10 April 2006

Stunned is as....well...

From Bill Rowe's Telegram column, Saturday April 8, 2006, titled "Are we as stunned as we were?":
Then, we hooked up with a couple of other prize-winning buccaneers, John Shaheen and John C. Doyle and flung hundreds of millions of our dollars with both hands into a refinery and linerboard mill. The Come By Chance refinery alone became one of the biggest bankruptcies in the world till then. That, too, was pretty stunned.

"Stunned", by the way, is Newfoundland English for "foolish, stupid, or naive."

Rowe next talks about the infamous Churchill Falls contract.

He tosses in the Sprung greenhouse.

Then he goes for a flourish about Hibernia, noting that we never bothered to ask for an equity position at the time. "Just a tad on the stunned side, perhaps."

Let's recall that Rowe was appointed to Joe Smallwood's cabinet in 1968 and held several portfolios until Smallwood was defeated in 1972. Just coincidentally, Churchill Falls, the Labrador linerboard mill and the Come by Chance refinery all passed through cabinet in the same time span.

Rowe was right there when what he now calls "stunned" decisions were made. He is not on record as having raised any objections. The former Rhodes scholar did not resign his seat in the legislature, let alone leave cabinet. If memory serves - and I stand to be corrected on this - Rowe went into cabinet just as John Crosbie and Clyde Wells left cabinet over financing of the Come by Chance oil refinery. So, it's not like Rowe didn't know at the time there was the odd question about the refinery deal that needed answering.


This is the same Bill Rowe, by the way, who tried unsuccessfully to run for Brian Peckford's Progressive Conservative party in the 1980s. That was at the same time that Peckford was busily negotiating what Rowe now refers to as a stunned Hibernia deal.

Never mind, of course, that Rowe knows now, just as he knew at the time, that the Hibernia project was an extremely costly venture and the province lacked the financial resources to acquire an equity position. Since Peckford had foolishly pushed the ownership question to the limit, the province also lost the ability to gain an equity stake through legislation.

This is all stuff Rowe elected not to tell his readers as he builds a case to support Danny Williams rejection of a deal on Hebron.

Of course, we would be remiss if we did not note that Williams appointed Rowe for a brief period as Williams' personal representative in Ottawa. Both before he took the job and since he has returned, Rowe - the former lawyer and current radio call-in show host - has been a relentless booster for Danny Williams. Both Bill and Danny won the Rhodes scholarship for Newfoundland in the 1960s.

Given Rowe's consistent misrepresentations of Newfoundland history, even though he was directly involved in some of the decisions he now calls stunned, and his consistent omissions of relevant information on his own relationship with the events he misrepresents, one wonders what would qualify as being even more stunned for Rowe's audience:

Questioning Danny Williams' judgment and then making a sound decision based on evidence, or, listening to Bill Rowe's advice?