Independent MHA Paul Lane wants changes to the Energy Corporation Act considered by an independent statutory review committee, and handled the same way changes to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (ATIPPA) were handled in 2014.
The Energy Corporation Act governs Nalcor Energy, and Premier Dwight Ball said in early December he is ready to make changes to the act in order to make the provincial energy corporation more transparent.
The premier spoke on the heels of questions to the government about Nalcor Energy’s use of embedded contractors, and a ruling from Information and Privacy Commissioner Donovan Molloy, who said the Energy Corporation Act provisions prevail over any provisions for disclosure of information under the ATIPPA.
Premier ready to legislate for added Nalcor transparency
While Ball has said he is ready to address information restrictions, he has not said exactly what changes might be made and what the approach would be.
Lane, the MHA for Mount Pearl-Southlands, has offered some ideas.
In a letter to the premier Dec. 29, Lane states a “dark cloud” hangs over Nalcor Energy and he recommends the government not simply draft new legislation. Instead, he calls for the process to be open to the public.
“As you will recall, a similar approach was taken by the former administration in reviewing Bill 29 and it resulted in good legislation,” he states. “I sincerely believe that this type of independent, public process is likewise required to ensure the best possible legislative amendments to the Energy Corporation Act and to restore the trust and confidence of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.”
The letter recommends beginning the work before the Muskrat Falls Inquiry — a two-year examination of a Nalcor Energy-led megaproject — is completed.
Lane told The Telegram — while the premier has not said he would or would not wait — two years would be too long to leave the Energy Corporation Act unaddressed.
“I think we all know and understand that the Energy Corporation Act, as it currently stands, is an issue. It is a problem in terms of public disclosure, like Bill 29 was, and I see no reason why we need to wait two years for Justice (Richard) LeBlanc to tell us to review the Energy Corporation Act. We should just go ahead and review the Energy Corporation Act.”
Lane’s letter on Friday was copied to Progressive Conservative Leader Paul Davis and NDP Leader Lorraine Michael.