Ball and Coady especially resemble Valdimir and Estragon — though possibly the tramps, Didi and Gogo, too because, like them, they seem to have no part to play.
Our play departs from Beckett’s a little, but only because Coady can expect an appearance from the Auditor General, just not with the package she pretends he is carrying.
The Minister knows he will offer no guidance on the “falsification” issue over which Nalcor’s whistleblower has sounded the alarm. Her performance is simply the pretense that he will.
The CBC posted a story on November 11, 2016 stating that Auditor General (A-G) Terry Paddon had “… told the media… his staff will take a look at Nalcor Energy, a review which could possibly include the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.”
The CBC said that the AG was “not quite clear what [he] will be looking for,” adding:
"We will go in with as broad a thought process as possible, and sort of look at a wide range of areas… You could look at procurement, you could look at compensation, you could look at business processes, those sorts of things."
Fast forward to May 11, 2017.
Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady, in another CBC article co-written by reporter Rob Antle and Morning Show Host Anthony Germain, had the Minister on record responding to the Nalcor whistleblower. The professional engineer had “called for a forensic audit, to find out why early cost projections for the hydro megaproject were “ridiculously low””.
The CBC recorded Coady stating that government “… officials are waiting for the auditor general to finish a broad review of Nalcor Energy first”.
“Certainly not opposed to looking at a forensic audit,” said Coady, “… we have a lot of questions ourselves.”
Continued the Minister:
“We're going to look at what the auditor general does uncover and talk to [him] at the time, and then consider how we move [forward], what's the next steps from there.”
Readers of WHO IS DWIGHT BALL AFRAID OF? will recall that I recently called attention to the A-G’s vague plans and suggested that “Coady comments transmit the unmistakable odour of delay”.
Talk about timing…
I received an email from Independent MHA Paul Lane on Thursday, June 8, 2017. En passant, Mr. Lane said that he had spoken with Auditor General “Terry Paddon last week” and “he is not looking into anything related to MF [Muskrat Falls]. He is doing a more general look at staffing, procurement policies, etc” with respect to Nalcor.
Making sure that I was not giving away any confidences, I replied to Mr. Lane asking permission to use his exchange with the A-G. I receive his approval together with the suggestion that Coady was using the AG’s review as “the excuse to do nothing and hope it blows over”. The MHA should be a Playwright!
Lane stated further that he hoped that one of the reasons that the A-G is looking at Nalcor is “because of my constant phone calls, emails, face to face meetings and the literally hundreds of people I got to call his office, email him, etc. He has a file 8 inches thick.”
Fair enough. The Member had made a claim to which he is entitled.
That said, discretion is a watchword of the Auditor General as it is of or any “oversight” institution. Equally, I am well aware that Independent Members get the chance to share far less information than a Minister or a Premier. As you ascend the pecking order of politicians, those in government have far more advisors and whisperers.
Certainly, if the A-G tells a single Member about the scope of an Audit when allegations of falsification — so serious that they may amount to criminal fraud — are swirling around the province, you might expect that Minister Coady has made it her business to know, too… unless she is in a far greater state of denial than Vladimir and Estragon which, admittedly, is likely.
For the Minister to say that she is waiting for what the Audit uncovers knowing, as she and the Premier must, that the A-G is not looking at Muskrat Falls at all, is tantamount to “ghosting”, as one writer said of Vladimir and Estragon as they await the arrival of Godot.
The only other difference is that Ball and Coady pass the time with bafflegab, rather than insults and fitness routines — tools of dither which Beckett gave his characters — the two politicians hopeful that a forgetful public awaits only a reluctant summer.
Of course, it is possible that Paul Lane didn’t actually speak with the A-G at all and that, like Beckett’s characters, his encounter with the province’s auditor was merely an imagining.
Far more likely, Coady is awaiting something that will not arrive today… but surely tomorrow!