Nfld. & Labrador

'Rude' Ed Martin chastised by commissioner amid Muskrat inquiry meltdown

Commissioner Richard LeBlanc lost his cool at the Muskrat Falls inquiry Wednesday and directed his wrath at high-profile witness Ed Martin.

Richard LeBlanc loses his cool, saying former Nalcor CEO 'trying to run the show'

Former Nalcor CEO Ed Martin leaves the hearing room at the Muskrat Falls inquiry Wednesday. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

Commissioner Richard LeBlanc lost his cool at the Muskrat Falls inquiry Wednesday and directed his wrath at high-profile witness Ed Martin, describing the former Nalcor CEO as rude and unco-operative.

The blow-up came near the end of three intense days of testimony by Martin, who is considered a key witness at the inquiry because he stewarded the controversial project through the critical pre- and post-sanction phases.

I wouldn't put up with it in court, and I'm not going to put up with it here.- Richard LeBlanc

Martin was under cross-examination from Geoff Budden, lawyer for the Muskrat Falls concerned citizens coalition, and the questions were focused on the risky approach to establishing the $6.2-billion capital cost estimate that was announced at the project's sanctioning in December 2012.

After several sharp exchanges between Budden and Martin, attention in the room was abruptly drawn to LeBlanc following a loud bang.

Commissioner of the Muskrat Falls Inquiry, Richard LeBlanc, told the former Nalcor CEO he was being rude and trying to run the show. 1:18

LeBlanc then made these comments:

"I've had this foolishness. I've had it, Mr. Martin. You're not being the witness here. You're trying to run the show. It's going to stop right now. And if it doesn't stop, unfortunately I'm not going to be able to hear the rest of your story."

LeBlanc said he had been been listening very intently to Martin's testimony, patiently trying to take notes, but finally had enough of Martin's "attitude."

"You are not responsive to the questions," said LeBlanc. "You're actually being rude, as far as I'm concerned, and I don't want it anymore. I wouldn't put up with it in court, and I'm not going to put up with it here."

Justice Richard LeBlanc, right, commissioner for the Muskrat Falls public inquiry, leaves the hearing room Wednesday not long after chastising Martin over his behaviour while giving testimony. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

With that, LeBlanc ordered that the hearing recess for five minutes, saying, "I need to cool off. And then we're going to come back and it's going to shift from what's been going on, and we're going to go through this in a way that we can look like professionals, even if we don't."

Geoff Budden is the lawyer representing the Muskrat Falls concerned citizens coalition. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

After a short break, the testimony resumed and things seemed to flow a little more smoothly.

But it's been clear throughout Martin's testimony that he wasn't prepared to politely answer questions and follow the lead of the lawyers.

At times, Martin displayed an angry tone, and sometimes continued talking when O'Brien or Budden attempted to ask questions.

Martin has stated he believes O'Brien and co-counsel Barry Learmonth have shown a bias in their questioning, and at one point stated, "I'm going to take more time to answer these questions. I'm going to give the perspective. Now I'm being much more contextual, and careful, and specific."

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About the Author

Terry Roberts is a journalist with CBC's bureau in St. John's.

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