Activists make strange bedfellows. Or so it seemed when some Quebec environmental activists got into bed with Hydro-Quebec workers and labour unions at the first general assembly of the Coalition Against the Denationalization of Electricity Sept. 9.
The coalition’s mandate is to prevent Hydro-Quebec from going ahead with plans to export power to the United States, in exchange for opening up the Quebec market to U.S. power companies.
Half of the coalition’s members are Hydro-Quebec workers’ unions concerned about losing their jobs.
The other half consist of environmental protection groups. Quebec Comité Baie James (CBJ) is one. The CBJ fought with the Save James Bay Network five years ago. Now the CBJ has supplied a sizable share of the funding to get the coalition up and running – $3,300 of the coalition’s $7,165 budget.
A panel member at the coalition’s general assembly explained the alliance: “Deregulation of Hydro-Quebec and opening the market here up to other electricity companies means increased competition and therefore increased exploitation of our natural resources,” explained one Quebec environmentalist.
On the other hand, the Grand Council of the Crees doesn’t see deregulation as a bad thing.
“We believe deregulated companies would not have the financial ability to build a mega-project, such as Great Whale or the Nottaway-Broadback-Ruperts, because they are smaller,” said an observer from Grand Council present at the meeting.
Earlier this month, the same observer attended an Albany, N.Y. meeting of environmentalists, among them members of the Save James Bay Network who fought Hydro-Quebec’s plans for a second James Bay project. The activists met to gear up for HQ’s rumoured plans to resurrect the project.
“We beat them five years ago, but our mistake was not finishing them off,” said the Grand Council observer.
The Save James Bay Network plans to meet in Montreal Nov. 8.