Stories of Nalcor’s
arrogance are not new; though, when they have consequences for the public purse
and add to evidence the crown corporation is out of control, they should be
Recently, a Professional Engineer,
in the course of reviewing sections of Nalcor’s web site, noted one disturbing answer. It can be found on Nalcor’s web site, within a group of questions and answers on the Muskrat Falls project, given in 2014.

The unidentified questioner had put two questions to Nalcor. This is the second one::
And is Nalcor aware that
they (Astaldi) did not qualify to bid on a hydro project in BC?

Nalcor answered: 

Canada Inc. was selected as the contractor for this work based on the best
technical execution plan combined with the best commercial bid, which
ultimately provides the best 
overall value for the
Muskrat Falls Project and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.
Nalcor does not get involved in the procurement
decisions made by parties that are not directly associated with the Muskrat
Falls Project. Procurement decisions made by other parties in other jurisdictions
are the sole business and discretion of those entities.”
(emphasis added)
So appalled was the Professional
Engineer by the dripping arrogance of Nalcor’s response, he felt compelled to bring
it the attention of this Blogger.
First, the Professional
Engineer took notice of Nalcor’s refusal to justify having issued a single
contract (untendered) for the entire 1100 kl. Labrador Island Link transmission
line, a matter reported on this Blog recently. He also found incredulous CEO Ed Martin’s justification for Nalcor’s
award to a company who principal owner, Joe Borsellino, has admitted an
association with organized crime.


Related Posts:


But, he was left
speechless by Nalcor’s comment regarding the award of the Astaldi contract.
“Procurement decisions
made by other parties in other jurisdictions are the sole business and
discretion of those entities.”
The comment offended this engineer
on two levels.
First, he felt that the
tone and text of the reply reflected a culture, within Nalcor, that encouraged
a haughty and supercilious attitude evidenced by the fact that even Nalcor’s
communications’ types, who normally sanitize any piece of information not
entirely innocuous, failed to even notice its implicitly unwise message..
When you put this kind of
comment, together with Nalcor’s refusal to be subjected to oversight or its
unwillingness to explain some pretty large contract awards without deference to
the public’s right to know, you can be sure, he stated, hubris is reinforced at
all levels.
His second comment was
that he was offended, on a professional basis, as an engineer.
The very suggestion we
have nothing to learn from another jurisdiction, he remarked, is misguided
and wrong. Real engineers, and other professional groups, will never eschew
the opportunity to improve their knowledge base and, hence, the quality of
their analysis.
Given the size of the Astaldi
contract and the challenging work the general contractor was expected to
perform; considering, too, the difficult northern environment and importance of
achieving project schedule on a megaproject, 
Nalcor management, the engineer
suggested, ought to have been eager to pick up the phone to BC Hydro. He added that he could not imagine BC Hydro refusing to share the information, especially if a senior person initiated the call.

possibility that Astaldi had not even pre-qualified for work with another
utility when it was selected as one of the main contractors on Muskrat ought to
have concerned Nalcor even after having realized they failed to perform adequate
due diligence. 

If they knew of the decision by BC Hydro respecting Astaldi and chose
not to follow it up, they have revealed great incompetence. To advertise it,
too, suggests Nalcor doesn’t even know just how incompetent they really are,
he added.
The engineer noted that BC
Hydro has far more experience in megaproject construction than Nalcor (which actually
has none) implies Nalcor could have benefited from BC Hydro’s advice . That Nalcor could not state,
in response to the particular citizen’s question, that it had consulted a
plethora of Astaldi’s prior employers, suggests either little due diligence was actually done or Nalcor cared not enough to give the questioner a full or accurate reply.
The trail of evidence emanating
from Nalcor confirms not just hubris but a lack of management discipline, and a distain for the public’s right to transparently, and effective
Sadly, the evidence mounts
almost daily.
Individual citizens
deserve better than the unknown questioner received; the public, too.
Yet, many, especially the Davis Government, seem blind to the fact that this crown corporation is out of control.
With a General Election in
sight, Dwight Ball and Earle McCurdy can expect to be challenged with demands
for specific commitments as to how they will begin a process of change at

As to Nalcor, only if more
members of the public, like this Professional Engineer, express outrage
when legitimate concerns are rewarded with arrogance, will politicians take

The leadership simply won’t come from within.
Editor’s Note:
Part III of the JM Series, The Budget Colloquy, will be posted Monday, June 22.

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.


Bill left public life shortly after the signing of the Atlantic Accord and became a member of the Court of Appeal until his retirement in 2003. During his time on the court he was involved in a number of successful appeals which overturned wrongful convictions, for which he was recognized by Innocence Canada. Bill had a special place in his heart for the underdog.

Churchill Falls Explainer (Coles Notes version)

If CFLCo is required to maximize its profit, then CFLCo should sell its electricity to the highest bidder(s) on the most advantageous terms available.


This is the most important set of negotiations we have engaged in since the Atlantic Accord and Hibernia. Despite being a small jurisdiction we proved to be smart and nimble enough to negotiate good deals on both. They have stood the test of time and have resulted in billions of dollars in royalties and created an industry which represents over a quarter of our economy. Will we prove to be smart and nimble enough to do the same with the Upper Churchill?