18 July 2005

What's Danny up to now?

There's a story today on VOCM that I picked up last week before leaving on vacation:

Despite there being a process already in place to find a highly qualified candidate to head the Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, Danny Williams is pushing the appointment of Andy Wells outside the process.

Both the feds and the province agreed to have a national head-hunting company find a new chair for CNLOPB. Ads were placed across the country in April and a raft of highly qualified, local applicants have been screened down to the point where interviews are due to start if they haven't started already.

So where is this plan to appoint Andy Wells coming from?

Straight out of Danny Williams head.

But why?

Well, here are a couple of scenarios:

1. Wells, who knows little about oil and gas regulation but much about kicking up a stink, would be well positioned to bugger around with the forthcoming Hebron proposal. Wells would be a tag team with the Premier to try and push Chevron around a bit and since both men are of similar minds, there'd be less bickering between the two of them than between them and the oil companies.

In this case, Andy would owe his job to Danny, too which would help keep the waters smooth.

Since Andy is supposedly tight with the Prime Minister, Williams probably figures Wells would be a hard one for Paul Martin to reject. If the PM does reject Andy then Wells will likely kick up a fuss and the Prem can claim that the PM doesn't want a strong Newfoundlander on the Board.

Danny would be full of crap if he made that argument but hey, it is something he is almost guaranteed to try. I can hear the Premier on Open Line, Crap Talk and Night Line now.

All things considered, Williams probably figures he comes out a winner either way it goes.

Don't count on it.

2. Maybe Williams doesn't like some of the contenders for the CNLOPB job. He's in a position to know who they are, unlike the rest of us. Williams just removed one candidate by appointing her - out of the blue - to a backwater job as his deputy business minister. Maybe he wants to block the rest by going outside a process designed to find a highly qualified, professional senior executive - in other words, the ideal candidate for the job.

3. Maybe he wants to open the Mayor's job to his own hand-picked guy. Don't be surprised if someone known to be tight to the Prem suddenly emerges as a likely candidate for Andy's job at City Hall. If all goes well, Williams would wind up owning City Hall and CNLOPB.

Regardless of the reason, I just don't see a case for appointing Andy Wells to head CNLOPB. If Wells was so interested in the job, he had plenty of time to apply. If the head-hunting firm thought he was such a qualified candidate they'd have gone hunting Wells already.

This little scenario smells pretty suspicious. I'd be for sticking with the process and see who comes out on top.

But hey, if Danny wants to go outside the process, I have a candidate for him:

Lloyd Matthews.

How can you possibly turn him down, Danny?

After all, Danny knows Lloyd's daughter really well.