Mining, hydro and reconciliation among topics discussed by Furey and Legault
Furey says hydro conversation didn't get into specifics
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey met with Quebec Premier François Legault in person for the first time on Monday, marking Furey's first trip out of the province in an official capacity as its leader.
Furey told reporters during a conference call the meeting covered "numerous items" including economic opportunities for the north, a green energy transition, reconciliation, mining opportunities and COVID-19.
He said the meeting was suggested over the last few weeks as travel restrictions began to ease across the country.
Muskrat Falls was also on the agenda. Furey said Legault was supportive of Newfoundland and Labrador's $5.2-billion agreement with the federal government in July.
Also on the table were discussions about hydroelectric capacity in Labrador and the "immense opportunity" it presents, Furey said, adding there were no specific details discussed.
"Especially during this time in the transition and the disruption in energy markets, both provinces know that there's going to be an increase in demand for clean green energy, and that represents a significant opportunity," said Furey.
Furey said specifics were not discussed about Quebec potentially looking to extend the contract on the Upper Churchill hydroelectricity project beyond the 2041 expiry date. When that time comes, he said, the best interest of Newfoundland and Labrador will be in mind.
"We didn't get into the specifics. Not to oversimplify this, but this was the first meeting of two premiers who have never met face to face. This was the first time of being able to meet with Premier Legault and it was a healthy exchange of ideas," said Furey.
"While hydroelectric capacity is a key component of potential synergies into the future, there was no granular or specific details or discussions on any one or all the projects."
On the mining front, Furey said cross-border assets were the topic of discussion, including potential investments such as upgrades, which would be beneficial for both provinces.
He said both sides want to ensure current mining developments are green and also reflect a "tone of reconciliation" with Indigenous groups in the area.
"Prior to this meeting Minister [Lisa] Dempster sent letters on my behalf to the three Indigenous leaders in Labrador to ask them if they had any issues they wanted to discuss, and mining and cross-jurisdictional issues around that was brought up," Furey said.
"Certainly we raised it today, but it was a real healthy discussion about how we can be synergistic in the approach, and I know that word is used a lot, but there are real overlaps there that we can exercise for the benefit of both Quebecers and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians."