A feeling
came over me like I had received a kick in the guts. It wasn’t just the Budget. That news had been delivered days earlier by the Finance Minister. She was clearly a party-pooper. And Dwight had confirmed he’s no Danny.

This was
Monday. I was reading “Get out if you can”, by the Telegram’s Russell Wangersky.
“That would
be my advice” the award winning writer warned, as one might caution a neighbour
of an impending tsunami. “If you’re young, not tied down by investments like a
home you might take a financial bath trying to sell, if you have an education
or a trade that you can use to get a mainland job, just go. Go because we made
this mess and you shouldn’t be forced to pay for it”, his rant continued.

I found
myself gripping the edges of the kitchen island, on which I had unfolded the
broadsheet, holding on tight as a wave of anger struck like an angry sea, making
me nauseous.

It was as if Wangersky was writing a lament for a
place submerged under the weight of
fools, as much as by debt. My god, I thought, he’s giving up on Danny!

Wangersky had
kept a watchful eye on Muskrat and budgetary excess, and had frequently warned Willaims and Dunderdale about the path they were on, as the Liberals, the
NDP, and the cheering classes (that’s us) urged them on.That’s what writers get paid for, isn’t it?

Then, I understood why I was nauseous. I was angry at Wangersky. It’s fine to be sarcastic, but he was taking the whole damn thing too far.

Even his final counsel exactly mirrored his initial guidance. What did he say? 

“To my kids, to all kids: go. You do not deserve to have to pay
our bills. You shouldn’t have to pay for our mistakes. Come and visit, for
sure. But we made the mess. We should have to clean it up.” 

Traitorous bastard,
I thought. What would we want to do that for? Imagine, telling us it’s pay time, when we know it’s still play time!

He was
telling the Province’s youth to ‘cut and run’, vamoose,a demographic diminishing fast enough as it is.

Surely, as irresponsible as he thought former Premiers; now, he was being foolish,

Had he
forgotten about the promise of “intergenerational equity”? 

Didn’t he not know he was undermining Danny’s claim that Muskrat would
be paid for by the young, too?

Where was
the gratitude for ‘the great one’ who had arranged to postpone “rate shock” for
us on the power from Muskrat Falls?
business was it of Wangersky’s if young workers had it both ways: “rate shock”
now, and “rate shock” later, too?

here was the moral conscience of the commercial giant, Transcontinental Media, their
very own Atlantic Provinces’ disciple, thumbing his nose at our petit bourgeois, an outlier, more suited to the Isle of Green Gables, than among the brave government funded risk takers with the good fortune to be among Danny’s privateers

Didn’t our ads describe a future so bright that capitalism could be even practiced
by bureaucrats?

Hadn’t Danny
guaranteed that future? OH, WHY DID HE HAVE TO LEAVE! God, we’d vote for
him, again, in a Newfoundland minute!!

this is Wangersky’s problem. The Telegram’s man seems to have forgotten that ours
is a ‘rock’ possessing a conviction unflinching, where to a man and a woman, we
believe the good times will always roll. 

That’s why I, for one, always recite
the words:
bit like a lucky rabbit’s paw; like touching Danny’s shirt tail, or something;
I’m not sure. And, it has a nice ring, too.

For others,
it is an article of faith, one so strong, it was even grabbed,
not taken, by the shop keepers of the Board of Trade!

Does Wangersky
not believe in Newfoundland and Labrador? Does he not know it is a prayer to delicious greed, not some expression of gratuitous patriotism?

than anything else, isn’t “I believe in Newfoundland and Labrador”, a tribute to
the man of Muskrat; a legacy in his mind, to be sure, but for the rest of us isn’t it the perfect trademark
of our deference, an appropriate fusion of submission, denial and illusion? What’s wrong with that!

For us, you see, not
Stan, but Dan, is the man!

We like his sense of entitlement; and, he likes ours.

We can borrow
more. We can spend our way out of this. 

Why, sure, just a few day ago, in Halifax, didn’t Danny say the economy is cyclical and while its in a “valley” now, soon it will “return to the top of the mountain”.

