Yes, they’re
off!  Finally. The second ‘natural’
governing Party in the Province wants your attention. The ads will start soon.
Don Cherry has already tweaked a well-worn script for Kathy Bennett.  It goes something like:

She may not know Liberals

But, she knows the Tories

And here’s the kicker:

My friends at the Board of
Trade know her, so check her oout!

(This paid political
message brought to you by Nalcor. “We’ll keep you in the dark”.)

Now, will
Dwight Ball please tell us what he stands for? I hope so.  It’s hard watching a martyr not knowing if he
has religion; though he does look like a fellow with a lot to confess.

If he couldn’t
get a Coronation he should, at least, have been canonized, except you’re
supposed to be dead for that particular designation.   

If he were
in earshot of the Vatican, Dwight would have already nailed miracle number one;
god knows, he’s had a saint’s forbearance to suffer Liberal policy guru, Dean
MacDonald these past two years. Imagine being forced to watch that guy attract
crowds of Liberals, in the SINGLE DIGITS!  My guess is that he would prefer to have been
locked up in a church basement.

That Dean’s arse
wasn’t kicked over a stage head, long ago, suggests amateur hour is still
pretty popular…with amateurs. Imagine, letting the conscience of the Party declare
the Liberal prize unworthy to fight for! I suppose if Kathy Dunderdale can make
a Coronation look easy, Dino could accept no less!

Conventions attract a variety of contestants; from the overly partisan to the simply
ebullient, from those who offer more brawn than brain, to the oddity who succeeds
only in misaligning the Party’s greater interest, with his own. I am referring,
of course, to a former Liberal Leadership Convention. John Efford is sitting
this one out.   

The Liberal
Executive will send him a movie pass and agree to super-size his popcorn, a
fitting tribute, too, for his stint as a Federal Cabinet Minister.  Superman might still be in the theatre by
then and, anyway, Efford is a lot safer living vicariously.  Besides, John wasn’t going to be invited to Danny
Dumaresque’s beer tent.
And, look at Jim Bennett.  Talk about the movies; even politicians can come
back after they have been killed off!

It is
difficult to be nice to the Liberal Party Executive…no, no, no, I don’t mean because
they allowed Dumaresque and Jim Bennett into the race; someone has to be first
to drop off (just kidding, boys).  No, I
am, referring to their decision to opt for the safe pasture of internet voting.
God! What a boring lot.

What political
Party, worth its salt, would not sacrifice an excess of democracy for the cliff
hanging moment, the sweat, tears and betrayal of a third ballot? And, anyway,
don’t they know, from using Facebook, the excitement is over in a
millisecond.  Instant gratification is
for the young crowd, it takes someone, of my generation, to keep anticipation

Yes, that’s
exactly what I mean: on-line voting is like sex without touching.  It’s a Poll. Everyone gets to have their say
without ever meeting the person that turns you on.  In this Province, that might work, if the
subject were Steven Harper.  But, we are
talking about potential Premiers, for godsake…what’s the point if they can’t be
poked and prodded; you’ll want to see if they have a brain.

I remember
running a Poll for Frank Moores, prior to the 1979 Tory Leadership Convention.
In those days we had a real fishery; a popular Minister of Fisheries usually had
an edge over other Candidates polled.  The
guy, who ‘gave away’ millions of dollars, as the Minister also Responsible for
the Fisheries Loan Board, topped the Opinion Poll, even coming in ahead of
Brian Peckford.  But, the Tory Delegates
were looking for someone with more ‘je ne sais quoi’. If you read Brian
Peckford’s book, “The Sun Actually did Shine and Danny Williams Too All The Credit”, you’ll find out who won (that not really the correct title, but it could

Ah, yes! A
nice smile may work well on Facebook, but you can never be sure if it’s right
out of Photo Shoppe, can you?

