When former Premier Danny
Williams stood to be Sworn-In before Inquiry Commissioner, Judge Richard
LeBlanc, last Monday, thoughts of Hans Christian Andersen’s memorable phrase –
the Emperor has no clothes – was difficult to suppress. 

The moment had nothing
to do with the witnessing of the diminutive former Premier being held to
account. Rather, it was the recall of a phrase spoken by a child in the Danish novel
who in his innocence described what he saw. “But he isn’t wearing anything at
all”, the child exclaimed. It was the one truth that every one of the emperor’s
subjects had been afraid to utter.

The child’s words now bounded off the walls of the
Inquiry room as echo, though I had to think about what or who had given them voice.


Perhaps it was Ron Penney. Hadn’t he said something about
people being afraid to speak out – which earned him legal notice from Williams’
Solicitor?  Of course, Penney would have had no such

More likely the echoes were afforded by just the atmosphere of sustained
gravitas. This was a place unafraid of tender egos or of emperors, little or
large and even less of rhetoric or swagger. 

It was a pleasant thought that in
this room, as in Anderson’s short novel, there would be no deference to
authority.   There was only the prospect
that finally the public would hear the truth.

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. The emperor seems to have a fine suit of clothes in that picture. My take away from his highness is that the price didn't matter, no upper bound was considered, we were going to pay for it with oil revenues if needed and power rates were going up anyway and Quebec is very, very bad.

    Bottom Feeder 1

    • I believe Emperor Danny was banking (gambling) on sustained growth in the NL offshore oil industry and it's associated royalties to balance the books until Muskrat Falls was paid for. But he doesn't really care about where the money comes from as long as it's not his pockets. He was wrong, wrong, really really wrong. And if, oil revenues, and the like, were to take care of any rate increase and pay for the balance of what money Muskrat Falls didn't generate, it would have been mentioned many times in the news and by Dwight Ball, but alas, only through Danny Williams speech making at the inquiry was such revealed.

      – I will stop rambling now.

    • To make the economics look palatable the Nalcor analysis, unchallenged by NL civil servants (on pain of execution), Nalcor did two dishonest things.

      First they backloaded most of the costs to the end of the 57 amortization. They stuck the grandchildren with the lion's share of the bill for MF.

      Second they assumed oil would cost $120 bbl by now, escalating steadily to $260!!!! by 2065. Of course they ignored CDM and fuel shifting in this fictitious comparison.

      What would compel Nalcor to be so reckless bordering on incompetence? "Only the shadow knows" as they say in Hollywood.

    • My comment was ironic of course. We know why Nalcor came to pre determined conclusions and the civil service was handcuffed from giving critical testimony.

      Some of us also realize that this "inquiry" will never approach the truth! Sad.

  2. The finding reported yesterday that there was no critical review of the project inside Government was huge and speaks to the authority of the Premier and his desire to have this project proceed at any price and any risk. People in Natural Resources and Finance should have been assigned critical review roles and instructed to play devil's advocate rather than yes-men rubber stampers. With such huge money at stake, shouldn't the Auditor General have been engaged to scrutinize the plan? And a proper review by the PUB!

    The only obvious function of Government review of Nalcor evident in the Inquiry documents filed by William's was to produce the PR spin to support the project and to stifle criticism both inside and outside government.

    Also hugely absent from government and nalcor to date is one shred of evidence that the resulting power rates would be affordable and what impact rising rates would have. A revenue study with sensitivity analysis would seem vital. This issue appears to have been strictly forbidden.

