An eventful, and somewhat predictable week begins the not-so-unofficial hydro war between Newfoundland and Quebec. You could say NALCOR and Hydro Quebec, but the reality is the massive dollars involved are targeted primarily for public coffers.
Things started with the disclosure that Newfoundland, in partnership with Nova Scotia, had officially requested P3 funding for an underwater electrical cable linking Labrador, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia. While we in the general public have not heard the "deal" that obviously exists between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, you can bet there is one. The Quebec government, Premier no less, wrote an official request to the Prime Minister to disallow such funding based on the presumption that it was an unfair subsidy to Newfoundland's hydro ambitions. By doing so Quebec not only "outed" Newfoundland and Nova Scotia's appeal for public funds, but also, and likely more importantly, they set the stage for the ongoing saga lovingy known as "the betrayal of Quebec".
This theme Quebec brings to the fore every time they feel their interests are threatened. Essentially it is a warning to the federal government that if such and such were to go through, well, they couldn't be held responsible for the reaction amongst the people of Quebec. Read here: revival of the seperatist movement and Quebec's march to "rightful" independance. We have seen this movie so many times now that the Canadian people know it by heart. That does not mean however that Canadians are not concerned about Quebec actually attempting to seperate. They just are no longer prepared to sign over whatever Quebec wishes to keep it in place. Certainly attitudes in this regard changed with the defeat of the Meech Lake Accord and the subsequent Charlottown Accord, and likely peaked with Jean Chretien's bold statement to the Quebec government that if Canada is divisable then so is Quebec.
Apparently, despite this strengthening of the collective Canadian will, some Quebec politicians believe that setting the old background up prior to the main match is still a comfortable strategy. Well, they may as well save their breath. The rules of engagement have changed, and Newfoundland is not going to back down on the Upper or Lower Churchill Falls, and nor should they.
Premier Danny Williams must reconvene the Newfoundland House of Assembly and pass the necessary legislation to ban hydro sales to any entity that does not recognize and practise English as it's primary language. Insert the notwithstanding clause to avoid any court action by the Quebec or federal government. Nalcor will have no choice but to cease selling to Hydro Quebec as to do otherwise would then break the law. The Power Contract of 1969 would still be alive, but it would be against the law to fufill it in other words. Why would the Premier wait, and in some ways dance around with Quebec and others on this issue. It is too crucial to Newfoundland's survival. He certainly has the people on his side, and a vast ocean of political capital to draw on should he need it. Quebec, and to some degree Ottawa, need to understand that Newfoundland is not begging for pennies. It is asserting it's rights over it's own resources, and no soft pedalled deal can come in between the way of that right. We can talk, but only after we have regained control over our own vital natural resource.
If you want to fight the Quebec government, then you must out do them at their own game. Do not try and be gentalmanly as they will see that as weakness. Do not compromise until you have achieved the primary goal as they will see that weakness. Do not lose sight of your reasons for fighting this injustice, as they will see that as opportunity. There is no longer any need to try and partner with Quebec. If you question that, then you should have been watching the news this week. Make no mistake, Quebec's strategic plan is to keep the 1969 contract until it's expiry date. In the mean time they will construct their own facilities so they are prepared to lose that power at that time. They do not have a long term interest in Newfoundland, and they know their time in Labrador is limited. They obviously no not care one iota how their policies have affected the people of Newfoundland - not in the least. Literally could not care less. We must meet this with our own strength, and with this knowledge in mind. As the Premier of Nova Scotia stated today: "Quebec does not have a veto." Perhaps the bigger question should have been: "Whatever gave them the idea they did?" In any case, let the games begin!
Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)