Did I just say
‘je ne sais quoi’? How rude of me! Imagine having used the essential qualities
of leadership and not applied them first, to Kathy Bennett! I know. I know, you’d
find better table manners at a MacDonald’s!!! 
I may be as salty as a French fry
but I didn’t miss the rush of hot air sweeping over the City in the latter days
of last week.  And, it wasn’t from all the
forest fires in Quebec, either.   I saw
the motorcade (dear, dear, should I use whizz or whirr?).  I felt the anxiety.  I was so overcome! Thankfully, comfort food
could still be gotten.  I was barely
minutes away from Hamburger Heaven when, swish, Kathy Bennett’s parade shot
down Topsail Road. The ketchup stains were barely washed out of my shirt when….whizz…I
saw Paul Antle barrelling down the Street like a mad man.  Hurry! Paul, I shouted, without the faintest
idea what triggered the impulse.  Taking
out my watch I wondered if the Liberal Party might have to employ that old
legislative trick of stopping the clock! 
But, he made it with not a carbon free minute to spare. 

Then there
were five; it is amazing what one single good Poll can do, isn’t it!  The Liberals, down on their luck for years
and one Poll causes enough commotion to decimate the leadership of the St.
John’s Board of Trade.  In business, we modestly
called it, AMBITION!

No, don’t wait
for the more scientific types to check the dictionary spelling of ‘anomaly’. Not
enough time for that… whirr…..whizz. Did I say ambition; hell, man, this is
politics, here we call it, what it is; how do you spell OPPORTUNISM?

Look you
two, I understand.  You’re busy people.
You’re used to making big and important decisions.  It five minutes to the hour and you decide: I
think I’ll be the Premier.  It’s
perfectly understandable. Having watched Kathy Dunderdale for over the past two
years you probably think it’s a part-time job, anyway!

Say what you
will, five contenders is four more than the Tories could come up.

Let’s watch
them all closely.  They may have some
ideas. I was going to add that any would be more than what we have heard from the
Premier.  But, let’s not set the bar too
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.


If a Big Mac costs McDonalds $10 to produce and it is sold for $1.50, McDonalds will go out of business. They would not declare a profit!


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.


  1. Des,

    I am very comfortable with TRUE Liberal policy. Therefor…I am A Liberal.

    I think you do an excellent job of stimulating much needed debate on leadership and politics. For this I thank you but may not always agree with you. Good for you and thanks for taking the time to be such an eloquent "stimulator."

    My take on Dwight Ball…he is yet another decent, well thought out, measured politician that society will overlook. Joe Clark, John Turner to name but two. When we chat around our armchairs, we want good, decent, honest people in politics but when we get them…they are boring. Do we want fireworks or do we want a long, slow simmering fire? I expect we think both of those qualities should exist in one person. Sorry… NOT. Can we at least ask some pointed questions before we judge? CBC gave Kathy Bennett great coverage cuz she had the moxy to make a splash in her announcement. Good for her!! But, substance is what we need the media to start looking for, not splash or the lack there of. Perhaps we could start with you as you are so eloquent and well informed…get to the meat of it. What do the two "front runners" stand for?
    Donna Thistle

    • One thing I have always liked about you, Donna, is that you cut to the chase. In time, all the candidates will get a review.

      I think it is important to let them get organized, find their stride and then let's evaluate what they have to offer in terms of public policy.

      Frankly, I have a higher expectation from some of the Candidates than which they have exhibited, but they have to make strategic judgments, too, and that's fair. Let's give them that time, then we'll see.

      We do have a crises of leadership in this Province; the greatest in many decades. Hence, this is an important process, because in the next election, the public must have the best alternatives available.

      I would just add that politics, while serious business, cannot be appreciated in the absence of its entertainment value. Perhaps, we can't endure one part without the other; hence, this piece today.

      This Blog truly welcomes views, such as yours; as much as I get to have my say, the process is only meaningful when others chime in. So, please, do it often. This Province will be so much better off when people demand to be heard and tell government that real democracy is far more than the mere act of voting once every four years.

      All the best.