MY ABC CAMPAIGN: WHY I CAN’T SUPPORT CATHY BENNETT

The Liberal
Party is in the midst of choosing a Candidate who will lead it into the next
election.  It is an important choice; the
Province badly needs an alternative to the Dunderdale Tories.

The Contest
has been a very civilized affair, almost too civil, given how fractious such
events can become.  I have been amused
from the start that Tory Cathy Bennett was allowed to join the race.  Usually a leadership contender establishes
political pedigree well before being allowed to compete for the top spot.  The Liberal Party has decided there is wisdom
in the crowd and who can argue.

When I
discussed the idea of an
ABC Campaign (Anyone But Cathy) with Uncle Gnarley he thought the idea sound.  “Don’t go getting all caught up in big words
or sarcasm”, he suggested.  “You are not
very good at that stuff.  Just state the
facts”, he counselled. “The public aren’t stunned you know.”    I looked at him with a grin and agreed to
state my case, straight up. So, here goes.


Newfoundlanders
and Labradorians require better leadership than we have had in a long time.  Our patience has surely been tested over
these past two years.  I am ever hopeful
that following Dunderdale we will be spared another Premier whose best talent is
the ability to ride on the coattails of arrogance, secrecy and misbehaviour.

Ms. Bennett may
have spied the easy pickings of a failed Tory Government.  But that is not leadership.  “Never mistake opportunism masquerading as
opportunity”, Uncle Gnarley always says. 

Political leadership
manifests public interest.  It embodies
the strength of one offering direction rather than a talent for gauging prevailing
winds and following them.

When one is
on the inside, looking out, that person has a far greater responsibility than
those of us on the outside, looking in. Cathy Bennett, an insider, used her
knowledge as a weapon against the public interest when it ought to have been a
tool giving fair warning.

Rather than
chide Nalcor or the Dunderdale Government that appointed her, she chose to be a
cheerleader for them.      

Cathy
Bennett was a Member of the Board of Nalcor during the most pivotal period in
its history. Now she wants us to reward her by making her Premier.  She is not due any such recompense.

You may not
see the relationship instantly but the new schedule of UARB Hearings, in Nova
Scotia, is one of those moments that illuminate.

The
Dunderdale Government shut down the PUB’s consideration of Muskrat Falls when
it asked for the “DG-3” numbers.  PUB
Chairman, Andy Wells, displayed uncharacteristic civility when he required more
than 100 pages to say to Nalcor what one line could have said better:  “please send the PUB the correct
information”.

Since then,
those attempting to extract truth from Nalcor have been forced to parse every
syllable of the Nova Scotia UARB Hearings on the Maritime Link in order to keep
abreast of what new deals Nalcor is making.

Not only was
time allotted for Technical Hearings and Intervener Submissions the first time,
that Agency also arranged for the new and even sweeter deal, with Emera, to go
through the same review process a second
time. 

It is not the
role of the UARB to examine whether Nalcor’s senior executives are poor
managers or whether the Dunderdale Government is mad to be risking public
money.  Its job is to look after Nova
Scotia’s interests.  Our leaders should
look after ours.

Cathy
Bennett, as an appointee to Nalcor’s Board, had the opportunity to council
prudence and to insist on full disclosure. 
Real leaders will even put Premiers in their place.  Ms. Bennett’s problem was not just a lack of
heft or vision.  She simply agreed with Premier
Dunderdale and said as much.    

What else should
Ms. Bennett have done?  She ought to have
loudly protested Nalcor’s unwise decision to proceed in the face of serious legal
challenges, cost overruns and premature sanction. 

She ought to
have railed against Nova Scotians being given the equivalent of 60% of Muskrat
Falls’ power at 8-10 cents per KWh while we pay in excess of 30 cents per
KWh. 

Let’s be
clear.  As riled as one feels that Nova
Scotia interveners are once again haggling over whether the new deal with Emera
is sweet enough it is impossible not to note that Province’s civilized and inclusive forum. 

If Bennett
was Premier material she would have been out in front leading the charge for
the same transparency, the same accountability as that afforded Nova Scotians.

That would
have constituted real leadership; it would have been a refreshing change.

Nova Scotia
will not have to rely on the uncertainties of transmission lines collapsing in
a Labrador winter storm or even the likely prospect that the Quebec Superior
Court will uphold Hydro Quebec’s legal challenge to the Water Management
Agreement.  Its power will come from our
current hydro power sources, such as Bay d’Espoir, the juice that we count on summer
and winter.

The NL
public have a right to be outraged.  In
time they will be marching in the streets against those who failed to warn them.

Cathy
Bennett had an opportunity to prove she was a real leader. She made the wrong
choices.  She failed to place the
interests of the Province first. 

If Ms.
Bennett wins she will carry on Kathy Dunderdale’s unwise and costly legacy.

  

Uncle
Gnarley won’t be happy about that!
Des Sullivan
Des Sullivan
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Uncle Gnarley is hosted by Des Sullivan, of St. John's. He is a businessman engaged over three decades in real estate management and development companies and in retail. He is currently a Director of Dorset Investments Limited and Donovan Holdings Limited. During his early career he served as Executive Assistant to Premier's Frank D. Moores (1975-1979) and Brian Peckford (1979-1985). He also served as a Part-Time Board Member on the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB). Uncle Gnarley appears on the masthead representing serious and unambiguous positions on NL politics and public policy. Uncle Gnarley is a fiscal conservative possessing distinctly liberal values and a non-partisan persusasion. Those values and opinions underlie this writer's views on NL's politics, economy and society. Uncle Gnarley publishes Monday mornings and more often when events warrant.

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