Massachusetts considers divesting Hydro-Quebec bonds; Anglican Church representative presents brief

The Anglican Church has taken its opposition to the James Bay II power project to the United States, in hopes that Massachusetts will become the second state to disassociate itself from the project.

Recently, the New York Power Authority cancelled a contract to purchase power from James Bay II. Now, a bill before the Massachusetts legislature would require the state’s pension fund to divest its holdings in Hydro-Quebec bonds. The Reverend Peter Hamel, the church’s consultant on national affairs, will speak on behalf of the bill today [Wednesday] before the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Public Service. He was invited to participate in an intervention by the Anglican Diocese of Massachusetts.

The church’s opposition to the project stems from concern about the effects of the development on the aboriginal people of the region and on the natural environment. It says there should be a moratorium on contruction until a comprehensive environmental assessment of the project has been completed, and until an agreement has been reached with the Cree and Inuit.

Mr. Hamel’s brief to the joint committee says the Cree and Inuit must play a full part in determining appropriate resource development in northern Quebec. Noting the fishing and harvesting of wildlife are key to the aboriginal lifestyle, the brief says: “The continued viability of the aboriginal economy should be an objective of northern development, not its price.”

The Canadian church’s actions have been supported by resolutions of the Episcopal Church U.S.A., and by the Diocese of Massachusetts, which has also asked the state’s public utilities not to purchase power from the project.

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