Lack of government oversight on Muskrat Falls project ‘irresponsible’: Ball

James McLeod
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Opposition politicians are a little bit uneasy about revelations that Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalley said he didn’t need to see a copy of a key report by the only body currently doing independent oversight of the Muskrat Falls project.

Dalley told The Telegram this week that the provincial government never asked to see a copy of the November independent engineer’s report which authorized the federal government $5-billion federal loan guarantee.

That didn’t sit well with Liberal Leader Dwight Ball.

“We’ve got the largest expenditure in our history. We’ve made a commitment to really monopolize the supply of energy in our province, you know, through legislation,” Ball said. “To think that you do not have to provide oversight on something as significant as that, I just believe in my opinion, that is completely irresponsible.”

Dalley told The Telegram that there is nobody in the provincial Department of Natural Resources doing detailed oversight of the Muskrat Falls project.

He said the primary point of contact for information between Nalcor and the provincial government is CEO Ed Martin speaking directly to the deputy minister of Natural Resources, who, in turn, reports to Dalley.

“They passed on all responsibility for this project to Nalcor,” Ball said. “Right now Nalcor is not getting challenged on any decisions that it’s making, you know, from anyone.”

As part of the agreement for the federal loan guarantee, an independent engineering firm was assigned to study the project and provide a report to the federal government as part of due diligence.

A draft version of that report was completed and provided to the federal government in November, which was good enough to allow the feds to approve the loan guarantee.

A subsequent draft of the report was provided to Nalcor last week.

When the Telegram requested a copy of that report, a Nalcor spokeswoman said, “Due to the commercially sensitive information contained in reports of this nature it is not normal practice for such reports to be released publically.”

On Tuesday, Nalcor said it’s hoping to release the report publicly.

“Having just received the independent report from the Government of Canada on Friday, February 21, 2014, Nalcor is taking the time to thoroughly review the document,” Nalcor spokeswoman Karen O’Neill wrote. “While it is likely that significant portions of this report will be released, we still need time to review the entire report and make a determination as to what information is deemed commercially sensitive in nature.

“In making that determination, Nalcor considers established legislation to guide that decision on the release of information. Additionally, since the report was completed on behalf of the Government of Canada, we need to consult with them on the release of its report in whole or in part.”

Speaking to Dalley, he said he felt that he didn’t need to see the report because Nalcor has the experts necessary to do all the Muskrat Falls work.

“I think what we need to recognize — and I would appreciate it if you would — is that Nalcor has assembled a team of experts. The experts are in the engineering oversight, and the work that’s being done for the project (is) among the best of people that we could find,” he said.

Ball said it’s not Nalcor’s competence that’s in question.

“This is not about duplication of work,” he said. “Any organization that you have — even with the best of people, no matter how good they are — they should never shy away from wanting someone else to actually take a look at their work.”

New Democrat Leader Lorraine Michael said that she believes the government is firmly pushing for the absolute minimum amount of oversight when it comes to Nalcor.

“This government, first under Danny Williams and then under Kathy Dunderdale, was absolutely determined to make Muskrat Falls happen, come hell or high water,” she said. “And they didn’t want good oversight, and they still don’t want good oversight.”

Ball also pointed out that the Nova Scotia energy regulator has specifically required that all reports of the independent engineer must be filed with them.

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: The Telegram, Department of Natural Resources

Geographic location: Canada, Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • Stan
    February 28, 2014 - 04:18

    Just catching up on the news, finishes reading the article by Mr Ball, Sir your talking out of the both sides of your mouth, Question the people are asking you, Same one ask by Cathy Bennett, If you were premier, would you stop this project? simple question, but its take a person with (CHESTNUTS ).IT LEAVE YOU OUT...LOL.. Sir the comments that are posted. Don't sound to good for you, I have to agree with everyone, Sir , your just not doing your job. Don't you think its time for you to walk away. Before you embarrass yourself any farther. ..............P/S who did write that line ( Elect Me And Find Out )

