The January meeting of the Cree Nation Youth Council was postponed until Monday January 21st. This was done as an act of respect as Grand Chief Ted Mosses Mother-in-law passed away. The original two-day meeting has been shortened to one day.
Selling the Youth on the AIP will be a tough nut for the Grand Council to crack. Before the meeting broke up about 150 delegates were asked if they supported the deal.
Out of approximately 150 Youth gathered only 1 hand went up in support. Cree Youth delegate Pakesso Mukash said he expects when the meeting takes place on Monday that the Grand Council will be asked some hard questions. “We will be respectful but this is about the future of the Cree Nation,” said Mukash. He also said that the response of Youth or whether or not they support the deal with Quebec shows that the GCCEI comment that a majority of the Youth supports the deal may need rethinking on the part of the Grand Council.
Another of the Youth delegates, Jeremy Diamond has already been asking hard questions at the community consultation meeting in Nemaska. Diamond embarrassed the chiefs when he asked them to explain the formula the GCEEI say would give the Crees so much money. None of the chiefs, including the Grand Chief, could do so. Diamond then asked two different GCCEI team members to calculate the figures given at separate times. The answers were different each time. Diamond has said that according to his calculations that Crees would never get more than the base of $70 million.
Roger Orr, a Nemaska resident, says he admires Diamond because he quit school to make he was part of the process of deciding the future of the Cree and the AIP deal.
Orr says that he and others are planning to talk to Robert McCullough, author of the McCullough report about Diamonds analysis of the revenue sharing formula. The McCullough report was an analysis of a proposed Rupert River and potential Eastmain River diversions and was paid for and commissioned by the Grand Council. Orr says this is one of the reports that should have been made available to the people when they were being consulted by the GCCEI. “It’s our report, Crees paid for it,” he said.
Orr said one of the things that jump out at you is that McCullough finds that the Quebec government poorly understands or doesn’t understand the electric industry given their predictions and figures. The reservoir level is lower than expected and Quebec has made electricity commitments based on their water flow predictions. The problem is that Hydro Quebec estimates inflows by averaging past amounts of water inflow into the reservoir.
“It is like the weatherman predicting weather based on what happened last year,” said Orr.
The Quebec government is searching for additional supplies of electricity because they’ll need it if they want to renew wholesale contracts. A couple of options are available according to the report. Quebec can attempt to negotiate a deal with Newfoundland regarding hydroelectric operations in Churchill Falls but the Newfoundland government bases its negotiations on economics and the U.S. market – meaning they are sophisticated bargainers and has an aggressive negotiating stance. Another option is the diversion of the Rupert’s River into the La Grande project, which would more than bring the flows up to levels first envisaged. Crees are seen as being less sophisticated and easier targets. Basically the report says that for the Crees to accept the HQ Rupert’s River diversion project back in 2001, the Cree would essentially pay for the destruction to the land themselves the deal was so bad.
Orr is hoping to find out if this is the case with the AIP.