David Vardy, Ron Penney and I have responded to the call of
the Muskrat Falls Commission of Inquiry for submissions
from the public on the interpretation of the Terms of Reference.

Our submission encourages the Commissioner to give the Terms of Reference a broad interpretation. It proposes a complete review of the project
– one that provides full context for the public policy decision to announce and
then sanction the project. It also seeks an investigation into matters relating
to the management of the project and its long term effects on ratepayers and
all the citizens of the province. 

David Vardy

Writers on this Blog have been strong opponents of the Muskrat
Falls project and equally strong proponents of processes of oversight and
transparency. David Vardy and Ron Penney have been – and still are – two of the most articulate and
forceful advocates.  David Vardy, in
particular, has done the heavy lifting for this submission and Ron and I want to
acknowledge that fact.

The submission offers a list of forty issues which we feel
should be examined. Issues already identified in the Terms of Reference have been excluded. The submission highlights how each issue is a suitable fit for investigation by the Commission.  
Ron Penney

We make no pretense to having covered every question. The
Muskrat Falls project is both large and complex. Many people, whether they have worked on the project or are members of a citizenry waiting for the bill, will have a view as to the reasons we are
in the current mess, the implications for the future of the province and how
those matters should bear on the focus of the Inquiry.  For those reasons the Commissioner needs to
hear from as many people as possible.

One point needs stating however. We haven’t included
in our submission a request for examination of the role of the Government of Canada in
the debacle. Without the federal loan guarantee it is highly
unlikely the project would have been financed. 
David Vardy and Ron Penney, along with other naysayers, wrote
the then federal Minister of Finance urging caution, with no effect. While the
bulk of the blame is ours the Federal Government was our enabler.
Unfortunately the constitution doesn’t allow a provincial inquiry to examine
the actions of the Federal Government. This is an issue to which the Uncle
Gnarley Blog will give further illumination in the coming weeks as
“solutions” to the fiscal crisis are considered.
The text of our submission to the Inquiry can be found
Members of the public are invited to support the submission’s
overall thrust by emailing the Inquiry Commissioner, Judge Richard LeBlanc at:

Support letters or additional submissions should be sent by February 15th. Following that date the Inquiry is committed to provide “an interpretation of the wording concerned” with the Terms of Reference only and “will not be an explanation of the work to be undertaken by the Commission
relevant to each Term of Reference or a determination of any matter to be
inquired into.”

Should readers decide to submit additional issues for investigation, in keeping with the Commissioner’s request, we suggest that you indicate
where you find support for them in the actual wording of the Terms of Reference. 
For easy reference, I have provided links to the Public Notice calling for submissions and to the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference. The Inquiry’s web
site is found at this link.


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. An excellent submission by David Vardy and company. Covers all areas of the inquiry as permitted by the terms of reference. In reading the forty questions, I have just one question, does it throughly cover the requirement to satisfy the public, and the inquiry that we needed the power, and can nalcor provide adequate evidence that it was the least cost option. Were their assessments of other options adequately investigated to conclude it was the lowest cost option and to convince the public in general as well as its proponents. Maybe these questions are adequately covered, so just asking.

    • Was the power needed , and was MF least cost, and other options, this submittal questions if Demand Side Management assessed and the question of elasticity,( but provides no supporting evidence) and these were not properly addressed.
      The inquiry should address these : NS and other jurisdiction have studies and results that show what could be done, as I intend to highlight this further to the Inquiry as to what was possible and the results of other jurisdictions that were ignored here.In short, 600 MW of potential demand reduction possible for the island, much very economic to to do. This approach was entirely avoided by Nlacor. And avoiding these, help create false forecasting for demand and energy use.
      Winston Adams

    • Agreed. If it can be shown conclusively that we did not need muskrat power, through DSM, elasticity, and possible small hydro, or full utilization of bay despoir, plus the appropriate amount of wind power, then I think this is the crutch of the entire matter. Why spent 15$ billion for power that we didn't need. Absolutely insane!!! We willl make no money from selling it anywhere, so we built it for NS, to subsidize their power needs, at 23 cents per kWh. If the inquiry can establish this as factual, then it will be worth much more than the cost and effort of the inquiry. And agree, can the inquiry provide remediation and mitigation for our future in a substantial way. Think the first step is dismantle nalcor. Yes, a lagecy for sure, but not the kind that we should have from oil money, power rates, and taxation.