We’ll go with that. 

And, we want
our children, besides.

We don’t want to visit them in Fort McMurray. We want their “intergenerational equity”, too.

All Wangersky had to do was tell them to work hard, that it sucks to be young.

It might be tough medicine. 

But isn’t it time one generation grew up?

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?


    • Des, your punctuation is terrible. You blog so messy, like Mr. Peckford, as if audience were reading your mind. Cucumber-fingers? Wangersky has no copy editor to help him or he is creating intentional errors to test our perception: "The costs that go back to Hydro, conservatively, will mean the utility or its corporate parent, Nalcor, will have find millions of dollars — the number’s not fully worked out yet, but it’s somewhere in the range of $10 million to $25 million." Newfoundland will have find some journalism soon. Does "have find millions" mean a group effort by press to wheel Danny back into power, on rollerskates? Des, consider that Mr. Wangersky gets paid to flip-flop like a solid state transistor. Doom & Gloom to Optimus Prime to Coffee Cups again soon enough, on a dime.

  1. A very nice Gnarley analysis!

    Muskrat Falls is the most grievous insult to the young. The MF "mortgage" has been nearly doubled in its length from the normal 30 year amortization to an unheard of (except in NL) 57 years! The pain will be imposed on at least the next two generations. This is expecting the young to pay for the sins of the father (and grandfather).

    "Go West Young Man" is the only respite from the destruction wreaked by reckless political spending and the collapse of democratic regulation.

  2. As we spiral into financial black hole, at this instant, Fortis webcast of their annual meeting at the Holiday Inn have these highlights
    Assets 29 billion
    Net earnings for 2015 589 million
    42 years of annual dividend increase
    target increase in dividends of 6 percent per year up to year 2020
    2016 1st quarter earnings of 190 million
    Small discussion on the big ITC take over just approved by shareholders by 92 percent
    No discussion of the fact that there are 3 class action lawsuits already filed in the USA against this takeover, and another pending.

  3. I read Wangerskys' piece & have to say I agree with him. As a retired Cdn Forces member, I have been deployed to several countries & lived in eight of our provinces during my 30 yr career. We retired in NL three years ago & brought the last of our four children with us. The other three are educated professionals on the mainland, two of whom who actually investigated settling here in NL. They quickly learned that an education & experience means nothing here – it's who you know, not what you know. As soon as the youngest completes university, she too is off to the mainland. I understand why young people would want to leave this place, which offers nothing but a future filled with financial hardship & a government, no matter what stripe, which appears totally incompetent & filled with opportunists. The largest employer seems to be the Provincial gov't. A false economy paid for with borrowed dollars. Our day of reckoning is fast approaching & it will not be pretty.
    Get out while you can says I….get out while you can.

    • I am one of the high income residents of Nfld, of the top 1 percent I guess. I was surprises to see my tax just 50 percent in dollars paid this year , despite having lower income. And it had nothing to do with the present budget, but with measures brought in a year earlier affecting dividend income. The provincial govn is now taking a much larger bite on this. If I followed Russell` s advise I would relocate to another province,to avail of lower tax rates on dividend income. But could still spend considerable time here. Technically I would be better off to get out, as Russell says.
      Fact is, my overall tax rate is still lower than my daughter who earns a modest income. Would I not be a traitor to our province to relocate my principle residence, and burden my daughter and her family, and other residents here more.
      Russell must be speaking emotionally, not rationally. He is capable of better.

