Nfld. & Labrador

Ed Martin and Dwight Ball in their own words on $1.4M Nalcor severance package

In the wake of the revelation that Ed Martin was fired from his position as Nalcor CEO, we look back at April 20, and what was said the day Martin's announced his resignation.
Dwight Ball, left, and Ed Martin both held press conferences on April 20 that did not address details of Martin's severance package. (CBC)

What a difference a month makes.

If Ed Martin or Dwight Ball had any inkling that Martin was going to be fired as CEO of Nalcor by its board of directors on April 20, neither mentioned it at the lengthy press conference each held when Martin announced his seemingly-voluntary departure from the energy corporation earlier that same day.

"Today, I have come to that time and I will be stepping down as president," said Martin, adding he wanted to spend more time with his family.

"It's my decision, as I laid out."

His statements were backed up by the premier.

"This was a decision that he made, to step down, and he's at the stage of his life where you make those decisions," said Ball.

But stepping down isn't exactly what happened, as we now know, a month later.

As CBC News reported Tuesday, Ball said Martin was in fact fired without cause by the board of directors the same day he announced his resignation, thereby ensuring he received a $1,387,815.75 severance package he would not have been entitled to had he voluntarily left.

The board of directors then resigned themselves.

Prior to any resignations, Nalcor's operations, especially the cost overruns and delays at the Muskrat Falls megaproject, had been highly scrutinized by the Liberal government when it delivered its April 14 budget.

Prior meetings

Before any of those bombshells, Martin and Ball met privately, twice, to discuss the details of Martin's departure.

The two met on April 17, a meeting both say Martin asked for, and then again the night before the April 20 press conferences.

"I initiated the call to the premier, and he was gracious enough to meet, and we talked things through and found a way forward that was acceptable," Martin told reporters.

Martin also said he did not speak of resignation to anyone else until after those meetings.

Martin said the details of any severance was a discussion had without him, by Nalcor's board of directors. (CBC)

"I spoke to the premier first. and I waited until after we had an alignment. Because I wanted to make sure that was there," said Martin, without elaborating on what the 'alignment' specifically entailed.

Ball kept the details of the meetings similarly vague.

"We talked about a number of different scenarios," Ball said.

"We had a very good discussion in terms of the future for Mr. Martin."

Severance chat?

Ball has maintained that he only learned the details of Martin's severance package on May 5, one day after CBC and other media outlets reported the $1.4 million figure.

On April 20, Ball said Martin's contract, along with any severance, wasn't under his jurisdiction.

Anything that's in the contract that speaks to severance... we will honour the commitments.- Dwight Ball

"It's a board to CEO relationship," he said.

"Anything that's in the contract that speaks to severance and those sorts of things, we will honour the commitments that should be made."

Martin himself said as of the morning of April 20, any payout was still up in the air.

"I'm not in a place to speak about that," he said.

"That would be a board discussion, and I would recuse myself from that discussion… those details haven't been finalized right now." 

Martin accepted his severance package, worth two years' salary, on April 26.

With files from Peter Cowan