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Thursday 29 March 2018


Monday’s Blog Post forecasting a ‘status quo’ Budget didn’t exactly require going out on a limb. The Government had long ago made clear that they don’t like making decisions, especially ones that disappoint or that engender public protest; so they don’t.
Problem is, inaction and indecision carry consequences. Continued vacillation threatens the fiscal viability of the whole province. 
Moody's, a financial services and debt rating agency, has our position in its crosshairs. In a review released just yesterday, the Firm noted that NL's "path to balanced budgets is at risk". They said:
It’s not a novel announcement. But the right ones are saying it  (text of announcement is provided at the end of this Post.)

Tuesday 27 March 2018


Guest Post by David Vardy

Will the Coalition make a difference? 
One of those invited to join the Muskrat Falls Concerned Citizens’ Coalition (MFCCC) asked the following questions:
Thank you for the invitation to join your Coalition. I have two questions, answers to which will have an impact on my decision as to whether or not to join:
1:   How can the Coalition positively impact the disastrous situation that Messrs Williams, Martin, Bennett and others have visited on the residents and taxpayers of this Province? 
2:  What can the Coalition do to prevent similar misadventures by future majority governments?

Monday 26 March 2018


If prudence was ever a word in Tom Osborne’s lexicon it was likely extracted as a condition of accepting the Finance post. Profligacy, now known in this province as status quo, is a more likely fit when the Minister delivers, on Tuesday, the seventh deficit Budget in a row.

Ask public sector labour. Ask the health care sector. They know there can be no change because their fiscal arrangements — which represent a very high percentage of total budgeted expenditures — have been carved in stone.
Then there are the Polls. When the Premier’s popularity climbs amidst a refusal to acknowledge a fiscal crisis — one that grows each day — it might be right to suggest that the public, too, is content to leave the pain for someone — anyone — else.  
It is possible that other factors are at play; that what is really influencing Ball’s polling gains is a Tory leadership vacuum. But I’m not so sure about that. 

Friday 23 March 2018

YOU ARE INVITED! Join Muskrat Falls Concerned Citizens’ Coalition (MFCCC)

(Your response to this invitation is time sensitive due to limited time for receipt of application. Please include your address - and phone# if desired) EMAIL:

Why bother establishing Coalition?
Will our children and grandchildren want to remain here in Newfoundland and Labrador? Would we want them to live here and bring up their families? Will this be a good place for them to live after we begin repaying the huge debt from Muskrat Falls? What can we do about it, other than to leave?
One thing we can do is to make the Muskrat Falls Inquiry a success. The Commissioner has invited applications for standing for the Inquiry. The Inquiry will provide a forum for evaluating why the project was sanctioned and why it has become such a monumental fiasco and a threat to our sovereignty and financial sustainability. We are hopeful it will shed light on the options for the future, to mitigate the damage.

There is a real danger that Nalcor will overwhelm the Inquiry with its virtually unlimited resources. Only an energetic, passionate and intelligent intervention will enable the Commission to achieve a balanced understanding of the complex history of this project and how sound public policy principles and management best practices were repudiated. We are inviting you to join us to create a countervailing force which will ensure a transparent, accessible and fair hearing process and enable the Commissioner to fulfill his challenging mandate.

The undersigned plan to submit an application for standing and funding to the Muskrat Falls Commission of Inquiry by the Muskrat Falls Concerned Citizens Coalition (MFCCC). The deadline is 5 pm on March 28, 2018. If we are successful we will incorporate a company which will elect a Board of Directors. We hope you will agree to join as a member.

Our purpose is to ensure that the Commission arrives at a full understanding of the factors which led to the decision to undertake the Muskrat Falls project as well as an understanding of why costs escalated so dramatically. In addition the Commission must provide an analysis of the options available to the province in order to reduce the cost of power to ratepayers and to minimize the financial impact on the province.

Our reason for seeking standing is to assist the Commission to understand the issues and to direct their attention to witnesses who might assist them. We all, as citizens, have an interest in the findings of the Commission and in the action taken arising from their recommendations by virtue of the magnitude of the project and its overall impact from an economic, financial and environmental standpoint.  The planning process, the regulatory oversight and the quality of project management are all important factors contributing to the debacle of Muskrat Falls. Equally important, once the project is completed, is how to mitigate the damage and evaluate the options available to ensure that the project does not bankrupt the province. In seeking standing we all have an interest in the outcome of the inquiry.

The undersigned bring to the Inquiry considerable expertise relating to the project, having written many articles and briefs on the subject and participated in many public forums, including the PUB’s reference hearing in 2012. Our participation in the public policy debate over the past eight years enables us to offer important insights which will further the conduct of the inquiry. Our efforts will also provide a countervailing view to the evidence which is likely to be presented by Nalcor Energy and will therefore “contribute to the openness and fairness of the inquiry.”

In order to operate within a modest budget we will not hire outside expert witnesses but will instead rely on the expertise of our own volunteer members who will attend hearings and report back to the group through a rotating roster. We plan to apply to engage legal counsel to represent us at the hearing.

We are inviting you to join our group and to support our submission by allowing us to include your name in our submission. We are also inviting you to become a member of the organization we intend to incorporate, if our application is successful, under the name of the Muskrat Falls Concerned Citizens Coalition. Your role as a member will be to support our work in every way possible, including review of documents and monitoring hearings as well as electing directors.

Please tell us if you know of other like-minded people who we might approach. We need a critical mass of members if we are to achieve our ambitious purpose.

The success of our efforts will depend upon the strength of our team. We have no illusion that the undersigned can achieve our purpose on our own, without your help. We will need your energy, your passion and your intellect to make this successful.

