Premier attacks Quebec in speech

James McLeod
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Dunderdale touts Muskrat Falls to Board of Trade

Premier Kathy Dunderdale speaks at a St. John’s Board of Trade luncheon Wednesday.
— Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Premier Kathy Dunderdale took aim directly at Quebec Wednesday afternoon in her latest attempt to sell the merits of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.

Talking about the “predatory” nature of the Quebec government, and how Newfoundland and Labrador is “held hostage” by the Belle Province, Dunderdale made the case that quite apart from domestic electricity demand, the massive hydroelectric development is about seizing control of the provincial economy.

“Quebec was trying to make us choose between a deal with them or no deal at all,” she said. “They thought we would have to slam on the brakes of our own economic development. Instead we have charted a bold new course that establishes a template for the future.”

There has always been an undercurrent of anti-Quebec sentiment in the case for Muskrat Falls, but up until now, the government’s message has focused primarily on stable, low-cost electricity rates for Newfoundlanders, and the benefits of being able to sell excess power to mainland customers, or use it to power mining developments in Labrador.

But as a final sanctioning decision approaches later this year, and public debate intensifies, Dunderdale took aim at Quebec in the strongest rhetoric she has used to date.

“Our resources must be developed for the primary benefit and the maximum benefit of the people of

Newfoundland and Labrador. That will not happen unless we are in the driver’s seat,” she said. “It will not happen if Quebec is deciding how big we can grow.”

Essentially, Dunderdale argued that excess power from Muskrat Falls is needed for proposed mining developments in Lab-rador, and if companies are forced to go to Quebec for their electricity needs instead, they won’t get a fair deal.

“Does anybody have any confidence that, when mines in this province go to Hydro-Quebec looking for energy for development in Labrador, they are going to get the best industrial rates in Atlantic Canada? Not likely,” she said. “(Muskrat Falls) will drive our economy. It will make us energy-self-sufficient and it will break Quebec’s hold over Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Dunderdale’s speech to the business-oriented crowd at the Board of Trade comes as the government is finalizing negotiations for a federal loan guarantee to help finance the project, and drawing up the final cost estimates that will be used to decide whether or not the government sanctions the project.

The speech seemed to provide a template for the arguments her government will use as it heads into the House of Assembly in the coming months to hold a special debate on the project.

Immediately after concluding her speech, the Board of Trade formally endorsed the project as the best option for the province’s electricity needs.

“Newfoundland will no longer be an island: we will be linked into the national energy grid by an asset that will create direct industrial benefits and clean energy for 100 years or more. The project has to be seen as an investment in our future,” said Board of Trade vice-chair Sharon Horan, in an statement emailed to media. “Muskrat Falls is a good project for Newfoundland and Labrador. It will provide clean, reliable energy at stable prices, and that is good for economic development now and into the future.”

Speaking to reporters following her speech, Dunderdale said the No. 1 reason for pursuing the Muskrat Falls project is still to satisfy domestic power demand, but that’s not the only reason.

“This will make sense at that fundamental level; on the dollars and cents this is the least-cost electricity that we can build for the people of the province. This will keep power rates low over the long term,” she said. “But layered on top of that are issues that are just as important in their own way. It’s about the economic future of Newfoundland and Labrador, and do we have to go cap in hand to Quebec to see if we can develop Labrador. It’s a critical issue for the people of the province and we need to consider it.”

In her speech, she said the government would have liked to go with the larger Gull Island portion of the Lower Churchill project first, and sell excess power through Quebec, but negotiations ended in gridlock.

But she argued by routing excess Muskrat Falls power through the Maritimes, it would prove to Quebec that the government is prepared to pursue other options, and that would break the logjam of negotiations.

“We are changing the dynamic completely when we begin talking about developing Gull Island,” she said. “We will negotiate from a position of strength and Muskrat Falls will be a lesson for everyone that Newfoundland and Labrador will not be held hostage. It is the path we need to unleash the economic potential of the Churchill River. Muskrat Falls is truly a game-changer.”

