departure of Ed Martin was a signal that carried, at minimum, the certainty change
is coming to Nalcor.
thing, too. When logistical challenge sees Ed Martin, his Board of Directors, and
the old gang leader himself, Danny Williams, unable to keep straight something as simple as whether the
failed CEO is leaving voluntary or was pushed, Muskrat Falls must really be in a mess.
appointment of former Fortis Inc. CEO Stan Marshall is a “home run”
for Premier Ball, even if there is evidence he may have swung the bat with his
the original “naysayers” of the “troubled” Muskrat Falls project
has become Head of the Crown Corporation. As former Premier Cathy Dunderdale
was fond of saying: “imagine that!”
Marshall may do more than just end a costly, corrosive, and destabilizing era
of state sponsored deception. While, alone, that would be a welcomed achievement,
understandably public focus is directed to matters financial.
“worry” barometer has fallen from something
like a grenade, one delivering a palpable sense of relief.
those facing a $3,000 hit on their disposable income this year, may not find optimism having quite enough value for their sacrifice. But, then, the public never did clue in to why the whistle
of the fiscal freight train warned with such a threatening shrill, until
the Budget boxed them in the ears.
should be warned the appointment of Stan Marshall is not a warranty against the
folly of others.
He can halt the project or give it new direction, but he can’t
reverse the damage done or return the money squandered.
Stan Marshall is no Danny Williams. He is merely a long-standing CEO attached
to an impressive commercial and personal resume, and a litany of successes
field-tested under the gaze of the commercial markets. He is no Saviour!
this: I will take a battle-tested CEO any day over a horse’s ass. That
includes the grandiloquent, the pompous, and the masters of “spin”.
of Stan Marshall’s obvious calibre warns “when these things get off track, it’s
a very poor sign”, we should get ready to bite hard.
Paul Davis experienced a mere preview of the public’s wrath, at an anti-Budget
rally, last week. The other pretenders, too, the two union leaders and the NDP,
though less culpable than he, but not blameless, were nevertheless bold-faced
enough to feign righteous indignation. They have no idea of the fire storm of
resentment, even towards them, that Muskrat “uncloaked” is likely to unleash.
Stan Marshall. I have lampooned him though on a couple of occasions, so pissed
off was I that his redoubtable and acerbic private outrage did not find room in
a public space. He is reported to have said, frequently: ‘he wouldn’t touch the
Muskrat Falls project with a barge pole’. The comment didn’t leave much room
for merit, even if to “naysayers” it was an obvious conclusion.
naively, it led me to think that the ratepayers of Fortis Inc.’s subsidiary,
Newfoundland Power, were also entitled to Marshall’s pithy,
albeit accurate, observation. Obviously, I was suffering the misconception that
“stakeholder capitalism”, in which customers receive ranking alongside
shareholders and others, might be an idea he embraced.
Marshall seems to be an entrepreneur in the classical mold; for him profit is tied
only to the mechanism of risk. He would know in a place such as
this, where criticism of any kind, especially of public policy, even a
“regulated” entity is not immune to political reprisal.
strikes me as the kind of fellow who would see the “safety minute”, now commonplace
in the boardroom, too, having its best utility as a warning to bunglers shown
the door, it might hit them on the way out. The Nalcor Vice-President might
profit from such intelligence; after all, he must know “Exit Right” isn’t just
a new book for the left.
And, god knows, we have given Nalcor plenty of that.
public needs to temper their expectations on three levels:
though the Premier hit his first “home run”, he very nearly struck out. Reportedly,
Ball offered Marshall, at first, only the inconsequential Board Chairman’s
position. That he was prepared to leave Ed Martin in the CEO’s role, in spite of
the disaster unveiled by Nalcor’s own information and an incomplete EY Report, suggests
we have reason to be wary of this Premier.
already noted, Marshall can help stem the bleed on the Muskrat Falls project by
either shutting it down or giving it “re-set”. But the public must
gird themselves for an unhappy outcome, whether Muskrat gets finished or not.
public protests over the Budget continue, every person should be reminded that while
the new “levy” is outrageous, it is less a tax than a penalty on political
dysfunction. The public needs to commit that they will stop placing their faith
in “straw men”.
only time will confirm if Stan is, indeed, “the man”.
less worried about him, than I am about the Premier and whether he will rest on
a single success. He really should shoot for a “triple hitter”. The next two home
runs don’t even require nerve, let alone precision; but they would be important
asterisks on a late start.
must disband the Tories’ fake “Oversight Committee”, which he, too, embraced;
it is an offense to the concept of studied independence its very name implies;
a fraud upon notions of good governance.
quickly, the Premier must shoo away the Consumer Advocate. It is unconscionable,
given all we know about this project, that one of the biggest “cheerleaders” of
the Muskrat Falls debacle still enjoys that title.
overcast week in a wiser and, perhaps, slightly less worried Newfoundland and
Labrador. Even a spring storm delivered metaphor for the protest and
discontent now brewing.
good fortune is that, even in the bleakest of times, we always seem to be afforded
a glimpse of the sun.