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Thursday 28 May 2015


Ed Martin sent Gilbert Bennett to Paddy Daly’s VOCM Open Line Show, this week, to blame the Dome fiasco squarely on Astaldi.

But there was a time when all was la Dolce Vita between Nalcor and Astaldi.

As Nalcor VP Gil Bennett tells it, it seems none of the other international contractors had any original ideas for building Muskrat Falls in a Labrador winter.

Then came along Astaldi.

So, how did Astaldi beat out Canadian Company Aecon for the $1 billion plus Muskrat Falls project?

Well, back in 2013 it may have gone something like this:

Mr. Astaldi might have said to Ed Martin: “We can solve your problem, Mr. Martinelli…we Italians have come to defeat your Labrador winter. We know what we are doing.

But you have never worked in a Labrador winter, says Ed: how can you possibly know how cold it gets up there?

Monday 25 May 2015


Thanks to so many people on Facebook and Twitter for sharing Saturday's Post: THE PHOTOS NALCOR DON'T WANT YOU TO SEE

Within the last 48 hours more than 8,000 readers have read the Blog Post, a stunning number because, it vastly outnumbered the popular Uncle Gnarley Blog Posts issued during DARKNL.

The pictures of virtually brand new structural steel being hauled away as scrap, after Nalcor failed to have the Dome built to speed construction last winter, are just one visual manifestation of Nalcor incompetence.  There are many others.  

Think of the hundreds of millions of dollars of work awarded without public tender! Think of the additional cost given the project is horribly off schedule.

Why would so many people be both interested and alarmed? This is a consequence of the secrecy and obfuscation that had insulated the Muskrat Falls project from day one. This is what happens when democratically elected politicians fail to perform their duty, when they cower before unelected bureaucrats masquerading as business mandarins, at great public expense.

Saturday 23 May 2015


Uncle Gnarley Blog has obtained photographs (shown at the end of this introduction) of Nalcor’s Muskrat Falls Integrated Cover System (referred to as the “Dome”) reduced to loads of junk steel. The building is being taken down again. The photos are shocking because they represent an enormous waste of public money.

Muskrat Falls was an unwise project for many reasons. One of those was Nalcor's lack of expertise to carry out such a large and complex project.

We can’t always show you a picture of incompetence or arrogance but, this time, we have come pretty close.

The Dome under construction at Muskrat Falls
We don’t know Nalcor’s final cost for the "Dome". But we do know it was never finished. To the originally proposed $120 million (the final cost may have been higher) you can now add the cost of dismantling and removal.

Now, the Dome is being cut up for scrap readied to be sent off for re-cycling.
Fully constructed, the Dome's dimensions are 551-feet-long, 262-feet-wide and 164-feet-high. 

Monday 18 May 2015


Competitive tendering of government services, including capital projects, is not just important; it is a key feature of honest, fair, and transparent governance.

Introduced in this Province following the ouster of the Smallwood Administration (known, among other things, for its arbitrary award of government business and cost plus contracts) the Public Tendering Act (though still flawed) is viewed by many as a bulwark against the corruption, nepotism, and excess, experienced in an earlier time.

The Humber Valley Paving Contract, arbitrarily cancelled by a former Minister of Transportation and Works spoke to a demand not to return to a time when select political cronies got rewarded for their partisan fealty. It elicited a storm of protest.

Two awards, for two Muskrat Falls project related transmission lines, the largest completely untendered, should bring on a far worse storm.

Monday 11 May 2015


      Guest Post Written by "JM"

     My political opinions were largely formed in the 1990’s.  This was turbulent economic times for both Newfoundland, and the country as a whole.  In Newfoundland the closure of the fishery represented economic death by a thousand cuts.  Our population declined by 10%, and an entire generation of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians were forced to migrate.

    In Canada, debt and growing deficits had us on the verge of default.  We were the economic basket case of the G7.  It was bleak times for both Canada and Newfoundland, yet we persevered.  With the Federal Liberals coming to power in 1993 they implemented a major program of cuts, intended to reduce government spending and balance the budget.  In this province, Clyde Wells had to manage a pseudo economy, yet was still able to control spending and balance the budget in 1996. This was before Vale, Hibernia, White Rose, or Hebron. 

     As noted in the linked article above, in Canada the ratio of spending cuts to tax hikes was seven-to-one in combating the deficit. Asked why, the prime minister replied: "There was more need on one side than the other". 

    These cuts were across the board, and deep.  They affected every aspect of society.  During my 5 years in university my tuition increased from $1420 a year to about $3350.  To put that into perspective, it would be about $5000 in today’s dollars, compared to the $2550 that Memorial students presently enjoy .

Thursday 7 May 2015


Hydro Quebec's legal challenge to Nalcor's interpretation of the 1969 Upper Churchill Renewal Agreement is, again, in the news.

A clause in the deal makes it subject to adjudication by the Courts of Quebec.

Nalcor officials have been issued a subpoena to answer questions as part of the judicial process.  They have refused to participate notwithstanding the expectation the Company will defend Nalcor’s legal position when the case is called, this Fall.

The issue has major implications for the Muskrat Falls project and for Nalcor’s claim to the effectiveness of the Water Management Agreement (WMA). 

Make no mistake, underpinning this legal challenge is the very viability of the project.

If Muskrat fails to generate the load requirements of Island and the Nova Scotia Block, because the facility is not permitted to operate as an integrated system with the Upper Churchill, the power will have to be generated at Holyrood; Island consumers will pay twice.

Nalcor hid the project from full review by the PUB.

In the case of the WMA, it has gone from warning the PUB, in 2009, Muskrat would be required to “chase the flows” if the Agreement was not imposed, to a position where Nalcor Vice-President Gilbert Bennett claimed, in 2013: “there will be no significant difference in how water is managed on the Churchill River, even if Hydro-Quebec wins the court case”.

Not once did Nalcor explain to the public the basis for this contradiction.

Monday 4 May 2015


Guest Post By Cabot Martin

A conversation on Paddy Daley these days might go as follows:

Caller: “We should get out of Muskrat! Cancel her! Cancel her - right now!“

Paddy: “You want out?

You want to cancel?

Do you know what you are asking for?

How much do you think that is going to cost?

And where is the money going to come from?”

Such a conversation would neatly encompass the existential question facing us.
Yeah “existential” – big word - as in “if we don’t get this right, we are toast”.
As noted below, we are not well placed to answer such questions.
But we can make a start.

First thing is to size up the hole we are in.

Friday 1 May 2015


Minister Ross Wiseman called the Budget “a measured approach to dealing with the fiscal realities facing…” the province. 

No, it wasn’t. 

It was an awful example of political leadership.

Worse, virtually every group cheered him on. The exception was the NL Employers’ Council.

"We're here for a spending issue not necessarily a revenue-generating issue and if taxpayers don't hold them accountable they'll be back again — whatever government is in power — looking for tax increases again."

That’s Richard Alexander. He is spot on.  He’s just bloody late.  His bosses at the Employers’ Council lost their tongues over Muskrat Falls.  None had the courage to help stop this madness right from the beginning. 

It is hard to win back credibility when it is squandered. But they should keep trying.