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LETTER: Giving the hornet’s nest a kick

The Muskrat Falls Inquiry heard testimony Friday about the federal loan guarantee for the project. — Telegram file photo
The Muskrat Falls Inquiry heard testimony Friday about the federal loan guarantee for the project. — Telegram file photo - Ashley Fitzpatrick

The revelations arising from the Muskrat Falls Inquiry have revealed a pattern of neglect of fiduciary responsibility that is probably unique in the annals of public expenditure — anywhere, anytime.

There is more to come from Phase 2 and with the Public Utilities Board hearings later this year.

Some (and I am one) are questioning whether the evidence current and anticipated will lead to an examination of same leading to criminal charges of the sort of breach of trust/of fiduciary responsibility summed up in a 2016 tome called “Misfeasance in Public Office” by Erika Chamberlain of Western University’s faculty of law. The good professor addresses the current law regarding malice or bad faith causing material damage to the plaintiff. It would appear the politicians could be off the hook but not necessarily the bureaucrats. I also came across something called “Black’s Law Dictionary,” a U.S. publication, in the context of an article on the misbehaviour in office of one William J. Clinton. The comments were interesting and perhaps instructive.

The article talks about “gross negligence” and “extreme carelessness.” Is there a firm legal distinction between the two?

Negligence, according to “Black’s,” is defined as “the omission to do something which a reasonable person guided by those considerations which ordinarily regulate the conduct of human affairs would do or doing something which a reasonable person would not do.”

Carelessness is defined as “failure to act with the prudence that a reasonable person would exercise under the same circumstances.”

Was there negligence? Was it extreme? Was there extreme carelessness? Was there a breach of trust? A breach of fiduciary responsibility?

So, with respect to Muskrat Falls, what did they know?

Was there negligence? Was it extreme?

Was there extreme carelessness?

Was there a breach of trust? A breach of fiduciary responsibility?

Was there a pattern of behaviour that rises to the level of criminality, either deliberate of omissive?

Under U.S. law I understand a special prosecutor can be appointed to conduct an inquiry if there is evidence sufficient for criminal charges. This is what should — but will not — happen here. I believe “they” will get away with “it.”

As Jonathan Swift said some time ago: “Laws are like cobwebs which may catch small flies but let wasps and hornets through.”

The wasps and hornets are in full control of the agenda.

The populace is indifferent, complicit, supplicant.

We were once a people with some backbone. But no more.

We are mere supplicants before “le pouvoir,” as the French say with reference to their government.

Andy Wells,
St. John’s


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