The Grand Council of the Crees

Section 14, Sovereign Injustice - Grand Council of the Crees

14. Summary of Double Standards, Inconsistencies and Discrimination by Separatists

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"...si le territoire du Canada peut ?tre partag?, celui du Qu?bec aussi; ...si les Qu?b?cois forment un peuple, il en va de m?me pour les Canadiens et les Autochtones; et...il est immoral de s'accorder un droit, celui de faire s?cession, et de le r?fuser ? ceux que pourraient l'utiliser contre nous." {1521} S. Dion (Universit? de Montr?al), 1995 "So far, we have not heard a single argument against our case that is not standing on a foundation of double standards and colonial misconceptions about our rights. We hope that the separatists have the honesty and courage to discuss these issues with us, but we fear they will not." {1522} Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come, 1995 As this Study describes, the PQ government and other separatist forces in Qu?bec are taking positions on Qu?bec secession that are replete with double standards, inconsistencies and discrimination. Such contradictory positions are especially evident when they relate to Aboriginal peoples and their own status and rights to determine their future. Examples include the following: Legality v. legitimacy. The PQ government and other separatists are seeking to make their case for Qu?bec secession based on arguments of legitimacy. They take this position since Quebecers have no legal right to secede from Canada, either under Canadian constitutional law or international law. {1523} However, in regard to Aboriginal peoples, the government consistently relies on narrow legal arguments to deny them the status and rights to determine their own future as distinct peoples in the context of Qu?bec secession. Aboriginal peoples are not seeking to secede from Canada, but do insist that they have a right to choose to remain in Canada in the face of Qu?bec secession. Democracy. Separatists argue that, in regard to secession, principles of democracy override legal and other considerations affecting Quebecers. {1524} Yet, in relation to Aboriginal peoples, the PQ government will not apply the same democratic standards if they can adversely affect separatist aspirations. Leaders of the PQ and BQ have sought to muzzle bankers, business people, jurists, and Aboriginal peoples who may express opinions publicly that are unfavourable to Qu?bec secession. {1525} Other examples of undemocratic actions by the PQ government are highlighted below. Right to self-identification as a "people". The PQ government claims that the French-Canadian nation can choose to self-identify with other people in Qu?bec to become the Quebec people. However, to claim that there exists a single Qu?bec people requires the "common will" of the peoples concerned. {1526} The PQ government cannot force Aboriginal peoples to be a part of the Qu?bec people for purposes of self-determination or secession. Nor can the goverment deny Aboriginal peoples the right to self-identification that the government claims for Quebecers. Undermining the functioning of Canada. For the most part, the PQ government refuses to participate in federal-provincial meetings in Canada and provokes confrontations with the federal government. {1527} However, it is contradictory for the PQ government to undermine feederal-provincial cooperation within the federation yet, at the same time, seek to establish that Quebecers have a legitimate claim for secession from Canada. Double standard on the rule of law. Although a judge of the Qu?bec Superior Court has recently issued a declaratory judgement {1528} indicating that the PQ government's process towards unilaterally establishing an independent Qu?bec state is illegal and unconstitutional, Premier Parizeau refuses to make appropriate changes to the process so as to conform to the rule of law. At the same time, the Act respecting the future of Qu?bec, which provides for a UDI by Qu?bec, indicates that in an independent Qu?bec "[t]he new constitution shall affirm the rule of law..." {1529} Rule of law v. revolution. The PQ government insists that Aboriginal peoples must respect the rule of law in asserting their rights and defending their interests. Yet, when it comes to the secessionist aspirations of separatists, the government states that they are not bound by the rule of law in Canada. Rather, the government declares that it can achieve its objectives by the exclusive exercise of "effective control" over the whole of the territory currently within the province of Qu?bec. {1530} This attempt to gain "effective control" is otherwise known as "revolution". Territorial integrity. The PQ government and other separatists believe that the territorial integrity of Canada can be ruptured or otherwise impaired by the unilateral secession of Qu?bec from Canada. Nor is consideration given to the integrity of Aboriginal territories. At the same time, the government insists that the territorial integrity of an independent Qu?bec (which in its view includes its current boundaries) is sacrosanct and no derogation will be tolerated. For example, it appears to be of little consequence to the government that the Crees and Inuit constitute the original peoples in their traditional territories in northern Qu?bec, have lived there for thousands of years, and have the right to self-determination. Simple majority vote in Qu?bec referendum. The PQ government would never accept that a simple majority vote in a pan-Canadian referendum could determine the future of Quebecers. Yet, in regard to Aboriginal peoples, the government is determined to force Aboriginal peoples to be bound by a simple majority vote in a Qu?bec referendum on secession. {1531} Should Aboriginal peoples hold their own referendums and democratically choose to remain in Canada, separatist leaders are not prepared to respect this decision. Forcible inclusion in an independent Qu?bec. The PQ government intends to include Aboriginal peoples and their traditional or historical territories in an independent Qu?bec, even if it is against their express wishes. {1532} Yet, the government claims that it is imperative that the free and democratic expression of Quebecers be respected by other Canadians. Unilateralism. The PQ government and other separatists claim that the adoption of the Constitution