Chapais Mayor Jacques Bérubé says he has found new European backing in his never-ending quest to establish an industrial-sized hog farm in his town. The Polish investment firm Lopata Investment Holding is currently funding a pork operation in Siberia, among many other ventures in 17 countries.
The Chibougamau newspaper la Sentinelle quoted Bérubé as saying the firm has requested answers to 34 questions before going ahead. The mayor’s European tour, which cost Chapais taxpayers almost $70,000, took place November 17-26.
Waswanipi Chief John Kitchen is not amused.
“It was pretty shocking,” he said of the article. “I guess people like Mr. Bérubé have no respect for the Cree Nation.”
Kitchen has written to the Chapais Mayor to express Waswanipi’s vehement opposition to the proposed $100-million pig farm, which would produce massive amounts of waste. Local tallymen are also opposed to the project.
Waswanipi’s band council also passed a resolution affirming their stance.
“They said they want to talk to us and discuss it, but I think [going to Europe] is unacceptable,” said Kitchen. “We did our homework and we visited other places that already have pig farms. We did not like what we saw and heard and we don’t want one in our backyard.”
Chapais Director General Laurent Levasseur said Crees “have a right to be consulted and right to be opposed to it, but it’s not them who will have the last say, it’s the Quebec government.”
“I’m not surprised,” said Kitchen. “He needs to remember we have rights on our own territory. I think the Deputy of our region, Mr. [Luc] Ferland, should stand up and say something.”
COMEX, the Quebec-Cree environmental review committee, still has not received an answer from the Provincial Administrator after a request was made August 2005 for additional information.
The proposed project would see upwards of 100,000 hogs imported to the boreal forest – an area never before used for such an endeavor. Many experts, including Sierra Club Science Advisor Daniel Green, think the project is doomed to failure.
Although he has not done extensive research on Chapais’ proposed pig farm, Green has over 20 years experience in his field and he has worked in other places in Quebec that have similar mass-production facilities.
“This is a project that will reduce their quality of life,” he said. “The economic gains will be cancelled by the environmental and public health problems. Quebec history has been based on these boom-and-bust, high-pollution endeavors.”
Kitchen said that he would be writing another letter to Bérubé to re-state Waswanipi’s concerns and their firm position against the project. He is also trying to arrange a meeting with a representative from the Polish firm to stress the reality of the situation.