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.  

Monday, 16 March 2015


Earle McCurdy is out of retirement; I don’t think anyone will envy him his new job. 

The position which the NDP finds itself is reflected in the most recent CRA Poll which gives the Party 13%; Abacus reports 9%.  McCurdy had better have a new plan; the numbers are proof it will be tough to get more than one or two Members re-elected. Impending boundary changes won’t help.

Like the Tories, the NDP risks being steam-rolled by a Liberal juggernaut as default to that Party is the public’s only option.

McCurdy is intelligent, experienced, and offers management, strategic, and organizational skills.  He is well suited to the job.  The bigger question is whether his world-view has been jaded by too many fish fights with the private sector and with government. Does he possesses a renewal mind-set; one that will put claim to a new NDP political model to replace one most certainly broken?

Monday, 9 March 2015


Scramble” is a word that conveys something more than a sense of urgency.  It suggests a disorganized, frantic, confused, even undignified effort to do something or get somewhere. There is a lot of scrambling going on in the Province, right now.

The Premier and his Finance Minister are scrambling to put together a Budget; private enterprise is back in vogue as they contemplate selling off public services; the crown jewels can’t be far behind.

Carol Furlong is scrambling having recognized, too late, the government has public employees in the crosshairs.

CUPE President, Wayne Lucas, says “there will be war”; it’s a safe bet he’s scrambling; some call it leading from behind.

Monday, 2 March 2015


Last year, the Minister of Finance, Charlene Johnson, released a PR piece entitled: “Five Things to Know About Budget 2014”. It’s very first claim was: “A return to surplus in 2015-16”! 

The problem isn’t just the price of oil. Johnson forecast $791 million extra revenue next year and ensured us $28 million would be left over. It would be foolish to say the surplus constituted a rounding error, because the whole forecast was just made up. 

It’s the stuff that earns Finance Ministers laughs, but not much more. 

Charlene should have known better than to compete with Snook for the Stephen Leacock Award; yes, that’s the one for humour.

Monday, 23 February 2015


 “…if you are looking for some money, why don’t you delay the monies you are paying out to Muskrat Falls…a significant amount of money…”

These are words of Carol Furlong, Head of the Province’s largest public sector union, NAPE, giving advice to the Davis Government on NTV, Feb. 13th.

Furlong continued her expostulation: “We have a war chest now…combined assets… of more than $40 million…I can assure Government, if they believe they can just lay off workers …they will feel the brunt of NAPE to the full capacity of our finances.”

These are heavily laden statements. One would be foolish to think them merely drum beating in advance of a contested leadership.

Carol Furlong has done what the Head of no other Union, political party, or business organization has considered.  To her membership and to NTV’s large listener audience, she has telegraphed a stark message, one slow in its evolution, perhaps, but powerful in its timing and implication: ‘I no longer have faith in the Muskrat Falls project’.

Monday, 16 February 2015


If Opposition Leader Dwight Ball continues to hide in the reeds, failing the test both of courage and cleverness, he risks being denied the ‘Mandate of Heaven’.

The ancient Chinese believed that Heaven granted emperors the right to rule, based on their ability to govern well and fairly; the idea is distinct from ‘divine right’. Possibly, due to the Liberal Party’s unblemished by-election record and favourable Polls, Mr. Ball may have embraced the latter concept far too early. 

Ball’s handling of Premier Davis’ seat reduction plan (Bill 42) contains elements of self-immolation. But more importantly, has helped reinforce an impression of an under-tasked House of Assembly. Catering to the unmindful, he has raced down-market in search of cheap applause. But, those who are not complacent with democracy would never entertain the thought that opposition parties have nothing to do.

For that reason, Mr. Ball may be the one a bit light.