The Great Revolutionary from The Shore

the sanctioning of Muskrat Falls my relationship with Uncle Gnarley had
returned to a more normal state.  Once a
week we would share a ‘wee dram’ while he proceeded to educate me on some of
the finer aspects of the liberal arts. 
These discussions, as one sided as they may be, were always a welcome
diversion from everyday life.  As I was
driving down the shore I wondered what would be the topic of this evening’s

opened the door and saw my old friend hanging, what appeared to be, a framed
picture on the wall. 

as usual your timing is excellent.  Tell
me if this is level to the mantle?”

to see you too, Uncle Gnarley.  It is
level, but what is it?”  It was
clear that this was no portrait; it seemed to be a legal document of some sort.

my good friend, in recognition of the 30th anniversary of its creation I have
thought it proper to display the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  I remember the pride I had when the late
prime minister entrenched this fine document into Canada’s constitution.   He knew that the fundamental freedoms of
religion, conscience, peaceful assembly and freedom of thought are vital for
any healthy democracy to survive”.

this I knew this evening was going to be a lesson on civics, one of the old
economist’s favorite themes.  I started
to look for the nectare from the highlands as this subject required that I
first ‘dumb my senses’ to ensure optimal enjoyment from the session.

Nav, I am fearful that the current crop of politicians, are not only inept in
basic economics, they are also inept in respecting the fundamental rights
protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  It is a sorry state of democracy in
Newfoundland and Labrador.  We should all
be scared by the complete lack of respect shown by Dunderdale and her

was unsure what event in the news had caused the old economist to build such a
big head of steam.  Uncle Gnarley
certainly had a bee in his bonnet.  But
it was not about Muskrat Falls!

Gnarley what has you so worked up this evening?”

Nav, it is the clear evidence that this Government will abandon the most sacred
of democratic principals, to uphold the most unwise of public investments”.  

I sipped the first dram of the old Balvenie I found myself in the usual state
of confusion.  “Uncle Gnarley, what
is this evidence?”

Nav, it seems there is no longer regard for fundamental freedoms, the building
blocks of democracy “  With that
Uncle Gnarley passed me a piece of paper entitled “Muskrat Falls Media Analysis 

see this government has spent tax payer’s dollars to track the political
statements made both in the traditional media, and the new social media.  Included in this document are some of my very
own statements I have made on the twitter. 
I am what they refer to as a ‘known
’, and my electronic communications are being tracked by both
government, and Nalcor!”

statement was profound not by this infringement on my friends basic democratic
rights, but the fact that the cantankerous old man was on Twitter!  With that I took a stiff drink, uncertain
where the conversation was heading. 

Uncle Gnarley, this should be no surprise to anyone.  I think the profiling of the media has been
going on here for a good many years.  All
governments, of different colors”

precedence does not make it correct.  I
am gob smacked that there are those who consider it acceptable for our
government, and a crown corporation to track the opinions of private citizens
who have studied the project, and dare speak against it.  To monitor what the ‘known critics’ are

this I thought that the old economist was caught in a utopian view of
democracy.  This type of activity has
always gone on in Newfoundland.  As well,
from what I know about Twitter, these opinions are open to the public.  I had to try to speak some reason to the old

Gnarley… from what I know about Twitter any opinion put on it is open for the
world to see.  Nalcor are only tracking
information which is in the public domain. 
What is so offensive about this?”

Nav, I am new to Twitter.  I follow a
small crowd of the province’s intellects, and I also have earned a few followers
in the past few months.  But none of my
followers include the Government of Newfoundland.  Nor are any of the people, who have declared
themselves to be employees, of the Premier’s communication staff.

my Tweets may be open to the public, but the Nalcor communications department
has to take the time to look for it.  To
make matters worse, they then use tax payer’s dollars to transcribe it into a

Nav, don’t be naïve enough to think that, just because this is on the internet,
this is not eavesdropping on a conversation in which they weren’t invited to
participate.  It is no different if the
Nalcor representative was sitting next to us in a restaurant, and transcribed
the words of a conversation I was having with a group of people.  No difference at all”

my old friend was known to do, he took a small drink, and paused to collect his

there is nothing innocent in what this government has done in tracking the
political opinions of private citizens. 
It is perverse that it has eavesdropped on my electronic
communications.  Me… Uncle Gnarley the
great revolutionary from the Shore!

Nav, I find this intrusion disconcerting not only because it is an affront to
democracy,    but, I also feel, this government has infringed
upon my basic right for privacy.”

that Uncle Gnarley took out a MacBook Pro. 
Yet again I was amazed by my old friend. 

not too bad, eh?   I needed this beast to
read up on Muskrat; my foray into Twitter was a logical step to keep up with the
‘Crowd of Known Critics’.

old man then started to type.  His 2
index fingers were moving like an industrial sewing machine.  Once he finished he looked up, clearly proud
of his foray into the 21st century.

Nav, back to this evening’s subject.  My
rights to privacy are legislated by both Federal and Provincial
Legislation.  The Province has it’s very
own Privacy Commissioner.  There are 2 Acts
which relate solely to the issue of personal privacy.  Take for example the
the Privacy Act of 1995.
this piece of legislation there are specific examples when a person’s privacy
is infringed.  With that Uncle Gnarley
passed over the lap top:

Nav, rest assured when I made statements to my 22 followers on Twitter I was
not giving consent to the Government of Newfoundland to listen in on these
conversations and record any statement which did not agree with the contents of
the most recent Blue Book.  It is also
without debate that my political opinions on Muskrat Falls are personal

that Uncle Gnarley moved back over to the mantle, and looked up at the result
of his evenings work. 

Nav… I don’t know if the actions of government to track my individual beliefs
and opinions on Twitter to be unconstitutional. 
Is it legally wrong?  Honestly, I
am not sure.  Is it morally wrong? That
is another question” 

great Prime Minister once said, that ‘The state has no business in the bedrooms
of the nation’.  He was right, and he
entrenched this great document to enshrine these basic democratic rights.

must now ask, why it would now be acceptable for the state to peer through the
electronic window, into my den? 

Editor’s Note: This Post was written by “JM”, the anonymous reseacher, writer and presenter, to the PUB and in local Blogs, on the Muskrat Falls Project. JM has written a number of earlier Uncle Gnarley pieces, including, most recently,   The Harper Paradox.  His latest Paper is entitled: Muskrat Falls Revenue Stream Fact or Fiction.  – Des Sullivan


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?


  1. Wow! I will have to ponder this one. Here in the USA we have heard of folks in power having lists of "undesirables." Such lists are reprehensible to me.For a government or corporation to respond to a criticism is responsible; for either to accumulate such rebukes as some indication of having been attacked is at once childish and disturbing.