“If I had a
world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is,
because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary-wise; what it is, it
wouldn’t be, and what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”
the upside-down world of Alice would much of what is occurring in this province
make any sense. Still, the behaviours of such an inverted — some would say
perverted — place, their origins in the Premier’s Office, ought not to extend
to our few institutions.
But they do.
NL has been turned upside down.
level of stupidity, denial and self-interest — far more than normal — has infected
our political process. That the Ball Liberals have prolonged the madness begun
by the Tories does not make it any less mad. It has been allowed to run through
the senior bureaucracy, too — try as the government might to create the perception
When the political
leadership is in crisis, the public should be able to rely on normally sensible
people to contradict arrant politicians. No differently than in the mad world
of America’s White House, where Trumpian politics has upped the ante on craziness beyond Alice in Wonderland proportions, NL is subject not just to the behaviours of
the actors involved but also to real-world consequences.
At least the
U.S. Senate and Congress, each constitutionally entitled to check the power
of the President, is sufficiently (albeit just barely) unbound by partisanship
to avoid being comprehensively tethered to Trump’s inanity.
province, we have few such checks and balances.
legislative committee system doesn’t work. The Official Opposition doesn’t
function — undoubtedly fearful its recent history as the Government will
become uncloaked by an Administration better able than Premier Ball to articulate
its devastating legacy.
essentially leaves us with the Office of the Auditor General (AG) which has the
freest hand, the PUB and, because many of our woes relate to dreadful —
possibly corrupt — decisions involving electricity, the Consumer Advocate.
Even though those
institutions have limited legislative authority, none of them is
under the direct thumb of the Premier. For this reason, they ought to display an
essential integrity. They should want to keep their Offices safe from political
taint — from warp by the self-serving interests of the Executive Branch.
like we now experience, we don’t want our institutional heads to crawl down Lewis
Carroll’s imagined or metaphorical rabbit hole, giving credibility to obfuscation
and to outright deceit.
It is not
enough even that they poke their heads out occasionally to confirm that they
are still alive.
The AG and the
Consumer Advocate, in particular, need to acknowledge the existential
financial threats bearing down, and that they have the fortitude to act within
the outer edges of their mandate. We expect them to be activist — even if such
activism involves nothing more than giving the government public counsel which,
on occasion, may constitute harsh rebuke.
Yet, in this
province, there is no such luck!
Premier finds institutional succour from some of those very same people.
Premier on his refusal to call a Forensic Audit:
heard from the AG, Justice, Nalcor CEO and board, as well the Consumer
Advocate, that an inquiry/audit has the potential to interrupt operations.”
having invoked the sources of his counsel, elicited no public statement to the
contrary from the AG, the Minister of Justice, or the Nalcor Board of
Directors. Stan Marshall and the
Consumer Advocate are both on record as not favouring a Forensic Audit at the present time.
Nalcor’s counsel is irrelevant anyway — as if the criminal suspect has the
right to influence or to be a moderator over the police investigation their
not one of the institutional heads — the AG, the Consumer Advocate, or the
Minister of Justice (who has an institutional role as the Attorney General) — has
there issued a single proof giving credence to the suggestion that a
Forensic Audit would be disruptive, that it might slow down the MF project.
There is no
public proof except the Premier’s bland assertions, that is. Neither the AG, the
Consumer Advocate, nor the Minister of Justice has the engineering competence,
without reference to a specialized technical authority, to independently make
such a judgment.
Yet, unless the
Premier is not telling the truth, they have only shared with him the nod of
have offered no limitations on their counsel, no restrictions as to the form of
investigation necessary, no restrictions on timing, no advice as to how the
most likely senior miscreants might be corralled to prevent further offense, or
even how the chief suspects might be contained for cross-examination at a later
neither the AG nor the Consumer Advocate asked the Premier why he did not keep
his word about conducting the Humber Valley Paving Inquiry, to which he long
ago stated his commitment, or why they should believe him now.
knows, or ought to know, the financial state of the province. The Consumer
Advocate has echoed the Premier’s rhetoric about rate mitigation.
know, or ought to know, that the province is fiscally incapable of maintaining
power rates, post-Muskrat, at or near seventeen cents per kWh. The Government’s till is empty. The Premier’s
assertions are unrealistic, even unattainable. Worse than in the twisted world of Lewis
Carroll, they are deceitful — no more, no less.
the two there is only the eagerness to not be off-side with the Premier, permitting him free rein to give the public a completely false sense of expectation.
In Lewis Carroll’s original novel, Alice asks, “Would you tell
me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
Cat responds: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
Of course, notwithstanding crisis, the Premier exhibits no idea that he is anywhere but lost.
leadership could help steer him to a sensible course. Alternatively, they could
inform the public of the truth of their predicament and leave the rest to us.
But the two
only know the language of institutional deference; of leadership all too
willing to play along.
As in the
world of Alice, wherein the normal rules of neither lexicon nor life apply, the politics of NL gets “curiouser and curiouser” indeed.