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Letter: Inquiry tally comes up short

The editorial on the Muskrat Falls inquiry tally (“Inquiry tally,” Dec. 16) typifies why The Telegram has been justly criticized for inadequate coverage of the boondoggle.

Quibbling about the relative costs of the Muskrat Falls inquiry is ridiculous. Nalcor, in its splendid secrecy, is wasting more in a week than this inquiry will cost. Are the inquiry costs really relevant to the issues at hand when billions are being squandered in secrecy?

Your reference to the “sheer breadth of the inquiry’s terms of reference” is laughable and belies your self-congratulation of the sheer volume of your coverage. It is not the volume but quality of your reporting that is disappointing.

The terms of reference for Muskrat Falls do not guarantee a forensic audit will be conducted. I guess that is of less concern than penny pinching inquiry costs. A forensic auditor processes reams of information and does analysis quickly. Would The Telegram not be of better service to ratepayers and taxpayers on the hook for the boondoggle by demanding an audit be the first step?

The “exhaustive” inquiry will not do a technical and engineering review of the North Spur. A North Spur failure, predicted by world experts on quick clay formations, would threaten lives and render the asset worthless. Are your readers well served by your omission of this consideration?

Are the inquiry costs really relevant to the issues at hand when billions are being squandered in secrecy?

Are the technical issues and Nalcor’s refusal at first to admit that quick clay existed in the spur, then that they have used the wrong figures to come to a safe determination, of little concern? Should these questions not be of primary concern in any legitimate inquiry?

This inquiry is time limited and does not go back to the genesis of this project, back as far as at least 2010. The curious Nalcor bills, the take or pay contracts coupled with the enshrined secrecy and unchecked spending, free from Public Utility Board oversight are somehow left outside the scope of this “exhaustive” inquiry.

Also missing is any consideration of the stop or go question that has been avoided since the scope of the boondoggle became generally understood. If David Vardy is to be believed that operating Muskrat Falls will lose $800 million a year, would not an “exhaustive” inquiry examine the financial viability?

Rather than being exhaustive, this inquiry is a political smokescreen designed to prevent a political fire for the party in power until after the next provincial election. A single political appointee is inadequate. The inquiry needs a panel with technical and financial expertise. It needs a broader mandate and all the money required. It will be money well spent.

It should already be underway and should report in no more than a year.

Tallying up how many Muskrat Falls stories have been done is disingenuous at best. The measure of service to rate/taxpayers is the depth of investigation, analysis and reporting. If your editorial on the inquiry tally is any measure, you have a long way to go.

 

Bruno Marcocchio

Sydney, N.S.

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