07 December 2009

“I love you, Paige. I hate you, Dennis” - hydro project version

Fans of the old soap Another World will remember that hideous storyline from about 30 years ago, as lampooned by Codco or Sexton and Malone.

Well, the relevance will become clear in a minute:

1.  The used to be a thing dating from the 1970s called the Lower Churchill Development Corporation.  LCDC was a partnership of the federal (49%) and provincial (51%) governments to  develop the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project.

2.  The current provincial administration spent the time between 2003 and 2008 looking for a cash commitment from the federal government to build the thing.

3.  The feds – at least the Steve Harper version – may or may not have committed to some sort of loan guarantee, but if they did that likely came with equity strings attached.  No biggie of course since LCDC contemplated the feds have a 49% share.  There was no reason why that number couldn’t be scaled back if the provincial government didn’t want to share that much.

4.  Then in 2008, the provincial government decided to trash the LCDC and give the water rights on the Churchill River to NALCOR.  They didn’t repeal the old LCDC Act, oddly enough, but natural resources minister Kathy Dunderdale said the government had decided to go a different route with the whole project.  Well at least “different route” in the sense that the company created to develop the project would still exist on paper but have its water rights stripped away.

5.  But now we are told that federal cash is essential for the project to continue. Well, it’s hard to tell if that little VOCM story means cash or just inolvement in some other way.  This is starting to sound like the Great Myth of Pearson’s Refusal

How exactly does anyone keep track of all the shifts, changes, twists and turns in the saga?

It’s tough.

But worth it.