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Last winters ice-storm electrical blackout would have been much shorter in Quebec if the provinces hydro utility had used its own employees.

“It was just a big show,” said Louis Cauchy, an information officer for CUPE in Quebec told the media. “If they had just called in their own workers, there wouldnt have been any show. So they called in people from B.C. and Texas so the public wouldnt blame them.”

On January 6, the second day of the storm, the local union representing the employees informed Quebec Hydro that it was willing to suspend clauses in the contract governing job descriptions. That would have allowed the linesmen to help the distribution people to get the system up and running. But the unions offer was rejected.

About 4,000 employees were paid to sit at home during the storm while hydro workers were recruited from other provinces and the U.S. During the storm the union office was swamped with calls by members who wanted to help but had not been called by the utility.