CORNER BROOK The wall between the Quebec and Labrador boundary, when it comes to the transmission of hydroelectric energy, is not as unbreakable as it is perceived, according to Gerry Byrne.
The Liberal Commons member for Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte says there is a little known alternative to the current development plan for the Lower Churchill — one utilizing Quebec, the preferred route for this province.
Through the Agreement on Internal Trade that exists in Canada — unanimously signed by all provinces and territories, along with the federal government, in 1995 — he said there is a rules-based solution to the problem that has prevented such a development for more than 40 years.
“It has always been assumed that route is not open to us and cannot be ever opened, unless there is a mutual bilateral agreement between Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec,” Byrne told members of the Rotary Club of Corner Brook Thursday.
The internal trade agreement includes an unfinished section pertaining to the harmonization of energy goods and services and transfer of energy from and between provincial jurisdictions, he said.
The other 11 aspects of the trade agreement has been advanced, but the energy chapter is still being worked on, according to the longtime MP.
Byrne said it is time for the federal government to influence the provincial first ministers to finalize this aspect of the agreement, and apply its policies.
“It’s not that I am presenting here the answers, but there are clear and evident questions that need to be asked,” he said. “Is the Quebec/Labrador boundary an unassailable wall that probably will never be broken down for the transmission of hydroelectric energy or is it possible, realistic, even probable that wall will be broken down, and will be broken down under a rules-based approach?”
If this agreement is finalized, the MP said all provinces must comply with the free trade of energy. He said that would create substantial benefits for this province.
“Newfoundland and Labrador would have a legal, rules-based right, subject to a tariff or rental fee for the use of other jurisdiction’s transmission lines, to transmit and trade our energy with Ontario, New England or anybody else based on the Agreement on Internal Trade.”