The Grand Council has announced that at present it will not participate in the debate announced by the Government of Quebec.
The government, responding to an election promise, has set up a public debate on energy options. The problem with the debate is that the panels are made up of members chosen by the government itself. The members include people working for Hydro Quebec and other large companies into “selling” the company line. In addition, to do this, these members will have access to millions of dollars worth of technical and public relations back-up. Other members will have no such back-ups.
In a superficial effort to smooth over this flaw in the process, the Government of Quebec intends to make $800,000 available to intervenor groups and individuals. Millions for Hydro Quebec to sell its point of view and 13 cents per Quebecer to reply! In Ontario, a similar energy debate which ended in 1993 cost $9 million and provided substantial funding to a variety of interested consumer groups, environmental groups, Aboriginal peoples and others. In Ontario, the process was run by rules of procedure and important board membership and participation. In Quebec, the cards have been stacked in favour of the “Bulldozer Coalition.”