Churchill River , My Involvement

Given the latest news that Newfoundland is talking to Quebec about Churchill Power I thought it might be of interest to detail my involvement ,for the record , and while memory is still clear.

My involvement with Churchill River:

When Energy Minister initiated a study ( Techmont was the name of the company that did the study) on the feasibility of the Anglo Saxon route as the cable route to Nova Scotia was called. This route to take electricity generated from the Churchill River in Labrador . Hence, it included examining the feasibility of the cable crossing across the Strait of Belle Isle as well. It was concluded that that the project was technically feasible but not economically feasible.

When Energy Minister introduced legislation setting up the Lower Churchill Development Corporation , a Federal Provincial Agency that was mandated to develop the Lower Churchill River. Mysteriously, this was allowed to lapse.

When Energy Minister I met with Claude Joron, then Energy Minister for Quebec . I also met with Premier Levesque when I was Minister in that he attended a meeting I was having with Joron concerning the Churchill.

Intervened in a imminent deal Frank Moores was making with Levesque involving both the Upper and Lower Churchill. The deal was scrapped hours after my intervention.

My Administration passed legislation called the Water Reversion Act in an effort to improve the Province’s position concerning the Upper Churchill Contract. After judicial reference, the Supreme Court rejected the legislation as it had also rejected an earlier court reference concerning the power contract under the Upper Churchill arrangement.

My administration had talks with Quebec involving both the Upper and Lower Churchill . Our position insisted on meaningful changes to the Upper before any talks on the Lower Churchill.

Met privately with Premier Levesque at Lake Champlain, Vermont in an effort to get talks going. The talks really never got started because Quebec Hydro refused to show flexibility.

The Power Authority of the Sate of New York met with Quebec after talks with my administration about buying Churchill Power . They thought that they might be able to get Quebec to be more flexible re transmitting of Churchill Power through that Province .

Met with a number of International Aluminum Companies in a effort to jump start Labrador Development using Churchill Power.

Spoke with Prime Minister Mulroney concerning the subject and he contacted Quebec and encouraged talks

Had an intermediary from Prime Minister Trudeau contact me verbally to see whether I was willing to entertain some federal involvement on Churchill if I would relinquish claims and efforts on the offshore file. Of course , I flatly refused entertaining such a ridiculous offer. That ended that.

Concerning the present talks? Beware of our history. A little closer to expiration of Upper Churchill contract would seem a better time to talk.


2 thoughts on “Churchill River , My Involvement

  1. Thank you for your efforts to bring about a better resource development resolution with Quebec.
    Was the re-negotiation of the South Labrador Boundary Dispute, (Privy Council arbitrary Latitude vs high point of land), a topic of discussion with Quebec during your tenure as Premier? What was the outcome?
    Do you not agree that this is the “nub” of the continued impasse?

    Robert G. Holmes
    Retired in Fernie


    • Its related but the big issue is the Upper Churchill Contract, 65 years for less than $2 per barrel oil equivalent . And now a Muskcrat Falls disaster complicates the whole Churchill matter given that a water management agreement favours Quebec and our Provincial people have forged another deal giving lower Muskrat power to Nova Scotia than to their own people .



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