Liberals withholding Muskrat Falls oversight report

James
James McLeod
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The Liberal government is keeping an oversight report on Muskrat Falls secret until they’re ready to “open the books” on the $9-billion megaproject, and it’s tough to say when that will happen.

An oversight report of the Muskrat Falls project was to have been released this month, but won’t be.

Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady was not available to answer questions on the issue, and a statement sent to The Telegram on her behalf offered no reason for withholding the Muskrat Falls oversight report from the public.

This comes at a time when there are new concerns that the massive Labrador hydroelectric project could be further over budget and behind schedule.

Nalcor Energy CEO Ed Martin wouldn’t say at the Crown-owned company’s annual general meeting last week.

Under public pressure in 2014, the government of the day announced it would institute a Muskrat Falls oversight committee that would review all facets of the project and provide quarterly updates on costs, schedules and other particulars.

It’s been six months since the last oversight committee report was released on Sept. 29.

In an emailed statement sent by a spokeswoman on behalf of Coady, the government said the report — which should have been released in December — won’t come out until after the government is ready to release a larger report by consulting firm EY.

The larger EY report is part of the Liberals’ centrepiece election campaign promise to “open the books on Muskrat Falls,” but when that will happen is anybody’s guess.

“The December 2015 report of the oversight committee will be posted once the work of EY is complete,” the email from Coady’s spokeswoman said. “Regarding your questions on the EY report, the provincial government continues to work with EY. As was said on December 21, once EY has completed their work, the report will be provided to the oversight committee for review, then it will be released to the public.”

No explanation was given for why the government is choosing to withhold the December oversight report until the EY report is released.

While the original announcement about the EY report said it would be reviewed by the oversight committee for public release, the same news release in December said, “The process will be completed in March 2016.”

NDP Leader Earle McCurdy said that despite the Liberals campaigning to run a more transparent, responsive government, the results on the Muskrat Falls project so far have been “woeful.”

McCurdy said the fact the government has not released the most recent update from the oversight committee is cause for concern.

“The people who are expected to foot the entire bill here are not getting anything like disclosure or transparency,” he said.

“They appear to be simply taking the Conservatives’ position lock, stock and barrel and carrying on as if there hadn’t been a change in government.”

Tory MHA Keith Hutchings had a different view, saying the government he was a part of built some adequate oversight mechanisms, but the Liberals are letting it fall apart.

“That’s somewhat surprising, based on some of the things this government said when they were in opposition, with regards to making information available, being open and transparent,” Hutchings said.

“It would be nice to see some leadership on the issue, from the minister herself.”

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Muskrat Falls oversight committee, EY.The, Conservatives

Geographic location: Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Terry B
    March 31, 2016 - 06:24

    The project is over budget and behind schedule at the same time our province is two billion in debt every year for the foreseeable future. People are getting laid off everywhere and public services are being cut. I think the government is not releasing the new information because it would cause a panic. It is easier to stick their head in the sand or hide away in their happy place rather than face the music on this one.

  • Tom
    March 30, 2016 - 13:47

    As transparent as mud!

  • Jon
    March 30, 2016 - 11:59

    Were the Liberals ever pressed on how this work was awarded to EY?

  • Pat
    March 30, 2016 - 11:14

    Nalcor is a crown corporation that is owned by the taxpayers. Muskrat Falls is an entirely publicly funded project with our tax dollars. But our government will not release information about the progress and oversight of the project. This is worse than Bill 29 and Kathy Dunderdale's mistakes.

  • david
    March 30, 2016 - 10:43

    Three years ago, I said this whim would cost $12B. And as of the oil price bubble bursting 18 months ago, NL will now never have the money to pay for it. Thanks Danny.

  • Greg
    March 30, 2016 - 10:41

    The Liberals under Dwight Ball really have no idea what they are doing. Expectations were high for the new government although the road to power was a gift. You could have painted a dog yellow and called it the Liberal candidate and it would win as my father used to say. But if those expectations are not soon met, it can turn on a dime. More than once it has been said Dwight ball will only be a half term Premier or it will be a 1 term Liberal government. Two local media outlets this week ran straw polls about satisfaction with the new government's performance in their first 100 days in office and both gave the Dwight Ball government a failing rating.

