Readers of the Uncle Gnarley blog have probably heard enough
of the Muskrat narrative since the Inquiry began in September. Likely, most have
broken out the Christmas cheer — including the legal weed — which is sensible,
as long as the car keys are buried. Sobriety
may not be good for your health right now.
In what other way, I wonder, could the drip-drip-drip of mind-numbing
testimony extracted by Commission Co-Counsel be suffered by a decent citizenry,
Fortuitously, O’Brien and Learmonth have been gifted the
skills of interrogation, each one displaying the painstaking artistry of the dentist’s
drill. It is a useful tool, too, so many of their subjects having exhibited
excessively large memory cavities. Poor mental dentition was repeatedly the
politicians’ escape. Ignorance of cavernous proportions was also on display, overlain
with unbridled hubris. Ed Martin even elicited from the Commissioner an unscheduled
interim report — actually a tongue-lashing — which described him as “rude”,
though I expect an even harsher assessment awaits.
Co-counsels’ artful dentistry aside, for a public still
suffering bewilderment that Danny was little more than a pamphleteer as other politicians and bureaucrats were reckless or just plain dumb, the
outpouring of proof that the Muskrat narrative was contrived has the capacity
to shake our faith in parliamentary democracy.
an unrepentant, though less vituperative, former Premier Kathy Dunderdale.
|Photo Credit: Chronicle Herald|
The first allowed that, at sanction, she believed that the Federal
Loan Guarantee (FLG) had been locked down when it was not. She had based this
conclusion, she said, on assurances that Sanction of the Maritime Link by the
UARB — the equivalent of our PUB — would not be necessary.
Even in Dunderdale’s world, where the concept of risk is
neither fully understood nor accounted for, such misapprehension is
unforgivable because the public ordinarily expects that even the dullest
politician will be propped up by legal and other technical advisors. In this
case, her testimony confirms that not one of her Cabinet colleagues — not even
Jerome Kennedy, the prolific note-taker who exhibited neither leadership nor usefulness
— was sufficiently alert to prevent such a fundamental error. In short,
Dunderdale’s testimony is hard to believe.
former Premier testified that she would not have sanctioned Muskrat absent the
FLG. Yet Sanction allowed contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to be
issued: exactly what Nalcor wanted to ensure that there would be no going back.
issue is not resolved… There was nothing to prepare me for this information.”
described the conditions under which the FLG would be granted.
of the Maritime Link can take place. In addition, Section 3.5A (vii) of the Federal
Loan Guarantee agreement of November 30, 2012 requires sanction of all
projects, “including the Maritime Link,” as a condition precedent.
the UARB. But Dunderdale thought NS Premier Darrell Dexter was going to
neutralize the UARB, and there is evidence before the Inquiry which establishes
this expectation. It follows that Dexter was also expected to change the
conditions of the Term Sheet. But in
contrast to Nalcor’s and Dunderdale’s disrespect for the PUB, Premier Dexter
had no such latitude or intention. He had merely suckered a bunch of novices on
the path of Muskrat — regardless of the cost.
also an example of massive dysfunction by the Government. Little wonder that
Sanction was dubbed a “charade” by critics. Doubtless, Ed Martin knew the
difference. Perhaps it is not the least bit strange that there is no record of Emera’s
undertaking; there is only one of NL’s expectation.
add insult to injury, the cost of the Energy Access Agreement (EAA) that the
UARB later extracted from NL was an estimated $700 million – $1.4 billion. It
requires, among other benefits, an average annual offer to NS of 1.2 TWh of
electricity until 2041. The deal jeopardizes the ability of the Province to provide
this power to NL industry or to Labrador mining as “firm” energy unless we are
prepared to underwrite the development of additional sources.
David Vardy writes, “we were snookered by NS at every turn. We gave them more
than 20% of the power in value terms, agreeing to supply during our own peak
demand. We left the strategic risk out of the cost estimate allowing NS to pay
20% of grossly underestimated costs. NS did not share our overruns but we had
to share theirs. We gave them a prime investment in the LIL at a guaranteed
return. We neutralized our PUB and empowered the UARB to make the final
is right, except on that account we have no one to blame but ourselves.
second bombshell dropped by Dunderdale was her assertion that Ed Martin told
her in casual conversation that the worst-case scenario for Muskrat overruns
was $500 million. While $500 million pales against the $5.3 billion of overruns
now racked up, the revelation is disturbing because it makes a mockery of the
importance of accountability as well as the processes of decision-making. In
contrast to the former Premier’s recollection, Jerome Kennedy testified that he
believed that $6.2 billion (plus financing costs) was a hard number.
does even the potential for overruns of a half-billion dollars not make it to
the Cabinet table? What kind of Premier discusses such a huge sum of money at
the water cooler without demanding from the then-CEO a formal submission to
Cabinet detailing the admission? And on what basis does Dunderdale think the disclosure
did not warrant telling the public?
will give the last word to David Vardy:
then justice is but a charade.”