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Wednesday 29 May 2013

Senate Reform. First, Get Rid of the Crooks

The Canadian public is aghast at the behaviour of Senator Mike Duffy and the Prime Minister. They have a right to be.

The Government wants you to believe that the issue speaks to the need for Senate Reform. That’s nonsense.  Right now, the Senate is a potential crime scene.  The issue is alleged illegality; abuse of public office, possibly fraud and other violations.  It is also about political ‘spin’. 

The public’s derision should be directed squarely at the perpetrators who feel entitled enough to play fast and loose with the public purse.  This problem did not arise because Senators placed figures in the wrong column, misplaced dinner receipts or, as one person put it, they can't recall “where their dog lives”.   

Sunday 26 May 2013


He was always a jokester.  You could be splitting your sides and Crosbie would be dead pan serious.

If you were the serious one, John would be whoopin’ and hollerin’.  That’s just the way he is.

Same thing with his Saturday Telegram Column, "Muskrat Falls is worth the risk".   You might have
thought he had joined Kathy Dunderdale in support of Muskrat Falls.

But be careful with that one.  John’s approach to serious issues might differ from yours.

What tipped me off was his attempt to justify the Project with a single snippet from Bartlett’s Favourite Quotations.  Intoned Crosbie: “Only those who would risk going too far can possibly find out how far you can go.”  Cripes, he must have known T.S Eliot was pure giveaway.  He was saying, ‘don’t be surprised if you fall off the deep end’!   

After T.S. Eliot, he put down his pen.  That was another clue. Two years late, we still await Dunderdale’s explanation for how Muskrat is either necessary or economic.  John could have posted about this megaproject in the next fifty-two editions of The Telegram.  Yet, he hardly used up even one. 

Thursday 23 May 2013


“Sure yer dressed up like a yeller peacock, Nav;  ya looks ready to blast off for the international space station.  Trying to take over Chris ‘adfield’s job, is ya?”, enquired a voice I knew belonged only to one. 

I was trying to hide behind a fishing boat that had been laid up all winter; perfect camouflage for a kayaker, decked out in a bright yellow drysuit, responding to the call of nature.

Jos was not possessed of the slightest concern that I might be showing an excess of undergarments or other bodily parts.  I cursed the Petty Harbour Tourism Committee; a suitable outhouse, right now, would likely save me some trouble.   I closed my “relief” zipper, with no time to spare, as Uncle Gnarley’s old “friend”, Jos Arnell, popped her head around the stern of the aging vessel.

Monday 20 May 2013


Political watchers slavishly crave intrigue. They anxiously await the opening of the House of Assembly, only to experience an excess of regret, at the mere hint, that the current Sitting is about to end.

Politics allows political addicts to enjoy the adrenalin rush of a game where simplicity and prediction are constantly supplanted with complexity and uncertainty.  For them, a little scandal, a petit embarrassment, a Member’s defection, sometimes even the mere mention of the word ‘politics’ is titillating enough to compete with the CBC’s favourite winter program, the ’Worst Pot Hole Contest’.  The problem, of course, is the ardour with which Anthony Germain tackles the subject.  The politically tilted enjoy no status in the hands of a Host, as lively as he, in matters of the mundane.  Admittedly, I may possess bias. 

Wednesday 15 May 2013


Ray Guy has been immensely honoured as one of Newfoundland and Labrador's most beloved writers. Rightly so.  He was truly one of a kind, an inspiration, a gifted man, a true cultural icon.

He singularly played a role in the downfall of former Premier J.R. Smallwood, which even today, is not completely understood. 

The very idea of lining up, in front of the little Shop in the Thompson Student Centre at Memorial University, in anticipation of the arrival of what was then called the "Evening Telegram", must seem an anachronism in today's digital world.  But, line up we did.  There was always a dozen or so students who were determined to be among the first to read the wisdom of "Aunt Sissy Roach", the unclothing of Smallwood and his cronies and every one of his words and expressions, especially the irreverent ones. 

As much as we encountered sheer joy in the reading of his renderings, Ray Guy taught an entire generation of Newfoundlanders, that it was fine to be sceptical and  that it was right to offer politicians our disapproval.  He confirmed, by the sheer power of his pen, that the emperor could be stripped of all his clothes. He sure as heck stripped Smallwood's and entertained, even thrilled us, at the same time.  OH, Ray, how we took delight in your magnificent talent! We applaud you. Rest in peace.

