Despite Indian protests, the leaders of Quebec and Newfoundland agreed Monday to cooperate on a huge hydroelectric project that would serve Canadian and U.S. markets.
The estimated 100 Innu demonstrators complained that their community had not been consulted in preliminary talks on the project.
Premiers Lucien Bouchard of Quebec and Brian Tobin of Newfoundland briefly were blocked from entering the Labrador town of Churchill Falls. They got out of their vehicles to speak with the protesters.
At the news conference, the premiers announced an agreement committing their governments to negotiate a deal by the end of the year to build a $2.2 billion dam on the lower Churchill River and $2.1 billion worth of new transmission lines in Labrador and Quebec.
The project is tentatively scheduled for completion in 2007, but Tobin said it is contingent on obtaining $1.4 billion in federal funds for an underwater transmission line linking Labrador with the island of Newfoundland. The province of Newfoundland includes both the island and Labrador.
Quebec and Newfoundland say the project would create about 50,000 jobs and eventually provide 3,200 megawatts of new power.