Thursday, April 24, 2014

THE GOVERNMENT AND ED MARTIN'S FATE ARE TIED TOGETHER

THE TELEGRAM

This time last month, Nalco head honcho Ed Martin called a news conference to discuss the findings of a review on power outages and rolling blackouts that affected most of the island.



The political reverberations of those blackouts contributed to the truncation of the Dunderdale premiership sending the conservatives into a tailspin that they cannot seem to break out of.



For a non-elected official Ed Martin has become a divisive symbol of what many people in this province perceive as an elitist power and financial power grab by an arrogant, non-transparent and non-accountable government organization.



In my opinion, Martin has become the new millenniums R.G. Reid. The face of modernization overseeing the construction of a vaunted public economic tool with public tax dollars. While the grossly expedited, nearly unvetted Muskrat Falls become our generations Newfoundland Railway? Time will tell.



Since the departure of Premier Williams, Martin has been the voice of credibility for Nalcor. No elected official – premier or energy minister – has been able to articulate the nuts, bolts and numbers like this mandarin. 

Hence much of the government’s political currency is held in Fort Nalcor.

That currency has been taking a pounding. Case in point, today’s revelation from Liberty Consulting Group that there's an "unacceptably high risk" of future blackouts. The consultant's report on Newfoundland's power failures in January blames insufficient generation and equipment maintenance. 

Last month, Martin held a press conference to answer questions about a report it filed to the Public Utility Board regarding the blackouts. Martin outlined a number of recommendations that included building new generating capacity on the island, establishing new maintenance protocols and enhancing communications with Newfoundland

“I want to ensure that we don’t go through events of this nature again,” he told reporters. He refused, wisely, to say with 100 per cent certainty the province has seen the last of blackouts . He reiterated that the vast majority of Hydro’s electricity system performed, as it should, that it was a series of unplanned and unrelated events that caused the events of late December and early January.

It would appear that Nalcor has a credibility issue. In the Winter, the Premier was pointing to the blackouts as proof of the need for the Muskrat Project to be completed. Muskrat is turns out will not ensure energy stability but increase our dependence on a single source.

Government has finally committed to an oversight committee. The divisive project is already facing cost and time overruns. The power czar appears to have no clothing. In short, government, forced by public dissatisfaction has begun to reign in Martin.  It may not be enough and it is certainly overdue.

Ed Martin is certainly being setup to be the fall guy for the government’s disastrous rush to develop the lower Churchill and failure to invest in energy security/stability. The government has put its head in the sandy banks of the Churchill River, passed all sovereignty to Nalcor and failed the people of the province. 

The government put all of its eggs in one basket. It is supposed to oversee and protect our tax dollars. It has failed

With no legitimacy remaining after the flight of both the Premier and the Energy Minister that brought this project to a premature sanction, it is time to let the people have a say on the government's credibility.

The only thing that will clear the air and return any semblance of credibility and accountability is an election.

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