As the Muskrat Falls issue gathered steam, last year, the current Administration having taken on the rather Smallwoodian characteristic, of pillorying critics, I penned a piece to the Telegram which the Paper published on March 26, 2012, entitled "Calling Ray Guy".  I am pleased to re-publish it here. - Des Sullivan
Ray Guy, please come back! We need you now, as much as in the ‘old’ days when Joey Smallwood became his own political dynasty.  Politicians like Crosbie, Wells and Hickman, though vital to his downfall, were mere mortals alongside a leviathan and a terrifyingly entertaining pen.  From you, we found the courage to criticise ‘The Only Living Father’, and learned that courage is essential to maintaining an open and vital democracy.   

Ray Guy, we need you back!   The government is arrogant and unwilling to countenance argument and common sense.  It says it will spend $5 billion on Muskrat Falls; you know, Ray, that government will never spend $5 billion when it can spend $7 or $8 billion. They will bankrupt us, Ray.  The Premier and her Minister of Natural Resources are sleepwalking us into the abyss. 

Ray, we need the clarity which you always elicited from Aunt Sissy Roach.  She, not one given over to blandishments, once opined a simple truth: “A house is a house and a pimp is a pimp…”. The government could learn something from someone of her depth. Aunt Sissy was a bit rough.  She did call you a ‘mawmouth’, but that is no cause to ban her from current discourse.  After all, Ray, were you not responsible for putting words in her mouth?

Sir, I appeal to your sense of duty, for I submit, only you possess that rare perspective that is underlain with the strength of character of the decent folk of “That Far Greater Bay”. You possess the ability to restore clarity to the issues, to demand respect from politicians and to cleanse, at least for time, what has become rotten in our little abode.

We need you, Ray.  We need to hear your words of both insight and irreverence; words that have the capacity to lay bare the emperor once again.

And, why not come back, Ray? It is not as if our media were overcome with wisdom or the boldness with which you made your mark, the kind that made Joe Smallwood run for the sherry cabinet.   

Yes, we have Wangersky who is in every respect a brilliant editor but he must respond to a multitude of issues and constituencies; similarly, Wakeham and Frampton. Randy Simms, well… Randy has declared the Muskrat decision already made and has raised the white flag on intestinal fortitude!  Cochrane of CBC is clever but he needs to tell CBC brass that the constant parade of petty criminals on the evening news is not what makes public debate flourish.  

But you, Ray Guy, are the confirmed cultural polemicist of our time, the one person who has thrived on contrariness and argument.  You are the undisputed king of editorial writers, the Mohammed Ali of the struggle between transparency and concealment.  The American philosopher, Harry Frankfurt, once wrote that “…bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are”. But you, Ray, can tell us the difference.

Ray Guy, please come back! Your contemporaries have done it. Leonard Cohen has gotten a second wind; P.D. James, at 92, is still entertaining us with stories of bad guys and even Gordon Pinsent yet receives more plaudits than a cake baker at a church raffle.

If patriotism doesn’t cut it anymore Ray, let me appeal to a baser instinct, simple greed.  Think, Ray, of being paid by the word; what Dickensian payments could be extracted in this time of “Dunderdale”; as surely as Muskrat Falls is a hydro project, the Premier is a wind farm: full of bluster and not to be completely relied upon. 

And to fill any blank spaces there is always Jerome Kennedy, Nalcor’s messenger on the Muskrat file, soon to experience, I expect, the same popularity as Brad Cabana at a Tory leadership convention.  Jerome’s destiny, like that of a former Member under Joey, will be to find acknowledgement by having himself paged at the Holiday Inn, an early version of social media.  

Clearly, Ray, it would be slack-ish work; ideally suited to your unique talent; perfect for someone called back from retirement.

Monday 13 May 2013


So, the voters have informed Peter Penashue his services are no longer required. Whom it will shock is uncertain; possibly, only the P.C. Party of Canada.

The entire spectacle is tough to comprehend.  Peter was feckless, as an MP and as a Cabinet Minister.  In the briefest of tenures, he has etched a place among the ‘weakest of the weak’ sent to the hallowed halls of Parliament.
That the National P.C. Party did not consider a Nomination Meeting in an effort to suss out other, possibly more electable or more suitable candidates, is inexplicable. It’s as if they didn’t really want Peter’s Labrador Seat all that badly. 

