Nalcor Energy board chair Brendan Paddick says the province’s energy corporation is a “downtrodden organization,” but one that can turn itself around — it just needs the support of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Paddick was on the stand at the Muskrat Falls Inquiry when he spoke about the shattered confidence of the Crown corporation and its employees.
“If there was one sort of takeaway in this, it’s what I’d call a self-fulfilling prophecy. And I’m a firm believer that people get up in the morning and when they’re driving to work they think about what they’ve got to do today, what’s my timeline to do it, how much money do I have to spend to do it and I’ve got to do it diligently. They don’t do the opposite. People don’t get up in the morning and get a Starbucks and get in the car and say, ‘How can I screw up today?’ That’s not human nature. Human nature is, ‘I’m going to do a good job,’” he said.
“If it gets to the point where a transport truck blows over in Wreckhouse and that’s Nalcor’s fault, or it’s raining on May 24th weekend, that’s Nalcor’s fault, and nobody wants Nalcor to succeed for whatever reason — political reasons or special-interest groups or whatever — guess what? It’s not going to succeed.
“If anything comes out of this commission, hopefully it’s just the chance to start over, and everybody put the jersey on, and want Nalcor to get back to what it used to be, which was a very respected part of the community, and a very important part of the community.
“So I think if we can get there, so that everybody actually is cheering for you instead of trying to cut the legs out from under you, and people can go to work again, and people will put on their resumé that they worked at Nalcor, because right now they’re wondering if it’s better to have a two-year holiday in my resumé than put I worked at Nalcor. That’s where we’ve got to get.”
Before Paddick left the stand, Commissioner Richard LeBlanc asked him about the corporation’s image, making specific reference to the jersey comment.
“I’m not sure that it’s enough for Newfoundlanders to get behind Nalcor,” LeBlanc said.
The commissioner asked if there’s been any thought given to a plan for “not so much re-branding, but at least looking towards the future,” to improving the view of the outside world, with an eye to maximizing future energy sales and revenues.
Paddick said there has been talk of options. There have also been studies undertaken under Nalcor’s communications team on its image. He’s read one report, describing it as market research on public opinion. He said the research is being done with the goal of “changing the narrative, when the time was right.”
“I’m not suggesting that everybody should forget what happened and just miraculously get up tomorrow morning and say, ‘Way to go Nalcor! Good job.’ I’m just saying that if we continue to criticize at every level, regardless of whether it’s related to a project that didn’t go well or not, it’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy,” he said.
“To use the jersey, I guess, analogy, it’s like standing up to take the free throw to win the game, when in your mind you have no chance of making it. You’re not going to make it.”