Earle McCurdy is out of retirement; I don’t think anyone
will envy him his new job. 

The position which the NDP finds itself is reflected in the
most recent CRA Poll which gives the Party 13%; Abacus reports 9%.  McCurdy had better have a new plan; the
numbers are proof it will be tough to get more than one or two Members
re-elected. Impending boundary changes won’t help.

Like the Tories, the NDP risks being steam-rolled by a
Liberal juggernaut as default to that Party is the public’s only option.

McCurdy is intelligent, experienced, and offers management, strategic,
and organizational skills.  He is well
suited to the job.  The bigger question
is whether his world-view has been jaded by too many fish fights with the
private sector and with government. Does he possesses a renewal mind-set; one
that will put claim to a new NDP political model to replace one most certainly broken?

McCurdy does not have a lot of time to prescribe a makeover.

Yet, the current political environment is
fertile, a fact illuminated by the T
ories’ unspeakable

On the other hand, the Liberal Party has been coasting,
grabbing the disaffected from both the NDP and the Tories, showing no
leadership in return.

The NDP has been incapable of filling that leadership

Yes, Chris Mitchelmore and Dale Kirby bolted,
speeding the Party’s unwinding, but it suffers a larger arterial constriction than
the one those two represent. 

To begin with, the last election was an anomaly;
a skilful Lorraine Michael levered the star power of Jack Layton.  

Thomas Mulcair is no “Jack”.  Those warm winds have dissipated leaving the
NDP as vulnerable as it ever was.

The Party is shackled to every social interest
group imaginable; few, except organized labour, are large enough to be a source
of candidates, money, or grass roots support. Labour cannot perform the role,
even when it feigns interest. Union members simply do not define their own political,
economic and social interests as labour describes them, magnifying the NDP’s

No party can do without a social policy
platform. But the NDP is far too ready to embrace any new cause or social program, even
if it only makes sense within a fiscal framework designed in Greece.

When the Tories ran
huge deficits, in a period of the highest revenues ever recorded, the NDP’s
rallying cry was: we want Government to spend even more!

The Caucus could not even formulate opposition
to Muskrat, which constitutes a threat to workers and programs, alike. The
Liberals didn’t either, but no one suggests their popularity has anything to do
with being smart.  The NDP is simply judged
more harshly; penalized for its lack of success and a platform incomplete.

McCurdy can correct this image; one that now
defines the NDP more as advocacy group than political party.

A swift repair is to immediately declare himself
a fiscal hawk.  He should promise to
balance the Budget during his first term of office and during every term the
NDP is in power! He should take the lead in re-defining politics as the “art of
the possible”; declaring it, instead, a “symmetry of tough choices”. Who would lose
sleep worrying the NDP might re-arrange priorities if it commits to not breaking the bank? A former Treasurer of the FFAW, McCurdy might just find the idea an acceptable remedy for stroppy voters.

Politics is merciless; but only because it
contains the genetic structure of public self-interest. For that reason, the
NDP should know it will never get a free ride.

Some point to NDP Governments in Nova Scotia,
Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as if their history manifests an ability to govern
here.  That is an indulgence. No one gets
to the podium with another’s medal.  

Can Earle McCurdy re-define the NDP helping it secure
credibility and legitimacy, without which it is doomed? Is he capable of the pragmatism
demanded of successful political parties?  

McCurdy doesn’t strike me as an ideologue. Indeed, the FFAW
found a way to operate training and other programs using funding from the government,
with which it is frequently at odds.  Its
ability to satisfy competing interests between inshore and large boat fishers, often
satisfying neither, also suggests uncommon pragmatism; one that doesn’t let a
larger objective become obscured by the thousand voices counselling a different

In addition, NDP adherents are tired of the political
wilderness. Likely, given his strong union pedigree, they trust McCurdy enough
to make essential changes without risking the total loss of its social
democratic footprint.

A better question is: can McCurdy see beyond the detritus of
failure, risk alienating a few stalwarts, as a “new” NDP rescues the “old” from

The choice is stark: no one is proposing a glimpse at greatness anytime soon;this narrative is about survival.

McCurdy needs no advice about funding, organization and the
dangers of expecting progress too quickly. Most immediately, he will be
challenged by the reality the NDP is confined largely to a couple of townie
enclaves while rural, the cultural home of fish union central, of fish mongers
and fish merchants, may as well be a million miles away. Townies are consumed
with oil; there is no discipline and less leadership here. People have only the
markets to remind them fish has sustained this place for 500 years.

I am sure Ed Martin is anxious to greet him; but McCurdy
should first decide if Martin is a liability, a soul mate to the NDP’s image of
excess, or whether the Party’s new direction makes Martin a pariah who should
go when the Tories are pushed. Either way, he should sew up his pockets before
he visits Nalcor.

Finally, the NDP’s political enemy is Dwight Ball, not the
Tory Party. Ball has been allowed to enjoy a perch that is unseemly in a
competitive and partisan political arena. 
Davis gave him a bloody nose on the Electoral Boundary issue, which exposed
Ball’s (striking) limitations.

McCurdy needs to rough up both of them, especially Ball –
because Davis is finished.

Ball needs to be dragged kicking and screaming into the
open. A fellow unwilling to take a position on virtually anything, is fair game
in the brutal world McCurdy has joined. Unless I overrate McCurdy, he should
be able to inflict some serious lacerations on Ball – but he will succeed only if he has something new to say.

Yet, if he approaches the fight using the same ineffective
and out-dated political tool kit carried by his predecessors for years, he can
retire again; no one will have noticed that he either came or went.
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. I am surprised that the NDP have not promoted a serious Energy Conservation Plan, an Efficiency Corporation to run it, as most North American jurisdictions have done, including Nova Scotia. Heat pump heating is very cost effective and reduces electricity use by 30 percent or more, and reduces demand at peak times….. a benefit against the power outages we have encountered. This is a rural and townie benefit. And even Liberty has stated that the new gas turbine is insufficient and that new demand reductions must be identified by this September and implemented. Such demand reduction is in opposition to the scheme of Muskrat Falls, and Liberty for now advocates a short term demand reduction, until MF comes on stream. Liberty itself has yet to speak on the reliability of MF power, so it may be that long term demand reduction may be essential. The choice of serious long term demand reduction or to continue spending on MF is a tough decision, and a bold one if McCurdy decides to come out against Muskrat Falls. We scramble now when we loose power for a few hours from Holyrood. Imagine power from the MF line down for a day or 30 days, which is possible given the terrain, distance and exposure to the elements of that feed. To have taken the path of Demand Reduction with the isolated island option would have avoided the huge power bill increases now planned. Now we find demand reduction is necessary anyway, which Ed Martin wanted to avoid, but is imposed third world style, with rotating outages. Winston Adams, Logy Bay

  2. McCurdy certainly faces an uphill battle, but he is no one's fool. He will not follow your advice on a balanced budget as he is a die in the wool socialist; however he will need to be successful in drawing out policy positions from Dwight Ball, which the Tories have been unable to do. Ideologically, we have three left of center parties, which creates an opportunity for McCurdy, especially if he is successful in finding credible candidates other than dogmatic blinded socialists of the Lana Payne kind. Danny Williams has destroyed the Tories, which givers the nippers a chance of being the official opposition.