JAY —Hydro-Quebec has launched an investigation into posts that appeared on the Facebook page of its lobbyist, Tim Walton, last Thursday.

During a forum on the New England Clean Energy Connect project on Thursday at Spruce Mountain Middle School, posts appeared on Walton’s FB page disparaging Nick Bennett, a staff scientist with the National Resources Council of Maine, who spoke against the proposed $1 billion hydropower transmission line.

The panel included supporters and opponents of the New England Clean Energy Connect project.

Walton attended the forum, and the comments appear to have started at 7:30 p.m., with additional posts for another 40 minutes.

On Friday, after the posts had been circulated by the Say No to NECEC campaign, Walton told Rep. Tina Riley, D-Jay, that his account had been hacked, the lawmaker said.

Later Friday, when the Sun Journal checked Walton’s FB page, it had been set to private and the posts were not visible.

On Saturday, Hydro-Quebec posted on the Stop the Corridor FB page that the company “in no way endorses the statements published on the Facebook page belonging to Tim Walton. We have initiated an investigation into the matter.”

One screenshot from Walton’s Facebook page, sent out in a press release from Sandra Howard, director of Say No to NECEC, appeared to show Walton had written that Bennett was “starting his bull**** and spreading the NRCM of bull**** lies.”

Another post said Bennett was “spewing big whack jobcrap.”

Multiple phone calls to Walton on Sunday and Monday seeking comment were not returned.

Riley said that after looking into it, she doesn’t believe Walton’s phone was hacked given that pictures taken from his seat at the forum were posted. But, she said, “there is no conclusive proof either way.”

In its post, Hydro-Quebec wrote: “Our company upholds the principles of full consultation with the public on projects such as the NECEC transmission line and the right of all citizens to express their views.”

And, according to the company post, “We sincerely hope that the discussions in Maine will continue to progress in a climate of respect, and we remain committed to working towards positive collaboration between Quebec and New England.”

In her press release, Howard criticized Hydro-Quebec for not participating in the forum. The company posted that it was invited to take part, “but it was our understanding that issues related entirely to transmission line authorization were to be discussed, and not aspects related to our energy.  For that reason we declined participation and informed the meeting’s organizers accordingly.”


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