When Premier Jean Charest unseated the Parti-Quebecois in last spring’s provincial election, one of the things he assured the Cree is that he would not dam the Great Whale River.
But in June of this year, the Nation has discovered, he apparently went back on that promise when he contacted Pita Aatami, president of Makivik Corporation, and said that he would like to open up discussions on the Great Whale River, and its future development.
Aatami informed Charest that he would not discuss the possibility unless the Cree were present, since it affects them as well.
Christine Martin, a spokesperson for Hydro, said that the Great Whale River could be open to negotiation, but the actual costs of the project at the current market conditions would be too high.
Charest went the Annual General Assembly of the Grand Council of the Crees and Cree Regional Authority on September 11th, 2003 becoming the first Quebec Premier to talk at a Cree AGA.
Charest was asked by Nation reporter Neil Diamond if rumours were true that he had talked to the Inuit about the possibly of the Great Whale hydro-electric project being revived. Charest denied any meeting had taken place contradicting Aatami. Charest told people that Great Whale was not on the table”…yet.”
Five minutes before Charest had assured Lisa Petagumskum that he would protect the Great Whale River from development.
At the AGA Charest announced the province would be constructing 50 housing units for medical staff in various Cree communities. He also assured Cree leaders that the present provincial government would “actively participate in the implementation of the ‘La Paix des Braves agreement.”