  3. As to mitigated rates of say 15-16 cents, DW says rates are going up everywhere, including the USA, so increased rates here, that could be expected.
    Here are rates in continental USA, excluding Hawaii
    16 states are below 10 cents, the lowest being Idaho at 8.0
    30 states are below 11.3 cents
    15 have rates between 11.3 and 16.1 cents
    Only 5 states have rates between 16.3 t 18.1

    Overall average for the USA is 12.0 cents.
    Idaho is at just 8.0 due t their hydro power resource

    MFs cost over 60 cents to delver to St John's, and would cost likely over 80 cents to deliver to Boston.
    DW promote NL as a energy warehouse, and the Anglo Saxon route as economic to get power into the USA market. So 80 cent power in the USA NE where rates sell retain for about 16 cents, and wholesale much lower.
    So the economic case suggest about 1000 % loss on such a scheme.
    Is this what a Rhodes scholar means as to smarts?
    So how did he do so well in the cable business but so bad on this? But he still see this a good project, in part by stating false information of rates now existing in the USA, which went unchallenged.
    Winston Adams

    • It would be useful, when David and other important witnesses get opportunity to cross examine Gilbert and Ed to get timeline/analysis data on the following;

      Forecast expected revenues from Muskrat and transmission links yearly from

      Pre-construction startup
      6month reviews from start of construction to date and counting

      When did it become known that the capital investment would not recover costs from projected revenues?

    • He did so well on cable because he had a willing market who loved to sit in front of the boob tube and be lazy and be fed and believe everything they see and hear on it.

      When same said boob tube lacked any analysis of substance from local sources critical of the project but willingly pumped the emperors words into their heads there was little to no opposition.

      All of this now is too little too late.

  4. Dr. Stephen Bruneau is scheduled to be a witness by Friday but probably tomorrow. He advocated for natural gas. How timely to have the announcement this week of the huge LNG project in BC. I wonder if he will advise just how much more economic NG has turned out than he had envisioned. Surely we will hear another example of how government screwed up all the estimating and criteria associated with this alternative to protect their Muskrat baby. Bring it on!

    UG should invite him to do a guest post on the gas option not taken.

    • BC LNG is another Boondoggle in the making; A seemingly beneficial short term political/corporate give away of Natural Resources, for some jobs. NDP has been bitten by the same urgency that Danny and others did to initiate "ground disturbance' projects for a few jobs. "clean energy" says the former premier.

    • If microliquefaction were to be considered; which it really was not, as I know it. NL had an opportunity to getting offshore gas to the Island re gas to wire but, like other on island options, was slaked by Labrador power development, for what is now becoming more apparent.

  5. Aubrey Gover: I saw him for but a few minutes in the morning and he appeared a red faced angry looking man, but not knowing his relevance.
    This afternoon I saw a bit more. He kind of reminded me of the judge in the USA, before the Senate. Gover at times would bang on the desk, he seemed like he might explode any moment. The small female lawyer probing him, at times appeared a little frightened. I thought the judge might intervene to tell him to settle down, but Gover would look at the judge at times as if for reassurance that he could avoid her questions as he was doing. Seems like information he was privy to went into some sort of black hole, which seemed fine with Leblanc, due to cabinet secrecy. There was no prying much information out of him. "Ask someone else" was his usual reply.
    Did others get a similar sense of his demeanor etc?
    Winston Adams

    • "He the man" Winston. Better not get in his way. Think the judge tried to straighten him out, a couple of times, not sure how successful he was. But he didn't mention any beers, like south of the border. Maybe that's who really makes all the decisions, deputy and assistant deputies ministers, and we thought it was the elected ministers. Yes, seemed like he thought he should have the gavel, to hammer the desk, says Joe blow. Lol.

    • I to noticed that Winston. It appeared as though he knew much more then he was letting on. He was very assertive and matter-of-fact when it was convenient but then rambled and was quite evasive (red faced) when really pushed. I suspect his will be how many of those' in-the-know' will be.

  6. Quick UG readers, 1,000,000 hrs of Innu labor gone into the boondoggle (says Danny's Brother, Tom at the Inquiry. So how many working there equivalent to full time workers , 500, 300, 200, 100 or 70 Innu people?
    First one to post correct may win a prize, or just that you are good at ciphering.

