Paul Davis
wants to lead the P.C. Party into the next general election. Any sensible
person would have to ask: why him? Surely, there are better choices.

Davis told
the Telegram: “I never had a lot of time in the premier’s office… there were
some ideas and vision and focus that I never had a chance to do.” Interesting.
I don’t think anyone does vision and focus. These are attributes
used to help shape a larger plan.

Davis was
given the boot in the General Election last year.

Still, it is
almost impossible to clear the mind of the amateurish missteps with which Davis
greeted the public as he left the Lieutenant- Governor’s residence.  The appointment of an unelected Minister,
unfamiliar with both political convention and the requirement to seek election, still

Then there
is the Department of Justice fiasco
dropping “Justice” in favour of
“Public Safety”
which confirmed that he understood enforcement but
not habeas corpus.

And to that
issue: why had he no stomach for an Inquiry into the dodgy Humber Valley Paving
affair? In his police mind, is there no accountability for political cronies or
for politicians who pander to them?

Davis truly earned
the appellation “the Constable Premier” on this Blog. No, it was
not a compliment to the man now claiming “vision”.

Judgment is
fundamental to suitability for high office.

It is good judgment
that prevents a Premier from phoning a police officer who has just pulled the
trigger in the Don Dunphy tragedy “to offer him support”
it seems, that he owed deference to the slain man’s family, too.

It is good
judgment that keeps a Chief of Staff earning $152,000 and failing to hire more
(and possibly keener) talent with that money
something a good Opposition

Isn’t it
judgment that distinguishes good and bad governance?

Don’t strong
values also compel leadership to fix those processes that undermine the public

Some issues
stand out in Davis’ one year of playing Premier.

The pre-election
Budget is one. It provided for the third huge deficit in a row
nearly $2
billion on $8 billion of spending, $2.4 billion of new borrowing (source: Budget
Update) and forecasted continuous annual borrowing in the $2.0 to 3.7
billion range
without provision for now recast Muskrat overruns.

Davis was one
of the key flag wavers of the “boondoggle”.

Did he not
conspire, with former Nalcor CEO Ed Martin, to keep a lid on news that the
project had exceeded the $11 billion cost estimate, leaving it to Stan Marshall
to confirm the $11.4 billion figure only 7 months after the General Election
and only 2 months after Martin got the boot?

Isn’t this
the same Tory leader who, even now, supports the project
still inured to the
catastrophe of a doubling of people’s electricity bills and a vastly enlarged
public debt?

This, of
course, is all old news.

Davis wants
to take this same skill-set
what he describes as ideas, vision, and focus and
parlay them into a new mandate.

You have to
be pretty cheeky to have such an expectation despite having failed
in the year
he was Premier
to attempt a reversal of at least some of the worse decisions
of his predecessors. Having displayed no contrition for his errors, no
acknowledgment of the dreadful governance record of successive Tory Administrations (of which he was a part), and having failed to show that he understands that he helped
imperil the province, he
again seeks the top job.

Who gets to
make such godawful choices and have a second shot at being Premier?

Even if we
forget his missteps and bad judgments
even if we forget, too, his embrace of
“hope” as his single economic management tool (much as Dwight Ball is
doing now)
are we to close our minds to such an incapacity to lead?

Against a
disastrous short tenure, on what basis does Davis believe himself to still be
the best choice as P.C Party Leader? Is popularity also to be knocked off the
list of qualifications, along with suitability?

“Landslide Davis”
is a term only Mark Critch would invoke
and then only for a laugh.

Davis won
the Tory leadership by a single vote. The same Paul Davis, as Premier, led the
P.C. Party to resounding defeat,
returning only 7 Seats in a 40 Seat
the worst result since 1966!

Mark Quinn
of CBC reported recently that, “Paul Davis thinks the unpopularity of the
Liberals presents a chance for him to become premier again”. Davis was not
boasting of his personal popularity
a measly 35%, according to CRA, a polling
agency. He merely sees himself as having become advantaged by a Liberal Premier
whose sub-basement approval rating is a dreadful 18%.

The public
now knows that Dwight Ball passes no litmus test for either good public policy
or political enlightenment.  His failure
to lead in a crisis likely guarantees that he will not survive a full term.

Yet, we have
to suffer the nightmare scenario: Paul Davis as an alternative to Ball.  Because he fits the bill? No. Only because he
is more popular than the most unpopular Premier in Canada!

Would the
P.C. Party allow such a travesty? It’s not as if Danny Williams has gone away
or that the Party has ceased to be hijacked by special interests.

It will have
another chance at the Annual General Meeting this month to prove otherwise.
If Davis is the best the Tories have on offer, there is little more to be said.
Given Muskrat and the fiscal circumstance they created, the Party may deserve to
be consigned to the dustbin of history anyway.

But any
further truck with Paul Davis would only cement its dim prospects.

There is one upside however…..comedians, like Mark Critch, have it soooo easy!
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. As I look at the state of our province I can only conclude that we are incapable of self rule. Our politicians are unable to look past the next election cycle. Dunderdale, Davis and Ball were all capable people, able to understand that the budget increases from 2006-2010 were not sustainable. Yet 6 years later, only token efforts have been made to get our spending back in line, to correct the fundamental mismanagement by the Williams administration.

    The reason why no one has made the required changes is that they know it will be political suicide. they do what is easy, as opposed what is right. Ball is falling into this same reckless routine. Too concerned with his own survival, over the survival of this province.

    People need to realise the abysmal position the province is in. We are saddled with debt, we have a project in Muskrat Falls, which will suck any bit of remaining fiscal capacity from our province, crippling future generations of Newfoundlanders. We continue to borrow in excess of 2 Billion a year, to keep civil servants paid and the lights on. Each year of delay, creating another 100 million in debt servicing payments.

    I for one am tired of it. If drastic change is not implemented soon there will be no future in this province.

    Just like the 1920's we are incapable of self rule. We are a small province of 500k people, not even a city on a global scale. Our politicians are drunk on self importance, big fish in a small pond.

    I have reached a personal conclusion that we need a commission of government. We have shown yet again, we are incapable of self rule.

    • You are not incapable of self rule!

      You live in a feudal state and collectively are incapable of questioning your clan chiefs, and demanding transparency.

      Danny's dream cum collective nightmare at MF is still mired in secrecy. When no questions are asked of convicted fraudsters, when there is no pressure to release the contracts and who the SNC Lavalin "agents" were in this crushing boondoggle, is it inability or fear of reprisal from the clan chiefs that is the problem?

      No it is not lack of collective ability but an ongoing willingness to genuflect to corrupt overlords that is the problem.

      There is a solution at hand. Stand up for democracy and demand transparency and accountability. Please have a long look in the mirror, stop whimpering and act like you care about democracy!

    • I agree 100% and I have reached the same conclusion.. We have failed in my 63 years to find a person or persons who really cared for our island home and who are committed to bringing us out of the misery the Canadian federation have gotten us into….

  2. Look at the state that individual and those other fools left this province in… a toilet bowl on the brink of bankruptcy… taxpayers being gouged to the hilt to pay for the horrendously incompetent governance. Davis and his ilk… the lot of them are unfit for public office.