20 April 2016

Getting while the getting is good. #nlpoli

As if on cue,  Danny Williams' publicist tweeted praise for Ed Martin as soon as news broke that Danny Williams' right-hand for so many years was leaving the energy corporation Williams created.

Almost an hour later, she flipped out a statement from the former Premier himself praising Martin, Nalcor, and Muskrat Falls in terms that were eerily similar to ones Premier Dwight Ball had used when he announced Martin was leaving Wednesday morning.

Reporters raced across town in a late winter storm to get from Ball's scrum to hear what Martin would say. Martin began with a recitation of his accomplishments and threw heaps of praise at the men and women of Nalcor.  He spoke in the most glowing terms of everything Nalcor was doing including Muskrat Falls.

And then he explained that he was leaving.

Time to go.

In 2010,  shortly after unveiling Muskrat Falls,  Danny Williams quit suddenly, unexpectedly too.

Time to go, he'd said.

Like Williams before him, Ed Martin left on his own terms, at the time of his choosing, long before anyone in Newfoundland and Labrador knew the full story of what had been going on.  Whatever happens from here on will sit squarely on someone else's shoulders, not Ed Martin's even though Martin set the course and locked it in.

When Martin met with Dwight Ball on Sunday to discuss his departure,  Martin left a bag of dog crap on Ball's doorstep. With his resignation, Martin set the paper bag on fire and invited Ball to have fun stamping it out.

In the media, the same folks who wrote glowing epitaphs for Danny Williams when he left office were quick to do the same for Martin. Others claimed that Martin had been pushed from office by Dwight Ball. Neither assessment was true. Look at natural resources minister Siobhan Coady standing next to Ball at their scrum. That is not the face of someone privy to a scheme working out as planned.

Ed Martin is leaving before the full cost of Muskrat Falls hits the public.  He is leaving before anyone acknowledges publicly the magnitude of the mistakes made under his administration at Nalcor. Don't be surprised if the other senior leaders at Nalcor bail quickly in Martin's wake, especially Gil Bennett from the Muskrat Falls project itself.

Speculation is already widespread about Martin's replacement.  Ball has said he could have a name as early as Thursday.  But that would only be a name pulled out of a hat very quickly and in a panic.  Paul Antle, the name floating in media circles, would be a disaster. running an energy company is not his strength. Ditto Dean MacDonald.  Even on an acting basis as they conducted a proper executive search,  the Liberal administration would be poorly served by the optics of either appointment.

If he made such an appointment permanent, Ball would look like a hypocrite after insisting any choices would have to wait until his much-vaunted new appointments committee was in place. He'd also open himself to further controversy once the full scope of the mess at Nalcor Martin left hits the media.  As it is, Ball will have a hard time sucking back his fulsome and entirely unwarranted praise for Martin since last December.  Better for Ball to find a temporary replacement for Martin and start a proper search using a nationally-recognized head-hunting firm.

Like Danny Williams before him, Ed Martin get out while the getting was good.

Once we all find out how big a mess the duo left behind,  the rest of us will wish we had the same luxury.