29 November 2011

Rush job #nlpoli

Updated 1425 hrs 29 Nov 2011

There’s something about the memorandum of understanding released on Monday in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador that looks rushed.

Maybe it’s the fact that the copy that the Nova Scotia government released is not signed. [Gov NS killed the link and replaced it with this one]

Maybe it’s the fact that there is no contact information at bullet five where there’s supposed to be a main contact person for each of the provincial governments.

Maybe it’s the fact that the document indicates the governments signed it in St. John’s, but the big release came in Cape Breton.

Maybe it’s the reference to the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. Anyone know what that is?

Maybe it’s the fact the two provincial government releases don’t really match up with themselves or the agreement when it comes to describing what the document is about.

For the Nova Scotians, this deal gives the province access to industrial benefits from the whole project, not just the Maritime link.  The Newfoundland and Labrador version tries to present the whole thing another.  That sort of inconsistency suggests the thing was rushed for some reason.

The Nova Scotia news release states:

It provides Nova Scotia companies with an opportunity to compete for all components of the development with preference for Newfoundland and Labrador on the first two projects and equal access to jobs for Nova Scotia workers on the Maritime Link.

The Newfoundland and Labrador release states that the:

…Memorandum of Understanding identifies the employment and business benefits for each province associated with the construction phase of the Lower Churchill Project.

But it doesn’t.

The memorandum doesn’t identify benefits.  There’s no indication that Nova Scotians get such and such an amount of work and so on.  That’s the sort of detail in the July 2010 benefits “strategy”.The MOU merely sets out the general way in which Nova Scotia companies can bid on the projects.

The first clause states that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador will direct Nalcor to “provide Nova Scotia contractors, service providers, consultants, and suppliers with open, timely and transparent access to procurement opportunities and activities in relation to the projects.”

That’s curious.

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador release states that the tendering and hiring policy set in July 2010 will rule all:

The protocol requires that the province first honour commitments made to Aboriginal groups through any signed impacts and benefits agreements. After these commitments are met, first consideration for employment will be given to qualified residents of Newfoundland and Labrador. For construction of the generation projects, qualified residents of Labrador will be considered first, followed by qualified residents of Newfoundland.

But if that’s the case, Nova Scotians can’t really get the “open, timely, and transparent access” to contracting opportunities the memorandum indicates they are supposed to get.

The memorandum doesn’t clearly establish that the 2010 benefits strategy for Newfoundland and Labrador will prevail over the memorandum.  It just notes the document already exists.  The memorandum comes because the two provincial governments “share an interest in adopting a framework for appropriate industrial and employment benefits from”  the whole Lower Churchill project.

So the memorandum appears to replace or modify the earlier policy. That’s easy enough because the policy is just a direction from the provincial government to its Crown corporation. 

The memorandum can’t replace or modify the agreement with the Innu Nation, though, unless there’s another agreement no one has released.  That one would have signatures from the Innu Nation,  the federal and provincial governments on it to indicate they had changed the benefits agreements they negotiated.

And if you doubt that this memorandum changes the Newfoundland and Labrador benefits, note what the Nova Scotia government news release makes abundantly clear.  After noting that the Lower Churchill brings significant industrial benefits to the region, the release notes that the: “MOU ensures Nova Scotians will have access to these opportunities.”

- srbp -

Oh Deeyuh Update:  Seems someone at the Government of Nova Scotia found it uncomfortable to have people trucking to their website to see what appears to be an unsigned agreement.

They killed the pdf linked in this story and put in a new one.

Notice that the new one is missing the signature blocks.

Well, maybe that’s because the first version had blank spots where the names were supposed to go but no signed copies.

And, if anyone captured the document you might notice that the date was 2010.

All very rushed, so it seems.