The Minister of Natural Resources and Forests Maïté Blanchette Vézina affirms that the logging carried out and planned in the sector of the Pipmuacan reservoir was inevitable, information contradicted by her own ministry.

The cutting rights were granted in 2020, before the filing of the Innu of Pessamit protected area project, pleaded Maïté Blanchette Vézina during the study of the 2023-2024 budget appropriations of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests (MRNF). ), Tuesday, at the National Assembly.

“We cannot take away […] rights that have been granted,” she said, in response to a question from Liberal Opposition Forestry Critic André Fortin, MP for Pontiac.

Both of these claims are partially inaccurate, according to his ministry.

Two different categories of logging are carried out in the Pipmuacan Reservoir area and only one was authorized in 2020 and cannot be canceled, namely that resulting from an auction by the Bureau de mise en marché des bois.

This “work authorization” was granted on July 31, 2020 to the forestry cooperative Forestra and is valid until next August 31, shows the document that the MNRF sent to La Presse.

The other category of logging is part of the Annual Program of Harvesting Activities (PRAN) and is subject to an “annual” permit, the regional director of forest management in Saguenay recently explained to La Presse. –Lac-Saint-Jean at the MRNF, Claude Bélanger.

Such authorization “ends on March 31” and must be renewed if the planned work has not been completed, he said.

The Forestra cooperative confirmed to La Presse that the cuts it has made since 2021 and those it must make this year fall under both authorizations.

The MRNF did not respond to La Presse’s request to send it the annual permits granted to Forestra.

The MRFN could very well have not renewed the annual cutting permits relating to the Innu of Pessamit protected area project, or even canceled it, says forest engineer and biologist Louis Bélanger, retired professor from Laval University and responsible of the forest commission at Nature Québec (unrelated to Claude Bélanger, cited above).

“The Ministry can readjust at any time” when it comes to an authorization granted within the framework of the annual programming, he says.

The only case in which the Ministry has its hands tied by an authorization to cut is that of a contract awarded by an auction, recognizes Mr. Bélanger.

Minister Blanchette Vézina was also pressed with questions about the comments of the Innu of Pessamit, who accuse her department of having failed in its obligation to consult them before authorizing these cuts.

Only one consultation took place rather than the two required by law, and it was held before the indigenous community had all the relevant information, La Presse reported on Tuesday.

“There were consultations in 2018-2019,” repeated the minister, avoiding to say whether in her opinion it was an “appropriate” consultation, as asked by MP André Fortin.

Minister Blanchette Vézina also repeated that logging could take place on a territory as long as it is not officially protected, but she assured that her department will make the “necessary adjustments” to stumpage rights in force “when there are protected areas that are going to be designated”.

“For our government and for me, it is important to create protected areas, we also made a commitment at COP15 to protect the territory, we are committed to it, we are working on it,” she said. declared.