Since the
1970s when issues of oil and hydro power emerged at the top of the Government’s
policy agenda, the public could always be assured that the leading natural
resource Minister is a heavyweight; one of the Government’s best.

Exactly when
that tradition ended is moot.  For
certain the current Minister, Derrick Dalley, leaves no doubt he is not one of

As the
Province increasingly finds itself beyond the tipping point of the $7.7 billion
Muskrat Falls project, it should not have to worry that the talent of the
Government is so depleted that it was forced to promote one as light as
he.  That is not to suggest either
Marshall or Kennedy ever were in the ranks of the heavy hitters. But Dalley is
not even in their league.

Telegram Reporter James McLeod’s news articles confirm  ‘there is no one home’ in the Department of Natural

The Telegram
ran two stories, this week, on the issue of “oversight” of Muskrat Falls.
  They are revealing and, if you take the time
to listen to
the audio version of his interviews, you will discover that they further
uncloak the scary reality of his incompetence.

the interviews was the denial of McLeod’s Access to Information Request for “documents
or other communications” between the Independent Engineer (IE) and the
Government.  The IE’s review of the
Project and its continuing oversight is a “Condition Precedent” to the Federal
Loan Guarantee.  The IE’s services are paid for by Nalcor.  

On Thursday
of last week McLeod was informed no Report had been received by Government
(even though the Feds had received it in mid-November. The
Federal Loan Guarantee was issued before Christmas).  On Friday, one day later, he was advised that
the Report had arrived in Nalcor’s inbox.

attempted to have Dalley justify its sudden appearance but found himself
extracting NOT the Report (he says it contains “commercially sensitive”
information and must be kept under wraps) but several admissions of just how cavalier is the Minister on the oversight issue.

Dalley could
not answer why his Department had not received the IE’s Report in November.
“Good question” he told McLeod, “…ask the Government of Canada”, forgetting the IE is on his payroll. 

Where was
the Report in the meantime? Dalley asserts it was contained “in the data room
on the (Muskrat Falls) project” confirming the highly questionable condition
that documents can be in Government’s possession even as officials arbitrarily circumscribe
the intent of the Act governing access to information (an issue for another

Dalley took
care to note that the November Report of the IE was an “interim” and not a
final Report.

McLeod pursued the Minister on the point expressing incredulity that the Feds
had issued the $5 billion Loan Guarantee based only upon an “interim” Report. Asked
McLeod, “do you see how that seems nuts to me?”

Wrote McLeod, “Dalley insisted the November report was only an interim draft report,
but it was good enough to satisfy the federal government to authorize the
federal loan guarantee.” Even the Report, Dalley received “was not the final final report” according to the

In the face
of this disclosure, you might recall Nalcor V-P Derrick Sturge’s tirade against
Telegram Columnist, Russell Wangersky, reminding him how hard his people had
worked to give the Feds confidence in the Project. 

In my Post,
on Monday, I reminded Sturge that it was Federal Minister Peter McKay’s efforts
that secured the FLG; Muskrat being of far greater benefit Nova
Scotians than to this Province.  The FLG had nothing to do with
Nalcor’s work.  Dalley has given further proof
to that assertion. 

Now, aghast
that the Department of Natural Resources had ignored the only independent oversight
report conducted on the Project, McLeod returned to that issue and the role
Dalley’s Department plays in the process. 

Dalley tells
McLeod that Muskrat oversight was provided through Nalcor Board Meetings,
Annual General Meetings, MHI, Dr. Wade Locke (though he was a booster not an Overseer), the Report of the Public
Utilities Board (though it was based only on preliminary numbers and ripped out
of their hands) and goes on to suggest that the Auditor General had reviewed
the Project (though by the 

A-G’s own admission, he has never gone near the project).

decides to dig deeper.  He asks “What
mechanism for oversight is there….is there a committee within the department…a
specific individual responsible for the project?”

Dalley replies,
“there is a broad approach I guess; Ed Martin is the key…the deputy minister
would be the primary point of contact, I guess…” Then he goes on to admit that
his Department does not possess the engineering expertise. …”we leave it to the
experts at Nalcor”, Dalley adds, finally.

grills an unskilled and uninformed Minister. 
In the end, you are forced to come to grips with this reality: no one is
looking out for the public interest.