    • I wonder how those responsible for muskrat and the fincincial plight of the province are able to face themselves in the mirror every morning without pulling a ground hog trick and go back to their burrow for another six weeks. We all know who they are, have been listed here many times, and I also include, the cabinet ministers and elected MHAs of the day, they aided and abeited those decisions by keeping their heads down, mouths shut, except to say, yea. Think Barry adequately described them a few years ago. Yes, I believe we should all be writing this way, all part of the public flogging that was started and still continues of lock and others. They should be shamed to the fullest extent possible, and they all know who they are. You were elected to do the people's work, and in their best interest, not to keep a chair warm when the house was in session, or attend garden parties when it was not, if that is your idea of an elected MHA, God help us. Nope, we do not have the ability or the intestinal fortitude to govern ourselves, that is the saddest lagecy. Amen.

  2. What political pressure and influence leading up to and including sanctioning was employed, with names attached?
    It was,is and will be unacceptable to the people of this province who are left "holding the bag" to not identify those individuals if undue influence was in fact deployed. Not identifying those responsible is akin to "protection" which should not happen. Given the financial implications of what has transpired over the years, the public deserves full disclosure.

  3. I sent a note to Justice LeBlanc and asked for him to look into remediation and mitigation of the situation and proppose plans to get past MF in one piece and have a reasonable future without the 60 years of debt. I really don't give a damn about who gets it in the neck, if anyone.

    I am really interested in a way forward that doen't ruin my few remaining years and cast a curse on the next two or three generations of Newfoundlanders, if they stay.

    And, on top of that, the recent landslide has me worried but not apparently the NALCOR leading lights. The writing is on the wall, and having writ will move on, as it must, but it needs a writing on the wall that gets us into a happy and healthy future.

    Recrimination and regrets, the core of the Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women's Inquiry, will not get us any solutions, I only hope the good Justice can see this clearly and focus on the future.

    And fast, please, the wheels of justice grind exceedingly fine but are exceedingly slow, I am told.

    Maybe we can afford to be patient, but as Tommy Sexton said, "this got my last gay nerve rubbed raw!"

    • Unless those responsible are brought to justice, what's stopping them and those with like-minded mentalities from doing it again and again? No punishment for wrongdoing?? I thought we had laws which were /are supposed to be upheld and if they are broken,punishment occurs.

      The only way we will avoid 60 years of debt will be to relinquish our rights to the Upper Churchill to Quebec and have Emera and HQ controlling all power generation and transmission.
      Plain and simple–we are shafted whatever remediation takes place. The debt has to be repaid, whether we pay it or HQ/Emera will absorb it and use their management expertise which is something the NL Government and Nalcor sorely lacks.

    • Tor, though I wish I could agree with you, I simply just can't. I have more than a few years remaining and I have been saddled with insane municipal property taxes (thanks to oil), gas taxes (which affect everything on this island), crazy daycare costs and now increasing electricity costs. The few schillings I have left after a 60 hour work week are fast dwindling. Soon to the point where I may have to rethink my place here. I feel I work more for our mafia governments than for my employer. Certainly I'm bound to them financially. I want each and every crook politician/civil servant involved in this scam/debacle to be exposed. There were too many errors made to be called just errors. Either that, or all whose fingerprints lay on this are very incompetent and monumentally stupid. Go back and listen to those involved (via youtube/vocm) and listen to the absolute distortion put forth on issues that were brought up back then and still remain today. I want accountability to those who've robbed you in your 'remaining years', I my middle years hopefully and my young children of a decent living on this island. Let's saddle these arrogant selfish A-holes with a legacy of shame and guilt and hope they never show there faces around here.

