On Tuesday, Hurricane
Matthew washed Premier Ball’s “Hour of Indecision” (Part II) off the airwaves. The
public need not worry. “The Way Forward”, as Dwight Ball perceives it, is a
compass without a needle.
 The province
is mired in indecision.

We should hope
that the Government’s response to those suffering damages from Matthew will
find a speedier response we have to our fiscal storm.

its seriousness, nor to diminish the personal tragedies left in the Hurricane’s
wake, it is becoming easier to sympathize with the media over their excitement
about a weather day.

Put yourself
in Debbie Cooper’s shoes. Imagine being forced to fill ten minutes of air time
based upon Premier Ball’s goal of reducing a measly 14,000 square feet of office

Or, think of
the “Coop”, as Jonathan often refers to his anchor side-kick,  announcing with the joyfulness of a reader at
the Chinese State Broadcasting Corp., Dear Leader’s second big idea – (drum
roll needed here) – to increase the farming economy in Newfoundland! That should drive
our GDP!

watcher, Ryan Snodden, will never have to worry about being forced off the air by
anything weightier than a power failure.

“The Way
Forward” is another (poor) PR exercise designed to keep people talking while
important decisions are deferred. “Building the Budget from the ground up”,
reducing Boards and Commissions, even a Premier’s Task Force on Education – all
have a worthy place in a continuous program of reform and re-alignment – but
they have neither immediacy or scale.

Doubling the
sums tourists spend or retaining 1600 immigrants a year in an economy shedding
jobs, are also admirable objectives – even if the numbers are a tad optimistic.
But how can one not feel that Ball and co. are giving the good ship 

and Labrador a coat of paint when the a badly leaking hull is what needs

When the
province is faced with more than a $2 billion deficit on $8 billion of spending,
with the Bond market breathing down our necks, and the economy about to be
shaken to its very roots because so much disposable income will be applied just
to keeping the lights on, you know that “Status of the Artist” legislation does
not quite have a ring of urgency.

It is tough to understand how Ball thinks he can skirt this overriding issue by regurgitating a series of policy initiatives that should amount normal chatter among politicians and public servants. 

Government has been in power almost a full year. It is promises to act on the recommendations of an All-Party Committee studying mental health issues which is fine- had he prepared for leadership – he might have been able to update his audience on actual initiatives that distinguished his first year in Office. But, no – none are required when there is the opportunity for more study. 

How can anyone
take the Premier seriously?

“The Way
Forward” is all about politics – not about economic or fiscal rescue.  But Liberal partisans shouldn’t get too
excited. This group don’t do politics with precision.  They only do amateur hour well.

Think about
it. What politician – other than Dwight Ball – would get up in a public forum –
billed as a major Government initiative – and declare that Newfoundland and
Labrador has an outcomes problem?

From Power Point Presentation on “The Way Forward”

Not just me
– hardly a single soul from St. Mary’s Bay to Cape Chidley has a sweet clue
what an “outcomes problem” actually is. And, if I did, it would never be used in
a script for the Premier to recite as the most urgent challenge facing the
Province today.

I’ll make
one bet. There is only one place such genius could have been borne. And it’s
not the Department of Finance – not even the lowliest bean counter in that
citadel of debt would deliver such tripe. You can’t saddle Cathy Bennett with
that line. Even MacDonald’s places limits on opacity.

originator of “Newfoundland and Labrador has an outcomes problem” could only
have been the Office of Public Engagement! Only someone with not a clue how to
speak with people, how to engage or inform them would have inscribed those
words in Power Point. I’m putting my money on Siobhan Coady. 

I’m also betting
it’s the reason Paul Davis is stepping down. He’s completely befuddled by the
new Liberal vocabulary. Paul is not up to this. And who could blame him! He
would need, not just the one he has now, but a few more overpaid former Chiefs
of Police on his staff, to decipher gobbledygook like that!

Premier Ball,
at one point did say, the Province has a spending problem.

He should
have stuck with that conclusion – because it’s true. He should also have outlined
how he planned to fix it. “The Way Forward” ought to have been an expose of
decision-making skills which eluded him upon taking Office. It was a chance for
the Premier to demonstrate how much, over the past year, he has come along as a

Instead, he did
his usual. 

The Premier stood
up and said we have a big problem and I’m not going to do anything about it.

“The Way
Forward: has served only to remind us Premier Dwight Ball is the one with the “outcomes
problem”. Meanwhile the one that threatens us all remains unattended.
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. Requiem for Common Sense : In 2016 the province borrowed over 3 Billion to meet spending and inestment (MF) obligations. This resulted in nearly 120 million in additional spending each and every year in servicing the debt. Next year we will borrow another 2 Billion. This will put another 80 million in annual spending. If nothing is done, our annual spending will go up at a rate nearly equalling inflation, just due to increased debt servicing.

    We are in big trouble.

    Some of these ideas are good. The though of more agriculture is noble. It is the type of initiative which is required for the province to survive.

    But common sense is gone. We need to cut government spending by a minimum of 800 million over the next 3 years.

    There is no way to avoid this action. Delay only exhasberates the situation.

    Our political leadership have been in denial since 2010.

    We are inflicting a terrible future upon the backs of our children. We should be collectively ashamed of what we continue to allow to be done.

    • It might be noble about the agriculture initiative but I don't think it has any hope without completely ridiculous levels of government (taxpayer) subsidy. I don't need to pay more for food than I already do just so it can be hyped as "local". There are already successful niche local suppliers offering awesome products who can willingly expand if the demand is there.

  2. Excellent piece, and the word Muskrat not used once…….but the last sentence correctly implies Muskrat as the big problem.Ball is surely looking more and more incompetent.We have an OUTCOME problem! In 2017 (5 years after sanction) the PUB will investigate the extent of Muskrat power being unreliable (Liberty has already said it will be less reliable than Nalcor stated). So, is this going to be an OUTCOME problem…….and at what cost! But don`t worry, be happy. Then there is OUTCOME of mercury poisoning. OUTCOME of a collapse of the North Spur….. what is the outcome with 1.5 hours before the flood water could drown those downstream. What will be the OUTCOME of all this borrowing and debt! No money for Corner Brook hospital or to address mental health issues….does that suggest an OUTCOME problem! Maybe Ball is aware of all the problems but has no real answers to avoid a bad outcome.
    We know how we will address the power issues and rotating outages… just see the TV ads from Take Charge that run every evening …. put on sweaters and have a singalong. Our arts community can perhaps improve on the concept….maybe some SHED parties with the lantern, for a cosy affect.

  3. As to storm Matthew,Hillary Clinton yesterday made the connection between its damage and climate change, vowing to reduce fossil fuel burning. For those following CO2 levels, the number was 260 in 1950. It was once hoped to stop it from rising to 350. Then a hope to stop it reaching 400. As of Sept,2016 our planet has now permanently exceeded 400, now being 404.
    What was our governments and Balls response to deal with climate change…….they walked out on the provincial minister meeting. Balls hope to solve our problems with pumping more oil shows no plan to deal with climate change. So expect more and worse Matthews. What is the OUTCOME of ignoring rising CO2: warmer oceans that intensify these storms, many that come our way. Will Ball join Russia and OPEC to reduce oil consumption and production, or even join Canada to address this problem, or keep his yellow safety jacket for a photo op for flooded towns and closed highways! Ball, the do nothing guy, the wrong guy for a province with an outcome problem.

  4. Don't be fooled by words…There is no way forward in this province ever…Which government has ever shown us a way forward…They have caused nothing but heartache and pain…..Just think for a second 500,000 people and we are talking in the billions in debt…Our province is only the size of a small city for god sake….Take a drive around our province and see the neglect….At one spot out side corner brook there was a wash out that for months was covered with flagging begging to be fixed…And what is with pot hole signs all over the place .. Do we now save them up until we get so many thousands and then we fix them…Our infrastructure is so bad its almost embarrassing….I listen to experts here who talk political talk but ask an average Newfoundlander who is trying to survive on the cost bestowed on us by politicians with forked tongues… So how in the name of god can we even expect mr ball to know a way forward when we cant even get the simple things done..The answer in my opinion is for us to be governed by Ottawa..That simple

    • Bernie, you make a very good point. Our politicians are incapable of running a province. Their main reason for being there is to get re-elected and the outflow of money we don`t have keeps them there. It boggles the mind how they could put 500,000 people into such massive debt and continue business as usual.— Muskrat will eventually be the final straw to bankruptcy. Danny Williams` keen eye for business oportunities certainly didn`t show here. His inflated ego has screwed us and our grandchildren.It would be interesting to see really what control he had over Cathy Dunderdale after leaving office. It was her sanctioning which put the final nail in the coffin. History will show these two people to be the two worst Premiers this province has ever produced and Dwight Ball is on his way to joining the club. For the love and honour of God Dwight, show some leadership.

    • Yes, managed by Ottawa, or even Quebec would be an a big improvement……..we might get their electricity rates of 7 cents per kwh instead of 21 cents that Nalcor wants. My grand kids study French as a second language,and rural Quebec is just as friendly as rural Nfld….. the anti-Quebec thing is BS and was used by Danny Williams

  5. Yes wayne I agree…I have spent my adult life working in alberta and a very proud Newfoundlander…I have heard the laughter and those words stupid newfies….As every day goes by our politicians are slowly providing more fuel to the fire…We definitely need our central government to rescue us from these fools..

  6. Premier Ball and the liberal government are missing an opportunity to show themselves as great leaders. With the province is such dire straights now is the time to make drastic changes and to really FIX the problems. Shock and awe works when times are desperate. Think Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Start by cutting the civil service and stop the unions from running the province. The people are waiting Premier Ball.

  7. Well I have been a hard working union man all my life and I'm damn sure all our misery is not caused by unions…..Shock and awe probably works in a war zone but not in a society that's is hurting…You would never get my vote…