The Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee has followed closely the tabling and discussion of Bill 70, the Act to amend the Mining Act. We previously submitted a brief to the National Assembly on Bill 43, in which we set out a number of concerns and recommendations. Since then, I have had the opportunity to meet with Minister Ouellet and to discuss with her in person certain issues, including with respect to mining. I appreciated her openness in these discussions.
Bill 70 contains a number of positive elements, including the recognition of the need to consult Aboriginal communities and to take account of their rights and interests in reconciling mining activities with other possible uses of the territory. The greater scope recognized for regional county municipalities in defining areas of compatibility and incompatibility for mining in their land use plans is also positive. The strengthened environmental provisions are welcome.
Some concerns remain. Government orientations on mining and land use could be used to restrict MRC’s in their definition of areas incompatible with mining. The disclosure of contributions by mining companies to communities would result in the publication of sensitive commercial and strategic information that could hamper the future negotiation of agreements between communities and mining companies.
That said, the Cree are committed to building and strengthening our relationship with Québec, as demonstrated by the Paix des Braves and, more recently, the Governance Agreement. In this spirit, we will continue to work with Québec to address issues as they arise, including our concerns regarding Bill 70. We look forward to pursuing discussions with Minister Ouellet in order to find mutually acceptable solutions.