Six Stages of Boon­dog­gle

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - EDITORIAL - Pam Framp­ton

Boon­dog­gle — noun. North Amer­i­can in­for­mal. 1930s.

merit that typ­i­cally in­volves po­lit­i­cal pa­tron­age and graft.

Nal­cor CEO Stan Mar­shall agrees that in this prov­ince, at this par­tic­u­lar time, we’ve reached Stage 4. I don’t think many peo­ple would dispute that.

I’m talk­ing about the six phases of megapro­jects, which ap­par­ently are fa­mil­iar to sea­soned ob­servers of such grand schemes.

Mar­shall listed the phases in a speech he gave in St. John’s to an elec­tri­cal and com­puter engi­neer­ing con­fer­ence in Novem­ber 2016, back when we were in Stage 3.

I pre­fer to call them the Six Stages of Boon­dog­gle as they per­tain to the $12.7-bil­lion mas­sive Muskrat Falls hy­dro­elec­tric project.

Mar­shall’s def­i­ni­tions are pro­vided be­low, paired with news or com­men­tary of the day that re­flects each phase.

Stage 1

“First, comes wild en­thu­si­asm. A big an­nounce­ment fol­lowed by the en­dorse­ment of all con­cerned.”

Tele­gram article, Dec. 18, 2012: “Pre­mier Kathy Dun­derdale for­mally sanc­tioned the $7.7-bil­lion Muskrat Falls hy­dro­elec­tric project Mon­day evening, call­ing it a piv­otal mo­ment in the his­tory of New­found­land and Labrador.

“With all the pomp and cer­e­mony the gov­ern­ment could muster, Dun­derdale held a for­mal an­nounce­ment in the lobby of Con­fed­er­a­tion Build­ing with cur­rent and for­mer politi­cians, busi­ness lead­ers and mem­bers of the public in at­ten­dance.

“She framed the an­nounce­ment as a mat­ter of deep pride for the peo­ple of the prov­ince, and a move that cut to the heart of the New­found­land and Labrador iden­tity.

“‘The most im­por­tant ben­e­fit of this de­vel­op­ment is that it al­lows us as New­found­lan­ders and Labrado­ri­ans to stand tall and proud on the na­tional stage,’ Dun­derdale said.”

Stage 2

“Sec­ond, comes delu­sion­ment. Re­al­ity sets in as fore­casts and bud­gets go out the win­dow.”

Letter to the edi­tor, Tony Rockel, March 13, 2013: “While the rest of the de­vel­oped world is rapidly mov­ing off the elec­tric­ity grid, thanks to new en­ergy-sav­ing de­vices, rapidly evolv­ing pow­er­stor­age tech­nolo­gies and ever cheaper and more ef­fi­cient wind tur­bines and so­lar pan­els, the Dun­derdale gov­ern­ment is telling us that we ab­so­lutely must ‘de­velop’ the Lower Churchill Falls.

“Yes, let’s ig­nore the new re­al­ity and blun­der our way into one more eco­log­i­cal and so­ci­o­log­i­cal dis­as­ter, the cost of which, in­ci­den­tally, will crip­ple us fi­nan­cially for gen­er­a­tions.”

Stage 3

“Third, comes con­fu­sion, panic and hys­te­ria.”

Letter to the edi­tor, J.F. Collins, Oct. 2, 2013: “Is it too late for res­cue? Though al­ready one­fifth the way down the path to dis­as­ter, must we still go the other four-fifths over the cliff?

“The ref­er­ence is, of course, to the mon­strous Muskrat Falls sleight-of-hand. … Nova Sco­tia is now to be guar­an­teed most (60 per cent) of Muskrat Falls out­put at min­i­mal cost, leav­ing this prov­ince with 40 per cent egg on its face and 80 per cent of the to­tal ex­penses. This is much worse than the Up­per Churchill.”

Stage 4

“A search for the guilty. Who’s re­spon­si­ble for this boon­dog­gle?”

Tweets from @den­nis­bur­den, Aug. 19, 2017: Ex­pose the works, make Nal­cor naked, lock up the real crim­i­nals, send (mes­sage) to any fu­ture would-be cor­rupt politi­cian…

“Can’t wait for the real crim­i­nals as­so­ci­ated with this mon­ster to be held ac­count­able…”

Stage 5 “Pun­ish­ment of the in­no­cent. The peo­ple who were pri­mar­ily re­spon­si­ble are long gone, so let’s pun­ish those who are left try­ing to fix the prob­lems.”

Stage 6

“Af­ter the project is fin­ished, it’s time to re­ward the un­in­volved.… Ev­ery­thing that could be done to fix the prob­lem and bring the project to the fin­ish line has been done. Roll out the trum­pets, hang the rib­bons and break out the cam­eras for a big splash.”

In part­ing, Stan Mar­shall told his au­di­ence: “I fully an­tic­i­pate that we will come to that phase, but I don’t ex­pect I’ll be in­cluded.”

I’m think­ing a public in­quiry could pre­clude Stage 5 and pro­vide the op­po­site ef­fect to Stage 6, by holding to ac­count those who are ac­tu­ally re­spon­si­ble. Of course, that will only hap­pen if an in­quiry is called while the peo­ple who need to an­swer key ques­tions still have to­tal re­call.

It’s funny how the mem­ory can go when it’s needed most.

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