Dunderdale pushing Lower Churchill in Ottawa

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Daniel MacEachern
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Premier says she’ll put pressure on federal parties to support project

Premier Kathy Dunderdale speaks to members of the Newfoundland and Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs during a breakfast meeting at the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland Monday morning. Dunderdale said she will work on the federal government and federal opposition parties to get support for the Lower Churchill project.

Premier Kathy Dunderdale says it would be in the federal government’s best interest to support the Lower Churchill project with a loan guarantee for Muskrat Falls.

“The prime minister committed to having a broader, deeper discussion about that in the next few weeks. I’m looking forward to that discussion with him,” she said.

“It makes all kinds of sense at so many levels, both for us and for the federal government, so we’re very hopeful.”

The premier said it should be an election issue for Harper’s government.

“This project stands on its own merit for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, but if we have the federal government involved, it means tremendous savings to ratepayers, not only here in Newfoundland and Labrador but in Atlantic Canada as well,” she said.

“It helps the federal government meet its greenhouse targets, and it’s no risk and no cost to the federal government. So if I were headed into an election campaign some time this spring, I would love to have that as part of my message to the people of Canada.”

“It makes all kinds of sense at so many levels, both for us and for the federal government, so we’re very hopeful.” Premier Kathy Dunderdale

Dunderdale also said she’d put  pressure on the other political parties to support the project.

“Any savings that accrue to the project because of the loan guarantee will go directly to ratepayers, so this is not a benefit to the government of Newfoundland and Labrador or the government of Nova Scotia, to Nalcor or Emera. This is a benefit that we’re trying to negotiate for ratepayers.”

Dunderdale acknowledged that anti-Quebec rhetoric was a factor all through development of Lower Churchill.

“However, the prime minister’s office, as I’ve said before, works for all Canadians, and that includes the people of Newfoundland and Labrador,” she said. “So the legitimate aspirations of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have to be taken into account as well as the stated policy direction of the government of Quebec.”

 

dmaceachern@thetelegram.com

 Twitter: TelegramDaniel

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Ottawa, Atlantic Canada Quebec Nova Scotia

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  • Charles Martin
    February 15, 2011 - 05:42

    Dear Editor, As an Inuk from Labrador I can't help but to share my thoughts on the proposed Lower Churchill development and the absence of democratic process that has propelled its progress to date. I am hopeful that my note makes it to your desk. As the federal government works through its debates on whether and to what degree it should support the Lower Churchill development(s) I am hopeful that one of its first considerations is whether or not there has been adequate consultation with the people and communities of Labrador. Democracy has to play an active role in the development of all regions of our great country and especially with projects of this scale. The time has come to put an end to these behind the scenes shenanigans with issues of this magnitude. The Newfoundland government and some of the richest companies in the world have been far too often unconscionable in their complete disregard for the people, communities, and environments of Labrador to gain enormous benefits. Honest, genuine, and democratic consultation takes place at the earliest possible opportunity…yet; once again, the Newfoundland government has shown a complete disregard and insensitivity for the people and communities throughout Labrador...once again, the Newfoundland government has taken it upon themselves to negotiate the development of Labrador-based resources with 99% of the benefits accruing to people and regions outside of Labrador. Once again, the Newfoundland government has gone so far as to award engineering contracts and even co-sign an inter-provincial agreement in complete absence of formal local consultations and subsequent agreement from the people and communities in Labrador to see such a development proceed. My hope is that the people and communities of Labrador no longer remain silent on this matter. My hope is that the people and communities of Labrador communicate to the “Newfoundland government” that it is no longer acceptable to see this scale of development undertaken without any consultation with our people and our communities. My hope is that if there is agreement among the people and communities of Labrador that a Lower Churchill development should even take place, that the next consideration be what local benefits can and should be derived in both the short and long term for Labradorians. For example, in addition to any short and long term employment and business opportunities from Lower Churchill hydro development, there has to be consideration for all of the Labrador communities on the north and south coast’s that continue to rely on diesel generators. This form of electrical generation is costly for consumers and businesses and significantly limits economic development potential. Having transmission lines distribute power into these communities would greatly increase their economic capacities now and long into the future. It is no longer acceptable to see this scale of development undertaken without adequate local consultation, negotiation, or even consideration of benefits to local people, business, and communities. An interesting bit of insight into the views of the people of Labrador regarding Lower Churchill development(s) comes from a recent questionnaire administered by the Labrador MP Todd Russell in the region. Here are some of the results released on February 8, 2011: Q1. Does the proposed Muskrat Falls development provide enough benefit for the people of Labrador? — 83% NO. Q2. Are you concerned about the environmental impacts of the proposed Muskrat Falls project? — 78% YES. Q3. Have Labradorians been properly consulted about the proposed Muskrat Falls project? — 78% NO. Q4. Do you feel that you have enough information about the proposed Muskrat Falls project? — 83% NO. Q5. Should Muskrat Falls power be available in Labrador for residential and commercial customers? — 95% YES. Q6. Does the proposed agreement respect the Aboriginal rights of Innu, Inuit, and Metis in Labrador? — 67% NO. Q7. Are you satisfied with the proposed employment benefits for Labrador residents? — 66% NO. Q8. Do you believe that Labrador will receive a fair share of revenues from Muskrat Falls power sales? — 86% NO. Q9. Should a dedicated Labrador development fund be a condition of a proposed Muskrat Falls project? — 83% YES. Q10. Do you support federal funding for transmission lines to Newfoundland or Nova Scotia? — 46% NO, 40% YES. (This was the only question on which opinion is “split”.) Q11. Do you feel that Labradorians will be the “primary beneficiaries” of the proposed Muskrat Falls project? — 87% NO. So for anyone misinformed about whether or not the Labrador people have been engaged in the potential benefits of the Lower Churchill development I believe the preliminary results listed above resoundingly demonstrates that "NO WE HAVE NOT." Sincerely, Charles Martin

