Surely there must be some aspect of the Muskrat Falls affair in
which there is evidence that the public interest mattered? Actually, no. So far,
the facts only show a myopic determination to get the project sanctioned. At the
Inquiry, even the fundamental integrity of Nalcor senior management is now
Paul Harrington, MF Project Director, attempted to influence the conclusions of a process known as a Cold Eyes Review. The Independent Review Panel (IRP) struck for the purpose was chaired by Owen. It was an electrifying
moment to be sure, possibly in part because we may be witnessing how unfettered
executive privilege becomes empowered in an atmosphere of political bombast. The
Commission has not even been able to find government-prepared analysis of the
project. Former Premier Williams was asked by the Commissioner to help locate
|Derek Owen ( Far Left Facing)|
an expression of concern that the SNC-Lavalin and Nalcor Teams were not
“aligned”, Nalcor having taken the Engineering, Procurement, Construction and
Management (EPCM) Contract from SNC and put management of the project in the
hands of an “integrated team“. That there were personality clashes among Team
members, affecting performance, was clear. This titillating insight into how
early in the game SNC’s role was downgraded was overshadowed, however, by the
Report’s recommendations relating to contingency risk.
Three days after
the Final Report was presented to CEO Ed Martin, Paul Harrington contacted Derek
Owen seeking changes. The IRP team had recommended that there be adequate cost
and schedule allowances included in the total project costs at sanction. He wanted
the word “recommendations” changed to “observations” and demanded that the specific phraseology
applied to the need for appropriate contingencies be watered down.
that such changes made after the fact would be contrary to their Charter and to
their professional ethics.
after — CEO Ed Martin had received the Report, sets off a huge alarm.
Harrington’s actions — whether at Ed Martin behest or not — calls into question
the very integrity of the entire senior management group, one that pulled out
every stop to keep the project going forward.
The arrogance demonstrated was even further magnified by Harrington’s email to Own in which he characterized the Report as a “Draft Report” when he would have known it was not.
been presented with the IRP findings? Who would read the Report except senior
management, unless there were concerns, even then, that an Inquiry might
eventually start poking around?
by an ardent critic. Rather, his disclosures — actually the Commission’s — puts
on trial the very process by which a project like Muskrat achieves conviction
among official bodies and earns credibility (or derision) from the public.
exactly why something now proven to be a debacle actually never ever passed the
“smell test”. The contingency allowances needed by any development — backyard
shed or megaproject — were not in evidence, and the IRP was compelled to note
the fact for thoroughness and so that the Gatekeeper — Ed Martin — was warned.
And that is exactly what they did.
sector offices; but must it go on in a nascent Crown Corporation where
braggadocio is the only asset on the balance sheet not encumbered by the
is that concepts of “energy warehouse” or notions of public interest are absent.
This is about attitude: a manifest sense of entitlement. It is about the
overarching belief of Harrington and others that they possess a right to meddle
even in an independent review process; one established, ostensibly, for the purpose
of assessing their performance as much as critical omissions from the project
costs and its readiness for sanction.
telegraphs a message to all. The message is: as part of our strategy, we will
eliminate any opposition to this project.
belittled the views of the Joint Review Panel, the Public Utilities Board and,
now, the Cold Eyes Review. Then, too, the arguments of Vardy, Penney and others
were deemed invalid; Nalcor ignored all opposition to Muskrat.
Corleone in the film The Godfather: Part
III which seems to suit the current circumstance. Modified with a plural
pronoun it would read: “They are beyond redemption.”
related to duty; it was all about licence. For him, as for Martin and the
others, there are no bounds. There is only the belief that “I do what I want,
no rules apply to me.”