If Opposition Leader Dwight Ball continues to hide in the reeds,
failing the test both of courage and cleverness, he risks being denied the
‘Mandate of Heaven’.

The ancient Chinese believed that Heaven granted emperors the right to rule,
based on their ability to govern well and fairly; the idea is distinct from
‘divine right’. Possibly, due to the Liberal Party’s unblemished by-election
record and favourable Polls, Mr. Ball may have embraced
the latter concept far
too early.

Ball’s handling of Premier Davis’ seat reduction plan (Bill 42) contains elements of self-immolation. But more importantly, has helped reinforce an impression of an under-tasked House of Assembly. Catering
to the unmindful, he has raced down-market in search of cheap applause. But, those
who are not complacent with democracy would never entertain the thought that opposition
parties have nothing to do.

For that reason, Mr. Ball may be the one a bit light.

Davis has delivered him a solid smack on the gob and ruined
the Liberal Party’s election readiness plan; Ball must know the Premier is not
going down without a fight.

Ball may not have been able to stop Davis’ cunning calculus
but the truth is, he barely tried.  He
ought to have demanded an election, now, and reminded the Premier he has no
mandate to alter the shape of the House of Assembly. 

He ought to have dwelled
on Davis’ lack of political legitimacy. He ought to have appealed to a
sympathetic constituency and employed oft used forms of tactical resistance, in
the House of Assembly, too. 

He succeeded only in giving Davis undeserved credibility; wanting people to know he thought of the idea first!

Ball is not a warrior. He defaults to compromise when some
things should never be negotiated.

That he fell in with Davis, many question Ball when it is the Premier that should be the one on the hot seat. His unwise choice causes them to question his political skills and
his values, too.

Dwight’s television interview, following a late-nighter in
the House of Assembly, revealed a man paled. His condition held all the marks
of his own loss of fortune. There are wider implications, too.

The House of Assembly is the legitimate home where public
issues are parsed. Ball got nothing for his deal; not even managing to keep the
doors to the Assembly ajar.  His rural
constituency was not afforded a second thought, let alone consultation.

Ball forgets that when Tory St. John’s kept the Liberals out
of power, it was the voters in rural NL that kept the Party alive. He will need them,
again, in the next election and will wonder why he so passively allowed eight,
largely rural, Seats to disappear.

Evidently he never did see a role for Standing
Committees.  Bill 42, implicitly, limits
the availability of a ‘critical mass’ of Members to serve. In essence, Ball,
like Davis, denies that the “People’s House” is the epicentre of government
oversight. He confirms that, in a government led by him, such due diligence was
never in the cards.

The behaviour exposes an erstwhile unknown dimension of the
man, one disquieting, even disturbing, given his proximity to the eighth floor.

The House is shuttered. Ball has taken to writing letters to the Editor of
the Telegram; Dear Abby can’t be far behind.

Who would care that, if this government is defeated, we are
merely replacing Tweedledum with Tweedledee?

Dwight should worry that, among those who care about such
issues, the relationship between ‘peak’ and ‘pique’ is inverse. The next few Polls
will be revealing.

This Province is at a crossroads. Abysmal leadership by
successive Tory Premiers finds a small society on a precipice. 

Yet, the simple truth is, Mr. Ball has not run an effective
opposition. Even his best Members have refrained from exercising strong
political or intellectual skills. 

In spite of all the serious issues which affect
our politics, his Caucus has failed to execute their most fundamental duty by calling attention to an economy increasingly in peril and a reckless hydro project swallowing huge dollops of public money daily.

There is no sense of alarm in this Province. When it should
have been the Opposition Parties raising Cain, only the oil markets have
telecast something is wrong.

In preparation for the next Sitting, Ball should learn Opposition
parties play a vital role in a democracy.

Good oversight is characterized by serious research,
insightful questions, conflict, challenge, and criticism. 

Able Oppositions aggressively counter abuses of power, and
ensure minority views are heard.  They find and oppose weaknesses in proposed legislation, like Bill 42, in the
operation of programs and policies; they dampen hubris and expose governmental

Then, too, a good opposition leader will demonstrate
suitability for the larger job by being effective in the one he has.

Ball seeks the road to high office, but he refuses an exhibition
of the moral courage that ought to underpin his right-of-passage.

Little wonder, he now suffers the loss of his
most cherished possession: that sense of ‘inevitability’ which, for three years, has characterized his Party’s mission to unseat the Tories.   

Who would argue his failure to craft a
position on any issue has robbed him of credibility for having mishandled just this

The ‘Mandate of Heaven’ says nothing about
rewarding the uninspired or the timid; only ‘divine right’ makes such an

Mr. Ball would be unwise to think himself
in the orbit of Kings.
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?