Jimmy Hunter, Chief of Winneway, wants an inquiry into the company that ran a dam 100 yards upstream from the Algonquin community.

For five years, Winneway tried to buy the dam in the hope that power sales could generate money to create jobs and housing.

Instead, the dam was sold to Montreal power firm Hydro P-l in 1991. Since then, Hydro P-l has allowed the dam to fall into disrepair. Last November, the company went bankrupt and is now being pursued for $ 18.7 million by 126 creditors. Company executives are being accused of fraud and other wrong-doing.

“If the original purchase by Winneway had been supported, all of these problems would never have been created. This dam is within our community, and on lands we own as the original inhabitants,” said Chief Hunter.

“I believe that the government should launch an inquiry into the purchase of the Winneway dam and other dams which may have been sold to friends of the Liberal Party.” Peter Kuczer, Hydro P-I’s president, contributed $3,000 to the Liberal Party of Quebec, the party in power when Hydro P-l got the dam.

Winneway may blockade the access road to the dam to back its demands.

Hydro P-l bought the dam from the town of Belleterre. Prior to the sale, Belleterre mayor Carmelle Nantel told The Nation she met twice with provincial officials in Montreal to discuss the dam, including once with Clement Patenaude, political attache to then-premier Robert Bourassa. Nantel denied being pressured to sell the dam to Hydro P-I instead of Winneway. “No, no, no, never,” she said.

In a petition filed with the courts, the creditors said $40 million flowed through Hydro P-I’s accounts in its last two years of operations. Kuczer calls the petition “total garbage” and says he’s suing. Questions about possible moneylaundering first surfaced when Kuczer was arrested in 1994 in the U.S. for allegedly trying to launder drug money through Hydro P-I. He was cleared.