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Monday 27 February 2017


A Tale of Two Regulators

Guest Post by JM

The government of Clyde Wells introduced the Electrical Power Control Act in 1994. It was implemented to define electrical power policy in the province and to provide a means for the utilities to earn a return on their investment in the generation and delivery of the power.  Under the EPCA the Public Utilities Board (PUB) has broad powers to regulate and legislative responsibility for the planning of future power supply in the Province. 

It is worth reading the Act to truly understand the breath of powers which the PUB possesses in these areas. This did not occur by accident. On the contrary, the legislation received the very deliberate focus of the premier of the day.  When he introduced the Bill in the House of Assembly, Clyde Wells stated: 

Since June 2010, when the decision was made by Nalcor to develop the Muskrat Falls Project, the PUB should have had an integral role to ensure the project met the clear “Declaration of Power Policy” as outlined within Section 3 of the Electrical Power Control Act. 

The process of review ran counter to the intent of the 1994 legislative initiative.  Muskrat Falls was conceived in secrecy, and born under both delusion and deception

Thursday 23 February 2017


Guest Post written by David Vardy

The 2015 movie Spotlight won a Best Picture Oscar for a story about investigative journalism. Spotlight is a story about how the Boston Globe, through its investigative reporting, directed the spotlight upon abuses in the care of children that had been covered up. In so doing the Boston Globe took on a monolithic institution which had hidden the truth about three cases of abuse, growing to 13 and ultimately to 90 Catholic priests who had abused their young charges.

The Boston Globe took on the perpetrators against all odds. They conducted intensive journalistic investigation and brought to light information about mass culpability which was known to many but not revealed to the public. The film focuses upon the process of investigative journalism. Where is investigative journalism in Newfoundland and Labrador, where the abuses at Mount Cashel were among the first to be exposed in what ultimately became a global phenomenon of sexual predation by Christian pastors, first brought to light by the Sunday Express?

Monday 20 February 2017


The act of telling a lie is nothing new. In the English language the word “mendacity” has hardly changed from its ecclesiastical Latin origin, mendacitas or 'lying'.

Individuals lie. Often they are only fibs with harmless intent, like those that preserve innocence about belief in the Easter Bunny.   

Governments lie too, sometimes with minor consequences — to escape political accountability, to bolster popularity, or to avoid public retribution.  

There are different classes of mendacity. Society can tolerate political and bureaucratic lies, up to a point. But when the consequences are too injurious — that is to say, when the policy makers or their proxies are reckless enough to have “gambled” (to use Stan Marshall’s word) and lost, or worse, possibly having contrived the fundamentals going so far as to assure billions in profit— a minimum expectation is that the culprits will be held to account.

Thursday 16 February 2017


When the media choose to be bystanders, willingly complicit in propagating Nalcor’s persistent falsifications, is there anything to be done but wait for the fallout such misdeeds inspire?

The silence that now envelops the squandering of $4 billion by Nalcor on the Muskrat Falls project a sum expected to go higher constitutes an inspiration for some head scratching. We surely need to ask why the perpetrators deserve protection from questions of accountability.

When all the ‘normal’ checks and balances of a modern democracy fail, isn’t that when the media should be on the top of their game?

While the public must take ultimate responsibility for being informed, one aspect of that job should be to keep an eye on how the media treat the social licence that is the claim of their profession.

Monday 13 February 2017


The 2041 Group, which included several capable lawyers, spent many a night parsing the contracts which contained Nalcor’s commitment to Emera for the Nova Scotia Block (that’s the free electricity). Then there’s another set that commits one terawatt hour at a price set by auction at the New England bar.

The group watched in horror as Nalcor openly backed itself into a corner as it continued to spend tens of millions on the Muskrat Falls project knowing, as it did, that the Federal Government had given veto power to Nova Scotia over award of the Federal Loan Guarantee (FLG) and thus project sanction.

By the time Bruce Huskilson, Emera’s CEO, had finished shaking down Ed Martin, the UARB the equivalent of our PUB, acting on behalf of the Government of Nova Scotia must have known Nalcor would agree to any demand to get sanction.

Nalcor’s behavior has always contradicted the rules of common business practice, and of common sense.

Thursday 9 February 2017


 Guest Post Written by David Vardy

The evidence is mounting that the Muskrat Falls project was ill-conceived and badly executed. Sadly there is also a growing body of evidence that the mismanagement of the project has been compounded by practices that are ethically questionable. They cry out for nothing less than a judicial inquiry into these practices and into the myths that were proclaimed as facts.

The Case for Muskrat Falls
The Muskrat Falls project lies at the heart of the financial dilemma facing the province. What was proclaimed as a “strategic investment” has become a financial and environmental disaster as well as an existential threat to our sovereignty. Why have we allowed this to happen, plunging the province into an abyss of debt, and into spiraling population decline?

There were three arguments for this project. Each has been debunked as urban myth.

Monday 6 February 2017


This is one engineer's story of how Nalcor "low-balled" the cost estimates for the Muskrat Falls project, paving the way for huge cost overruns. The alleged phony estimates led to an inadequate budget for the project, and indiscriminate contract awards Astaldi a classic example. The engineer states that Nalcor failed to perform adequate due diligence ignoring well-established processes designed to confirm valid estimates such as those used by SNC-Lavalin. The post also discusses the implications of those allegations for the integrity of our political process.

Muskrat Falls A History of Misinformation 2010 to 2015

In 2010, Nalcor hired SNC Lavalin (SNC) to conduct the engineering, procurement and construction management (EPC) for the MF project. A key aspect of the Company's role essential to any decision to proceed was the preparation of a cost estimate.

The $5 billion investment Premier Williams announced at that time quickly became $6.2 billion ($7.4 billion, including the cost of borrowing) as Nalcor sought sanction from the Dunderdale Government, in 2012. $6.2 billion was the cost figure Nalcor used in its Application to the PUB and the claim that the Muskrat Falls option exceeded the “isolated island” option by $2 billion.

Thursday 2 February 2017


Guest Post Written By Donna Thistle

Dear Uncle Gnarley,

I read your piece Rural NL Needs to Save Itself.

You are right about the unsustainability of the many services offered to a very few, seemingly in “rural” NL.

I think you’re on to something.

But I think you got lost on your way there.  You read two of the signs wrong.

The first wrong turn was on the corner called “Municipal Leadership”.

You are wrong that no Municipal Leaders have ever spoken up about this problem and you are wrong that no municipal leaders have tried to fix it.  Fogo Island being one glaring example.  There are others.  

Now, you’re a pretty good guy Uncle; I’ve been reading your blog for a long time. You are doing your best to bring some important issues to the attention of the general public (ever feel like you are talking to the wall with all the work you are doing to expose Muskrat Falls?) Yes? Then you know exactly how some of the municipal leaders in “rural” NL feel.