One of the keys to the construction of the Northwest Transmission Line was the 2009 announcement by the federal Conservative government that it was putting $130 million into the project.
Jay Hill, a Conservative MP and cabinet minister who represented the riding of Prince George-Peace River from 1997 to 2010 and a guest at the Aug. 13 event noting the completion of the transmission line, recalled his role in securing that money.
Armed with a study financed by a coalition of northwesterners and others lobbying for the line’s construction, Hill said he lobbied hard among his cabinet colleagues.
More than a few, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, told Hill he was asking for money for an area that isn’t politically friendly.
“They said, ‘you do realize this is a NDP riding’,” Hill recalled. “But this was about doing the right thing in the right place.”
Fortunately, added Hill, his seat on the Treasury Board, the arm of the government which decides on financial affairs, gave him an advantage.
“I was able to convince the Prime Minister and my cabinet colleagues,” said Hill. The next step was to find the right program from which money could be allocated.
That turned out to be the federal Green Infrastructure Fund, a $1 billion program for efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Hill said connecting mines to the provincial power grid meant they wouldn’t have to use expensive and environmentally harmful diesel generators.