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Board of Trade, Hydro-Quebec

Geographic location: Quebec, Muskrat Falls, Newfoundland and Labrador Labrador.But Atlantic Canada Gull Island Churchill River

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Recent comments

  • A Very Concerned Senior.
    October 07, 2012 - 16:13

    TIM JAMISON what are your reasons for commenting, will you be part of the developers and expect to earn money from that side? I'm a Senior Citizen who comments on this site from time to time, I'm not in it for the money to be made from the development of Muskrat Falls nor the company named 2041 Energy, I'm in it to advise The Premier and her side who are wannabe Muskrat Falls developers to not do this project at this time, but instead wait for when the time is right. My spouse and I are on one very small pension combined with Old Age Pension and Canada Pension. If this project goes through, I am very much afraid our monthly income will barely be enough to pay the bills that arrive in our mailbox each month, so what do we do, I guess we will have to sell our house and move to a Seniors Apartment prematurely. We wee hoping to be able to live in our house for the rest of our lives. It is sad our Premier would make a move to build the Muskrat Falls Energy Project at a time when it appears that it cannot support itself since it will not be an income generator and the burden of paying off the monthly mortgage will solely be on the backs of the taxpayers and ratepayers of the province, most of whom are senior citizens. I hope the Premier wakes up before it is too late.

  • Jacklyn Adams
    October 06, 2012 - 15:30

    Kathy's more floppy than a floppy disk. First the government says they need power for the island. Then they can sell it to Nova Scotia. Then they suggest they can sell it to the USA. Then its for the needs of the mining companies in Labrador. Now she's blaming Quebec for everything and tying Muskrat Falls into it "we can use it to get rid of the hold on us!" when it wasnt all quebec''s fault, the people screwed themselves! I don't think she knows, or cares, that the government is making no sense! I can tell that, and I never even really studied Muskrat falls.

  • Tim Jamison
    October 04, 2012 - 16:21

    I have some questions for all the members of Team Quebec on this page: How many of you are doing this for political appointments for yourselves and/or your friends and how many of you are just playing follow-the-liberal-in-front-of-me? I know Maurice is in this for money, as is Energy2041 or whatever they call themselves, but how many of you in here honestly think you're helping by forcing us to tie our energy prices to the price of oil?

  • Jackie Logans
    October 04, 2012 - 13:18

    Listen up, ELI me b'y: Smallwood had the final say on everything to do with the original Churchill Falls sellout; it was his baby from start to finish. The fact that incompetent people handled the legalities is a moot point. JOEY GAVE IT ALL AWAY! As for being a scoundrel, I've been called a lot worse than that, and I would remind you that wrapping oneself in the flag is the true sign of a patriot.

    • Eli
      October 04, 2012 - 14:31

      Poor choice of expression on my part I guess, the reference to the scoundrel was meant for the premier, she was the one waving the Quebec card. Joey didn't give it away, it was stolen by the greedy money changers.

    • Fred Penner
      October 04, 2012 - 14:32

  • Jackie Logans
    October 04, 2012 - 12:30

    Well said, Madam Premier! The La Belle "nation" of Quebec has been a millstone around the neck of Newfoundland & Labrador since Joey's giant giveaway of the Upper Churchill hydro development. Danny Williams brilliantly set the course on the Lower Churchill project; now it's up to present and future Newfoundland governments to complete the job.

    • Eli
      October 04, 2012 - 12:43

      Jackie, wrapping yourself in the flag is the last refuge of a scoundrel. And for your records, Joey didn't negotiate Churchill Falls.

  • Cold Future
    October 04, 2012 - 12:02

    Is anybody out there aware of any actual negotiations which took place with Quebec about power transmission through Quebec for Labrador power (not Upper Churchill Power but from other sites to be developed) Is there any documentation of such negotiations? We know that many court challenges have been made in the last 10 years or so. Did we actually do any negotiations? With a present capital outlay of between $4 to $ 6 billion for transmission systems to transmit power around Quebec, there should be lots of room to find some common agreement to save at least one half of that ( at least 3 bllion in savings).

