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Thursday 29 October 2015


Last week’s meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which did little more than allow a few questions to be raised about the Humber Valley Paving affair (HVP), featured former Transportation and Works Minister, Nick McGrath, the Clerk of the Executive Council, Julia Mullaley, and the former Deputy Minister of Transportation and Works, Brent Meade.

Following their testimony, the public might have been left with the impression the claim, by Premier Tom Marshall, that he was not informed of the Minister’s intention to cancel the HVP contract, was all one big misunderstanding.  

We are left to consider that the unwarranted assumption by Meade was just an error; that we should not consider if he was providing a fig leaf to Premier Marshall, or whether senior public servants have rules for protecting themselves against arrant Ministers.

I suggest you not make any such assumptions.

Monday 26 October 2015


A better Nalcor CEO would tell us what he plans to do differently

The one certainty about Ed Martin’s demand for another $600 million for Muskrat Falls is that it will be repeated, over and over.

JM has written, on this Blog, that Nalcor will have to work hard to keep the final cost below $10 billion. 

A senior Nalcor engineer offered the prediction, more than two years ago, that the final cost will come in around 2.5 times the DG-2 estimate of $5 billion. That’s $12.5 billion.  It’s a scary number. He knows a thing or two about large projects.

Proof of the financial hole being dug at Muskrat is found not just in the third party analysis conducted by JM and James L. Gordon; it is implicit in what Ed Martin did not say. We will come to that in a moment. But, first, to James Gordon and JM.

Thursday 22 October 2015


Monday night’s election, which made Justin Trudeau Prime Minister-elect, should serve as a reminder to all elected governments that the public will sink their ship if they persist on the wrong course.

Every citizen isn’t a policy wonk or a political junkie, but the collective has a way of understanding when they are being led astray.

Of course, the problem wasn’t just policy; it was about tone, too.

Throughout Canada, Stephen Harper grated on our collective nervous system; like a rusty hinge on an old gate, he became more aggravating at every turn. The Senate, corruption in the PMO, the restriction of rights in favour of imagined security threats, an abuse of Parliament, and the contradictions that accompany ‘tough on crime, tough on drugs’ as he kisses up to Ford Nation.

He had to go.

Saturday 17 October 2015


If consistency in public opinion polls means anything, it would appear Canada is ready to give PM Stephen Harper the boot.

The Country needs a new Prime Minister. This one does not suit the Canada most of us have come to know.

Harper needs to go, not because Danny Williams’ jingoistic rants are deemed, by some, superior to his, or even because Harper’s Administration is deemed to have treated NL poorly.  

He needs to go for even larger and more fundamental reasons.

Harper is a corrosive, even divisive force for an entire Country; a man who subscribes to a value system claimed by a narrow far right, narrow-minded, bigoted, some outwardly racist, and reactionary constituency. This is not a group preoccupied with tolerance, generosity, or the nuances of a liberal democracy.

Harper is not just an irritation in NL; he is a blight on the entire nation.

Monday 12 October 2015


If a paddling expedition down the Churchill River is on your bucket list you may get a lot more than you have bargained for.   

Get ready to enter a vast ecosystem; one that will challenge your thinking as it refreshes your spirit.    

The river is still known as Mishtashipu by Innu, and not surprisingly, Grand River by NunatuKavut, Nunatsiavut, and the settlers of Labrador.  The nomenclature was given Sir Charles Hamilton for a time until Smallwood changed it to Churchill; a sop to Sir Winston.The award was inappropriate for a god let alone a single man.

An endless valley rises to mountains of trees and sky. The river, in relentless pursuit of ocean is, seemingly, given rest only at Lake Winokapau, 40 km. long and up to 760 feet deep.

The body of water is large enough to bring 80 km. of current to a stand-still. Little wonder the river valley eludes any definition, except vastness, or resists any quick appraisal of its own magnificence.

Looking up river, it is often hard to look away especially when the artistry is punctuated by a sun cast light, amidst a seamless palette of reflection.

The Churchill won’t just let you just admire its tapestry, even when the sky displays an artist’s touch on a fabric of grey blue and silver. 

Thursday 8 October 2015


Guest Post Written by "JM"

The release of the Government’s most recent oversight report exposes the extent to which the Muskrat Falls project is in trouble.   

With every slipping milestone, and changing cost estimate, the credibility of Nalcor’s leadership is being questioned, too.   

Both Pam Frampton at the Telegram  and the CBC’s Azzo Rezori  penned excellent columns this past weekend,  as did Russell Wangersky on Monday, which documented clear frustration with Nalcor’s ability to obfuscate the real truth on the project’s status. 

The delay to the project cannot be hidden.  One has to look no further than to the pictures of the site, 3 years into construction, to truly understand the extent of work that awaits completion. 

Monday 5 October 2015


Guest Post Written by Cabot Martin

James L Gordon, like many hydro engineers all across Canada, is fascinated by the ins and outs of the Muskrat Falls project.

His latest observations to me focus on the four reports issued to date by the Oversight Committee on Nalcor’s performance as compared to their Project Schedule.

To help us understand this issue he has prepared the chart below. The lines show Nalcor’s planned schedule (and completion date) as compared to the actual schedule (and completion date) which will probably be achieved based on these reports.

It shows, as expected, slower progress in the 5 winter months than in the 7 summer months.

Although he terms this analysis very preliminary, it’s certainly the best analysis we have in the public domain. He notes that the progress is calculated at 0.73% per month for the 5 winter months, and 1.66% per month for the 7 summer months.

Friday 2 October 2015


The announcement by Ed Martin, interjected on day two of a “Show N’ Tell” on the Muskrat Falls construction site, is another in a long series of re-runs in which public information is treated as a game, and reporters as dolts.

The $600 million overrun didn’t even warrant the Premier’s presence, confirming who is in charge. The best Davis could muster, later, is a comment that he still “believes” in the project; as if dumb “belief” cancels the worst effects of a “sinkhole”.

The Nalcor CEO Ed Martin is a seriously failed senior bureaucrat; yet, he has unfettered authority to deal with the public, and to persist with ‘spin’ as the basis of cost overruns.

The surprising part is that he hasn’t been fired; but, that is only because democracy will suffer even lesser men who can’t show him the door.