23 November 2009

Five years of secret talks on Lower Churchill: the Dunderdale Audio

In early September, natural resources minister Kathy Dunderdale revealed that the provincial government tried unsuccessfully for five years to get Hydro-Quebec to take an ownership stake in the Lower Churchill project.

A key component of the offers to HQ included the pledge to set aside any talk of redress for the 1969 Churchill Falls contract.

The talks were never revealed publicly until Dunderdale’s admission.

The news was all the more astonishing given that Premier Danny Williams stated repeatedly between 2001 and 2005 that he would not cut a deal with Hydro-Quebec on the Lower Churchill without some from of compensation – redress – for the inequitable 1969 contract that sees Hydro-Quebec buy virtually all the Churchill falls output for fractions of a cent per kilowatt hour.

To date, not a single conventional media outlet has reported Dunderdale’s comments.

Amazingly, not a single conventional media outlet has picked up the very obvious point about setting aside any grievance over the 1969 contract despite Williams repeated pledges to make redress a part of any Lower Churchill deal that involved Hydro-Quebec. 

That grievance is a core part of Williams’ intervention in the New Brunswick Power proposal.  On Friday, he noted the appropriateness of the Atlantic Premier’s meeting at Churchill Falls since “it symbolizes exactly what's happened to Newfoundland and Labrador at the hands of Hydro-Quebec.”

While excerpts have been posted at Bond Papers and at labradore previously, this is the first time, the audio file has been posted: Kathy Dunderdale, September 4, 2009, live on VOCM Open Line with Randy Simms (he’s the fellow pictured with mayoral chain ‘round his neck).