Many people,
including some not normally preoccupied with political issues, were forced to
take notice of the shoddy treatment of the St. John’s Centre NDP MHA, in the
House of Assembly, on Tuesday. As much as I tried, I am unable to remember
another political event that arose as suddenly or as forcefully; such was the
magnitude and immediacy of the firestorm. Of course, the Gerry Rogers Affair
was all backlash. 

Over forty
thousand people responded to a VOCM on-line Poll, two-thirds of whom expressed
a view that was unfavourable to the Government’s position. Thousands took to
Facebook and Twitter, too, using their favourite social media to communicate with
the like-minded and to give rebuke to the Premier, the Government and to the
Speaker of the House of Assembly.  

How could I
not think: if only such a reaction had erupted over Muskrat Falls?

Now that the
dust has settled, there can be no doubt that the Government has suffered a
severe blow to its fast declining credibility.

What can we
learn from the Gerry Rogers affair? Most people recognize that the Facebook
fiasco will fade quickly, but not without consequence.  Ms. Rogers has survived the attack and is
politically stronger.  Her Party is
gleeful that it has been cast under a light that is both large and favourable. People’s
faith in politicians is poorer but it was not strong, to begin with.

More significantly,
the public has been given a peek at the political leadership though a lens they
can understand and on a basis they can grade. They are not impressed. The
Government has truly embarrassed itself by offering proof, if any were needed,
that it is fundamentally incompetent.

That is the
obvious part; there are other results.

First, the
Affair has eroded fast declining respect for the Government by the media.  The dismissiveness of The Telegram’s MacLeod
on Twitter and the handling of Tory Paul Lane by Cochrane on CBC’s Here and Now
Panel, which bordered on contemptuousness, suggest they are running out of
patience with a leadership that is well out of its league.

Secondly, it
proves that the Government is suffering mortal fear over the NDP’s lead in the
Polls and that it will go to great lengths to tarnish the image of that Party. 

(and the social media sites confirm strong evidence of this) it has succeeded
in galvanizing not just the NDP support, especially in the St. John’s area, but
eroded the support of its traditional base.

Indeed, how
can any person, of integrity and possessing minimal expectations of the same
virtue in its elected Government, claim to support a group so badly misbehaved?

In short,
the Government has been diminished. It has expended political capital it ought
to have retained to help it through two more long years. The public’s poor perception
of the Premier and her Administration including her hopeful successor, Darin
King, and the Speaker of the House of Assembly, too, is far worse than it was
on Monday.

For a public
aghast at how poorly prepared were the Government’s recent restraint measures, they
should not need reminding that this same Government, just a few months ago,
sanctioned the $7.4 billion Muskrat Falls hydro Project.  Is it possible that Bill 29, a bungled
“austerity” program, poor fiscal management and the biggest deficits in history,
still leave the Government with enough intelligence to analyze the risks of the
largest single capital expenditure in the history of the Province?

When will
people recognize that there is a disconnect here?  Unfortunately, folks may not get their heads
around this question, before it is too late, unlike the Gerry Rogers Affair. 

Yet, when descent
people look back on this sordid episode, in the coming weeks, how can they not
worry that they voted for a Government they truly do not deserve?

But, worry
may not be the right response.
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 general population understand Facebook and Twitter. As a result the incompetence of this government is visible for all to see and understand. Meanwhile Muskrat Falls is very complex, but the level of government incompetence is the same. It is just not as obvious to the general public.

  2. This government will be remembered as the worst in our history! It all started just after they were elected when the Premier refused to hold an inquiry into the death of Burton Winters. Then along came Bill 29. I can only assume that this was done to protect the privacy of what they are doing at Nalcor and Muskrat Falls. But the Premier has Joan Shea's boyfriend appointed as Chair of the Board of Director's for Nalcor. Therefore just a phone call away from telling him what to do next! Then a whole bundling of things since June of last year that confirms for me that we have people running this government without regard for the residents. It's their way or no way. What happened in the HOA with Gerry Rogers was wrong. Just for the record I supported this government in 2011. Had great expectations of the new female strong government. Sadly, I have to say, that support is no longer there. People see through people like this. Adults acting like spoiled brats and the whole province watching in bewilderment!!

  3. The problem with the populace and Muskrat Falls, as I see it, is the that the Churchill Falls deal has been vilified by every politician since Smallwood and the Quebec boogeyman has become a part of our psyche.

    Let me elaborate: The day Danny Williams announced that Muskrat Falls was a go, I felt that we had finally achieved something worthwhile, and I recall thinking, "I will be happy if we can do this, even if it costs a lot more than going through Quebec again.!" How silly and naive of me!

    Scant days later, upon sober reflection, and as the details began to emerge, I realized we had been played for fools! Typical Danny propaganda! Vilify the enemy(Quebec) and tout the benefits of this wonderful deal! How so very very stupid and naive we all are, if we continue to believe in his BS and his persona…. as the perfect Premier. Sadly, though he is gone, many people still have been sucked in by his propaganda machine and think he was the greatest ever.

    I say this now: history will record him, and his administration, as having foisted one of the biggest financial disasters we have ever seen upon this province. These people in power right now are his cronies and supplicants, and they are still afraid to challenge his vision. So, too, are many otherwise intelligent and reasonable people!

    What we are witnessing, Mr. Sullivan, is Danny's last stand….unfortunately, it will take us all over the fiscal cliff and into financial ruin.

    • Sorry, I meant to publish my name but inadvertantly left my name out.

      I wish it to be fully understood that my comments are always acknowledged as my own and I take full responsibility for them.

      I am the author of the above comments.

      Cyril Rogers

    • Unfortunately I believe your comments to be accurate. As a conservative voter my entire adult life I voted against the last two "so-called" conservative administrations. In fact I voted "dear I say it – liberal". Since 2006 we have seen desparately poor leadership and fiscal public policy and we will pay a dear price in the future.

      As Brian Lee Crowley (AIMS) stated in 2006…"I weep for Newfoundland."