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Thursday 29 May 2014


It would be an understatement to say public interest in the Humber Valley Paving (HVP) affair is building fast. Just look at the column to the left.  Monday's Post "Disturbing Questions Raised By Frank Coleman's Disclosure" became the most read spot in just two days.  

One of the greatest public concerns, now, is that Frank Coleman will take over the Office of Premier without the benefit of the opinion of the Auditor General.  Some believe the issue requires an investigation by the RCMP, too.

I don’t think the public is solely troubled by HVP, though it is the biggest issue and is top of mind.   

It seems Coleman is not ready and the public are not ready for him.

Monday 26 May 2014


When the story unfolded that the Provincial Government had released Humber Valley Paving (HVP) from a $19 million Contract and returned two Bonds for the same amount, two statements were uttered that add confusion to the recent comments of Frank Coleman.

The first was by Transportation and Works Minister Nick McGrath who justified the decision (this Blogger maintains it wasn’t his alone) by stating had he not released HVP from the contract, the Company might have gone bankrupt.

The second is Frank Coleman’s assertion that he did not benefit personally having left the Company, he said, three days before HVP’s request was made to the Government. 

The latter contention was raised in a May Post, by this scribe, entitled: HVP BOND ISSUE: THE MAKINGS OF A SCANDAL.  I suggested an independent arbiter might be  expected to confirm whether the assets pledged, upon issuance of the Bonds, constituted the same security when the contract was cancelled.

Why should anyone be interested in that question?  

Thursday 22 May 2014


Musician and producer Andy Moor’s lyric “Undeserved” lacks little contextual ambiguity when offered as counsel to the Provincial P.C. Caucus.  
"Remember when you still believed in everyone" is a line that evokes melancholy and the certainty that there were better times.  But this stanza contains a message of foreboding:   

It’s a lonely place to dwell

Remembering when you still had your future

No one ever comes out quite the same

They’ll never trust themselves again

With anyone

Give no one your faith


I don't know if the Tory Caucus has ever been described as authentic in the way fans describe Moor.  For this piece to make its point, even if a few Members are genuine will be enough.  Let's turn up the volume for them.

Few, but the most hard of hearing, would disagree that this Government awaits deafeat in the next general election. 

While a year is said to be a lifetime in politics, it is tough to imagine any opportunity remains for Tory redemption.

Monday 19 May 2014


DarkNL, an event now recognized as the low point of utility mismanagement by Nalcor, finally gave comeuppance to Ed Martin, the Corporation’s master of spin. 

The PUB Report did not mince words.  Indeed, in tone and text it constituted an indictment of the Province’s energy provider.  Using over 60 pages, the independent Agency detailed a litany of failures in basic Hydro planning and equipment maintenance.  

As if anyone needs reminding, DarkNL saw virtually the entire Island without heat and light; almost all suffered rotating black-outs over an extended period. The concept of warming centers entered local lexicon.

Nalcor’s Ed Martin quickly plucked a forthright Hydro V-P Rob Henderson away from reporters.

Martin had scripted a different narrative; one more self-serving.  His tale of woe spoke to historically high power demand, excessively cold weather and old machinery. 

The feeding frenzy by all the media, for listener audience, gave little attention to facts; with the Report's release the media now owed the public the truth.

While the PUB Report offered that opportunity, reporters didn’t seem to know Nalcor had gotten another one over them.  The Report contradicted Ed Martin's assertions in their entirety. Somehow, it just didn't seem to matter.  

Thursday 15 May 2014


When the “rubber booters” descend on the Holiday Inn on the May 24th weekend the capitalist free-loaders will get to commune with nature, guilt-free.  

It’s only Thursday and, while Ryan Snodden is working hard to put a damper on the holiday, everyone (but the NDP) is happy just to have a long weekend. 

Who, but an N’Dipper, would want to attend ideological boot camp with Lana Payne when they could be freezing their butts off at Paddy’s Pond! 

It’s not as if she might be leading a workshop on the political strategies of Machiavelli or the less tiresome writings of Winston Churchill though the latter did intone that ‘the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.' 

And, heaven knows, the NDP has plenty of those.   

Monday 12 May 2014


Premier Tom Marshall says he had no part whatsoever in the decision of the Minister of Transportation and Works, Nick McGrath, to cancel the Humber Valley Paving (HVP) Contract.   He also said he is confident the Minister handled the matter properly.

The Premier is not believable.   

No one should be casual about casting aspersions on the Premier’s integrity.  But if he insists that the public ignore both the historical and the institutional framework within which major governmental decisions are made, taking into account well established limitations on Ministerial latitude, he is inviting expressions of incredulity. 

In order to assess the HVP decision in context, it is important to look at the process of decision making in Government.  On any level, except governmental dysfunction, the Premier’s assertion doesn’t add up.

Why?  The fact that the issue involves a $19 million decision is important; but it isn’t the only reason. 

Thursday 8 May 2014


The Government’s unprecedented decision to cancel the Humber Valley Paving (HVP) Contract and release two Bonds, worth a total of $19 million, has placed Frank Coleman at the center of another political crisis. 

Another crisis? Yes. The first was a not-so-secret uprising in the Tory Caucus over his activist ‘pro-life’ stand and the revelation that his religious beliefs extend to protesting current laws on the public streets of Corner Brook.

That uprising has dissipated somewhat, though it has caused some to wonder if Mr. Coleman’s meeting with Tory MHA’s, on Wednesday, followed a summons from them. 

The Tory Caucus, which includes all Members of Cabinet, are increasingly discouraged that the Administration continues to be mired in crises. Scandal allegations expose a House of Assembly in which Tory MHAs are drained of enthusiasm.  Question Period has been all but hi-jacked by the HVP issue. With Premier Marshall having skipped off, leaving Opposition questions to a less than skilful Minister of Transportation and Works Minister, some Tory Members wonder if a dysfunctional Government can ever find resurrection. 

Monday 5 May 2014


The Report by CBC, last week, that “the provincial government allowed Humber Valley Paving to walk away from a contract to pave the highway in Labrador…” and  return the Company’s Performance Bond has all the makings of a scandal at the highest level. 

It possibly implicates Frank Coleman, Premier-in-waiting, and raises questions whether the Marshall Government acted improperly by awarding Humber Valley Paving special favours.  Coleman was a major shareholder and Director of Humber Valley Paving (HVP) until just three days before the Government was asked to cancel the contract and release the bond (according to the Minister of Transportation and Works).  

At a minimum, the decision seems an abuse of public policy.  Quite possibly, it was not just unwarranted; it is unprecedented.   

The implications go far beyond Minister Nick McGrath’s suggestion that it was done to spare HVP from bankruptcy, though the reason for doing so seems to entirely lack legitimacy.

It invokes questions of abuse of the Public Tendering Act and destroys the level playing field the Act provides for Bidders on Government work.  

Thursday 1 May 2014


Though Nalcor CEO Ed Martin has confirmed the Muskrat Falls Project is undergoing "cost pressures" his statement will likely become repetitious.

His early trip to the confessional is more than just an affirmation that ratepayers and taxpayers will be bitten; it is an admission of that Agency’s incompetence for having pursued a foolish project in the first place. 

If Ed Martin’s guarded revelation (he won’t say how much over-budget) was made mid-way or near the end of the Project, just possibly the public might experience some solace that the damage is containable.  But the Project has barely begun.  The project is already a year behind schedule.   

Nalcor is struggling to stave off disaster.