From Duffy and Wallin to oversight of Nalcor

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When I reflect back on my days of watching Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin do their jobs as journalists, it never occurred to me that I would ever see either in the unsavoury situation that both find themselves entangled with today.

Furthermore, if someone had told me back then that these two high-profile broadcasters would allow their personal lives and reputations to be ruined for the sums being quoted in the press I simply would not have believed it.

For it seems to me that the sums involved, while large in some respects, are a pittance compared to the ignominy and torment these two are putting themselves and their families through - and to me, therein lies the mystery.

Yet over and over, even now, I ask myself why people with so much of the material things in life, not to mention prestige, would do such things? The only answer I have at this point is simply because they could, and that brings me to Nalcor.

I have ever believed that Nalcor is a state within a state and all I have ever seen since the first proposals were put forth concerning Muskrat Falls only goes to strengthen that belief.

An extreme example, perhaps, but one that touches on the very notion I speak of here is what happened a couple of weeks back.

For reasons known only to her, the premier of the province let it slip that Nalcor had sold energy/seismic data for millions of dollars.

Almost immediately that story was shut down by both government and Nalcor, both claiming proprietary concerns and the cover provided by Bill 29. It should have been a wake-up call for all of us if we really needed it.

We will never know what Nalcor is doing and that, by its very nature, is one of the classic characteristics of a state within a state. Everything of any importance that we, as taxpayers, have every right to know will always and ever be given short shrift because of business concerns. That's just the way it is no matter what Nalcor tries to tell us, which of course is only what they absolutely have to.

And that brings me to oversight and to Friday's Telegram story, ("Nalcor takes steps to keep spending in line," June 14).

When I saw the headline I thought for a moment that it would tell us about oversight and how Nalcor is working to ensure there is no misuse of funds.

But I was totally wrong, of course. What the article explained was the steps Nalcor is taking to ensure money is not wasted through the purchase of faulty goods and services, and they are to be commended for that, but surely that is what all reputable firms do or they would not be in business long.

Nowhere in the rather lengthy article was there any mention of oversight of Nalcor by either government or even better, some other third party.

And I find that disturbing. Why, you ask? Well there are many reasons but the main one is there is no room in a democracy for states within states. States within states are simply agencies which foster anti-democratic environments, the chief of which is secrecy of action. They also, of course, lead to the abuse of power and the wasting of a state's precious resources.

But there's more. One of the most high profile companies Nalcor has chosen to do business with is SNC-Lavalin.

Already that company has admitted to malfeasance in its business practices internationally and is under investigation in its home province of Quebec. In spite of this, one of the first companies Nalcor chose for incredibly large contracts at Muskrat was SNC-Lavalin.

I thought that, at the very least, Nalcor would have steered clear of such companies until their legal situation became a little clearer - that's to put it mildly.

Others might suggest that Nalcor should have nothing to do with SNC-Lavalin, period. That is where I would stand. (The absolute irony of Nalcor's embracing a Quebec company such as SNC-Lavalin is not lost on anyone.)

Still, I don't believe for a moment that anyone at Nalcor would condone or, indeed, be involved in the misuse of taxpayers' money.

But wait a minute: didn't I think the same about Duffy and Wallin?

Wayne Norman

St. John's

Organizations: SNC-Lavalin

Geographic location: Province of Quebec, St. John's

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Recent comments

  • lonenewfwolf
    June 25, 2013 - 10:23


  • Maybe Marjorie
    June 23, 2013 - 19:14

    Oh Johnny Boy. If they put out a new TV Mini-Series, The Danny Williams Story. Who will you be playing? Steve Kent or Paul Lane? Come on By?

  • Ed Power
    June 23, 2013 - 11:15

    "The Truth Is Out There", Mr. Pseudonymous Smith, unfortunately we will never learn of it. "Sorry, your information request has been denied under Bill 29. Cabinet discussions and proprietary information, don't you know."

  • John Smith
    June 23, 2013 - 07:49

    ooohhh...cue music from the X-files...LOL...Yes by's it's all a big conspiracy. First of all SNC Lavalin is involved in hundreds of projects across Canada, and they do excellent, world class work. Nalcor is 100% owned by the taxpayers of this province...lock stock and barrel. Do you really think that there could be secrets at Nalcor? With hundreds of employess coming home every evening, in this tiny province? Really?Every single penny, and every single contract that was ever touched by Nalcor will eventually be made public. That is a fact. There are reasons why they can't be made public now, financial, contractual etc... but they will all come out.Perhaps the NDP, or the liberals will form the next gov....the employees at Nalcor will be the same people that are there now. I think it's shamefull to make accusations about a very good, well run entity like Nalcor without an iota of fact or proof, says a lot about the author in my opinion...

    • Tony Rockel
      June 23, 2013 - 19:36

      If there's no conspiracy, then why were we hit with Bill 29? Yes, the information will be made public--after the damage has been done. Nalcor, "a well run entity"? If their projections of this province's energy needs are any indication, Nalcor is either totally incompetent or totally corrupt. Take your pick.

  • Tony Rockel
    June 22, 2013 - 11:20

    Yes, I was intrigued, too, by Nalcor's statement about taking steps to keep spending in line. Does that mean they weren't bothering to do that until now? That would certainly explain their incessant demands for rate increases.

  • abby
    June 22, 2013 - 09:51

    WELL SAID MR. NORMAN. When i read articles like this i have a better understanding of most things concerning govt.

  • Foghorn Leghorn
    June 22, 2013 - 08:50

    Great letter! I get this sinking feeling that we will be watching this unfold on a future episode of W5 or The Fifth Estate especially since we are dealing with such a morally bankrupt company as SNC-Lavalin.