Da Legal Stuff...

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Now, with that out of the way...Let's Web Talk.

Friday, January 22, 2010


I was asked by a reader if I would be willing to post his views on the Churchill Falls situation here at Web Talk. As usual I'm more than happy to help stand up for this province in any way I can.

Here is the original link: CLICK

Friday, January 22, 2010

I find myself even more distracted than usual tonight. I have been trying to finish a very engaging piece of fiction that a friend was kind enough to mail me as a Christmas present.

As much as I would like to finish the last few pages, the phone did not stop ringing all evening. The topic of discussion has been the television news tonight and the Premier’s comments about Hydro Quebec, the new court challenge and the New Brunswick Power Deal 2.0.

As I indicated on Wednesday, this new deal, according to Hydro Quebec’s president, will continue to give the company a near-monopoly on the transmission of electric power out of Atlantic Canada on existing lines. With new hydro and wind energy projects on the downstream, Hydro Quebec has the market sewn up. As I posted yesterday, Jean Charest knows that Quebec’s future, its independence, is all connected to being the continent's largest supplier of green energy.

This leaves Newfoundland and Labrador in a fairly precarious position. Developing the Lower Churchill will certainly be difficult but it may even leave us at a disadvantage in 2041, when the 65 year contract expires.

For the same reasons as Quebec, we must find a way to unleash the potential of our hydro and wind energy; it will provide us with a timeless renewable source of income for generations to come. When Hibernia is an empty hole beneath the seabed of the Atlantic, when Voisey's Bay is as silent as the Dominion Mines in Bell Island, the mighty Churchill will still be churning out hydro electricity.

Most of the calls tonight were from past Liberal associates who were trying to convince me of the folly of my ways. The message was simple: that Danny Williams is going to cost us any deal with Quebec. That we need to negotiate a resolution to this impasse. That the right approach would soften Quebec and we could be partners in the long run.

A typical Liberal approach, I fear: go cap in hand. Take what we are given and be happy we got it. I have been immersed in this approach for most of my life. A mismatch for a party of the centre-left that subscribes to many of my long-held social and economic views.

I supported the creation of Nalcor. I supported an energy corporation when Paul Dicks proposed it as he sought the leadership of the Liberal Party, and I support it today. I support the investment of our tax dollars for equity positions in our offshore resources. I support challenging the 1969 Churchill Falls Agreement, which was initially designed to last only 40 years, from 1976 (the year Churchill Falls power came on-stream), to 2016. In particular, the current challenge by Nalcor in the Quebec Courts that will examine for the first time the mysterious 21st century renewal clause that allowed for the automatic renewal of the contract, without negotiations, for another 25 years starting in 2016. And it wanted a guaranteed, sub- bargain basement price even lower than the original price paid before the renewal.

I could sing the praises of the government’s approach from the rooftops. I do not see that as partisan, any more than I felt supporting the Premier on reforming the Atlantic Accord in 2005 was partisan.

However, this time it may be partisan, and personal, because it means that once again I am out of step with the myopic Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador. I am forced to stand up for what I believe in and reject the poisonous cool-aid that folks like Danny Dumeresque and Roger Grimes are spewing out these days.

I encourage folks to call the opposition office, to challenge these Liberals on their controversial and baseless views. This is not about Danny Williams giving his legal buddies in Montreal some cash, this is not about Danny Williams' ego, this is not about bargaining skills. It is about building a logical case in the hope of forcing a resolution to the straitjacket that prevents us from breaking free of the 2016 “blackmail clause” and transmitting Lower Churchill power through Quebec, or New Brunswick, to other markets.

These Liberals are entitled to their opinions, but they're not entitled to their own facts.

By Peter Whittle

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