It was a contentious Moot (an assembly where people debate certain issues in a structured manner) at McGill on sustainable development in the James Bay. First year law students were lucky enough to see a panel consisting of Romeo Saganash of the Grand Council, Claude Demers of Hydro-Quebec, Phil Raphals of the Helios Centre and Eric Gagnon of the Ruperts Reverence Coalition.
Each panel member had 12 minutes in which to present their viewpoint and they did it well. Demers had a map showing power plants over 200 megawatts. It clearly showed the high amount of coal burning plants in use in the U.S. It was an effective strategy. Second to speak was Saganash, who gave an overview of the Agreement. He brought out the sharing of resources, jurisdiction and the fact that consent is for only one project, the Rupert Diversion. Next up was Raphals. He said the NBR was never even a concern as it and the Great Whale weren’t economical to build. He decried the secrecy and lack of public consultation until a project was decided upon. Then is was Gagnon’s turn. He talked about the beauty of the river and what it meant to people in the area and what it could mean to others. He talked about the Crees and how the river belonged to everyone in Quebec.
During rebuttal Saganash was quick on the draw going after Eric Gagnon. “These rivers belong to the Cree,” said Saganash. He also said Crees don’t like being lumped in with the developers and this has been a real pressure on the Crees. He joined Gagnon and Raphals in saying there was no real conservation happening in Quebec. Saganash also said the Crees are tired of being the only ones to foot the environmental bill for Quebec. Saganash said Gagnon was wrong in saying some Crees were intimidated during the process. After the Moot Saganash would say there was intimidation on both sides but it was not an official stance by anyone.
Raphals’ rebuttal went to HQ’s lack of consultation before dams were built and when challenged by Demers said that this was done in Manitoba and B.C.
Gagnon complimented McGill on the quality of the panel and said he was happy there would be a sound consultation on the Rupert Diversion. He said though that we must not just think with our hearts but also our heads.