No blame here, just manipulation

Brian Jones
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Newfoundlanders (and Labradorians) are such suckers. Faced with a choice between nationalism and rationalism, they choose nationalism every time.

The Upper Churchill power contract with Hydro-Québec is the biggest sinkhole of Newfoundland nationalism and taxpayers’ money.

Even news last week that the government had blown $4 million in its futile attempt to have a court overturn the infamous 1969 contract based on a so-called “good faith” argument couldn’t quiet the calls for the Tories to blow even more by pursuing an appeal.

There are two certainties about such an appeal: 1) it will fail, and 2) it will waste additional millions of public funds.

But it won’t take much to convince gullible Newfoundlanders that Judge Joel Silcoff of the Quebec Superior Court was predictably biased against Newfoundland.

Premier Tom Marshall told The Canadian Press last week the province will pursue the issue to the Supreme Court of Canada if need be, and would be “negligent” if it didn’t.

On the contrary, the negligence was made in Newfoundland, by a government and by successive premiers who insistently churn out rhetoric and propaganda blaming Quebec for the provincial government’s mistakes in the 1960s.

The citizenry can line the sidewalks of Duckworth Street to cheer as the government sends legions of lawyers to once again do battle with Quebec, but it would be more fun — and about as effective — to pile the money in a huge mound on Signal Hill and hold an impressive bonfire.

It is preposterous to claim Newfoundland lost the case because it was heard in a Quebec court. Judge Silcoff probably couldn’t care less about the decades-old political spat between Quebec and Newfoundland. He should, and likely does, care more about his own career and professional standing — both of which could suffer were his ruling to be reversed on appeal.

No judge wants the Supreme Court of Canada to declare he, or she, is a jurisprudent twit.

The wails of woe that have emanated from the likes of former premier Danny Williams and Nalcor Energy CEO Ed Martin are crass manipulations meant to deflect the public’s attention away from foolish decisions and costly errors that were made right here.

Some statements from Silcoff’s ruling:

Paragraph 468: “The Court is satisfied, based upon the uncontradicted credible evidence, that the parties concluded what they each believed, at the time, was a mutually beneficial agreement embodying and reflecting their respective legitimate expectations and an acceptable risk allocation strategy freely negotiated without undue constraints or compulsion on the part of either party.”

Paragraph 484: “Moreover, if the Government of Newfoundland believed in 1969 that the terms and conditions of the Power Contract were abusive or unfair to CFLCo and to the Province, as it has contended since the early 1970s, it could have refused, in 1969, to provide the various approvals and incentives required by the financial institutions as contemplated under the Power Contract and the various ancillary agreements signed in connection therewith.”

Paragraphs 519 and 520: “In this context, the only question to be asked and answered is whether, as CFLCo contends … the contractual obligation of good faith and cooperation and the duty to exercise its rights in a reasonable manner require Hydro-Québec to ‘share the (allegedly) unexpected benefits’ in the manner sought in these proceedings. Seeing the evidence as to the nature of the relationship between the parties in the contractual equilibrium agreed to under the Power Contract, the Court would conclude there is no such justification in fact or in law to support this contention.”

Burning more millions on a foolhardy court fight founded on “creative legal theories” (Paragraph 534) will merely prove yet again that Newfoundland is governed by bumpkins.

Brian Jones is a desk editor

at The Telegram. He can be reached

at and can be found on Facebook.

Organizations: Hydro-Québec, Supreme Court of Canada, Quebec Superior Court Canadian Press The Telegram

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Quebec, Duckworth Street Signal Hill

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Recent comments

  • Dolf
    August 04, 2014 - 12:54

    We can't win for losing. Dwight Ball and his Liberals would also continue with Muskrat as well as this asinine appeal.

  • seanoairborne
    August 01, 2014 - 13:06

    Joey "The King" Smallwood signed the contract and gave all the rights to Quebec Hydro! End of story. You should be all lining up at his grave and taking a whiz!! Get over it!!

