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PC Opposition Leader Ches Crosbie said that he is pleased that the Public Accounts Committee unanimously passed a resolution yesterday...
Friday, October 18, 2019

St. John’s, NL (October 18, 2019) – PC Opposition Leader Ches Crosbie said that he is pleased that the Public Accounts Committee unanimously passed a resolution yesterday to have the Auditor General investigate and report on the breakdown of communication that resulted in the failure to proceed with wetland capping before flooding the Muskrat Falls reservoir.

On August 20, 2019, Crosbie wrote the Public Accounts Committee members requesting that a resolution be debated and passed requiring the Auditor General to conduct an investigation of the Government’s failure to proceed with wetland capping. $30 million in public funds was set aside for wetland capping with some of that funding disbursed for other purposes in lieu of capping. In the final days of the public proceedings of the LeBlanc Commission of Inquiry, it became clear that the Commissioner would not have the opportunity to fully explore this matter, and he referred to the wetland capping failure as ‘confounding’”.

Crosbie said “There are many unanswered questions as to why Government failed to follow through on a solemn undertaking to ensure wetland capping. It is a matter that impacts the indigenous people of Labrador and all taxpayers of this province. An independent investigation by the Auditor General will get answers.”

 “The principal role of the Public Accounts Committee is to ensure public accountability. All three parties worked together yesterday in a collaborative and cooperative manner to ensure ministerial accountability. I would like to commend all Committee members for their commitment to public accountability and their due diligence in fulfilling their responsibilities as Committee members. I look forward to the Auditor General’s report” said Crosbie.

 

 

Contacts:

 

Bradley Russell

Director of Policy and Research

(p) 1.709.729.3668

(c) 1.709.685.3161,

BradleyRussell@gov.nl.ca

 

 

 

Text of Original Letter

August 20, 2019

Public Accounts Committee Members

Dear Public Accounts Committee Members:

I am writing to urge you to debate and pass a resolution requiring the Auditor General to investigate and report on the breakdown of communication that resulted in the flooding of the Muskrat Falls reservoir in violation of an agreement between the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Innu Nation, the Nunatsiavut Government, and the NunatuKavut Community Council to abide by the recommendations of the Independent Expert Advisory Committee, which directed that wetland capping must precede any such flooding.

Commissioner LeBlanc of the Commission of Inquiry Respecting the Muskrat Falls Project stated, at the time of final submissions, that he found this gap in evidence to be “confounding”. However, he did not have the benefit of hearing from a principal witness, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Environment at the date of receipt of the permit request from Nalcor in July 2018, Hon. Andrew Parsons, whose responsibility it was to issue the permit. Because the Commissioner did not have the opportunity to fully explore this matter, and since it is “a matter relating to the financial affairs of the province or to public property”, it is imperative that the Auditor General be required to exercise her authority to explore and report on this matter in a separate and supplementary process.

The taxpayers of the province have a right to know, and the Indigenous people who were party to the breached agreement with the province have a vested interest in knowing, exactly what happened.

So I urge all Public Accounts Committee members to do the right thing in the interest of public accountability and reconciliation by supporting this call for this independent investigation.

Yours sincerely,

CHES CROSBIE, QC, MHA Windsor Lake

Leader of the Official Opposition

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