Flip-flop season

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It probably wouldn’t have been so startling if the examples weren’t so close together. But you have to wonder about how willing the provincial government is to hear anything that conflicts with its own vision.

In the House of Assembly on Monday afternoon, Premier Kathy Dunderdale had this to say about a management expert’s criticism of her government’s appointment of inexperienced directors to the board of Nalcor: “Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the CBC and experts from Toronto, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are quite capable to determine who manages their affairs.”

The expert’s concern? That new board members with little experience in corporate governance and a sparse background in energy issues might be a bad choice for a company that’s in the throes of considering multi-billion-dollar energy sector investments.

Dunderdale had a similar answer to a question about the board appointments from Lorraine Michael.

“We have heard quite a few aspersions from her in the last 10 days or so about the character of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, Mr. Speaker, and I, for one, do not like it very much. With all due respect to expertise outside of this province, we know what we are doing here. We got to where we are today by the knowledge, the support and the business experience of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, of the people who sat in this House and made decisions on behalf of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

On Tuesday morning, less than 24 hours later, Dunderdale was singing a different tune, explaining that, in an effort to convince oil executives that Hebron work should be done in this province, they’d hired an international consultant who supported the province’s position.

“We have gone beyond our own expertise in the Department of Natural Resources and hired a consultant, an international consultant, to come and look at that rationale and see if it’s being properly applied as far as infrastructure is concerned. … He’s out of the U.K., we’ll make sure that you have his résumé.”

Dunderdale had no qualms on Monday about dismissing the management expert’s résumé, any more than Justice Minister Felix Collins had no problem out-and-out disparaging and ignoring anyone with access to information expertise who questioned his new changes to provincial access law.

So, what can you take from it all?

Perhaps that qualifications matter if an expert supports the government, and expertise is dismissed as coming from uppity mainlanders if the expert doesn’t.

Apparently, there are government-approved experts and there are all those other experts who are unnecessary.

It’s easy to be confused: is there some sort of accreditation that experts are supposed to take to make them worthy of public attention, or is it truly a matter of whether their opinion happens to echo the provincial government’s own views that gives them particular credibility?

Expertise is a funny thing: it can help you make better decisions, but only if you’re willing to actually listen to it.

Organizations: CBC, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, Department of Natural Resources

Geographic location: Toronto, Newfoundland and Labrador, Hebron

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Recent comments

  • William Daniels
    June 21, 2012 - 21:06

    Kudos to the Telegram. I was wondering the same thing.

    June 21, 2012 - 15:38

    John Smith: You say Nalcor's Board needs no expertise? A board which has oversight responsibilities? You- who consistantly ridicule critics of this project as lunatics for their lack of expertise! Only a government organization would stack it's board with people with no expertise, or private/public firms who don't care much about shareholder imterests. As an investor, I look at who's on the board. When I see people like Newfoundlander Vic Young, it gives comfort. And it's because of his expertise. We once had him working in our interest. A beer distributor on Nalcor's board! Wonder if we're returning to ways of Squire's time. Read about it in Peter Cashin's book. Very timely , that book. Should be a "must read" for all Members of the House, And you too ,John. PS. You are still Silent on whether Muskrat Falls power should be sold for less than cost to mining companies, and Silent as to 600 MW of wasted electricity here due to inefficient heating. You or Nalcor has no expertise to comment on this?

  • Cold Future
    June 21, 2012 - 12:53

    It would appear that a stooge board is being set up for the Muskrat. Recall the PC's in opposition were able to influence the Hydro board to scuttle the Grimes Lower Churchill deal and go on to win the first Williams election. But the scuttling members of the board presumablly had good business backgrounds like Dobbin and McDonald. It seems the present government are ensuring that there is no business acumen available on the board to cause their own tactic to repeat. Shameless arrogance to think all of the people can be fooled even one time to the people's children and granchildren's detriment..