    • No worries about those SOBs sticking around a destitute sub-Arctic rock whose wretched inhabitants still remaining will be living in abject poverty… those bastard have pillaged this province and will be long gone to their Florida condos with the loot… goddamed skeets.

  4. Wayne @ 10:21 you’re dead on the money with your rant. If we relinquish control of the entire Upper Churchill, Gull Island and Muskrat Falls to Quebec Hydro and Emera to pay down the provincial debt then it amounts to the same situation we are in now.
    By developing Muskrat Falls with a loan of $12.7 Billion we have relinquished control to the Wall Street and Bay Street Bankers and Bond Holders who will demand that we pay them first before we spend money on anything else. This is the situation we are in-damned if we do and damned if we don't and we have created what amounts to a tax payer subsidized financial system whereby the bakers etc. loan money and then become the main recipients of any taxation system. This is not uncommon throughout the western world and it is a form of control capitalist few have over poorer regions and nations. This is the exact situation in Puerto Rico and in many African nations. Resources are being developed for outside and only outside interests.

    • This is the result of excessive borrowing for large mega projects and other schemes that the private sector wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. We simply relinquish control of our finances to the lenders or another jurisdiction and in the case of Muskrat Falls it is as you say-the bankers and other lenders or in the future to rid ourselves of debt we may have to give up control of our finances to Ottawa or Quebec similar to what happened with Commision of Government in 1932. It is not just Muskrat Falls but also other schemes such as Come by Chance, Labrador Linerboard, Sprung Greenhouses and a hundred fish plants along with several drydocks, the Rooms,, Marble Mountain and the list goes on for projects the provincial government should never have gotten into but the populace must pay the price with rate increases and taxes. It is about as far from democracy as we can get.

    • Agree with you in a way. But then you confuse me and I think your self. How can you put for example sprung greenhouse in the same catagory as muskrat. One is pennies in comparison to the other one's billions. Like sprung was just over 20,000, 000 $ and muskrat is in the vicinity, of 15, 000, 000,000 $. Well they both seem like a lot of dough, or zeroes. But you could have 750 springs for the cost of one muskrat. Like saying I animal, a muskrat is equal to 750 cucumbers. How many boxes would that be, maybe if you could put 75 cucumbers in one box it would be 100 boxes. And have to remember if there were a hundred fish plants, tens of thousands of people would earn a living for maybe 70 or 80 years, with the fishery almost worth a billion dollars a year in exports. Could make similar arguments for all the others, but muskrat would be equal to or greater than all the rest combined. Muskrat stands alone in terms of its cost. Let's not throw out the baby muskrat with the rest of the water.

  5. Why is it “The commission of inquiry shall
    not express any conclusion or
    recommendation regarding the civil or
    criminal responsibility of any person or
    organization.” If that doesn’t ring alarm
    bells about a possible cover-up then
    nothing else will!

  6. The final report will not have any teeth. Toothless.

    What is the real nature of the frame of reference/rationale of the "Public Inquiry" into the Nalcor Energy Boondoggle Muskrat Falls hydro dam project established by the Governments of NL and Canada?

    1 Why does the Commission not explicitly include health, safety and environmental crucial considerations within its frame of reference?

    2 Is it to give the Governments of Canada, NL, Nalcor Energy and its subsidiaries sufficient time to complete the Boondoggle by burying people under a mountain of less important technical details?

    3 Is it just coincidence that the Honourable Supreme Court Justice Richard LeBlanc shall terminate his work and deliver his
    report on or before 31 Dec 2019 to the Minister of Natural Resources about the same sort of time the project is due to complete?

    4 Why is it “The commission of inquiry shall not express any conclusion or recommendation regarding the civil or criminal responsibility of any person or organization.” If that doesn’t ring alarm bells about a possible cover-up then nothing else will!