  • Me
    March 30, 2016 - 10:06

    How can they have an oversight report when there has been no oversight..... Nalcor has done what they damn well wanted to do and will continue to do the same!

  • Muggins
    March 30, 2016 - 09:55

    Only in NL can you grow turnips for 50 cents a lb & sell them for 10 cents a lb, and convince the people you are making them a profit.

    • steve
      March 30, 2016 - 12:14

      Ontario has been doing it with their FIT program, paying 50 to 80 cents per kilowatt for "green energy" and selling it for 3.5 to 4 cents. politicans don,t care.

  • Outta Here
    March 30, 2016 - 09:48

    This really pisses me off! Muskrat has sent this province into a financial death spiral. I thought we got rid of most of the incompetents at the last election. Ball is proving to be the absentee leader. You have the mandate - LEAD for christs sake!! I retired here from ON five yrs ago. What a mistake that turned out to be. I can't make up my mind whether the politicians here are corrupt or really that stupid. No wonder Que got the Upper Churchill. NL is too stunned to run it - except into bankruptcy.

    • Tony Strong
      March 31, 2016 - 06:46

      Some of what you say it true, BUT,,, if you knew your history you would find that. the one mistake that Nfld.. made on the Upper Churchill, was to assume that the Cdn Govt would force Quebec to allow the transmission lines to go through Quebec..that did not happen... NO WHERE will you find the Government of Newfoundland's signature or involvement with the deal.. The company that did the project and the deal was Brinco...they were faced with two choices, at the time..take it of do the largest bankruptcy in history..it is a pity that they were not smart enough to try and put an escalation clause in that deal..

  • Enough of this
    March 30, 2016 - 09:45

    Sorry, time for a recall. Open and transparent? All politicians are crooks and lairs. A revolt is in order in the province and country. How can we permit people to gain office or jobs under false pretense? Where are all the Class Action Lawyers these days? We want our Government and our money.

  • john
    March 30, 2016 - 09:06

    Stop listening to all the crap from these politicians. How many administrations since Joey's days do you need, one after another? All talk, talk, talk about BETTER TOMORROWS to suck people in and vote for them. The results. Things like Muskrat Falls that nobody voted for are rammed down their throats. Do yourself and your family, pack your bags and get out. I did so myself 20 years ago and have not looked back since. I suspect that a lot of people will be doing so after the next provincial budget!!!

    • Pierre Neary
      March 30, 2016 - 15:45

      Didn't Kathy Dunderdale win an election running on a promise to go ahead with MF?

  • Flying Fig
    March 30, 2016 - 08:50

    I have no confidence in Coady as NR minister, or any position of any importance, nor of Ed Martin as CEO of Nalcor.

  • Jack
    March 30, 2016 - 08:50

    Welcome to the "Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador" or should I say the "Two Face Party of Newfoundland and Labrador" after they make promises to change this province, and then turn their back on the Newfoundland and Labrador people and defend powerful interests, notably Gerry Byrne and Siobhan Coady. In the case of Gerry Byrne, he says that he stands for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly Corner Brook, and then turn his back on Corner Brookers in defending Grenfell Campus - Memorial University's decision to close its pool, and doing nothing to keep it open. To add insult to injury, Mr. Byrne has the nerve to say that Grenfell Campus - Memorial University can make their own decision, but doesn't realize that we Newfoundland and Labrador taxpayers own it, meaning that whether Byrne likes it or not, its a Government owned institution. Siobhan Coady is now pulling a "Gerry Byrne" in making a promise to make Muskrat Falls project more transparent, and then she too turns her back on the Newfoundland and Labrador people in withholding it. Keep it up Gerry Byrne and Siobhan Coady and you'll be voted out in 2019 for failing to serve the will of the people. C'mon, this is Newfoundland and Labrador, not Ukraine.

