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October 20, 2009

Montreal-New York City high-speed rail a priority for Quebec

<img src="/homepage/images_image_276103054" alt="&#149;">&nbsp;&nbsp;Quebec minister cites high-speed NYC-Montreal service as future key

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"The big projects get accomplished with vision and leadership," Douglas said.

Then-Gov. Dewitt Clinton had that type of vision when he started the Erie Canal, Douglas said, and that led to the state's economic development in the 1800s.

"High-speed rail is the next Erie Canal."

HYDRO POWER

While the Quebec government realizes it would be costly, it can also provide an opportunity to install new electrical transmission lines to tap into Quebec's hydroelectric power.

Arcand said the Quebec government will invest $280 million in the next six years to foster development of environmentally friendly businesses. The state of New York is already Quebec's leading trading partner in that regard, he said.

New York is working to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

As he delivered the Plattsburgh State Institute on Quebec Studies Distinguished Quebec address later Monday afternoon, Arcand said that inexpensive hydroelectric power can help meet that goal.

He said 97 percent of the energy produced in Quebec is from renewable sources, some of which is already exported to New York.

Quebec would like to increase its availability to states in the Northeast. The opportunity is there because present production is from plants on only about 33 of the province's more than 4,000 rivers, Arcand said.

He thinks it will happen but not for a number of years.

FREE TRADE

Arcand also said it is vitally important not to allow protectionism to endanger free trade between the partners. About $100 million in merchandise flows between the United States and Canada every hour, he said, and 7 million U.S. jobs directly or indirectly depend on Quebec.

State Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) said that relationship is especially important in her district, which relies heavily on Canadian tourism and businesses.

"All of us realize it's important to focus on this relationship because it is so important to us."

That sentiment was echoed by Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-Peru). She said that as a longtime North Country resident, she has seen the benefits Canadian tourists and businesses bring to the region.

"It's great to see that relationship continue."

E-mail Dan Heath at: dheath@pressrepublican.com

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