Does Andrew Furey understand the implications of
his plan to appoint a chief economic recovery officer who “would function
similarly to the chief medical officer of health”? If he does and he becomes
the next Premier, every individual, business, and union should worry about what
comes next.

In June, Furey announced that a chief economic recovery officer was key to getting the economy of the province back up and
running after the COVID-19 pandemic. John Abbott made a similar announcement
except that he drew no parallel with the functions of the Chief Medical Officer.
Did someone forget to check the arbitrary powers given that unelected official under
the “Public Health Protection and Promotion Act”, which requires deference to
neither the Premier nor the Cabinet?

Or does Furey perceive that the only way to deal
with the province’s fiscal condition is to assign to a single economic Czar the
right to impose draconian measures, however oppressive and arbitrary they may

The fact may not be well understood, but the Chief
Medical Officer is actually in possession of a great number of powers — from
which respite is granted only by the Courts. They include the right, under
Section 28 (1) (j), to enter or authorize any person… to enter any premises
without a warrant; under subsection (j) to order the closure of any educational
setting or place of assembly; under Section 28 (2) (b) to decline to provide a
notice that is otherwise required; under (2) (f) to conduct an inspection at
any time, with or without a warrant. The Act affords the official a plethora of
other powers, too, which the CMO may exercise entirely as the official sees fit.

Undoubtedly, most people, at a time of Pandemic or
other health crisis, believe such powers are acceptable. Until tested, they maintain
the confidence that the CMO will not act irrationally or impose unnecessary
injury on individual rights or personal property.
Fair enough.

The nub of the question, therefore, is this: are
we content to confer similar rights to a person having a purely economic role,
i.e. someone not attending to matters of life or death? Will Furey’s economic
Czar have the same or similar powers to “fix” the imbalance between program
spending and public revenues, correct the problem of overspending in healthcare,
social services, and in other areas? Will that person be permitted to take
whatever steps are necessary to bring order to an economy where the conditions
of a balanced Budget have long been absent and will those powers include
program cuts and lay-offs?

When the “function” of the Chief Medical Officer
of Health is paralleled, as Furey has overtly described, how can we not think
that the new Administration has a plan which, if necessary, will be arbitrarily
imposed? After all, dissent and debate will not be a concern of someone given a
mandate and the power needed to have it enforced.

Many in this province properly want to see the
fiscal “ship” righted, and decry the laxity with which both Tory and Liberal
Administrations have treated the problem. Alarms are raised when the bond
rating agencies lower the quality of our debt, or when only the Bank of Canada
will purchase provincial bonds. But who among us would want the remedy imposed
by an unelected Czar given legislative powers to take whatever action he/she chooses,
possibly even to pick our pockets?


Furey did say that this economic officer would
advise the Premier and “a group of non-partisan experts with diverse
backgrounds”. However, he doesn’t tell us, when the advice is given, what
powers the Czar may exercise next, or with what limitations.

If the Czar will have only the power to advise,
then the relationship to a legally empowered and arbitrary Chief Medical
Officer is completely ill-advised and inappropriate. Still, we need to understand his thought process, the reference having, presumably, some basis for what he has in mind. 

That is to say, if Mr. Furey is contemplating
strong medicine for our sick public sector economy — enabling someone to
perform the job that most of us assume is the role of elected politicians,
especially the Minister of Finance — then he might want to share with us
precisely what legal powers his Administration intends to forfeit.

When he does, I can think of a few political, business,
union, and other institutional leaders who might have a worry or two that they
may have missed something very important. They might include John Abbott. None can
say that Furey did not warn them.

As to the Tories and the NDP, slumber, as usual, does
not make them good sentinels for their constituencies or for democratic
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?