  • hOpeness and Transaparency
    March 30, 2016 - 08:42

    Here we go again. Politicians ducking important public questions. Siobhan Coady too frequently inserts herself into paltry issues just to get some profile but when the legitimate questions are asked she has an unnamed spokeswoman try to deflect the issue. Did Siobhan Coady have a public competition for this kind of staffer? I don't remember seeing it advertised. This is the exact same tomfoolery that the PC governments would pull.

  • justin case
    March 30, 2016 - 08:30

    Let's face it fellow citizens of the rock...if the project was on budget and on time, would the report be released? Of course, there may even be a few helium filled balloons released from the hills of Confederation Bldg. Mind you, only a few with fiscal restraints.

  • Errol
    March 30, 2016 - 07:19

    This article is talking about not releasing the December report of the Muskrat Falls 'Oversight Committee'. This is not the same review promised by the Ball Government during the election campaign, although the same consultancy, EY, will provide the Review. If anyone had taken the time to read the 'Oversight Committee' meeting minutes, they must surely conclude that they were but a bureaucratic exercise in futility, typically containing commitments to have another meeting. This Oversight Committee was Chaired by the Clerk of the Executive Council, our senior bureaucrat. There was certainly no comfort found in any reading of these minutes, with respect to the security of our massive public investment. Muskrat is a failed project today, and should be immediately mothballed, in my opinion. I await the forthcoming EY 'Review' with much trepidation.

    • maderigthhere
      March 30, 2016 - 07:49

      Consultant Reports! Govts. direct consultants to write what govt wants to say or rewrites these reports.

  • Kev
    March 30, 2016 - 07:15

    Disgusting. Ed Martin is still pulling all the strings.

  • Roberta Frampton Benefiel
    March 30, 2016 - 07:06

    The Liberals are no different than the PCs ... All tarred with the same brush in my opinion. Is there no credibility in our governments at all? Will not one person come forward and tell the people what is going on behind the cabinet doors. I don't think so. Time to take them to task individually... each and every citizen to each and every "so called" representative. We elect them then we set them free. Time to change the way we give our representatives a job, pay them well, and then walk away and let them do as they please! Step up People! Knock on their office doors. Demand answers!

    • maderigthhere
      March 30, 2016 - 07:52

      I total agree with you...we really need an overhaul of our political system ...

    • Huck
      March 30, 2016 - 10:32

      Maybe that is the answer to getting good government. Some of our provincial and federal representatives should literally be tarred with a brush, covered with feathers, and rode out of town on a rail. That may get their attention long enough to actually serve the public that elected them.

  • Brian
    March 30, 2016 - 06:54

    Hutchings is full of it with his adequate oversight comment. There wasn't any competent, probing or valid oversight . There isn't anything but bad, disturbing and disastrous news on this project. We need to try to get out of Muskrat Falls as quickly as possible and face the consequences . When all the dust settles ,there needs to be a day of reckoning and possible criminal charges and jail time . Some of the principals should be glad that it isn't a crime to be stupid and incompetent but the people that gave the orders need to be made accountable.

    • Errol
      March 30, 2016 - 09:54

      We all should agree that MF is an egregious disregard of the public good. The question of whether it was wanton and reckless disregard, and just maybe an offense, will take time to discern. We, the victims who must pay dearly for this deception, should not lose sight of this possibility, in my opinion.

  • steve
    March 30, 2016 - 06:23

    Different bunch of liars, same confederation building.Simple as that.NLers its time to take a stand or we well all freeze to death in our homes. Dwights gang is about as transparent as a roof shingle.

    • Tim
      March 30, 2016 - 07:26

      "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss"

    • Jack
      March 30, 2016 - 08:51

      That's why the Liberals should be called the "Two Face Party" or "White Cat Party". Keep it up and Siobhan Coady and Gerry Byrne will be voted out in 2019 for failing to serve the will of the people.

  • Spaz
    March 30, 2016 - 05:21

    Coady may be repeating her federal past as a one hit wonder.