  • Thomas
    February 27, 2014 - 11:52

    Can some one please help me, I'm trying to fine the author of this famous saying. ( ELECT ME AND FIND OUT ), I'm not sure if its Mr Barry or Mr Ball. Because that the kind of leadership we need, Someone with out a clue. But after all, that what got us where we are today,

  • Janet
    February 26, 2014 - 17:56

    Please Sir, Mr Ball show a little bit of mercy to the people. Walk away while you can. Before we starts putting a label on you. that you will have to carry for the rest of you life. Our people is getting ready to kick your can to the curb. we need a leader. your not the man. Sir people are calling you Mr Dressup. If you look on youtube, some one is designing a suit for you, They are calling its the N&L Zebra suit, Guess who is the designer is...You Sir.. No disrespect..

  • Tony Rockel
    February 26, 2014 - 13:46

    We have our own Gotham City here, with more than one Joker. Who will be our Batman? Who will clean up the corruption and bring these miscreants to justice?

  • Don II
    February 26, 2014 - 13:42

    It appears that in 2012 the Government of Newfoundland was made fully aware that the Town of Cupids had constructed a commercial marina on Crown land at Pointe Beach in Cupids which was operated for almost two years without any Government approvals or permits. The Town of Cupids did not have title to the Crown land at Pointe Beach but occupied and developed the beach in direct violation of the Lands Act. It appears that the Town of Cupids spent over $600,000 of tax payers money which was not authorized for expenditure to build a commercial marina! Despite complaints from concerned citizens in Cupids, the Government of Newfoundland departments of Environment and Conservation and Municipal Affairs turned a deaf ear and blind eye to the public concerns and did not investigate the unauthorized expenditure of the money and took no legal action against the Town of Cupids for violating the Lands Act. More complaints from concerned citizens were sent and the Citizens Representative conducted inquiries. Eventually, the department of Environment and Conservation Crown Lands Division sent the Town of Cupids a Cease, Desist and Vacate Notice ordering the Town of Cupids to stop operating the unapproved commercial marina and to vacate the unlawfully occupied Crown land at Pointe Beach! It appears that the Town of Cupids then immediately submitted a Crown Land Application for title to the the Crown land at Pointe Beach which it had unlawfully developed without Government permission! It appears Government of Newfoundland is now considering the Crown Land Application from the Town of Cupids! No financial feasibility or environmental impact studies were done. It appears that the commercial marina is not complete and more privately owned water front land is to be expropriated in order for the Town of Cupids to expand the unauthorized commercial marina! Meanwhile, most of the town of Cupids does not have municipal water and sewer service and the roads are in deplorable shape! Is this the irresponsible way that the Government of Newfoundland now intends to operate? It appears that you don't need to bother asking for permission to build on Crown land..just go ahead and do it and challenge the Government of Newfoundland to do something about it! Chances are, if you have the right political connections, the Government of Newfoundland will ignore your violation of its laws and give you permission to do what you want, after the fact! It appears that there is more lack of Government oversight going on besides just at the Muskrat Falls project!

  • Tony Rockel
    February 26, 2014 - 13:36

    We have our own Gotham City here, with more than one Joker. Who will be our Batman? Who will clean up the corruption and bring these miscreants to justice?

  • monty gould
    February 26, 2014 - 11:39

    Dwight Ball is trying to score political points, he could have been a bonus for Joey because he seems to me to be on the same level ...not a clue

  • Harry
    February 26, 2014 - 10:30

    U Just to love N & L politics, Take a long time for people to wake up, But I think they are final seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. That Dwight isn't a leader but a follower...LOL...Sir they are catching on to the liberals (SHENANIGANS )..NO GO ALL BLOW.. ITS TIME FOR THE LIBERAL TO GIVE YOU YOUR WALKING PAPER. After all your the man of the party, not the people.

