This report on Quebec Hydro is one in a long series of reports of 'troubles in Canada's utility land' brought about by the shale gas revolution, new technologies (solar, wind), larger investments in energy efficiency measures and slowing per capita demand, all taking the 'build' pressure  down for large and expensive hydroelectric generating plants.

The problem for ratepayers is that provincial governments with monopoly Crown corporation utilities - Newfoundland Labrador's Nalcor, Quebec's Quebec Hydro, Manitoba's Manitoba Hydro and B.C.'s B.C. Hydro - aren't listening.

Grown dependent on the income streams the Crown monopolies flow into their government masters' revenue pots and ignoring the costs and risks they are putting on their captive ratepayers, the four provincial governments keep their feet on the accelerator as they rush their overly expensive and unnecessary projects past their passive Government-appointed regulators. 

Producing power at unit costs four or more times what your captive utility can get for it makes little sense, unless the losses will be borne by others (ratepayers) while you (the government) get both revenue (annually, forever) and heightened economic activity ( short term) as the projects are built.

So much for caring for your subjects!

Tomorrow, March 29th 2014, between 8:30pm and 9:30pm, we'll be celebrating Human Achievement Hour.

This one-hour event coincides with Earth Hour, an annual event where governments, businesses and individuals dim or shut off lights in an effort to raise awareness about pollution. In contrast, Human Achievement Hour (HAH) promotes human prosperity.

Human Achievement Hour is a period of time during which one shows appreciation for human accomplishments by engaging in capitalist acts between consenting adults. For example, going out shopping, or using electricity or indoor plumbing.

“We salute the people who keep the lights on and produce the energy that helps make human achievement possible,” says Myron Ebell, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a D.C.-based think-tank that initiated the event in 2009.

People from all over the world will be celebrating Human Achievement Hour - one needs only to enjoy the benefits of the market process and human innovation to take part.

The event recognizes those who help make our standard of living possible - from doctors and nurses, to first-responders and countless entrepreneurs.

Human Achievement Hour encourages individuals to recognize that the 21st century is the greatest time to be alive.

Human Achievement Hour is a celebration of individual freedom and appreciation of the achievements and innovations that people have used to improve their lives throughout history.

Human Achievement Hour is a time to recognize that people are free to use their minds and resources in their environment to create, experiment and innovate.

An animated version of Stephen Moore's talk - America's Energy Boom: How It Will Save U.S. Manufacturing and Recharge The U.S. Economy.


Last month I attended the Manning Networking Conference in Ottawa.

It's the largest annual gathering of conservative and libertarians in Canada, with a noticeable generational split between those two philosophies.

The keynote speaker on the final day of the conference was Mark Steyn.

Now, Mark and I wouldn't agree on every political issue, but he's a very entertaining guy.

He gave a rousing speech in which he covered six political facts of life:

1) When money drains, power drains. When a nation loses control of its finances, it loses control of its destiny.

2) Permanence is the illusion of every age.

3) You don't need a President for life, if you have a bureaucracy for life.

4) Big government makes small citizens.

5) The great evil of welfare is not that it's a waste of money, but that it's a waste of people.

6) Culture trumps politics.



Frontier Senior Fellow, Donna Laframboise, testifies to UK House of Commons Energy and Climate Change select committee:

What does the federal government’s policy to enhance wireless competition look like the morning after the 700 MHz spectrum auction results were announced?  We have another player, Videotron, in BC and Alberta.  Videotron, Quebec’s largest cable company, has made a major play to compete in wireless in the west.  Everywhere else it is just about status quo.  Wind and Mobilicity remain as also ran acquisition targets that will eventually be consolidated with one of the larger players.

Rogers was the largest contributor to the total federal revenue take of $5.7 billion.  Telus and Bell, who share the same network, came next. 

In the Atlantic provinces and northern Ontario, Eastlink is continuing to expand its wireless network.  As a cable company it can offer triple and quadruple plays, home phone, video, cellphone and internet.  Videotron can do the same in Quebec but it will not be able to offer it in BC or Alberta, at least not in the traditional way.  Maybe LTE video distribution offerings will be enough to compete for some market segments.

