Churchill Falls: Quebec and N.L. premiers hold energy talks

st. Johns, NL-

Quebec Premier Francois Legault on Friday admitted that the decades-long hydropower deal that made Quebec billions of dollars had turned out to be a “bad deal” for Newfoundland and Labrador, but it did not go so far as to call it illegal.

The Prime Minister was in St. John’s to discuss what would happen after the infamous 1969 Churchill Falls Agreement between Quebec and Canada’s easternmost province ended in 2041.

“I don’t want to judge Mr. Smallwood or the people who signed this deal,” Legoto told reporters, referring to Joey Smallwood, the first prime minister of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the man who signed the deal. “But looking at the prices and market prices today, it’s a bad deal for Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Asked whether he would call the deal “unfair,” Lego repeated, “It’s a bad deal.”

The arrangement will allow Hydro-Quebec, a hydroelectric operator owned by Quebec, to purchase most of the electricity produced by the Churchill Falls hydroelectric dam in Labrador and thus reap most of the profits. As of 2019, the deal benefited Quebec at nearly $28 billion and Newfoundland and Labrador at around $2 billion.

Hydro-Quebec pays just 0.2 cents per kilowatt hour for Churchill Falls electricity. By comparison, utilities earned an average of 8.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity sold out of state in 2022, said a news release Wednesday. I was able to earn billions of dollars.

Legault said earlier this week that he wants a “win-win” deal between Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, paying the states more electricity before the current deal expires in 2041. proposed.

Fury told reporters on Friday that he and Leghort were having a “high-level discussion” about what could be changed in the existing contract and could replace it in 18 years. He said he agreed to form a team.

According to Fury, their meeting on Friday morning included a discussion of “the perceived injustices across society in Newfoundland and Labrador because of that contract.”

“The Prime Minister is here to recognize the punitive nature of the contract against Newfoundlanders and Labradrians. We wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the possibility of discussing the current state of that contract. Okay,” Fury added.

Jeff Webb, a historian at Memorial University, said some residents of Newfoundland and Labrador would be willing to pay for equalization from the federal government if the Churchill Falls Accord was provided equally by both states. He believes the state did not endure the “humiliation” of needing it.

In a recent interview, Webb said, “It speaks to people’s sense that this will always be ours and that it has been stolen.

The Innu of Quebec’s Uashat mak Mani-utenam filed a $2.2 billion lawsuit against Hydro-Quebec earlier this year, accusing the Churchill Falls hydroelectric plant of destroying a significant portion of their traditional territory. claimed. In 2020, Labrador’s Innu Nation sued Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corp., a subsidiary of Hydro-Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, for the ecological and cultural damage caused by the damming of the Upper Churchill River. filed a $4 billion lawsuit. Early 1970s.

Fury said he spoke with Grand Chief Etienne Rich about Legault’s visit and plans to meet with him in person on Monday.

He stressed that discussions had begun and that no agreement of any kind was approaching.

This report by the Canadian Press was first published on February 24, 2023.

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