Did Maclean’s do in Charlie Watt?
Maclean’s published a two-page report on Watt entitled, “Boss of the North,” just days before he got demolished in an upset election to choose the president of Makivik Corp. last week. Maclean’s said Senator Watt was facing “growing discontent” from fellow Inuit for “a high-flying lifestyle, controversial deal-making on the $ 13.3-billion Great Whale hydroelectric project and for constructing a network of business and political interests.”
The article said Watt faced criticism over his excessive ways as he entered the election against his own brother-in-law. Watt had an annual income of at least $194,000—$64,400 from his job as senator plus a tax-free expense account of $10,100, in addition to his Makivik salary of $120,000. Then there were the perks, like a $912,000 house rent-free in a posh Montreal suburb, a daily “southern allowance,” a leased car, and travel and entertainment expenses.
The Maclean’s article also detailed the extensive business connections of Watt and his family. Every summer, he spends three months working for Fort Chimo Outfitters, a chain of hunting camps he started, which is now in his son Donald’s name. The company is worth $1 million, and services about 300 hunters a year, each paying between $1,900 and $4,000 a week to hunt and fish in the North.
Donald Watt is also president of Lunakut Inuit Enterprises Inc., a construction firm with links to Senator Pietro Rizzuto, a powerful Liberal fundraiser. Company documents list Lunakut’s headquarters as 301 Watt Ave. in Kuujjuaq—which is Charlie Watt’s home.
Lunakut was set up to take advantage of the proposed Great Whale project, but has bid for other contracts from Inuit entities and Hydro-Quebec. Lunakut is expected to get federal contracts to build $50 million of wharves in Inuit communities.