The public,
especially public servants, will pay a big price for the last decade of recklessness.

It is fine
for the NAPE Head, Jerry Earle, to have reminded Anthony Germain on the CBC
Morning Show recently, “this is a government that said there would be no
layoffs”. But such lamentations are meaningless when it is clear deficits
and the growing public debt are unsustainable. The howling will not have much
currency with fired workers, either. 

Jerry Earle
has a big problem. And it is not just about a bloated public service. 
other than labour costs, also affect labour.

That is what
he fails to see.

Jerry won’t ask: how many public servants will get axed for each billion
dollars the cost of Muskrat Falls climbs?

operating deficit is one thing: but how many more will be pushed when the cost exceeds 
$10 billion,
$11 billion, $12 billion, or more, as many senior engineers believe it will?
Earle met
with Premier Ball last week. Do you think he thought to demand a full and
independent review of Muskrat, one that left no doubt it would contain a
thorough basis for decision-making, including the data necessary to determine
if it should be shut down?

servants will be sacrificed, to be sure.

But, the
truth about Muskrat and the incompetence of Nalcor is already proven in the litany
of cost overruns, and other well-known problems; Jerry Earle doesn’t see that a
good many more public employees will become sacrificial lambs as they mount.

He, no
differently than CUPE President Wayne Lucas and NLTA President Jim Dinn, will
write words of protest and derision as the health care and education systems are
torn apart.

But for
them, like the small business people in St. John’s, too, who are just now awakening
to the myopia of municipal minds, fiscal crisis was never once given a moment’s

leaders have mandates to protect their membership from potentially harmful public
policy. Indeed, one can think of few organizations with a mandate as singular
or as well-financed to assess those perils as NAPE, CUPE, and NLTA.

Fifty cents
of every dollar saved, when the government wields the ax, will represent fired
workers, many with families.

A real
leader would have been ready to present to Dwight Ball the terms of the Muskrat
Review. He would have made it clear to the Premier he will be dissatisfied until
the reviewing authority meets the Union’s satisfaction. He might have reminded
the Premier NAPE has political power and is willing to use it. He might have
used the opportunity to demonstrate that power can be calibrated to exceed rhetoric.

It is too
late for Jerry Earle to prevent many of the firings that will occur, but he can
insert himself in the decision-making process in a way that ensures the cuts
are not misplaced; that any money saved is not wasted on what is very likely a

But, as the
incomplete is the EY terms of reference confirms, Jerry is capable only of siding with Siobhan Coady; the latest in a line of shallow Natural Resources Ministers content to be Nalcor supplicants.

I am tired
of the Jerry Earles. They are found not just in Unions, but at the Board of
Trade, at the University, and in the professions, too. They are all too busy
having breakfast to think about lunch.

I have a
problem with people being pushed out the front door, as Nalcor’s Ed Martin
heads out the back exit, not with what’s left of the Treasury, but the balance of our borrowing capacity.

I have a
problem offering opinions to government under the façade of public engagement,
on ways to resolve the crisis, when I know Nalcor will be allowed to squander savings
from real people, their lives thrown in disarray.

All that is
heard is an impotent and hollow NAPE President commenting: ‘Dwight Ball will be
going back on his election promises, if he conducts a lay-off’; as if that kind
of comment registers on either the meek or the frightened, as Dwight Ball
certainly is.

Earle vowed
to be “more assertive” in displacing Carol Furlong as NAPE President, but he seems
unaware that it is too late when the pink slips are distributed.

Furlong kept silent as Cathy Dunderdale skewered an in-depth and rational
review of the Muskrat Falls project.

Furlong, the
CUPE and NLTA leadership, too, gave no help to the “naysayers” who advanced a
compelling case that Nalcor had contrived
the “business case” for the project.

The warnings,
even then, spoke to the threat of cost overruns which threatened the viability
of far better conceived projects throughout the world.  

But the union
leadership remained mute, unwilling to challenge the Dunderdale Government, or consider
the consequences, if the “naysayers” were right.

