None of the
people who are alleged to have falsified the estimates, and possibly other
aspects of the so-called “business case” for the Muskrat Falls project, are in jail.
salaries, and — if they have been deceitful — cover their tracks.
consequences of their actions will imperil the economy and cause enormous human
pain, possibly for decades, the politicians — from the Premier down — have made
excuses to protect them from being held to account.
immunity while their mothership Nalcor is permitted to swear affidavits and
call upon the judicial system to grant injunctions against protesters — making
a mockery of transparency and fairness in the bargain.
of the protesters, their families, and all the like-minded who are affected by
their incarceration and by the fear that the wrong people are on the ‘inside’,
will blame Judge Murphy for having put them there: will see him a tool — a
stooge — of an injudicious and overbearing state.
fundamental that Judge Murphy not be seen that way.
a Judge — every Judge — is to uphold the law.
not make the law, does not conduct investigations, and cannot order a public
inquiry into Nalcor or into the decisions of Ed Martin, Gil Bennett, Paul
Harrington, Danny Williams, Kathy Dunderdale, or of the many others who are so
closely associated with the Muskrat Fals Project.
should be grateful if Judge Murphy is diligent — that is to say, that he stays
within the parameters which the law affords, including incarcerating
Judge Murphy has erred, his decisions are subject to appeal.
something over which Ed Martin, Gil Bennett, the Premier, or the Minister of
Justice has a say. That is the law: the law of civil — democratic — society.
has not failed Marjorie Flowers, Jim Learning, and Eldred Davis.
is found in our political leadership — most lately in Premier Ball and in the
Minister of Justice Andrew Parsons.
too, in our weak institutions — the press, the political parties, the
Auditor-General, the PUB — all complicit either by their silence or by their
conflicts. Even the new Consumer Advocate has fallen in lock-step with the Ball
are found even in the justice system. Good policing should not need corporate
three decent, ordinarily law-abiding, pillars of the community in jail — other
than because they each broke the law?
decent people are prepared to face incarceration — not just one dissenter, but
several normally law–abiding citizens — there is likely a fundamental breakdown
in the politics of the society whose rules hold them behind bars.
say that they are prisoners of conscience: that they are in jail is their
choice and, therefore, they warrant no further consideration.
is dismiss people of courage; if as a society we are not even tempted to lift
the thin veil of deceit which has been visited upon us these past five years,
denying all the while that a penalty — a bill — for our inaction awaits; or, if
we cater to the dithering of an ill-suited Premier and a naïve and passive
Minister of Justice, then those three stalwart citizens, held in a St. John’s
jail, are wasting their time.
case they, and their example, would be too good for us. We would not deserve
really beyond redemption?
a conflict between awarding them the status of “leader” in a society that
respects the rule of law, when they are deliberate law-breakers?
that question we need to ask: were their actions malicious? Did they care only for their own interests, or did they represent those of the larger
community and society?
further: is the basis on which those in authority have been shielded from
examination justifiable, especially given what has been alleged which, if
proven in court, will amount to crimes of fraud on a massive scale?
scales of justice, should the benefit of the doubt be afforded only to those
with attachment to the levers of power?
Labradorians are protesting what they perceive is a violation of their right to
public safety and a clean environment. They seek transparency in government and
they want alleged official misbehaviour investigated and exposed. They are in
jail because the political leadership has failed them. It is their choice to
protest, to be sure.
what they demand:
Independent Review of the North Spur stability;
progress on the Methymercury agreement (presumably the agreement that led to
the end of a hunger strike for two people last year); and
inquiry and forensic audit of Nalcor.
the same things that virtually all of us want?
their exertions normally be the job of our leadership and of our institutions?
isn’t a professionally–conducted audit or inquiry — independent of the
slightest political interference — what the culprits fear most?
Majorie Flowers, except by reputation, but she seems to be the neighbour we
would all love to have. I have spoken with Jim Learning many times and have
received hospitality at his home. He is the kind of person who would step over
Churchill River, Eldred Davis — not a talker or a man given to meaningless flourish —
gave this neophyte advice, occasionally sharing his Labrador tent, and
insights, too — about the River, and life — exhibiting truly admirable qualities
including kindness and an enormous intelligence.
people to be taken seriously because they care about the planet, about their
community and society. They care about fairness and about respecting rights. No
different than Judge Murphy, they just want the same rules applied equally to
public does not have to support or condone their form of protest.
others can indicate their displeasure to Premier Ball and Justice Minister Andrew Parsons — giving focus to their failure to lead, their failure help heal a
society irreparably wounded, their failure to insist that those responsible for
the debacle that is the Muskrat Falls Project should also face the rule of law.
think about those things — just as we should acknowledge and respect the
courage and selflessness of Majorie Flowers, Jim Learning and Eldred Davis.
has had a hard time finding the courage demanded of leadership. The three from
Labrador have selflessly given him one more opportunity.
until others join those three, and dither some more while those who really give
our society offense mock him and our unwillingness to compel him to act.
show, right now, a measure of the courage exhibited by the Labrador Three.