Nfld. & Labrador

Dwight Ball should 'come clean' on Ed Martin severance, PCs say

Premier Dwight Ball should tell the province just what he knows about the controversial severance payout to the ex-Nalcor head, PC leader Paul Davis says.
Paul Davis says Premier Ball needs to come clean about his involvement in Ed Martin's severance payout. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

Premier Dwight Ball should tell the province just what he knows about the controversial severance payout to the ex-Nalcor head, PC leader Paul Davis says.

Davis said the premier's response to Ed Martin's bombshell letter on Monday is not enough to explain to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians his role in the ongoing scandal.

After Martin released a statement alleging the premier knew of and approved his severance payout last month, Ball responded saying only that he would tell the auditor general his side of the story.

"All the information that he says he has...come clean and provide whatever information and details that's available to him," said Davis. "Provide that to the people of the province."

Martin is not commenting further about his statement, which contradicts Ball's position that he never discussed the topic of severance with Martin, who he insists resigned voluntarily. 

Evidence 'supports' Martin

Ed Martin got a severance package when he left Nalcor worth approximately $1.4-million. (CBC)

Davis says the evidence that's available to the public supports the version of events that Martin laid out in his letter — that government undercut his position within Nalcor and negotiated a severance payment with him.

"The difference in Mr. Martin and the premier is that Martin has clearly established a set of circumstances with specific details that the premier is not willing to share," said Davis.

It provides a tremendous amount of credibility to what Martin has issued.- Paul Davis

Davis said Martin's letter was credible: It included meeting dates that checked out, he believes the former Nalcor CEO's interpretation of his departure, and Davis called Martin very credible in the oil and gas industry.

"The premier, on the other hand, has changed his position on a number of matters throughout this discussion, and has now taken a position to not tell the facts, not to answer to what Mr. Martin had said," Davis said.

"It provides a tremendous amount of credibility to what Martin has issued."

Ball has said that he never had any discussion around severance with Martin, and that he didn't know the "details" of Martin's severance until May 5. But he has also said that he "became aware" of his severance eligibility on April 20.

Still, he has consistently laid responsibility for Martin's severance with the old Nalcor board. Martin's letter on Monday directly challenges that claim.

A forced departure?

The Liberals became evidently frustrated with the performance of Nalcor and its management, which culminated in sharp criticism in Finance Minister Cathy Bennett's April's budget speech. Speaking to reporters that day, Bennett refused to say that Nalcor's management had the support of government. 

In his letter on Monday, Martin wrote that he felt the budget comments undermined his ability to work, and set the stage for a "constructive dismissal" because the lack of government support undermined his leadership. 

Davis said Monday evening that he always believed there was more to the story than what the government had portrayed when Ball and Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady announced Martin's departure on April 20. 

"Before the budget [was] delivered on April 14, there was a change in government in how they believed and what they thought about Mr. Martin," Davis said.

"When the premier and the government will not indicate or state their confidence in the leadership, that spells out that there's a problem coming."

Ball has maintained he wasn't directly involved in the severance decision. (CBC)

Integrity 'seriously compromised': McCurdy 

The New Democrats also threw criticism on the government, following the publication of Martin's letter.

In a statement, Earle McCurdy said the premier's integrity had been "seriously compromised."

"It is very telling that Premier Ball's statement late this afternoon does not in any way contradict what Mr. Martin said," McCurdy said in a statement Monday evening.

"Instead the premier hid behind the auditor general's review."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Garrett Barry

Journalist

Garrett Barry is a CBC reporter based in Gander, N.L.

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