Quebec and Ontario are on the brink of developing a more coordinated approach to bolster their energy and infrastructure interests.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne met on August 21, a week before the current premiers’ meeting in Prince Edward Island, and agreed to revive talks for a national energy policy.
The alliance between the two provinces could also result in Quebec sending more of its ample hydro electricity power to Ontario. Premier Couillard told a press conference following the meeting that the province wants to sell more of its hydro power to its neighbour. The power could be used in Northern Ontario to support the development of the Ring of Fire mineral deposits, an economic initiative said to be worth around $60 billion.
Premier Wynn said in a Globe and Mail report: “They [Quebec] are blessed with that terrific hydro power. There is a border between Quebec and Ontario but it’s not a border that is impermeable. It is one that we should find a way to … really use to both Quebec and Ontario’s advantage.”
The two premiers are also calling on the federal government to put more money into infrastructure to boost the economy, where growth has been cool in Eastern Canada compared to the rest of the country. They say that the 10-year $53-billion Building Canada Plan is not enough, and Wynne wants Ottawa to quadruple its infrastructure payments. Currently, according to the CBC, Ottawa spends about one-half a percentage of Canada’s gross domestic product on infrastructure. Wynn would like that to go to 2 per cent of GDP.
The premiers of all the provinces are meeting in Charlottetown on August 26 to 30 for the Council of the Federation conference.