Hydro-Quebec has asked the Grand Council of the Crees to change the Cree composition of the federal and provincial committees studying the Great Whale River Project, according to Bill Namagoose, executive-director of the Grand Council. The Quebec utility has complained that two of our representatives are not “neutral,” Namagoose said.
The committees are responsible for conducting community consultations into the Great Whale project over the next six months. The committees are composed of representatives chosen by Quebec, Ottawa and the Grand Council.
Namagoose particularly objected to the request for the changes because it came from a Hydro-Quebec lawyer during discussions about funding forthe Grand Council’s participation in the Great Whale impact review.
“It is unethical to bring up something like this while discussing funding that Hydro-Quebec controls,” Namagoose said. “We have been guaranteed the right under the James Bay Agreement to appoint anyone we see fit. For Hydro-Quebec to try to influence that choice is definitely unethical. ”
A Hydro spokeswoman denied that the utility ever made such a suggestion. “We never, never asked for such a thing. That’s not true We never asked for any members to be re-
moved,” she said.
She added that the utility wants the governments of Quebec and Canada to help finance the Grand Council consultations, as they have in the past.
The utility put out a press release on Feb. 10 stating that an agreement has been reached with the Grand Council on community consultations as called for in the Great Whale environmental-impact guidelines. The utility says the Grand Council will be entirely responsible for conducting the consultation, using the methodology of their choice and hiring the necessary resource personal. The Crees agreed to provide the results within six months, and will be provided with $468,500 in three instalments by Hydro-Quebec to do the job.
At the end of the press release, the utility also says, “Since 1992, Hydro-Quebec has repeatedly reminded the Grand Council of the Crees of its willingness to define the most appropriate methodology for the consultation in the Cree communities.”
Brian Craik, federal-relations director for the Grand Council, described the situation differently. “Since 1992, Hydro-Quebec has tried to dictate the manner in which consultation would take place. Their proposed methodology was both faulty and inadequate. It’s only now that Hydro-Quebec has partially come to its senses.”