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Monday 27 October 2014


The biography of Dr. Stig Bernander reads like that of a ‘Rock’ Star except in his case, he is better known for his work with clays rather than rocks, especially “Quick Clay”.  Some of this “sensitive” material is present at the North Spur, the projection of land creating the natural dam at Muskrat Falls.  It is one of the issues which threaten the viability of the project.

Dr. Bernander, you ask?  Who is he and why would you be interested? I will get to those questions in a moment. First, what are “Quick Clays”?

Quick Clays are unique, sensitive glaciomarine clays.  The clay deposits occurred when sea water levels were much higher.  They are unstable clays. Their peculiar characteristics are known to cause landslides.  When Quick Clay is subjected to sufficient stress, the material may liquefy. At Muskrat Falls, Quick Clay could undermine the structural integrity of the North Spur. Remediation is potentially a money pit.  It is a public safety issue, too.

One of the best known and large Quick Clay landslides occurred at Rissa, Norway.  The slide was videoed as it progressed. The event is as exciting as it is horrifying. If you choose to follow the Link, just be patient for the first couple of minutes and the Rissa video will demonstrate why Quick Clay should be taken very seriously. It is the perfect primer in advance of Dr. Bernander’s Lecture. 

Bernander is neither politician nor bureaucrat. He is a scientist; one with long industry experience.

Monday 20 October 2014


Bobby McFerrin’s light-hearted lyric “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” seems perfectly suited to Dr. Wade Locke’s analysis, as he explained it to James McLeod of the Telegram last week, on the future of oil.  Dr. Locke is an Economist and Professor at Memorial University.

Indeed, why would we worry when the ass is coming out of the Provincial Budget!

The slide in the world price of Brent Crude, closing at US $86.16 per barrel on Friday October 17th, is a significant event and not because people will save money at the gas pumps. 

Since oil’s decline began just a few weeks ago, a host of oil producing nations including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Venezuela, and Russia among others, whose budgets rely on $100 plus oil, have expressed concern that they will feel the sting of lower revenues. While none could forecast the exact day or week that a major correction on the markets might occur, all knew it was coming.

The fact that the U.S. will become energy self-sufficient by 2030 or earlier is old news.  Unlike the Saudis, few oil producing nations have maintained a rainy day fund.

Newfoundland and Labrador is just as reliant, on a relative basis, as many of the countries mentioned.  Oil directly generates 33% of the Province’s budgetary revenues.  The figure does not reflect proceeds from corporate, personal taxes and HST associated with offshore related jobs, construction and services. In fact, oil’s impact on the Treasury may represent as much as 50% of revenue or more when the labour pool doing the round trip to Fort McMurray is assessed.

Monday 13 October 2014


Premier Paul Davis knows the sting of political whiplash. Just four weeks ago he experienced the euphoria of victory.  Minutes after his investiture, he discovered no honeymoon awaited him with either the pundits or the public.

It is not Davis’ fault the Auditor-General chose to dump the HVP Report on him, rather than on Tom Marshall, who is as much deserving of blame as Nick McGrath. But Paul Davis is entirely responsible for not ordering a deeper investigation into its odious contents.

As to his other decisions, what does it say about him that he would elevate an uncouth backbencher, Keith Russell, and award him Ministerial status?

The public may not understand the importance of political convention vis a vis the unelected Ms. Manning, but the Premier should.  

Similarly, even a police constable should know that changing the Department of Justice to the Department of Public Safety is akin to replacing an ‘ideal’ with a ‘cop car’. 

Monday 6 October 2014


Last week, the public saw Premier Paul Davis appoint an unelected female Minister of Public Safety arguing, among others things, the Government suffers a gender deficiency.  

Meanwhile, an intelligent and successful woman, a fine communicator, the MHA for Fortune Bay-Cape La Hune, Tracey Perry is left out of the Davis Cabinet.  She failed to make the list of the Williams, Dunderdale and the Marshall Cabinets, too.  

But the Tories aren’t the only ‘lug heads’ in politics when it comes to promoting women and levelling the scales of gender equality.  The tricks played by the Liberals in the District of Humber East, to discourage Corner Brook businesswoman Donna Thistle from running, do little to give the Party a legitimate claim to enhancing female representation in the House of Assembly. 

It seems Thistle was a cause celeb when the Liberals thought her a sacrificial lamb.  But when Frank Coleman’s departure from the P.C Leadership also removed him from a planned by-election, the Liberals decided they didn't want a political neophyte to challenge the Tories in the District after all.