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)

Friday, April 18, 2014

UPDATED Nalcor Energy, Fasken Martineau, PC Party of NL

UPDATED

After going through the records again, two further donations were found in 2007 by the Fasken Martineau firm. One was from Garfield Emerson for $1,000.00 to the PCs, and one was from a Fasken Martineau subsidiary named FMD Ontario Inc., Toronto, for $5,000.00 to the PCs. Which brings the totals for Fasken Martineau partners and companies up to $45,650.00.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Sometimes it's painful to do investigative work on the workings of our government in this province. It's painful because, no matter your political bent, you want to believe that things like greed and corruption are things that happen elsewhere, and not here. You want to believe that people in office have some standard of conduct, and it's just those with an ax to grind that throw mud at essentially good people. Then there is the reality - it's worse than we could possibly imagine. This post covers such a case.

Fasken Martineau (FM) first appeared on the Newfoundland and Labrador political donation scene in 2002, while the Liberals were in power. They made a one-time donation to the Liberal Party of $2,850. FM was involved with some minor contractual issues then respecting Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, but nothing significant.

Then, in 2007, thing started to change. The Williams government began ramping up its strategic battle with Hydro Quebec - including numerous amendments to the Electrical Power Control Act. It was a very busy time. Concurrently, FM reentered the province's political scene. It was an election year, and suddenly a group of Quebecers became very interested in contributing to Newfoundland and Labrador politics, but only to one party - the PC Party. Now, the blog Labradore brought some attention to this at the time in a general sense, which included a comment from Danny Williams, then Leader of the Official Opposition, to the governing Liberal Party:

" Do you think it is appropriate that you should solicit and accept donations from someone with whom you are entering into negotiations to deal away the resources of this Province? Is that a conflict of interest? Do you see anything wrong with that? Because the people of Newfoundland certainly do."

Apparently times change, and with them values. The PC Party under Williams began accepting political donations, including direct general election contributions, not from the law firm of FM, but from its partners. At that time, and remaining the same today, corporate political donations in Quebec were banned. You had to be a registered voter in Quebec to make a political donation, and it had to go through a registered Party agent in Quebec. In any case, 2007 saw six partners of FM from the Montreal office make political donations to the PC Party:

Sylvie Bourdeau                 $ 500.00
Karl Dewaide                    $ 500.00
David Lemieux                  $ 500.00  (GE)  (Now with Norton Rose Montreal)
Xeno Martis                      $1000.00 (GE)
Allan Ranger                      $ 500.00  (GE)
Andre Turmel                    $1000.00  (GE)

Then in 2008 a similar occurrence:

David Lemieux                  $ 450.00
Xeno Martis                      $ 900.00
Robert Pare                      $ 900.00
Daniele Picotte                  $ 900.00
Allan Ranger                     $ 450.00
Andre Turmel                   $ 900.00

Just a note at this point. You will notice by these two years of donations that certain partners consistently make higher donations than others.

In 2009, and 2010 the donation pattern switched to corporate donations, with no partner donations to the PC Party:

2009 - Fasken Martineau  (Montreal)  $10,200.00

2010 - Fasken Martineau  (Montreal)  $  9,500.00

Then, in 2011, there were no donations by either FM or its partners. In 2012, the old pattern of donations resumed where the firm did not make donations to the PC Party, but the partners did:

2012
Pierre-Olivier Charlebois         $    500.00
Andre Durocher                      $ 1,500.00
Ron Ezekiel                             $    500.00
Helmut K. Johannesen             $    500.00
Xeno Martis                            $ 1,500.00
Angela Onesi                           $    500.00
Daniel Picotte                          $ 1,500.00
Allan Ranger                           $ 1,500.00
Andre Turmel                         $ 3,450.00

The 2013 numbers are not public yet, and Elections Newfoundland and Labrador has not answered my email inquiring as to the date they may be released.