  • Nichol
    August 01, 2014 - 11:45

    Thank you Mr. Jones (and the Telegram) for publishing a forthright condemnation of the NL Government, and indeed the Premiers' misguided and totally politically motivated comments on an appeal of the recent Silcoff decision. Any decision of Judge Silcoff's Quebec Superior Court, must first be appealed to the Appeal Court of Quebec. Assuming Nalcor loses that one, only then can there be an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. The costs of the case resulting in the Silcoff decision were published as $ 4.2 million, plus $ 1 million in costs awarded to Hydro Quebec, a total of $ 5.2 million of borrowed taxpayer money. (remember, we are running a $500 million deficit this year alone) Assuming the next two appeals end up with the same verdict, a Nalcor loss, (not one ounce of evidence to suggest otherwise, if you read the Silcoff decision), we will end up with an additional $10 million, (maybe a bit less) in costs, based solely on political motivation. I can see the Government's loud imperious bleatings now....'we are ensuring that we exhaust every possibility in our goal to achieve fairness for proud NL etc. etc.! What utter drivel. The only thing they will achieve is a bigger deficit. This is a Government completely out of control, incompetent, and seemingly desperate. They must be stopped in the next election. In addition, the outright con job that is the Muskrat Falls project will result in a huge, completely unnecessary burden on the NL ratepayers. It should be noted that Roger Lanoue, a former Hydro Quebec Vice-President, and the co-chair of the Que. Government mandated energy consultation and review Commission, pegged the average price that Hydro Quebec is able to sell it's export power for, at $0.0300/KWh. The same commission forecast a surplus of electricity in Quebec to last until 2028. They also recommended the cancellation of the last two phases of the 1550MW Romaine River hydro project. Power from Romaine was forecasted to cost $0.0600KWh. Power from Muskrat Falls, at only 824MW will have to cost more than double that. Muskrat Falls truly is 'madness', fundamentally flawed from the very beginning. This appeal strategy by our Government is nothing short of more disgraceful deceit of the people of NL.

  • concerned NL
    August 01, 2014 - 11:27

    We have to many people in government, even lawyers and well educated teachers,and professors who are using this arguement to better their party rather than better NL. It must be fun to spend someone else's money on trying to build credibility that has gone so low that the people of this province are wondering if most of the PC cabinet members didn't get their degrees and the rest of the letters behind their names from a crackerjack box. This was a contract between NL and Quebec and was signed and agreed to by the leaders of the day, who it now appears were a lot smarter than the present day government. We had nothing to work with back then, we were the have nots. Now we are the have province this crowd and get our heads above water and not only that is ripping down everything we have built over the years. I wanted Marshall to run for premier but now he is showing that he is no good by moving further on this, he should have taken a few people like Darin King and Felix Collins right out of the front lines and into the back row when he had the cabinet shuffle but failed us there. These two were the leaders to push Bill 29 through and wrote the damned thing. King has ruined the justice department, has now got a mess in education and this is his second time around at that. Now there are a few announcements for Grand Bank and area to try to get him re-susitated again. These fools are not smart enough to see that they are fools, but we must ensure that we do not give people like this an opportunity to hurt us again. Having said that there are a few PCs that are good ones, they walked across the floor and have more respect now than all of the PCs put together. What a shameful state we are in. King just ruined Davis' chance of winning the next election by supporting him. I feel for Davis as he is a good guy, but he won't get my vote now.

  • T. Sleeveen
    August 01, 2014 - 10:54

    Thankfully, this is only your opinion, and you are not runing the province. Your insuting tones and derogatory comments about us only serve to show I am right when I cancelled my subscription.

    • Cheep cheep
      August 01, 2014 - 11:47

      So you cancelled but still read it. People like you need to get a life and pay your way. You whine because someone says something different than what you say, you must be hard to live with. Are you sure you sure you are not Darin King, talking down to people all the time.

  • Ed. Anstey
    August 01, 2014 - 08:28

    i congratulate you on writing a very truthful article. keep up the good work.