$3 billion
into the $7.7 Muskrat Falls Project and three months after the initial Report
of the Independent Engineer has been issued neither Dalley nor his officials
have even read it!

performance, caught on tape, constitutes further proof, if more were needed:  the Tory Cabinet is so shallow it has no
Minister to put in charge.  The problem is greater than a failed former Premier Dunderdale.  It’s
the whole lot!

Secrecy is
the only glue that is keeping this Government from completely falling apart.

The classic
question asked by a concerned public, one in shock over such a political
unwinding, is this: who is actually governing?

Mr. Dalley essentially
answers:  we no longer govern…we are
advised.  He as much as says: I don’t
really know what’s going on…that’s someone else’s job…I’m not concerned…someone
else (he assumes Ed Martin) is dealing with it.

Dalley admits
he doesn’t even have the tools to assess the most costly Project in the history
of the Province; yet, he is content that that the ‘experts’ at Nalcor have it
all in hand.  In essence he is saying, ‘I
don’t care…it’s is all OK’. 

McLeod’s two
interviews constitute one of the best exposes yet of the unveiling of Ministerial incompetence. 

Premier Marshall trots around the Province adding to the public debt, oblivious
to this useless and reckless Minister.

For the rest
of us the Government has nothing left to expose. It is unmasked. It is empty.

Dalley just
makes us understand why they do not even know they have a problem.
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. What the province and Nalcor fail to realise in the entire FLG debate. Quebec took nothing more than a token opposition., to put on airs as to speak. It was a token opposition only because Quebec has gained tremendously from Muskrat Falls. First Nalcor and SNC Lavalin are full of Quebec engineers. Second Quebec contracting companies are getting much work from MF. Third, Newfoundland is putting both power and transmission to Lab West. Quebec companies will further benefit tremendously from mining in the Labrador trough, subsidized by the NL Ratepayers. Lastly, and most importantly, Newfoundland will be so entrenched in debt in 2035 from MF, and declining oil revenues, that we will be in a very weak position when we have to negotiate the post 2041 Upper Churchil Deal. This will only be made much worse, if HQ win their court challenge, resulting in NL having to continue with expensive oil generation to meet peak demand in winter.

    So Quebec, despite their minor opposition, were fully supportive of the FLG.

    Likewise so too was Nova Scotia. We are giving them 1000 GWh per year, all they have to do is build the extension chord. On top of that they then get a great supply of power at rates ear marked to the cheap New England rate. They get the benefit of the shale gas revolution without having to build the infrastructure. Nova Scotia is the principal beneficiary of the project.

    Make no mistake Quebec and NS saw a good deal for them. This is why the FLG occurred.

    Being a have province means we have to subsidize our poorer neighbours. The PC's just wanted to give a little more.

    Ever single voter in the province should listen to the Dalley interviews to understand who they hell we have representing us.

  2. After listening to the raw audio tape of Dalley in that interview, it became pretty apparent he is about as qualified to manage this provinces Dept. of Natural Resources, as would be a former elementary teacher be to be CFO of Emera. It's down right scary.

    The Capitan is passed out drunk down below deck in the bunk, while the rookie greenhorns are at the helm steering the ship through the hurricane. God help us.

  3. Reminds me of the sinking of the Titanic. I guess we'll sing hymns as the ship sinks. One time we could at least rant and roar, like the time Squires was chased out of the House of Assembly . He not only borrowed money for personal use from the Liquor Board, but took money intended for war vets. And a rum runner personally me 20 years ago that he, Squires, was HER biggest client. She brought her first car in 1924 from illegal rum sales. Then we were poor as a country, now we are a have province, we are told. Yet a 7.7 billion project has no government oversight. And not a peep from our citizens. Our government says we will double your household electricity bills so we can lower electricity costs for Nova Scotia and Alderon, and the masses stay silent. We have no independent oversight for cost escalation or unsolved engineering problems, and the masses stay silent. As one old timer said " look what he (Jesus) died for" Accountability ….. what is that. As Dalley said "Leave it to Ed Martin" We have no one in government in charge and no one who cares. At least Squires had the sense to run, some wanted to hang him, but he made his escape.

  4. There is a very interesting, and I think important, article in the Saturday national post regarding quebec's electricity generation and sales. It is entitled "is Quebec's Electricity business model broken?" I hope someone in Nalcor and government has read it and I encourage all Newfoundlanders who care about a future of debt get the message: you can't make money generating expensive electricity and selling it Into the North America grid.