appointment of Tom Marshall to head the Tory Administration heralded not just
an end to a failed Dunderdale Premiership; it caused an expectation, though a modest one, among an
angry and hopeful citizenry of fundamental change in the way the Government operates
of hope might have engendered a belief the new, if temporary, Premier had heard
their protests; that he understood why they were angry. It wasn’t that Tom Marshall had excelled as a
Minister. He had not. He had bullied critics alongside Kennedy and
Dunderdale. He had implemented no oversight procedures for Muskrat, engaged in
excessive deficit spending in Finance and asked to be relieved of the Finance
job when he found the going too rough.
optimism was associated less with any prior manifestation of leadership than
with a belief that he could not possibly have mistaken the reason Dunderdale
another reason, too.
Leadership Convention, delayed until July, implies a five month hiatus before a
more permanent successor claims the reins of power.
Marshall might use the opportunity to implement immediate and necessary change
is not entirely presumptuous.
Government has been on a joyride since the world price of oil hit $140/barrel;
government is in a fiscal mess. Muskrat
Falls is a public relations nightmare and a potential public policy disaster; the
Government has chosen secrecy over accountability. There is little talent in the
Cabinet including in the important Finance and Natural Resources portfolios.
opportunity given Tom Marshall?
simply, he needed to address the reality that the problems which brought down
Premier Dunderdale exceeded Bill 29. He needed
to have informed the public the Administration is ready to admit its failures and
to do a better job.
‘temporary’. But, his title is
Premier. Our Constitution offers no
ought to have put the Government on a course that confirms the existence of a coherent
policy making apparatus, convincing the public that structurally the Government
is intact and operating cohesively across all government departments. He ought to have assured us, with concrete
examples, that the functions of Nalcor are being carefully monitored, that
additional expertise has been employed while Muskrat is under construction and threatening
the public purse.
are inadequate. A new ‘Marshall Plan’ might have resuscitated public
confidence. No one expected him to
revamp the whole Government within a week or two. Afterall, this is Tom Marshall not Danny
always signalled with a new ‘tone’.
Marshall has that capability. He
exhibits few of the ‘pit-bull’ characteristics of Dunderdale and Williams even
if he is unafraid to pillory critics. He is more ‘laid-back’ and able to convey
a sense of conciliation. It is an important
facility; but, of course, tone is merely flavouring. It is of little consequence in the absence of
some of his options?
should have started at the top. The
Cabinet is sadly lacking heft not to mention inspiration.
Dalley completed that unmasking a week ago having admitted to Reporter James
McLeod that he had not received a three month old Report from the Independent
Engineer on Muskrat, even though the Province had paid for it.
Related Articles: Derrick Dalley Unmasks Spent Government
On becoming Premier,
Marshall should have hired a trusted professional to work with him and the Cabinet. New
Premiers tend to be overwhelmed; taking it on faith that the hordes of
compliments and affirmations are actually true rather just wishes from the well-intended.
experienced advisor would keep him grounded, remind him daily why Dunderdale
was driven out and help him and senior Ministers to set an active program with
which to wow the public and the July Tory Convention.
have established an oversight Committee, comprised of members of Cabinet and ‘world-class’
professionals, to review to the Muskrat Falls
Project. Its initial role would be to
determine if the Project should be cancelled; otherwise the Committee would
continue to give the Project badly needed oversight.
have immediately sent the Auditor General to commence an audit of Nalcor; it would include a review of monies paid SNC
global search for an experienced Project Manager for Muskrat Falls should have been commenced; this
Project needs the skills and experience of a manager of international repute the
lack of which dramatically increases the risk of serious cost overruns.
should have instituted senior management reviews at Nalcor and Newfoundland
Departments and Agencies of Government should have been instructed to immediately
use the most liberal interpretation of the Act dealing with requests for access
to information rather than wait for a Committee Review that may arrive months from now.
Seventh, he should have issued an early warning to the Minister of Finance to trim Ministerial ‘wish lists’, public expectations and deficit financing in advance of the Budget.
measures could have been undertaken promptly; they do not require big budgets
or hordes of new personnel. They also would
have signified a determination to change.
They have would have constituted a good beginning for Tom Marshall.
have taken to the airwaves to inform the public of his immediate plans. He should have demonstrated his will not be a caretaker Administration.
It is not every day that a Premier is forced
to resign; though the unusual circumstance of Premier Dunderdale demanded an
extraordinary response from her replacement.
already put these measures into play, Tom Marshall would have been armed with more
than just words. He would have emboldened a public that wants its government to
would have set the stage for the new Premier and infused the Tory Leadership
Convention with an energy and vitality that spoke to the noble mission of serious
have sent a message to all (presumably more than one) of the Leadership Candidates
that the ground-work for re-setting this failed Tory Government has begun.
Marshall put on offer?
to review Bill 29. A month later the
Review Committee is not appointed and Steve Kent says he doesn’t want to put
any pressure on them to hurry.
is sauntering around the Province doling out more money to Alderon and others.
more of the same, just without Dunderdale.
A Government re-set?
this urge to yawn.