There are no good options within the Liberal Party in this province. That is the basic truth. Now that is becoming more and more obvious by the day. Newfoundland and Labrador was sick and tired of the secrecy and shady dealings of the PC Party, and in the last election the people turned to the Liberals to put an end to that kind of politics. Just like the Liberal leadership process that saw a lackluster, even boring, Dwight Ball selected as the party leader, so the electorate settled for a lackluster but seemingly less dangerous option when they voted in the Liberals. Surely the Liberal would have gotten the message that the sleazy, corrupt, secret type of politics practised by the PCs would no longer be accepted here. Now, it is very obvious they didn't get the memo.
The truth is that behind the scenes within the Liberal Party powerful elements of the old guard and backroom boys were not supporting Dwight Ball as leader, but rather their sweetheart was Cathy Bennett. In fact, she was not even considered a Liberal until she threw her name in the race claiming to have always been there, and that her "coming out of the closet" was simply a coincidence as it coincided with the leadership race. A strange place to be for a woman who wrote cheques every year to the PC Party, and not the Liberals. An odd place for a woman running in a party that was at that time anti-Muskrat Falls considering her Chairmanship of the Board of Nalcor Energy. The woman who hired Nancy O'Connor to come to Newfoundland from Nova Scotia to set up the pro-business lobby group for Muskrat Falls - including paying for the websites etc of that group.
As Bennett money poured into her leadership campaign instant Bennett fans started appearing out of the wood work. Many "young Liberals" suddenly appeared lobbying for her on social media, and organizing for her on the ground. Yes, the darling of the likes of Danny Williams was about to take the party by storm. Just one problem: older Liberals didn't trust her. They didn't accept her pro-Muskrat Falls business position. So despite her money, Bennett lost to the compromise candidate Dwight Ball. Bennett and her powerful friends in the business community weren't prepared to accept that, and a covert movement began to overthrow Ball from the leadership. They had a problem though. The election was too close at hand, so the plan was scheduled for once the Liberals were in power - sort of. In reality Bennett and her minions became very involved in district association nomination meetings trying to get pro-Bennett/business types in as Liberal candidates and thus Liberal MHAs.
I was approached myself by such a person a month and a half before the election, and during a nomination race in one district. This old time Liberal had a serious issue in over throwing a Liberal candidate who had managed to get nominated, but wasn't marching to Bennett's pro-fracking band wagon. A local wealthy businessman was putting up the funds to beat the candidate during the election. As part of their approach to me the person emphasized that Bennett was going to take over the leadership after the election. That she had all the cards already in place. He also mentioned that Paul Antle and Siobhan Coady may be involved as well. If this person hadn't been a long time Liberal with deep roots I may have dismissed it out of hand, However, they were. They also had invested in shares of Shoal Point and the goal was to get Bennett in so that fracking would be approved in the province, and of course those shares would become very valuable. So, as you can see, the sleaze and secrecy was oozing from the seams of the Liberal Party even before the election had officially begun.
Fast forward to today, and it becomes even more obvious - albeit much more public. Ball struck a deal for Martin to leave Nalcor, and put in place Stan Marshall. Marshall's plan will be to privatise NL Hydro - which includes the 65% of CFLCo that NL Hydro owns (and that also necessarily means the Upper Churchill which CFLCo owns). Bennett and her St. John's business boys are all for selling it too, but they want it to go to Emera. That's what the big business boys bet on, and that's what they want. Those are the dividing lines within the Liberal Party today. I say Liberal Party, but it's more like the Chameleon Party - elements of the old Liberal party controlled by the boys and girls of the St. John's business community that are suddenly Liberals having just been PCs.
In any case, that is the war. Not whether or not to sell NL Hydro, but to who. The peoples' interest in all this... you're kidding right? So now Ball has put forward his plan. He gave Ed Martin an "offer he couldn't refuse": leave or be fired. He also promised to give Martin his full severance and $160,000 in bonuses - or just under $1.6 million dollars. Designated fall guy in all this? The Nalcor board. Pass the resolution to fire him without cause so he can get his bonus and severance, and then resign yourself. No loose ends. Nice and tidy for Marshall to come in. Emera is out, Fortis is in. Not surprisingly, just days after Marshall was named as President of Nalcor he returned to his home in Belize with a number of senior officials of Fortis who stayed with him at his house for a week. Then came the nuke from David Vardy's access to information request that saw Ed Martin's employment contract released - which in itself is bizarre - and "highly suspect". An employment contract is a privileged document. Those kind of documents aren't released ever. Go figure, this time it was. It just so happened to prove Ball was lying. In other words, the ambush of Ball was on.
Despite the roll that Finance and Justice would have to play in these contracts, and severance negotiations, suddenly Cathy Bennett has disappeared from the scene. Ditto Siobhan Coady. Their two Deputy Ministers sit on the newly appointed Board of Nalcor. Both Bennett and Andrew Parsons have a direct ear into the Nalcor transition and on what happened with the severance negotiations, etc. Yet they've two stepped back from the limelight on this affair, just as Coady has. Coady was in the US until May 5 and claimed she knew nothing. Apparently she can't be reached by telephone or email or skype or what have you. Apparently Texas is now the third world without any such services. The lies are palpable, disingenuous, but meant to do one thing - leave Ball on the gallows by himself. Just as the plan before the election promised to do - get rid of him. That doesn't mean Ball didn't lie. It just means he thought everyone had his back in the deal, and found out that they were gunning for his back instead. As Minister Gamble-Walsh said to me two days ago: "Ball will very likely fall, but caucus is united". United for what you may ask? Good question. She never filled in that blank, but given the moves before the election was even called, it could well be said that the caucus is united in knifing their own leader, falling into line with Bennett, Coady, and possibly Antle, and all those business boys and girls sitting in the shadows and watching the game unfold.
As the Russian army found out in Afghanistan, and the US army found in Vietnam, it's easy to get into a war, but hard to get out. In the last 5 years Newfoundland and Labrador has had 5 Premiers or Premier designates fall. Soon to be 6. The place has become a frenzied feeding zone. It's become a guerrilla war here in a sense. The establishment vs. the people. Social media vs main stream media (sometimes holding hands when it suits the backroom boys). In this frenzy, for the lust and race for power and wealth, very few bases have been covered well. Political and business bodies keep piling up everywhere you look. Social media has morphed into the people's voice. The political "establishment" finds itself largely talking to ... well itself. Nobody else is believing or listening. Easy to get in, hard to get out. Welcome to the jungle baby.
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)