Act, 1982 without the approval of the National Assembly serves to justify the accession of Qu?bec to sovereignty. {1533} Yet, in regard to the fundamental status and rights of Aboriginal peoples in Qu?bec, the PQ government and National Assembly in 1985 had no difficulty in tabling and adopting a Resolution {1534} on the rights of Aboriginal peoples against the express wishes of the peoples concerned. This unilateral Resolution is still being used by separatists to demonstrate to the international community how well Qu?bec treats Aboriginal peoples. Contravention of James Bay and Northern Qu?bec Agreement (JBNQA). The Qu?bec National Assembly approved and gave effect to JBNQA at a time when the PQ government was in power. The provincial government and legislature was fully aware of the permanent federalist arrangement of this treaty, when they gave agreed to it. From the point of view of legality, constitutionality and legitimacy, the PQ government cannot validly claim that, at the time of any UDI by Qu?bec, it can unilaterally remove the federal government as a party to JBNQA and determine that it will assume the obligations of the Canadian government. {1535} Lack of flexibility. Separatists claim that the lack of flexibility in Canada's constitutional amendment formulas does not enable Quebecers to fulfill their ongoing aspirations within Canada. Yet, the solution being proposed in terms of a political and economic union would, in certain key respects, be far more inflexible than what currently exists. In particular, it is being suggested that a joint Council be established made up of equal numbers of ministers from Canada and an independent Qu?bec. As each nation would have a right of veto, the possibility of deadlocks and immobility would be more than likely. Constitution of an independent Qu?bec. The PQ government believes that it can simply provide for the status and rights of Aboriginal peoples in a new Constitution for an independent Qu?bec, regardless of whether Aboriginal peoples agree. However, Qu?bec would not tolerate such unilateral treatment of Quebecers' rights in Canada. Apparently, by including the rights of Aboriginal peoples in a new Constitution, a secessionist Qu?bec hopes to appease the concerns of the international community. {1536} Extinguishment of rights of Aboriginal peoples. The official program policy of the Parti Qu?b?cois declares that a PQ goverment will not demand the extinguishment of rights of Aboriginal peoples when entering into agreements with them. {1537} However, the PQ government continues to insist on extinguishment of Aborigina peoples' rights as a prerequisite to entering into land claims agreements. In addition, the PQ government invokes the purported extinguishment of rights of Aboriginal peoples in seeking to deny them their right to self-determination in the context of Qu?bec secession. {1538} Contradictory legal arguments on secession. In view of the illegality of any unilateral secession of Qu?bec under Canada's Constitution, separatists argue that a "constitutional convention" exists that establishes the right of Qu?bec to self-determination, including secession. {1539} At the same time, separatists argue that, in international law terms, Qu?bec is not basing its accession to independence on the right to self-determination. Rather, it is said that the PQ government intends to achieve independence following a UDI, by gaining effective control over the whole of the territory currently a part of Qu?bec. {1540} This type of inconsistency only serves to muddle or confuse the debate on Qu?bec secession. Footnotes {1521}S. Dion, "Au-del? des arguties constitutionnelles, l'identit? qu?b?coise se porte bien", La Presse, September 21, 1995, at B3. Unofficial English translation: "...if the territory of Canada can be divided, so can that of Qu?bec; ...if the Qu?b?cois form a peuple, it is the same for Canadians and Aboriginal peoples; and... it is immoral to give oneself a right, that of secession, and to refuse it to those who could use it against us." {1522} J. Gray, "Crees call PQ plan a fraud' on Canada's aboriginal people", Globe and Mail, September 22, 1995, at A4. {1523} See sub-headings 3.1 & 3.4 supra. {1524} See, for example, sub-heading 9.1 supra. {1525} See sub-heading 3.5.1 supra. {1526} See sub-heading 1.2 supra. {1527} See discussion under sub-heading 3.3 supra. {1528} See Bertrand v. A.G. Qu?bec, Qu?bec Superior Court, Qu?bec city, No. 200-05-002117-955, decision rendered on September 8, 1995 by Mr. Justice Robert Lesage. {1529} See An Act respecting the future of Qu?bec (Bill 1), Qu?bec National Assembly, First Sess., 35th Legisl., tabled by Premier Jacques Parizeau on September 7, 1995, s. 8. {1530} See sub-heading 4.1 supra. {1531} See sub-headings 9.2 & 9.3 supra. {1532} See discussion under sub-headings 4.1 & 4.2 supra. {1533} The federal government in 1982, not only acted legally, but also met the standard of "legitimacy" (substantial consent) set by the Supreme Court of Canada by obtaining the agreement of nine out of ten provinces. From a Cree viewpoint, this does not mean that we are advocating the circumvention of the National Assembly in adopting future constitutional amendments concerning national institutions. {1534} Reference is being made here to the 1985 National Assembly Resolution on aboriginal rights. Unlike the Constitution Act, 1982, there were no compelling reasons of a national or regional nature that required the PQ government to violate the commitment of Premier Ren? L?vesque to only table a resolution on this matter with the consent of the Aboriginal peoples concerned and table a version according to the government's own liking. {1535} See generally heading 8 supra. {1536} See generally discussion under heading 11 supra. {1537} Parti Qu?b?cois, Programme du Parti Qu?b?cois [:] Des id?es pour mon pays (Montr?al: Parti Qu?b?cois, 1994), at 21. {1538} See discussion under sub-heading 8.2 supra. {1539} See sub-heading 3.1.1 supra. {1540} See sub-heading 4.1 supra. On the other hand, in An Act respecting the future of Qu?bec (Bill 1), Qu?bec National Assembly, First Sess., 35th Legisl., tabled by Premier Jacques Parizeau on September 7, 1995, the heading for s. 1 is entitled "Self-Determination". Section 1 provides in part: "The National Assembly is authorized, within the scope of this Act, to proclaim the sovereignty of Qu?bec."