In, Manitoba and Saskatchewan the incumbent provincial telcos remain the largest players.  Sasktel has complained that the spectrum auction rules discriminated against regional carriers threatening its ability to deliver LTE to rural areas.  Telus claims that it will now have an improved ability to expand service in rural areas.

With the addition of Videotron it looks like there will be four wireless competitors in most regions of the country except southern Ontario if we discount Wind and Mobilicity.  That is, if we continue to count Telus and Bell as two separate participants.  The Videotron entry into BC and Alberta will enhance competition.  In the rest of the country, not that much has changed.

The Frontier Centre released the 7th Annual Local Government Performance Index last week, and it's had a great reception across the country.

Unlike in the past, where we released one press release for the whole country, this year we released a separate press release for every province.

This allowed us to create a narrative for journalists about their local area and the cities that their readers care about, while still including some overall information about the report and the performance of the top few cities.

The strategy seems to have paid off really well, as we've had a record amount of media coverage, well exceeding previous years.

A summary of the broadcast and print media hits we've tracked for the project so far is attached below, online articles and blogs are far too numerous to list.


  • CJTK - 95.5 Greater Sudbury - 1 Interview + 2 Mentions + 11 News Pieces
  • (Also syndicated on CJTK1 North Bay, CJTK2 Little Current, CJTK3 Elliot Lake, CJTK4 Mattawa)
  • CBEW - 97.5 CBC Radio One, Windsor - 1 Interview + 1 Interview Replay + 4 Mentions
  • (Also syndicated on CBEG Sarnia, CBEE Chatham, CBEW1 Leamington)
  • CKGL - News AM570, Kitchener - 1 Interview + 3 Mentions + 6 News Pieces
  • CKOE - 107.3 Moncton - 1 Interview + 1 Mention + 4 News Pieces
  • CHED - 630 Edmonton - 1 Interview + 1 Mention
  • CBQT - 88.3 CBC Radio One, Thunder Bay - 1 Interview
  • CBAM - 106.1 CBC Radio One, Moncton - 1 Interview
  • CJOB - 680, Winnipeg - 1 Interview
  • CKLW - 800, Windsor - 1 Interview
  • CJCI - 97.3 The Wolf, Prince George - 1 Interview
  • CHNL - 610, Kamloops - 1 Interview
  • CHNI - 91.9 News - Moncton - 1 Interview
  • CIRX - 94X 94.3, Prince George - 1 Interview
  • CFLY - 98.3, Kingston - 1 News Piece
  • CJAD - 800, Montreal - 1 News Piece
  • CKWI - 88.0 News - Saint John - 1 News Piece
  • The Peterborough Examiner, Peterborough - 3 News Articles
  • The Chronicle Herald, Halifax - 2 News Article
  • The Guardian, Charlottetown - 2 News Article
  • Winnipeg Sun, Winnipeg - 1 News Article + 1 Letter
  • The Gazette, Montreal - 1 News Article
  • The London Free Press, London - 1 News Article
  • The Telegraph Journal, Saint John - 1 News Article
  • The Daily Gleaner, Fredericton - 1 News Article
  • The Whig-Standard, Kingston - 1 News Article
  • The Telegram, St. John's - 1 News Article
  • The Chronicle Journal, Thunder Bay - 1 News Article
  • The StarPhoenix - 1 News Article
  • The Lethbridge Herald, Lethbridge - 1 News Article
  • 24 Hours Vancouver, Vancouver - 1 News Article
  • Fort McMurray Today, Fort McMurray - 1 News Article
  • The Daily Courier, Kelowna - 1 News Article
  • Prince George Free Press, Prince George - 1 News Article
  • 14 Radio Interviews
  • 9 Radio Syndicated Interviews
  • 11 Radio Mentions
  • 20 Radio Syndicated Mentions
  • 24 Radio News Pieces
  • 44 Radio Syndicated News Pieces
  • 20 Newspaper Articles
  • 1 Newspaper Letter



The federal budget provides for $305 million for rural and northern broadband access.  There are no details yet on the structure of the program.  How this is structured and delivered will be key to its success.  There are a wide range of options of what to subsidize that include:

