22 April 2016

Not just another pretty face #nlpoli

Stan Marshall is the guy who should have been running Nalcor in the first place.

Well,  if you wanted to make a successful business out of Nalcor, Marshall is the no-guff leader you'd want.

Marshall's resume speaks for itself.  His knowledge of the electricity business is unrivalled in the province. His experience in running a profitable corporation and expanding it internationally is undeniable.   During his 20 years at the helm of Fortis,  as the Telegram's Ashley Fitzpatrick reported in 2014, Marshall grew the company's assets from $1.0 billion to more than $18 billion.

Marshall's recent experience at Fortis - parent of Newfoundland Power - ensures that he knows full-well the financial impacts Muskrat Falls will have on the province.  Fortis is already raising alarm bells.  Far from being in a conflict of interest,  Marshall's personal connections to Fortis ensure he has a stake in correcting the problems Ed Martin created for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Politically, Marshall's appointment gave the Liberals an enormous boost. In one swoop Premier Dwight Ball took the Muskrat Falls problem off his radar screen.  He can trust Marshall to sort the mess out.  As Marshall said at his news conference he will look at the project in detail and reject it if the project has reached the point where it does not make financial sense on any level.  He was quite obvious not likely to fall victim to the sunk-cost fallacy.

What's remarkable about that statement is that both Ball and energy minister Siobhan Coady has just said that their legal advice was the project could not be stopped.  Marshall clearly wasn't going to accept that until he'd done the work himself or had a more thorough review using his own advisors. Since both Coady and Ball were already convinced Muskrateers long before they took power, having a sceptic in a position to examine the project  - for the first time - should sort out the Muskrat falls problem once and for all.

In the House of Assembly on Thursday, the Conservatives said nothing about Nalcor, preferring instead to let rehash the budget and to let Steve Kent hurl his lightweight self at the Liberals over health care. Kent's rantings failed for a second day as health minister John Haggie calmly and rationally demolished the former health minister's wild comments. Paul Davis and Steve Kent remain the personification of political impotence.

The only Nalcor questions came from the NDP  who asked for Marshall's mandate letter.  The answer was probably polite and wordy.  The letter was probably "Dear Stan:  Sort out this mess ASAP. Thanks, Dwight."