I had never thought James McLeod to be one of the four
horsemen of the apocalypse. In last Saturday’s Telegram, he telegraphed just

In mortal terror, he’s leaving the province. And I know I’m
the one responsible.
McLeod had interviewed Uncle Gnarley for a story in September that
he called “Meet Uncle Gnarley: Muskrat Falls’ prolific doomsayer blogs in
turbulent times”.  I had no idea that, after
just a few hours with him, McLeod would want to ‘cut and run’ — hightail it —
for the mainland!
Already wearing his unemployment boots and heading for the
Marine Atlantic Ferry, he left this advice:
“Here’s the honest truth: It’s in the economic self-interest
of every man, woman and child in this province to do the same thing I’m doing:
pack up and move literally anywhere else. The province has a demographic
problem and a geographic problem. There are too many old people…

Telegram James McLeod
And his rant continued for what seemed like hundreds of words;
nearly a whole page, disavowing even the Telegram’s preoccupation with brevity
over content.
How do I know I’m the one responsible? Because I let him talk
to Gnarley. And that’s the kiss of death. For nearly three hours, McLeod hung
on his every word; Gnarley was scaring the bejesus out of him. The interview seemed
long; but, actually, he left too soon. I guess he needed to book his ticket.  
He had come to Uncle Gnarley’s global headquarters just to see
how the great man arrives at his great insights. Of course, he could not have
known that his destiny would be changed forever. 
Due to a practiced gravitas that has become kneejerk, Gnarley
had condemned him to eke out an existence in Toronto which, notwithstanding our
formidable economic woes, holds none of the virtues of a place whose only
unencumbered asset is the East Coast Trail.

And speaking of encumbrances, evidently for James not even a
house in Dannyland constituted an oasis of suburban bliss — not even with
Mount Pearl nearby.

What had Uncle Gnarley said that was so profound in its implication
that someone seemingly so grounded would become unhinged — willing to forgo, in
the process, even the inevitable excursion to a far larger bastion of economic
decay: St. Brendan’s? 
Undoubtedly, he had suffered one of those Alice In Wonderland
moments in which he discovered the truth of it all — as if given the clarity of
a Cheshire Cat, that “we’re all mad here”.
Re-reading his story now, I recognize the error. McLeod had written: “[Gnarley] said that he feels like these aren’t normal times for the
province; a tsunami of economic hardship and deficit spending is hitting the
province, and the Muskrat Falls project stands to make things dramatically
My god: I should have actually insisted that McLeod stay
longer — even at the risk of Gnarley boring him to tears.
Had he sipped tea for another two or three hours, Uncle Gnarley
might have asked him whether the crowd at the Telegram told him about us.
He might
have found out that, in Newfoundland, no one ever leaves a party before the
fight breaks out! 
$25 billion in the hole, McLeod evidently thought it was all
over down here. For crying out loud, didn’t he realize that he’s a reporter,
not a banker? And, anyway, why would someone so young and bright want to leave here?
It’s not as if there is a dearth of news or that he has been
overwhelmed by savvy reporters besting him with breaking stories. Sure, the few
that are here can’t be dragged away from potholes, snow drifts or that most
favoured — and most ubiquitous — gig in the news business: Chase the Ace. 
It is true that McLeod would have never gotten hired by the
CBC.  Trivialities are not his schtick. But
even that crowd is smart enough to know that nothing gets resolved here until
we have one Jesus-ly row. 
Just think about it. Unlike Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan
wanted to declare bankruptcy a few years ago just because two Quakers missed
the church collection plate! NL is coming off a party that cost mega-billions —
enough even to cause watery eyes on Bay Street. 
When it all shakes out, any local reporter with a bow-tie and
the ability to string three sentences together will be in higher demand than Mike
Duffy (pre-Senate). 
Which leaves only one question. Didn’t Pam Frampton or Russell
Wangersky warn him? And if not them, surely that old scoundrel Bob Wakeham could have ‘sot’
him down with a bottle of Jockey Club rather than put the whole goddam works on
They could have told him that the folks who still live here
are the ones who wouldn’t leave in the ‘60s when unemployment was well over 20%,
wouldn’t leave in the ‘70s after the cod moratorium, wouldn’t leave in the ‘80s
or the ‘90s… 
In fact, when Clyde Wells put out the call for every mother’s
son to come home, they were afraid to because they’d be eaten alive if they put
one foot back across the Gulf. 
Think we’re going to finish this party without a battle royal?

