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Gov. Sununu praises Northern Pass project during visit to Montreal

New Hampshire Union Leader

March 20. 2017 9:41PM
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu made a trip to Montreal on Monday where he praised the Northern Pass project and called for an update of the North American Free Trade Agreement. (COURTESY)

Gov. Chris Sununu steered his New Hampshire business promotional tour Monday to Montreal, where he called for a careful rework of the North American Free Trade Agreement and praised the Northern Pass project.

Sununu said his first official visit to Quebec was about building upon close relationships and celebrating a Canadian-American history and culture that is rich in New Hampshire.

“It’s a true partnership,” he said during a joint news conference with Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard.

The governor participated in a lunch and forum hosted by the Conseil Des Relations Internationales De Montreal, and later was scheduled to attend a reception Monday night at the U.S. Consulate General in Montreal.

Sununu, R-Newfields, has set a goal of visiting or speaking with 100 businesses in his first 100 days in office. He is intent on attracting companies to the Granite State or establishing new or expanded business relationships.

He has not identified the businesses he’s reached out to so far.

The governor left for Quebec without giving Granite State reporters advance notice of the trip. He traveled with a small group from the state Department of Resources and Economic Development, according to his office. The Division of Economic Development live streamed the news conference on its Twitter account.

Sununu was asked several questions about Northern Pass, the proposed 192-mile transmission line from Canada to Deerfield, for 1,090 megawatts of power from Hydro-Quebec plants into the state and New England.

On the campaign trail in 2016, he was clear in his support for the project, which is not without its critics in the North Country and central New Hampshire, for its proposed path and whether or not the lines will be completely buried or just partly buried.

Sununu reiterated Monday that burying the transmission lines entirely would be not be economical.

“This is a project that has been debated back and forth for quite a few years in New Hampshire,” he said. “It’s a win-win for both sides.”

Regarding NAFTA, Sununu said that the agreement, which President Donald Trump has panned, is overdue for an update. Hopefully, Sununu added, “We’re not just going to throw it out.”

Canada leads the top five markets for New Hampshire exports, with a total of $506 million in 2016. The Division of Economic Development reports that 2,625 New Hampshire companies export an array of goods to Canada, including computer equipment, medical instruments, and aircraft components.

Premier Couillard spoke of the importance of open markets. Couillard and Sununu both spoke of reinforcing economic ties.

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