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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.

Monday 9 February 2015


Ronald Reagan once said the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”.   The Economist recently voiced the equivalent ‘Reaganesque’ threat, most relevant to enterprises like Nalcor: “I’m from a state-owned firm and I want your capital”. 

The newspaper, consistently insightful, noted state owned enterprise (SOE) share of global market capitalism has shrunk from a peak of 22% in 2007 to 13% today. The problem is not just Nalcor; it is international.  

Nalcor doesn't always have to be our problem.

It offers no public policy role that is not available through the private sector.  The SOE had the opportunity, not lacking money, to change NL into a modern, technically advanced and cost competitive electricity market. But, the talent was never in their genes.

Monday 2 February 2015


This piece was supposed to deal with some specifics about how we might begin to dismantle Nalcor. But, on reflection, it is insufficient to condemn Nalcor having been unwise enough to be born a state owned enterprise (SOE).  The question deserves a wider evaluation than the condemnation, offered in Part I, for its high spending ways; though I cannot assure a different conclusion. 

Still, it might be a good idea to discuss and determine whether that SOE has made decisions so wise that their public policy impact exceeds even its ability to destroy public money. The originally intended part II will now become part III.

Typically, governments establish SOES to fill a spot in a program it deems essential to economic growth and development; one that the private sector is unwilling or unable to undertake. In addition, governments expect SOES to use the clout of the state to lever those goals.

When SOES act in conflict with economic policies or when they behave recklessly, management must be cleared out. This outcome equally applies if the SOE’s original purpose is no longer relevant, having been submitted to the clarity of changing circumstance, or clearer minds (for Nalcor it is both).