  • Maurice E. Adams
    October 04, 2012 - 11:25

    Muskrat Falls does not give the province a route to and through Nova Scotia. The 1,500 page so-called Nalcor/Emera 'agreement' is, in truth, a "non-agreement" that gives Emera TWO (2) years to "opt in" to this Muskrat Falls project and to decide on whether to build a link between NS and Newfoundland..... If they decide not to ---- ALL EXCESS Muskrat Falls power MUST ALSO go through Quebec.... We will once again be forced to provide Quebec with even MORE power (unless NL gets approval from and pays the $1.2 billion cost of building the line itself).... That will mean rates for island ratepayers will go much, much higher than currently projected. ........Muskrat Falls is a shimozzle, and if anything, only a transmission line to the island (possibly along with a Strait of Belle Isle tunnel at a 2005 cost estimate of $1.7 billion) should be considered at this time.----- A real, substantial, feasible, cost effective, option that received a favourable provincial pre-feasibility study and which government said deserved a full feasibility study as late as 2011 (see ).

  • Is all lost, as the Premier says, if we put this project on hold for a couple of years to see where the World Economy is heading?
    October 04, 2012 - 10:29

    Can Quebec hijack this project if we opt out of it now? I don't think so, but I stand to be corrected by Premier Dunderdale as she has all the information that is obscured by Bill 29. All of us sitting on the fence could be swayed one way or another if the information that should be out there under a free and Democratic Government is put forward in a democratic manner.

  • Gerry
    October 04, 2012 - 10:22

    Well, I don't agree with the premier on most issues, I have to agree about hat she says about the Quebec GOVERNMENT. I spent three years on the lower north shore of Quebec because of the military. I came to realize that most Quebecers- Quebecois are proud Quebecers & proud Canadians too. As for 'finger wagging who is 'an entrepreneur who possesses 3 university degrees, 2 at the Masters level. You (the premier) have a diploma in office administration'...well, Congrats... most of us, the poor & middle-class unwashed masses are the maority of the voting population. But because one has a few degrees hanging on a wall doesn't make one an effective leader. Look at some of the clowns that have been-are in Ottawa and any provincial capital...It appears you might 'think' different. Perhaps YOU should throw your hat into into the next provinicial or federal election. But what do I know? I'm just a simple strugglin' middle-clas slob with only have me high school & 28+ years of military service....

  • Maggy Carter
    October 04, 2012 - 10:11

    Confronted by overwhelming evidence that Muskrat is a risky, uneconomic, unnecessary investment of public monies, Kathy Dunderdale - instead of backing away quietly - has opted to double down on what amounts to the gamble of the century for Newfoundland and Labrador. It's damn the torpedoes - full steam ahead. Even as she beats up on her critics by saying that we should withhold all comment until the DG3 numbers are released, she herself is out there hocking this thing like a snake oil salesman. Yesterday was the start of a full-court press orchestrated by the eight floor to soften public opinion ahead of the debate in the House. Wade Locke's renewed defence of the project is part of the master plan to convince us that left is right, up is down and black is white. The absurdity of Locke's comments (beyond the fact that his initial space launch burnt on re-entry) is that they have absolutely nothing to do with his claimed area of expertise - economics. Locke's message is that all mining activity in Labrador will halt without Muskrat. Not only is that patently untrue but Locke has absolutely no background in mining, metallurgy, engineering, law or even finance for that matter. But that doesn't stop him from lending his name - and unfortunately that of the economics department of MUN - to this preposterous claim. Then, of course, there is the Board of Trade itself which supplied the venue. Says the Board (because they were asked to), 'We don't need to wait for the revised costs . We'll give it our stamp of approval right now.' A few months from now, these same people will be shouting and roaring about the out-of-control deficit. But even the most casual observer of this debate can readily see the fly in Ms. Dunderdale's ointment. It is the fact that she keeps changing the message. First it is about stabilizing rates on the island, then it is about exporting power to the mainland, then it was that we could sell a bit of surplus power to industry in Labrador. That argument has now come full circle to the point that Quebec wants to shut down the mines in Labrador. Yes, when all other attempts to rationalize an absolutely bizarre, obscene waste of public money have failed, there is always the ace in the hole - Quebec. Quebec, says Dunderdale, is a big bad boogeyman. But we'll show those Frenchies, even if we have to bankrupt the treasury, squander all our royalties from oil and gas, and enslave Newfoundlanders financially and economically for the next 60 years to do it. Says her sycophantic sock puppet John Smith - 'Can anyone say what Dunderdale said is not the absolute truth?' I can say Smitty that it s absolutely the most baseless, odious, untruthful piece of garbage that I have heard from a Newfoundland premier since the days of Joe Smallwood. Ms. Dunderdale's premiership is taking on water rapidly. The question for all those ministers and backbenchers surrounding her is this - Do you plan to go down with the ship? If not, then the next few weeks may be your last opportunity to launch a life-boat back to reality.

