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Monday 30 September 2013


Actually that title is a slight exaggeration, but one no worse than the pumped up propaganda Cathy Bennett attempted as she got hoist on her petard, by VOCM Backtalk Host Paddy Daly.  She must have been trying to be Kathy Dunderdale, again. 

 The two are ‘cheek to jowl’, on Muskrat; the only difference is that Bennett believes she can explain the Project better. 

My Blog Post, How The Premier Damages Her Own Credibility (Part II) deals with Dunderdale’s wish to supply New England electric power for a fraction of its development cost. 

When no less a personage, than the Premier, advocates that we develop Labrador’s Gull Island, which is larger than Muskrat and reportedly cheaper per KWh, but still well in excess of 20 cents per KWh, and that we should sell it to the Governors for net 3.5 to 4 cents per KWh, you just know we have a problem.  When Bennett uses her soapbox to sell the same message, you know ‘Alice’ must have left the two behind, in Wonderland.

Friday 27 September 2013


Premier Kathy Dunderdale
Verbatim Transcript from media ‘scrum’
Corner Brook, September 12, 2013 

“….I was at a Conference in Quebec this weekend for two days with the six New England Governors who talked about energy development…..particularly in Newfoundland and Labrador…they’re saying develop, develop, develop, Governor Shulman is saying if you got the juice we got the use so here are the people who are buying Canadian electricity saying to Canadian Premiers develop, develop, develop because we got the markets….we have just had six Governors purchase power for their states…they are talking specifically about Muskrat Falls, specifically about Gull and how that power needed to be developed and they had a use for the power in New England….the Governors are saying there’s a market, we’ve been saying there’s a market for a long time…”
There may be a market, in New England, for electricity.   But, is development of the power commercially viable?  Is this Province prepared to expose itself to the construction risk and willing to heavily subsidize the cost of the power, as we are doing with Muskrat?  That, I believe, is exactly what the Premier is counselling.

Wednesday 25 September 2013


Public policy will always be contentious even when diverse opinions are based upon agreed facts.

One of the great characteristics of an open and free society is that individuals are at liberty to add to our collective economic and social well-being with an intellectual contribution that is personal; people perceive needs, arrange priorities or interpret factual evidence, each in their own way.

Perspectives may be influenced by self-interest, culture, maturity or screened through some other lens. Though contrarian views cause strain on the social and political fabric, they and our right to possess them, are what sets democracies apart in a world where political control is pervasive.

That said, if there exists one key to reducing conflict or to finding consensus among diverse groups and individuals, it is the prospect that all of us might form and share our opinions, as often as possible, based upon on a complete set of facts.  It is an impossible goal, but a noble one, which makes it worth striving for.  Integral to its achievement is the possibility that those in authority, who have greatest access to the information and possess the ability to pay the specialists to generate it, do not subvert the process.

Sunday 22 September 2013


The Town of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, in return for five years of disruption, ought to be given a legacy greater than the estimated 100 maintenance jobs attributable to the operation of a commissioned Muskrat Falls. 

If any synergies can be found, from even an unwise megaproject, most people would expect them to enhance Goose Bay’s future growth and development prospects.

As I write, Nalcor is spending several million dollars building a staging area, together with storage and assembly facilities on the Muskrat Falls site.  It will include a fenced compound, one or more very large warehouses whose structures and foundations will be designed for heavy loads; the height of the buildings and access to them will meet demanding requirements. 

Likely the facility will boast a heavy lift crane (and several of smaller tonnage), a large capacity electrical system, industrial grade mechanical ventilation and heating systems, adequate offices and a communications system – facilities that would rival some found at the Bull Arm Site.  Water and sewer services and related civil infrastructure will also be supplied.

Wednesday 18 September 2013


Last time, I referred to BMO Capital Markets’ Report that the Maritime Link might have only a 50/50 chance of sanction.  You may well ask why only 50/50?  Given all the sweeteners Emera has been offered to become Nalcor’s partner, why are the odds so poor? Let’s take a look at Nalcor's deal with Emera:

a)      Emera’s investment, in the transmission line from Labrador, receives a “guaranteed” rate of return from Nalcor. 

b)     Emera receives 20% of the power from Muskrat at zero cost (but for the cost of the Maritime Link)

c)      Cost overruns on the Labrador/Island transmission line are paid for by Nalcor

d)      80% of Emera’s cost overruns on the Maritime Link are paid for by Nalcor

e)      Emera receives the benefits of the Federal Loan Guarantee; and

f)       Emera gets to broker any “surplus” power for which it will receive fees

Not a bad deal, by any measure, wouldn’t you think.    

But Emera is still holding out on sanctioning the Maritime Link. 

