Sue's Blog

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Pam Frampton provides déjà vu

Pam Frampton's latest attempt to thwart Muskrat Falls critics who are demanding that the project be shut down while a forensic audit is completed - fails.

If you are feeling a déjà vu - you're not alone.

The majority of media took exactly the same approach when Muskrat Falls was initially talked about and during sanctioning.

From the outset - I can tell you we most certainly won't learn from this "mistake" if we allow this one to be completed. In fact - the more we let this "boondoggle" continue - without a forensic audit being completed - we are watching ourselves - knowingly - make a "mistake".

Frampton titles her government/corporate puff piece, "Inquiring minds want to know" a phrase that is familiar to most people as being used by the gossip rag The National Enquirer (with the exception of I instead of E). The writer - with her first scribbles - attempts to diminish, downplay, and question the Muskrat critics who want the project to stop and a forensic audit commissioned. déjà vu

The first paragraph of her article reads: "While it should never have been started, the hydroelectric project is way beyond the point of no return. With more than 80 per cent of the work finished, the province can’t afford — financially, legally or practically — to stop now."

The serious critics of the project wrote, made public comment, and drew attention in whatever way possible to argue that the project should not start. We didn't wait until it was 50%, 60%, 70% and "80" % completed to pull the fire alarm.

The serious critics of this project know that Frampton's claim "With more than 80 per cent of the work finished, the province can’t afford — financially, legally or practically — to stop now." is not based on fact - but based on politically and corporately produced spin. The spin cannot possibly be backed up unless a forensic audit and financial investigation were completed.

The serious critics of this project know that there are dozens of red flags waving prominently over this damn dam and would lead any knowledgeable person to demand a forensic audit. These red flags could be indicators of fraud, gross negligence, bribery, and other corrupt potentials.

If any of these serious and illegal activities were found - contracts entered into would have to be re-assessed, renegotiated or dismissed - yes people could go to jail - and yes the project could have to be stopped.

It's like saying Enron would have to be continued - resurrected - or reworked because it's too big to fail.

If we are actually in a position where this project is too big to fail - then I expect the Government of Canada to come in pay off the debt on the project and re-work something with Nalcor that leaves the people of Newfoundland and Labrador whole - (as they were before the boondoggle started).

Doing nothing is paramount to knowingly bankrupting the future of our province.

Let me add this for Ms. Frampton - if an engineering investigation found that the North Spur would probably fail at some time in the future - would it be too expensive to stop, not practical to stop, not legally wise to stop?

This continued writing on Muskrat Falls without truly fully understanding what the options are regarding the project - is nothing short of irresponsible at best or a deliberate re-spin at worst. The Tobinesque speech by Ball and dutiful and predictable media fawning over it - is the same old same old technique used to get the project sanctioned.

Spinster used to have a different meaning in Newfoundland and Labrador in days of old. The meaning today is less innocuous.

Then Frampton - inexplicably - goes on to suggest what the Public Inquiry (not yet established) should examine. Ms. Frampton - respectfully but barely - I suggest that you don't possess enough knowledge on the subject to reasonably put perimeters on it.

The "eight main thrusts" that Ms. Frampton articulates can be answered before an inquiry begins. That's the problem.

Value for money? Really? the answer is no!

Good decision making? Really clearly not!

Lessons learned? Come on now. Naive (please read the Economist article again) or if you have the time our history on the development of natural resources)

Financial consequences? Oh my~ They are obvious!

Commercial sensitivity? What where the owner of a company cannot know or see the content of financial remuneration contracts? Surely you jest.

The key motivations? Okay that's just silliness. It's called corporate welfare. It's called idiotic legacies. It's called political pandering.

You see Ms. Frampton - you and many other journalists, columnists, and/or announcers are a very real part of our ongoing and historical record of failure.

One must be knowledgeable enough on a subject to ask the pertinent questions and follow-up. One must be willing to ask critics - why they really hold opinions, express concerns, or continue to put out "warning trouble ahead" information. Particularly when these people have nothing to gain directly. When you base all you opinion on those who have something to gain - then you are likely putting out spin.

This inundation by some media - of late - is EXACTLY the same type of nonsensical rhetoric that got us here to begin with.

Then - finally- indulge me as I review this paragraph of fiction:

"Let’s be clear: no inquiry into Muskrat Falls is going to result in a parade of former politicians being hauled away in shackles, satisfying as that might be. None of the money squandered will be paid back. If we accept those basic facts, then what is it we want an inquiry to accomplish?"

You have no idea what a yet to be established inquiry may or may not result in. Therefore the fact that politicians will not be hauled away on shackles - is not a fact. An inquiry could in fact lead to information that could be used to investigate potentially illegal activity. Remember those trinkets in the House of Assembly. People went to jail there - right? And how much money was that over? I am going to suggest that IF illegal activity were going on - those involved on any level would try to prevent it being discovered.

None of the money squandered will be paid back. Not a fact. First you do not know if the money was "squandered" or if it disappeared (illegally) - you don't know if somebody doesn't have a million in their back-pocket from a wink and a nod - you don't know if significant amounts of equipment was stolen or cannot be found - you don't know if somebody has taken a kickback. You do know that the projected cost has doubled.

So to accept those "basic facts" as you call them - is to continue to be fooled. It is a continuation of spoon-feeding the public - information being spoon-fed to you.

I do not have a desire to shut you up as James McLeod might say - but I do have a desire for you to to be really cognizant of the potential damage you may cause by writing facts that are not facts.

My previous blog posts from 6/7 years ago talk about not needing the power, Emera owning the transmission line to the Island, the concern about budget projections and so on - demonstrate that there were a number of us people - who seen through the last round of spin. I for one am seeing through this current onslaught of it.

Maybe we should do an inquiry on how the media plays a role in advancing the "boondoggles" of governments. Perhaps they should be tested on their knowledge of subjects they confidently write about. Perhaps somebody should look at that record. The Johnny Come Lately media questions about the Muskrat fiasco - should probably continue and not get swept under another carpet for historical review.

Next up - James Mcleod and his story on our retiring Auditor General.... does it ever end...


g said...

hi Sue
I quit twitter - but I often wish to join a conversation...
I thought this could be an interesting thing of note...
They recently erected 3200+ electric towers in NL.
If those were wind turbines, at an avg. output of 6Million kWh/year per turbine,
that would create over 19 Billion kWh of power per year.
enough for about 5 Million homes.
(I bet it's more work, but it's WAY smarter work. and those are ONshore turbines, the ones at sea do way better.)
gerard Neil

Bruno Marcocchio said...

Sue this is a good schooling of journalism principles that is lost on the media these days. They need to be informed enough to ask intelligent, probing questions and give counterarguments by informed critics.

Repeating spin from blustery politicians is so much easier for the lazy journalist. They take no responsibility for their incompetence in the unfolding disaster at MF and the meltdown of the democratic checks and balances.