    • If a 50 hr work week for 48 weeks a year is full time,this is 2400 hrs a year. For 6 years now is 14,400 hrs for 1 worker. For 70 workers this is 1,008,000 hrs. So 70 seems right
      If about 4500 workers on the whole project, This gives about 1.5 % of the work force as Innu.
      Is this what Tommy Williams wanted to imply to the judge and the public was a terrific benefit to the Innu first Nation on this project?

  7. Many may not realize that today we witnessed, as part of the Muskrat Falls fiasco, the pretension of a just and fair arrangement with the Innu of Labrador before this Inquiry. It is fitting that Judge Leblanc held the NL Coat of Arms (displaying the Beothic Indians ) above his head, and that this be done in a commercial building called the Beothic building.
    Mr Poker, an Innu was presented as a witness to what was called the New Dawn Agreement. There has been perhaps no greater robbery of lands and resources in North America from first Nation peoples since the purchase in the 1600s, of what is now Manhattan Island, New York City, from a tribe of Indians for the value of 1000 dollars calculated in 2006 money value.
    Mr Poker seemed concerned and silent of details as to who of his people negotiated this settlement or whether it was with the Provincial government or Nalcor.
    Earlier ex Premier Williams held out this agreement as generous and inclusive also of compensation for the Churchill Falls project, which Quebec has refused to do for NL.
    Judge Leblanc for his part announced a time of 20 minutes to be shared among 16 parties to question Mr Poker. Most all had no questions. The judge announced the 20 minute limit as he was accommodating Mr Poker to catch a flight back to Labrador!
    A day of infamy for Judge Leblanc and a shameful event for the people of this province, but also a message as to the culture of our people, whose ancestors let the Beothic go extinct , through both killing, starvation and restricted access to resources.
    History will show that the New Dawn Agreement, to accommodate the rush to MFs, will be 100 times worse than what Nfld has endured with the Quebec agreement over Churchill Falls.

  8. Does anyone else thinks DWs statement that he was unaware of the meaning/significance of P factors AND that no one in government would have been assigned to reviewed that detail with Nalcor is complete BS? It's insulting. And he was in-charge of the people's business. World-class? I bet he's on top of all Galway's financial detail though.

    • DW was probably willfully ignorant. They love plausible deniability at that level. Even if government was asked to review, there is nobody here to do it. Generally, the political animals that infest management don't have the skills to do complex analysis, and those beneath them who could (competent with advance degrees), are sidelined/quarantined or quit long ago. Professional development budgets often do not exist nor is there a premium for advanced degrees (unlike teachers). Course reimbursement is a complex process that borders on Catch-22 insanity so those with ambition pay for their own way and eventually quit. The total lack of respect for competence/education/excellence is a form of willful ignorance forced upon the workforce.

  9. The following article may be a bit of research we here in NL may well want to keep an eye on. It is an energy storage system being developed in Sweden which takes energy from the sun, stores it in a chemical reaction and using a catalyst can release it at a later date for domestic heating. Imagine this. Energy captured during the long hot summer days is stored and released later for heating during winter months or heat from the sun light hours is stored and released during the night but because of Muskrat Falls we will probably never see such a system here. It could even make Mini-Split Heat pumps redundant.

    • My point is that there are other countries doing massive amounts of research which will within the next ten years displace both oil and electricity as heating.
      With regards to the 10, 000 gallon system, that's a massive amount of water-37 cubic metres to be exact or 37 tonnes. You wouldn't want that in your house at all. I don't think that system compares to what the Swedes are developing since the Swedish system is small enough to be stored in an attic.

    • You are correct. You can use google scholar ( to search the phrase "molecular solar thermal energy storage" and you get half a million results. If you filter 2018 and later, no patents, no citations you still get 15,900 hits. Great advances are being made in energy storage.

      Bottom Feeder 1

    • I's his God given right, isn't it?. to do what he wants to do even if it screws everyone else. Or so he thinks. This man is the main instigator of NL's future demise. Imagine trying to convince everyone that MF power is good when selling it for a fraction of what it costs to produce. NL should be ashamed to even acknowledge him as a "proud" NLer. I hope he gets what he deserves (jail time).

      Bottom Feeder 2