Disturbing news on the Great Whale front. In a little-noticed move in mid-December, the Quebec government fired the Great Whale project’s “Bureau de soutien,” a body of eight scientific experts whose job was to advise five federal and provincial committees studying Great Whale.
These experts were well-versed in all aspects of the project and on the James Bay environment. Their work figured prominently in a recent report from the committees that slammed Hydro-Quebec’s plans.
The Grand Council of the Crees is protesting the move because it says the Bureau de soutien is needed so long as Great Whale is still on the table and hasn’t been cancelled forever.
Now, if the government brings back Great Whale, it will have to put together another Bureau de soutien whose members may not be as familiar with the James Bay Territory or the thousands of pages of environmental studies done by Hydro-Quebec.
Also, in that event the government will have a chance to appoint pro-Greal Whale scientists to the Bureau de soutien. “The panel members may just be political hacks,” said one Grand Council advisor.
Cree officials are also reacting cautiously to Quebec’s plan to hold a public consultation on energy policy this spring. “They could have a consultation that comes out and says hydro-electricity is fine and we should go ahead with Great Whale,” said the Grand Council official. “It’s just not clear what the government wants to do.” The Grand Council will decide soon if it will participate in the hearings.