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Thursday 20 July 2017


Uncle Gnarley is in a foul mood.

The old economist and Petty Harbour fisherman called up just the other day to wail that the “Chase the Ace” lottery in the Goulds is getting more traction than possible fraud at Nalcor.

That the CBC had stationed a reporter in the community for the whole day - and planned to go back on-air to chase the outcome - didn’t sit well with him. “Damn blasted,” he could be heard, “sure the crowd at 'Here and Now' probably think Muskrat is something to chase, too.

"A bunch of innocents thinking a church lottery makes better news than fooling people and squandering billions", he growled. 

He was not happy. And not because he didn’t have a ticket.

Yes, it’s July. And readers are likely saying ‘for the love of Pete, knock it off… we don’t care if Nalcor is responsible for every iceberg on the north-east coast as long as winter is over by Regatta Day!
Of course it's not just the deceit at Nalcor, the dithering on the 8th Floor, or the nonsense on the CBC. Even holidays seem an unwarranted expectation to Uncle Gnarley, especially when the public debt looms so large.

And he’ll tell you as much, straight out.

I can just see the ol' codger now, looking through squinty eyes, as his chin whiskers are raised only enough to convey a sense of bemusement at your collective pain, his feigned concern nothing more than hope that his  sense of empathy is not misinterpreted… not as commiseration, anyway.

Not even in his cups would Uncle Gnarley tell you, you deserve a holiday!

Remorselessly he will prod with a wiry finger, as if it was a stick; a reminder that you let a bunch incompetent fools pull the wool over your eyes  - $12.7 billion worth probably far more. Now, all you deserve is the right to work it off!

It’s tough being at the mercy of the heartless, especially in July month.

Uncle Gnarley is like that. Yet, for all his peculiarities, he likes to keep an eye on things. It’s a safe bet that from some corner of his tackle box, he can track every IP address at Nalcor!

Now, where was I? Oh, yes, the forensic audit.

The government is deaf to calls for something so sensible. The public, including former premiers, want one.   

Thing is, do Ministers Cathy Bennett and Al Hawkins?  Do they have a gun to the Premier's head?

Sure, people would like to see what Bennett and Hawkins overlooked or condoned when they were on the Nalcor Board. Many are inclined to discount the worst possibility. Hasn’t Uncle Gnarley always said: never chalk up to complicity what can be more easily explained by stupidity?  

Except, even Uncle Gnarley thinks the proof is in. Muskrat isn’t about run-of-the-mill foolishness.

Imagine having the Anonymous Engineer’s insider view and the SNC Report, too… and the Premier to not turn over a single stone!

And, it’s not as if Nalcor got in bed with the virtuous, is it? 

What’s Stan’s problem, anyway? Does he have a gun to his head, too?

Some, like Vardy and Penney, credit him with having an air of “honesty… without pulling punches”.

Problem is, it’s mostly air.

Gnarley has long gotten over being impressed with Stan Marshall.

And a one-word vocabulary doesn’t count for much either even if the word is “boondoggle”.

Marshall is going to have to add two-word phrases soon. And “Forensic Audit” seems a good place to begin.

Imagine having the nerve to tell Ball that Nalcor is ‘too busy to talk to a Forensic Auditor’ at $5 billion over budget!

And the crowd under suspicion - the ones giving the advice, too.

Why would expect something different from Nalcor, anyway?

Uncle Gnarley hasn’t stopped laughing since Stan Marshall was heard to say that, on Muskrat, he wanted to “finish strong”.   

On occasion, he is heard to imitate the CEO: "Now, I want to finish strong", he would say over and over. "Yes, I want to finish strong" - trying it in one octave, then another - only to keel over in fits of laughter; that boat having been long left the wharf. 

I wonder if I tried on Gnarley the idea of 'Chase the Ace' for rate mitigation.

'Just as sensible as waiting for the senior executives at Nalcor to get out of town, if we wait three years for a Forensic Audit', he would likely reply.