Why you are the most qualified person to represent this region?
Pierre Dufour first became involved in community development as Director General of Val-d’Or’s mining tourism attraction, the Cité de l’Or. After opening it under Dufour’s guidance in 1995, the attraction went on to win Quebec’s Innovation in Tourism prize in 1996.
“We restored old buildings in the area that were in originally in operation as the old Lamaque mine from 1935 to 1985,” said Dufour. “On a political side, I had to raise money to build the project, which cost over $3.6 million.”
Dufour also served as the Director of Administration and Marketing for Les Foreurs de Val-d’Or, the city’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team. He won the John Horman Trophy as best administrator in the league for the 2006-2007 season.
“Working with les Foreurs, I was given the chance to meet a lot of people and organize community events,” said Dufour. “One example was a game that we held in Mistissini to celebrate the opening arena there. It was a game between les Foreurs and Chicoutimi. That gave me a chance to communicate with the people of Mistissini and see the accommodations and infrastructure there.”
For the last seven years, Dufour has worked at the Centre local de développement de la Vallée-de-l’Or, where he served as Director General prior to this campaign.
“All of these experiences have given me the ability to be a great candidate for the region,” said Dufour.
You have plenty of experience at the community level, but this is your first foray into politics on a larger scale. How do you feel about that?
“I feel like someone who is starting something new. People like Romeo Saganash have a lot of experience on the national level, but after four years of him representing this riding, we didn’t see a lot of things happen,” said Dufour. “I can make new progress for all the communities and bring in something new. I want to be a person who can change something.”
What can the Liberal Party do specifically for the region?
Dufour said that one of the most important things the Liberal Party offers to Aboriginal communities in the riding is a promised $2.6 billion national increase in First Nations education spending over four years.
“We’re talking about a better school situation, we’re talking about infrastructure, we’re talking about respect for the way the population lives,” said Dufour. “It’s important to see what the government wants to do with the population up North and recognize that this issue is a big part of the Liberal Party’s campaign.”
The Liberal plan, announced by party leader Justin Trudeau August 13, would include a $500 million investment in school infrastructure over three years.
What can you do for the Cree specifically?
For Dufour, one of the biggest issues affecting Crees is the current state of the James Bay road.
“Today if you try to travel on that road, you can see that nothing has been done since they built it,” he said. “We need to restore this road to give the Chisasibi sector a chance to develop their new economic system.”
Additionally, Dufour said he is eager to pursue new economic opportunities, including the possibility of Northern seaports. He believes that with climate change affecting ocean trade routes, seaports in northern Quebec could present considerable opportunity for future generations. Dufour also added part of his job would be making sure First Nations were part of any economic discussion.
“It’s important to be there to foster agreements between the Cree and the non-Native population. And all these things must be done with respect for the life of the Cree Nation.”
Is there anything else?
“I just want to say that there are a lot of specific things that need to be done in the North and that’s what I’m going to be there to work on,” said Dufour. “There is so much economic development in the North, and it’s important that we be a part of it. When politicians talk with the central members of their party, they try to find some solution that is coming from Montreal, Ottawa or Toronto. The solutions have to come from the Nations living in the North. We have to listen to them and be sure that the things we do for the next generation are going to reflect what Northern people want in their communities.”