Legal path forward unclear after Muskrat Falls inquiry report released

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball and Natural Resources Minister Siobahn Coady release the report of the Muskrat Falls Inquiry at the Confederation Building in St. John’s on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly

It’s unclear what the legal and professional consequences might be for the Crown corporation executives and former politicians faulted for pushing through the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.

The final report on the Muskrat Falls inquiry faults a number of people for pushing through the over-budget megaproject that has cost Newfoundland and Labrador billions of dollars.

Supreme Court Justice Richard LeBlanc, who led the inquiry into the $12.7 billion Labrador hydro dam, named former Nalcor CEO Ed Martin and a number of other executives for concealing information about schedule, cost and risks.

READ MORE: Muskrat Falls report slams executives, politicians for failing N.L. residents

LeBlanc also faulted the governments of former premiers Danny Williams and Kathy Dunderdale for failing to apply proper oversight or thoroughly research potential risks.

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Premier Dwight Ball announced Tuesday that the report released earlier that day would be referred to police and provincial justice department.

Justice Minister Andrew Parsons says there is no timeline on his department’s investigation into avenues for civil action, and staff are looking into “where and if we can go forward.”

Click to play video: 'Ottawa won’t be ‘heavy-handed’ in Muskrat Falls hydro project dispute'
Ottawa won’t be ‘heavy-handed’ in Muskrat Falls hydro project dispute

Parsons says he sees a need for accountability and deterring similar behaviour, but he does not plan to commence legal actions that are unlikely to be successful and would waste taxpayer money.

St. John’s lawyer Randy Piercey says the premier’s announcement of police involvement could complicate potential criminal proceedings in the future, as it might prejudice an individual’s right to a free and fair jury trial.

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