Justice Minister Darin King: Slumber No More

On Thursday,
this scribe posted a piece entitled “The Case of Kennedy vs. King“.  The Post described how former Justice
Minister and current Finance Minister had extracted excessive cuts to the
justice system from a sleepy and naive Darin King, jeopardizing not just the
proper functioning of the Justice system but threatening his chances of winning
Kathy Dunderdale’s job. 

Both Kennedy
and King want to be Premier.  King is not
a lawyer and he is at a decided disadvantage in assessing the impact of Kennedy’s
cutbacks to legal, administrative and other processes of our legal system.  On the other hand, it is tough to find a
Cabinet post that enjoys as much unwarranted prestige given that legal ‘professionals’
run the show.  It is a great place for an
ambitious politician to hang out in the “reeds” and to build stature while
other Ministers deal with ceaseless demands and frequent public lashings.  
Kennedy, not
content to see King get a free ride, had him set up for a hard landing.  But, Kennedy overplayed his hand. The cuts were
too deep.  Even partisans could see that.

The public
outcry was not only swift; it came from all parts of the legal system.

political threat to Minister King from Kennedy’s gambit was explained on this
Blog in the Queen’s English.  Likely, Mr.
King took a moment to “Log On”.  The
tremors, caused when he hit the ceiling, could be felt all the way to Cape

Now, we have
a Committee to review the decision.  This
is interesting for a couple of reasons.

First, it
was not established under the auspices of the Minister of Justice.  No. Jerome Kennedy was having none of that.
King was forced to run off to the Premier who might have cared less about
Kennedy’s ruse except she was not blind to the backlash that had washed over
the Government vis Open Line Shows, and other news slots, featuring myriad
legal spokes people.  We were even
reminded of the name, Mr. Justice Antonio Lamer.

While King
was the sole defender of the cuts on Thursday; by Friday, it was the Premier who
had “directed that a committee be struck to hear those concerns firsthand and
work together toward maintaining a justice system…”.  Not about to offend her most loyal Minister
(even if he is not terribly astute), the Premier stacked the Committee with Kennedy,
Tom Marshall, the Attorney General and a small group of pivotal public servants
and one “outsider”.  Lawyer, Bob Simmonds,
was a safe choice, though he spoke publicly against the cuts; as an old Williams’
Tory loyalist, he can be trusted not to get too ebullient (that’s just a single
word to suggest he won’t get too carried away). 
Don’t expect any Report that places blame or is unkind.  The fix will simply get made next week and
that will be the end of the matter.    

Note, too,
that the Judges were left off the Committee. 
The Government’s Press Release stated, “Due to the principle of judicial
independence, the judiciary is unable to participate directly in the work of
the committee. However, Minister King will seek and welcome the views of the
Chief Justices and Chief Judge for the province”. 

nonsense.  Who better to assess the needs
of the judicial system than the men and women who spent years in private
practice, or as Prosecutors, and possess the experience of dealing with all the
people for whom that very system is constructed. This issue is about legal
processes, the administration of justice; not about specific cases.  Likely, they just recused (excused) themselves,
not wanting to wind up in the middle of a political fire storm.

And what of
Justice Minister Darin King?  Now, that
he has been plucked from the “reeds”, we will soon see if he carries any weight
with the Premier and if he is able to stickhandle through the crises.

lack of judgement and finesse is further evidence of his unsuitability for
senior roles.  But, then, on whom is the
Premier to rely? While we know that any talent King might have is wasted in
Justice, at least, we know, now, he is awake. 

King did
note on the Friday news that the Premier will be making any final decisions on
the Justice cutbacks.  Good job,
Darin!  You are, indeed, out of your slumber. Let
someone else take the hit, even if it is the Premier. 
Teflon is another
great tool in the art of politics.
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?


  1. The lame duck premier can be heard to say "et tu, brute".

    But will the premier be smart enough to state that it will be the end of Caesar. The pc leadership is a poison chalice to the aspiring senators. It may be smarter to look at crossing the floor.