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Grand illusion


Let's hit pause for a moment and go back to the very beginning - at least, back to the very beginning of this chapter of the Nalcor Papers.

The date? April 20, and Ed Martin was resigning from his job at the top of Nalcor, the province's energy warehouse.

"It's my decision ... I'm comfortable that this is the time," Martin told reporters. There was emotional talk about the costs of his job on his family during the news conference; talk about wanting to spend more time with his grandkids, with a new one just on the way.

It was all sweetness and light at the other end of the pipe, too.

Premier Dwight Ball told reporters that Martin had made "a personal decision ... at this time in his life."

"We had a good working relationship," Ball said. "We respect Mr. Martin's choice today."

Well, what we know now is that it wasn't Martin's decision, and that he wasn't exactly comfortable with what had been happening between the government and Nalcor.

We know that it wasn't really a personal decision, and that there wasn't much of a working relationship at all.

We also know that, while both Ball and Martin described his action as a resignation, behind the scenes, the Nalcor board of directors was bending the language of Martin's contract into a pretzel, "firing" an executive who had already resigned so that he could collect $1.38 million in severance on top of an already contractually guaranteed $4.7 million pension payout.

The board says it was acting on the government's instructions, with the government's full knowledge.

Ball and his government say that's not true - that they were not aware that the resignation-firing-sacking-severance-making-conflagration-defenestration was even taking place on the terms that wound up with Martin receiving such an extra-large bag of government cash.

Why should anyone believe Ball? How, in this case, are we supposed to believe anyone?

This whole fiasco started with a lie. A pair of lies. A veritable passel of happy-face make-believe.

The original pair of "resignation" news conferences were just twin cases of saving face; comfortable fictions for the ignorant masses. Apparently, we can't handle the truth.

When it comes to telling the public what's actually happening, both Ed Martin and Premier Dwight Ball seemed quite happy to stand there in front of the cameras.

And lie.

Which, of course, begs the question: between the two of them has lain direct responsibility for billions of dollars of decisions, decisions that will affect taxpayers and citizens in this province for generations to come.

Are there any other comfortable fictions they want to get off their chests?

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