New Brunswick

Opposition vows to fight NB Power sale

New Brunswick's opposition leader has vowed to do everything he can to stop the sale of NB Power, but admits the Graham government has the numbers to push the deal through.
Opposition Leader David Alward says New Brunswick will lose control over its energy policy if the NB Power sale goes through. ((CBC))
New Brunswick's opposition leader has vowed to do everything he can to stop the sale of NB Power.

But David Alward admits the Shawn Graham Liberal government has the numbers to push the deal through in the legislature and there's little he can do.

Alward delivered his official response to the government's throne speech Thursday and focused entirely on the proposed sale of NB Power to Hydro-Québec during his 70-minute speech.

"This deal is so wrong in so many ways," he said.

"If this goes through, generations down the road will be cursing those who let it happen. I will have to live with myself, and that will be hard if I can't honestly say I didn't do all I could do to stop this."

Alward contends New Brunswick will lose control over its energy policy, despite government denials.

"Just because [Premier Graham] can use the majority to get this deal signed before an election, doesn't mean he has the right or the moral authority to do so," said Alward, who has demanded an election over the issue.

House rules

Under house rules, the Liberals can move to limit debate in plenty of time to hit their April 1 deadline to get the deal signed, according to Tory MLA Bev Harrison, a former Speaker.

"The government will win the vote, and then they can fix the hours of how long we will have to deal with the bill," he said.

Energy Minister Jack Keir accused the opposition of fear-mongering and politiking. ((CBC))
Energy Minister Jack Keir defended the controversial sale agreement, saying at least his government has a plan for lowering power rates and paying down debt, while the Tories do not.

"What did they do? Continue to critique, fear-monger and politick on probably the most important issue facing New Brunswickers in many, many years, and didn't offer one, not one alternative," he said.

Alward needs to explain what he would do to achieve those goals, said Keir.

Alward told reporters his plan is to manage NB Power better — something the Liberals say he failed to do as a minister in the previous Bernard Lord government.

Under the proposed sale, expected to be completed by the end of March, Hydro-Québec is to pay $4.8 billion for most of NB Power's assets, a sum that will wipe out the utility's debt.

Additionally, Hydro-Québec will freeze residential rates for five years and cut large industrial rates to the level paid currently by Quebec companies. The New Brunswick government values the rate savings at $5 billion.

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