“The provincial government has retained the services of local law firm Roebothan McKay Marshall …”
The last line of Tuesday's press release regarding our province's lawsuit against "Big Tobacco". Not a shock in itself. This firm after all is purportedly Newfoundland and Labrador's preeminent personal injury law firm. I suppose you could consider tobacco use as a personal injury. All in the name of redress against the great sins of the producers of the evil weed. Not those that sanction it's sale of course - that would be our government. Try to look past that one for now. Let's look at the pure and unadulterated greed behind it.
For those not in the know Roebothan McKay Marshall used to have another name in front of it - Williams. Yes, that's right, Williams as in former Premier Danny Williams. The same Williams that just left Office in this province leaving behind a leaderless and unprincipled crowd to rule. A crowd that owed their existence to him. A crowd that treats rules and regulations like steeples rather than road blocks. Certainly the recent Auditor General's Report is a classic example of this. Then there is my own experience with the shameless disregard by the Party of the Party's own constitution during the recent leadership non-race - I digress. The point is, as stated in my letter of resignation, this Party and Government has lost it's moral compass. It has abused power and, by the rules of the jungle, it must now lose power.
The conflict of interest in choosing this law firm is obvious. Danny Williams, with several other lawyers, founded this firm. He may or may not still have an interest in this firm - that is an unknown. What is incredibly obvious is that the government is in a gross violation of every common sense rule that applies to politics. Here's one: Justice must not just be done - it must be seen to be done (my version). The arrogance of this decision is apparent just on these grounds. However, it doesn't end there.
Further investigation by Russell Wangersky finds that it was not tendered. A lawsuit that has garnered hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions, in other jurisdictions is not tendered. We could measure the possible value of such a contract if we new the fee, or more likely percentage, of this contract to William's old firm, except the government won't disclose it. Will not disclose it. It is not unheard of law firms taking on cases for 25 to 30 percent of awards - especially if they know it's a guaranteed win. If that were to be the case here we could lose hundreds of millions to this one law firm. Theoretical of course as the terms aren't being made public.
I often wondered about previous decisions by this government to make futile legal challenges on issues such as the Upper Churchill agreement. It seemed that the only possible winners could be the law firms that did the work. I suppose that is another issue - or is it?
Just to summarize, and wrap my mind around this scandal, a law firm founded by the former premier is awarded a contract of massive proportions less than two months after the former premier departs. The contract is awarded without tender. The government refuses to disclose how much the firm will benefit. All because they are the best personal injury law firm in the Province...except for one thing:
"They will be working closely with foreign legal consultants Humphrey, Farrington and McClain of Missouri who have expertise in dealing with tobacco companies.”Okay. So the American law firm are the experts in dealing with Tobacco companies, but we must still have "the best personal injury" firm in the Province involved. Apparently, this US firm was previously contracted for a 30 percent share in any suit against the tobacco companies by the previous Grimes administration. So what's changed? It sounds a lot like Mr Williams old practise of getting a cut on energy deals before allowing them to proceed with their business. Is it the case here that somebody wants a percentage of any deal - other than the American firm of course? Will the St. John's firm get a cut of the American's pie, or is that a further cut of what the people in the Province will receive? Right now we don't know for certain, because the boys and girls in Confederation Building feel we are not worthy of information about our own government.
Another first class reason to have an open and essentially unrestricted access to information law. Our press folks have been calling this government out on it, and it's easy to see why. After all, they are the ones who educate us - thank God somebody is. Frankly, the stench of dictatorship gone bad is wafting throughout the Province, and the antics would be laughable if it were not so painful.
Note to the provincial PC Party: I apologize.You never "lost your moral compass" - you destroyed it.
Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)