Quebec Agrees to Negotiate,
Kidnap Crees First But “Negotiate”

Grand Council of the Crees
Article #108; 1997–05–26

Briefly, on Thursday of this week, the tiniest chink appeared in the massive edifice of double–standards erected by the Quebec separatists in their effort to secede from Canada (and in the process to negate and violate the legal and treaty rights of Aboriginal peoples in Quebec). It happened when Gilles Duceppe, leader of the Bloc Québécois, the separatist party in the federal Parliament, for a brief moment allowed logic to overcome the hard–line separatist position, so often repeated, that the borders of an independent Quebec are “sacrosanct” and “sacred”. At an election campaign meeting Duceppe was asked what he would do with the Cree people if they wanted to stay in Canada after a Yes vote in any future referendum. He said an independent Quebec would negotiate with us, but if the negotiations failed he would turn to an international tribunal to deliver a judgment. This seemed to indicate that the borders of an independent Quebec might be, after all, negotiable.

It sounded almost like a concession, a wavering from the Canute–like separatist insistence that they can ignore all realities except their own.But Bill Namagoose, executive director of the Grand Council of the Crees,was quick to point out that no such tribunal existed, and even if it did,what Mr. Duceppe was proposing was unacceptable to the Crees. “He is saying we will be kidnapped first, and then an international tribunal will decide our rights,” Mr. Namagoose said.

Mr. Duceppe’s statement was reflected at the same time by the renowned separatist lawyer Mr. Daniel Turp at a meeting of the Canadian Bar Association in Ottawa (May 22, 23) where he conceded that the Crees had the right to self–determination while Quebec no longer based its claim to independence on any Quebec right of self–determination. At the same conference Dr. Guy Lachapelle professor of political science and Coordinator of Quebec Government Relations at the Office of Government and External Relations publicly commented that the Crees had the right to self–determination and that as a result, Quebec would be divisible in the event that the Crees choose not to be part of a separate Quebec.

Duceppe’s slight wandering from the hard–line position always adopted by the separatists was quickly shot down by Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard,who said that the “fundamental character” of the territory of Quebec is its“integrity”. This is the same old story from the separatist old guard, who have shown themselves to be world champions in at least one thing:double–standards.

Canadians as a whole seem to be unaware of the depth of the double
standards advocated by the separatist leaders. We Crees are only too grimly aware of them, however, since we will be the first and most deeply affected community if the separatists ever get a chance to put their current secessionist policies into practice.

Here are just the major double–standards being pedaled by the Parti Québécois government as they pursue their effort to separate from Canada:

  • Legality vs. legitimacy
    The PQ government and other separatists argue for Quebec secession on the grounds that it is “legitimate”. They do not extend the same legitimacy to Aboriginals, denying our status as “peoples”, and denying our right to determine our own future as a distinct people in Quebec. Separatists even go so far as to deny Aboriginal peoples our right to choose to remain in Canada if we so wish.

  • Skewing of democratic principles
    Separatists argue that democratic principles override legal and other considerations. Yet they will not recognize the overwhelming majorities in Cree, Inuit and Innu referendums against the inclusion of their territories and people in a separate Quebec State.

  • Right to self–identification as a “people”
    The PQ government of Quebec claims that the French–Canadian nation can choose to self–identify with other people in Quebec to become one “Quebec people”. In international practice it is accepted that this requires a“common will” of the people concerned. The government ignores that this common will does not exist, but nevertheless tries to force Aboriginal peoples to identify as part of a single “Quebec people” (for purposes of secession). Separatists thus deny Aboriginal peoples the right to self–identification that they claim for themselves.

  • The rule of law
    A unilateral declaration of Quebec’s independence has been declared by the Quebec Superior Court to be illegal and unconstitutional. Nevertheless the separatists affirm that the Constitution of an independent Quebec “shall affirm the rule of law.” In face of the Superior Court judgment, the governments first of Parizeau and later of Lucien Bouchard walked out of court.

  • Rule of law v. revolution
    The PQ government insists that Aboriginal peoples must respect the rule of law when we assert our rights and defend our interests. Yet, they state that they are not bound by the rule of law in Canada. Instead, they will attempt to achieve their independence by excluding Canadian jurisdiction and seizing “effective control” over the whole of the territory now within the province of Quebec. This is otherwise known as an insurrection or revolution.

  • Territorial integrity only for Quebec
    The secessionists are willing to rupture the territorial integrity of Canada by the unilateral secession of Quebec, but insist (as they have done again only this week) that the borders of an independent Quebec will be sacrosanct and no derogation will be tolerated from the current provincial limits. Thus, their claimed principle of “territorial integrity” applies, in their eyes, only to Quebec, but not to Aboriginal territories, Canada, or, it seems, any other entity that might oppose their separatist dreams of independence. It appears to be of little, if any, consequence to the secessionists that we Crees and Inuit have lived in our traditional territories in northern Quebec for thousands of years and have the right to self–determination. This is probably the most outrageous and indefensible of all their double–standards.

  • Simple majority vote in Quebec referendum
    The secessionists would never accept that a simple majority vote in a pan–Canadian referendum could determine the future of Québecers. Yet, the PQ government is determined to force Aboriginal peoples to be bound by a simple majority vote in a Quebec referendum, denies the validity of Aboriginal referendums, and refuses Aboriginal peoples their right to choose democratically to remain in Canada.

  • Forcible inclusion in an independent Quebec
    The PQ government intends to include Aboriginal peoples and their traditional or historical territories in an independent Quebec, even against our express wishes. Yet, the same government insists that the free and democratic expression of Québecers be respected by other Canadians.

  • Unilateralism
    The secessionists claim that the adoption of the Constitution Act, 1982 without the approval of the Quebec National Assembly justifies the accession of Quebec to sovereignty. Nevertheless, in 1985 the PQ government and National Assembly did not hesitate to adopt a resolution on the rights of Aboriginal peoples against the express wishes of the peoples concerned. This unilateral resolution is still being used by Lucien Bouchard and others to demonstrate to the international community how well Quebec treats Aboriginal peoples.

  • James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA)
    The Quebec National Assembly approved and gave effect to the JBNQA when a PQ government was in power, fully aware that it created a permanent federalist involvement. Neither from the viewpoints of legality,constitutionality nor legitimacy, can a secessionist Quebec government now unilaterally remove the federal government as a party to that treaty, nor can they unilaterally assume the obligations of the Canadian government.

  • Constitution of an independent Quebec
    The PQ government says a new constitution for an independent Quebec will provide for the status and rights of Aboriginal peoples, regardless of whether Aboriginal peoples agree. Québecers would not, of course, tolerate such unilateral treatment of their own rights in Canada.

  • Extinguishment of Aboriginal rights
    The official policy of the Parti Québécois declares that a PQ government will not demand the extinguishment of rights of Aboriginal peoples when entering into agreements with us. In spite of this declaration, the government continues to insist on extinguishment of rights as a prerequisite to entering into land claims agreements with Aboriginal nations. In addition, secessionists invoke the purported extinguishment of rights to deny that Aboriginal peoples have a right to self–determination in the context of Quebec secession.

This is an amazing list, and it is almost incredible that a party purporting to adhere to the principles of democracy and legitimacy has the nerve to come before the public with such fuzzy thinking and muddled policies.

Overall, we Crees award the PQ, and the BQ an A–plus for muddled, discriminatory, and arrogant thinking!

For more information see Grand Council of the Crees Web site.

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