The Davis
Government will go into the next election battered and bruised, ready only for
the re-cycling bin.

No credit
for this political train wreck is due to the astute oversight, vigilance, or to the insights
of the Official Opposition.

While the Liberals
stayed under everyone’s political radar, the Tories simply wore through the
patience of most decent people, all on their own.

Bill 29 was
only the beginning.

A trail of
secrecy, misinformation, and deceit presaged the sanctioning of the Muskrat
Falls project.

For the
Liberal Party’s efforts to expose the sad underbelly of that project, we would
say: thanks for nothing.

No update has
been demanded, either, on the cost of Muskrat since June,
2014 when Nalcor CEO Ed Martin allowed that the costs had risen to $6.99
billion (plus the cost of interest during construction).

The Minister
of Environment and Conservation offers only obfuscation as to the applicability
of Canadian Dam Safety regulations to a natural (and naturally defective) dam
structure, known as the North Spur.  

The Liberals
have stayed away from the issue; ostensibly it is just too complicated for

The Government’s
Muskrat Oversight Committee has failed to report for any period since March 2015.  The Committee’s “On-line Minutes”, too, are consistently emptied of content or mirror their pretense to oversight. Meeting July 27 and June 12, 2015 are essentially the same as earlier Minutes and permit no clue as to what gets discussed.

The Liberals
refuse to hold them to account.

It’s not just Muskrat.

We will go into the next election without a Report, let alone a public inquiry, into the Don Dunphy tragedy. Watching the Liberals equivocate on the issue still appalls.

The Davis
Government’s projection of a $1.8 billion deficit (both current and capital
account), for this fiscal year, is based upon an average $62.00/barrel. Oil (Brent crude) has long been below that figure and is now around $47.00/barrel.

There is no
call for a fiscal update.

The granting of bonuses to senior Hydro
personnel, following DARKNL, is an affront to fairness and to those public
servants who perform extra diligence without extra reward; it undermines morale
among those who value high standards because the awards are not just arbitrary;
they are unwarranted.  

Did the Liberals not read the Liberty
Report prepared for the PUB and its condemnation of Hydro officials? 

How large
might the catastrophe have to be for Dwight Ball to call for Ed Martin’s head?

Even when Steve Kent, the Deputy Premier,
was forced to run back to the media to tell them he had “misspoken”, having
stated the Cabinet would review the granting of bonuses, Dwight was absent,
failing to point out the Premier’s deference to Ed Martin.

I know Dwight is no Mark Critch, but couldn’t
he, at least, have keyed in to last week’s perfect

We have political parody at its best in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”. It  could have been written for Nalcor. Chapter 3 was certainly composed for light CEOs
playing with other people’s money. Here Ed Martin can be seen playing the part
of Dodo in the Caucus Race. That’s the event in which everyone gets to run off
in all directions. Having arrived at no particular destination, Dodo arbitrarily
declares the race over, following which everyone asks: “Who has won?” to which
Dodo replies “everyone has won and all must have prizes”!

Dodo and Ed Martin’s bonuses. The humourless Mr.
Ball; he missed even that!.

And certainly not even because he is preoccupied
with gravitas.

To get back to our own rabbit hole, many people know there is nothing normal
about the last decade of government.

Bill 29 and Muskrat.manifest the worst of bad government. The Humber Valley Paving scandal, too. But there are others.

Public service hiring, again, has become a
partisan contest.

Privately, senior administrators complain
unemployed teachers need the right political pedigree to get hired; the school
boards be damned.

Insiders report that the Public Tender Act is constantly being undermined; the half billion dollars allocated for Consultants only the tip of a larger problem.

The Government’s disdain for the public’s
right to know, disregard for sound fiscal policies, the gift of the purse
strings to Ed Martin, all constitute real examples of public administration in
decline or worse.

The Liberals ought to seem bedraggled – worn
out from the daily grind of exposing corruption, arrogance, and unwise public

They are not.

Hundreds of opportunities have been
missed to criticize and to tell the public what they stand for.

Have we made the unwarranted assumption? Is
it possible they agree with the way the Tories conduct government business?

Perhaps, they, too, will treat
contractors like buddies, muzzle public debate, and send out shill economists,
to provide political cover.
Related to this story:


Soon, the
provincial election campaign will begin in earnest.

