08 July 2019

The Kick in the Guts #nlpoli

Those following the Muskrat Falls inquiry last week will likely have noticed that one of the big issues not discussed during Dwight Ball's testimony was the circumstances surrounding Ed Martin's resignation.

It bears on the inquiry since the entire episode goes to the heart of the government's relationship to Nalcor, which itself shaped Muskrat Falls, and to the resolution of the Astaldi mess.

Yet, for some reason,  Commissioner Richard LeBlanc does not want to hear about Martin's departure.

The incident that supposedly triggered Martin's departure (and that of the board) were a few sentences in the budget speech from April 2016.  Ken Marshall described it as a "kick in the guts" for the folks at Nalcor.

Your humble e-scribbler posted this as part of a bigger piece back in 2016 but just for the fun of it,  here are Bennett's words, in total:
As the province’s energy corporation, Nalcor belongs to every citizen of Newfoundland and Labrador
Since its creation in 2007, taxpayers have invested over $2.25 billion yet have received no dividends. For all corporations and their shareholders, this would be unacceptable. 
The previous administration allowed Nalcor’s organizational structure, compensation and benefits packages to grow beyond what taxpayers would consider reasonable, particularly given our current fiscal and economic circumstances. 
Through Budget 2016, initial steps have been taken to identify operational savings at Nalcor approximating $6.7 million. 
However, due to prior year commitments by the former administration, the required equity the province will need to invest in Nalcor this year is $1.3 billion, bringing the total investment by the people of the province to $3.6 billion. 
Further actions will be taken to maximize the return on investments made by our province. 
Like government departments and public entities, Nalcor will be expected to take a zero based budget approach to their administration and operations effective with Budget 2017. 
The Nalcor Board will be directed to review their operational structure to achieve efficiencies and develop a plan to bring their compensation, benefits, and gender equity policies more in line with similar positions in other public sector bodies. 
Work at the Muskrat Falls Powerhouse is significantly behind schedule. 
Faced with these schedule delays and expected cost increases on the project - a concern to all of us - government is doing and will continue to do everything possible to help get this project back on track.

Today's post was originally supposed to be a much longer look at Dwight Ball and Muskrat Falls.  This turned out to be a much bigger subject than anticipated.  Stay tuned for it to appear later this summer.