The chief of the Pessamit Innu is threatening action at home and abroad to show his displeasure with the Quebec government’s Plan Nord.
Ridiculing the government’s offer of a $350 million compensation package, Chief Raphael Picard revealed a plan of his own: travel the world to tell Quebec’s potential business partners his people’s side of the story. He also threatened a repeat of last year’s blockage of Highway 138.
Negotiations between the provincial government and the Pessamit broke down on November 18. The chief had been asking for $5 billion over a period of 50 years, three times more than the government’s offer. This demand was considered far too high by Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs Geoffrey Kelley. Picard countered this by stating his estimation that Hydro-Québec alone had made over $45 billion in revenue from selling hydroelectricity generated in Pessamit territory.
Picard’s accusation that Charest was the “worst liar of Quebec” stemmed from a comment made by the premier about an agreement with the First Nations. The chief alleges that there was no such agreement. He went on to compare Charest to Maurice Duplessis, accusing the current government of selling Quebec’s mineral wealth to big business.