  • Don II
    February 26, 2014 - 10:29

    Ignoring the requirement for due diligence, refusing to require independent research and review of the project proponents plans is how the Government of Newfoundland operates. No ethical Chartered Commercial Bank would operate in such an irresponsible manner. The Government of Newfoundland expropriated Abitibi by claiming that it was done to create jobs and acquire hydro electric assets for the people. However, no jobs were created and the expropriation violated the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the process which apparently cost the Government of Canada $300 Million to settle with Abitibi. It appears that the Government of Newfoundland expropriated privately owned land in Cupids claiming the land was required in order to establish the Cupids Cove Plantation Provincial Historic Site . The land was taken and the historic site was established despite the fact that proper due diligence and independent historic research was not done! Due diligence and independent historic research would have revealed that the historic record of Newfoundland and Labrador contains no references to a place called the Cupids Cove Plantation! The Government created a provincial historic site to commemorate a place which never existed in the history of the Province! According to the HANSARD record of the House of Assembly, all three provincial political parties agreed that it was acceptable to expropriate Abitibi and privately owned land in Cupids without debate or investigation despite the very dubious and highly questionable circumstances involved! The NDP and Liberals later admitted that they should have questioned and challenged the expropriation of Abitibi. The NDP and Liberals should also have questioned the expropriations of privately owned land in Cupids for the commemoration of the fictional Cupids Cove Plantation! It appears that the Government of Newfoundland has no effective opposition and has ignored the requirement for due diligence and failed to require proper independent research and review of the project proponents plans (Nalcor) prior to entering into a long term project at Muskrat Falls! It appears that the Muskrat Falls project may cost the tax payers and electrical rate payers in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador Billions of dollars above the projected cost estimates! The people will have to pay Billions of dollars for the costs of a project which may turn out to be not financially feasible or capable of reducing electricity rates over the long term! It appears that the Government of Newfoundland bureaucratic culture of incompetence, imperiousness, abuse of authority, misinformation, secrecy and irresponsibility is being allowed to continue virtually unchecked and unchallenged by the NDP and Liberals!

  • Pauline
    February 26, 2014 - 10:04

    People please we all know about the honesty of Mr Ball and the liberal party, all you got to do look back at July 5/2013. When the liberal said no to Mr Murphy.What did the people do concerning this matter, said nothing. you do have to understand what the liberal did is a form of bullying. only thing is, they bully all of N & L by not letting us pick our leader for the party. Now live with it..

  • Mr. Ball we are looking to you to correct and Stop the Corruption of the past governments.
    February 26, 2014 - 09:50

    When it wasn't as easy as it had been for the prior 55 years of being part of Canada and 500 years before that as being part of England, to hoodwink the electorate of Newfoundland and Labrador, as they had become more aware of the bad governance they were subjected to and how their resources were being developed for the politicians and others, Bill 29 was enacted to do the cover-up job by the Conservatives. What present and future governments need to know is that the electorate of Newfoundland and Labrador is a very savvy group especially regarding the knowledge of how they have been governed and that savviness comes from the fact they have been shafted out of their natural resources and the vibrant economy they should have attained forever since the beginning of their existence. So Mr. Ball, if you have anything on the ball, I think if you become Premier you should remember the reasons why you were elected. You would have been elected to look after Newfoundlanders and Labradorians' interest, that being to develop their natural resources strictly for the province and the people's benefit. You, or whoever are elected to be Premier should be satisfied with your premier's salary and whatever perks that come with that job, but please do not develop our resources for your and your business friends' and other outside locations' benefit. That was the way of the past, but it has to come to an end immediately. I am sure Mr. Ball you recognize what has transpired in the past as Corruption and Corruption has to stop no matter where it occurs. Bon Voyage Mr. Ball and remember Honesty is the Best Policy!

  • Tony Rockel
    February 26, 2014 - 09:48

    When it comes to MF, I'd say Dwight has some painful calluses by now, from sitting on the fence.