Here are the partners from FM involved with these donations:

















To be clear, I have made written requests to FM, the PC Party of NL, and the Government of NL, Nalcor Energy and have not received any responses. I asked them to comment on the political donations. Here's why.
FM has been retained by Nalcor Energy for legal services. Not just any legal services, but the legal services surrounding the Lower Churchill project. The individual details of this service are confidential, but some parts are available for the public. Take this declassified confidential report from Nalcor regarding "3rd Party Vendors as of September 30, 2011:


This report states that Nalcor hired FM for: "Legal Services - strategic, Quebec regulatory, water management, Quebec civil, Ontario regulatory, PPA" and that it received from Nalcor for:

Muskrat Falls                   $1,111,174.23;

Labrador Island              $2,477,105.14; and 
Transmission Link

Total                              $3,588,279.37.

That was as of  the September, 2011. Then there was this: 

FM was the chosen law firm for the federal loan guarantee of $5 billion dollars for the Muskrat Falls project. The details of that contract have not been released by the government. However, it is interesting to note that Guy Giorno, of http://www.fasken.com/guy-giorno/ , former Chief of Staff to Stephen Harper until 2010, belongs to the same firm that is donating to the provincial government.
 Giorno most recently acted as counsel for Nigel Wright during the Senate expense scandal allegations 
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/06/03/guy-giorno-harpers-former_n_3378099.html and has just been announced as new legal counsel for the Conservative Party of Canada:

To top things off, we have Jacques Audette, a partner at FM being arrested by the Quebec anti-corruption squad   http://www.canadianlawyermag.com/legalfeeds/804/Faskens-Montreal-partner-arrested.html in April 2012. 

Given the evidence that is in the public domain, it is clear and obvious that the law firm of Fasken Martineau (Montreal Office), and its partner were funneling political donations to the PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is clear they were under contract with Nalcor while doing so. It is clear they advised Nalcor on the water management agreement, and other issues solely relating to Muskrat Falls and the Lower Churchill. It is clear that conditions of the original loan guarantee, requiring no litigation be impending or undergoing regarding the Lower Churchill project be active, were tossed to the side when Stephen Harper suddenly agreed to wave all those conditions that would protect tax payers from massive losses from a Hydro-Quebec lawsuit (currently underway in Quebec) despite at least five separate lawsuits pending against the project. It is clear that Giorno is a very close confident of the Prime Minister. 

All these things are very clear and supported by evidence. What are the conclusions an average person could come to given these facts? 

1.   Fasken Martineau, and its partners were rewarding the PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador for contracts they had secured with Nalcor Energy. It defies imagination the FM and/or a series of their partners in Montreal, Quebec, would suddenly become so enamored with a PC Party in Newfoundland and Labrador that they would donate to it while having contracts with the government, but not before that. The facts show a structured and repetitive donation schedule between partners that remains consistent to this day - or at least until the last released reports of 2012. Rewarding public officials or political parties for doing business with the government is a criminal offense http://quesnelnews.com/ethics_criminal_code_handout.pdf
An investigation is required by the RCMP as to the seriousness of these contributions, but the evidence available publicly points to this.

2.   The PC Party accepted political donations from FM under these circumstances, and is subject to the same conclusion, and also requires an RCMP investigation.

3.  Perhaps most disturbing, although that is saying something, is the connection between the Prime Minister's Office, FM, Nalcor, the PC government of the province, and the loan guarantee. Given the sudden dropping of the lawsuit-free requirement of the original terms for the loan guarantee, and the sudden dropping of them by Stephen Harper (defying all logic and reasoning), and given the fact that FM was hired by Nalcor to deal with the water management agreement and the loan guarantee, the issue begs the question: Was the PMO influenced by Fasken Martineau partner, and now Conservative Party of Canada counsel Guy Giorno to drop the protection of the original terms of the loan guarantee which protected taxpayers? Was that influence exercised by way of paid lobby by Nalcor Energy? The evidence points in that direction, but requires an RCMP investigation.

What is clear through all of this is despite the PC Party's stand against Quebec, and the federal government, they had no problem taking their money and influence/advice under the leadership of the guy who said:

 " Do you think it is appropriate that you should solicit and accept donations from someone with whom you are entering into negotiations to deal away the resources of this Province? Is that a conflict of interest? Do you see anything wrong with that? Because the people of Newfoundland certainly do."
Danny Williams, Leader of the Official Opposition, 2002.

Whatever Mr. Williams said, these circumstances have been filed with the Quebec anti-corruption squad, and will form the basis of a formal complaint to the RCMP.


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