So, the
voters have informed Peter Penashue his services are no longer required. Whom
it will shock is uncertain; possibly, only the P.C. Party of Canada.

The entire
spectacle is tough to comprehend.  Peter
was feckless, as an MP and as a Cabinet Minister.  In the briefest of tenures, he has etched a
place among the ‘weakest of the weak’ sent to the hallowed halls of Parliament.

That the
National P.C. Party did not consider a Nomination Meeting in an effort to suss out
other, possibly more electable or more suitable candidates, is inexplicable.
It’s as if they didn’t really want Peter’s Labrador Seat all that badly. 

The current Majority
Government forgets its near death experience when it was a ‘Minority’ player in
the House of Commons.  A busy PM and
non-stop Cabinet Ministers, seemingly, don’t have time to weigh the importance or
the long term implications of one loss. 
A Justin Trudeau may be a featherweight now, but, politics is a fickle
sport and such wins exact a price. Remember Danny’s ABC Campaign?  Now, the
Province is completely shut out of the Federal Government.

On the other
hand, if a large Tory Party bureaucracy was out to impress the PM with its political
skills, it failed abysmally. Trench warfare is hardly only about stuffing envelopes
or facile attack ads. Politics is not fought in a single war; winning demands
victory in a host of battles.  A well-oiled
political machinery is structured to ensure that the Party has an even chance
at each one.

Still, having
erroneously determined that it owed the former Minister a second shot at his
Labrador Riding, the Party ought, at the very least, have offered him basic

How does one
explain the ‘misspell’ in the opening advertising?  Was there no effort to help him devise some
Campaign lines and a strategy?  His pronouncement
that, as a Cabinet Minister, he had held up expenditures for the Island, until
approval for his Labrador priorities were approved, should not have been allowed
to stand; yet, they were repeated with delight.

Even if Penashue’s
claims were true, did he and his Team really think that such actions would
curry favour with Labrador constituents or that the comments had the power to
illuminate himself as “Labrador’s Man”? 
Is it possible he thought the gambit to be tactical?  Did the P.C. Party really think Labradorians
would fall for that?  This is the nonsense
of a neophyte and a puerile organization. 
Fortunately, its cure has just been quite rightly assessed by
Labradorians, themselves.

Even with a
Party’s best efforts, it can still lose. That’s not just the ‘game’; that’s
democracy.   In this by-election, the
federal Tories cannot even make the claim of having tried.  Just, perhaps, Peter Penashue and the Province
were simply not worth the trouble.

So who won
the by-election?

The Chief
Returning Officer will enter Yvonne Jones as the victor; not that Labrador was
given a real choice.  That is to take
nothing away from Harry Borlase.  As a
first time Candidate he will have learned more than he realizes; if his faith
in human nature is not too blunted, after five weeks of grind, you might see
him again. 

Yvonne, deserves
to be congratulated.  Having won the
support of over 51% of voters, she has to be credited with being an effective
warhorse.  Politically, she should never
be discounted.

But, with
respect, Yvonne is not the big winner.  That
is not to take anything away from her or her huge victory.  The big winners are Peter McKay and the
Province of Nova Scotia. Though democracy has been served in the Labrador
by-election, the obvious corollary is that NL emerged the biggest loser.

Weak Cabinet
Ministers, like Penashue, are one thing; when there is absolutely no one, at
the Federal Cabinet table, to represent NL, it simply means we are forgotten. It’s
not just that the Federal ‘goody bag’ is closed.  The Provincial Government is shut out of any ability
to seriously influence issues, or even be informed of those emerging, that are
critical to this Province.  This is exactly
the condition that magnifies the shortcomings of the Federal legislative

Don’t forget,
though Yvonne Jones opposed Muskrat Falls, sort of, she was always willing to
support Muskrat Falls, for the ‘low, low price’ of a power line to a couple of
communities in her Provincial Riding.   This
means she can be bought.  This does not
make her a girl from whom one should learn the moral high ground! Justin
Trudeau only thinks he has learned from the seat of the ‘Master”.

Who else
lost in the by-election? 

The Prime

In Labrador,
the P.C. Party displayed, in full view of the media and a Canadian public,
serious weaknesses in its determination, its organization and its skill.   

Yes, some
house cleaning, at P.C. Party Headquarters, is overdue.

But, Prime Minister,
remind me again the skill set of your newest NL Senator.    
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. One of Danny Williams many introverted decisions which turned out to be a large disaster was the ABC campaign. Why was it done? What did it accomplish? It removed Newfoundland and Labrador from the decision makers in Ottawa. Nothing is gained from this type of divisive action, in business or in politics. Newfoundland needs a diplomat, who can work between parties. But this individual needs to be in the Harper government.

  2. I can't say I objected to Danny's ABC campaign, mainly because I hoped that Harper would lose. When he won, I knew we had a difficult few years ahead of us because, like Danny, he is petty and small-minded when it comes to dealing with opponents.

    The art of being an effective politician is that you are able to compromise strategically but some, like Danny Williams and Stephen Harper, cannot get over themselves. Unfortunately, given the fractured natures of our electoral system, we are allowing these petty despots to divide and conquer.

    Having said that, all political parties are into self-absorption, so I do not expect the Liberals or NDP to adopt a more statesmanlike approach and act for the good of the country.

    It all points to the need for self-sacrificing leadership that will act on behalf of all people, not just their cronies or political supporters.