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Monday 28 April 2014


When the Public Utilities Board released the Interim Report of Liberty Consulting Group into the causes of DarkNL last week, it was Nalcor’s CEO Ed Martin, the man earning in excess of six hundred thousand dollars annually, who jumped in front of the cameras.

That’s big pay for damage control.

Nowhere to be seen was the senior man at Nalcor subsidiary, NL Hydro, V-P Rob Henderson.  Henderson was the first to emerge in the early days of the ‘black-outs’ to confess Hydro’s deficient maintenance practices; the Utility, he stated candidly, had failed to complete its summer maintenance program. It was January and the lights were out; people were cold in their homes or huddled in warming centers.   

Henderson disappeared from the public stage quickly; the honesty seemingly bad for Nalcor’s image and Ed Martin’s, too. Martin became the official spokesperson, not only for Muskrat Falls, but also for DarkNL.

Now, the Liberty Group has essentially confirmed Mr. Henderson’s version of events even if they were still understated.

Thursday 24 April 2014


Frank Coleman’s journey to the Premier’s Office is off the rails.   

It is not due to Bill Barry’s decision to exit the Race. 

Nor is it due to the widespread bewilderment over Coleman’s acknowledged “pro-life” stand on the abortion issue; though it, too, is a part of this narrative.

It is not entirely due to Political Science Professor Steve Tomlin’s comments which characterize Mr. Coleman’s “Coronation” as a “train-wreck”; though his metaphor contains precision so striking you could actually see the body politic nod in agreement.   

Nor is it entirely because Coleman chose the last minute to enter the race and then disappear, leaving a perception that he plans to be a political hermit, determined to keep his distance, which The Telegram rightly described as “arm’s length”.  

For all of those reasons, and then some, as far as the act of becoming Premier is concerned, Frank Coleman is dead on arrival.

Monday 21 April 2014


Bill Barry has left the Tory Leadership race.   ‘Quitter’ is not an entry one would expect to see on his Resume. 

Barry entered the race with gusto, announcing his intention within days of Premier Dunderdale’s departure. When this Blogger wrote that Danny Williams had arranged a “fix” for Frank Coleman, Barry called up to confirm he was in the race “to the end”.

Of course, candidates change their minds all the time, as is their right. The oddity is that Barry invested so little effort in an enterprise about which he first seemed so passionate. 

It is fine to be critical of a Party’s policies, as Barry was; but renewal and change is created when energetic, creative and interesting people employ well-honed talents to climb to the top of the political ladder. Quitters rarely get to convince a large public of the value of their ideas. 

Then, too, it is fine for Bill Barry to criticize the P.C. Party’s system of delegated leadership conventions.  He knew, from the beginning, that it was constitutionally inscribed and, therefore, the only one legally permissible right now.  

For that reason he had an obligation, if his formal candidacy was a serious manifestation of intent, to play within the current rules and to seek change later, win or lose.

Wednesday 16 April 2014


The last straw for an angry public was former Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s boldfaced support for Nalcor following the January 2014 ‘black-outs’, an event now inscribed in history as Dark NL.

Dunderdale played defense for three years in an effort to bolster Muskrat Falls.  She explained Nalcor’s secrecy as a triumph of transparency though it was anything but.  Her abuse of the PUB process and fumbling of basic facts about the project constituted a gross subversion of the truth.

Her integrity in tatters, Premier Dunderdale was forced to resign.

Against this background Ken Marshall, the new Chairman of the Nalcor Board, still thought it a great idea to publish a piece in the Weekend Telegram entitled "Responsible development and oversight go hand in hand".  In  content and style it is reminiscent of Dunderdale.

His exhibition of uncommonly bad judgement could only have been exhibited because he is assured impunity by a timid and ineffective Premier Tom Marshall.  But it speaks volumes of Ed Martin, too, without whose permission the item would not have been submitted for publication. 

How far does Nalcor’s arrogance extend?  How impervious to a soured public can they be?  Is there no rehabilitation for Nalcor’s nattering Neanderthals?    Perhaps they confuse morons and electrons.

Monday 14 April 2014


The two contenders for the P.C Leadership are having a tough time finding their footing. Bill Barry and Frank Coleman, two successful businessmen, have not quite grasped the challenge for which they have signed on.

As business people, they understand the principles and challenges of team-building and organization, financing, management effectiveness, and marketing. These skills are as relevant to winning the Office of Premier as they are perquisites to running profitable enterprises. Given their backgrounds, who should be more capable of defining goals, conjuring strategies and demonstrating success? 

So far neither Candidate, especially Coleman, has demonstrated he understands the elements of a province-wide campaign or the capability to draw all of them together.

Thursday 10 April 2014


No one expected the District of Virginia Waters to be a cakewalk for any of the Candidates and it wasn’t.   Still, a 40 vote margin of victory by Liberal Cathy Bennett must feel like Everest climbed.  In so doing, she has executed an almost miraculous repetition of the Harbour Grace-Carbonear byelection.  She has proven beyond a doubt there are no safe Tory seats in the Province.

It is a tough loss for Danny Breen; he deserves our congratulations, as does Sheilagh O’Leary.

But it is the Liberal Party’s and Cathy Bennett’s victory.  She has confirmed that a quiet political revolution, one insistent and possibly inexorable, is working its way through the political fabric of the Province.  The Liberals are coming!

Still, there is finality to every democratic vote.  Likely, the Tories long ago forgot that it is also within the purview of the voters to be arbitrary.

Many people will want to read the entrails of this byelection.  I have the following observations:

Monday 7 April 2014


Many people, and not just pundits, are salivating in anticipation of the results of the Virginia Waters byelection.  Perhaps, as its ‘bellwether’ history suggests, the outcome will confirm the winner of the next general election.  Of course, a multitude of signals are sought.  In particular, the Government wants to know if its free-falling popular support has been arrested with Dunderdale's banishment. 

A ‘bellwether’ riding is a term used to denote a single electoral district or region which reflects, with consistency, a larger political trend.  The District of Virginia Waters qualifies; but don’t bet your last dime on the accuracy of this gauge.

Province-wide Polls suggest the Liberals are the Party with momentum; the Tories and the NDP have crashed.  
Still, the outcome of the byelection is not a forgone conclusion.    

Thursday 3 April 2014


My decennial vacation forced me to rely on reports for what Frank Coleman said when he announced he was seeking the leadership of the P.C. Party.  This Blogger confirmed six weeks ago that the “fix” was in; Danny had recruited Coleman and the Caucus had fallen in line, just as it had for Dunderdale.  Still, rumours of Coleman’s wobbling abounded until the decision became official. 

Minutes before sitting in a kayak to navigate the warm waters of the Baja Peninsula the internet confirmed Coleman’s move.    It reported a story, too, that Steve Kent, John Ottenheimer and Shawn Skinner had contracted a case of weak-knees.  Williams had given them the evil eye, it seems, a look evidently so malevolent that it melted their already half-completed nomination forms.  They know they must never shag with the dark forces.  But, what of it, if deference is their strong point.

Back on Terra Nova, I asked one wit how Coleman’s Press Conference had turned out.  He replied: “B’y it was as boring as a eulogy at Fillatre’s”.   (Fillatre operates Funeral Homes on the West Coast).  That seemed an odd if not depressing characterization of Coleman’s coming out.