Nova Scotia businesses and families would pay less to enjoy the benefits of clean, renewable electricity from the Lower Churchill hydro project because of support promised today, March 31, by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Prime Minister Harper announced a commitment to provide support for the project through a loan guarantee, or equivalent financial support, while speaking in St. John’s. “This is wonderful news,” said Premier Dexter. “I spoke to Mr. Harper this evening, and affirmed that this project is a win-win for all of us, that will change the economic landscape of this province and the region for generations to come. “The Lower Churchill project is a game changer for Atlantic Canada, and a major environmental and energy win for all of Canada.” Premier Dexter noted that all national party leaders have committed their support to the project. The deal to build the $6.2 billion Muskrat Falls portion of the Lower Churchill hydro-electricity project was announced Nov. 18 by Premier Dexter and then Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador Danny Williams, in conjunction with project partners Emera and Nalcor Energy. In exchange for a 20 per cent investment in the construction of the project, Nova Scotia will receive 20 per cent of the electricity generated over the next 35 years, accounting for 8-10 per cent of the province’s electricity needs once it starts flowing in 2017. “Building this project is building our nation,” said Premier Dexter. “No longer will Nova Scotia be at the end of the line as far as power is concerned. Rather we will be at the centre of an efficient loop connecting Newfoundland and Labrador to the Maritimes, New England and Quebec.” The electricity will travel to Nova Scotia by way of the Maritime Link, a $1.2 billion sub-sea cable between Newfoundland and Labrador and Cape Breton. In addition to transmission infrastructure upgrades within and between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the project will provide the opportunity for further energy integration and cooperation across the region. “We always said that this project was a go whether we got federal support or not, but this commitment means real dollars saved for the ratepayers that are going to be receiving the benefits of federal support, and a new source of clean, renewable energy,” said Premier Dexter.
“I think this is a test,” he said, “and by all accounts at this stage, the institution isn’t responding well to the challenge.”But aside from threatening to boycott the next Commonwealth leaders summit, Baird did not say what other steps Canada might take.Asked if the government was contemplating leaving the organization, he replied: “Not at this time.” NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar said “if anyone should be leaving right now, it’s Sri Lanka.” In addition to hosting the summit, Sri Lanka is also in line to serve as the institution’s chair for the next two years — which Canada and other critics believe would seriously undermine the group’s moral authority and its ability to persuade other errant regimes to mend their ways. Baird said the government and Canadian diplomats have been pressing other Commonwealth countries on the issue, but he would not comment on why those efforts have been unsuccessful.“This is a tremendously difficult file,” he told the committee. “And if Canada is the lone (country) to stand up and speak truth to power, we can all be tremendously proud.”Liberal international co-operation critic Mark Eyking, however, described the Conservative government’s failure to get other countries onside as a diplomatic “failure.” Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says the Commonwealth is failing its greatest test by letting Sri Lanka host this year’s leaders summit but yet Canada has no intention of leaving the organization, the Vancouver Sun reported.Canada has been alone in threatening to boycott November’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo unless Sri Lanka improves its human rights record and moves towards post-civil war reconciliation with the country’s Tamil minority. Canada is the Commonwealth’s second-largest donor, and the institution would be in dire straits if Canada were to withhold the $25 million it contributes every year.Dewar said the government should review all options, but the first step is declaring categorically that Canada will not be attending November’s leaders summit.“We should not participate, period,” he said. “Remember apartheid? We led strongly in that. That’s what we should be doing. Not a little bit here, a little bit there. Just be very strong and say ‘We’re not going to participate.’” “We’re tremendously concerned about the deteriorating and authoritative trend of the government in Sri Lanka,” he told the Commons’ foreign affairs committee.Speaking to reporters afterward, Baird said the fact Canada is the only country speaking out reflects poorly on the Commonwealth as a whole. Days after expressing frustration that Sri Lanka and the upcoming summit were not on the agenda of a Commonwealth foreign ministers’ meeting, Baird appeared before a parliamentary committee and reiterated his criticisms of the Asian nation, the Vancouver Sun reported.