Correspondence between Chief Ominayak and Indian Affairs Minister Strahl

Friends of the Lubicon
PO Box 444 Stn D,
Etobicoke ON M9A 4X4
Tel: (416) 763-7500
Email: fol (at) tao (dot) ca

May 20, 2008

The last round of Lubicon land negotiations collapsed at the end of 2003 when federal negotiators took the position that they did not have a mandate to negotiate long standing and pre-agreed settlement issues including self-government and financial compensation. Available for your information are copies of the most recent exchange of correspondence between Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak and the current Canadian Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl. Strahl's letter is here. The Chief's response to Strahl is here.

When Mr. Strahl says he "also find(s) the Government of Canada's offer (of financial compensation) to be fair and reasonable", he is talking about a number tabled by federal negotiators after they brought discussions on a substantive basis for financial compensation effectively to an end by asking the Lubicons to table a bottom line figure. Having changed the discussion from a discussion of such things as the value of the natural resources extracted from unceded Lubicon Territory to discussion of what the Lubicons would be prepared to accept by way of financial compensation, federal negotiators then tabled a fractional figure and proposed to negotiate the requested Lubicon bottom line. When the Lubicons refused to negotiate the requested bottom line and proposed to return to the discussion of a substantive basis for financial compensation, federal negotiators refused to discuss anything other than the figure they'd tabled saying they had no mandate to discuss anything other than the number they'd tabled.

When Mr. Strahl says he believes the federal offer "provides the Lubicon people with a means to realize their self-government objectives", he is repeating what his predecessor Mr. Prentice said in a letter dated August 18, 2006. In that August 18th letter Mr. Prentice characterized Canada's so-called "offer" as follows":

"Canada has also offered to enter into negotiations on a (non-binding) Self-Government Framework Agreement pursuant to Canada's Inherent Right Policy (independent of negotiation of Lubicon land rights) rights), or to include legally binding clauses in the Land Claim Settlement Agreement, agreeing to into into self-government negotiations after the successful ratification of the Land Claim Agreement when the Lubicons are ready to begin".

The Self-Government Framework Agreement to which Mr. Prentice refers is in fact only a non-binding agenda for negotiating recognition of self-government post-settlement of Lubicon land rights. The "Inherent Rights Policy" under which non-binding self-government framework agreements are negotiated includes secret Justice Department Guidelines for Federal Self-Government Negotiators on how to negotiate self-government agreements that are not binding on the government of Canada.

When the Canadian media requested a copy of the secret Justice Department Guidelines under the Canadian Access to Information Act, Justice Department officials illegally denied the existence of the Guidelines. The Canadian government was later forced to acknowledge the existence of these secret Justice Department Guidelines in a submission to the UN Human Rights Committee after the Lubicons provided the Committee with a copy. The Canadian government submission to the UN complains bitterly about the supposed impropriety of the Lubicons providing the United Nations with secret Canadian government "instructions" to federal negotiators on how to negotiate self-government in bad faith.

"Legally binding clauses in the Land Claim Settlement Agreement agreeing to enter into self-government negotiations after the successful ratification of the Land Claim Agreement" -- which federal negotiators proposed as an alternative to negotiating a non-binding self-government framework agreement independent of land settlement negotiations -- is of course again no more than agreement to talk about recognizing the right of the Lubicon people to be self-governing post settlement of Lubicon land rights. In both cases Canadian negotiators refused to even talk about the supposedly constitutionally recognized right of the Lubicon people to be self-governing until the Lubicons first cede their rights to valuable Lubicon lands and resources upon which successful negotiation of the Lubicon right to be self-governing obviously depends.


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