08 February 2009

Selective perception

The Telegram’s front page story on Friday reports on a study released by the Montreal Economic Institute that, according to the Telegram, shows that Hydro Quebec profits hugely from the Churchill Falls power development.


What’s actually much more interesting is what the study was about.

Amazingly enough, it wasn’t about how much money Hydro Quebec makes of Churchill Falls.

Rather, the Montreal Economic Institute study argued that Hydro Quebec should be privatised because it is wasteful and inefficient.

The title of the report – conveniently omitted from the Telegram story -  is one that would surely ignite even more gnashing of teeth in these parts than the amazing revelation about Churchill Falls:

“How would the privatization of Hydro-Quebec make Quebecers richer?”

The title on the news release is even better:

“Privatizing Hydro-Quebec would give $10 billion more a year to Quebecers”

By privatizing Hydro-Québec, Quebecers would get $10 billion more out of it per year through improved productivity, higher electricity rates and an end to costly subsidy programs for aluminum smelters, according to a Research Paper published by the Montreal Economic Institute. The new private company would be required to pay substantial annual royalties to the government, says the study, prepared by Claude Garcia, member of the board of directors of several corporations and former president of the Canadian operations of Standard Life.

Standard Life. 


That would be one of the companies whose hydro-electric assets in Newfoundland and Labrador were nationalised by the the legislature last December.

The paper is far more provocative than the bit excerpted by the Telegram, especially in a province where the government is already committed to create in Newfoundland and Labrador a Crown corporation that is the mirror of Hydro-Quebec.