Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
Little Buffalo Lake, AB
3536 - 106 Street
Edmonton, AB T6J 1A4
March 20, 1992
In mid-February Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak met twice with Federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon and Provincial Native Affairs Minister Dick Fowler. While both levels of Canadian Government and Daishowa are actively seeking to create the impression that these two meetings represent progress, in fact no substantive progress toward settlement of Lubicon land rights has yet been achieved. Context and details of these two meetings are as follows.
Last October 30th Chief Ominayak received a telephone call from an Assistant to Peace River MP Albert Cooper indicating that Mr. Cooper would like to arrange a meeting between the Chief and Federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon on November 1st when Mr. Siddon was in Edmonton supposedly "on other business". Known to be under pressure from Daishowa Mr. Siddon clearly wanted the meeting arranged without having it appear that he was responding to pressure. In fact Mr. Siddon later went so far as to falsely suggest to several reporters that Chief Ominayak had requested the meeting.
Mr. Siddon insisted that the November 1st meeting be private, confidential, one-on-one, behind closed doors with no media informed or involved. Chief Ominayak reluctantly agreed. Mr. Siddon then promptly breached his own meeting pre-conditions by requesting a meeting with the Editorial Board of the Edmonton Journal to discuss the supposedly private and confidential meeting.
During his meeting with the Editorial Board Mr Siddon purposefully set the public stage for his up-coming meeting with the Chief. He claimed that the Lubicons no longer retain aboriginal rights over traditional Lubicon territory because, he said, those rights had supposedly been ceded by the Government-created Woodland Cree Band. He deliberately misrepresented both the Government's so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer and Lubicon settlement terms in a transparent effort to make the Government's so-called "offer" appear "generous" and Lubicon settlement terms "unreasonable". He claimed falsely that the Lubicons are being manipulated by white advisor Fred Lennarson whom he falsely charged had a vested interest in preventing settlement. He stated unequivocally that the Federal Government's unacceptable "take-it-or-leave-it" offer to the Lubicons won't be changed except to reduce it to provide for the newly created Woodland Cree Band. And he announced that the Federal Government was in the process of creating another new Band at Loon Lake which he threatened would reduce the Federal Government's so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer to the Lubicons even further if the Lubicons didn't quickly grab the Federal Government's rapidly dwindling "take-it-or-leave-it" offer.
Following Mr. Siddon's meeting with the Editorial Board an Edmonton Journal reporter named Jack Danylchuk phoned the Lubicon Edmonton office and asked for the Chief's reactions to what Mr. Siddon had told the Editorial Board. The Chief was therefore aware of what Mr. Siddon had told the Editorial Board only a couple of hours prior to the Chief's supposedly private and confidential meeting with Mr. Siddon.
During their November 1st meeting Mr. Siddon asked the Chief about the possibility of re-starting negotiations. Given Mr. Siddon's remarks to the Editorial Board that the Federal Government's unacceptable "take-it-or-leave-it" offer won't be changed except to be reduced, the Chief asked Mr. Siddon what they had to talk about. Mr. Siddon declined to discuss "matters of substance" with the Chief saying that he only wanted to talk about re-starting "negotiations".
Faced with the unhappy prospect of more talks about talks regarding a so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer already known to be unacceptable -- which would undoubtedly only be used politically by Government officials to deflect criticism of Government inaction and blunt the increasingly worrisome Daishowa boycott -- Chief Ominayak gave Mr. Siddon a copy of the comprehensive draft settlement agreement which the Lubicon negotiating team had presented to Provincial negotiators in June of 1990. The Chief asked Mr. Siddon for a reaction to the Lubicon draft settlement agreement to see if there was anything to talk about. Caught off-guard by what amounted to a detailed Lubicon counter-proposal to the Federal Government's so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer, Mr. Siddon agreed to "look at (the Lubicon draft settlement agreement) very, very carefully".
Immediately following the November 1st meeting Siddon and Co. commenced an obviously pre-prepared barrage of propaganda materials and initiatives clearly calculated to portray the Federal Government as supposedly generous and reasonable, Daishowa as supposedly innocent and uninvolved, and the Lubicons as supposedly dupes of their advisors and impossibly unreasonable. This demonstrably deceitful, transparent Federal Government propaganda campaign continued openly until the day before the Chief's first meeting with Mr. Siddon on February 14th, and has continued in a sub rosa way ever since.
On November 4th Mr. Siddon wrote a letter to the Editor of the Edmonton Journal in which he falsely stated, among other things, that "the Lubicon claim would represent the largest such settlement in the province", that "Band leadership has unfortunately rejected the offer" and that "both levels of Government have indicated publicly their willingness to negotiate but the Band has consistently refused to resume negotiations".
