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Friday, September 10, 2010

National Post: Williams slams Quebec hydro 'robbery'

Once again it's time to revisit the robbery Newfoundland and Labrador continues to suffer from at the hands of the Quebec government, Hydro-Quebec and, yes even the federal government (which played no small part in allowing the upper churchill fiasco to happen and continue to stand in the way of power export development in Labrador.)

The following appeared in the latest edition of the National Post and should be of interest to Web Talk readers:

Hypocritical, a bad neighbour, and guilty of "highway robbery": Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams called Jean Charest's Quebec government a few names in a St. John's speech, escalating a feud over hydroelectric power rights that has simmered between the two provinces for decades.

In a luncheon address to the St. John's Board of Trade on Wednesday, Mr. Williams denounced Quebec's opposition to Newfoundland's bid for federal funding to build a power transmission line from Labrador to Nova Scotia to potentially sell Labrador-generated power in the Maritimes and New England.

Calling Quebec's opposition to funding the project "shameful" and "abhorrent," Mr. Williams said Quebec "shafted us once" on the existing, 1960s-built hydro plant on the Churchill River and suggested it was trying to do so again with the proposed Lower Churchill project.

"[Quebec] wants it all, and that just doesn't go down well with me ... It needs to get out of the way of the progress of its neighbours," he said.

"The rest of the country and even Quebec itself is finally admitting that it has been getting away with highway robbery in Canada for decades."

The Quebec government has avoided the same kind of tough language so far. In a statement issued yesterday, Quebec Deputy Premier Nathalie Normandeau said the province does not oppose the construction of any undersea power transmission lines. What it opposes are federal subsidies for these on the grounds that they could distort the price and market for electricity. In a letter last month, Quebec asked Ottawa not to fund a joint Newfoundland-Nova Scotia hydro project on those grounds.

Mr. Williams characterized that move as "disgusting." His elaboration on that position on Wednesday was in keeping with his tendency to take aggresive stances against other Canadian politicians.

"Newfoundland and Quebec have been at loggerheads for a few decades now. The difference is, Danny Williams brings a very strong personal component to it. He has demonstrated
in relations with Ottawa and with other premiers that he [isn't] hesitant to butt in," said Nelson Wiseman, a University of Toronto political science professor, who noted public disagreements between premiers is rare.

That combative style plays well in Mr. Williams's home province, where his popularity ratings tend to stay above 80%.

"I guess his feeling is playing nice hasn't gotten them anywhere," said James Feehan, a professor of economics at Memorial University Newfoundland and the co-author, with Melvin Baker, of an article in the September issue of Policy Options magazine titled "The Churchill Falls contract and why Newfoundlanders can't get over it."

Driving Mr. Williams's anger is a desire to capitalize on Labrador's hydroelectric potential for the first time by piping power to the Maritimes, perhaps even finding a market for Labradorian electricty in New England.

The proposed Lower Churchill project could accomplish what the existing Churchill Falls project has failed to do for residents of Newfoundland and Labrador: namely, get hydro royalties flowing in the direction of St. John's.

For Newfoundlanders, Quebec's apparent blocking of attempts to develop the Lower Churchill project smacks of the Churchill Falls hydro deal signed in 1969, which has obliged their provincial power utility to sell electricity to Quebec for absurdly low prices. The deal angers Newfoundlanders still.

"There were events that took place that I think do not look all that clean in terms of business ethics. There were issues of conflict of interest, where Hydro-Quebec had an interest in [the Churchill Falls Labrador Corporation] at the same time," Mr. Feehan said.

Nalcor Energy, parent company of the Churchill Falls Labrador Corporation, launched a lawsuit against Hydro-Quebec in January. Several past attempts by St. John's to have the Churchill Falls deal changed or renegotiated have failed.

In the meantime, Mr. Williams reckons Newfoundland is selling Quebec more than $2-billion worth of electricity each year for around $50-million. The contract expires in 2041.


free labrador said...

Poor old Newfoundland, stymied in it's attempt to steal even more from Labrador. Cry me a frikkin river.

Brad Cabana said...

I agree with your article and write on this subject on my blog as well - http://rocksolidpolitics.blogspot.com. Also, the WJM guy who you posted a warning about on your blog has been sniffing around mine.He uses free internet from Ottawa, so your comments on the Liberal machine may be smack on. Brad

Republic Of said...

Williams political style is very well suited for this type of political game, I have always stated that Myles The biggest thing we have never done in Newfoundland and Labrador is not let the world know were we are or more importantly what we are.
By informing the world of how Quebec plays, in its politics and its business dealings, shines a whole new different light on “La Belle Province”. They would no sooner leave Canada, and then they would give up the right to Church Hill Falls.

