16 November 2016

Ball, Coady confirm secret talks with Quebec on Labrador hydro #nlpoli #cdnpoli

Premier Dwight Ball confirmed in the House of Assembly on Wednesday that officials from this province are talking to officials in Quebec about significant development of hydro-electric assets on the Churchill River.

We know that something very serious is going on  - in secret  - because of the way that Ball and natural resources minister Siobhan Coady answered questions in the House from opposition leader Paul Davis about recent media reports about comments from Quebec and Ball's reply to the story.  Ball was very obviously playing with words at every turn in the House. Every answer to an opposition question had a too-cute-by-half quality to it,  giving the unmistakable feeling that Ball wasn't telling anything close to the truth.

Ball has done this before, most recently when ambushed by reporters on his return from a golf and hockey vacation in the middle of the Muskrat Falls protests.  With his public support in the low double-digits,  and with a severely damaged reputation from his performance in the the Ed Martin fiasco in the spring,  Ball's passive-aggressive performance in the House on Wednesday betrays a rather curious strategy.  Ball's performance just reinforces the negative impressions people have of him  - he has trouble telling the truth - without winning him any new supporters.

Regular readers will recall a post from September that mentioned rumoured talks that have been swirling for months.  The talk has been of developing Gull Island and selling the power to Quebec. Nalcor issued a half-assed denial of talks in September that matched Ball's unconvincing performance in the House on Wednesday.  That Nalcor statement added Churchill Falls to the story, a detailed confirmed by recent media reports from Quebec.

Danny Williams actually spent five years in secret talks trying to get Hydro Quebec to take a one-third ownership stake in Gull Island with no redress for the 1969 contract.  On Wednesday,  we also learned during Question Period that then-Premier Paul Davis and Quebec Premier Philip Couillard also discussed a new deal in 2015 between Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador on Labrador hydro development.