Imagine that
the Globe and Mail saw fit of a day to spill some printer’s ink our way!

Last week,
Columnist Konrad Yakabuski, in an opinion piece entitled “Muskrat Falls and the Power of Obstinacy” had a lot to say about Newfoundland and Labrador Premiers, in
just a few short sentences.

He was
unimpressed that a bungling Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s response to our power
black-outs could have been so unlike Ontario Premier Wynne’s deft handling of
Toronto’s. Dunderdale, Wynne, he noted was “…sugar, spice and all
things nice…” 

But it was Dunderdale’s
characterisation of the outages as a “non-crises” and her assertion that, in
retrospect ”she would not have done things differently” that caused Yakabuski’s
to share his previously unknown theories about the collective peculiarities of NL

lack of empathy did not constitute news down here; we’ve seen it many times before.  For that reason there is far
less certainty all our Premiers deserve Konrad’s assignation to any Dunderdale populated Club.

Column starts off fine.
  The opening
comment about Premier Wynne’s superior intuition was accurate. Then, with only
two lines written, he is compelled to propose nothing as modest as a theory;
his is the gift that comes with the certainty one might expect from an Upper
Canadian blue blood.
  Hitched to what he perceives
as the Higgs Boson, the god particle of first ministerial idiosyncrasies, he declares:
  “Newfoundland Premiers have rarely been known
for their humility”.

Racing to
the finish, he shares what must be, for the people of the Globe and Mail, a
universally accepted tautology:  “…what
Ms. Dunderdale lacks in humility she seems to make up for in another trait
shared by past Newfoundland premiers – obstinacy.”

If this were
coming from anyone other than a Globe hack we would be happy to enquire as to
which dusty repository rests his PhD thesis on such distinctly Newfoundland
first ministerial behavioural characteristics.  Fortunately, most such empirical research obligates
at least minimal exposure to the subject’s geography. 

Yakabuski is
not intimidated by any need for empiricism. 
Besides, the paucity of subscribers, in the boonies, to the national rag
would not attract him to visit the happy province even on frequent flyer points.  For that reason his sermon on Newfoundland’s
power issues contains all the intellectual force of a brat. 

One can
practically smell the ketchup stains on a blank page insufficiently titillating
to a central Canadian audience and hence failing to describe a foolish Hydro
Project and expose two unwise Premiers (Danny and Kathy) who ought to have been
rebuked for their secrecy, suspect economic analysis and reckless speculation.

It is very
likely that Mr. Yakabuski’s Paper will note, in time, that the blank page ought
to have reported the folly of Muskrat Falls as the biggest Canadian farce of 2013.   The Columnist’s own warning  that Muskrat’s power “is the most expensive conventional power project in the country” and that Quebec’s Romaine Project, at less cost than Muskrat is expected to deliver twice as much power, are truths which a national paper might have given prominence. Alas, the information is far over due and lacks a credible context.

To be fair,
he and the Globe can take some solace, however slight. With the singular
exception of The Telegram, chiefly its Editorial Department, the local media,
too, may as well have reported from Toronto as St. John’s, for how well they
informed a most uninformed citizenry.

In any case,
with preconceived notions like those of Yakabuski, there is no loss.  Lack of “humility”, a surfeit of “obstinacy”,
indeed!  People, with his attitude, are
still incensed that that the likes of Premier Brian Peckford possessed the
audacity to stand up to a centralizing federal government that reflected Ontario’s
self-interest.  Afterall, resource
ownership was something that Province could handle, but surely not a bunch of
boonies down in Newfoundland.  Trying too
hard to push above our station were we, Konrad?

The sad
truth is that Newfoundland and Labrador’s current Premier offers an excess of
proof that, as in Toronto, we, too, have our problems.  Of course, a morally bankrupt, crack cocaine
smoking Mayor is just child’s play alongside an unsuitable, unwise and
unpopular Premier.

But, since
you may be too young to remember, Konrad, let me inform you what Ontario did when
an ‘obstinate’ Brian Peckford thumbed his nose at Pierre Trudeau and Jean
Chretien.  Ontario whimpered tut, tut, not
to their obstinacy, but to Peckford’s. 

The Nova
Scotians, predictably, engaged in a historic betrayal of Newfoundland’s
legitimate offshore claim, when they were uncertain of their own.

But, we have
prevailed, Konrad, though not in consequence of any insights from your Paper, and
not, I might add, from any virtue of obstinacy you confer upon the current
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier.  Now, Premier
Brian Peckford’s obstinacy!  That is a
different matter.   

That said, I have to acknowledge one insight of yours; it is that Nalcor’s provision of our surplus power to Nova Scotia, at a fraction of the cost
Newfoundlanders will pay, will yet mean “much bitterness will ensue” much as it has over the Upper Churchill Contract.  

For that reason, too, Konrad, you will learn why we are concerned less about Premier Dunderdale’s lack of
humility or even whether her obstinacy has a measurable purpose. It is
her lack of common sense that disturbs us just as it should a rag that dares to call itself a national newspaper. The post office has more purpose and that is national, too.

Just one
more thing, Konrad;  the prosperity many
of us fear Premier Kathy Dunderdale is ruining, with a foolish hydro project on
the Churchill River is being funded with resources on the continental shelf of
Newfoundland; these are resources an independent Newfoundland brought into
Canada in 1949.

Have a nice day!
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. Mr. Sullivan, we will never be able to dissuade the Ontario national newspaper crowd of the ignorance but, as you point out, the ignorance of the last two Premiers of NL is palpable. They have used nationalism and a lack of common sense to drive projects that benefit the people of Nova Scotia much more than they do their own people. How ignorant, galling, stupid, and idiotic can you be? Can you say Premier Dunderdale and her weak-kneed Cabinet?

  2. There is many confusing things about the Muskrat Falls project. It is very complex. However, there is 1 simple conclusion that can be made, by the most casual of observers. Nova Scotia are the principal beneficiary of the project.

    • It is not complex at all. That is government double-speak for, "We really don't want to tell you the real reason why we are building this project that will deliver, mainly to Nova Scotians, the most expensive power in North America, and will need to be heavily subsidized by the electrical consumers of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador."

      Any government trying to get something like that past the "smell test" has got to obfuscate and muddy the waters, so to speak, because, when they are screwing the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, they want them to have some small measure of pleasure for the long term pain they are about to impose on the province.

      The real pain will come in the form of monstrous electrical bills, a need to maintain Holyrood or some form thereof, an onerous financial commitment to Nova Scotia when they are blocked from supplying power…. after Quebec Hydro finally gains total control of the Upper Churchill………the damage to the people's collective psyche that will result from that….and the loss of revenue to subsidize that hydra called NALCOR for multiple decades.

      The revenue losses will negatively impact everything from roads to ferries, from hospitals to local clinics, from schools to universities, from income tax to sales taxes….all to create a legacy and to thumb our collective noses at Quebec, while enriching the cronies of the party that promised "no more giveaways"

      No wonder people are so cynical about politicians ! Yet, it is high time people took a much more active role in voicing their opinion and yes, Anonymous, it is high time people like you came out and let us know that you are on the side of what is fair, right, and just….. instead of hiding behind that fake identity. I am sure you are a person who is concerned about the wellbeing of Newfoundland and Labrador….time to stand up and be counted, sir or madam!