The New Brunswick government forged ahead with efforts to sell NB Power to Hydro-Quebec even though it knew the deal was hugely unpopular from the beginning.
Internal polling documents and focus group reports prepared for the government and obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information laws show that a week before the first deal was announced last fall, people were concerned about losing control of their provincial utility.
Opposition to the proposed $4.8 billion sale grew from 48 per cent in October 2009 to 60 per cent in January of this year in the polls done for the government, even though the deal had been changed to the sale of 10 power plants.
The talks collapsed in March, and in a subsequent poll about 54 per cent of respondents said the government should have known better than to try to do a deal with Quebec, and an almost equal number questioned the competence of the Liberal government for not being able to complete a deal it cared so much about.
The government was criticized for conducting negotiations in secret, and after the deal was cancelled, 75 per cent of respondents said they believed the government learned an important lesson about openness.
The polling was conducted by the Innovative Research Group and also by Corporate Research Associates.