The Grand Council of the Crees

Violation of Democratic Principles Reflected in Water Policy

"Quebec Government?s Violation of Democratic Principles Reflected in Quebec Water Policy": Grand Chief Ted Moses at the Quebec Commission on Water Management

Posted: 1999-12-01

(1956 Frontenac St. Dom Polski Room, Montreal 2PM - 5PM):

Montreal,

Grand Chief Ted Moses, states in his submission to the Commission that water ("Neebee" as the Crees call it) has always been central to the disputes between the Cree People and Quebec. He asks why the original inhabitants are marginalized and pushed out of resource governance and points out that: "The United Nations Environment and Development Programme firmly recommends, that a human rights approach must be adopted in formulating any sustainable development strategy. It is not possible to avoid a human rights approach and still address water management effectively in Eeyou Istchee." In spite of this he notes that: "Yet Québec tells the world that it endorses the notion of "partnership" and that: "Even in Québec's Public Consultation Document that was prepared for this Commission, Appendix 3 sets out the "main players in water management" and we are nowhere referred to. Apparently, we do not count. We do not exist."

Grand Chief Moses refers to Premier Bouchard's reliance on international instruments of law when he states:

"The Québec government is declaring that, in the United Nations and in Canada, democracy means 50% plus one. If Premier Bouchard believes that this is true, then why is it that when our People achieved a result of 96.3% in our own Cree referendum in 1995, the Québec government refused to even recognize our democratic vote? Also, why did the same government refuse to recognize the results of the Inuit and Innu referendums which also had results of over 95%? Such doctrines of superiority are condemned in international instruments as racially discriminatory and "dangerous". Repeatedly, fair-minded Quebecers have refused to subscribe to the Premier's undemocratic position."

In the view of the Grand Council water management encompasses a number of fundamental principles including: environment, development, peace and human rights. In keeping with the recognition of Treaty Rights as fundamental constitutional rights in Canada, any approach to water management must be first and foremost fully respectful of human rights. At the present time, the Crees lack of access to an adequate land and resource base threatens the survival of the Crees as a distinct people.

In reference to water and other resources the Grand Chief states: "Whenever Indigenous Peoples and our fundamental rights, interests and concerns are involved, the standards are curiously altered to our detriment."

He then lists the violation of human rights perpetrated by the Quebec Government in its aboriginal policies. He calls on the Commission to condemn such policies. He also calls on the Quebec government to negotiate new arrangements with Aboriginal Peoples that are: "Consistent with our right of self-determination and our right to development, such arrangements must recognize our rights to use, develop, manage and control water and other resources in Eeyou Istchee." In particular he recommends in respect to water policy that:

Finally Dr. Moses concludes that:

"No government, including Québec, can choose which of our human rights it will respect and which it will deny us."

Contacts:

Grand Chief Dr. Ted Moses: cell: 514 232 3104

Bill Namagoose: cell: 613 725 7024, 514 878 2000

Deputy Grand Chief Matthew Mukash at the

Grand Council Office Montreal: 514 861 5837