On November 21st a Native politician closely linked to the ruling Conservative Government publicly characterized the Federal Government's so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer as "fair and just" and warned that the Lubicons are "going to be left out in the dark unless they accept it".
Also on November 21st Canadian Missions around the world were faxed a "standard response" letter for dealing with inquiries about the Lubicon situation. It falsely stated, among other things, that the Lubicons claim "an area nearly the size of the Netherlands and Belgium combined", that "the United Nations Human Rights Committee decision...said that the (take-it-or-leave-it) offer was an appropriate remedy" and that the Lubicons no longer retain aboriginal land rights over traditional Lubicon territory because "other Indian Bands in the area, with claims (supposedly) as valid as that of the Lubicon Band, have signed settlements with terms similar, through less generous, than those offered to the Lubicon".
On November 26th Provincial Native Affairs Minister Dick Fowler falsely charged that "the Chief has refused repeated requests to meet" and "is preventing his people from settling" supposedly based on bad advice from Lubicon advisor Fred Lennarson who "is living well while the Lubicon people live in poverty".
On November 28th Federal Negotiator Brian Malone issued a press statement falsely denying that the Federal Government is refusing to negotiate a fair settlement of Lubicon land rights, falsely claiming that the United Nations Human Rights Committee supported the Federal Government's so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer and falsely charging that Lubicon lawyer James O'Reilly had been instructed by Chief Ominayak to break off negotiations with the Federal Government. (In fact there'd been no negotiations with the Federal Government since Federal representatives deliberately broke-down negotiations in January of 1989 with a "take-it-or-leave-it-offer" known in advance to be unacceptable, although there had been some talks about the possibility of either re-starting negotiations or referring matters in dispute to some kind of an independent arbitrator or mediator. What Mr. Malone is undoubtedly talking about in his own creative way are instructions which the Chief gave Mr. O'Reilly following the onset of clear-cutting operations in the unceded Lubicon territory by Daishowa-related companies in the fall of 1990. At that time Chief Ominayak instructed Mr. O'Reilly to advise Provincial Negotiator John McCarthy that there'd be no further talks until logging of unceded Lubicon lands was stopped.)
On December 2nd Mr. Siddon wrote another letter to the Editor of the Edmonton Journal, this time falsely denying that the Federal Government had simply again thrown its unacceptable take-it-or-leave-it offer on the table, falsely claiming that "the United Nations Human Rights Committee agrees that (the Federal Government's "take-it-or-leave-it") offer is fair", falsely claiming that the so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer "would make the Lubicon reserve the sixth largest in Alberta even though the band is (supposedly) 29th in population size)", and falsely claiming that the Federal Government had "offered (the Lubicons) resource rights on potentially some of the richest oil and timber land in the Province".
Also on December 2nd Chief Ominayak received a faxed letter from Mr. Siddon falsely claiming, among other things, that Lubicon "demands far exceed any land claim settled with other bands" and are "perhaps eight to ten times as rich as the recent major Ouje-Bougoumou Cree settlement". However, Mr. Siddon continued incongruously, "there appears to be little difference between the Band and Canada on the substantive elements contained in your (Lubicon draft settlement agreement) proposal and those which Canada would consider as possible within the context of an overall settlement". "The main differences between us", Mr. Siddon said, "relate to money".
Therefore, Mr. Siddon concluded, "I believe there is sufficient common ground for renewed substantive discussions between Canada, Alberta, and (Lubicon) representatives". "To that end", Mr. Siddon said, "I have contacted the Honourable Dick Fowler, the Alberta Minister Responsible for Native Affairs, who has agreed to a suggestion that the three of us meet to explore the best forum of renewed talks". He said "Mr. Fowler has indicated he will be available for a meeting in early February". He asked the Chief to "please advise me if that timing is convenient for you".
Within minutes of receiving Mr. Siddon's December 2nd letter the Chief started receiving inquiries about it from the media to whom it had obviously been faxed simultaneously, along with a two page document entitled "STATUS OF LUBICON LAKE CLAIM" and an official Government press statement headlined "Federal and Provincial Ministers to Meet With Lubicon Band After Christmas".
The two page document attached to Mr. Siddon's December 2nd letter falsely claimed, among other things, that the Lubicons had been receiving the same programs, benefits and services as other aboriginal societies in Canada since 1939, and that "the Human Rights Committee found that the offer which Canada has already made to the band is fair and reasonable and would meet any obligation Canada has under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights". (It's interesting to note how Mr. Siddon's false characterization of the UN decision grows with each telling, like the proverbial fish story.)
