Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Comments on the Telegraph Journal story suggesting NB Power may be privatized

Those of you who read the Telegraph Journal may have been a bit surprised by a front page story today under the headline "Utility on the block". Although I don’t think it is anything to get too worked up about at this time, I want you to know that we remain strongly opposed to privatization and are doing our due diligence on this issue and will respond appropriately.

For those who haven’t actually seen it, the story was prompted by an announcement by the provincial government that it is entering into talks with the Province of Quebec about developing partnerships in the energy sector. When he was interviewed by a group of reporters on this, Premier Graham was asked if these talks would include discussions on privatizing NB Power. His response was vague, saying: “This is going to be a very broad discussion. There are going to be a number of hypothetical questions out there.” That response led the TJ reporter to the conclusion that privatization could be one of the topics of discussion, and that led to the headline “Utility on the block”.

We are now trying to find out more, but at this point, our gut feel is that the headline is sensationalistic.

I can’t believe that the province would seriously consider privatization. The case against it is overwhelming. The Premier knows we’re better off than Nova Scotia or Maine, both of whom have privatized utilities. He knows New Brunswickers would be paying more and outages would be more frequent and last longer under a privatized utility. The track record is there. But perhaps even more importantly, he knows the public doesn’t want it, and that keeping NB Power public was one of the three major planks that helped get him elected. In fact, their platform stated that “A Liberal Government will maintain NB Power as a publically owned utility that will serve all New Brunswickers equally.”

Local 37 has fought this battle before and we won’t hesitate to do it again if the need arises. But we don’t want to over-react to something that doesn’t warrant it. I want you to know though, that we are on it.

As always, we welcome your input. Also, if you want your voice heard on this outside the union, you can go to the Telegraph Journal CanadaEast website ( and click on this morning’s story. You’ll see under it where readers have registered their comments. You are free to do the same or to support or oppose the views expressed by other readers. It’s just one more way of having your voice heard.

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