Muddy waters

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It’s getting a little too complicated now: CBC News has reported about incoming premier Frank Coleman personally benefiting from his former company being released from performance bonds by his soon-to-be-subordinate, Transportation and Works Minister Nick McGrath.

Coleman has called the CBC report “gross misrepresentation.”

McGrath has said he did what he had to do to get road work moving ahead as quickly as possible and, in the process, kind of obliquely protected his future boss’s former company from bankruptcy. Just normal business in the open and accountable province.

Except other road contractors have said the minister’s actions in this case were far from the norm.

And now, in the latest salvo, a group that represents bonding agencies has said McGrath doesn’t know his performance bond from a hole in the ground.

Surety Association Canada president Steven Ness said that McGrath’s explanations about the way he handled a controversial roadwork contract in Labrador don’t make any sense.

“The minister’s comments about the surety bond process were completely irresponsible and just plain wrong,” Ness said in the release.

In a Telegram interview, Ness went further: “It defies reason to suggest that you’re going to save money by not exercising (the bond,)” Ness said. “It’s like if your house burns down, you’re not going to claim your fire insurance?”

Surety Association Canada has no political irons in the fire here. In fact, if anything, McGrath’s actions meant members of the association wouldn’t have to have pay out money to complete work that Coleman’s Humber Valley Paving might have failed to get done.

And that makes the concerns all the more valuable to consider. As to the process taking additional time if McGrath had called in the Humber Valley Paving sureties?

“The surety bonds are likely to minimize those delays because these are guys who have access to a lot of contractors who can get it done as expeditiously as possible,” Ness says.

So, to recap: plenty of people saying plenty of things, with lots of conflicting comments stirring up the political silt.

The province’s auditor general is already peering into the murky morass, in one of those backhanded examinations that seem to be popular with politicians. Even though Premier Tom Marshall has every confidence that everything was done right, he’s asked the auditor to have a little look.

There are different ways to handle a review of something: it can focus on what the players are legally able to do, or it can be more global — and the review should go beyond what a minister legally can do, to what a representative of the people should do.

This silt has to be settled — the current murk benefits no one, except perhaps those who would prefer to keep the machinations of their business out of public sight.

And if you can’t stand being in public sight, maybe you shouldn’t stand for public office.

Organizations: Association Canada, CBC

Geographic location: Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Baffled
    May 29, 2014 - 10:16

    If Mr. Coleman takes this job without submitting himself to an election, it will be nothing more than a Sham and a Mockery of Democracy. Please let go of your desires Mr. Coleman and do what is right and offer yourself in an election, since that is the only honest way of you having a shot at the Premiership given everything that is swirling around you that doesn't appear to be kosher at this very moment.

  • Corporate Psycho
    May 28, 2014 - 20:19

    Bring in the RCMP.

  • Asterisk Needed
    May 28, 2014 - 20:03

    I think Coleman will take the Premier chair just to add another feather in his cap and to have his name written into the political history of our Province. There should definitely be an asterisk by his name, Coleman* not elected, not wanted, HVP scandal...need I say more.

  • Corporate Psycho
    May 28, 2014 - 17:03

    McGrath's stumbling and bumbling in the HOA has been a total embarrassment. I hope he realizes he will be taking the fall for Coleman.

  • Baffled
    May 28, 2014 - 14:24

    I am baffled that he still wants the position of Premier given the looming statistic, that probably 80 per cent of the electorate are very unhappy with all that has gone on that blatantly appears to not be kosher between his business and the government he is wanting to govern. He will need the skin of a rhinoceros to face the Opposition, and the electorate. But please take note this is the "Mindset' that is needed of the people who have become part of the one-per centers, they will forge ahead for their own benefit and to hell with their electorate. They usually have no compunction and no empathy for anyone other than themselves. These people don't care if they take everything and as a result there are children going to bed without anything to eat and having to withstand the cold. So as an electorate we have to fight back! What else can we do, we don't want to be economy-less for the rest of our lives in our beautiful and well endowed province where only the politicians who are bold enough to run government solely for themselves are the only ones who have everything at our expense. If we don't stand up to this type of injustice the politicians will keep on stealing the shop. I hope and pray this man will step aside and say 'the people have spoken I cannot accept this job without being elected by the electorate? '

  • ban coleman
    May 28, 2014 - 09:39

    Mr Coleman should not be allowed to take over as premier until he is elected! Way too much controversy in his business dealings.... This paving mess as well he is now talking of privatizing NLC which actually makes money for the province..... Maybe we will see a private booze store and more colemans supermarkets in the future

  • It should be cinch for the AG to find mistakes or errors here even if he has just one brian ell operating.
    May 28, 2014 - 08:34

    Don't worry, it will be a cinch for the Auditor General to see what is going on here even if he only has one brain cell functioning. And if he is looking out for the good of the electorate who are the taxpayers of our province, an election should be underway in short order after his review. The Surety Association of Canada has no political irons in the fire here, as the article states and thanks to them it wanted us to know that what went on with the bond in question is not above board. I feel we are being shafted by those who are running government on our behalf, otherwise why would a province with such a coveted natural resource base and great location be suffering from the lack of a provincial economy. My belief is that the "CREAM" is being skimmed off for the politicians who are building their own personal economies and has been forever thus. What else could be going on given our province's treasures and the fact there is very little economy percolating here?

  • George
    May 28, 2014 - 06:06

    Hopefully when this is settled, government could take another look at it's due diligence process. We should expect a Minister of the Crown to practice maximum due diligence throughout the processs involved when conducting business on our behalf.

  • citizen kane
    May 28, 2014 - 04:39

    Right, so who are we to believe? Our transportation minister who has no clue and Fank Colemen who has consistently lied about this whole matter, or the head of the surety association who has no personal skin in this game. Very easy choice for me. Call the election so we can throw these PC bums out before they do more damage.