13 July 2006

Telly-torial on Ruelokke: Spot On!

The Telegram editorial today focused on the legal ifght being mounted by Max Ruelokke to compel the provincial government to abide by the law and by the process the provincial government accepted that led to Ruelokke's selection as chairman and chief executive office of the board regulating the offshore industry.

Premier Danny Williams' comments on this yesterday were off-the-wall, to say the least.

Rather than re-invent the editorial wheel, Bond Papers is just going to reprint the Telegram editorial. It's available from thetelegram.com, but it won't last there beyond five days.

The Telly-torialist hits the nail on the head. Repeatedly.

Danny’s argument doesn’t hold water
By The Telegram

The Telegram said it right here, on the editorial page, just over a month ago: "The provincial government is about to be faced by a legal action it is likely to lose embarrassingly."

Now, that looks even more likely. The only real question is how much the legal action is going to cost the province.

Wednesday was the second day in a hearing of an application by Max Ruelokke against the province.

Ruelokke was the winner of a job competition to be the next chairman and chief executive officer of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB). The province refused to confirm that appointment, and has done so for months.

On Wednesday, the judge hearing the case, Judge Raymond Halley, said from the bench that the case was a slam-dunk — that the province took part in the process and then refused to accept the decision of a properly named hiring panel.

Perhaps stung by those statements, Premier Danny Williams apparently decided to add insult to injury, suggesting that Ruelokke couldn’t be counted on to represent the province.

"From my perspective … I want people there who are going to represent the interests of the people of the province. … I have a problem with the fact that Mr. Ruelokke came out of the oil industry," Williams told reporters Wednesday afternoon.

Now, Williams may have gotten caught up in his own rhetoric — after all, the head of the CNLOPB is hired to ensure the administration of the board’s legislation, not to represent the interests of one particular party at the table.

But even if Williams was bang-on in his analysis of the role of the head of the CNLOPB, there's a huge hole in the rest of his argument.

Premier Williams has apparently forgotten that he appointed Ed Martin as the chief executive officer and president of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

At the time, the government said Martin's "strong background in the petroleum sector will provide the leadership and expertise which Hydro requires as it takes on a new role to support the development of our growing energy sector."

And if there ever was someone who Williams might see as coming from the dark side, why wouldn’t it have been Martin?

After all, here’s the thumbnail resume from Martin's appointment announcement: "In his most recent position as manager, Petro-Canada Joint Ventures and New Developments, Mr. Martin was responsible for Petro-Canada’s interests in Hibernia, White Rose, Hebron, New Developments (including natural gas), Acquisitions, Tankers and Transshipment Terminal. Prior to that he spent nine years with the Hibernia Management and Development Company and over 10 years with Mobil Oil in Halifax, Calgary and St. John's."

Williams, after all, was in high dudgeon Wednesday because ExxonMobil — Martin’s former employer — has reneged on an agreement to allow independent auditors to examine the books at the Hibernia project.

Of course, no one is questioning Martin's qualifications or dedication.

The fact is, he was picked following a national search for the most qualified candidate, something the Williams government trumpeted at the time of his appointment.

But wait a minute — so was Ruelokke.