"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Overactive imagination

Regular epistolarian J.A. McGrath of St. John’s has one of his or her regular epistles in the Saturday Telegram (not online), in which he or she makes some curious and ahistorical claims:
In 1967, the federal government, with the acquiescence of the Smallwood government, denied us our rights - set out in section 92 of the Canadian Constitution - to wheel Upper Churchill hydro power through Quebec to the markets of Ontario and the northeastern United States.
J.A. is welcome to point to which paragraph of s. 92 of the “Canadian Constitution” furnishes this imagined right. Be specific now.

Perhaps J.A. is getting s. 92 confused with its infill neighbor, s. 92A, and particularly subsection (2):
(2) In each province, the legislature may make laws in relation to the export from the province to another part of Canada of the primary production from non-renewable natural resources and forestry resources in the province and the production from facilities in the province for the generation of electrical energy, but such laws may not authorize or provide for discrimination in prices or in supplies exported to another part of Canada.
A section which still doesn’t provide for the imaginary “right” to wheel Upper Churchill power out of the country, a right which J.A. says was denied. Section 92A also has the factual inconvenience of not having been part of the constitution in 1967 – whatever significance that year is supposed to have had. Section 92A, in fact, is part of the constitutional reforms enacted in the early 1980s under the leadership of a Prime Minister whose name escapes (but it wasn’t Mulroney.) Quite remarkable, really, that this imaginary right could not only be denied, but it could be denied fifteen years before the right was imagined into imaginary existence in the first place.

J.A. continues:
Curiously, the question of compensation for surrendering our rights under section 92 has never been taken into account. Still, the Harper government continues to deny us our rights under the Atlantic Accord, thereby depriving us of billions of dollars in oil revenues while Quebec coffers continue to swell with the revenues from the Upper Churchill in a deal that has this province locked in until 2041.
Again, J.A. might want to elaborate a little on those points. Which “rights” under s. 92? And which “rights” under the Atlantic Accord?

Really, now, J.A.: be specific.


At 7:45 AM, July 28, 2009 , Blogger Edward G. Hollett said...

And to really drive home the foolishness of McGrath and his little myth factory, there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Smallwood ever sought to have the powered wheeled, at all.

The claim, contained in one story by Cabot Martin about a conversation he supposedly had with Smallwood before his death, and conveniently made publicly only after Smallwood was dead and buried, claims that Smallwood was going to ask Ottawa to assist by building a federal powrer corridor through Quebec.

According to the fable, Smallwood didn't ask when Pearson pointed out that there would be huge political consequences for the country.

The only problem is that there is no independent corroboration for the story. There is nothing anywhere else on the public record that suggests that any such exchange took place. To the contrary, it would appear that Smallwood merely used the threat of such a request under what is now 92(10)(A) - if memory serves - to try and get a better deal with Quebec.

There is - however - a huge difference between a story McGrath repeats (and cocks up in the repetition anyways) and an actual event.


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