Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mr. Veniez may be gone, but he still looms on the horizon, Nathan Cullen continues his investigation

The investigator and the investigated don’t appear to be on the same page. That at least seems to be the impression one might be getting from recent developments in the examination of Dan Veniez’s time at Ridley Terminals.

Prior to his forced departure, Veniez had popped up on the horizon of Nathan Cullen, the NDP MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, who had expressed concern over Mr. Veniez’s plans to lead Ridley Terminals to privatization.

As that particular scenario began to develop, Cullen had started his own MP’s investigation into the plans, only to watch his main target be given his walking papers last month.

On his way out the door, Mr. Veniez suggested that his firing was more of a case of politics, that after Veniez had crossed swords with Conservative MP’s and Ministers over the future of Ridley, he outlined his thoughts that any investigation into Ridley Terminals should include the politicians and resource company agendas as well.

With all of that drama playing out from Ottawa to Prince Rupert and beyond, Mr. Cullen it seems has continued on with his investigation, though to hear Mr. Veniez tell it, there hasn’t been much input sought from him so far.

Currently away in Vietnam on a business trip, Veniez found time to hammer out some thoughts on his blackberry to George T. Baker of the Daily News. As past experiences have shown, this isn’t the first time that ever so calculating Veniez has used the media to massage his message.

In fact, his latest entry is but a continuation of the theme first started on the pages of the Globe and Mail and National Post earlier this year, articles that certainly gained him some attention and eventually it seems provided enough concern to have him removed from his job.

By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Monday, July 20, 2009
Page three

According to Nathan Cullen, there is still an NDP investigation probing into the Dan Veniez era at Ridley Terminal Inc.

Cullen said that Veniez and he are playing phone tag right now but that he has had conversations with Minister of State responsible for Transport, Rob Merrifield .

.. [Rob Merrifield] has been quite frank and forward with me and has committed to work with us to make the terminal viable and strong in the future and I am going to hold him to that commitment," said Cullen during his bi-weekly teleconference.

Veniez's employment was terminated after he created months of open speculation about the future of the north coast coal terminal, and his firing has resulted in a number of columns defending him in newspapers across the country.

But Veniez didn't seem to need any help yesterday when asked for comment. The former head of RTI is currently in Vietnam heading a business delegation that is meeting with top officials there, but he put his blackberry to good use.

By email, he wondered how Cullen had time to tell everyone that he was investigating the matter but had not taken the time to get a hold of him.

"There's no so-called investigation. Smoke and mirrors. He's playing politics," wrote Veniez in an email response. "An 'investigation' would require the production of documents, interviewing the parties, and doing all of that under oath. None of that is even close to happening by him or anyone else."

It has been a strange month at RTI. Veniez was fired for ostensibly selling the idea of privatization through the media, but the man who would have saved Skeena Cellulose has said that his termination at the coal terminal was little to do with the idea of privatization at all.

He blames coal-shipping interests in Prince George Conservative Mp, Jay Hill's, riding. Hill was the first Conservative MP to raise the issue that Veniez had overstepped his boundaries as chairman.

Cullen said that the terminal was in good shape under Veniez and was making some money but that there were some decisions made in the last while that had caused concern amongst Conservative ministers.

"Mr Veniez made some allegations that some suppliers, and coal shippers were being subsidized by the Canadian taxpayer and this is something that we are chasing right now. That's the reason I am talking to him at all," said Cullen.

Veniez emailed after the interview to say that Cullen had left a message to speak to him.

No comments: