Report of the Commission of Inquiry Into Hydro-Quebec’s purchase of electricity fromprivate producers by the Government of Quebec Montreal, 1997
Every government wants to spread a little money… er, joy to its good friends and party contributors. And the Liberals of Robert Bourassa were no different. This is the inside story of how a little scheme got cooked up that would make some powerful people rich and haunt Hydro-Quebec for years.
The Liberals forced Hydro-Quebec to announce a truly wacky plan. Hydro would buy energy from private power producers (mostly small dams) at almost twice the going U.S. rate, and then resell the power at a big loss in the U.S. Smart!
For Hydro and Quebecers, it meant massive losses. For a small group of private dam owners, it was like winning the jackpot.
Soon enough, allegations emerged about the program: possible links to the Hell’s Angels and drug-money laundering, high-level Hydro officials profiting from the program, Liberal patronage.
In 1995, newly elected Parti Québécois premier Jacques Parizeau appointed a commission to look into the charges.
The commission found the program wasn’t needed because both Quebec and the U.S. were swimming in power. The program will cost Hydro-Quebec nearly one billion dollars over 20 years.
Especially sensational was evidence about Montreal dam owner and Liberal contributor Peter Kuczer, who owned a dam in the Algonquin community of Winneway.
Kuczer was arrested in Miami in 1994 after he allegedly agreed to launder $11 million in drug proceeds through his Quebec dam operation. Kuczer made a plea bargain with U.S. authorities and the charge was reduced to tax evasion.
In the end, the commission dismissed the most serious allegations and everyonewent back to sleep. As for the Algonquins, they were the first ones to call for theinquiry, but their attempts to buy the dam have gotten nowhere. Quebec seems to preferthe likes of Kuczer.