Jerry Earle
was never far removed from Carol Furlong, having acted as NAPE’s Chief

Like Furlong,
he could only see the small picture of the next pay hike; the larger one
depicting irrational exuberance, outright megalomania, deceit, and who would
have to pay for the misdeeds to which these things gave birth, eluded him.

Now, Jerry
Earle is President of NAPE.   “Assertive”,
for him, is an articulation of the same old rhetoric except, in the current
environment carrying less punch, if it ever carried any.

Earle will
preside over the unceremonious firing of a good many public servants, just as Wayne
Lucas and Jim Dinn will act surprised as CUPE and NLTA memberships face, not
just cuts, but the greatest challenge in the history of the local union movement.

sector employees need to know their hapless leadership allowed delusion, as
much as complacency, to prevail over their fundamental interests.

Jerry Earle will
dither as his members write cheques to the dozens of individually owned
corporations which protect the tax status of the $300,000-$500,000 paid each of
the project management team.

He will
watch as the price of Muskrat rises every year.  

Jerry will wave
“Good-Bye” as public servants are given the door.

They will
say: There goes Jerry. Being assertive.
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. With each 1 Billion in extra money going to Muskrat Falls the province will have to borrow "equity" to cover the money. 1 Billion in new borrowing results in about 40 million in additional debt servicing each year. This money goes right to the deficit and net debt calculations. It is money that will not be recovered in electricity rates until decades in the future. the 40 million will be paid for by reductions in other government services. Of course this is layoffs. 40 million a year is about 350 workers.

    So every 1 Billion in overrun will result in the requirement for several hundred layoffs in the public service.

    Jerry Earle should ask Lana Payne why she supported Muskrat Falls. Union Worker jobs today, jeopardizing union worker jobs in the future.

    MF is a policy disaster unfolding right in front of our eyes. Thanks Danny.

  2. It's union workers, not working that got the MF over budget. The worst workers in the world are union. All the guys working for unions, that I asked, what do you do, nothing. We walk around, trying to look busy. The unions are killing us ALL.

  3. Don’t stop the Project, complete the Power Line from Churchill Falls to Soldiers Pond. Send whatever power we require, either Recall power or power we purchase from Hydro Quebec. Stop building the Dam, we don’t need it.
    If the Province continues to put money into the MF dam we are doomed. Electricity rates will probably double to start and increase 2% each year for the next fifty years. If you stop the MF dam fiasco, you can repeal Bills 60 & 61, and allow free enterprise to produce power through wind, solar or other ways, and sell power to the grid.
    We have so many huge problems that the thought of doubling the electricity bill sickens me. The price of oil has lowered my power bill by about 10%, NL Hydro can’t take advantage of this but the Government can. I would suggest a 10% tax on electricity, this is far better than a 50% to 100% increase in four years. A tax would give ratepayers a good reason to conserve power, whereas a MF dam would cause Nalcor to raise the rate to compensate for the loss of usage.

  4. Re stopping MF. We, the people, and likely some folks involved simply do not know if it is better to stop now vs proceeding to finish. We just do not have the facts. Such as obligations to NS. Provisions of the numerous contracts material and labour. Legal cost of stopping and being sued by all and sundry. Re finishing the line to soldiers pond . That needs a separate look (technically and economically)as it might be worth finishing as Hydro has a fair bit of unused recall at CF and after this September will cost $0.002, yes that is 0.2 cents. Holyrood will need a lot of cash to be able to last and a carbon tax will cost $$/. Not saying it cannot or should not be stopped but without a detailed look at overall and longer term cost we just do not know. Maybe that is a question for PUB if the gov't will give them that role. ..and it in itself will not be a cheap exercise.

  5. Unfortunately Des we all wear this one. The public supported it through its' election of successive PC administrations. The unions support was unequivocal as they had a membership boost of almost 10,000 plus the most generous compensation packages the province had ever seen. The St. John's BoT were still standing and cheering former Premier Williams (Oct. 22, 2012) and his unwaivering promotion and endorsement of this project.

    The few public voices that challenged were dismissed, at best, as unpatriotic and, at worst, as "traitors".

    We all wear this one.