Dwight Ball will
likely win the election handily; Earle McCurdy having failed to say “middle
class” as well as Thomas Mulcair. 

While Ball
will win, he risks heading a government that is perceived not the better, but
the only alternative; one absent moral authority. Lacking will be the groundswell
of trust that big decisions draw down and leadership recapitalizes.

Oh! It’s
fine to be Premier.

But Ball
would enjoy more credibility if the public knew not just that he can take a
stand but what he actually stands for.
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 totally agree with the comments contained in this article. I find it hard to believe that the Liberal party has been so laid back on such an important issue. One can only assume that they either see no issue with this project or how it has been mismanaged or that they have no viable suggests as to how it should be managed on a go forward basis. Time is running out for Dwight Ball and the liberal party to take a stand on Muskrat Falls.

  2. Not to mention the Independent Engineers Reports. There has not been one issued on the Muskrat Falls dam site for over a year. The information is slow getting to people. IS this Nalcor slowing the process down, or the province. We need this information before the election.

  3. Dale Kirby was proving himself as an outspoken and articulate member in opposition until Dwight Ball zipped his lips shut. Paul Land has never been so silent. If the Liberals are such a dismal failure as Opposition with Dash Rip-Rock Ball, I have to believe that they will be another failure as government.

    • Agree on Kirby. I had high hopes for him, but he''s lost any and all opinions or his ability to articulate them. Lane, lost me when he was selling soap for Dunderdale. He showed too well that he could repeat whatever he was told without having an opinion of his own….and since he's become a Liberal, he's said even less. And what about Cathy Bennett? I still have zero idea of where she stands on any issue. A year after the Liberal leadership contest closed and there's something very wrong about that!
      Just compare the Federal leaders and the Provincial ones. Pretty obvious differences in terms of being willing to talk issues and numbers. Sad that!

  4. Doug did you actually say Paul Lane?? Paul Lane is one of the worst of the Torie misfits I think its totally unreasonable to expect him to comment on anything that he was instrumental in creating. I for one really hope that if the Liberals do form the next government that Paul Lane is not one of the people forming the new government

  5. Agree completely! I have been waiting for ages to have anybody in opposition truly start offering up an alternative to what has become a Three Stooges parody of government. (Davis, Dunderdale, Coleman). Not a gig. Scan the news, twitter, Facebook and all you get are photos of handshakes, salutes to people from the district in the legislature…and a whole lot of avoiding promises or policy. The message seems to be almost 100% "Vote for us…because we are not them." The NDP is hardly any better so far. The province may as well be in space considering the soul sucking vacuum that exists in terms of accountability or leadership on all sides. The contestants all expect to win by default.

  6. I'm disappointed to say that this article is spot on. However I would argue that much of the blame falls squarely at the feet of the people of NL and a weak-kneeded press. The people of NL continued to elect the PCNDP despite dire warnings from credible sources. The local press, especially The Telegram, spends much of its' time telling us how much they hate Harper and therefore we should too yet the real stories are right here in their own backyard.

    A few bloggers and writers dare to say what needs to be said. Perhaps Ray Guy said it best of all, “Show me a Newfoundlander who’ll willingly take the blame for anything and I’ll show you a freak fit for the circus. Since there’s no hope of communal blame for our dismal mess, the best we can do is flush out a few scapegoats.”

    How I long for the unelectable Bill Barry.


  7. Finally someone has noticed that the Libs are a big part of the unfolding MF debacle! An impotent opposition has greased the wheels for this undemocratic back room, sleazy deal. The NDP have done no better in asking the fundamental questions about this fiscal and social disaster unfolding on the Churchill but at least they will be able to claim that they are not complicitous (they have been merely impotent).

    When will the contracts be released that the CFIB says are in everyone's best interest to made public?

    When will Martin have to defend the untested "least cost" claim? They assumed oil at $120 in 2017 escalating to $270 by 2057. They assumed increased demand. They assumed a profit on surplus power. The ratepayer will subsidize ALL the power produced by at least 10 cents a KwH for 57 long years.

    How many billion will the cost overrun be? How long will the rate/taxpayer be kept in the dark about the progress of work, the Astaldi and SNC contracts?

    How long will it take for the engineering plan for the spur, due in 2011, to be made public for scrutiny. How long will the Opposition fail to point out that MF is built literally and figuratively on shifting sands that threatens the fiscal and human health of NL residents?