The Parti Quebecois’s two chief native-issues spokesmen are publicly bickering over where the party stands on native issues.

David Cliche, the party’s special liaison person with First Nations, told The Nation last month he opposes the Great Whale River Project. “Personally, I don’t see a need for Great Whale for years and years, if ever,” he said. “We would not go ahead with Great Whale just for the sake of going ahead with Great Whale.”

But Denis Perron, the PQ’s native affairs critic, contradicted Cliche in an interview. He praised the proposed Great Whale project and said an independent Quebec would be able to push through hydro-projects even more quickly than now. “I hope the negotiations go as fast as possible. I hope it [Great Whale] will be done as soon as possible. That means jobs not only for white people but also for the Crees.”

Asked if an independent Quebec would be able to get hydro-projects done more quickly, Perron said: “I would think so.”

He also criticized the Crees for their lobby campaign against Great Whale. “I think Crees are going too far especially with the announcements they make in the States and around the world. They are trying to make Quebec look bad.”

Asked about the apparent contradiction between his views and Cliche’s, Perron answered: “That’s his problem. He doesn’t speak for the party. He speaks for himself.”

Perron also promised that natives have nothing to fear from independence. “We’re closer to natives than the Liberal Party.

We don’t spit on natives. We talk to them and we get along with them pretty good. I’ve got friends in the Cree nation.”

He also said he favours the Sainte-Marguerite-3 hydro-project, which is in his riding of Duplessis on the North Shore of the St-Lawrence. Asked whether he disagrees with the way the Bloc Quebecois has attacked the Mohawks over cigarette smuggling, Perron said, “No, not at all. The laws of the federal government and Quebec have to be respected. If we don’t accept contraband for white people, why should we for the natives?”

Perron agreed with one thing Cliche said—that aboriginal peoples can’t leave a sovereign Quebec. “I recognize they have that right, but I don’t think white people are ready for that. If Quebec becomes sovereign, it’s going to be a hell of a lot easier to negotiate because there won’t be two, three or 11 levels of government. We’ll probably get along a lot better. ”

The Nation has asked for an interview with PQ leader Jacques Parizeau, but his office said he wants to hold off until the party officially announces its aboriginal platform to the public.