Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Historical and Geographical Speed Bumps

For the Williams government, the disgraceful deal struck with Quebec in the 1960's on the Upper Churchill, and hence the physical existence of Quebec itself, are the major impediments to the Lower Churchill development. The Upper Churchill development was a lopsided Quebec-winning absurd deal. The federal government at the time did not intervene to assist Newfoundland and Labrador in getting a fairer deal. It has often been said that Quebec threatened separation if the federal government intervened to allow NL to build transmission access across Quebec, therefore, NL was left with little choice but to go by PQ and Hydro Quebec rules for development. That is the injury that every premier since Smallwood has not wanted to suffer again. Williams doesn't want to repeat that. Unfortunately, our province is low on options. Dean MacDonald of NL Hydro recently said that undersea electrical transmission route for Lower Churchill power was a realistic option, but Simon provides some information to make that claim sound doubtful and disappointing.

Ontario wants the clean energy power, but Quebec is in the way.
"We have an air quality problem. We have a need for new power. We think the east-west energy grid is the railroad of the 21st century." - Dwight Duncan, Ontario Energy Minister.

It still seems unclear how the project will be financed. Will the federal government give NL loans to "go it alone", or will, Hydro Quebec, Allah forbid, be involved again to finance it? Of course, there are other proposals out there, that has so far been rejected by Williams. In any case, what would the deal look like now in the likely case of going across Quebec? What will the cost be of using Quebec territory again? It would be a great time for the federal government to intervene this time to help Newfoundland and Labrador be compensated for the ludricous deal that gave Quebec virtually all benefits from the Upper Churchill.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

One problem with the Quebec situation is the fact that few people in Quebec are even aware of the details of the Upper Churchill deal. It's really unknown in Quebec in terms of how NL was treated. NL and Quebec actually have much in common and many mutual interests and attitudes. The problem is that they don't know each other. Most Quebecers view NL as just another part of "English Canada". Newfoundland must raise its profile in Quebec (of course the thought of that scares the feds to no end) if it hopes to make progress in that area.

kodak said...

Interesting observation Anon. You're probably right about most Quebecers not knowing about the Churchill Falls deal and how NL was treated. Too bad Danny Williams is not bilingual, perhaps speaking to the people of Quebec could be an approach to get more Quebecers on side to educate them and possibly make their government a little more conciliatory. Thanks for the input.

WJM said...

will, Hydro Quebec, Allah forbid, be involved again to finance it?

Is Hydro-Quebec's money not as green as anyone else's?

It's really unknown in Quebec in terms of how NL was treated.

It's also really unknown in NL that René Lévesque was willing to re-open the contract until Peckford put the issue before the courts.

kodak said...

Hydro Quebec's money is green, but the past Upper Churchill transaction made NL seem green. There is much distrust in dealing with Quebec. Having said that, I am curious what a deal today involving Hydro Quebec would look like compared to the past.

Do you have any detail on what René Lévesque re-opening of the contract would have entailed?

WJM said...

Do you have any detail on what René Lévesque re-opening of the contract would have entailed?

It would have involved a much more favourable rate/kwh.

Peckford said no, all or nothing, and went to court.

And got nothing.

kodak said...

That is not a well circulated piece of information at all. I'm not sure how much if any of René Lévesque's offer made it to mainstream news, but I don't recall hearing anything about it during Peckford's time.

WJM said...

That is not a well circulated piece of information at all.

It's been published in at least two or three books.

kodak said...

Two or three books. Ok. Haven't seen any reference to it on news websites, blogs, papers or tv. The past often gets revived in discussions on blogs, but that one's interesting.