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Monday, 31 October 2016


If you are one of the people going gaga over the deal with the aboriginal people of Labrador over methylmercury, you might want to think about what you are cheering for.

The issue is important – it’s just that the cost of even a minimal solution will finish off a project already effectively bankrupt.

There are other lessons that emerged from the protest and its aftermath that the public might want to note, too.

First, if the 2041 Group had occupied Nalcor Offices four years ago, and risked going to jail - as did some aboriginal people – the North Spur might have gotten independent review. The fake Oversight Committee would have been shut down, too and replaced with one both credible and honest. Only because the Inuit were unafraid to face down authority is everyone going kissy face.

Thursday, 27 October 2016


Guest Post Written by David Vardy

The marathon consultations between the province and aboriginal leaders concluded early Wednesday morning with an Agreement to establish an Expert Advisory Committee. This was the outcome arising from occupation of the Muskrat Falls site, along with a hunger strike and demonstrations in Ottawa, in Labrador and on the Island. 

The agreement leaves many questions unanswered, including the composition of the Advisory Committee, its governance and its authority. The outcome will rest in the hands of “science” and “traditional” knowledge but often scientific evidence and research are inconclusive or divergent.

How will divergent views be accommodated to reach a reasonable solution to the risks posed to human health by methylmercury? Will the Expert Advisory Committee agree on measures to remove additional vegetation and topsoil to mitigate the poisoning of mammals, fish and birds?  The Agreement also leaves many questions unanswered, including the resolution of the risk of landslides at the Muskrat Falls site because of sensitive clays. These risks have the potential to threaten the safety of workers on the site as well as Labrador residents.

Monday, 24 October 2016


It seems the aboriginal people of Labrador will finally have their issues aired as they should. Still, any deal will represent more cost overruns. Someone needs to ask: how much more is too much? When is it time to say that enough is enough?

The Government has stated it is too late to cancel the project though it has provided no evidence for this position. Meanwhile, the public has no idea how this nightmare will end. Nor have they been promised the kind of disclosure expected after public officials have so badly screwed up.

Labrador’s “Manifesto”, which includes demands regarding methylmercury contamination and the North Spur, needs to be taken seriously. Yet the cost of continuing should be evaluated, given that major additional costs will be laden onto an already far too expensive project.

Island ratepayers need to get their minds around that question. They need to address other key issues to the Premier, too such as oversight. Perhaps the new Consumer Advocate, Dennis Browne, can help give formality to this process. The Premier should ask him to engage with "naysayers", Browne having been one of them.

Saturday, 22 October 2016


The current crisis over methylmercury levels threatening Lake Melville, after flooding at the Muskrat Falls reservoir, cannot be viewed in isolation from the other issues that plague the project - especially its frightening (and growing) price tag. 

This is a renewed call for Premier Ball to put the project on “ice” at least for this winter.
The interregnum will afford a full review of the methylmercury issue and give the public an opportunity (one they should demand) to examine its economic consequences for them, as ratepayers.

Additional clear cutting and soil removal in the reservoir area can only add to an already over-burdensome cost. The Government’s way of dealing with the environmental issues seems at best incremental. The public can have no confidence the Province can afford to have this project completed.

Monday, 17 October 2016


Photo Credit: Des Sullivan
There is a belief, perhaps commonly held, that Labrador, especially its northern domain, is “the Land God Gave to Cain”.  It is an ascription which Jacques Cartier gave the entire north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Ostensibly, he was alluding to Genesis 4:1116 which tells us that, as punishment for having killed his brother Abel, Cain is condemned to survive a barren land.

Cartier may have known scripture, but it seems he gave little assessment to the place he perceived only as bleak and desolate. He may have been right about Cain’s reward all the same. It just seems that he had such a limited expectation of a deity he might have thought a merciful God.  

Just possibly, the allusion to “barren” elicits an excess of subjectivity anyway. Indeed, who would argue that destiny’s plan for the biblical Cain might have been not just to survive but to thrive. 