  4. I learn from the webcast that Fortis now has 7000 employees (I guess most are outside Nfld, as with the new acquisation, Nfld Power`s contribution of Fortis business will be only 3 percent, imagine that!
    I had wanted to attend the meeting, but never made it. But they announced that there was an opportunity to meet the director after the meeting. I made ready to go, suggesting my wife to accompany me, that they likely had wine and refreshments, but she refused to go, knowing my reason for going was not for the food.
    A Fortis employee could not find the Fortis CEO but directed me to Nfld Power CEO, Mr Smith, and we chatted for half an hour. I both praised and condemned his (Nfld Power and Fortis) performance as to assisting customers here on issues of conservation and demand reduction, measures that could save households on average a thousand dollars per year. Naturally, he figures they do a great job. But he was friendly and suggested I meet with their Mr Henderson. I expressed my belief that their interests are 90 percent shareholder and 10 percent customer, and that customer relations should be an important part of any business.
    Of course the wine and food was flowing, but I did not indulge. Now the tab for that, I assume is from the electricity bills, not from the shareholders.
    Enroute home, a 10 minute drive, I thought it would be a good idea next year for Fortis to invite some, maybe 50 low income ratepayers, to see how the other half lives, on the dime of the ratepayers. I may offer to pay Fortis the cost of the extra wine and food, should they object to the cost of this, as it may not meet the test of least cost service of power, and Mr Wells of the PUB may object (I wonder). They are regulated afterall.

  5. I thought the CNN cameras would be rolling today at the Fortis annual meeting, with announcements of a pending listing on the New York Stock exchange. But not even CBC, NTV or the Telegram had any coverage. A deliberate low key affair it seems.
    After all the doom and gloom on the economy, why was this good news event have a media blackout. A Nfld based company big enough to take on another 16 billion in debt to become one of the top 15 companies in that field. Is that not good news, that is too good to keep quiet about. Stan Marshall at the helm for most of the time, but with him gone, Fortis continues on a path of growth. I wish them success. If only we had more success stories like that.
    And no sign of Sue Kelland Dyer or Greg Malone. Gil Bennett may have been there, but I was not sure. A guy with a beard looked like him…. but he is with the competition I beleive.
    Can someone explain why this Fortis success is not a story! Ok it is not Berkshire of Warren Buffett type growth, but still….. a good corporate tax base for the province. And a bit more corporate generosity to ratepayers here would be appreciated, I am sure. The company has deep roots here, back to 1885. Congratulations are in order. Of course, the top brass are well rewarded, that puts Ed Martin to shame. But these folks deliver projects on time and on budget. When did government ever do that. Of course I would like to see them do better, all round, including for local ratepayers. Perhaps that will come. Imagine if Fortis took the advise of the Telegram editor and said lets leave the province. Who could stop them. My wife owns a few shares. Next year I may get her to go to the meeting, and sip the wine. Electricity…, we take it for granted… where would we be without it….. back to the dark ages in more ways than one. I wonder, who locally are the big share holders of this Fortis company with 29 billion of assets, or are there any. Most directors do not own much, to my surprise. Well, that is public information you know. I can tell you what I know on that….maybe it is not of interest to Uncle Gnarley readers……

  6. The news blackout on Fortis must be official. Ok nothing yesterday that I could see. Maybe Ashley Fitzpatrick would have a big item to day in the business section. But nothing! Maybe VOCM. Just Checked ….. nothing. Haven`t checked the Avalon Times, but they are a small operation, and Ray Guy is no longer around to help them out.
    I`m baffled. A wall of silence. Why….
    I can only speculate: there is a rate increase by Nfld Power before the PUB. Needs a another 10 million or so from the ratepayers. Now it would not look good to be boasting about your profits, your growth, your 42 years of increasing dividends, your forecast to increase dividends by 6 percent a year going forward, your profit of 190 million in just the last 3 months, your excitement of being listed on Wall Street, your being the 15 th largest business in this power sector in North America….meanwhile be seen squeezing the households here for another few million …. at a time of historic tax increases and levy fees imposed. At a time when we suffer from rotating outages, power supply problems, and stooping to advertisements of turning down thermostats and sitting with blankets from waist down, while singing merrily : “we are the happy province“,… while in reality enduring third world conditions for electricity supply and electricity costs in the near future.
    Maybe the timing did not look good to celebrate the Fortis achievement. But would the media intentionally ignore the event I wondered. Could they be told to ignore it I wondered. Surely the advertising money spent with this media would not influence this honourable profession of journalism, I wonder. So I remain baffled. Can some reader enlightened me on this.