Marshall talks legacy

James McLeod
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When Premier Tom Marshall was asked about the independent review of the province’s accesss to information system, he smiled.

Premier Tom Marshall says Nalcor was modelled on Norway’s Statoil. “Oil companies can make massive amounts of wealth, and Nalcor is going to be part of that,” he said. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

“I won’t be there then, so you’ll ask the new guy,” Marshall said.

Whoever the new guy is, when he takes over on July 5th, he’ll inherit a government and an economy deeply shaped by Marshall.

It’s not just the five months he’ll serve as premier; it’s also the six budgets he’s delivered since 2007 as finance minister, along with time spent in the departments of Natural Resources and Justice.

So, when the new guy takes over, what kind of economy, what kind of situation is he inheriting?

“The last 10 years have been phenomenal for our economy. I mean, there’s been such a major change. And when I think of the future, I get really excited. You know, looking in particular what can come out of what Nalcor is doing …,” he said. “I find a lot of people are critical, and yet Nalcor is the people’s company. It’s not a foreign company; it’s not a private company that’s motivated just to earn profits for its own shareholders.”

Marshall’s legacy in five months as premier will likely be the recent push for government transparency and accountability structures, but looking at the big picture, he says the legacy of 10 years of Tory government is Nalcor.

When Opposition Leader Dwight Ball sat down with The Telegram for a Horizons interview, he lamented that the oil boom hasn’t given birth to a mega-corporation of the kind that’s grown out of other Atlantic provinces — companies like Irving, McCain’s, or Sobeys.

But Marshall said the government has been deliberately building its own behemoth.

“It was done to copy Statoil — the Norwegian model — that we would build a state-owned company, owned by the people of the province, and they could invest in the oil and gas industry so we could be at the table and we could learn that business,” he said.

“Oil companies can make massive amounts of wealth, and Nalcor is going to be part of that.”

Marshall said projections for Nalcor mean hundreds of millions of dollars coming back into the provincial treasury in the coming decades.

“By 2025 it’ll be up to $700 million, $750 million per year,” Marshall said. “The revenues will come in, they’ll take care of their debt and the interest on their debt, and then it’ll come into the province that we can use, or the government of the day will be able to use it to lower rates; to put money in a heritage fund; to build schools, hospitals, long-term care facilities.”

All of this is fuelled by oil.

On election day in 2003, when the Tories won the government, the price of oil was US$29 per barrel. At the beginning of March, it was US$111.

And while Marshall said the government has being putting money into infrastructure, education and health care, there’s always a demand for more.

The tough part, according to Marshall, is that right now it’s still a deed half-done.

“We’re in the building stage, and we have to invest. But the next stage is that when this building is completed and then the revenues start coming in, that’s going to be so beneficial to the people of the province,” he said.

“A lot of people are saying, ‘Why are you putting money into Nalcor?’ Because they can say, ‘Why don’t you put it into a hospital now? Or why don’t you put it into a school?’”

If the poll numbers don’t turn around for the Tories, there’s a good chance the Liberals will win the next election.

“I guess every government has a life,” Marshall said.

“Our government, you know, came in under Premier (Danny) Williams. I can assure the people of the province we took very, very seriously what we’re doing. We worked extremely hard to make this happen, and obviously, you know, we would like to be there to take it to the next level as well.”

But Marshall also said in the final reckoning, he thinks people will be kind to the Tories.

“I think people are going to look at what we’ve done and compare it to what other governments have done. They’re going to look at our team and our leader and compare it to the other team and their leader,” he said.

“People always make the right choice, and we think when they make the comparison, they’re going to say this has been a good government.”

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: The Telegram, Statoil

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Recent comments

  • Ron John coles
    April 08, 2014 - 14:12

    Great job that premier Williams did for the province.....The province is far from being fixed I'm afraid.....when the corruption of the laws and agencies involved are dealt with instead of being ignored by the current and former premiers.....then and only then .....should Legacies be discussed in regards to the province's leaps and bounds in new found riches that are apparently all for the better good of it's people.....These premiers shouldn't bank on leaving a legacy in office painted as and in guise of being seen as squeaky clean.....they are very well informed on corruption and criminal behaviour within our major systems.....Legacy is a word that is far to premature and undeserving just yet.

  • Tony Rockel
    April 05, 2014 - 13:18

    "Legacy"?? Mr Marshall. How about "infamy"? If Nalcor is "the people's company" then why do they treat us like a bunch of medieval peasants? Why the secrecy? And where do you get your ludicrously optimistic projections? From Nalcor of course! Why, if this is such a fabulous project, will we be subsidizing the Nova Scotia consumers? Why is Nalcor being giving a free hand to put us tens of billions of dollars in debt in order to finance what is in effect 19th Century energy technology? It's clear from Ed Martin's public statements that he is totally unfit to be in charge of this province's energy resources.

