04 April 2012

And if she was wrong about that, too… #nlpoli

There are two things in this world.

There is what actually happened.

And then there is what Premier Kathy Dunderdale says.

The two have very little to do with one another.

Last week, it was federal budget cuts.  Kathy said one thing.  Reality was something else.

This week, it is the public utilities board.

Kathy was so pissed at the board for not giving her the answer on Muskrat falls she wanted that she tore gigantic strips off them in the House of Assembly:

What they have come back and said – we are not prepared to make a recommendation unless we have sanction numbers, Mr. Speaker. The question is, when they asked for an extension at the end of December to the end of June, it was for public consultation purposes. …[emphasis added]

And what actually happened?

Check out a series of letters from the board to the natural resources minister  - Shawn Skinner, at the time - about the deadline the provincial government set for the review. 

September 22:

The Board is not formally requesting an extension at this time because we cannot provide a realistic alternate date until we have a better idea as to when Nalcor will answer the outstanding information requests and file the Submission contemplated in the Terms of Reference further outlining the projects.

Nalcor was having trouble getting information to the board so they let government know the board couldn’t meet the deadline.  They committed to propose an alternate date once they had a better sense of when Nalcor could get their stuff together.

Skinner’s successor finally answered the September letter... on December 12:

The House of Assembly is scheduled to open on March 5, 2012. During its sitting, the House will be busy with a throne speech, budget, and regular legislation. Therefore, it is imperative that we receive the report by March 31, 2012 to ensure that Members of the House of Assembly are not constrained in their ability to examine and debate the report.

Andy Wells replied four days later.  Here’s the first sentence in the second paragraph in which the board asked for a deadline in June:

The reason this extension is necessary is Nalcor's failure to provide the required information in a timely fashion.

The letter includes a timeline for province-wide public consultations, a technical conference and greater participation by the government’s appointee, called the consumer advocate.

So you can see already that what Kathy said and what happened are not on the same planet, let alone in the same room.  Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston are closer together.

Andy got his reply from Jerome on December 23:  no.  March 31 is it.  Get ‘er done.

So no one would be surprised if, during the course of the next few weeks, the folks at the board didn’t bother to write back saying that they needed some up-to-date information from Nalcor.  They knew they wouldn’t get it and they certainly wouldn’t be allowed any more time.

You will note in Jerome Kennedy’s letter and in Kathy Dunderdale’s recent comments that they like to refer to the terms of reference the board followed.  This is important, you see because it shows that the provincial government was trying to force the board to look at only certain aspects of the project and deal only with certain information in order to arrive at one conclusion, the one the government wanted to hear.

And that’s important because of something else the Premier said on Monday:

We provided all of that information in the mandate to the PUB, the mandate they accepted to review those numbers…

To accept something suggests that you had a choice about it. 

Well, friends, that little comment by the Premier isn’t true either.

Under section 5 of the Electrical Power Control Act, 1994, the board had no choice but accept the terms of reference set by cabinet and report by the deadline government imposed.  The board didn’t have a choice.

So if Kathy Dunderdale is wrong about this, was wrong about the impact of federal layoffs in the province, and has been wrong about so many things so many times since 2003, what are the odds she is right about just one really big thing called Muskrat Falls?

What are the odds?

- srbp -