On December 6th Mr. Siddon announced the creation of a second new Band on the eastern boundary of the traditional Lubicon territory -- the Loon River Band --also supposedly including ex-Lubicons. (Whether there'll ever be a Loon River settlement seems contingent upon whether it's considered tactically necessary to finish off the Lubicons. At last report Federal Lubicon Negotiator Brian Malone was telling people he'd been advised by Sleazy Bob (Coulter) that "a decision on Loon depends on what kind of a `northern strategy' the Feds decide upon".)
On December 9th the Provincial Courts denied a Lubicon application to put over the preliminary hearing on the 13 Lubicons charged with the raid on Buchanan's logging camp until the new year, in spite of the fact that lead Lubicon lawyer Bob Sachs had a schedule conflict, in spite of the fact that it had not yet been possible to arrange separate lawyers for each of the 13 Lubicons charged and 6 other Lubicons who've been called to give evidence (something necessitated by the Government's insistence on proceeding with the legally questionable approach of calling accused against accused and potentially accused), and in spite of the fact that the Lubicons still had pending before the higher Provincial Court of Appeal a related Constitutional challenge regarding the defendant's right of silence and right against self-incrimination. (Sources have since confirmed that Provincial legal tactics are indeed designed to harass and tie-up Lubicon resources to the extent possible rather than to actually proceed with prosecution of the defendants, which would likely only result in having the charges thrown out over such gross improprieties as denying people access to legal counsel and dragging individual defendants out of their homes in the middle of the night and interrogating them in a garbage dump. The hearing of the actual charges is not now expected before the end of the year or early 1993, although time consuming and expensive court room appearances on a variety of procedural and other related matters are of course continuing. Tying up Lubicon resources in court of course means that such resources aren't then available to pursue things like the Daishowa boycott.)
On January 16th Mr. Siddon's office falsely told reporters that "discussions (regarding the proposed February meeting) are happening in an on-going way between (the Feds), Mr. Fowler's office and the Band". As with almost everything else said by representatives of the Federal Government, this claim was simply not true. The Lubicons had in fact heard nothing about the proposed meeting since receiving Mr. Siddon's December 2nd letter.
By the week of January 20th Sleazy Bob Coulter's review of the Goddard Lubicon book had been prepared for the January 27th edition of the Alberta Report and was circulating in the Regional Indian Affairs office. (Alberta Regional Director General of Indian Affairs Gary Wouters has since gone out of his way in talks with Bob Sachs to feign ignorance of the so-called review which had been circulating among his staff a week before it hit the stands, calling it "right wing propaganda" and claiming that he understood it "emanated out of Calgary".)
On January 27th Chief Ominayak received a phone call from Mr. Siddon's office indicating that Mr. Siddon would be travelling to British Columbia on February 14th and could stop in Edmonton for a meeting with the Chief and Mr. Fowler if the Chief was available. A meeting was agreed for noon at the Provincial Legislature on February 14th. (In a play on words inspired by so-called "drive-by" shootings in California, the November 14th meeting was jokingly referred to by the media as the "drive-by meeting".)
During the week of January 27th Regional Indian Affairs Director General Gary Wouters asked for "a private and confidential meeting (with Lubicon representatives) to try and work out something prior to Ominayak's meeting with Siddon on the 14th". A meeting was agreed for February 6th.
On February 6th Mr. Wouters told Lubicon lawyer Bob Sachs that "Siddon doesn't want to respond to the Lubicon draft settlement agreement". "Instead", Mr. Wouters said, "Siddon will be be asking (Chief Ominayak) to consider as the basis for negotiations a letter from Siddon setting out (supposedly) new Federal Government proposals and an arbitration/litigation model".
The supposedly "new" Federal Government proposals consisted of five so-called "broad principles" with details to be worked out later by negotiators. Those five so-called "broad principles" are as follows:
Mr. Sachs rightly pointed out to Mr. Wouters that the Federal Government's supposedly new offer really wasn't much different than the Federal Government's old "take-it-or-leave-it" offer. Undaunted by this inescapable truth Mr. Wouters resolutely told Mr. Sachs "the Federal position is that they're opening up everything again". (What representatives of the Federal Government are clearly seeking to do here is transform their public characterization of the Federal Government's position from "take-it-or-leave-it", which hasn't served their propaganda purposes very well, into a "willing to discuss anything" propaganda position -- even though they have no apparent intention of changing their basic position on the issues. If the Lubicons agree to talk under such clearly non-productive circumstances, Federal officials can deflect criticism of their actions by claiming that the matter is being negotiated and refusing further comment. If the Lubicons understandably refuse to go along with this transparent Federal Government manoeuvre, Federal officials will be able to add credibility to their currently incredible claim that "both levels of Government have indicated publicly their willingness to negotiate but the Band has consistently refused to resume negotiations". The objective of Federal officials in all of this is undoubtedly to buy time in the hope and belief that the Lubicon society will soon collapse and be unable to effectively press for recognition of Lubicon land rights. In this regard Daishowa double-speaksman Jim Morrison openly tells people that Federal officials have advised Daishowa to simply "be patient" -- that "the Lubicon problem will soon blow over".)
