I have
always found voting day invigorating, reassuring, and a source of pride.

There is
something unmistakably dignified about civil society exercising its right of
self-determination, bringing change to democratic government. It is impossible
not to think how lucky we are the process is conducted peacefully and within
the rules of a constitution which receives almost unanimity.  

Yet, it has
been a long four years. Public exasperation with recent Administrations is

results, social media, and radio talk shows seem to confirm that the Tories have
rubbed raw every fiber that constitutes our collective patience.

Likely, that is why evidence exists of a persistent and unveiled determination to
put an incompetent regime out of its misery, and out of our sight. This time ‘round even those who are normally careful to reveal their voting intentions don’t bother.

No one, not
even the partisans, should take delight we are in this spot. A nascent prosperity has been squandered to be sure. 

But even worse, abuse of the processes of government have persisted without triggering recognizable condemnation or public protest. 

As a society, we have been far too demure. The acrimony
of the last four years reflects poorly on us all.

failures of this government extend well beyond the Dunderdale, Marshall, and
Davis Administrations; though they must endure the largest share of the blame.

Issues of transparency,
over spending, deficit spending, Muskrat Falls, the erosion of institutions
like the PUB, and the professional public service have reached critical levels
of concern, even if their worst effects are not readily felt.  

vulnerability of “This Marvellous Terrible Place” has eluded our business,
social, and academic elites, as well as mainstream media for much of those four years. The Official
Opposition, composed of many who will form the next government, have been negligent.
They chose to let the government fall on its own sword rather than parse
deficits, budget bills, or Muskrat follies that might challenge them, their
values, and their election prospects.

We would all
feel relieved if a government of failed policy is replaced with one promising
meaningful renewal.

Given what
was on offer, none of the campaigns could justify such hope based upon their platforms,
whether applying text, sub-text, or context. The very most we can say is that this election, at least metaphorically, was over long before it began.

There are
those who say the public “just” wants change. I believe the statement lacks respect;
it is ignorant of human behaviour and of the motivations that drive us to
action, especially why and how we vote. I suggest the public never engages in
“just” anything. 

Indeed, if there is any one lesson I have learned from many
years involved in elections, no act is more self-serving than the casting of a
ballot. Most people regard their vote a profoundly personal asset, one given as
an act of faith; the decision having been judiciously taken.

The public
does not throw out a government it believes to be doing a good job, in search
of some undefined notion of change. But they will throw out bunglers, and
others whom they perceive as a threat to their self-interest.

It is a moot
point, perhaps, but this election is not solely a judgment on
Premier Davis’ stewardship.

Much of the
political damage inflicted on the Tories, as a political party, occurred long
before Paul Davis arrived. Still, he was given a chance to remedy the failings
of Premier Dunderdale; she not having understood the corrosive culture of
governance that was her predecessor, Danny Williams’ trademark.

Davis was
simply not up to the challenge.

It wasn’t
just his missteps at the outset. I think we could have gotten over the
appointment of Judy Manning and his predilection for matters related to law enforcement. The one exception was his mishandling of the Don Dunphy case, considering its relationship
with his Office.  

He ought to
have been disturbed, too, by Dunderdale’s abuse of power in the House of Assembly,
her disdain for detractors, and even for the public’s right to know and he ought to have said as much. 

willingness to parrot Nalcor propaganda, continue the government’s deference to
CEO Ed Martin, and to persist in giving fake oversight of the Muskrat Falls
project, robbed him of any perception that he possessed the qualities of a leader.

He would not
even challenge Tom Marshall’s handling of the Humber Valley Paving affair,
which, put baldly, would have been a “good cop” thing to do.   

Davis, as
Premier, was gifted with opportunity. Rather than attempt remedy, he chose to
compound the worst decisions of his predecessors.

“Four years
of amateur hour” seems an apt characterization of the government that was.
Now, having
examined the alternatives, the voters will make their judgement official. 

There is risk
they will choose another amateur.

Only time
will tell if we will have a new beginning or just more of the same.
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. Great summary! With all the oil revenue we have taken in, this government should have been in solid position to reflect on a long list of accomplishments, but that is not the case. The money is gone and the provincial deficit is a major concern. We struggle to think of how we might address funding for health care and yet Mr. Davis is awarding funding for swimming pools and a fish hatchery that hasn't even been properly assessed. To add insult to injury, he stated on VOCM that if elected he would make a full disclosure of Nalcor's handling of Muskrat Falls. This to me speaks volumes as to how poorly he has performed and his slogan of leadership you can trust, is an insult to your intelligence.

  2. And beginning tomorrow we will need commentary like this more than ever and you can count on it but in the mean time bye, bye Paul Davis, it will surely be good to see your back and that of your party as well. Cheers.

  3. "No one, not even the partisans, should take delight we are in this spot. A nascent prosperity has been squandered to be sure." Hardly another word needs to be said.

    I would also argue that Mr. Williams has much to answer for as well. The growth of the public sector by some 10,000 on his watch combined with massive wage & benefit increases is his to wear.

    Now the tough times are upon us and the public sector, for some reason, is untouchable while layoffs are happening in the private sector.

    Keith R.