    April 05, 2014 - 10:32

    The inherent contradiction in these statements seems lost on Marshall. That his legacy as premier should include a "push for government transparency and accountability' is as impressive as a drunk swearing off alcohol. It was the government in which he was a dominant influence that consciously chose not to be transparent or accountable. Ironically it did so to prevent public scrutiny of the second of his claimed legacies - NALCOR. So at this point we still have no return to open, accountable government - merely the promise that it will be studied and decided upon once Marshall is off the scene. On the second, we still have no NALCOR spawned riches - just the promise of it. What we do have are continuing deficits and a burgeoning public debt. We have a crown corporation that rivals its creator in sheer clout. It continues to siphon resources from our petroleum coffers to feed its hydro-electric ambitions. It is because of that ambition that the province has taken on more debt and more risk to its fiscal reputation than at any other time in its history. The debt and the risk might be bearable if the raw economics of Muskrat weren't so hopeless. But this is a project hurriedly concocted in secrecy by an antsy out-going premier - one whose own cock-suredness had already cost the taxpayer more than $100,000,000 in the accidental nationalization of a polluted industrial property. The badly conceived Muskrat mega-project was passed off to a handpicked replacement who lacked the intellect, experience and temperament to remedy its flaws or - failing that - the wisdom to abandon it. Instead, a crown corporation that was given card-blanche to pursue its dream-turned-nightmare revealed its own incompetence and indifference when it suddenly plunged the province into a miserable, bitter cold winter darkness that lasted for weeks. Mr. Marshall is not a self-serving, ill-intentioned or even incompetent leader. Nor were his predecessors. But their collective failures reveal one timeless, inescapable truth about power - that left unchecked it will ultimately lead to arrogance, and arrogance will inevitably lead to tragedy. Sadly, past and present, Newfoundland's experience is a testament to that truth.

  • New Veteran
    April 05, 2014 - 09:47

    Mr. Marshall. Your Father, Jack Marshall, veteran of WW II who served with the 166th Newfoundland Field Regiment, would not be impressed by his son avoiding the question. He may be content with your political acumen.

  • Mike
    April 05, 2014 - 09:31

    Mr. Marshall, First, they are projections! That's all they are. Will you eat your words and pay the balance when these projections are not achieved? Second, your legacy will be sitting on the pension fund liability and doing absolutely nothing! You've been the finance minister for seven of the past nine years and watched this grow, grow, and grow and still did nothing. That's your legacy ..... the "soft - spoken man that did nothing!"

    • Observer
      April 07, 2014 - 19:45

      Will you eat YOUR words when these projections ARE achieved???

  • W. Bagg
    April 05, 2014 - 08:14

    A few questions: So if oil is $111 BBL at beginning of March what was Nalcor's prediction of price that justified MF. How many budget numbers did Marshall accurately predict. Tories always like to compare the province's budget to a family budget. Well, in my house we never seem to get those type of windfalls where our income jumps to 1.5 times our wage when we forecast our family finances. And when Marshall says the "next guy", I wouldn't mind knowing more about the next guy before he actually is the next guy. Let's hear something real from Coleman

  • Charles
    April 05, 2014 - 07:25

    Mr Marshall sorry don't agree with you concerning the economy, Government didn't do one thing to shaped our economy, oil and oil only. If you think spending money into infrastructure, is building our economy, just another form of make work project. when its done its done for 35 - 40 years. Has for Nalcor, its not the people company, because if it was.. we the people wouldn't have to fight so hard for information concerning the issue surrounding this project. Anytime a politician has to go out sides of his province for ideas, then we are paying the wrong people. Sir when this dance is over with, you will go down in history has the worst finance minister. Just another tory walking away, don't wanted to stay around and let the people decides if you should stay or go. Now you got Ball going around taking about job creation, Dwight where you the past three years?

  • John Q Public
    April 05, 2014 - 07:05

    "On election day in 2003, when the Tories won the government, the price of oil was US$29 per barrel. At the beginning of March, it was US$111." That my friends tells the true story of this PC government. Cut the spin that people like Williams, Dunderdale and Marshal have been feeding us and look at the FACTS. The price of oil is what created the boom for the Northeast Avalon and it really had nothing to do with the PC Governments actions since 2003. ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY NOTHING! What we are left with is the legacy of the PC Governments since 2003. MASSIVE debt in spit of a windfall in revenues. Another BILLION $ borrowed this year just to pay for BASIC services to taxpayers!!!!!!!