  • Winston Adms
    October 04, 2012 - 10:04

    John Smith, you or someone playing games? are there 2 John Smiths? In this , James's piece, John is negative on MF at 8:19 time, but positive on MF at 10:04. On Pam's piece , John is negative on MF at time of 9:00 , but turns positive at 9:50. An analysis of both shows that John flipped between 9:00 and 9:50. Did he threaten to quit? Did he get a raise? Someone spiked his coffee? Mystery indeed.Can we call this a FACT? That John FLIPPED? Now we are in the midst of solar max, remember? I mentioned a while back that Nfld has one of the highest incidents of GICs in the world. A nightmare for power companies every twelve years. Cost Hydro Quebec 1 billion to upgrade their reliability against these events. GICs triggered the great Northeast power failure in 1989.And the proposed new line from Labrador may be very vulnerable. But that is only part of the problem. This stuff can affect your cell phone. It can blow up big transformers, and even affect the human brain! No kidding. Look it up. The really big one(solar flare) , about 1858, is well documented. At the time, the cable from Heart's content to England was not long in service. The cables were fed by battery power. Well, not a word of a lie, the mysterious GICs took over. Didn't need batteries at times. Then the system failed. Now of course, the beautiful northern lights is a sign that mother sun is displaying her power. Have you noticed the reports and pictures lately on CBC, from Labrador? And as I said these things can affect your brain. As you know, we operate on very weak electrical signals from within the scull. Now, just a theory mind you, not fact here, but is it possible that this cause John to flip? I mean , if the north and south pole can flip, and this happens, how much easier is it for John to flip? Up early each morning , and all day, staring at that screen, someone likely feeding him his lines, with little truth. Wouldn't it cause one to flip, with a little push from those GICs?

  • Cold Future
    October 04, 2012 - 09:50

    Quebec could yet again make great gains from the Muskrat Falls as it did for Upper Churchill. Quebec routinely imports cheap power and resells it when rates rise in order to make profit. The power which we will subsidize and transmit for sale at discount prices will be available to any buyer in mainland canada and the US including Quebec. We can only benefit if the power can be sold for the price that we develop it for and that is the very great flaw with Muskrat. Its cost is too high by a factor of about 3 to make it competitive in price.Unless there comes to light some magical way to change those parameters, we would be wise to sit tight and wait and plan transmission or the free Upper Churchill power around Quebec. We have waited 40 years surely we can wait a few years more. Its better than shooting our feet off now because we can't wait.

  • Sam
    October 04, 2012 - 09:30

    Seems we have a lot of Quebec lovers on here today! Wonder what the same people would have said if the Premier said she was going to negotiate with Quebec, and not bother with trying to renegotiate the UC. I can hear them now...going to sell us out again!! Can't win for losing here...

  • Fred Penner
    October 04, 2012 - 08:55

    Hydro Quebec is clearly an obstacle to the developement of Newfoundland and Labrador's electical potential since we cannot build a tranmission line through Quebec and they will not let us wheel energy on their transmission lines. The only option is to do an end run and connect to Nova Scotia. Further, the proposed DC link to Nova Scotia is only the first link. If we are to develope the full electrical potential on the province, this initial DC link will be the first of many. Eventually, there will be several such underwater transmission lines (similiar installations exist in several other places on the planet - noteably, Tasmania and Denmark). We have the potential to become a world leader in DC transmission innovation and technology and we will be a major exporter of electricty. All this is available to Newfoundland and Labrador.....we just need to take the first steps and dare to be bold.

    • Eli
      October 04, 2012 - 09:51

      FRED, we can't export power from NL to Ontario. There are no contracts SIGNED for power to the eastern USA should this disaster go thru, and quite frankly New England has said they don't need any. So, other than Nova Scotia there's no market. And speaking of Nova Scotia we have no clue as to what's in those 115 pages of documents between NL, NS, and Emera.

