Quebec Agrees to Negotiate,
Kidnap Crees First But “Negotiate”
Grand Council of the Crees
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.
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.
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
- 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
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.