The voice
coming over VOCM radio said he is the Premier.

have never been into the financial situation we are into, right now…t
he “province
is facing a difficult fiscal reality…” t
he voice said.

He promised
“decisive action….”

Difficult decisions have to be made”,
his Finance Minister intoned.

The Minister
of Public Engagement said the Press Conference was about a “…call to

The “Fiscal
situation (is) grim…” she stated. $1.96 billion
this year; without changes it may reach $2.4 billion next year.

My god, I
thought, this is going to be good. Dwight is ready to deal with our financial crisis.
The early billing also suggested important stuff was on the way.

He is going
to get tough, I said to myself. We’ve got it coming to us now!  

Hit us in
the kisser, Dwight, I thought, all half million of us; ‘cause we’re just a
bunch of ragged stunned arses, having let the Tories get us into this mess.

Then, the
voice said: “Our…difficult fiscal reality…requires a new approach — one
that is open, transparent and engages the public in meaningful ways”

And, the
Finance Minister chimes in: “…we all have a role to play.”

And then the
Minister of Public Engagement says: “Today, we are beginning an important
conversation and I invite everyone to be involved.”    

What’s all
this about, I asked no one in particular; bewilderment suddenly kicking in?

Where are the

The Minister
was polite enough, even if you could tell her voice held an undercurrent of

All of a
sudden, she got up the nerve to issue a plea.

What did she

Well, the
way I heard it, she was saying: please, please, please for the love of god,
tell the government what to do.

And, she was
giving us fifteen months to do it!

Then, I
heard Siobhan asking…if we would be kind enough to answer three important questions….the government might be able to figure out the rest.

I thought: it’s
your turn first, lady; you were the ones elected. At least show us you have one idea in your heads; we can chime in, later.

It’s not as
if the fiscal freight train was slowing down, I thought. Decisions are needed
now. Where had the Liberals found time for more chatter? We did have a General

And, it’s
not as if Ed Martin wasn’t greasing the tracks every minute of every day.

But hearing
the Minister’s plea, I went on-line anyway….and before I even got a chance
settle in, up pops the three skill-testing questions:

1. …what are
three things that could be stopped in order to save money?
2. …what
three things do you think government could do to raise money?
3. …how can government be
more innovative or efficient (and) provide quality services
at lower costs?
I thought: sure
why would they be asking me those questions? Aren’t they paying thousands of
people in Confederation Building to do that?

That wasn’t
the best of it.

There wasn’t
even a single suggestion to get us started.

There was no
warning that our ideas might have consequences or that we might want to refrain
from proposing abolishing certain things, like the House of Assembly.

government didn’t say how many public servants we had when the population was quite
a bit larger, or attempt to deal with the certainties of what is a spending,
rather than a revenue problem.

There were
no benchmarks against which we might assess our own opinions as possibly frivolous
and unwarranted.

There wasn’t
even the courtesy of a good briefing note; unless you thought adequate the few
general numbers proffered, which actually failed to describe the full extent of
the fiscal problem, having omitted capital account and the continuing demands
of Nalcor; the government didn’t know enough to tell us the “net debt” is a fiction.

Here you
were being asked to answer the biggest, most complex questions an entire
government is supposed to be addressing every day of the week, questions, which
in the context of “crisis”, if be put to the Treasury Board, would require hordes
of management teams searching for the answers.

Yet, now, this
new band of worthies, want ordinary citizens to offer advice on matters Deputy
Ministers, Directors, analysists, and a plethora of specialists, in dozens of
specialities, find very difficult.

And Premier
Ball wants us to believe this naïve exhibition of juvenile politics, this silly
“fill in the blanks” method of dealing with the most serious fiscal nightmare
in the post-Confederation era, is actually legitimate, meaningful, and serious!

And then it
dawned on me.

….if that’s
the way the Liberals handle a crisis….. 

the colouring
books should be on the way, soon.
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.


If a Big Mac costs McDonalds $10 to produce and it is sold for $1.50, McDonalds will go out of business. They would not declare a profit!


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.


  1. The Liberals are already looking at how to get re-elected in 2019. They do not want to make hard decisions that will turn the people away from their party. They were elected to govern – it is time they started doing what they were elected to do.

  2. The provincial gov't does not have a revenue problem. They do not have a spending problem. The shortage of revenue and excessive spending are the symptoms of bloated government. The dead hand of government is suffocating NL.

    No one asks if we can afford the extravagances expected by the people. We just keep asking for more and more and the politicians pander to the people.

    Either we fix this now or the bond rating agencies will fix it for us. Perhaps this is what we need.

    PS. Bill Barry said we were "all in" on oil yet we did not want to hear it.

    Keith Ryan

  3. One thing that might be done is to look at the University's administrative and support staff. Across Canada, the number of university administrators and their staffs have increased at a far higher rate than teaching/researching faculty members. Administrative bloat seems to be a problem.

  4. I am curious about what Mr. Ball and his Liberal Party has been up to in the year preceding the last General Election beyond fundraising and saying as little as possible? The way the political winds have been blowing since 2011, it was apparent that a change in government was in the air and a major fiscal crisis in the making. Now we are expected to endure another 15 months of do-little government beyond shrugging and speculation of PPP!
    One thing that can be said about this gang is that they are keeping the bar low. Can we expect better in the immediate future?