July 20, 2017
For Immediate Release

Unanswered Questions on Quebec Cooperation Agreement

Keith Hutchings, Intergovernmental Affairs Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “Premier Ball’s plans to develop a cooperation agreement with Quebec raise significant questions. The fact that yesterday’s announcement was vague and made no reference to talks on hydro is concerning, especially when the Premier hailed a recent Canadian Free Trade Agreement promising a two-year discussion with Quebec about unrestricted flow over electricity through Quebec, which may not be binding in the end. What greater opportunity for economic growth in our province than to have unrestricted export of electricity through Quebec, who have always opposed our constitutional rights.”

“Any agreement to develop the Labrador Trough mineral resources in tandem with Quebec would undoubtedly include discussion on access to electricity to run any proposed mining site,” said Hutchings. “Now we hear talk about developing mineral resources under some sort of as-yet-undefined cooperation agreement with Quebec.”

“Is the Ball government – out of sheer desperation – preparing to bargain away our rights and benefits on future Labrador mining developments and hydropower just to get a possible good news story. We recently saw an agreement on the Husky Project in Argentia that saw the Ball Government allow Husky to walk away from an agreed building of a gated graving dock, which would have meant long-term maintenance ability for offshore oil rigs and other supportive work for the offshore as well as ongoing employment for our skilled work force.”

“Would Labrador power be used for Quebec mining operations under some sort of yet-to-be-released agreement? What added benefits does Quebec hope to reap from mining developments in and straddling Labrador? Who will call the shots at the bargaining table for Newfoundland and Labrador? Before any proposed agreement is reached, will the Quebec Government ensure unrestricted access for the export of electricity through Quebec transmission infrastructure? If not, we should not be signing any additional deals. Again, such an issue as the export of power Premier Ball says is not part of new talks; why not?” said Hutchings.

Hutchings said it is odd that the two governments – without Ottawa at the table – also talked about the fixed link proposal, which according to the 2005 prefeasibility study would cost $1.7 billion. “How would a fixed link be feasible without Ottawa at the table? Is this anything more than a means to distract the people of southern Labrador who are outraged over the state of their roads?”

Hutchings said, “What the Ball Liberals should be discussing with Quebec is our need to wheel electricity fairly under a new Canada Free Trade Agreement that guarantees us access to the energy grid of our neighbor and access to other Canadian markets along with the Eastern United States. But this vitally important topic, sadly, doesn’t seem to have made it to the table.”

-30-

Media Contact: Heather MacLean, Director of Operation and Communications
Office of the Official Opposition
(709) 729 6105, heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca