1. Oh boy, have they got problems in Quebec! Our support goes out to the Val St Francois Citizens Coalition, who can be contacted via Deborah Wood <garwood@CAM.ORG>. They have 100 km (and it goes on further) of 735 kV line to fight. But the legal dirty tricks are astonishing. These notes are based on a report of Rene Bruemmer in The Record 15.5.01.
2. It all started after the famous Quebec ice storms of 1998 which cut off power for weeks. Hydro-Quebec (HQ) and the government connived to bypass the usual processes to fast track the new massive line from Des Cantons substation near Windsor to Hertel substation on the south shore of Montreal. Land was appropriated and the first 100 km section was built.
3. After challenges, a Superior Court judge ruled 23.2.99 that the development was illegal because it had bypassed the legally required public hearings (bureau d'audiences publiques environnement - BAPE). She ordered construction work to stop. BAPEs were set up.
4. The ruling Parti Quebec (PQ) on 17.5.99 passed Bill 42 to deem the line legal, retrospectively waiving the need for a BAPE at least for the constructed 100 km of line. This may be unconstitutional.
5. In August 2000 BAPEs began, but only for the unconstructed sections of the line, leaving the people of Val St Francois and elsewhere on the first 100 km with the line imposed on them. The BAPEs report published Jan 2001 says the new line is bigger than needed for its declared purpose, to power Montreal. It is suspected the line is really wanted to export power to the US. Sounds familiar!
6. 14.5.01 the legal challenge to the retrospective ruling starts in the Superior Court. It is going on all this week. Clearly there are fundamental and deep legal issues at stake. The Citizens Group is asking the Superior Court to rule Bill 42 null and void.
7. Good luck, citizens of Quebec. We await the result with interest.
A Three Tun Web