19 October 2010

No Dawn gives another Lower Churchill setback

The New Dawn agreement is dead.


The provincial government announced the land claims deal in 2008, touting it as  crucial to development of the Lower Churchill.  The whole thing was supposed to go to a vote in January 2009 but the Innu leadership quietly shelved those plans. Despite comments from the Innu leadership in mid-2009 that some substantive issues remained to be negotiated, the deal was still off the rails a year after it was signed.

Now Labradorian columnist Michael Johansen tells the world that the Premier recently met with the new Innu leadership and got some bad news. The premier apparently wanted to get the whole thing signed by November.  According to Johansen, Grand Chief Joseph Riche explained that the deadline wouldn’t fly.

The new grand chief is Joseph Riche. He also trained in the law, like Williams, but they might not have much else in common. They don’t seem to share the same enthusiasm for damming big rivers, or for passing the New Dawn. As a consequence, Williams is learning that the issue won’t be settled one way or another before spring — and no guarantees.

So, until possibly April or May, the premier must wait, sitting in the morning twilight for his New Dawn, hoping it doesn’t all go black.

Interestingly enough, the rumour started to sputter a couple of weeks ago with talk of an impending Lower Churchill announcement in November.  Those of us who’ve been following the latest saga of the Lower Churchill didn’t see anything obvious on the horizon.  The environmental assessment process is bogged down with  significant problems. There are no markets and no money and the provincial government itself can’t afford to backstop the $14 billion project all by its lonesome.

The Innu Nation gambit seems to fit the rumour mill scenario, but, as Johansen notes, even that angle is now gone.

- srbp -