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.

Steve Jobs
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Nalcor's Chief Lies on Air - another Muskrat moment

This week the public was given a rare opportunity to ask questions of Ed Martin, CEO of Nalcor, regarding the Muskrat Falls project on province-wide radio - VOCM Openline with host Randy Simms. Having asked questions to both Nalcor, and Jerome Kennedy in the past on the Altius Royalty Trust proposal to fund Muskrat Falls, and having those questions ignored, I took the opportunity to phone in and engage Mr. Martin on the subject.

I had submitted a Twitter question that same morning covering the Altius proposal, but anticipated it may not get covered - so I phoned in as well. Just before I came on the air, host Randy Simms put my question to Mr Martin :

  " Can Ed Martin comment on the Royalty Trust financing option with Altius?"

Mr Martin answered as follows:

" It was news to me...uh...in terms of where that came up, and, uh. So I tried to do some research into what's happening there...Let me say first off there is no Royalty Trust agreement with Altius. There is no offer of financing involved. There is nothing to that. We are doing traditional financing to this point."

Mr. Simms asks him:

"So Where does this story come from?"

Martin answers:

"I think where this comes from, only speculating, but I look back to 2003 or so, I wasn't there (Nalcor) at the time...uh...But there had been a request for proposals that had been asked for to help develop the Lower Churchill. A couple had come in for the actual development and a couple came in for the financing arrangement. One, Altius, was involved in one of those with a royalty trust arrangement, they had suggested and there's another group, I forget who they were, uh, but both of those finance proposals were put aside, uh...and really it hasn't been looked at ever since...its not anywhere near what we are trying to achieve."

Later in my telephone conversation Martin adds:

"From the Altius perspective, um, Brad, I just have to say to you I had you know that came up, somebody mentioned it to me, there has been some, uh, what do you call, uh, blog, twitters stuff going on about that and I had to ask my people is there any, you know, what, what's been talked about here? As I mentioned earlier that was something I think happened previous. We haven't looked at it for five years, six years, its been put on the back shelf and I really wasn't aware of it, so to my knowledge, and, never will...This Altius thing, uh, I can tell you it's just not on my radar screen at all, coming out of nowhere."

Mr.Simms sums up with:

"I've never, I've never heard of it or seen it but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. But you (Mr Martin) are saying you've never heard about it, you're saying?"

Mr Martin answers:

"That's correct."

There you have it. Ed Martin at one point of the interview says he was unaware of the proposal to the point he had to ask staff about it. Then he states it was an old proposal from 2003 when he wasn't CEO of Nalcor. Then in his final answer to Randy he states he's never heard about it. Forget for a moment all the obvious contradictions in these statements. Take a look at the truth instead.

From the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador press release August 8, 2005:

"As we proceed with these proposals, we are also keeping our options open regarding the ownership structure for the development ranging from a 100 per cent NLH owned and led development, to a lease/franchise option, and a variety of equity partnership options,” added Mr. Dean MacDonald.

Ed Martin stated that he is excited to lead Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro at such a critical time in the province. “I am very pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to an organization that will work with the province in developing this tremendous hydro resource,” said Mr. Martin. “Today, we are narrowing down the field of proponents coming out of phase one of the EOI who we will be engaging as we consider our market and development arrangement options. In addition to the full development concept and financing submissions, the proposals involving services and products will remain on file for future consideration.” 

"Finally, an innovative financing option in the form of a royalty trust has been proposed by Altius. This concept will be explored later in the process."

A few things are evident from the press release. Firstly, Ed Martin was head of Nalcor when the decision was made to push Altius's proposal through to the next level. Secondly, he was obviously familiar with it, and referenced the financing options in his quote. Third, the royalty trust proposal was given a distinct nod from the other submissions, and specifically referenced: "...This concept will be explored later in the process." Finally, it is all but obvious that Mr. Martin did not hear about the Altius proposal from "bloggers and twitterers."

In fact, Mr Martin's comments regarding the Altius proposal were false - a lie. Not only were they a lie, he framed the entire idea as something coming from bloggers and twitters. In essence, he mislead the listening public and tried to turn the entire Altius proposal into some sort of flight of fancy, misguided attempt of bloggers to muddy the waters. The problem with Mr. Martin lying about his knowledge of the proposal is it casts even more doubt on the credibility of his word in regard to the rest of the mostly behind closed doors planning on Muskrat Falls. If he is going to lie about one issue in public, without hesitation, what else could he be misrepresenting? As a public servant, is he not duty bound to answer questions truthfully? The public are shareholders after all in Nalcor, and they will be the ones who have to pay the enormous cost of this potential project.

Mr. Martin goes on to say that the financing portion of the project will be put out to tender. He doesn't say what the specifications of the tender will be. Will there be a Newfoundland requirement in the financing? We just don't know. What I do know, as of my two short questions to Mr. Martin, that Nalcor is prepared to deceive. It is prepared to put out half truths, slanted/stacked requirements, anything to push Muskrat Falls to fruition. Apparently that now includes the very head of Nalcor misleading the public on the airwaves of this province. 

Here's the entire Ed Martin show on VOCM - my conversation with Mr Martin starts around the 1:20 mark 

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