consistency in public opinion polls means anything, it would appear Canada is
ready to give PM Stephen Harper the boot.

The Country
needs a new Prime Minister. This one does not suit the Canada most of us have
come to know.

Harper needs
to go, not because Danny Williams’ jingoistic rants are deemed, by some, superior
to his, or even because Harper’s Administration is deemed to have treated NL

He needs to
go for even larger and more fundamental reasons.

Harper is a
corrosive, even divisive force for an entire Country; a man who subscribes to a
value system claimed by a narrow far right, narrow-minded, bigoted, some outwardly
racist, and reactionary constituency. This is not a group preoccupied with
tolerance, generosity, or the nuances of a liberal democracy.

Harper is
not just an irritation in NL; he is a blight on the entire nation.

doesn’t always provide us with good leadership choices.  But, amidst other poor choices, Canada, elected
a rogue group variously known as “Alliance” and “Reform”; one that hijacked a
once moderate Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. Most of the “progressives”
left or were forced out. The result is a Canadian version of the American “Tea Party”.

Canada is
now known for “wedge” politics. The PM heads a right wing political cabal, with
access to the tools of democratic government.

Right thinking
Canadians, who subscribe to concepts of an open and tolerant society, will send
them flying.

Still, no
one should think Justin Trudeau or Thomas Mulcair represents all the tools of a skill-set
Canada desperately needs. Likely, though, they represent something better, even
if Canadians will have to endure the economic trials of their lack of economic
vision; something that the “niqab” debate masked in all three leaders.

extolls deficit financing as a virtue in a country already heavily indebted and
facing serious economic decline from Alberta to Newfoundland and Labrador. The
fall of oil, low productivity and competitiveness seek repair in a low C$. Good
luck with that!

Mulcair displays
no economic aptitude either; his sudden lurch to the middle-of-the-road adds
reason to why the NDP’s nascent love of the middle class, and balanced budgets,
is viewed with skepticism. Yet, he deserves particular praise for his steadfast
rebuke of racism. The “niqab” may have cost him voters, but unlike the PM, it
leaves his respect for values unassailable.

societies aspire to prosperity; some have done well enough not to measure progress
using only financial metrics. Enlightened countries don’t see prosperity as
incompatible with good governance, strong values, notions of responsibility, compassion,
generosity, or a strict regard for the rule of law.

We like to
think Canada one of them.

For many
decades, this country has been a beacon to the international community; a civil
society worth emulating.

But, more
recently, Canada has been a back slider; a condition which has picked up speed
under Stephen Harper. The fact is manifested not just in our meagre share of foreign
aid (relative to GNP), or in defense spending, as a Member of NATO, or that we cower
in the face of a massive human tragedy playing out in Syria, and other countries. 

We have a PM
brash enough to upbraid the Chief of the Supreme Court for denying him
validation of policies that conflict with the Charter of Rights. He submerges
civil rights under unproven security concerns. Police officers are given positions
on parole boards. Important rights legislation is embedded within an unwieldy
omnibus Bill. Important veterans’ services are refused even when Parliament has
approved funding.  A cover-up in the PM’s
Office gets a “good to go”. Cabinet government is all but thrashed; message
control is given paramountcy in the PMO.

Then there
is the phony “niqab” issue; an incitement to alienation and to hate. Some may
think it ‘just’ wedge politics. It is corrosive stuff; it has no place in the
Canada I want to be part of.

It is not
too much to expect that even a desperate Prime Minister, one facing electoral
defeat, might try to retain some dignity. But when the values of “Ford Nation”
are embraced to curry favour with ignorance, and a kiss-my-ass regard for laws
and institutions, in the popularized phrase describing crisis, “Houston, we
have a problem”.  

democratic country is under greatest threat when the citizenry fail to stay
engaged. Luckily, they seem engaged now. For that reason, there is hope the
problem can be remedied.

Whether the
choice is Trudeau or Mulcair, they will have to be evaluated, each given scrutiny
for his ability to lead this Country with a larger vision than the one they
exhibited during this campaign, or, for that matter, the one to which the
Tories’ subscribe.

Voters will
need to stay engaged. The Country is on the cusp of great change; it won’t all
be easy. For that reason, we may need to change governments again, if the winner
on Monday, isn’t up to the challenge or if it continues on a path even remotely
similar to the agenda of the present one.

To press
the point:  

As a
Newfoundlander and Labradorian, I bristle when I see the likes of Jean Chretien
trotted out with Trudeau the younger, given what I know of his behavior as PM, and
not just with respect to the sponsorship scandal.  I worry that Justin is “not ready” but also that
he is unsuitable; that he might have inherited the sins of Trudeau, the elder;
he having denigrated the view of Canada as a confederal entity, and kept NL
begging for resource rights held by other provinces, under the guise of resources
“under water” (as most of Newfoundland and Labrador’s are) distinguishable from
those found on land (where most other province’s resources are found).  It is no comfort that NLers supported him and
Chretien, en masse, but that is another matter.

I worry
that the NDP, never having held the reins of power at the federal level,
understand only spending, possessing little appreciation that a strong economy
is the basis of better social programs.

That said, at some point in this 78 day election campaign, Stephen Harper counted
on both leaders to self-destruct. Neither did.

For that
reason, and most certainly for all the others, Canadians should deny Stephen
Harper a fourth mandate. The Conservative Party needs to be reborn. The hijackers
need to be banished.

Trudeau or
Mulcair deserves a chance. Either one is better than the status quo.

We can’t risk
a right-wing ideologue controlling Parliament for a third term.

If our
collective choice does not work out, let’s make change again.

The economic
challenges Canada faces are undeniable.

But if we
are as smart as we think we are, we can face them even as we rid ourselves of
the politics of hate and fear.

After this
election, I want a return to a Canada in which tolerance, inclusiveness, and
respect for civil rights, are part of a strong economy.

I am not
interested in Harper’s Canada.
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. Very well said! I have come to despise Harper and I have despised very few people in my life. If he is out come Monday, we have a chance to start to make this a country we can be proud of again. The choices of NNP or Liberal are a worrying for differing reasons but less a concern than another term of Harper. Somewhere out there in the ether is a small sign sketch thst states" Proud to be a Canadien, ashamed of my government" and that is the way most folks I talk to feel. I just hope enough are compelled by the unease they feel to vote him out, and we'll out. They can rebuild the party and its principles and we can consider them again next time when we consider the performance of Muclair or Trudeau.

  2. Great article! I agree with the above comments as well. Stephen Harper has taken the political system in Canada to it's lowest level. As for the conservative party, they have to share the blame by allowing this to happen. If they had forced a leadership review two years ago, the election would have taken on a very different tone. I remember when John Diefenbaker passed away, he lay in state in Ottawa and on his final journey by train to his home province, Canadians waited by the side of the track to pay their respect. While many may have had differing views of his policy and direction, all respected him as a statesman who believed in Canada and the people of this fantastic country.

    Stephen Harper on the other hand, exemplifies many of the negative and at times vulgar traits of an individual who is anything but Canadian. He is a disgrace to the office he holds.

  3. Let us hope the voter suppression, electoral fraud, robocalls tactics fail the undemocratic ideologues in the PMO. Lets hope the high early voter turnout holds true today. The Cons count on alienating voters to strengthen the vote of their base.