Sometimes an easy “fix” to a problem is wanted so badly that
people will delude themselves with the sheer mention by partisans of the next
best thing.

One recent example. The Federal Throne Speech announced the
“Atlantic Loop”, an expansion of electricity transmission capability entering New
Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Immediately, it was embraced by Newfoundland worthies as one
of the long-awaited answers to the Muskrat Falls debacle. Yet, it contained not
a shred of evidence that this Province has a role to play.

The word “Atlantic” has historically enabled locals to
distinguish the four most easterly provinces from the “Maritimes”. The inclusion
of “Quebec” would naturally assume nomenclature like the “Eastern Canadian
Loop”. Presumably, that would have allowed too much transparency to a plan in
which the Government of Canada is involved.

Still, what is it that inspires locals to think that the
“Loop” is about them and to give it an air of credibility in which the truth is

The admission by former Premier Ball that NL was not involved in
the talks might have been a clue, except that delusion plays a big role in what
happens here.

Putting aside the limitations of the Maritime Link, the fact
that NL had already committed most of the power that “might” eventually become
available, or that “firm” (continuous power) is required to replace those Maritime
coal plants, people may have thought, considering the $13.1 billion price tag,
that Nalcor had actually built Gull Island not Muskrat, at all!

When people who ought to know better – like the Consumer
Advocate – are delusional, it is hard to blame the ordinary folk.

Ah, yes, Gull Island – that slipperiest of false narratives.
Sucker-bait for partisans and the politically naive.

Evening on the Churchill River 

God forbid, too, that Newfoundlanders in the Atlantic Loop’s enthrall might have paid any attention to power economics. In a society stung by Danny’s legacy project, the pain of “Muskratitis” has clearly still not gone deep enough. 

A society that sponsored Muskrat Falls should know – by now – that the net one cent/KWh (or less) for the surplus power committed to Nova Scotia – and any additional – will barely cover Ed Martin’s legal fees for the Muskrat Falls Inquiry. Dunderdale  may be gone but not her simple-minded logic – Tigger
comes to mind: it’s going to be great; it’s going to be great; it’s
going to be greaaat!!!

In a place fearful of power rates doubling and where shipments
of heat pumps keep Oceanex afloat, “rate mitigation” is not even found on the
Obituary page.

The media and the Opposition Parties did not express even mild
surprise that a deal by the end of January – following both Premier Ball’s meeting
with the PM on November 26th,  2019,
and with Deputy Prime Minister, Chrystia Freeland on January 14th – did not
occur at all.

Had he exaggerated the status of negotiations with the Feds?  Had he simply lied, and that the two
Governments were never even close? Was no one curious why Premier Furey required
a complete restart?  

Perhaps I missed the Memo about the size of those COVID
cheques: that “rate mitigation” was included. But…I don’t think so.

As it stands, people facing a debt pile of around $30 billion are
exhibiting far too much happiness. Government leaders address their Federal
counterparts with the groveling refrain of the deferential. The other
leadership, the Opposition Parties make no dent on the public psyche; municipal
politicians, labour, and business, poke their heads up only when their share of
the pie seems threatened.

None, except the ones already stung by unemployment, the
Alberta option close to migrants, are bewildered by the recent turn of events.

The rest of us are just waiting for something to happen. Few
would ever publicly insist that the Fury Administration make some decisions –
now – to start a financial cure – ourselves.

Instead, we hope that the Atlantic Loop is for us; hope that
Bay du Nord, Cappahayden and Cambriol offshore oil wells, located in the
Flemish Pass, are all gushers. We wait for Moya Green to report, wait for a
Provincial Election, wait for a Federal Election, wait for Rate Mitigation,
wait for oil prices to rise, wait for anything that spells D-E-L-A-Y.  

All the while, a steamroller can be heard. 

Too many people confuse that with the sound of rescue, when what
they need to hear is the rustle of a society getting off their collective arses.

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?