Yvonne Jones, MHA for the District of Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair, says she
is concerned with comments made by Premier Williams to the media concerning
potential benefits for Labradorians from any potential Lower Churchill deal.
In today’s edition of the Telegram, the Premier is quoted as saying that
Labradorians cannot demand too many benefits from any potential Lower
Churchill deal or the project may not be feasible.
"The comments made by the Premier regarding any potential Lower Churchill
agreement are nothing more than an attempt to lower expectations in
Labrador," said Ms. Jones. "If this is the Premier’s mission, this will be
totally unacceptable and an insult to the people of Labrador. I fully
support a Lower Churchill project that provides benefits to everyone in the
province, however, the needs of the people who live in Labrador and live
adjacent to the resource also deserve an appropriate level of benefits.
"Right now in Labrador, people on the coast are paying high electricity
rates because of the inefficient cost of producing energy. These people
should be entitled to receive more affordable power from any potential Lower
Churchill project. More opportunities should also be made available that
will attract new industry to the region that will create more employment and
benefits to our communities. A portion of this power should be developed for
this sole purpose.
"There are many needs in Labrador and it is not acceptable for the
Premier to begin the process of negotiations by indicating that Labradorians
may not get the benefits they deserve and are entitled to receive. If this
Premier was committed to developing a successful project that benefits
everyone in the province, he should begin by inviting Labrador
representatives to be part of any negotiating committee to ensure the
expectations of Labradorians are addressed.
"This Premier has demonstrated time and time again that he is not
committed to Labrador. He has even refused on several occasions to place a
member from Labrador in the provincial cabinet. While no project has been
announced, I can assure the Premier that I, and the people of Labrador, will
not stand idly by and allow him to develop a Lower Churchill project that
does not provide an appropriate level of benefits for Labrador residents.
This attempt to lower expectations is not acceptable and I encourage him to
change this approach immediately. The people of Labrador should be included
in this process, not excluded before it even begins."