  • Tom M
    February 26, 2014 - 08:23

    It looks like the house of assembly is back to its tricks of putting up comments to make it look like they have the support of the people on Muskrat Falls. The only support for this project is coming from people who will get rich from this financial blunder. The taxpayers who will be paying for this mess do not support Muslrat Falls. Funny, cold last night. No rolling blackouts, all the lights on, no notifications to conserve. What happened to the lack of power?

  • Jon Smith
    February 26, 2014 - 08:10

    The long term thinking Tories will quickly figure this one out. Let’s see: we are giving away 20 % of the Muskrat power to Nova Scotia for a mere 35 years, but 40% in the early years and a further 40 % at market rates ( presently 5 cents per kWH and delivered at a cost of a mere 20 cents). The Pub will determine who pays for the line to Lab west. Let’s see who have they got to pick from to pay? There’s the island ratepayers and then there’s the island ratepayers – pick your choice. Why in the world would anybody think this whole affair is irresponsible or requires independent oversight?

  • Jay
    February 26, 2014 - 07:37

    I can't believe that people still think that Dwight Ball, the Liberal party, and the money men of the Liberal party are against this project. It's going to be their cash cow.The main opposition has come from the Telegram and a group of unhappy Peckford Tories(Jigger Jim, the Addams family, the Vardy/Penney team) who were insulted when Williams wouldn't let them line up at the trough again. The best you'll get from Ball is that it's too late and the Liberals will then reap the benefits of numerous contract coming from this project. The sad part is that it's not too late, but he has no intention of stopping it. How's that for the honesty of a new government?

  • Dianne
    February 26, 2014 - 07:14

    @picky, This isn't a done deal. If Mr Ball was standing up the people welfare. But then again, we get what we pay for, which is nothing. correct Mr Ball.

  • Maurice E. Adams
    February 26, 2014 - 07:07

    I think at this time (and the polls show it) it is the competence of the government that's in question --- and soon to be shifting to the opposition if our elected officials do not push to stop this gaping sink hole that is hemorrhaging our treasury. .... Readers should go to MacLeod's blog and listen to his actual interviews with Dalley.

  • Joe
    February 26, 2014 - 06:46

    With Poll Lane gone, I guess it is left to Stevie Kent to get the PC Tolls on deck before 6:30. Well it looks like we taxpayers are getting good service for our money. Now, if we could only get them to do as much during the regular day.

  • John Smith
    February 26, 2014 - 06:20

    We had two independent studies done....this one was commissioned by the feds, to satisfy their needs re. the loan guarantee....the result was they gave us the loan guarantee....this is not can you have oversight when there was little done or spent when this report first came out? Now we have Ball and the Telegram trying to make political hay where there is none....and both look like fools to me....

    • Tony Rockel
      February 26, 2014 - 08:23

      "We had two independent studies done"? Who is "we"? Are you actually admitting that you are part of the Dunderdale coven? Anyway, we know what those 2 studies are worth--- not much!

  • picky
    February 26, 2014 - 06:09

    Muskrat Falls is a done deal and why do the Liberals and NDP keep harping on this issue. They are wasting their time, but then again, what else do the have to do !!!

  • Ambrose
    February 26, 2014 - 05:01

    Our great white hope is alive and kicking, Mr Ball I have only one question for you. Are you for the project or not. Just a plain yes or no is require, Please sir no B/S, we had enough of that crap. Thank you. P/S no wind blowing. save that for the infighting. LOL

  • Scott R
    February 26, 2014 - 04:50

    Dwight if you were doing your job, instead of being a part time opposition leader, maybe just maybe, we the people would know more what going on with this project. Sir. Everything with you is Bill 29, One party policy. If you can't handle the job. take a walk. and don't turn back.

  • Crazy
    February 26, 2014 - 04:36

    LOL...REALLY, Ball has final woken up from his long winter nap. Yes Mr Ball I have to agree with you on one thing, Its not Nalcor's competence that's not in question. Its your. Poor opposition leadership on your part, for sitting on the fence so long, hoping this issue was going away.

  • Tony Rockel
    February 26, 2014 - 03:57

    "Irresponsible"? How about "criminal"?