Obviously, Premier Kathy Dunderdale got squat from her meeting with the Prime Minister on Monday.
You can tell because all she had to say on the day of the meeting was nothing. Her office issued a statement that – for some inexplicable reason – hasn’t turned up on the provincial government’s website.
You can also tell because a media scrum she had scheduled for Tuesday got bumped off until noon on Wednesday.
In the statement, Dunderdale could only say that the Prime Minister "confirmed an endorsement" of the multi-billion dollar megaproject. Beyond that Dunderdale said that both the federal and provincial government’s will continue to do what they have been doing for the past year or more: trying to finalize the details of the federal loan guarantee for the project.
If you had a nickel for every time the provincial and federal governments have made those statements over the past year you could retire the entire provincial debt for real and pay cash for Muskrat Falls with enough left over to buy Danny Williams’ Sarasota condo.
And if you really didn’t get the news that Dunderdale got absolutely nothing solid in her meeting with Stephen Harper on Monday, note that the media advisory for Dunderdale’s media availability now promises to include the announcement of a new chancellor for Memorial University.
No word on whether they lined up the juggler and the pony rides as well.
Incidentally, if Rick Hillier is out of the chancellor’s job after a mere four years, he will have the shortest tenure of any chancellor at the university in 60 years:
- 1952 - 1961 The Rt. Hon. Viscount Rothermere of Hemsted
- 1961 - 1968 The Rt. Hon. Lord Thomson of Fleet
- 1971 - 1979 Dr. G. Alain Frecker
- 1979 - 1988 Dr. Paul G. Desmarais
- 1994 - 2008 Hon. Dr. John C. Crosbie
- 2008 - Present General Rick J. Hillier (Retired)
Now everyone will be wondering who is next after Rick.
Maybe Tom Marshall will take the gig as a consolation prize since PMSH wouldn’t send Tom to the senate to replace Ethel Cochrane.
Maybe Joan Burke knows another beer distributor who needs a little pocket money on the side.
Either of those is more likely than Dunderdale naming David Brazil to the job. The Conservative member of the House of Assembly from bell Island is under scrutiny since last week when the Telegram reported that Brazil had been administering a government-funded project through a local hockey team while he was sitting as a government backbencher in the legislature.
Documents provided to The Telegram show in the past year Brazil has been directly involved in aspects of an adult literacy program, in one case signing a teacher’s record of employment, and in another instance agreeing to pay someone several dozen beer in exchange for installing programs on classroom computers.
Burke said the issues only came to her attention in the 24 hours prior to Friday.
Last Friday, Brazil defended his actions when he appeared on CBC’s On Point Radio. To give you a sense of how big a deal this is, the Brazil controversy took up half a program that was supposed to be about Muskrat Falls.
The Telegram added to the story on Tuesday. It isn’t online. James McLeod reported in a front page story that Brazil didn’t disclose his involvement with the hockey association on his conflict of interest declaration to the House of Assembly. Members are required to disclose “a position of director or officer in a corporation or association.” According to the Telegram, Brazil was general manager of the Bell Island hockey association.
The Telegram reported on Tuesday that Brazil signed the disclosure statement in May 2012. That’s interesting given that he has been a member of the legislature since December 2010. Under the House of Assembly Act, Brazil was supposed to file his first conflict of interest statement within 60 days of his election and certainly no later than April 1, 2011. In the worst case, Brazil should have signed a disclosure statement 60 days after the October 2011 election and certainly no later than April1, 2012.
The House of Assembly’s orientation for members includes a section on conflict of interest disclosure. The members’ administrative guide states:
After each General Election, and on April 1 of each following year, elected Members must file a disclosure document with the Commissioner for Legislative Standards in accordance with Part II of the House of Assembly Act, and must agree to abide by the provisions of that Act. The Commissioner then prepares an appropriate disclosure statement which is available for
viewing by the public at the Commissioner’s Office, during normal business hours. The Commissioner will contact Members soon after they are sworn in with instructions on filling out their Disclosure Statements as required under Section 36 of the House of Assembly Act.
It will be interesting to hear what Kathy Dunderdale has to say about Brazil, given that she postponed her media availability for 24 hours.