    5 How can the Commission rightfully and properly consider the “participation in the inquiry by the established leadership of
    Indigenous people, whose settled or asserted Aboriginal or treaty rights to areas in Labrador may have been adversely affected by the Muskrat Falls Project” when Canada is not fully signed up to the United
    Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People making its work in that frame of reference lacking credibility?

    6 This same type of political manipulation of frames of reference was behind the Public Enquiry into the Affairs of the Labrador Development Company Ltd. operating in PortHope Simpson 1934-1945 when six civil
    servants at the Dominions Office in London decided to call the Public Enquiry as a way of discrediting the Company’s owner, John Osborne Williams by showing him to be a bad, unreliable character who could
    not be trusted.

    Refs. "The commission of inquiry shall make findings and recommendations that it considers necessary and advisable related to section 4."

    "Terms of reference
    4. The commission of inquiry shall inquire
    (a) the consideration by Nalcor of options
    to address the electricity needs of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Island
    interconnected system customers that informed Nalcor’s decision to recommend that the government sanction the Muskrat Falls Project, including whether (i) the assumptions or forecasts on which
    the analysis of options was based were reasonable,
    (ii) Nalcor considered and reasonably dismissed options other than the Muskrat Falls Project and the Isolated Island Option,



  8. Did NL Hydro, the P.U.B. and NL Power collude to steer the 2011 Provincial election to the P.C’s and their Lower Churchill project by falsely increasing power rates by knowingly inflating oil costs?
    April 14, 2011 ‐ Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro (Hydro), a Nalcor Energy company, filed an updated fuel price projection for the Rate Stabilization Plan (RSP) with the Newfoundland and Labrador Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities (PUB), which will result in an increase in electricity rates to Newfoundland Power and most electricity
    “The price of oil has increased and therefore electricity rates are increasing as well,” said Jim Haynes, Hydro’s Vice President of Regulated Operations. “The fuel price projection used for setting electricity rates has climbed from $84 per barrel to $103 per barrel –almost $20 more per barrel over the last 12 months – and electricity rates will rise by approximately seven per cent effective July 1, 2011. The cost of oil is a direct pass through to consumers and neither utility receives any profits or benefits financially from changes in oil prices.
    Did NL Hydro, the P.U.B. and NL Power collude to SANCTION MUSCRAT FALLLS by falsely increasing power rates by knowingly inflating oil costs?
    April 24, 2012 – Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro (Hydro) filed an updated fuel price projection for the Rate Stabilization Plan (RSP) with the Newfoundland and Labrador Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities (PUB) today.
    This will result in an increase in electricity rates to Newfoundland Power and The fuel price projection used for setting electricity rates has climbed from $103 per barrel to $119 per barrel – $16 more per barrel over the next 12 months. As a result, the wholesale rate for electricity will increase by approximately eight per cent resulting in an RSP adjustment to consumers of an estimated 5.4 per cent effective July 1, 2012 therefore most electricity consumers.
    The price of fuel never went over $100 a barrel in 2011 or 2012
    In 2013 the PUB authorized a $160 million dollar rebate, this raises the question of how this pot of money was accumulated? The only way to know this is with the FISCAL AUDIT

    • Agree with you totally. It was a scare tactic to vote to keep the government in power. When Cathie d's candidate came to my door that was the same line he was towing," who would you pay prefer to pay your money to, the big oil companies, or a company that you own, nalcor", and I told him where to go, because oil wasn't going anywhere. The Americans were just starting their fracking program and they were predicting oil sufficiency in a few short years, so the writing was on the wall for oil prices, they were coming down. Then he gave me the lingo, about it just takes another war in the Middle East, and up, and up goes the price of oil again. I I told him there has been a war in the Middle East since the beginning of time, and one more wouldn't make a difference. And then I really told him where to go &@$?$@@&$ ashole. Puck off. And no vote from me. And yes, it was a deliberate attempt by Cathie d. And nalcor to influence the election. And guess what… They did.!!!!!!