  • Local distribution infrastructure
  • Satellite space segment capacity
  • Satellite earth stations
  • Extending fibre transport routes

Who gets access to the funds will also be important.  Options include:

  • the consumer
  • Northwestel, the incumbent telco, and Telesat the incumbent satellite operator
  • Competitors to Northwestel like SSi Micro, Ice Wireless and Iristel
  • Community associations, aboriginal band councils and partnerships

All this is playing out in a rapidly changing technological environment.  Traditional landline based local telephone service provided by Northwestel will be replaced by fixed wireless technology in small remote communities.  The government of the Northwest Territories is funding the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Line.

Revenue will never cover the cost of providing service in most of the targeted communities.  But new technology and competition is driving the cost down and potential service levels up.  It is essential that the funds be distributed in a way that is competitively neutral so that competition can help deliver better service for northern consumers.

Satellite technology, as well as fibre, is also undergoing technical changes and cost reductions.  Hunter Communications Canada is bringing new Ku-band capacity to Canada with a hosted payload on Satmex 7.  Teleport operators like Juch-Tech have used AMC 9 for an eastern Arctic customer, challenging Telesat's de facto monopoly of northern service. Xplornet has provided Ka-band satellite access to residential customers.

The CRTC has launched an inquiry to determine the state of satellite services in the country which is the only way to reach many of these customers.  The CRTC will determine a subsidy regime in its subsequent digital economy proceeding.  Since opening up the north for local competition in 2012, the Commission has wrestled with the need for subsidies.  How to fund extension of services without enabling the incumbents to crush the nascent competition and lapsing back into a monopoly situation.  Will the structure of the program incorporate the CRTC's findings?  Stakeholders have been crying out for coordination of financial support programs for years.

$305 million over five years is not a great deal of money to bring rural and northern Canadians the opportunity to participate in the internet economy.  But the government should structure the program to harness the power of competition and consumer choice to get the best value for that money.

N.B.  The author consults for several of the companies mentioned above.


President Obama wants to put America back to work, produce more energy, improve public safety, and open new markets.  In his State of the Union address he said “I will act on my own to slash bureaucracy so we can get more construction workers on the job as fast as possible.”

Most Americans are not fooled by empty rhetoric. In December only 74,000 jobs were created (many of them low-paying positions), while 374,000 people gave up looking for work. Recent polls indicate that three-quarters of Americans say the country is in recession, two-thirds don’t trust the President, and barely 30% say the nation is “heading in the right direction.”

The President needs to free our energy, economy, and entrepreneurial instincts. But many projects have been sacrificed to environmentalist pressure groups.

Canada has vast energy, mineral, forest, and other resources, waiting to be tapped. But these resources are locked up by utopian environmentalists and politicians

Our hydrocarbon wealth especially offers benefits: improved human safety, health, welfare, and living standards with new jobs, wealth, and income. Not tapping these resources is contrary to Obama’s promises and our own national interest.

Of all the opportunities the 1,179-mile Alberta to Texas Keystone XL pipeline (KXL) awaits a presidential phone call or signature, to slash bureaucratic red tape, streamline the permitting process, and create construction and manufacturing jobs. Some 40,000 jobs – more than half as many as created last December.

There are good reasons for the President to end this interminable six-year KXL review debacle.

KXL would create an estimated 20,000 construction jobs, 10,000 jobs in factories that make steel, pipelines, valves, cement, and thousands  in hotel, restaurant, and other service  industries With Mr. Obama waging war on communities and states that mine and use coal, these jobs are even more important to blue-collar workers in Middle America.

States along the pipeline route would receive $5 billion in new property tax revenues, and still more in workers’ income tax payments.

Right now most of the oil from Canada’s oil sands and North Dakota’s Bakken shale deposits moves by railroad and truck, often through populated areas. We already know what happened at Lac-Megantic, Quebec. Corporations are working to improve tanker designs and reroute traffic. But despite occasional accidents, pipelines have a much better safety record. KXL would be built with state-of-the-art pipe and components to the latest specifications. Moreover, the pipeline has been routed to avoid population centers, sensitive wildlife areas and the Ogallala Aquifer.

