The Tories’
loss in the CBS by-election reflects what provincial polls have been telling us
for a long time. The Party is unloved and that is being kind.
  Premier Davis has done nothing to
differentiate himself or his Administration’s approach to either communications
or public policy from that of his recent predecessors.

Does he not want to disassociate himself, at
least, from the Dunderdale era?
  Does he
not understand voters are still distressed by that time?

For all the
reasons that are well-known, this by-election was important to the Government
and to the P.C. Party. Hoping that the bleeding was at an end and having called by-elections in Trinity-Bay de Verde and Humber
East, the Premier might have wanted to proclaim: “Remember,
Remember the 5th of November”! Having lost, he has no rallying cry. The voters are not inspired. 
Even the most ardent partisans make no claim that theirs is a Party of

The problem
is illuminated by CBC political “Point” man, David Cochrane, who chalked up the
loss to the Tories being out-hustled by a resurgent Liberal Party organization;
except Cochrane has merely identified a symptom, not the source. 

The Tories’
malady is neither proven by the Liberals’ gain in the Advance Polls nor is it related to their display of backwardness having used a bristle board abacus, on election night, to track the Party’s performance.  Though the Liberal’s digital scoreboard, in
contrast, was hard to ignore, even if a piddling matter, at least it gave the
appearance of a Party attempting to be modern and progressive.

What’s wrong
with the Tories? Why can’t the Party or the Leadership change?

The answer
is that the Tories are tired to the point of being fatigued.  The Party organization,  and
the Government, too, are out of sorts. 
In metaphorical terms, they are diseased; the Party suffers from political
anemia.  The problem cannot be explained
by any other diagnosis.

Anemia infiltrates
all political parties who have eaten their own best talent, failed to conduct renewal
carefully, and are left only with the corporeal ranks to perform a large, complicated, even cerebral mission.

Bad polls,
by-elections losses, poor decision-making, and a weak Cabinet manifest the
disease most evidently; but, at its core is a dire lack of new blood.  Symptoms include not just organizational
lethargy but a dizziness that inhibits leadership and clear vision. There is a
reliance on what worked in years past; the energy that once gave succor to
courage is no longer noticed on the public register.

The brain
that afforded the once great Party authority, integrity and a justifiable
confidence is dying a slow death.  The Party
of Brian Peckford, Bill Marshall, John C. Crosbie, Lynn Verge and Hazel McIssac
is sclerotic. In the words of the Smallwood slayer, Frank Moores: “it won’t be
long now”, voiced at a time when the
shoe was on the other foot.

Related Reading:

There is no
doubt that Paul Davis has good intentions. No one has reservations about his
fundamental integrity.  But after only
six weeks as Premier he has proven what many, including this scribe, have long concluded.  He is not up to the job.

Premier Davis comes to the realization he must do things far differently or he
is toast.

Let’s face
facts. The Premier did not inherit a dynasty as much as he did a debacle.  

The recent
NTV/MQO Poll results have striking similarity with those low levels to which
Premier Dunderdale determinably dragged them. 
After more than two years of nuttiness, who could blame an electorate
for failing to recover from the night sweats of our collective PTSD?

It is not as
if Tom Marshall was fit to play hockey, let alone score.  Frank Coleman? Whoever wished to follow in
his footsteps must be terminal, anyway. 

Which brings
us back to Paul Davis.

Before the
Lieutenant Governor had finished brunch, following the Premier’s investiture; three massive flops were
placed on offer.  He is the only Premier
in history to have won the coveted prize and failed to enjoy a honeymoon.  It is not justice to blame it on poor Judy

The Premier
has barely mentioned the word Muskrat, cost overruns, oversight or the
Government’s high spending ways. Nalcor’s Ed Martin and Gil Bennett are as smug
as they ever were.

Do you still
think the Tories only have a problem of organization?

Who would
want to slog in wind and rain to win a by-election for an outfit whose only goal is to retain power?
Decent people want to be proud not just of democratic politics, but of their
political Party, too. It is tough to be a Tory
right now.

As if to
underscore the advanced state of the Government’s sclerosis, what does the
Premier do to move the public beyond the CBS by-election? Having bemoaned the fact that the loss was due to fewer than 100 votes, it doesn’t occur to him that this might be a time to engage the public and employ some intuition concerning what is biting them. 

His communications staff are at the ready: ‘we need a new announcement! That ought to make them happy’, they declare with the mindless empathy of the ‘Borg’. The Premier agrees.

This time it’s a
Court House. Who knew we needed one? It’s not just that he offers no rationale, no cost estimates, or
even a rough budget; he has no plan for the old and historic Court  House and no
schedule for completion of the new one. 
He offers no thinking on programs for those who have a greater need of
legal services than for more bricks and mortar.

The political naiveté is magnified because, just possibly, the public might want the Government to ease off profligacy for awhile. Even the Auditor General has taken notice. It’s not just about low
oil prices and declining revenues; spending has been out of control for a long time.

The Premier
can try as he might to put lipstick on a pig, but he seems not to understand real
change has the benefit of a complete makeover. 

It is not as
if Liberal Leader Dwight Ball has performed as well as he might. But, in the circumstance, he doesn’t have to do very much.

As for the
Tories, the public is still waiting.

In the meantime,
death comes slowly to this Government.

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. Could be that Dwight Ball is smart enough to know that he's steering his ship in the right direction and a steady as she goes approach is serving him well. One thing he isn't doing which I take comfort in is avoiding the typical pork barrel politics of trying to buy votes. Once the Liberal party takes over, they will have an enormous challenge in trying repair the damage done by this government. Over spending and mismanagement are the highlight of this PC government. Has anyone stopped to think of where all the oil revenues have gone and what we have to show for it, and despite warnings from the auditor general, coupled with oil revenues that are far below the distorted budget projection, they are still spending like drunken sailors.

    It's time people in this province took note of just how bad thing are, and just how far in debt we will be once Nalcor's ace management team are finished. When the election is finally called, all I want to hear Dwight Ball promise is a complete review / overhaul of Nalcor.