Quebec willing to contribute to Newfoundland and Labrador link: Couillard

Quebec is willing to contribute financially to the building of a link connecting Labrador to the island of Newfoundland, Premier Philippe Couillard said Thursday.

"Not only are we willing to participate but because of the nation-building character of this project, we believe it would be natural for the federal government to be partnering with us,'' Couillard told a news conference alongside Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball.

The Quebec premier said it's too early to say how much the province would give to a project that a study released Wednesday estimates would cost about $1.7 billion and take 15 years to complete.

The proposed link would offer increased mobility to Labrador's 27,000 residents and potentially bring more tourism dollars to communities around Yankee Point in Newfoundland, as well as saving travel time for truck drivers crossing from Quebec.

Couillard's "nation-building'' reference came a day after Ball made a similar comment and said the project would benefit all Canadians.

On Thursday, Ball repeated that sentiment.

"I can imagine a corridor that when you drive from St. John's, Newfoundland, into Vancouver, going through Route 138 (in eastern Quebec), it's a significant piece of the infrastructure that would be required to make that work,'' he said.

"Route 138 would be an important piece of that investment for us and, feeding into a fixed link, would indeed be a nation-building project.''

On Wednesday, Ball compared the potential link to P.E.I.'s Confederation Bridge, which was built in the late 1990s.

Also on Thursday, Ball and Couillard announced a partnership to develop a mineral-rich area that straddles the provinces' border.

The partnership is aimed at developing the mining potential of the Labrador Trough, a 1,200-kilometre geological belt that holds major deposits of iron and other minerals.

Under the agreement, the provinces will collaborate in such areas as geological mapping, transportation infrastructure, telecommunications and labour.

Ball said the provinces want to create high-quality jobs and help the region compete for global mining investment dollars.

The premiers announced the beginning of talks on co-operation last July. -