The Government’s Oversight Committee on Muskrat Falls issued
its quarterly report just as the Natural Resources Minister, responsible for
the Muskrat file, continues to display the liveliness of lichen at the Funks.
Come to think of it, the Funk Islands seem a perfect place for indolent

The “JM” Post, last week, contained a reprimand for the
Oversight Committee, one implicit in the title: “In Nalcor we Trust”. Nalcor can put no claim to public trust, either; oversight remains as absent as it ever was.  For that reason, focus ought to remain on the Oversight Committee; next week’s Post will attempt to shine more light on this sham group who reports what Nalcor tells them

But, politicians are ultimately to blame when bureaucrats fail to perform; after all, such recalcitrance is inspired by them. 

While this problem dates back to the tenure of Kathy Dunderdale and Jerome Kennedy, it persists with the current Minister, Derrick Dalley.

I have been thinking of the Minister lately; though not

Perhaps, it was his March 4th appearance on Paddy
Daly’s Open Line Show that ignited my memory of Dalley and his previous difficulties with knowledge of things he should know. 
This time the Island was experiencing another major power outage. The Host had
given the Minister quick access to the airwaves expecting, perhaps, to be informed
on the cause of the ‘black out’ and how long it might endure. 

The Minister was quick to say the Premier had urged him
onto the airwaves. Mr. Davis may as well have employed Funk Islands
lichen to perform the role.  The Minister
had no knowledge as to why a large part of the Island’s electrical grid was
knocked out, did not know Holyrood Unit #1 had gone off-line the previous
Friday, did not know Unit #3 was down, or the reason the newly installed
generator was not ready to give us a return on our recent $120 million investment.

The province is in ‘black-out’ mode, again; the Minister of
Natural Resources evidently has not read Friday’s Brief. It is Wednesday; he is
not briefed even now.

Related Reading:




The Premier must know Dalley is one of the reasons his Poll
numbers are intractable. Is this government deaf to the lessons of DARKNL and to the Liberty Report?

It is one thing for the public to be captivated by the Judy
Manning story and to feel umbrage when democratic government is offended by the
presumptuousness of one unelected. But, the Premier has far bigger problems. To be sure, the
latest Cabinet shuffle was a missed opportunity for larger repair. 

The Premier was right to dismiss Kevin O’Brien, who the
Auditor General fingered having made an inappropriate phone call to the Deputy
Minister of Transportation and Works in the Humber Valley Paving affair to check on whether the deal had been done. 
Equally, he ought to have fired “take us to Court, we’ll win anyway” Keith
Russell, the Mumbo Jumbo Minister of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs.

Davis can’t afford the Minister of Natural Resources to remain
a Mumbo Jumbo Minister, too. He is responsible for the Muskrat Falls project,
for the Atlantic Accord, for energy policy, the challenging job of dealing with
major oil companies and future development opportunities.   

We expect that Minister to be smart, knowledgeable and
current (briefed); capable of interacting with the public including over
irksome issues like black-outs, considering the extent to which the electrical system
has been degraded under Ed Martin’s leadership. 
He ought to be capable of demonstrating a grasp of the enormous duties to
which he has been assigned. But this Minister can’t even explain why the lights
are out!

An exchange, in the
House of Assembly as recently as March 18th 2015, cements the perception
of an indolent Dalley.  Opposition Leader
Dwight Ball asked him a question regarding Muskrat Falls and who is responsible
for paying the “extra costs” associated with “bringing in a larger project
team…to increase its concrete pouring capacity…in an effort to keep the project
from falling further behind… Newfoundlanders and Labradorians or Astaldi?  This was Dalley’s reply:
“I will say in this House that it is my
understanding that the Astaldi contract is a fixed price and they are
responsible for the cost of this, Mr. Speaker.  Just to be sure, I will

is the largest contractor on the Muskrat Falls site; the project has been plagued
by cost pressures from the get go.  No
one wants to come clean as to Astaldi’s contract status. Ed Martin told the
Nalcor AGM, last Thursday, the contract is “Unit Priced”. Dalley says it is
“fixed priced”. Ed Martin’s PR Department, responding to a question from David Vardy,
stated “the relationship between unit cost and
total pricing is fixed” adding even more confusion to the dance of obfuscation
for which Nalcor is notorious.
A competent Minister would not
have to “check” with Nalcor; he should be capable of standing in the House of
Assembly giving Ed Martin and his PR people a lecture on the importance of
being forthright. Without playing games, using qualifiers like “it is my
understanding”, he ought to have been able to inform the House if the public purse is at risk
with Nalcor’s framing of the Astaldi Contract.  

Dalley should know if it is “lump sum” wherein the materials,
labour and schedule risk are all Astaldi’s. 

Otherwise, he ought to confirm, as this scribe
was informed from the beginning, that the labour cost risk is Nalcor’s which
essentially puts the cost of schedule slippage onto the public purse, too.

How many billion dollar contracts
have been issued at Muskrat?

The answer:  ONE.

Dalley doesn’t know the single most
essential detail of this ONE large and important, billion dollar contract.  

The Opposition should shame him
until he gives the House an honest and full answer.

The Premier has made a big deal
about saving money by reducing the size of the Legislature and the Cabinet.

A budget conscious Premier should
fire Derrick Dalley. He is an embarrassment; another useless Minister; a dead weight on an already challenged government.

Alternatively, he should just send
Dalley to the Funks.
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?