The Churchill Falls Contract: What's to Come?

Dr. James Feehan, Professor of Economics, Memorial University

Wednesday, December 3, 2008, 7:30 NDT
Inco Innovation Centre, IIC-2001

Click here to view the video of the session (Download Windows Media Player)
Click here to read the related article in the Dalhousie Law Journal
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Poster and Program

In 1969, representatives of Hydro-Quebec and the Churchill Falls Labrador Corporation (CFLCo) signed the Churchill Falls power contract. It was the result of many years of negotiations and involved complicated financing agreements.

Not long after 1969, this long-term contract came to be perceived by most Newfoundlanders and Labradorians as extraordinarily unfair. Practically all the benefits were seen as going to Hydro-Quebec and the province of Quebec generally, with little gain for either CFLCo or this province, the resource owner. Various provincial governments have protested, complained, taken legal action, called for federal government intervention, and sought re-negotiation. None of these efforts has resulted in any change to the contract.

It is now about forty years since the contract was signed. But it is not over. That contract together with other agreements tied to it will continue to determine who will get the benefits of this huge hydro-electric development for decades to come, even after 2041.

The purpose of this presentation is to explain the history of events that has put Churchill Falls on its current path, and to look ahead and identify what is in store for the future. Knowing how the contract came about is crucial in assessing whether that future is inevitable.

Dr. James Feehan is a professor of economics at Memorial University. Until recently, he was also Director of the university’s Institute for Social and Economic Research as well as Director of the J.R Smallwood Foundation for Newfoundland and Labrador Studies.