    June 21, 2012 - 11:16

    There’s a hotel in Orlando that uses a unique bit of theatre every day to help justify its outrageous room rates. At the same time every morning a small family of mallard ducks are escorted from their penthouse suite, down a private elevator, along a red carpet through the cavernous lobby to a large ornate fountain in the atrium. There they splash their day away in front of gawkers and guests before once again being marched to the music back to their lavish digs. The person orchestrating all of this is known as the Duckmaster. His priority - literally - is to get and keep all his ducks in a row. Kathy Dunderdale must think of herself these days as something of a Duckmaster. She is dreading the Fall when she will have to parade a preposterous, fatally flawed, patently uneconomic hydro-electric project onto the floor of the House of Assembly. It has become so obvious over the past two years that her Muskrat development cannot stand the test of any serious scrutiny, that Dunderdale has been forced to find new, ever more creative ways of shielding the real underlying facts and figures from public view. To that end, she, Kennedy and Martin had withheld vital information from the body whose mandate it is to protect the public interest in such matters – the PUB. They had expected - strangely enough - that despite this ploy the PUB, like the other ducks, would fall in line and give her government the vote of confidence it needed to over-ride the growing public outrage. But like the federal/provincial environmental review that preceded it, the PUB refused to rubber stamp a project that it recognized could one day bankrupt the provincial treasury. Unperturbed, Dunderdale doubled down. She and her wrecking crew began meticulously dismantling any roadblock that might stand in the way of this thing getting shoved through what is known as gate number 3. The first thing she did was to rejig the access to information legislation to ensure that none of the internal deliberations regarding Muskrat – some of which are very unflattering to the project – would ever see the light of day. The next step was to strip the NALCOR board of any knowledgable independent directors in favour of a group of partisan puppets. This takes place while every other resource at the disposal of NALCOR and government is brought to bear on their critics. That includes mining companies, public relations firms, and even pseudonymous trolls like John Smith. Yes indeed, Dunderdale is leaving no slimy stone unturned to ensure that when debate opens in the House on the mighty Muskrat, her ducks will already be in a row. But when the cameras stop flashing and the ducks disappear, as happens every day at the Peabody in Orlando, it will be left to some poor old sod to clean up the duckshit left behind.

    • John Smith
      June 21, 2012 - 13:13

      LOL...and you call me a pseudonymous(is that a word?) troll Fintip?I have nothing to do with the PC government of NL or any party, I am not affiliated with Nalcor, and will benefit in no way from the muskrat falls project other than having my ever increasing rates stablized, 200-400- million in revenue received by the government, elimination of the 5th worst polluter in canada(duff's), a connection to the mainland allowing us to persue wind and other alternatives, as well as all the excess power industry will need for the next 30 years so we can grow our economy, provide jobs and infrastructure for our kids...other than that I have no interest at all in the project...

    • Willaim Daniels
      June 21, 2012 - 21:17

      Fintip, I am having trouble figuring out whether John Smith is one of the two mayors, the lawyer, or the beer dude.

  • EDfromRED
    June 21, 2012 - 10:30

    Bravo to The Telegram for doing their utmost in letting the current regime know that the citizens of Newfoundland & Labrador are not as ignorant and stupid as they must believe we are. These anti-democratic, patronage promoting activity's are something I'd expect to see on the news about a banana republic, or despot regime. The blatant brazenness of the Provincial PC's in ignoring the will of the people, and the childish arrogance they have displayed in recent months have permanently poisoned my views of this cadre of fools.

  • But wait...
    June 21, 2012 - 09:41

    Why does the Telegram consistently attack Ms. Dunderdale for exhibting the very same behavior that it lauded and adored in Mr. Williams?

    • Eli
      June 21, 2012 - 11:46

      To come to that conclusion you must have been reading those views in some Sunday comic strip.

  • craig
    June 21, 2012 - 09:02

    Is it just simply another "flip flop" or is it more evidence of how duplicitious this government is????

  • Political watcher
    June 21, 2012 - 08:15

    The same can be said of the Muskrat Falls development. Our very own PUB made up of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can't be given time to review the deal yet we go to Manitoba and alow them all the time they need.

  • John Smith
    June 21, 2012 - 06:43

    What???!! How can you compare an appointment to a board, where no expertise is required, to a consultant who is hired only because of his expertise? That makes no sense at all. These boards are designed to have everyday people on them, to offer the views of the people etc. They hired the consultant because of the fact the oil companies were trying to get out from under promises they had made. They hired experts to run Nalcor as well. This is absolutely one of worst, non-sensical rants I have ever read, and the Telegram should be ashamed.