Nfld. & Labrador

Premiers of N.L. and Quebec talk about future 'collaboration'

The premier's office is confirming that Dwight Ball spoke one-on-one with Quebec's premier on the phone Monday.

Ball and Couillard talk after calls that the two provinces "bury the hatchet"

According to a Quebec cabinet minister, Philippe Couillard wants to bury the hatchet with Newfoundland and Labrador regarding the Upper Churchill agreement. (CBC)

The premier's office is confirming that Dwight Ball spoke one-on-one with Quebec's premier on the phone Monday.

A member of Ball's staff says the two premiers' conversation did not happen during a scheduled first ministers' conference call that also happened Monday.

A note from Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard's office also confirms the conversation.

It says they spoke about projects that could be beneficial to both provinces and that the premiers and their teams will speak again in the coming months to better define their collaboration.

Last week, Ball talked about a possible collaboration between Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador to develop future hydroelectric projects, such as the Gull Island project on the Churchill River in Labrador.

Ball was not available to comment Tuesday morning.

Quebec offering to re-open Upper Churchill contract

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Quebec Natural Resources Minister Pierre Arcand said his province will consider revisiting the 1969 Upper Churchill hydroelectric contract if Newfoundland drops all court actions challenging the contract.
Churchill Falls remains a sore point for many Newfoundland and Labrador, because of a long-running contract signed decades ago with Hydro-Quebec. (CBC)

The contract, which runs from 1969 to 2041, means Newfoundland and Labrador now makes only $2 per megawatt hour from Upper Churchill power.

The deal is notorious in Newfoundland and Labrador, and crown-owned Nalcor Energy has estimated that Hydro-Quebec has reaped about $25 billion from the agreement, while this province has seen $1.5 billion.

The contract has been challenged in court 17 times, according to Ball, with Newfoundland and Labrador losing each time.

This fall Newfoundland and Labrador launched an effort to appeal the latest court decision in the Supreme Court of Canada.

Ball told CBC News earlier this month that he personally phoned Couillard to tell him that the province is pursuing an appeal in the Supreme Court of Canada.