No, by Christ, and if the bondholders on Bay Street think they’re going to get
more than 10 cents on the dollar after we’re finished with Danny Williams, Ed Martin
and Gilbert Bennett, we’ll save a few bruises for them, too. 
Yes, sir, she’s going to be one scuba dyin’ Jesus of a racket and McLeod is going to miss it!
We’ll cling to this ‘rock’ forever.
Unless, that is… they come and take our trikes.

The best of luck, James McLeod.

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. McCleod was dedicated, hard working jounralist. It was his passion which was evidenced by the many evening he spent at the confederation building. I never truly understood why the CBC did not take him locally, and offer him a much better package that the Telegram ever could.

    Try comparing Mcleod's body of work over the past 4 years to any other journalist locally. There was no comparison.

    On Muskrat his coverage was second to none, the entire sunshine list is his own doing, his work on Bill 29 was superb.

    The Province has lost a great man, and we will be the worse off for it.

    • Pre-sanction, as he himself pointed to on Twitter, he did not employ the same tenacity and it was a big failing. Wasn't only him. Critics had problems with the MSM here in NL at the time for that very reason. They took everything from government and Nalcor as gospel.

      And here we are, folks.

  2. Yup, we never learn, or make any progress, if we do it's the kind that is one step forward and two back. We were a have province, what ever that means, for a few years, and now we are happy to shed that yoke, and become Canada's hind most province again. And we may even be happy being there, nothing like being the under dog. Yup, oil will pay from muskrat, best decision ever made, the muskrat boondoggle, look at all the jobs it created, my son some people made a fortune. Can't wait to get gull going, going to be a lot if jobs there too by. So the inquiry will have to look at the positive side too, even though except for labour, most of the money left the province, to Italy, China, India and around most if the world. Yes all our money and what we borrowed. But the government is good for it, hey by. Did bill, not write the book, Danny. Come back. And there will be more than half the population clamouring for Danny to come back, or someone in his image. Yup, nothing has changed, more of the same old, same old, one step forward, and two steps back, keep her going bys.

    • NL still IS a "have" province: the provincial government still takes in way more cash per capita than the average.

      The problem is in the spending, and the Danny-era growth and bloat in the civil service, boards, agencies, and crown corporations.

  3. Just referencing vocal ouestionof the day from yesterday. Do you think the muskrat inquiry will serve any practical purpose, 64 percent responded, no just a waste of money and score political points. Omg….penny wise and pound foolish. 15$ billion ..gone, and a few more million to set the record straight of where it is gone and why. Or most people have no idea between a million and a billion dollars. Just a lot of money by and what's the difference. And who is scoring the political points. The governing party sets it up, the opposition loves it, and hopes it will look on the positive side, the other opposition said it didn't go far enough. It will not report till after the next election. Whose political points. Mind boggling to me. Can someone please explain.would it be political points for Trumpie, nugobbie, the disposed president after 4 or 5 decades, or who? Putin maybe. I am still guessing. Nope , always said we are a people incapable of governing ourselves, proved it in the 1930's and about to prove it again. And as I have said we always place so called politics before province and common scenes. Yes, some even say the weather has become political, and always was. Think there is only one other place in the world bedeveled more than us. Hate to say it but maybe Haiti.

  4. We are not solely responsible for Muskrat Falls. It couldn't have happened without the loan guarantee. Even the most basic due diligence would have picked up the extreme risk of overruns and electrical market price drops. A simple interview as per normal scope of work prior to investment should have been with the lead engineering group who had a document predicting this outcome.

    Yes we elected some not so smart people combined with perhaps a few unsavoury ones but the investment scam on our behalf could never have been pulled off without the loan guarantee. So why are we on the hook for full amount?

    In order to dig ourselves out of this mess we have to unload some of the debt on the national government. Perhaps the loan backing was to reach 2030 targets on GHG reductions or help out Nova Scotia close down coal plants but for whatever reason we should not be the only ones holding the bag for what appears to have be more and more one of the biggest scams in Canadian history.

    Ps. Follow who’s making and has made all the money on MF and it will dictate why it was sanctioned and costs low balled for as long as possible.

    • Honest Ed Martin said the FLG wasn't required for MF to proceed, Tom M said bonds for MF would be taken within an half hour on the NY market and DW said even if MF costs $6,$7,$8 billion it will be worth it. Any proper due diligence done by a financial institution and Nalcor would've been laughed out of their offices, EXTREMELY high risks for minimal returns – no guarantee on production, cost, schedule OR PPAs.

