Getting clipped

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“A 47-year-old man, who had an abdominal pain for two months, reported to Adelaide's Queen Elizabeth Hospital last year.

A three-dimensional scan revealed that the jaws of a bread clip had got fixed to the intestinal wall. The man needed a surgery to remove the clip where the intestine was temporarily removed out of the body. His case is published in a paper by University of Adelaide on the basis of which experts have demanded that bag clips be made from starch instead of plastic.” — from MED India website, May 19.

That’s the thing about hazards: the best time to think about them is before anything happens. Those little plastic clips, used for years to close plastic bags, have been cited as choking hazards as well, especially for elderly people with bad eyesight — people pick them up and swallow them without noticing.

You solve the problem best by changing the clip and preventing the hazard, instead of going back after the fact for extensive, expensive and possibly life-threatening surgery.

And that brings us to the latest round of Muskrat Falls oversight.

Thursday morning brought Premier Tom Marshall, outlining a list of the agencies overseeing the project, along with the first report of an internal oversight committee, where senior civil servants will supposedly tell their bosses, a government that absolutely supports the project, whether something’s wrong.

It’s the latest piece of rearguard action on the project — most of the major contracts are let, the bills are coming in hand over fist, the thing’s already overbudget and virtually unstoppable — and now, among other things, the premier has offered up an Ernst and Young report spelling out what project oversight should look like.

The report includes ideas you think would be standard: “The Oversight Committee should review cost and schedule performance, forecasts and risk management in addition to the validity of costs incurred,” and, “The Oversight Committee should be supported by specialized skills.”

It’s a little unnerving to see a report dated July 25, 2014, with this province already so deep into the project, spelling out that “The project stakeholders are all at different stages of developing their oversight and assurance programs,” along with advising that, when it comes to the oversight committee, “the terms of reference should also be finalized.”

There was a time for all this.

And it was a long time ago.

The best policy?

Perhaps the best option would have been a full and unfettered review by an independent agency like the province’s Public Utilities Board, even if that sort of review was likely to result in a report that the government wouldn’t have welcomed.

A stitch in time saves nine.

And having some sort of fiscal bread clip firmly lodged deep in your gut means many, many uncomfortable stitches ahead.

Organizations: University of Adelaide, Oversight Committee, Ernst and Young Public Utilities Board

Geographic location: India

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Recent comments

  • Analogy
    August 03, 2014 - 20:29

    I've always enjoyed lessons taught in using analogies. This government, though, appears to be too arrogant to be taught any kind of meaningful lesson by any means. In their minds it is preferable to be completely blind to problems now and deal with the effects later rather than face up to the problems now, especially if facing up to them now would mean failing to get elected as the next government. It's win at all costs, the public be damned. Some sitting in government really don't appear to care by what percentage electric bills will climb. They will be able to pay any percentage increase. After all, many of them will still be working and also collecting a gold-plated pension.

  • Johnny smoke
    August 02, 2014 - 10:07

    If you think that things are bad now just wait until you see the final bill. For anyone who thought that this operation was going to be built as per estimates there is a real shock awaiting. No government project ever comes in under or on initial estimates due to the fact that elected representatives rely of public servants bureaucrats if you will to advise them on everything except on how to use the toilets and I am not sure of that

  • Maurice E. Adams
    August 02, 2014 - 08:33

    And a full review by the PUB is still required (and perhaps an essential first step to mitigating the multi-billion dollar fallout from this boondoggle)..