Gnarley wasn’t keen on having his name on the banner of a political blog; not that he was shy or reticent about stating his opinion on any issue. Still, I planned that my thoughts, not his, might occupy the site.  That may have caused him the deepest scepticism.
It was not as if my request were invoked by someone
boasting blood kinship.  But ideas take on a life of their own.
You see Uncle Gnarley is not really my uncle.  I’m not even
certain Gnarley’ is his real name. 

In Newfoundland and Labrador, you see, “Uncle” has all the virtues
and usage of the word “Skipper”; often conveyed upon someone as a term of
respect or in recognition of certain endearing qualities.  Traditionally, an uncle need not be a sibling
of either parent any more than a skipper need ever to have gone to
When I first
met Uncle Gnarley, I was trying to catch a few trout on the Salmonier River.  I practically tripped over the elderly gentleman; in the ensuing commotion I became a recipient of one of his renowned glares. 

You see when Uncle Gnarley sneers, his lip
goes off into a most god awful curl; the effect is to render normal people, as
it did me, into a state of instant terror. 
But, fortunately, the condition is quite temporary.  When he chooses, the gruff, quarrellsome demeanor can become a soft,
confident voice with a conditioning effect that suggests all is
forgiven. I have learned, however, that if it is the soft and pleasant Gnarley you want, it is better to keep him on a ‘politics-free’ diet.

You will probably agree that is not likely in the current political atmosphere.

My rather unceremonius
introduction to Uncle Gnarley, was the beginning of a relationship that took
the pattern of two who enjoyed getting on each others nerves. For certain, he
was as quick witted as you could find, demonstrating more insight into matters
of state than an entire Dunderdale Cabinet.  But, that comment does not actually compliment Uncle Gnarley, does it.
I soon learned Uncle Gnarley was an
Economics Professor at the University and a fisherman; he having operated a
modest vessel out of Petty Harbour to supplement a meagre university

He was also a frequently sought
raconteur, or so I am told, regaling audiences with his stories, wit and
humour. He has now retired from both professions. Having lived for many
years in Petty Harbour , (he was not too fond of row housing coming to the
Harbour; a St. John’s phenomenon best left to the City, he ventured), he is now
living in a small, quiet town on the Southern Shore.  

Get used to
words like ‘tarnation’, his most vulgar expletive, and ‘by gar’, which he uses
with particular earnestness.

Uncle Gnarley has a ferocious temper. What infuriates him most are arrogant and short sighted politicians and spend thrift governments.  Oh, if you really want to see that lip of his curl, his entire face swell and turn as red as a beet, just mention the words “public debt”.  

As you can imagine Uncle Gnarly is not happy these days.  

My most admiring view
of Uncle Gnarley was formed long after having removed my foot from his crushed
fishing basket. I got around to asking him his name; to which he replied,
matter of factly, “Gnarley, what’s yours”? Having felt certain that I had
misheard, I did not feel quite confident enough, in the circumstance, to have
him repeat it. 

One thing I quickly became certain about, however, is that Uncle Gnarley loves Newfoundland and Labrador. Any decision that threatens our culture, way of life or future economic or social well being can expect a level of wrath only he can mete out. 

Many years
later, I screwed up the courage to ask him if I could name my Blog for
him.  He paused, his lipped curled a few times and I thought for an instant that
presumption is not something one should impose upon this curmudgeonly academic.  I was not to be disappointed.  Eventually a reply of sorts slipped out of the bearded, kindly and opinioned patriot,  I heard a grunt or two and noticed a nod that suggested
acceptance.  Then a grizzled face looked at me intently; two fiercely sparkling eyes met mine.  I thought I discerned a slight smirk.  The mouth movied to intone: “provided I get to have a word or two, as well”.   

I can’t wait for some of Uncle Gnarley

But, friends, you may have to endure some of mine while we both wait for Uncle Gnarley

Des Sullivan
Des Sullivan
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Uncle Gnarley is hosted by Des Sullivan, of St. John's. He is a businessman engaged over three decades in real estate management and development companies and in retail. He is currently a Director of Dorset Investments Limited and Donovan Holdings Limited. During his early career he served as Executive Assistant to Premier's Frank D. Moores (1975-1979) and Brian Peckford (1979-1985). He also served as a Part-Time Board Member on the Canada-Newfoundland Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB). Uncle Gnarley appears on the masthead representing serious and unambiguous positions on NL politics and public policy. Uncle Gnarley is a fiscal conservative possessing distinctly liberal values and a non-partisan persusasion. Those values and opinions underlie this writer's views on NL's politics, economy and society. Uncle Gnarley publishes Monday mornings and more often when events warrant.


Bill left public life shortly after the signing of the Atlantic Accord and became a member of the Court of Appeal until his retirement in 2003. During his time on the court he was involved in a number of successful appeals which overturned wrongful convictions, for which he was recognized by Innocence Canada. Bill had a special place in his heart for the underdog.

Churchill Falls Explainer (Coles Notes version)

If CFLCo is required to maximize its profit, then CFLCo should sell its electricity to the highest bidder(s) on the most advantageous terms available.


This is the most important set of negotiations we have engaged in since the Atlantic Accord and Hibernia. Despite being a small jurisdiction we proved to be smart and nimble enough to negotiate good deals on both. They have stood the test of time and have resulted in billions of dollars in royalties and created an industry which represents over a quarter of our economy. Will we prove to be smart and nimble enough to do the same with the Upper Churchill?