March 24, 2016 is the day on which Nalcor hosts its Annual General Meeting. This
is a good day for Ed Martin to step down, as Nalcor CEO.

Premier Dwight
Ball is testing the forbearance of the Newfoundland and Labrador public not
having given the failed CEO a well-deserved push at the start of his tenure.
After all, as Head of Nalcor, Ed Martin has overseen the evaporation of a great deal of public money, now counted as billions; the exact amount is a moving target. The
Muskrat Falls project is only around 40% complete.

It is true
that Ball indicated the intent of the EY Review “is not to make changes in the
administration at Nalcor” and, in a ham-fisted way, stated that “there is no reason
not to have confidence” in Nalcor management. Ed Martin might have thought otherwise, but by any measure, this is hardly a ringing endorsement of the CEO’s

It is not as
if the qualified support was accompanied with an enumeration of milestones
achieved, money saved, or major decisions taken. It is not as if Martin had discovered even something as essential as a project schedule.

On the
contrary, Ball only has evidence of a mega project in serious trouble. Stated the Premier: “Given cost overruns, schedule changes and baseline updates…it is
prudent for the provincial government to review the project’s cost and schedule…”

for Ed Martin will say the decision to proceed with Muskrat was in consequence
of a directive given by former Premier Danny Williams and final sanction under
Premier Cathy Dunderdale. They argue Martin is just a public servant executing
the mandate he was given.

Of course, not acknowledged is that Mr. Martin, as the principle architect of the
scheme, was the one who oversaw all the projections including demand, oil price forecasts, and other assumptions on which the project was justified.

It was Martin who ran an opaque Agency, one determined to cut independent assessment of what he, in conjunction with SNC Lavalin, had contrived.

It was
Martin who ignored the risk of proceeding in the absence of a resolution to a
challenge, by Hydro Quebec, of the Water Management Agreement.

It was
Martin who provided the politicians with then highly suspect, now clearly
underestimated, project costs.

It was
Martin who proceeded with construction, spending tens of millions of dollars, seemingly in a race to a point where there could be no turning back on the project, even in the absence of a deal with Nova
Scotia. Knowingly, Martin allowed himself to be backed into a corner, and forced to sweeten the deal
(at the insistence of the NS UARB), just to trigger the the Federal Loan Guarantee.  

It was
Martin who hired an unsuitable and unqualified project management team.

It is Martin
who refuses to subject the North Spur to a panel of independent engineering
experts in spite of the fact that Canada’s most preeminent hydro engineer, James
L. Gordon and others, like Dr. Stig Bernander, have made repeated calls for that process to be employed
fearing dam safety issues associated with “quick clay”.

It was
Martin who hired Astaldi, a company new to Canada; one that had not previously worked in
winter conditions. Today the Company oversees a virtually dormant work site, as Nalcor’s
fixed costs including highly paid management and other site expenses, continue to mount.

It was under
Martin’s leadership that the project schedule fell into disarray and project estimated
costs ran to $9.05 billion. The figure, Nalcor states, was “established in September
2015…” as if to give the public warning there are more overruns to come.

A dormant work site at Muskrat Falls  (Nalcor Photo)

If anyone
cares to read the latest Muskrat Falls Report, released March 15, 2016 for work
conducted to the end of January, 2016 they will find the site of the Generating
Facility not just, for all intents and purposes. shutdown they will see Nalcor
claiming as progress a monument to waste; demolition of the unnecessary and unused Integrated Cover System, known as the “Dome”.

And, as one senior engineer noted, another monthly Report has been produced in which no mention is made of the project schedule!

Real project engineers do not make such an omission.

Related to this Post:



Falls constitutes a financial tragedy of monumental proportion for the
Treasury and economically for our entire society. Ours is a place facing not only high
unemployment and higher taxes, but a doubling of electrical costs. This is a
burden that will be imposed on two generations and inhibit any serious attempt at economic diversification. 

If the project costs continues to spiral out of
control, as many qualified engineers predict they will, progress on the deficit achieved after supposedly tough decisions are taken in the Budget, will be placed in jeopardy.

Williams, Cathy Dunderdale, Tom Marshall, and Paul Davis, all co-players in this Muskrat folly, are gone from power.

The Nalcor
CEO is a hanger on. Yet, his only claim is that of poster boy for secrecy, cost overruns, information “spin”, and for a mega project gathering world-wide attention, and not
for any good reason.

Those people still in denial on Muskrat Falls, and there are many, should read the Liberty Consulting
Group Reports, prepared for the PUB following DARKNL, to get an independent
appraisal as to how poorly the Province’s electrical system has been managed.

Those issues
together with the state of the Muskrat Falls project and all that it portends
for Newfoundland and Labrador society, constitutes an indictment of Ed Martin, and
the role he has played, as Nalcor CEO. 

He should, today, use the Annual General Meeting of the Crown Corporation as a platform to apologize to the people of the Province for his role in the debacle, and step down. 
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?


  1. Ed Martin had all the credentials for CEO. Good speaker, effective salesman, well connected, newfoundlander. But he was missing one, experience. He filled this gap by hiring people around him who had a similar pedigree. There have been some bright spots for Nalcor such as the deep water seismic work, but by in large the Nalcor experience has been a disaster. The truth is they made less money in 2015 (before impariment) than they did 10 years prior. The legacy of Muskrat Falls will burden the next three generations of Newfoundlanders with the most expensive power bills in Canada. Without a substantial rebound in energy price it will be a disaster. The investments in the offshore has also been problematic. Martin, who could never consider the debt servicing we are paying on "equity" pointed out that White Rose has already paid for itself. Ed Martin forgets that part of our public debt went to that investment, and it must be returned.

    I have never called for Ed Martin to step down. But I agree with you Des… today is the day he should. Make no mistake if this was a publically traded company, he would have no choice.

  2. "Ed Martin had all the credentials for CEO. Good speaker, effective salesman, well connected, newfoundlander"

    Newfoundlander is not a qualification.

    Thr others are also qualifications for con men and medical quacks.

    • Integrity is a qualification that never seems to matter in the final choice. There's no room for it. It gets in the way of the (real) agenda.
      The entire, antiquated and corrupt political "system" is a system for wealth and retirement for the corrupt/incompetent. We the people must change this.

  3. When I was seeking the PC Leadership, I called for two things:

    – stop work on Muskrat Falls; and
    – firing of Ed Martin

    That did not go over too well with the PC Insiders. Maybe they had too much too loose?

    Wayne R. Bennett

  4. I have called for Ed Martin to step down and take his fortunes and run, so very long ago! He has been untouchable throughout the whole Muskrat Falls fiasco and throughout the time when Hydro infrastructure was rusting and breaking down because of neglect. Do you remember Blackout Newfoundland? My very uneducated gut feeling thinks along the same line as thousands or maybe millions of Newfoundlanders, and suggests strongly to fire him and get this proven failure away from our taxpayer coffers. The quicker that we fire this incompetent loser, the sooner we may have money to hire lawyers to look for avenues to sue him for his incompetence.

  5. We all know it's time for a change. Nalcor is mostly the reason why muskrat falls is the way it is. There's 70 plus people working for Nalcor on site. It's time for Nalcor who are the client to let the engineering firm they hired SNC Lavin do the job they were hired to do. Everywhere you look there's a Nalcor truck driving on site. If the liberal government want to save money maybe the should look at Nalcor. Also its tie lo at how many Quebecor's are on the site. It states in the agreement if you a trades person the contractors must hire Innu, Labradorians, then Newfoundlanders. Not the same for the office staff working for the contractors. Most of them are from Quebec. It's time for the government to step in and look at this issue. We have alot of qualified people from the province to do the job. The camp here is another issue. Most of the supplies here are coming from Quebec. It time for things to change

  6. Re 15:54 comment that supplies are coming from Quebec for camp. Where else are they going to come from. Nearly all of NL com sums blessed come from away. …it is cheaper and cuts put yet another middleman. Lowest price fir good period. Re other comments, some validity I think. Especially to let SNC do the project vs a lot of non electricity generation folks generally from oil patch.

  7. Maybe Nalcor should look it what happened to the dome building that astaldi just took down that cost millions and was given to a local business man from Goose Bay. He's also a construction manager on site. Don't hear much about this in the media.

  8. It is funny that Martin can not talk about these commercial matters. The CEO of Astladi has to talk about these things as a publically traded company. In the Astladi 2015 year end financial statements, Astaldi has booked 832 million euros of order book from Muskrat Falls. this is about 1.3 Billion Canadian. Astladi reports the project at 44% complete. this is Their portion only. in September they were 40% complete. So they completed 4% in 3 months. Their CEO cited challenges with the MF project, due to things such as severe weather (which is likely Nalcor's risk). The CEO also disclosed that there was 320 million Euros of revenue booked in 2015. This was taken at 0 margin (No profit). the CEO was grilled by the analysis in the call to explain why Astlaldi were not making profit in Canada. He replied that he was optimistic the final negotiaions with Nalcor would produce a profit.

    So Ed Martin can't provide an update to the very people who are paying for this project.

    Yet in Europe, the CEO of the company can give a reasonable update to shareholders. The details of which are all contained on Astaldi's website for people to hear.

    The fact that Ed Martin will not tell the people of the province when this project will be finished, and what the project is forecasted to cost is indefensible.

    It is time to pitch the lot of them.