    • Fred Penner
      October 04, 2012 - 13:20

      The buying and selling of power in North America is complex and is not limited to a single market. Do some reading on the various North AmericanPower Pools and how electricity is wheeled from one utility to another. If the NEISO does not need the power, there are many other potential customers.

    • Cuts both ways
      October 04, 2012 - 13:37

      Sure you didn't vote for Joey Don, but I bet you voted for his government. If you're around in 20 years you'll be saying that you never voted for Dunderdale. Time will not prove you right Don, you don't need a crystal ball to assess a bad deal when the facts are right there in front of you. Muskrat Falls is going to go down as the punchline to the biggest Newfie joke ever. It will start off with how the government were so stupid as to give away Churchill Falls in their desperation to leave a legacy, and the punchline will be that we did it again, only this time we paid others to take our electricity below what it cost. The joke unfortunately, will be on our grandkids. They're the ones that will be saddled with the cost of servicing the costs of this white elephant. Boy, we really know how to stick it to Quebec lol

  • Maurice E. Adams
    October 04, 2012 - 08:53

    JOHN, Nalcor's 50-year cash flow, debt servicing and operating cost data (see graphs on my website ) shows that debt servicing and operating costs ALONE over Nalcor's 50-year take or pay contract amounts to $14.5 billion ---- right out of the pockets of island ratepayers (and that dos not include Nalcor's, NL Power's and the province's cut). Your $4 billion figure is very misleading. Total (over 50 years) out of the pockets of island ratepayers is $35 billion. It is "ratepayers" that is picking up the remainder of the that $35 billion (not government, as such). That si why government is pushing this, Muskrat Falls is a backdoor, undemocratic --- TAX.

  • John Smith
    October 04, 2012 - 08:34

    Can anyone say that what the Premier said is not the absolute truth? Quebec Hydro tried to buy up all the utiliites on the Eastern seaboard in an attempt to cut us off, they refuse every attempt to deal with us in a fair way.When 2041 comes around we will need an alternative way to transmitt our power, including Gull island. The premier mentioned many reasons for muskrat, the quebec situation was just one of them, it has always been one of them. Quebec doesn't even recognize the border between Labrador and quebec. If they supply power to the mines in Labrador that's just one more step. I have to say naysayers...these is the weakest, most non-sensical hate filled comments yet. Not one reason against the project....massive debt for 50 years ha ha ha ....we will borrow 4 billion dollars...the amount we spend on healthcare in this province every year. In the last 5 years we have spent 18 billion dollars cash up front on healthcar alone...and people are going off the head because we want to borrow 4 billion dollars at the best rates at the best credit rating with the loan guarantee??? It is insane. All you have to do is read the hate filled non-sensical, low brow comment here to see the real rationale behind the's not about muskrat at's all about the liberals wallowing at 15% in the polls....

  • George S
    October 04, 2012 - 07:39

    The SIXTH rationale for Muskrat Falls. Not for release before October 9th, 2012. Today Premier Dunderdale boasted, "The Muskrat Falls reservoir when built will be visible from space! True! We have had expert consultants prepare visual impact assessments demonstrating this and we all know unless you are paid by my government you are not an expert. I have seen the artists renditions and must say, they are pretty. Muskrat Falls headpond will be Newfoundland's landmark equal in scale and historical value with China's Great Wall. Our time to be recgonized as a superpower has arrived. Muskrat Falls will be our point of entry into a restructured G11. This will be my legacy. Lest we forget me. Oh, wait now, that one is already used."

  • Eli
    October 04, 2012 - 07:30

    How many more excuses is this clown going to come up with as a reason to sink us for the next 50 years. Remember it was supposed to guarantee Newfoundland power stability? Then it changed to selling excess power to Nova Scotia. Now it's shooting a messenger who's not there. Quebec already has, and continues to develop hydro power for export south to the USA. They don't give a shag about Newfoundland's perceived probems. Face it, she wants to provide cheap power to the mining companies in Labrador, because there's no need for it in Newfoundland. It's one huge charade and all her minions are quiet as sheep. Shame on the bloody lot!

