Nfld. & Labrador

Dwight Ball prepared to change law to make Nalcor more transparent, if 'required'

Premier Dwight Ball has reiterated that the door is open to changing the law governing Nalcor to ensure enhanced transparency, but says he needs more information before deciding whether to walk through it.

N.L. premier waiting for results of investigation by information and privacy watchdog

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball answered questions from reporters outside the House of Assembly in St. John's Monday. The premier stressed that he is open to changing the law governing Nalcor Energy, if it's necessary to increase transparency at the Crown corporation. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Premier Dwight Ball has reiterated that the door is open to changing the law governing Nalcor, to enhance transparency at the energy corporation.

But Ball said Monday it's too early to walk through it.

We need to make sure that Nalcor is as accountable and as open as any department within government.- Premier Dwight Ball

Instead, the premier is waiting for the results of a review by the province's information and privacy commissioner, before deciding what needs to be done, and how to move forward.

"We need to make sure that Nalcor is as accountable and as open as any department within government," Ball told reporters outside the legislature Monday.

The premier added that if "legislative changes are what's required, then we're prepared to do that."

Recent reports by CBC News and The Telegram have raised questions about the number of so-called embedded contractors working on Muskrat Falls, and secrecy surrounding how much they get paid.

Nalcor says it can't release some of that information, because it's classified as commercially sensitive under the current law.

Both media outlets have filed complaints with Newfoundland and Labrador's open-records watchdog.

'We want to get the information out'

Interim NDP Leader Lorraine Michael brought up the embedded contractors issue during question period in the House of Assembly Monday.

Ball confirmed that there has been correspondence on the matter with Nalcor's board of directors.

"A lot of this information came out through the work that's been done in the media," Ball said in the legislature.

"It's been ongoing and so we want to get the information out. How much has been paid to embedded contractors? We will continue to ask questions on where the commercial sensitivity is with all of this. We're working with the new board that we've put in place."

Crown-owned Nalcor Energy is working to develop the Muskrat Falls hydro megaproject. (CBC)

The premier also noted that the current CEO of Nalcor, Stan Marshall, has indicated he is not personally opposed to releasing more of that information.

Earlier this month, Marshall told CBC News that his hands are tied unless the government changes the law.

The premier said he is now waiting for the information commissioner to weigh in.

"Maybe legislation prohibits this, so if it means that we've got to make some changes so the information is available publicly, that is what we want to do," Ball said.


Rob Antle

CBC News

Rob Antle is producer for CBC's investigative unit in Newfoundland and Labrador.