09 September 2011

Aylward questions Nalcor on choice of consultant

Liberal leader Kevin Aylward has sent a letter to Nalcor boss Ed Martin asking about Nalcor’s use of Navigant as the consultant the company chose for a review of the Muskrat Falls project.

The Liberals posted the letter to the party’s campaign website on Tuesday but apparently didn’t give it wide circulation.

In the letter, Aylward asks;

  1. When was Navigant retained to produce a report on the Muskrat Falls power project?
  2. What is their investigative mandate?
  3. Who, outside of Nalcor direct employees and contractors, will be consulted?
  4. When and where will Navigant be conducting public consultations, if any?
  5. What is the contract price?
  6. When is the report contracted to be received?
  7. When will the report be issued to the public?
  8. How many other “independent reports” hitherto unknown to the public have been  commissioned or are currently under way?

Aylward criticises Nalcor for keeping the name and mandate of the consultant public until after the release of the joint environmental review panel.

The provincial Tories have used Navigant before on politically-driven projects.

In 2006, then Premier Danny Williams used Navigant to try and audit the books on the Hibernia project as part of his war with the oil companies over the collapse of Hebron talks in April that year.

Two years later, Williams used Navigant in his war against AbitibiBowater that led to the botched expropriation of AbitibiBowater properties in the province. Then natural resources minister Kathy Dunderdale told the House of Assembly in early 2010:

Mr. Speaker, there was in fact approximately $8 million spent on professional services related to the expropriation of Abitibi by my department last year. We paid a substantial amount of that money to CRA, to Navigant Consulting, to Weirfolds, a legal firm, and Enda Searching, to do particular work around the expropriation itself, around land registry consolidation; CRA, particularly with regard to the remediation requirements in Grand Falls. That work informed our budget, Mr. Speaker, where we budgeted over $9 million to deal with the mess left behind by Abitibi in Buchans.

Dunderdale and Williams hid their mistake in expropriating the Grand Falls-Windsor mill and other environmental liabilities until early 2010 when they admitted to the shag up under questioning in the provincial legislature.

Dunderdale told the legislature in 2010 that when the government realised the cock-up they considered introducing legislation to retroactively un-expropriate the properties they’d seized as part of the screw up.

- srbp -