Thursday, 16 April 2015


Guest Post By Cabot Martin

A Plea to Premier Davis: call a Public Inquiry into the Dunphy shooting - NOW
On Friday past, the RNC officer (so far unnamed) who shot Donny Dunphy sent out a letter that sped through the provincial consciousness like a bitter March wind.
As a result, in the midst of tragedy, we are confronted with the unwelcome need to push on down a road of inquiry that seems to open into a place we have not been before.
It is a place far from those days, not very long ago, when it was our happy boast that our very own RNC was the only unarmed police force in North America.
We evidently have not paid enough attention to policing matters and to what the RNC has been up to with this PSU business.
For instance, how did this letter, this extraordinary intervention by Officer “X” , an officer subject to an ongoing police investigation, get written in the first place?

Monday, 13 April 2015


The public is aghast that a man who issued a number of innocuous tweets on Good Friday could be shot dead on Easter Sunday by the Premier’s bodyguard, an RNC Officer. 

What is troubling, is that an immediate Judicial Inquiry was not called, in the very same manner that inspired three previous Public Inquiries where deaths had occurred at the hands of the police. Had the Premier directed the Attorney General to commence such a process, the multitude of questions which abound might have been muted.

A man has been shot dead. The decision-making chain which led to his death began in the Premier’s Office. I can think of no Government that would not have ordered a Judicial Inquiry immediately, in the circumstances.

We need that judicial process to provide certainty that the rule of law has not been breached by the shooter and by others. 

Thursday, 9 April 2015


The shooting death of Donny Dunphy by an RNC Officer of the Protective Services Unit (PSU) is a tragedy; in the circumstance it demands nothing less than the thoroughness and independence afforded by a Judicial Inquiry. 

The late insertion by the RCMP of long retired Judge David Riche, as an “independent observer”, an apparently new species of “oversight”, is no replacement for a full Judicial Inquiry – especially when it is inappropriate for the RCMP to be conducting the investigation in the first place. 

The process speaks to damage control both for the RNC and for the Government. The RCMP is a non-arms-length Agency in this case. 

An apparently defective chain of decision-making placed the PSU Officer in Mr. Dunphy’s home; the very first decision in the matter originated in the Premier’s Office; there have been inappropriate statements by the Premier.

All this has added a distressing political dimension to the case; one that begs for complete transparency.

Monday, 6 April 2015


A Project Oversight Committee is often referred to as a “Cold Eyes Reviewer”. Cold Eyes denotes impartiality and independence.  They evaluate project plans, procedures, and safe work practices giving emphasis to design, management, work quality, project costs and schedule. 

The Muskrat Falls Oversight Committee has been given a far smaller mandate than the one just described.  Its role is essentially “reliable and transparent oversight on the cost and schedule performance of the Project” and as a “direct and effective communication channel to Cabinet and the general public”.

This limited oversight role ought to permit the Committee to perform good work; but, it hasn’t.  The information it claims to have analysed comes not from the performance of its own financial or technical audits.  It is provided by Nalcor. Pete Soucy, Host of VOCM Back Talk, recently equated the practice with ‘the foxes watching the foxes’. He is right.

Monday, 30 March 2015


The Government’s Oversight Committee on Muskrat Falls issued its quarterly report just as the Natural Resources Minister, responsible for the Muskrat file, continues to display the liveliness of lichen at the Funks. Come to think of it, the Funk Islands seem a perfect place for indolent Ministers.

The “JM” Post, last week, contained a reprimand for the Oversight Committee, one implicit in the title: “In Nalcor we Trust”. Nalcor can put no claim to public trust, either; oversight remains as absent as it ever was.  For that reason, focus ought to remain on the Oversight Committee; next week's Post will attempt to shine more light on this sham group who reports what Nalcor tells them

But, politicians are ultimately to blame when bureaucrats fail to perform; after all, such recalcitrance is inspired by them. 

While this problem dates back to the tenure of Kathy Dunderdale and Jerome Kennedy, it persists with the current Minister, Derrick Dalley.

I have been thinking of the Minister lately; though not fondly. 

Friday, 27 March 2015


David Vardy and Ron Penney are well-known names in this Province, both having served in a number of senior public positions.  Prior to his retirement David Vardy served as Chair, Public Utilities Board. Ron Penney most recently served as Chief Commissioner and City Solicitor, City of St. John’s.
Equally, they will be recognized for their continuing role as critics of the Muskrat Falls project.

Uncle Gnarley Blog has obtained a copy of a Brief Vardy and Penney just submitted to the Public Utilities Board.  The PUB is about to enter into the second phase of Hearings which are part of the Supply Issues and Power Outages Review for the Island Interconnected System called by the Provincial Government last year, following several days of Island-wide power outages.  

Among other issues, the Brief draws attention to the conclusions of the Liberty Report and, as Vardy and Penney describe, the “damming criticism” of NL Hydro resulting from the degradation of the Province’s hydro assets.

Monday, 23 March 2015


Written by: "JM"

Oversight is one of those complex words in the English language, an auto-antonym, a word having multiple definitions which are opposite in intent.  Oversight can be defined as either (i) the action of overseeing something or (ii) the unintentional failure to notice or do something. 

Is there no better word to describe the current government committee which is entrusted with overseeing the giant Muskrat Falls project?  

Originally, the Oversight Committee was formed by government to strengthen and formalize existing oversight of the Muskrat Falls Project. It was mandated to provide reliable and transparent oversight so that the public could have confidence in the management of project costs, schedule and risk.  Premier Marshall was clear in this intent when he originally announced the formation of the committee in March of 2014:

"We're listening. We're hearing what people have to say," he said. “It is a big project. It’s the people’s project. We sense that the people want to have more information, they want more oversight, and that’s what they’re doing.”  

For those of us who remain interested in the Muskrat Falls project, the second quarterly report was issued by the Muskrat Falls Oversight Committee last week.