June 6, 2006
Lubicon supporters who have written letters to the new government have been receiving a form letter response from Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice. The form letter says:
"This is in response to your recent correspondence in which you express your concerns regarding the Lubicon Lake land claim. I recently received a letter from Chief Ominayak, in which he states that many of the issues of the land claim have been agreed to and most of the technical work has been completed." (Lubicon supporters should know that Mr. Prentice has yet to reply to or even acknowledge the letter from Chief Ominayak Mr. Prentice quotes here.)
He continues, "Unfortunately, there has been an impasse in the negotiations for the past several years.
"Please be assured that I will be reviewing the details of the Lubicon Lake land claim negotiations, including the reasons for the current impasse, as well as the progress accomplished to date. It is my hope that all parties to the negotiations will recognize the significance of this progress and return to the negotiation table to build on it, with the goal of achieving a final settlement."
While it is encouraging that Mr. Prentice is "reviewing the details" and hopes for a return to the negotiation table, he may need to be reminded of one or two critical points.
While there have been tentative agreements on some settlement issues, any agreements made on other settlement issues are dependent on conclusion of a final settlement agreement.
Negotiations towards a final settlement agreement have been stalled for the past two and half years because federal negotiators say they have no mandate to negotiate further on the key outstanding issues of self-government and financial compensation.
In order to "build on" past agreements, negotiators must have a mandate to continue building.
Lubicon supporters should therefore ask whether Mr. Prentices negotiators have been given a mandate to negotiate the key outstanding issues of self-government and financial compensation in good faith.
Alternately, if federal negotiators do not have a mandate to negotiate key outstanding issues, when will they be given one?
Or, if Mr. Prentice does not intend to give his negotiators a mandate to negotiate key outstanding issues, is Mr. Prentice therefore telling Lubicon supporters that the government offer to the Lubicons is final and non-negotiable?
Answers to those questions would be very welcome.
fol-request at masses.tao.ca