Dear Premier Ball,
I know it's been awhile, and I know I've sworn off writing about Newfoundland and Labrador politics, but some things just can't be left unsaid. I've watched you now for almost two years, and am constantly amazed at how you let the issues that arise beat the bejezuz out of you before you act. Maybe it's the advice your getting (it's bad advice). Maybe it's you being bull headed (I hear you don't like dissent, but who knows). Perhaps it's a sadomasochistic enjoyment of being pummeled before cluing in (I doubt it, but who knows). Bottom line is this Dwight, when you drag your feet on obvious decisions those back biters in your party love it cause it makes you look like a weak leader, and the PCs who caused the problems in the first place love it cause you begin to wear their dirty clothes. Here's how you can turn that all around.
The Muskrat Falls nightmare. Yes, it's a doozy. One of those damned if you do and damned if you don't, cause you wanted political office too badly and now you have to live it, quagmires. The way out is like this: don't put off an obvious political decision until it looks like you're hiding something to cover your own arse. It's called political foresight. If you don't have it, and none of the people around you have it, do yourself a favour and find someone that does. When it comes to the Muskrat Falls inquiry, I've taken it upon myself to give you a free-bee.
First off, it has to be seen as beyond reproach. That's a pretty tough call in Newfoundland - as one very senior judge in Newfoundland once said to me: "If nothing else Mr. Cabana, you have managed to expose ... I'm not sure if this is the right word ... the incestuous relationship between the court and the legal profession here." When every law firm has a finger in the political pie, it is very difficult if not impossible to get a judge to preside over this inquiry that is beyond fairly easy scrutiny. Here's my suggestion: if not a judge from out of province, then try retired Justice Orsborne. He took on Danny Williams over the naming of the court house in Corner Brook so I think you would have a winner there.
Secondly, the terms of reference. It's not much good to have a great judge and then tie his hands with a restrictive terms of reference. Besides, the finger will be immediately pointed at you for trying to sabotage the inquiry before it even starts. To be honest Dwight, having the "departments" craft the terms of reference is a really bad start. The departments have a vested interest in covering their own butts in any inquiry, and you know they were up to their necks in it. Kinda like asking the thief to judge himself. You have to avoid stuff like that. What you need to do here is use your common sense. Muskrat Falls was a "political issue" from day one, and not a "departmental issue". If you want to get at the truth, and you aren't trying to white wash the deal for say a friend, like I don't know, say Brian Tobin, who is a friend of say Danny Williams, then you have an open terms of reference: The legislation that ran up to it; the awarding of contracts; the sale of the former Premier's assets to companies that won the major bids; etc, etc.
While you are at it Dwight, but only if you want to try and calm the waters, you might want to include the government and Nalcor's treatment of dissidents of the project. After all, Liberals are big champions of the Charter, right? Showing that the government is concerned about citizens being silenced and character assassinated by their own government might win you some points amongst the "Known Critics", and hey, they may not be attacking you and your inquiry every five minutes. A degree of bipartisan support never hurts. Being a statesman is never a disqualification for leadership, and hey, you and I both know some Liberals are sharpening their knives in the shadows. So do yourself a monumental favour, and make this an important part of the inquiry. After all, if a province has healthy dissent its leadership is less likely to pull bone head moves, like, say, Muskrat Falls.
Just an aside Dwight. On the whole forensic audit thing. You might as well announce that too. Just like Scrooge's ghosts, not green lighting this is gonna bury the inquiry, you, and the Liberals. You don't want that right?
Oh ya, one last thing. If you fail to take this free-bee advice, your inquiry is going to blow up into the nightmare your mother warned you about. Imagine it now: the social media, and especially us bloggers, are going to crucify you and the party for covering up for your buddies; radio shows will be giving you a throbbing head ache; and even the press will more than likely join the band wagon. They're all looking for blood - yours, Danny's - you get the idea. Do yourself a favour, Dwight, stop listening to whoever it is that's giving you the shitty advice, probably helping you out the door for their buddies, and do the sensible thing. You can't be faulted for the sensible thing. Come what may.
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)