Please reply as soon as possiblewithin the next 48 hours and, if you agree, please supply your full name, address and contact information so that we can include it in our application for standing.

Ron Penney

Des Sullivan

David Vardy

Thursday 22 March 2018


Guest Post by Phil Helwig, P. Eng.

A year ago I started an article in reaction to Danny William’s speech to the Board of Trade but never completed it.

Now that Nalcor’s management of Muskrat Falls will be scrutinized. It is timely to examine some issues for the investigation.

Monday 19 March 2018

The Impossible Dream Part I: Financing the Labrador Transmission Link

Guest Post by David Vardy

This is Part I of a series on the financing of Muskrat Falls and will focus on the 1150 km transmission line from Muskrat Falls, across the Strait of Belle Isle, and down the Island to Soldiers Pond, outside of St. John’s. Part II will deal with the financing of the generation component. We will refer to the line as the Labrador Island Link (LIL), which is the only high voltage direct current (HVDC) line in the province. It is owned jointly by Emera and by Nalcor.
The LIL’s direct costs, not including financing costs during construction, amount to $3.7 B of the $10.1 B direct costs of the LIL and the generation assets combined, representing 37% of the capital assets which comprise the NL components of Muskrat Falls. Cost of financing during construction brings the total LIL cost to $4,959 or 39% of the overall $12.7 billion estimated cost. 

Thursday 15 March 2018


Guest Post by PlanetNL

PlanetNL8: Labrador Interconnected System (LIS) Under Threat of Huge Rate Increases

The largest regulated zone in Labrador is the Labrador Interconnected System (LIS) powered by Churchill Falls with transmission lines running to Labrador West and East.  These are all relatively old assets that have provided exceptionally economical service and the lowest rates in North America and possibly the entire western world. 

Government policy for this unique regulated rate zone, however, is about to prove the old adage of having too much of a good thing could prove to be not good for you.  Low rates have attracted new demand that will lead to expensive new transmission line construction resulting in major rate increases for everyone in the LIS.  There’s also a long shadow cast by Muskrat Falls as well.

Government has the authority to select a different course but as demonstrated by Muskrat Falls, doing the right thing for ratepayers is probably not on the agenda.

Monday 12 March 2018


Unless an issue impacts on a personal level, the public is generally sparse with its time on matters of public policy. There are good reasons for that, even if people would profit from debate and a scepticism untainted by partisanship. Ultimately, people live their lives giving priority to the needs of family and employment, even as they lament the threat to their living standards and peace of mind posed by a decade of miserable political leadership.

Yes, people want to know why Muskrat — a project glorified by all strata of society — could have been so poorly conceived and executed. They want to know if malfeasance was involved. But, in the end, they will leave the issue of responsibility and recrimination to the institutions charged with the maintenance of civil society.

Most know that what is hanging over them will be devastating if no action is taken to alter the outcome. By and large, people now want to hear solutions. They want “fixes” that constitute something more than empty promises by politicians whose focus is the next election.

Sunday 11 March 2018


(funds and awards)
George Bernard Shaw: “Government that robs Peter to pay Paul has the support of Paul”

When funding springs from G -
Who bares the truth? Who dares critique?
Who pulls the string for action flawed?

Who allots the jackpot-awed?
Who probes and prods as heretic?
Approval in the loud applaud.

Thursday 8 March 2018


The Grand River Keepers (GRK) and the Labrador Land Protectors (LLP) have constituted Labrador's most steadfast opposition to the Muskrat Falls project. Though relatively small in number they have had an out-sized influence on public awareness in Labrador and throughout the province.

Rarely enjoying the unequivocal support of formal aboriginal government or town councils, the issues with which they have grappled – methylmercury and concerns regarding public safety, like the North Spur stability problem - they have advanced rational public policy themes which are important to every citizen. 
Their support has come from individual aboriginals and non-aboriginal people alike; individuals who have often felt that the Native Groups and the Town Councils, including the one in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, have been far too willing to take Nalcor’s strings-attached largesse in return for deference and for keeping quiet.

Monday 5 March 2018


Democracy on the Rocks
Guest Post by David Vardy

“Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” 

Dylan Thomas was talking about death. Death is also the issue in our province, namely the death of democracy. 
Edmund Burke said: “All that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.”
If good people remain silent when evil is being done our democracy will die. Our democracy is a fragile flower. It must be watered and fed. It must be protected against those who would hurt it. 

Muskrat Falls has been a case study in the failure of democracy, a microcosm of a far bigger problem. Unless we fix it urgently our democracy will die.

Sunday 4 March 2018


(Come Home... Please!)

The Province and MUN is hosting little chats
in the hopes of luring Expat’s and Alumni back -
seeking extra revenues for interest on the bonds,
and to gain from their experiences in the bigger Ponds.

Surveying to find why Pats fled in want attack!
Why-survey costs to save: well-paid work, a lack.
NL jobs are scarce and most in Pol’s embrace,
folks wouldn’t have to leave if opportunity the case.

Thursday 1 March 2018


If you plan to answer The Rooms’ Request for Proposals (RFP) to act as the museum’s marketing agency, there’s only one problem: you won’t get the job if you are or have been a critic of the Government.

In the jargon of the marketing business, The Rooms is seeking an Agency of Record (AOR).
Recently, the allNewfoundlandLabrador business news website reported that The Rooms plans to “build off the success of its Beaumont Hamel exhibit”. The work involves a range of tasks “from marketing and campaign strategy to creative development, online content [and] social media”.

The allNewfoundlandLabrador article describes The Rooms as “the institution that safeguards the province’s arts, culture and history…” Then, too, The Rooms is identified with another role: as custodian of the military history and memorabilia of members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.

Where is the evidence of The Rooms’ transgression?