Tuesday, 26 November 2019


It is tough to be kind to the Ball Administration. They cause members of the public to label them “lame” and “dumb”. On what basis should they think differently?
The Liberals ought to have immediately understood the rationale for Nalcor’s $900,000 parting gift to VP and CFO Derrick Sturge and stopped the move. Even a modicum of intelligence would have helped them see through his “without cause” departure, complete — the Uncle Gnarley Blog has learned — with “Confidentiality Agreement” attached. The Agreement was key to the whole arrangement. It would provide the assurance Nalcor needed that Sturge’s lips would remain zippered about Executive complicity in Nalcor’s $12.7 billion debacle.

The Liberals failed to see (or didn’t want to) that the decision served only Nalcor’s interest and conflicted with the public interest.
After four years in Cabinet, Siobhan Coady is still slavishly repeating Nalcor’s scripts. She possesses neither a sense of the ethical standards expected of Crown Corporations, the judgement (ie, common sense) expected of a Minister, nor an appreciation for the level of duplicity and deception which saw Muskrat Sanction foisted on an uninformed public.
In reply to a question from MHA Paul Lane in the House of Assembly on November 20th Coady addressed the severance issue:
MS. COADY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I'm going to stick to the facts of the matter in this case. There is no legal case for cause I understand, Mr. Speaker. No legal case for cause therefore the individual under discussion has a contract and he has paid out a long-standing contract that pre-existing contract that goes back to the 2000s, Mr. Speaker. He's been paid out according to that contract.

Coady ought to know that Sturge’s contract did not preclude the Board or the CEO from dismissing him “with cause”. How dumb would that be! Nalcor simply chose impunity for Sturge regardless of his laxity in the Muskrat Falls project. It was a decision consciously and deliberately taken.
Of course, if the Minister was capable, she would have seen through the Confidentiality Agreement. Sturge’s signature was far more important than any consideration of the financial dark matter that his “not in the loop” behaviour left behind.
For Nalcor, better that Sturge was happy than to sue them for the gain for which he might have been justifiably deprived. Such an approach might have caused him to get lawyered up and later to spill the beans in front of a Judge about the pre-sanction period and afterwards, when an incredible amount of chicanery occurred around Muskrat.

Paul Davis Kept Lid on Release of Cost Overruns Prior to 2015 General Election

$900,000 to Sturge: Nalcor Board an Echo of the Last One
Who remembers the 2% probability of success given the project by Nalcor consultant Westney? Was Sturge aware that Validation Estimating’s review of the Project estimates was cancelled mid-Report? As CFO, did Sturge inquire about allocations for Contingency? Risk assessment was one of his primary responsibilities.
Did he ask for or receive the Independent Project Review given to Ed Martin by Dick Westney, which highlighted the need for a significant Contingency?
Where was Mr. Sturge and why didn’t he subdue Paul Harrington rather than watch his histrionics as Nalcor officials kept EY away from performing a complete audit of the Project? Was Richard Noble of EY not merely doing his job when he complained in an email, in 2015, to his associates and to the Oversight Committee: “In my 17 years’ experience of conducting project reviews and audits, it is highly unusual when assessing cost and schedule management that you would be constrained from examining the processes/basis of plans and estimates to start with. These underpin cost and schedule performance and its management. Everyone knows that.” 
Does not the EY affair — alone — speak to why Sturge’s severance should have been denied?
Siobhan Coady closed her ears to those serious issues.
Who is she protecting?
A retiring public servant, even one with a dubious attachment to the nearly $1 million severance, might be inspired to tell all in a Court of Law in support of his claim. He may entangle other Nalcor executives and cause them to come clean about the whole tawdry story around Muskrat. A Supreme Court Judge would have no hesitation reminding them that perjury is paid with ‘hard time’. Perhaps some of them watched Ambassador Sondland in front of the Senate Committee testifying to Trump’s duplicity on Ukraine, and they may have noted that he eschewed partisanship, choosing the truth rather than the gaol. Undoubtedly, there are employees at Nalcor below the rank of Executive whose tongues could be loosened under the same threat.
As it stands, Nalcor has their “Confidentiality Agreement” from Mr. Stuge and he has the $900,000.
The public has been screwed again. Perhaps someone of Siobhan’s minor heft has no ulterior motive; the Minister is just being herself.
Among this “lame” and “dumb” Government, one thing is certain: this Minister won’t be the one who figures out what just happened.