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Monday 26 January 2015


Nalcor is engaging in lay-offs at the Muskrat Falls construction site.  Undoubtedly, it will say this is a normal and recurring process, except it is known in some quarters the project is suffering low productivity amidst a typical Labrador winter, an unfinished “dome”, and inexperience just as its major contractor suffers a veritable turnstile of senior construction management.  

The Oversight Committee won’t acknowledge the fact yet; perhaps it don't even know. But, eventually someone will have to tell us the project is at least a year behind schedule and that cost overruns are worsening.

The saga of bureaucrats masquerading as entrepreneurs, in a business we can ill afford, plays out.  For whom does the ‘bill’ toll? As always, it tolls for thee. 

Having created Nalcor to pursue a foolish 'energy warehouse' mandate using public money, the Williams/Dunderdale Administrations have gotten the Province into a pack of financial trouble, especially by having sanctioned Muskrat Falls. 

Nalcor's mandate, of course, is far wider than even Muskrat implies. At a time when the House of Assembly is being de-constructed, ostensibly to save a few dollars, we ought to be looking for bigger fish; a place where serious money is being squandered.

Nalcor is one of those places.

Thursday 22 January 2015


The Province needs a “Mini-Budget”.  The Government should commit to dismantling Nalcor, too.

Presently, the House of Assembly is engaged in a ridiculous debate over minimal savings on downsizing the Legislature. The Government has created a diversion; large, financially worthy decisions are delayed. It should to be talking about public policy issues and measures that will seriously downsize government expenditures; it dwells on an amount equal to a rounding error in the context of the size of the deficit, especially next year's.

A crisis looms; the important issues can’t make it to the top of the public agenda.

Monday 19 January 2015


The Premier’s decision to redraw electoral districts and reduce the House of Assembly from 48 to 38 seats has little to do with saving money. As his window of opportunity closes, the Premier is on the hunt for a fix to reverse his Party’s dismal standings. His latest move seems like pure mischief; except it has far ranging consequences.

The 10 seat reduction represents a savings of about $10 million over four years. That is far less than half the amount Nalcor’s Ed Martin wasted in a misguided oil exploration plan that drilled two dry holes in Parson’s Pond!

The strategy of altering the number of electoral ridings for political advantage is not original; though, I am not inclined to ascribe to Paul Davis any of the skills of Prince Machiavelli or even of former Premier Frank Moores, the latter having employed it to great effect.   

Frank Moores’ redistribution plan was not just skilful; it had a purpose noble enough to exceed its crassness.

Monday 12 January 2015


It is trite to say Lorraine Michael loved being leader of the New Democratic Party. It was as if her years as a social activist had prepared her for the role. Of course, the love wasn't always requited. Things did not go as she might have liked, either. But, then, seldom do they for most leaders. Her resignation, last week, suggests an appraisal of her performance is required, as well as that of her Party, as it heads into a new leadership race.

It also goes without saying Ms. Michael will be recognized and applauded for having won five seats in the last election; the NDP’s previous best achievement was just one. For most of the Party’s fifty-four years of political history, the number was zero.

That success was due, in part, to her personal credibility, intelligence, and the passions that inspired her well-articulated support of social policy issues.  The fact that the additional seats were won when the electorate was still suffering “Dan-gue” fever added to the achievement; the NDP enjoyed popular support reaching 20%, according to CRA Polls (a virtual tie with the Liberals), up to the time of its sudden implosion.

It is easy enough to dismiss the Party because Messrs. Kirby and Mitchelmore left in a fit of pique amidst a full blown caucus revolt; undermining its progress and Michael’s leadership. Their move certainly impacted the Party’s fortunes, but I am doubtful it is the sole cause.

Monday 5 January 2015


As the 1st anniversary of DARKNL approaches, we still suffer Ed Martin as Head of the Province's energy agency. We need to ask: why?

Last January the Liberty Consulting Group was hired by the Public Utilities Board to investigate the reason for several days of Island-wide power outages. An Interim Report, released in April 2014 contained a damming indictment of Nalcor's leadership. 

It describes wide ranging management, personnel, forecasting and operational issues.  Hydro had not even completed its 2013 summer maintenance program. Replacement parts had not been procured or even sourced. Poor forecasting methodologies led to an inadequacy of power generation.

Missing from the Liberty Report was blame on cold weather or excessive power demand.

Nalcor had not only mishandled the Province’s power assets; it had attempted to obscure the real reasons for the failure.