RCMP and PUBLIC PROSECUTOR FINAL STEP IN LONG MUSKRAT JOURNEY

Guest Post by the “Anonymous Engineer”

EDITOR’S NOTE: The author of today’s article is the whistleblower, dubbed the “Anonymous Engineer”, who first disclosed falsification of the estimates for the Muskrat Falls project in January, 2017. 
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The Muskrat Falls Inquiry had a very interesting
beginning, which may have been forgotten by now. When the costs of the project
started going off the rails, the public outcry for an inquiry began to get
louder and louder.
  The timing was about
mid 2017. The demand for an inquiry was strongly resisted by the leadership at
the time, Premier Ball, Minister Coady, and Stan Marshall the CEO (Chief
Executive Officer) of Nalcor. The public pressure for that response was too
strong to resist. The leadership capitulated and initiated an Inquiry. Time
line about mid 2018.


If anyone believes the Inquiry was welcome and initiated
voluntarily, they are mistaken; it was not.

After a huge effort, and working enormously hard
for about 11 months, Justice Le Blanc delivered a much-awaited Report in early
March, 2020.  What a lethal documentation
of deceit, deception and falsification by Nalcor, and incomprehensible
incompetence on the part of every Government department that had a role in the
project!

Under the Terms of Reference, Justice LeBlanc had no
mandate to assign blame or find anyone guilty. As he said many times during the
Inquiry, “This is not a trial. This is an Inquiry.” His mandate was to find and
report the facts.

The findings in the Report are egregious beyond
belief.

The question that will never go away is this: who
is responsible and what are the consequences for those who misbehaved?  The public has a right to demand from our
leadership that this question is raised and answered. Our elected leaders are
duty bound to respond.

Nalcor took
full advantage of the incompetence of the Government departments and the Nalcor
Board of Directors, who had no idea of what was expected of them. The
Commissioner gave the benefit of the doubt to the Government even if, it seems,
Premier Dunderdale knew more than she told her Ministers or that certain public
servants were less than professional.
Knowing how to provide oversight to a complex
multi billion dollar project, is the privy of a very few companies in the world.  It would never be found among public servants who have no experience.



As to Dunderdale’s Ministers and successor
Premiers, there is ample evidence of naivety and rank ignorance. Justice LeBlanc’s report clearly states that the Nalcor PMT (Project Management Team)
thought they knew how to manage the project, but they did not. Hence the result
that we now have.

Even the private sector companies who were
expected to provided to oversight failed. Both MHI (Manitoba Hydro
International) and the IE (Independent Engineer) were both manipulated by
Nalcor to the point of being utterly useless and servile. Only EY held their
ground.

This question that begs to be asked is this:  How is accountability to be established for decisions
required by such a large and complex project? Premier Ball has stated that the
Report has been given to the RCMP and the Department of Justice for
investigation. Do these departments have the skills to investigate such complex
issues? Through no fault of their own, are they, too,  completely in over their heads?  If the Report is any guide as to the ability and
competence of Government departments, most likely they will fail.

This process
may well require the servicesof an
external agency, a  company having
experience in performing forensic audits, possessing the management and
engineering skills to assess Nalcor’s deceptive practices, its interference in
the reports of consultants to obtain a desired outcome, the failure to report up-to-date
cost estimates and forecasts,the failure to obtain Board approvals and, otherwise,
what appears to have been multiple breaches of trust in relation to the Board
and the Government. 

Should the RCMP and the Public Prosecutor
determine that they possess the requisite skills, and do not require the
services of an external agency, they need to act with a sense of urgency.

If a decision is made not to press charges, then
the public needs to be informed of that outcome as well.

Co-Council Barry Learmonth examines former CEO Ed Martin at Muskrat Falls Inquiry

The Report chronicles multiple occasions of
misinformation, concealment of information, and falsification of reports to an
extent that any layperson might conclude that this travesty did not happen by
mistake. Those were deliberate and strategic Executive decisions. Many times,
in volumes 1, 2 and 3, the Report states “Nalcor knowingly understated the
costs”, or Nalcor misled. The evidence suggests that Nalcor knowingly misled
just about every entity it interacted with or withheld information it should
have provided.


The public has every right to know why those
decisions were made, who made them and whether our system of justice is capable
of meting out proportional consequences when those in authority abuse that
authority.  Bringing the Province to the
doorstep of bankruptcy is no trivial matter; the deceit employed by those who
oversaw Muskrat Falls is integral to Newfoundland and Labrador’s dreadful fiscal
position.

The extent of the harm that Muskrat Falls has
caused was recently reflected in the need for the Bank of Canada to secure bond
funding for Newfoundland and Labrador.


There is a public obligation on the part of the
legal system to hold those responsible to account.  How it disposes of Judge LeBlanc’s Report will
be a historic test of our system of justice, especially our prosecutorial
processes. We will discover if white collar crime conducted at the highest
level merits attention and if the public trust warrants the protection of the
rule of law.

This is the final leg of a long, long journey to
get to the bottom of the Muskrat Falls saga. If the justice system fails to pursue the evidence which another legal process has uncovered, we will be even poorer than the squander of $12.7 billion has already confirmed.

OPINION POLL OVER-RATES INEFFECTIVE TORY OPPOSITION

Having survived in spite of themselves, in Opposition the Tories have been lazy and uninspiring.  The fact that it is summer, and the House of Assembly is closed, admittedly makes their job tougher, except that the Party’s manifest weakness is not a seasonal problem.

REMEMBERING CABOT MARTIN (1944-2022)

He was an exceptional person. A gifted intellect for sure; irascible and argumentative, too. What endeared him to many was not just that he was analytical and insightful, but that he was honest and forthright. He was a public policy wonk; resource policy interested him most. He loved to travel and read; people, with something to say, were always important.

GNL RUSHING INTO ANOTHER “SCHEME”: CABOT MARTIN

I must say that after the Muskrat Falls fiasco, I thought our government had finally learnt its lesson and would not to rush into another such scheme where calling it “green” was enough to suspend all critical analysis.