27 July 2005

Another offshore board opening for Wells

Sometimes when you go looking for information, you actually find something really curious.

As part of an interview your humble e-scribe did on Tuesday with CBC television, I made the point that if the Premier wanted Andy Wells on the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, the easiest way to do it was to put Andy on one of the provincial seats.

Under the Atlantic Accord (1985), the board is made up of seven appointments, three from each of the federal and provincial governments and the chair who is appointed jointly by Ottawa and St. John's.

Here are the current Board members with their appointment noted in round brackets.

Chair: Vacant (Joint)

Member: Herb Clarke (Government of Canada)
Member: Lorne Spracklin (Government of Canada)
Member: Hal Stanley [former chair and chief executive officer] (Government of Canada)
Member: Joan Whelan (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador)
Member: Fred Way (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador)
Member: Vacant (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador)

Notice that last vacancy.

It's been open for a while and certainly since the Premier decided to call Paul Martin and float the idea of putting Andy Wells on the offshore board as chair and chief executive officer.

The question remains: why Andy as chair?

The premier says it part of fighting for greater benefits and that the existing candidates were too close to the oil industry.


Well even if we allow for a minute that all of that was true, why does Andy have to sit in the chair and CEO job?

Andy Wells served very effectively as an excrement agitator when the Peckford administration appointed him as consumer representative to the public utilities board.

It seems logical to just put Andy into the empty provincial slot - which the feds can't veto - and let Andy be Andy. The Prem still gets to negotiate greater benefits, if he can, and the offshore board just carries on as the regulatory body it should be, headed by the excellent person selected by the eminently fair and open process that was already in place.

The answer to this question may never be known.

But since it is highly unlikely that Andy Wells could ever beat out the slate of highly qualified candidates already in the selection stream for the Big Job at the offshore board, Andy might just go off to sit in the empty provincial slot anyway, if the Premier feels like it.

It's a part-time job, so Andy could continue as Mayor. The Premier gets to have his boy stirring up the offshore board in a way only Andy could do.

Of course, if Wells does get the top job at the offshore board, will his view of The Narrows be blocked by the new eight story condo block being built on the site diagonally opposite from the board's offices?