WikiLeaks' revelations on PEI utility

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND - The Prince Edward Island utility Maritime Electric was part of the plans in Hydro-Quebec's purchase of NB Power, a document released last month by the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks reveal.

In October 2009, the New Brunswick government announced it was selling its electrical utility to Quebec. But the $4.8-billion deal was politically unpopular. The former Liberal government scaled down the proposal before it was eventually canceled in March 2010.

There were rumours at the time Hydro-Quebec intended to buy Maritime Electric as well. PEI Premier Robert Ghiz denied it and Maritime Electric said it knew nothing about a sale.

But a document released by WikiLeaks shows discussions were serious.

Most of the note, written by the American Embassy in Ottawa, refers to the proposed mega deal between Hydro-Quebec and NB Power. It outlines a discussion between Quebec Premier Jean Charest and U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson.

"Charest also told the Ambassador that Hydro-Quebec is planning to acquire the privately-owned Prince Edward Island power company," the document reads.

"The generating assets involved are quite small, but Charest said Hydro-Quebec would be also acquiring important wind assets and environmental credits."

When asked about the document, Ghiz told CBC News a deal was not imminent.

"It might have been discussed in passing, but our focus at the time was to purchase electricity from Hydro-Quebec. Now, if they had ended up purchasing New Brunswick Power, well that would have opened up the door for them to look at Maritime Electric," Ghiz said.

When the Hydro-Quebec deal with NB Power fell through it ended any potential discussions between Quebec and PEI.

Shawn Graham's Liberals were defeated handily in the September 2010 New Brunswick election.


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