The current Majority Government forgets its near death experience when it was a ‘Minority’ player in the House of Commons.  A busy PM and non-stop Cabinet Ministers, seemingly, don’t have time to weigh the importance or the long term implications of one loss.  A Justin Trudeau may be a featherweight now, but, politics is a fickle sport and such wins exact a price. Remember Danny’s ABC Campaign?  Now, the Province is completely shut out of the Federal Government.

Sunday 12 May 2013

Annus Orndatra

The knock on the door reverberated in my head like dynamite. It was a late night, the 20th Anniversary concert tour of Great Big Sea was spectacular. As the cliché goes, it was the soundtrack to my life. Now, I was feeling the ill-effects of the night out. My head never felt like this 20 year ago.

There was only one person who would be knocking on my door at 7:30 AM on a Sunday morning. My wife turned to me and said, “for god’s sake go let him in, before he knocks again”.

Wearing nothing more than my housecoat, I went to the door to let my old friend in…

“Nav, it looks like you chased a fart through a bag of nails. The evidence clearly suggest that it was a large night”.

With that the old economist passed me over a cup of coffee. I was thankful, and gestured for my friend to sit down.

“Nav, I am a little disappointed that I was not invited to your anniversary celebration, especially considering the role I have played".

The lift in his eye was a sure sign that Uncle Gnarley was poking fun. Yet, the fear of forgetting my wedding anniversary momentarily paralyzed my thoughts.

Wednesday 8 May 2013


Remember that much ballyhooed ZIFF Report? 

Do you mean the one that Government trotted out after Cabot Martin’s well publicized case for the “Natural Gas Option”?  The one that got under the skin of Kathy Dunderdale and Jerome Kennedy, bolstered by Dr. Steve Bruneau, (the younger)? 

And, for certainty, is that the same natural gas on which Husky Energy is now conducting a feasibility study? 

Exactly the same. 

Is the announcement giving Dunderdale and Kennedy gas pains.  No, no, of course not.  You misunderstand.  Muskrat Falls has been sanctioned.  The bromides will be needed later.

So, how are Kathy and Jerome reacting?

Sunday 5 May 2013


When I posted “SMALL POPULATIONS AND GUT WRENCHING DECISIONS”, Corner Brook was not on my mind as I considered the position of declining populated island communities.  Yet, two comments, left on the Post, conveyed the innovative thinking of two writers who saw a ‘win win’ for the Province and Corner Brook in Kruger’s hydro capacity.  Winston Adams, a local Professional Engineer, said “(w)e need that power for winter heating of our houses, but…not…in the other 8 months, when the mill would use it”.  He added, “This power…is a big piece of an island solution for our power needs”. 

The second writer was JM, who has written extensively on the Muskrat Falls Project and has made several contributions to this Blog. JM echoed the views of Adams: 

“The real solution to both the Corner Brook and our (Province’s) electricity requirements is looking us in the face. The mill should operate 8 months of the year. From December 1 to March 31 the mill should shut down. Kruger should sell the power from Deer Lake into our grid. This combined with the Upper Churchill RECALL power, would hold us over to 2041. It would likely also provide Kruger enough revenue to keep the mill alive. We would also save $3 billion in the construction of Muskrat Falls”.

Wednesday 1 May 2013


CBC Reporter John Gushue wrote a Post on his Notebook, April 28th, regarding the Dunderdale Government’s Core Mandate review and its refusal to release the Report.  NDP Leader Lorraine Michael had been asking for it in Question Period and has been getting nowhere. Of course, that issue was not Gushue’s entire preoccupation.  His Article segued to the matter of the behaviour of certain Government Ministers, their manner of answering Opposition questions and their deprecating tone of voice.   

When I wrote, “NOW ITS DARIN KINGS TURN”, I had truly expected, perhaps naively, that the Minister of Justice would apologize to MHA Gerry Rogers for his contrived allegations in the Facebook affair.  Given the sheer volume of public indignation expressed against the Government’s and the Speaker’s handling of the matter, the Speaker having recanted, one might have legitimately expected the Minister would also apologize.  I had thought, perhaps, the Premier might recognize that her Administration needed ‘behavioural’ reform.  

The Premier and her Ministers are the ones who put a public ‘face’ on Government. It is an important matter that the Administration commands respect for its leadership; words like dignity, self-control and decency come to mind.  The Minister didn’t apologize and the Premier failed to tell him to step forward.