“’I have a
stake in the game,’ acknowledges Shawn Skinner”.  The Telegram quoted the former Natural Resources
Minister, frequent CBC Political Commentator, Tory Government defender and Muskrat Falls
advocate, in a front page story, on Wednesday, after Skinner “took to the
airwaves on VOCM”. 

Skinner was
expressing concerns that possibly the largest single contract, on the Mega
Project, might be awarded to an Italian company. Skinner acknowledged that his
current employer, a Canadian Company called AECON Construction Group, also bid
on the Contract. ”Your level of risk with something going wrong there, I would
argue, is much less than when you bring in a company from Europe”, he was
quoted as saying.

I had no idea!

‘Shawn’, I
thought to myself, as I read the morning rag and sipped on a Starbucks, ‘you
got to tell us this stuff!  I have been
listening to you, for months, yammer on about what a great Project is Muskrat
Falls.  Only now, you tell me the ‘risk’
is going to get ratcheted up, if things don’t go your way, er…if the contract
goes offshore.

Source: The Telegram

“Shawn”! I
said aloud, and received a few stares. Lowering my voice to near whisper, I added,
“I didn’t even know you used four letter words…like ‘risk’! The way you always came across, on CBC, left no doubt you
were on the side of the angels”.

As my gullet
received the last dregs of the “Tall Bold”, I felt like ordering another and go
for a caffeine overload, just in case I was not as alert, as I normally try to
be.  What was I missing? I wondered.

I had been
watching this guy for months, with his perfect hair, perfect smile, all the
time saying Muskrat Falls was perfect, the best thing since sliced bread; the
experts, at Nalcor, were all great…they would never lead the Province
astray…Muskrat lowest cost option…Newfoundland needs the power, ‘experts’ at
Nalcor…..up their arse, some would say. 
And, I started saying to myself, how can someone that perfectly serious,
now discover he was perfectly wrong?  

As the
caffeine began to take effect, the realization dawned on me. This is a
different Shawn Skinner. 

The Shawn
Skinner, on the CBC, would know that Canada wins contracts offshore and that
other international contractors win some in Canada, too. It happens all the
time.  Yes, Shawn would know that, I

There has to
be another Shawn Skinner. There just has to be. 
If you need proof, just look at how many times he swore that four letter
word ‘RISK’.  The Shawn, that I know,
does not use “Risk” and “Muskrat” in the same sentence! He just doesn’t, OK? 

I read the
article again, from start to finish. I counted the number of times this Skinner
swore, in this one piece. Then I was certain. Take a look at the Telegram
article with me, and read for yourself. 
This Shawn says:

“For me it’s
about the level of risk that
Nalcor, in this case, would be assuming,” he said…….

“The level
of risk with a Canadian
company that is familiar with the climate in Labrador, familiar with supply
chain …

“Your level
of risk with something going
wrong there, I would argue, is much less than when you bring in a company from

Skinner said
Canadian-based contractors could hit trouble. But with a Canadian company, I
would suggest, the element of risk
is less. That’s my point,” he said.

Four times
he “swore”.

Can’t be the
same guy!   But that photo…it just looks
awfully similar….I just wonder…..

It’s another Shawn.  Stay with me on this

Nalcor recently award a contract to China for the huge turbines and generators
for the Muskrat Falls Project?  They don’t
have a solitary soul to oversee the production and make sure what was specified
actually gets delivered. Now, that’s RISK.  Risk-free would have been awarding to General
Electric or Siemens. Shawn would understand that, for sure.  But, he didn’t even mention it.

Then there’s
the contract for the steel Towers, through which the transmission line will be
strung.  Didn’t that go offshore,
too?  Didn’t it go to Turkey, actually? 

Shawn didn’t
mention that one, either.   Now that was an easy one. The Turks will cut
up a whole pile of steel, of different shapes and sizes. They’ll throw it into
a container and ship it to Goose Bay.  Like
a Mechano set, they’ll bolt it all together and stick it up.  A moron could do it. But, no!  No local or Canadian contractor could be
found to cut up steel or put a nut on a threaded bolt.  How come the perfect Shawn wasn’t out beating
the drum of Canadian enterprise, on that nice little easy one for Canadian contractor’s

Do I seem to

After using
the “RISK” work four times, what
does this Shawn say?  He adds:

“These are
legitimate concerns that have happened in other parts of the country and I’m
saying because this is a major project for this province — probably the biggest
one we’ll do for the next however many years — and the warts and all that have
come with Muskrat Falls, let’s make sure we give it every possible chance to

What was
that, again? It must be the caffeine…the Shawn that I know wouldn’t say Muskrat
has warts. He would say Muskrat is, well…perfect.  But, this one says: “…and the warts and all
that have come with Muskrat Falls, let’s make sure we give it every possible
chance to succeed.”

