Ordinary citizens gathered in the cold at the New Brunswick legislature this week to deliver a blunt message against the planned sale of the province's power utility to Quebec.
Fredericton (14 Jan. 2010) - Ordinary New Brunswickers delivered a blunt political message to the Liberal government of Premier Shawn Graham this week as MLAs returned to the legislature: NB Power is not for sale!
Strong opposition to the proposed $4.8 billion sale of the provincial utility to Quebec Hydro has arisen since the deal was announced by the government in November. It is scheduled to be finalized before the end of March.
The rally, timed to coincide with the opening of the legislature, was organized by the Coalition of New Brunswickers.
The government says the deal will provide New Brunswick residents and corporations with $5 billion relief from higher electricity rates.
The claim – and many other aspects of the deal – have been challenged by ordinary citizens, experts and other groups, including the New Brunswick Union of Public and Private Employees (NBUPPE/NUPGE).
Protesters carried signs that read "NB Power is not for sale" and "RIP Liberal Party of New Brunswick."
The premier has so far shown no signs of backing down from the deal despite public opinion polls showing that the vast majority of New Brunswickers are opposed.
He has given vague assurances that New Brunswickers will retain some control over power rates after the deal is finalized but the details are not clear.
Graham did not emerge from the legislature to speak to demonstrators. His energy minister, Jack Keir, did appear but he gave no sign that the government is about to change its mind.
"We are still in discussions with Quebec and we are going to get the very best deal we can," he said.
Opposition Leader David Alward drew loud cheers from the protesters when he spoke against the deal.
"NB Power is not for sale," he declared. "Shawn Graham is selling New Brunswickers down the river."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE