$76 million paid for expropriated hydro dam

James McLeod
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Province settles with Fortis

Tom Marshall

More than three years after the provincial government seized hydroelectric dams from Abitibi-Bowater, Natural Resources Minister Tom Marshall announced

Tuesday taxpayers are paying roughly $76 million for one of those dams.

In total, Newfoundland and Labrador taxpayers have paid around $150 million for the assets expropriated by the government.


In a separate transaction, the federal government paid Abitibi $130 million to settle a NAFTA challenge.

Marshall announced the $76-million settlement with Fortis in the House of Assembly.

The settlement involves a payment totalling about $22.4 million to Fortis; the government has taken on a $54-million loan associated with the Exploits River hydroelectric assets.

The government has paid other companies for other hydro assets that were taken in 2008, which brings the total for the province to about $150 million.

In 2008, Abitibi was teetering on the verge of bankruptcy and

shut down its Grand Falls-Windsor mill.

The government said that it needed to move quickly on expropriation to keep the assets from being split up and sold in bankruptcy court.

The legislation was passed in a single day with no opposition from either the Liberals or the NDP, but in its rush, then-premier Danny Williams and then-natural resources minister Kathy Dunderdale accidentally expropriated the Grand Falls-Windsor paper mill.

After a lengthy fight in the courts, the Supreme Court of Canada told the provincial government that it couldn’t make Abitibi pay for environmental liabilities on the mill that had been expropriated.

Marshall defended the expropriation, saying even in hindsight, it was a good move.

“It was a great project for the people of the province. These are assets that belong to the people. With the land and the timber and the water rights, these assets, we couldn’t let them go, we couldn’t let them be sold off to somebody else at a bankruptcy sale when the province couldn’t get them,” he said.

“We had to do it, and we had to move quickly, and you know, we’ve protected the assets that were owned by the people of the province.”

New Democrat Leader Lorraine Michael said that Tuesday’s announcement is a reason to rethink the mistakes that were made.

“My mother had an expression, Mr. Speaker, ‘haste makes waste,’ and I suggest that this government reflect on that axiom,” Michael


Liberal Leader Dwight Ball was also unimpressed by the settlement, saying that the environmental issues at the Grand Falls-Windsor mill are a serious concern.



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Recent comments

  • David Wilson
    May 01, 2013 - 14:58

    "we’ve protected the assets that were owned by the people of the province.” So we pay out $150M to private companies for assets "we the people" own. Yes, sounds like a real benefit to the people of this province. Shame on you PC government for trying to pull the wool over our eyes. Shame on us if we keep them in power for another term.

  • No Newfoundland and Labrador resource should be developed unless industry and jobs result from the development.
    May 01, 2013 - 12:01

    Why has every single Newfoundland and Labrador resource that has been developed thus far been given away in order to secure a Contract? It doesn't have to be, neither do we have to give away our natural resources in the raw state without the creation of industry and jobs here. OVER THE YEARS WE HAVE PRODUCED GREEDY, CORRUPT POLITICIANS, who think no further than their own personal economy and that is the primary reason our natural resources ended up where they did without any appreciable economic compensation for our people or our province. Our Politicians, like the politicians from every other jurisdiction in this World, have to negotiate honest and accountable contracts on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and not just between the Politicians and the Corporation, who will be administering the resource. Also all Contracts must have the proper protective Contract Clauses to protect the interests of the people of the province and the province's itself! All resource development should provide at home industry and jobs, if not the resource should not be developed.

  • Henry
    May 01, 2013 - 10:59

    Yet another. Example of pure incompetance by. Kathy Dunderdale expropriating assets in error and costing nfld .millions of $$$$$ - What can I say ? Time to clean house by getting rid of the PC's - Make no wonder. we have c debt. Issues, massive layoffs and cut backs for two years. I am not impressed.

    • david
      May 01, 2013 - 12:36

      Small nit....you misspelled "Danny".

  • Ray Fleming
    May 01, 2013 - 10:55

    Our government today is a shining example that in a democracy we should never elect a majority government.Too many incompetent people in charge.

  • david
    May 01, 2013 - 10:28

    Danny is a lot like the Beatles.....years after he's gone, we're all still paying top dollar for his "work". Everybody now!: "Yesterday. All my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they're here to stay, ooohhh....."

  • W McLean
    May 01, 2013 - 09:04

    Where were the hydro dams and trees going to go?

  • Foghorn Leghorn
    May 01, 2013 - 08:59

    Yup, so far it has cost both levels of government almost 300 million dollars and the clean up hasn't even begun yet. Somehow I think if Danny Williams and company were risking their own money it never would have happened. He did mange to keep a straight face when he said he would do it all over again.

  • Shawn
    May 01, 2013 - 08:17

    Yet another shining example of the incompetency of our Government and as well the so called opposition. We need to start fishing for leaders in a different pool.

    • Fred Penner
      May 01, 2013 - 10:42

      To my mind the biggest weakness of modern democracy is that not only can a person get a job that they are not qualified for (by virtue of being elected) but that they are made the boss! The Minister of Education is a teacher, the Premier is a something or other and the Minister of Finance is a lawyer. Perhaps I am missing something but it seems to me that neither one of them is qualified for their job. To be fair, there is alot of merit in having experience and I suppose in the final analysis education is nothing more than experience but I would not hire a lawyer as a teacher nor would I hire a teacher as a lawyer but it is done in politics all the time.