Now this
Shawn Skinner is scaring me.  There’s a
Shawn Skinner doppelganger, out there. I just know there is!

As for the
fact his own company stands to benefit from his comments? The Telegram
enquired. This Shawn said:

“So all I
can say to that is, yes, they are correct, I have a stake in the game, so to
speak, but more importantly, what about the comments I’m raising?”

Doppelgangers.  UMMMM. 
Be careful of them.

Who said,
there is no interest like self-interest?
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. So you have not answered his concerns….. I think he makes a great point. no doubt he has a interest in this decision but I think he makes good points. Is he wrong… I think not. Let Canadian companies do the work, cheaper is not better in all cases and I think he has valid concerns about the Italians lack of experience with jobs in Canada.

  2. There is one thing I have faith in and that is Nalcor's ability to spend our tax dollars. They will give this work to the company that is the preferred vendor once all criteria are evaluated. One thing I do not understand…. Is this Nalcor or SNC Lavalin which will be making the final decision?

    If the companies all prequalified to bid, should it not go to lowest price?

  3. If one was to have the intention to make some money disappear, like a kickback, or a whatever, I'd rather deal with an international company. Italy has a great reputation for corruption these days. I think the fetch of Skinner that you quote here appeared just to twist our indignation in such a way that the public actually supports using international businesses for these contracts and spurns our own. The old zero-sum local mentality of "If he gets ahead, it puts me behind."
    It is not a foreign or domestic issue, it is an issue of risk, even if a troll or a spook points it out.

  4. Risky Business 2 Shawn Skinner Edition.

    Skinner is basically a lobbyist crying foul over non Canadian firms bidding (how dare they!) on a tendered megaproject?

    He must still be VERY bitter about losing in 11':just delayed the inevitable 15' thrashing incoming for the majority of his former party.

    If only he had shown such candor to RISKS before blindly sanctioning MF and cutting/gutting all of the due diligence.

    Ed and Gill must be very good salesmen or NLPCs the most gullible lot in the entire Commonwealth.

    SS Risk assessment now taints everything he has said in defense of MF since getting booted out.

    CBC introduce SS as LOBBYIST not former provincial cabinet minister!

    SS probably wants MF stopped if his employer doesn't win any bids: I never supported the project blah…

    Money talks ethics walk SS!

  5. I support Nalcor 100% in this issue including the China and Turkey purchases.

    As far as Muskrat Falls is concerned you can mark me down as extremely not in favour. I would even shut it down now after the initial $2 Billion was spent because I don't believe the rest of the planned expenditure (additional $5.7B plus interest during construction so approx. $6.5B) represents a good value proposition. I do not see the strategic value as the 500 MW link only exports 6% of the Upper and Lower Churchill potential and it further fills that demand with expensive power when in 24 years after this project comes on stream we will have inexpensive power. The Labrador mines if they materialize can obtain power from the Upper Churchill (and yes Quebec gets the money until 2041).

    All of the above being said I was outvoted and this project is proceeding and needs to be managed as best as possible for the ratepayer. The biggest risk to us is the cost. I expect that it will end up being in the $10B range. The higher the cost the more the incremental interest rates will be and the corresponding payments will go up almost exponentially. We are currently in a serious construction boom and all of the local trades people are already working so hence the need to search outside to keep costs down. Nalcor and even SNC are technically competent and will have large bonds and conditions in place to manage the technical risks and if Italian or other firms underestimate Labrador conditions then they will be the ones facing most of the financial risk. In short we need the foreign competition to keep costs in line or else we will be facing a $14B project (good for locals who get rich) and touch financial times for this province.

  6. You hear alot of talk about the cost growth on the Muskrat Falls project. Common sense will tell you that this is a real risk when you take a look at the shortage of workers in NL right now. Yet Nalcor are stating that they are on budget. A review of their on-line cost reports only show the expended to date, and not the forecast to complete. It is the total life of project forecast which will tell the tale. I would like Nalcor to tell us this. I would also like to understand where they are on the Emera renegotiations. Lots of Risks, and Unanswered questions. The last thing we need to worry about if an Italian company gets the work.