07 June 2013

Get worried-er #nlpoli

Here are a bunch of stories all of which would deserve a post of their own but that are presented here cut down to the barest of bare essentials.

King of the Keystone Kops Strikes Again:  Not content to demonstrate his incompetence with his earlier budget shag up, justice minister Darin King (Twitter:  @King_Darin) announced on Thursday that 25 fisheries officers his department had booted out the door in the 2013 budget cuts would be rehired to a man and/or woman in very short order.

What can King possibly do to top this besides light his own underwear on fire during a live television interview?

Hide the matches, Tory staffers.

The other king named DarinDarin Pike will head the new Anglo school board for the entire province come the fall, the head of the provincial selection committee announced on Wednesday.

Pike’s experience includes a stint running the Eastern School district, which was the bureaucratic trial project for the creation of a single board for all English-speaking students in Newfoundland and Labrador.  Pike’s appointment is the penultimate act in the bureaucratic plan to eliminate public oversight of public education and replace it entirely with a system run by education bureaucrats who answer to no one except a cabinet minister who has no meaningful authority within the department. 

The plan started in 2004 when education department bureaucrats pitched the idea to the noob provincial Conservatives as a way of saving money.  In the event, they didn’t save a penny, but that was never the real purpose of the scam, err scheme. 

The plan did successfully consolidate de facto power in the hands of the deputy education minister and his four key subordinates, the chief executives of the districts.  The four district boards created under the re-organization scheme were powerless to do anything except as they were told.  This was perhaps most evident in the Eastern District where, from the chair, down to the lowliest anonymous character the board was populated with faceless cowards intent primarily on avoiding any public accountability for decisions they rubber-stamped.

Pike’s experience in implementing the plan makes him the ideal candidate.  D‘uh.

Faithful readers will recognise the similarity between an unaccountable education bureaucracy and the unaccountable provincial energy corporation, Nalcor.

Parochial or what?:  Apparently IOC has laid off some people.  The company won’t say how many.  The CBC story only talks about events in this province. 

The Quebec weekly Le Nord-Cotier broke the story a couple of days ago.  SRBP linked to it a couple of days ago.  The Quebec paper mentioned all the towns and cities where people got the boot, including the ones not in Quebec.

The World Stops at Donovans:  In Nova Scotia, the province’s utilities regulatory board is up to its eyes in the Muskrat Falls controversy.  Search the Internet and you’ll find a raft of stories about the UARB hearings and on public debate about the project.  On this side of the Cabot Strait, you’d be hard pressed to know there is anyone living there. 

The only local mentions of the story have been questions posed to Nalcor boss Ed Martin, who was characteristically vague and uninformative. 
Nice to be wrong Update (7:50 AM):  Telegram.  Top of Page 4.  Canadian Press story on Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter’s lack of concern about the Nova Scotia opposition to Muskrat Falls and the Maritime link.
The Norwegian ModelNorwegian energy giant Statoil announced this week that was reconsidering a major offshore project in part because of changes to Norwegian tax rules. 
"In addition, the Norwegian government has recently proposed reduced uplift in the petroleum tax system, which reduces the attractiveness of future projects, particularly marginal fields and fields which require new infrastructure. This has made it necessary to review the Johan Castberg project," says Øystein Michelsen, Statoil's executive vice president for development and production in Norway.
The Norwegian government is a majority shareholder in Statoil.  Norway manages its state-owned companies like all others, though, subjecting them to the same laws as private sector corporations. 

The Nalcor Model:  On May 31, Nalcor cleared the final bureaucratic hurdle for the Labrador-Island transmission link for Muskrat Falls with news that the provincial environment department had accepted the company’s environmental impact submissions. It’s all in the minister’s hands now.  He must recommend to cabinet whether to approve the project or not.

What are the odds Tom Hedderson would suggest to cabinet  that Nalcor stop work?

More than Muskrat Update (7:50 PM):  On the top of page three of the Friday Telly, there’s a second story by Ashley Fitzpatrick about the Nalcor AGM.  The headline:  “More than Muskrat discussed at Nalcor AGM”. 

Sure there was.

According to the story, Nalcor senior management talked about how Nalcor spending (i.e. cost) is up across the board. 

The reason they didn’t want to discuss as such? 

Muskrat Falls: it’s been driving up everyone’s costs and that’s going to get worse before it gets better.  "It would be easy to blame Muskrat," according to Nalcor vice president Derrick Sturge.

Easy, yes.



What else wasn’t Muskrat Falls? 

Energy marketing, which, of course, has nothing to do with Muskrat Falls except when the gang at the AGM talked about selling surplus power from Muskrat and all these other sales into markets that are not there.…
that’s right there in the story with the “Not Muskrat”  headline.

Big sales potential over the next three or four decades, according to Ed Martin. 


Interesting then that Nalcor hasn’t been able to nail down any long-term sales already (hence the reason to force taxpayers to buy 100% of Muskrat for only notionally using 40% of the power.


They talked about a lot that wasn’t Muskrat Falls.