  • Ursula Dowler
    February 08, 2011 - 12:20

    Forgive and Forget . I guess the" ABC" campaign and the give them a" goose egg" slogan didn't do that much damage after all . Afterall we only cost the Harper government 7 seats . Now I guess he has to play nice to get those seats back . I wonder what the 7 MPs will have to say about that .

  • Jordan
    February 08, 2011 - 11:47

    Electricity rates will probably tripple or go higher without the lower churchill.

  • holy smokes
    February 08, 2011 - 11:44

    the prime minister’s office, as I’ve said before, works for all Canadians Is she playing with a full deck??? Dunderdale should KNOW from past experience that THIS friggen' government works for Harper and Harper alone...have a look at the Atlantic Accord Kate!! You my dear have a very short memory!!!Works for all Canadians....to be sure!! Gawd!!

  • Scott Free
    February 08, 2011 - 10:50

    er, Ms. Premier...when you call to set up the meeting, will you be reminding Prorogue Steve that you followed the lead of King Dan's ABC campaign as you went door to door with LIB MP Coady in the last Federal election?? Sure, Stevie is going to do everything he can for you; stay home, save the cost of the trip and the embarassment.

  • Brad
    February 08, 2011 - 09:47

    There is absolutely no need for this power as the low cost of natural gas is causing the US to invest in electricity generation by burning natural gas plants. As we speak they are developing new plants and other sources of electricity before there is even a shovel in the ground. By the time this power gets to market there will be less of a market than there is today. We can't just build billion dollar projects for the sake of building them, there has to be more planning and thought involved so we don't end up paying for this for eternity, which is exactly what's happening right now. We can't afford to avenge Danny for the wrong doings of Quebec.

  • Don
    February 08, 2011 - 08:41

    I agree with Willi Makit. Kathy Dunderdale is going to follow in her former leaders footsteps.The Muskrat Falls hydro project is going to cost double or triple what it is projected to cost. Electricity rates for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will still continue to increase despite the project. The only winners, if this project proceeds, will be Emera, the rate payers in Nova Scotia and the Government of Nova Scotia. This deal will never make any profit for Newfoundland. It appears that this project was instigated by Danny Williams out of pure spite against Quebec. It is not Quebec's fault that Labrador is located where it is geographically. Quebec is not obliged to let Newfoundland transmit hydro electricity through its jurisdiction for free or at all for that matter. This is just another crackpot Newfoundland development scheme. If Harper and his Government throw billions or even millions of tax payer dollars into this money pit they should be booted from office in the next election. Harper must have forgotten that Danny Williams and his Government expropriated Abitibi in breach of NAFTA and that fiasco cost the Government of Canada a cool one-hundred and thirty million dollars to settle. This is a pipe dream project that is going to add billions to the Provincial debt. Politically connected contractors will make a fortune from this project and the rate payers of Newfoundland and the tax payers of Canada will pay the bill.

  • Willi Makit
    February 08, 2011 - 07:56

    It's absolutely amazing how politicians talk out of both sides of their mouths. Dunderdale proposes an unnecessary dam that will double or more electrical rates in the province, and then has the gall to say that the Federal Government should chip in tax money to realize ''tremendous savings'' for the ratepayers. Here's a thought, scrap the plan, put the money against the debt instead of driving it up, and we all save. Pushing this dam on us is offensive on all levels.

    • Dave Taylor
      February 08, 2011 - 09:03

      This project is long overdue. It is one of the largest clean sources of energy left in North America, if not the world. It is only because of Quebec nationalism that it was no9t started decades ago. That is what NL gets from the "Belle" province. I am not hopeful that ANY fed gov't would help just now as Quebec has more seats available than NL. Politics reigns in this.