      All of their statements should come under the inquiry microscope, do they have evidence to back up their insane claims about MF?

      Project was pushed through by the Gov of the day with little regard to NL citizens or economic well being.

      Post-inquiry there should be enough evidence for DoJ to press charges against the arseholes responsible for Boondoggle Falls.

  5. Hey Jim, buddy, I am one of the old ones you are leaving behind.
    I can't leave now even if I wanted to.
    When I had a chance back in the Journalistic Dark Ages of Joey Smallwood, I had opportunities but chose not to take them, it was far too interesting around here to give it up.
    You mainland bozos (an endearing term not meant to insult), regardless of your worth to the local scene, have come and gone all under the same cloak of Ryerson (or some other University)Journalism training, only to find it is all too small for you, too provincial, too dull.

    Ray Guy (with whom I served at the Evening Telegram, under the tender sympathies of Steve Herder, ah, those WERE the days) had a particular distaste for young mainland trained journalists down here practicing their chops, just a summer, or a couple of years then off to Toronto to a life of quiet desperation, no more Jockey Club, no more toutons, no more partridgeberry pies; to become mouthpieces for Big Tobacco, an illustrious think tank of boffins, the Star, the Globe, the Citizen, the Canadian Press, the CBC.
    Like Uncle Gnarley, I promise you, you are going to miss the good parts.
    The juicy parts.
    The parts where we get to roast the faces off the guilty, the clowns, the inept, and the incompetent.
    It will come, and I am willing to bet we will never pay more for electricity than the PUB will allow, very reasonable rate hikes.
    Whether the feds (who else?) solve this problem or Quebec, or Washington, is immaterial, it will be solved, democratically, pragmatically, and satisfactorily.
    You, young Jim, are going to miss it.
    Of course you can make your pronouncements from afar, maybe even be the Newfoundland stringer for some mega-media outlet, but, cutting and running won't give you one iota of respect or admiration around here.
    You deleted that yourself.
    I guess they just don't make journalists like they used to.
    Maybe I am just old.
    But I will never give up my commitment to socialist causes, radical actions and practical approaches to problem solving.
    And while I may retire from the field for lengthy periods, I will never cut and run, retreat be damned.
    The front lines are us, once we all get that picture sorted out in our minds, sooner rather than later, we will once again rise up and forge our own destiny.
    We guard thee, Newfoundland.

  6. Well said Tor…I've never understood how anyone thinks they can solve a problem running away from it. Never understood how folks can bash the "less than stellar" politicians we elect but in fact…the brightest and best, won't apply for the job.

    It is always so easy to be critical…so much harder to actually solve the problem. Donna Thistle

  7. I thought Gnarley's wry comedy was supreme but your treatise left me rolling in the aisles Tom. One cannot retreat if one never engages.

    Where was your concern when the democratic pillars of regulation and a functioning Opposition vanished in NL. You can declare your loyalty to a non-existent democracy to soothe your "socialist commitment" to radical actions and problem solving but your fierce loyalty is betrayed by your denial of the facts.

    The PUB will have no choice but to double or more rates when MF is commissioned. The PUB has shown the same passive compliance to the feudal undermining of democracy in NL that you demonstrate. You prostrate yourself before the emperor while you extol your virtues.

    You do not live in a democracy Tom, you inhabit a feudal fiefdom. You can continue to be a loyal serf or you can use that radical analysis to restore some semblance of democracy and accountability in NL.

  8. This barnacle-like inertia… this loathing, indeed, fear of change intrinsic in the older generations of NLers is not nearly as prevalent amongst the younger generations.

    There was a time when even the youngsters were content to stay home and get the 10 weeks at the local stamp factory and then spend the other 42 weeks with their thumbs up their ass, killing time watching soap operas and hanging out at the cabin.

    Those days are long gone… people are much more upwardly mobile, the world is moving at a much faster pace.

    The youngsters won't be hanging around an remote, over-taxed, incompetently-governed rock where the inhabitants have allowed themselves to become victimized by the partisan politics of a small group of assorted dimwits and skeets.

    And it'll be the best move they ever made.

  9. James McLoud doesn't have to stop reporting on the boondoggle. He can do it from afar. He just needs to read from the source of (REAL) journalism in NL, (The Uncle Gnarley blog) and then re-report it to the public, through social media. Maybe after a transplanted main-lander writes it, the general public might actually read it and wake to hell up.