Quebec Imposes Unconstitutional Guidelines to Public Hearings Commission
PIKOGAN FIRST NATION (CANADA) – December 10, 2020: A report recently issued by the Quebec Bureau of Public Hearings on the Environment (BAPE) regarding the Appalaches-Maine Interconnection project (the Canadian segment as what is known in the USA as the New England Clean Energy Connect project – NECEC), clearly states that the Quebec Ministry of the Environment (MELCC) instructed it not to address the question of where the electricity destined for the United States is being produced. In so doing, the Ministry has ignored the constitutional rights of the First Nations from whose territories much of that electricity comes from.
In its report, the BAPE writes that from the outset, it was not in their mandate to investigate the legitimacy of Quebec hydroelectric production and to take a position on the subject. However, they indicate that they are aware of the limitations imposed on them by the Quebec government: “During the second part of the public hearing, the Innu First Nations of Pessamit and the Atikamekw of Wemotaci deplored the occupation of their traditional territory, which they consider illegitimate, for the production of a significant portion of Quebec’s hydroelectricity. As a result, they demand remedial measures for this occupation before any further export of electricity to the United States is carried out and they therefore strongly oppose the project.”
The Cat Is Out of the Bag
According to the Chiefs of the Pessamit Innu First Nation, the Wemotaci Atikamekw First Nations and the Anishnabeg Pikogan, Lac Simon and Kitcisakik First Nations, the comments from the BAPE are proof that the Quebec Provincial Government used the MELCC and its state-owned company Hydro-Québec to circumvent the framework provided by the “Constitution Act, 1982” to contravene its own Environment Quality Act, to ignore the jurisprudence established by the Canadian Supreme Court, and to flout Canada’s international commitments. It’s as if a country that exports products to Canada refused to confirm that no one had been exploited in the manufacturing of these goods. That would be unacceptable! And yet Quebec is doing the same thing in the case of our First Nations.
An Illegitimate Project
The fact that the BAPE recognizes that it was not allowed to address the question of the origin of the electricity intended for New England via the NECEC strengthens the position of the Innu-Atikamekw-Anishnabeg coalition, in challenging the legitimacy of the Hydro-Québec project before the Canada Energy Regulator by invoking the disrespect of its constitutional rights.