Hydro-Quebec, a symbol of French pride


Fifty years ago, at a fishing camp north of Quebec City, the cabinet of then-Premier Jean Lesage held a fractious debate over the future of electricity in Quebec.

Spearheaded by the late René Lévesque, the major question on the table was the nationalization of Hydro-Quebec. At the time, most of the electricity generated in the province came from powerful private corporations like Montreal Heat and Power and Shawinigan Water and Power.

...McGill University business professor Karl Moore says Hydro-Quebec's ambitions and success helped beget major Quebec business institutions as the Caisse de dépôt, Power Corp, Cirque du Soleil, Vidéotron, pharmacy chain Jean Coutu and later Bombardier.

"Previously (the) French were not represented in the business world," says Moore. "Hydro demonstrated not only that they could take part in business but they were world class: you could be successful. Hydro was seminally important."

Fifty years after its creation, it is perhaps no longer the icon it once was. But, says Moore, "Quebecers are still proud of Hydro. It's a key institution, it's world class, a leading company in the world. We are playing in the big leagues."

Read full article: The Star, March 30, 2012