PQ star candidate Richard Le Hir has Landed in hot water over comments he makes in a new film about the Great Whale River Project.
“I would have something to learn from them [natives] if it could be shown that their culture demonstrated its superiority in one form or another,” Le Hir says in the film, called Power Of The North.
“[But] when you look at what heritage has been left by native civilizations—if you could call them civilizations—there is very little.”
Le Hir also takes a hard line against Cree opposition to Great Whale. “We happen to need [the power] for our own development. Who is going to tell us that we can’t do it?”
Le Hir’s comments were aired on national TV on Aug. 6 and were carried by Canadian Press the next day.
Within days, Liberal leader Daniel Johnson and Native Affairs Minister Christos Sirros seized on the comments as proof of the PQ’s intolerance.
“[It shows] a total insensitivity to people,” said Premier Johnson. “This is the hallmark of the campaign at this point.”
Said Sirros, “You’re not going to get very far in terms of working out agreements if you’re denigrating and insulting their culture.”
Le Hir was interviewed for the film in 1992 when he was still president of the Quebec Manufacturers’ Association. Power Of The North was directed and produced by filmmakers Anna Van der Wee and Catherine Bainbridge (who is also an editor of The Nation). A review of Power Of The North appeared in The Nation’s July 15 issue.