two interviews constitute one of the best exposes yet of the unveiling of Ministerial incompetence. 

Meanwhile, Premier Marshall trots around the Province adding to the public debt, oblivious to this useless and reckless Minister.

For the rest of us the Government has nothing left to expose. It is unmasked. It is empty.

Dalley just makes us understand why they do not even know they have a problem.