Nfld. & Labrador

NDP grill Liberals about Nalcor in House of Assembly, as Tories stay silent

The official opposition kept silent on the news topic du jour during question period, as the NDP and Liberals sparred over Nalcor Thursday.
Lorraine Michael questions the government about Nalcor in the House of Assembly on Thursday. (House of Assembly )

With Nalcor resignations and appointments dominating the news agenda this week, the only mention of it during question period in the House of Assembly Thursday came after lengthy debates about the deficit levy and long-term care beds.

The NDP, which is given the chance to speak after the official opposition, suggested the Liberals had for some time lost confidence in Nalcor's management, prior to Finance Minister Cathy Bennett's roasting of the Crown corporation in her budget speech last week.

"Why did government not go about an orderly transition, instead of throwing the province into the turmoil which has flowed from the minister's intemperate remarks?" NDP MHA Lorraine Michael asked.

"We did what we had to do, to make sure the people that are working at Nalcor and the projects that they're involved in continues in a very stabilized fashion," said Premier Dwight Ball.

Former Fortis CEO Stan Marshall was named the new head of Nalcor Thursday morning. (CBC)

Nalcor's CEO and president Ed Martin announced his resignation Wednesday morning, with the rest of its board of directors following suit Wednesday afternoon, citing the Liberal attacks as motivation.

The former head of Fortis, Stan Marshall, has been named to replace Martin.

Privatization off the table

Michael also asked Ball if Marshall may consider privatizing Nalcor, "at a basement bargain price."

Ball responded with a one-word answer — "no." 

When Michael asked for further explanation, Ball said "his responsibility will be to lead that organization. He will base his own opinion on what he believes and thinks will be the best way forward, for Nalcor and our province. And that does not include privatization."

Tory response

Despite not bringing up Nalcor in question period, a Tory MHA weighed in on Stan Marshall's appointment afterwards with reporters.

Tory MHA Keith Hutchings says his party hopes Stan Marshall will support Muskrat Falls, despite opposition in the past. (CBC)

"We know in the past he's had some reservations in regards to Muskrat Falls. We hope he comes in with an open mind and certainly moves it forward," said Keith Hutchings, the PC critic for natural resources, adding one matter of concern was the lack of transparency to Marshall's hiring.

"It just seems to be a mixed message here. Are we going to do appointments in a certain way, or is there certain times when we're not going to?"

Hutchings then reiterated the PCs' faith in the mega-project they began.

"Any time you have a project that's going over, there's overruns, it's always of concern to everybody, and needs to be addressed, but fundamentally still we're big supporters of Muskrat Falls."