  • KFR
    October 04, 2012 - 07:27

    This women is an idiot and the quicker we get rid of her the better

  • Paradisian
    October 04, 2012 - 07:26

    How can the Premier go around trying to sell Muskrat Falls when, the Government & Nalco are the only parties that have access to the information on the Pros & Cons ofn this development. I'm a single parent on a modest income. I am dreading the day when this gets approval to go ahead. We are being soaked now on electricity rates. She can play the Quebec card all she wants, this still will not get people of the province to jump on board. It comes down to money for those of us struggling to make ends meet. I wish I could afford to leave this province and go else where..............

  • Steve
    October 04, 2012 - 07:24

    I'll take no deal at all please and save this provinces grand children from paying for Blunderdales legacy. Stand up and fight against Muskrat Falls. If this goes thru everyone in this province will be screwed for generations to come.

  • Nasty Nate
    October 04, 2012 - 07:22

    "Quebec-based mining company Alderon Iron Ore Corp. says it's going to get deeper into the public debate around Muskrat Falls, pushing for the project to proceed." I guess Kathy forgot about that key statement. Or maybe Danny did not want her to bring it up again. Who is really running this province?

  • Maurice E. Adams
    October 04, 2012 - 07:10

    Unbelievable. 1) Nalcor's own written submission to the PUB confirms that there is NO INCREASE IN INDUSTRIAL DEMAND forecast after 2015........ 2). Government's own Energy Efficiency Action Plan 2011 confirms that residential energy use went down 17% between 1990 and 2008. Figure 6 of that same plan shows that residential energy use actually went down at an even faster rate in more recent years -- 25% between 1993 and 2008.......That plan also shows that any potential for increased residential electricity use will have been totally eliminated when electricity finishes cutting oil out of the island's residential home heating market (at the current rate there will be no room for further growth just as Muskrat Falls comes on stream)......... So island ratepayers are being misled when being told that the island needs the power. .........Ratepayers are being forced to pay billions for unneeded power --- power that will have no market, but the multi-billion dollar cost of which will put island ratepayers on the hook for many decades to come. ..... Not only that, but by the time we will need to re-negotiate with Quebec, we will be in a weak fiscal position (due to our continuing high Muskrat Falls debt), by locking ourselves into a 50-year high cost Muskrat power contract, we will have filled and eliminated our only alternative Upper Churchill domestic energy market (island and Labrador power needs) with high cost Muskrat Falls power. .... How weak then will our bargaining position be with Quebec --- when we will have no alternative market for Upper Churchill power, we will have no money to run an alternative high capacity line from Labrador, and due to our debt payments/provincial debt we will again have no choice but to take whatever pennies we can get from Quebec, just to stay afloat.... Some strategic thinking, some strategy, some vision, some plan. --- We are doing it to ourselves. Maurice Adams,

  • Finger Wagging
    October 04, 2012 - 06:57

    I attended the Board's luncheon yesterday and was struck by the Premier's tone and constant finger wagging at the audience when presenting her points. Premier, I am an entrepreneur who possesses 3 university degrees, 2 at the Masters level. You have a diploma in office administration. My business and employees generate the tax revenue that pays your salary and allows you the privilege to lead this Province. If this is the new communications strategy you said your government needs, you are heading in the wrong direction.

    • Duggan
      October 04, 2012 - 12:29

      The only thing more nauseating from this woman is her tongue wagging!

  • John Smith
    October 04, 2012 - 06:49

    Who gives a damn about how much mining companies owned by shareholders all around the globe pay for their electricity? Why would a residential rate payer have to subsidize their profits? It's not as if the ore is going to move to another jurisdiction.

  • Cold Future
    October 04, 2012 - 06:47

    Sounds like a Danny speech before he baled. Can't deal with Quebec except in the courts-too hot in the kitchen get out. How can we possibly deal from a position of strength if we have to subsidize every KWH sold to the mining companies and mainland canadian consumers. It defies all logic how you can develop at 30 cents per kilowatt and sell for 5 or 6 cents and make a project pay for itself. Some see a great project in Muskrat-they must have wool in there eyes. Surely any clear thinker can only see visions of Upper Churchill, John Shaheen ' chocolat and glove factories and maybe a glimpse of the fourth paper mill.