Could there be a better place to embolden and to renew the human spirit than this arctic oasis?

Did the land not testify to an ancient and gifted human occupation where two great contemporary aboriginal cultures, the Innu and the Inuit  have endured?

Thursday, 13 October 2016


On Tuesday, Hurricane Matthew washed Premier Ball’s “Hour of Indecision” (Part II) off the airwaves. The public need not worry. “The Way Forward”, as Dwight Ball perceives it, is a compass without a needle.  The province is mired in indecision.  

We should hope that the Government’s response to those suffering damages from Matthew will find a speedier response we have to our fiscal storm.

Notwithstanding its seriousness, nor to diminish the personal tragedies left in the Hurricane’s wake, it is becoming easier to sympathize with the media over their excitement about a weather day.

Put yourself in Debbie Cooper’s shoes. Imagine being forced to fill ten minutes of air time based upon Premier Ball’s goal of reducing a measly 14,000 square feet of office space.

Or, think of the “Coop”, as Jonathan often refers to his anchor side-kick,  announcing with the joyfulness of a reader at the Chinese State Broadcasting Corp., Dear Leader’s second big idea - (drum roll needed here) – to increase the farming economy in Newfoundland! That should drive our GDP!

Monday, 10 October 2016


Education Minister Dale Kirby is “surprised that about half the people who attended a consultant session on the future of libraries in Newfoundland and Labrador walked out in frustration”, according to the CBC. Kirby shouldn't be “surprised” at all. It was an appropriate response by a public aghast that politics is so badly broken in this province.

When an elected Government sends out an accounting firm to perform a role politicians are expected to do daily on a completely non-accounting issue, one that has no technical underpinnings you know you have elected the “B-Team”.

Don’t misunderstand. It’s not as if we had the option of electing an “A-Team”. That wasn’t on offer by any Party. But the Liberals are so oblivious to the purpose of politics, and their role in it, that we are left to worry not just they are second-rate but that they are a team for which the “B” stands for “bumpkins”. The terminology is deliberate. It refers to those who are more ignorant than uneducated.

This Government should have realized that it miscalculated on the library closures in the first place; that the attempt to save $1 million when the real goal ought to have been saving several hundred million was not just silly, it detracted from achieving the larger target.  

Thursday, 6 October 2016


When CBC Morning Show Host Anthony Germain invited this blogger to come on the Show and discuss the Public Utilities Board's release of its September 29th Report entitled "Supply Issues and Power Outages On The Island Interconnected System"  - on the root cause of DARKNL and other major outages on the Island transmission system - I could not say, no! Nalcor, the Tories, and most recently Premier Ball, want to hold onto the narrative that covers everyone's derierre - except the public's. That's the old "aging assets" excuse. Sorry folks, that won't do. 

Germain is a demanding interview; he reads this stuff. I like to prepare by writing out answers to possible questions. I usually end up with more material than the interview can afford - which I suppose is not a bad thing. Imagine if I ran out of things to say!  

Still, I thought that Uncle Gnarley readers might want to see a little more detail on what the PUB said in its Report - which would have been better titled "Who Is Responsible for DARKNL?"  So, what Germain asked and what he didn't - you get to read it all. Oh joy!

Monday, 3 October 2016


Paul Davis wants to lead the P.C. Party into the next general election. Any sensible person would have to ask: why him? Surely, there are better choices.

Davis told the Telegram: “I never had a lot of time in the premier’s office… there were some ideas and vision and focus that I never had a chance to do.” Interesting. I don’t think anyone does vision and focus. These are attributes used to help shape a larger plan.

Davis was given the boot in the General Election last year.

Still, it is almost impossible to clear the mind of the amateurish missteps with which Davis greeted the public as he left the Lieutenant- Governor’s residence.  The appointment of an unelected Minister, unfamiliar with both political convention and the requirement to seek election, still resounds.

Then there is the Department of Justice fiasco dropping "Justice" in favour of "Public Safety" which confirmed that he understood enforcement but not habeas corpus.