McKenna gave guidance during NB Power sale negotiations, says N.B. premier

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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FREDERICTON - Frank McKenna got the ball rolling on the proposed sale of NB Power when he was premier in the 1990s and was part of negotiations this year as a special consultant for Premier Shawn Graham.
Informal talks between New Brunswick and Quebec about a possible energy pact began in January.
In a recent interview with the Moncton Times and Transcript, Graham said he enlisted his predecessor's help shortly thereafter.
"I also understood this was more than just putting together an historic deal, which it is to the country. It was also going to require great political risk," he said.
"He gave me some good guidance and counsel and he also gave me some names of some individuals who could lead the discussion process for us."
In June, Graham's office issued a release confirming the provinces were formally exploring a partnership "particularly in the areas of accessibility, supply, transmission, market opportunities, and greenhouse-gas reduction."
McKenna wasn't sitting at the bargaining table, but Graham said he provided advice as the process unfolded.
"I used him as a sounding board. I'd keep him informed. Once every two or three months, I'd call him up to tell him where we were at," the premier said, hinting at a future role for McKenna in the months to come.
"The last few weeks, as we got closer to a deal, I called to brief him where we're at because I'm going to need his help at selling this deal, not only in New Brunswick, but across the country."
Last Thursday, Graham and Quebec Premier Jean Charest announced a memorandum of understanding that would see Hydro-Quebec purchase most of NB Power's transmission, distribution and generation assets for $4.7 billion.
During the signing ceremony, Graham acknowledged the role of two former New Brunswick premiers in getting the province to that stage.
"Former premier Frank McKenna first asked NB Power to move to a private-sector model and structure," he said. "Later, former premier Bernard Lord continued this work by restructuring the corporation and exploring the sale of some parts of the utility.
"Their work has led us to this day."

Organizations: NB Power, Moncton Times, Hydro-Quebec

Geographic location: New Brunswick, Quebec, FREDERICTON

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