Building Keystone will ensure that vast petroleum resources can be efficiently developed.  It will reduce the need to flare (burn and waste) natural gas that is a byproduct of oil production in the Bakken shale country. The endless dithering over KXL has frayed relations between Canada and the United States. It has compelled Canada to build new pipelines from the Alberta oil sands fields to Superior, Wisconsin and to Canada’s west coast.  Further delays will not reduce oil sands development – only the destination of the oil.

In a recent speech, President Obama said that “climate change is a fact.” Well, it has been a fact since the Earth was formed. The only pertinent issues are these: Are humans causing imminent, unprecedented climate change? And can we control Earth’s climate, by drastically curtailing hydrocarbon use, slashing living standards, and switching to renewable resources?

Oil sands production would add a minuscule 0.06% to US greenhouse gas emissions, a tiny fraction to global carbon dioxide emissions, and an undetectable 0.00002 degrees F per year to global warming.

A January 24 letter by Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) and signed by 45 Republican Senators, requests that President Obama permit KXL pipeline construction “as soon as possible.” Several Democrats said that they support his effort and Keystone, but are nervous about challenging the President or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

On January 31, the State Department reaffirmed that KXL is unlikely to noticeably increase demand for Canadian oil sands emissions of carbon dioxide. With reelection behind him, the President doesn’t need to kowtow to his radical green base. By picking up his pen and phone, and approving the pipeline, he could satisfy independents and his union base. He’d even reduce CO2 emissions, which State says would be 28-42% higher if Canada’s oil is shipped via train or truck.

Democrats should be lobbying the President to do what’s right for America: create the jobs he promised by approving Keystone.  

Both Canada and America are waiting.

Our firm Geophysical Service Incorporated creates seismic data which is our intellectual property.

In Alberta and Saskatchewan you pay for a permit, follow all the rules, and work with surface landowners for access and you can invest in data. These governments do not require you to give them a copy they can use for free. They understand this would be like telling Microsoft that because they do business in Canada they must allow the government free copies of all their software and that no license restrictions shall apply. It would obviously be ridiculous and overt nationalization to do this. If this thinking were applied fairly to all, no one would enter into this deal or be willing to invest and create under this condition. 

Unfortunately we have state control minded bureaucrats in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Ottawa who think this is a good deal and a reasonable proposition.  When seismic companies invest, risk, and apply hard work and effort to create valuable seismic data to promote Canada in the NWT and Arctic and Atlantic offshore areas, they demand a free copy with no license restrictions! Perversely and even worse, they feel entitled to be able to give it away to the very current and prospective customers that the seismic data owner lawfully licenses or seeks to license data to. This illogical and illegal activity is sold as the "greater good" and as a necessity to promote the offshore of Canada. They act as if the data is not available at all for license from the lawful owner. 

I ask is it really for the “greater good” to take from small Canadian data owners and give millions of dollars of data to very wealthy mostly foreign oil companies?  Is it really an incentive and necessary to do this when wells cost hundreds of millions of dollars to drill with a five percent chance of success, and the seismic is a few hundred thousand or a million for large amounts to license?  Is it really worth destroying the incentive for seismic data investors to invest in data?  Is it really worth destroying Canada's reputation as a nation of laws, private property, fair people, fair and honest government?  Is it worth trampling on Canadians rights, undermining all intellectual property and showing the world that Canada will attack companies and individuals that try to defend their rights? 

My view is that being honest, not stealing, not coveting other people’s property, not using others property for one’s gain, not attacking the victim of crime is the true greater good! 

I am from Alberta and proud of it. I will seek justice from those that have lost their way, and seek to take Canada in the wrong direction. I rely on good Canadians and pray for the Judges who hear my cases to be blessed with wisdom to see what is going on.

For GSI or any Canadian citizen who this could happen to, it really does have everything to do with the greater good, it’s just that our government has lost its way on how it justifies these actions. 

I ask where has the “we stand on guard for thee” gone to in Canada?