First, I would like to congratulate your readers who worked hard to qualify and pass Question 1 on Nov. 2. The battle to stop the Central Maine Power corridor was hard fought, and it highlighted a major weakness in Maine’s election law that allowed Hydro-Quebec, a crown corporation owned 100 percent by a foreign government, to funnel an astonishing $24 million through a political action committee to influence Maine voters.

Throughout the two-year campaign to give Mainers a voice on this deeply unpopular project, Hydro-Quebec displayed a brazen disregard for us and our laws. The company spent the very first $100,000 of their campaign illegally without filing as a PAC. This major violation resulted in the second-largest fine ever assessed by the Maine Ethics Commission.

During the public hearing for my bill to close the loophole Hydro-Quebec had exposed, Hydro-Quebec CEO Sophie Brochu defended the company’s supposed right to spend money in our election even though it is prohibited from spending money to influence Canadian referendums. She said, “When we have a referendum in Quebec, or in Canada, it’s really a big thing, politically loaded, very heavy and the impact it can have politically-wise in the country.”

By her estimation, because our referendums are initiated by the citizens of Maine, they are less significant than the Canadian referendums from which we’re prohibited from influencing. Therefore, our elections are undeserving of enjoying the protections afforded to Canadian ones.

Now that Hydro-Quebec’s crusade to convince Maine voters to support a project that benefits us little has failed, Quebec’s premier, Francois Legault, said he is “confident” his government will prevail over the will of Maine voters, and Hydro-Quebec said the following in a news release about the outcome of the Question 1 vote: “Hydro-Quebec will take the necessary actions to have its rights recognized and ensure the continued construction of the project.”

Shortly after pushing out this press release, Hydro-Quebec, aka the taxpayers of Quebec, joined Avangrid in a lawsuit against the state of Maine to prohibit Question 1 from ever taking effect.

This blatant disregard for Maine laws and citizens by a foreign country has been tolerated, and even defended, by some politicians at the highest level even though it threatens the integrity of future referendum elections in our state. If this is how our neighbors to the north treat us, I’d hate to see what’s in store for us next unless we act now to prohibit foreign governments from spending money to influence future referendums initiated by Maine people.

Maine elections are for Mainers. Period. So, while we were victorious on November 2, the battle continues, and I hope that you will join our broad bipartisan movement called Protect Maine Elections to close this loophole and further safeguard elections initiated by Maine voters. To learn more, visit our website at protectmaineelections.com, and sign up at the website to help us qualify this important referendum for the ballot.

Together, we stood up to foreign meddling and misinformation by voting YES on Question 1 to ban the CMP corridor. Now, let’s join together again to ensure that we don’t endure an election cycle like we just witnessed ever again.

 


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