Grand Falls-Windsor Mayor Al Hawkins said he’s pleased about his recent appointment to the board of directors for Newfoundland Hydro and its parent company Nalcor.
“I’m absolutely honoured to be appointed to the board,” Mayor Hawkins said. “I really look forward to (making) my contribution to the corporation.”
However, that’s about all he has said. Mayor Hawkins has been silent about his new position as a member of the board of directors for Newfoundland and Labrador’s multi-billion-dollar energy corporation since the provincial Department of Natural Resources announced the appointments earlier this month.
Although the mayor hasn’t had much to say about the appointment, it’s getting some attention.
All four appointments to the boards were met with criticism in the provincial House of Assembly last week by opposition leader Dwight Ball. Ball questioned Premier Kathy Dunderdale on if the four new members — two mayors, a lawyer and the owner of a shipping company — were qualified to make important decisions about the province’s hydroelectric and oil and gas assets.
Last week the Advertiser received a letter to the editor from Dave Barker, a citizen of Grand Falls-Windsor, questioning if the mayor was in conflict of interest because of Nalcor’s stakes in the region Mayor Hawkins governs.
Nalcor Energy is the corporation responsible for the operation of the hydroelectric facilities in Grand Falls-Windsor and throughout the province, and has interests in oil and gas exploration across Newfoundland and Labrador.
According to the Newfoundland and Labrador municipalities act, to avoid being in a conflict of interest a councillor or mayor must not speak or vote on an issue where he or she has a monetary interest or if the “councillor (or mayor) is an officer, employee or agent of an incorporated or unincorporated company, or other association of persons, that has a monetary interest in the matter.”
Depending on the situation, this could mean Mayor Hawkins would have to abstain from being a part of any council decisions that have to do with Nalcor Energy or Newfoundland Hydro.
Nalcor’s communications spokesperson Merissa Wiseman wrote in an email both Nalcor and Newfoundland Hydro also have rules and guidelines to prevent situations of conflict of interests by board members.
“Nalcor and Hydro Board of Director members are required to comply to the company’s Code of Conduct and Business Ethics which provides for conflict of interests guidelines,” she said. “In addition, Nalcor Energy and Hydro has a corporate policy in place on conflict of interest which also applies to the board.”
About the position
Nalcor’s Communications adviser Merissa Wiseman said Mayor Hawkins was unavailable to comment on the Nalcor appointments, however, she emailed details on the mandates of the board.
The appointments come with an array of responsibilities, according to Nalcor Energy and Newfoundland Hydro’s official mandates. Responsibilities that include corporate governance, strategic planning, monitoring and taking action on shortcomings in operational and financial performance, risk management, and human resources management.
Board members also receive minimal compensation for their work.
Although Nalcor board members don’t receive compensation, members of the Newfoundland Hydro board, which is comprised of the same members, do. The directors get paid an $2,500 annual retainer fee as well as $250 fee per meeting, and receive compensation for hotels, travel expenses, meals, and so on.