Enough is enough, the same with “Mr. Free Labrador” here. How can a region deny its history or its culture? Mr. Free Labrador over here has the smell of Maple Sugar & Back Bacon if you know what I’m saying. If you don’t understand let me spell it out even so the simplest of minds can read it. The amount of money that Ottawa is pouring into Labrador to create some sort of “Ant- Newfoundland Separatist Movement is very dangerous. I think that Ottawa should learn from its cousins in the south, and even more importantly from the Old Soviet mentality.

If you wish to walk into some ones else’s country and force your beliefs on those that are not of your cultural back ground, then you must also be aware that someday, your going to have to leave that country. But you may not have the option to leave as you came.

Quebec and its Canadian masters in Ottawa relies this. We here in Newfoundland and Labrador have relized that thru the sacrifice of our sons and daughters leaving their home that was passed down to them.

“Je Me Souviens “, La Belle Province, un La Canada??? Your no more deserve the title of nation then the money that you have stolen from your neighbors wallet. And, you cry about Quebec bashing.

You had your time in Canadian History, now take the back seat and watch what your neighbors can do. This time it won’t be done thru theft and back room deals, but with truth and honesty. That is who we are; you have shown the world what you are.

“Republic Of “

NL-ExPatriate said...

We will never get any justice within Canuckistan!

It will only be through an international court or forum that truth and justice shall prevail.

IE USA reciprocity agreements with freetrade.

Sure Quebec doesn't even recognize our border on their own maps and Non of the national parties either in power or opposition will never forego Quebecs 75 seats for NL's 7 seats.

Senate Equality Or Exit!

Anonymous said...

Out here in BC I say "good for Danny, keep up the good work!". It is just plain unfair what Quebec negotiated with Joey all those yrs ago, and they refuse to re-visit it and right a wrong. More to the point why should NFLD develop any more hydro capability if it just gets ripped off by Quebec? Bottom line = no development = no electricty exported = less cash for Canada as a whole - thanks Quebec, for making us all a bit poorer.

Here's hoping Danny can get an alternate route going, it'll benefit all of us, and plus be so satisfying to have a bully (Quebec) thwarted.

Geoff said...

Free Labrador. What, from the tyranny of Newfoundland, the most despotic neighbour the Atlantic has ever seen. Stop your whining and get on board. Once we collectively start getting our share as a whole, meaning "Newfoundland and Labrador". Then you can start the whole division exercise. Good luck with that. I agree with, "Republic Of", you sound more like a troll from Canada or Quebec. Maybe check out the BNA Act for a start specifically, THE ROYAL PROCLAMATION OF 1763. Here is a link- http://faculty.marianopolis.edu/c.belanger/nfldhistory/Quebec-NewfoundlandLabradorBoundaryIssue.htm. Legally there is no theft here at all, we are within our rights, in Canada, in this regard, before or after Confederation. If you want to make it a bigger issue then you should probably make certain of "who you are", and then raise a constitutional challenge, otherwise you more than likely won't have a leg to stand on. Once again someone scraping the bottom of the barrel in a never ending attempt at divide and conquer. Atlantic Canada as a whole has got to get its collective house in order and realize that without a decisive coalition of like minds we are just going to end up picking up mainland empties off the side of the Trans Canada highway while the same old regime drives away drunk,and laughing their asses off. That would suit the trolls out there just fine, as it's in their best interest to have us at each others throats, thoroughly dependent upon the "love" we get from the Feds, who in turn bend over backwards to placate Quebec sovereignists. This would worry Quebec, us getting out from under such a lopsided deal, so totally greased by Ottawa, that it's almost pornographic in nature. All was needed was the blessing of the Queen and it would have been a Royal screw over. Trying to block the expansion of the Lower Churchill is as contemptible as you can get, considering how convenient Ottawa's purse strings are to Quebec(money for gas drilling). It's a wonder they aren't red in the face with embarrassment; Of course they aren't, or else they wouldn't be kicking up a stink over drilling for oil on our side of the Old Harry oilfield in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. They're such traditionalists, wanting to keep the status quo in such a bad way, that even their own premier went to our defense, way to go Charest. You got to wonder when foes turn friendly. This might just rip the whole complacent attitude of Ottawa right in half, and maybe they'll revist the "Old Black Contract" of the Upper Churchill with an eye to exacting a fairer deal. What with this being a confederation and all, you think it would be a scene right out of The Three Musketeers, "one for all and all for one". I just can't see anyone in Eastern Canada not laughing derisively over that one. We either get serious about controlling our future and bargaining hard over terms and commitments or we end up staying, at best, in the shape we're in today. Less employment, shrinking and aging population and lower standard of living. This talk of us being a "Have Province" won't mean a thing,(being so new it's nothing to crow about) unless we take away all doubt that we we were just recently a "have Not Province", by becoming more than we are now. No one gives away respect for free, but ridicule is as cheap as dirt(cliche not to be used on The Rock for obvious reasons).