Nfld. & Labrador

Dwight Ball won't rule out further actions on Ed Martin severance

Premier Dwight Ball insisted during debate in the House of Assembly on Wednesday that he will await the outcome of a review before committing to any further action relating to the controversial departure of Nalcor boss Ed Martin.

Former Nalcor board members silent on growing controversy

Ed Martin announced April 20 he was stepping down as Nalcor CEO, before the outgoing board of directors voted to terminate him "without cause," trigging a $1.4 million severance. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Premier Dwight Ball insisted during debate in the House of Assembly on Wednesday that he will await the outcome of a review before committing to any further action relating to the controversial departure of Nalcor boss Ed Martin.

One of the options could include an investigation by the auditor general, Ball acknowledged.

"Based on that review and that analysis, we will see what options we have available, and the auditor general might be one," Ball said in response to repeated questioning by Opposition members.

The premier was forced to defend his actions in the controversy, saying he did not have any input into a nearly $1.4 million severance package for Ed Martin, and accused PC Leader Paul Davis of "playing politics" with the issue.

"I was not part of any discussion around what any severance would look like," Ball stated, though he refused to answer directly whether he talked with Martin about severance.

"We will assume he did discuss it," Davis said.

Wednesday's Question Period was the latest in a growing controversy over last month's departure of Ed Martin as the CEO of Nalcor, Newfoundland and Labrador's energy corporation.

Dismissed 'without cause'

It was revealed publicly this week that the board terminated the former Nalcor Energy CEO "without cause" during its final meeting on April 20, after Martin announced he was resigning in order to spend more time with family.

The premier also indicated that day that Martin had resigned, and that his decision was made in consultation with the province.

The termination triggered a severance payment of just under $1.4 million for Martin, which is essentially two years' salary.

According to Martin's employment contract, he would not have been entitled to severance if he had quit.

Questions are now being asked about whether the board, which was appointed by former PC governments, acted appropriately.

Ball couldn't say how long the Justice department review might take, but added, "I look forward to getting this completed as well."

Ken Marshall on vacation

Ball said he became aware of the fact that Martin was terminated later in the day on April 20, but did not receive details of the severance package until May 5.

The premier and others have questioned the appropriateness of paying out severance if Martin was willing to leave willingly.

Meanwhile, former members of the Nalcor board of directors who quit en masse last month seem unwilling to weigh in on the controversy, at least for now.

Former board chair Ken Marshall declined an interview request Wednesday, but wrote this in an email to CBC News: "I'm out of country on vacation. I'm only getting bits and pieces of the information so will have to wait to comment."

Another former board member, Leo Abbass, directed inquiries to Marshall, while Tom Clift and Gerald Shortall could not be reached.

No comment from current CEO

The premier has repeatedly stated that the former Nalcor board of directors received a legal opinion before terminating Martin without cause and approving the severance.

A spokesperson for Nalcor said that legal opinion was verbal, and not in writing.

It's not known who gave the legal opinion.

Nalcor's new CEO, Stan Marshall, would not comment on the matter.

"I don't think I can help you on this … as I wasn't involved in Ed's severance arrangements," Marshall wrote in an email.

CBC News has requested a copy of the minutes from the April 20 Nalcor board meeting, but a spokesperson said they are being withheld because they are in draft form and "contain personal information relating to Mr. Martin's employment history."

Meanwhile, NDP Leader Earl McCurdy is questioning why the board paid Martin anything.

"They could have saved the $1.39 million. All they had to do was say, 'Thank you Mr. Martin. We accept your resignation.'"

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