Monday 16 September 2013


What is the public to make of the Premier’s ‘scrum’ in Corner Brook, on the Maritime Link? When the Premier states that Emera sanctioned the Link months ago, how is a typical person to recognize danger signals when a political leader engages in an economy of the truth?

One would have to ask: Who can you believe? What is the truth?

The Premier is supported, in her position, by a Nalcor V-P, who is a signatory to the Sanction Agreement with Emera. “The project has already received sanction…” said Gil Bennett, but confirmed, in the same breath, that Emera  "was asked to come up with more energy...we continue to have dialogue with Emera on that point….but the obligation is Emera’s…..”  Gil did his best to avoid the trap, but came pretty close to putting the words “conditional sanction” in the same sentence. 

Wednesday 11 September 2013


The Blog Post "WHY DUNDERDALE CAN'T CONNECT" attempts to explain the underlying reasons the Premier is floundering in the Polls.  The Premier, and her Administration are languishing, in third place, having literally dropped off the political precipice.

That July 1st Uncle Gnarley missive concluded that “….the Premier must give herself a defined period, say six months, during which to make the positive connection with the electorate….failing this test, the Premier should call it a day”.  

The Premier is into the third month of this interval, and has been 'gone to ground' for much of the summer.  Her popularity is showing no signs of rebound.    
On Saturday the Telegram ran a front page commentary by its chief editorial writer, Russell Wangersky, announcing: "Premier, it is time to go".

The Telegram’s man delivered the message with the respect and dignity that ought to be afforded a First Minister, but there was no equivocation. Said Wangersky, to the Premier, “Your race is run.  You may not know it yet – you may not even want to believe it – but it’s over”.

Again, on Tuesday, Sept. 10 Wangersky wrote a column headlined "Lights on, nobody's home".  

Today's item is also about the Premier's 'loose ends'. It explains how the outstanding issues could severely harm this Province. They speak to the urgency of why the Premier must provide us clarity, right away.

Monday 9 September 2013


The President of Memorial University, Dr. Gary Kachanoski, thinks it is time to "again examine the feasibility of establishing a law school at Memorial.  It’s been 25 years since the university last reviewed this avenue”, he stated in February.

University Presidents tend to like legacy projects. Mose Morgan built the Music School; others, including engineering, medical, nursing and business are all important legacy projects of Memorial Presidents.

But, do we need a law school?  The arguments are murkier than those advanced for the other professional schools.

This Province’s population has actually declined, and the number of practising lawyers has increased, since the idea of a law school was first studied. This might suggest that the number of lawyers, per capita, is a meaningful measurement of how well a society is served, by that group.  But, is it?

Wednesday 4 September 2013


“’I have a stake in the game,’ acknowledges Shawn Skinner”.  The Telegram quoted the former Natural Resources Minister, frequent CBC Political Commentator, Tory Government defender and Muskrat Falls advocate, in a front page story, on Wednesday, after Skinner “took to the airwaves on VOCM”. 

Skinner was expressing concerns that possibly the largest single contract, on the Mega Project, might be awarded to an Italian company. Skinner acknowledged that his current employer, a Canadian Company called AECON Construction Group, also bid on the Contract. ”Your level of risk with something going wrong there, I would argue, is much less than when you bring in a company from Europe”, he was quoted as saying.

I had no idea!

‘Shawn’, I thought to myself, as I read the morning rag and sipped on a Starbucks, ‘you got to tell us this stuff!  I have been listening to you, for months, yammer on about what a great Project is Muskrat Falls.  Only now, you tell me the ‘risk’ is going to get ratcheted up, if things don’t go your way, er…if the contract goes offshore.

Monday 2 September 2013


Telegram Reporter James McLeod conducted an interview with the Finance Minister, in July, which he titled "Jerome Kennedy in his own words".  The transcript is posted on the Telegram’s Web Site, on his “Briefing Notes” Blog.  Mr. McLeod is a keen reporter and this one, like others of his lengthy verbatim transcripts, is a valuable record of the ‘thinking’ of his subject. 

Unfortunately, the only part of the interview which became ‘news’ was the Minister’s views about the Tory Blue Book.  Kennedy eschewed any notion that they constituted promises. “You used the word promise”, Kennedy said to McLeod. “I’m not sure that the Blue Book can be described as a promise. It outlines a platform of initiatives…we strive as best we can to ensure that the commitments made or the components of the platform are complied with.” 

While the Minister’s phrasing failed to meet some expectations and titillated the public, for a few days, the revelation, for my money, was quite secondary to what the McLeod’s interview accomplished.  I am not referring to the Budget “ceiling” either, though it was discussion of that subject, that shed light on a more critical issue.