Nemaska - The Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) was disappointed to learn that the Supreme Court of Canada has refused leave to appeal two decisions rendered by the QuÃ©bec Court of Appeal last year in proceedings which they had initiated against Canada and QuÃ©bec Governments and a number of forestry companies. One of the Cree motions in the court was on the removal of Judge Croteau from their forestry case at the demand of Quebec, Canada and the involved forestry companies.
"This is the first time in Canada that a judge has been removed from a constitutional case at the request of government" stated Grand Chief Ted Moses.
"The Governments of Canada and QuÃ©bec, not content to rely upon the appeal process, went so far as to have a judge removed from the case because he had decided in favour of the constitutional and treaty rights of the Crees", added Grand Chief Dr. Ted Moses.
"This is a violation of the human rights of the Crees. It is a violation of our right to due process, and a violation of the principle of the independence of the judiciary", the Grand Chief said.
As a result of this decision, the Crees have now exhausted their domestic remedies in Canada. This opens the door for the Crees to have recourse to the United Nations under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Canada has signed and ratified. The Crees will file a complaint on the recusation of Justice Croteau before the United Nations Human Rights Committee, which hears cases under the Optional Protocol.
The Grand Council of the Crees intends to redouble its efforts before the Superior Court of QuÃ©bec and to continue to pursue the proceedings presently pending before that Court. The decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada have in no way affected the claims of the Crees or the legal proceedings already underway against the Governments of QuÃ©bec and Canada, since the judgment was limited to interlocutory matters only. The questions raised by the Crees are of capital importance to the protection of treaty rights guaranteed under the James Bay and Northern QuÃ©bec Agreement.
The Crees welcome the third decision of the Supreme Court of Canada confirming their rights to seek immediate relief from the Government of Canada and confirming that their rights under the James Bay and Northern QuÃ©bec Agreement are treaty rights protected by the Constitution of Canada.
"We intend to intensify our efforts to protect and preserve our aboriginal and treaty rights and to put a stop to the destruction of our hunting lands by government and the forestry industry. "
"Logging activities are continuing at a rapid pace in the Cree hunting lands. On average, some 800 square kilometres are cut every year and to date not a single environmental or social impact study has been carried out. The present proceedings before the QuÃ©bec Superior Court will continue, and we remain hopeful that we shall be able to obtain a hearing date within the shortest possible time", said Bill Namagoose, Executive Director. "The Crees will also undertake all necessary measures before other available forums to protect their constitutional rights", concluded Mr. Namagoose.
Grand Chief Dr. Ted Moses (514) 232-3104
Bill Namagoose (819) 895-8650
RomÃ©o Saganash (418) 564-1598
Sam Etapp (514) 916-6367