On February 13th, the day before he was to meet with Chief Ominayak and Alberta Provincial Native Affairs Minister Fowler, Mr. Siddon wrote a letter to the Chairperson of an interdenominational church organizational called the Aboriginal Rights Coalition (Project North). He indicated that he'd met with the Chief on November 1st "to explore how the stalemate which now surrounds negotiations could be overcome". He described the meeting as "productive" and said "a further meeting with the Alberta Minister Responsible for Native Affairs is planned".
In his February 13th letter to the Aboriginal Rights Coalition Mr. Siddon claimed that "The major outstanding issues which now remain all relate to money". "In November 1991", he said, "Chief Ominayak gave me a proposal to resolve these issues". Then echoing the false charges planted by Sleazy Bob (Coulter) in the November 27th Alberta Report review of the Goddard Lubicon book, Mr. Siddon claimed that "The total cost of the (Lubicon) proposal is in excess of $200 million from Canada and Alberta for perhaps the 300 band members who are Treaty 8 Indians".
Having thus again purposefully defined the situation to suit the Federal Government's propaganda purposes, Mr. Siddon wrote the Aboriginal Rights Coalition that "This (Lubicon) monetary demand is excessive and far beyond the real merits of the band's claim". He wrote "I know your desire to have this land claim resolved in a fair and just manner is both genuine and heartfelt". "Consequently", he said, "I would ask you to encourage Chief Ominayak to approach the forthcoming meeting in a spirit of ensuring the real merits of his claim are met through a settlement within reasonable bounds". He concluded "I am convinced the claim can and must be resolved on that basis".
During his February 14th meeting with Messrs. Siddon and Fowler, Chief Ominayak asked Mr. Siddon for the promised reaction to the Lubicon draft settlement agreement. Mr. Siddon again declined to discuss "details" saying "I'm not a negotiator".
Chief Ominayak asked Mr. Siddon why they were meeting if not to talk about comprehensive Lubicon draft settlement proposals. Repeating that he isn't a negotiator Mr. Siddon proposed instead to "direct (Alberta Regional Indian Affairs Director General) Wouters that I want this thing (reserve construction) settled".
Proceeding to discussion of the so-called "arbitration/litigation model" which Mr. Wouters had proposed to Bob Sachs, the Chief told Mr. Siddon that the Lubicons are neither prepared to have the Canadian Courts determine compensation for illegal expropriation of unceded Lubicon lands nor to forgo their aboriginal land rights in order to have compensation arbitrated. Mr. Siddon said that he "just (didn't) know how to respond". He said "I'm not a lawyer". He said "I'll have to consult with Justice Department lawyers".
Mr. Siddon asked if it wasn't possible for reserve construction to proceed while the question of compensation was being resolved. The Chief told Mr. Siddon that the Lubicon people are not prepared to sign releases without a full and final settlement of Lubicon land rights. Mr. Siddon said that he understood that the Lubicon people are not prepared to sign releases without a full and final settlement.
The Chief asked if Mr. Siddon was then agreeing to Lubicon reserve construction proposals. Mr. Siddon said "I don't want to get into that". He said "Let's see how far Wouters can go". "If there are still gaps", he said, "perhaps those items can also be arbitrated".
The three men agreed to get back together in Mr. Fowler's Edmonton office at noon the following Friday, February 21st.
Bob Sachs met with Mr. Wouters on February 18th supposedly to discuss comprehensive Lubicon reserve construction proposals as detailed in the draft Lubicon settlement agreement. At that meeting, however, Mr. Wouters told Bob Sachs that he had no mandate to discuss details. Mr. Wouters told Bob Sachs "We're supposed to talk about broad principles". He said "The negotiating teams will have to get back together on the details".
Mr. Wouters told Bob Sachs that he couldn't "negotiate specifics" any more than Mr. Siddon could. He said "Everybody's stuck in their role". He said "The Minister can't negotiate as Minister and I can't negotiate as Regional Director General". (All of this is of course baloney. Mr. Siddon had 2 1/2 months to consult with necessary technical or legal people and could have easily come to the February 14th meeting with concrete reactions and/or counter proposals to detailed Lubicon settlement proposals. Similarly one of the primary jobs of the Alberta Regional Office of Indian Affairs, which Mr. Wouters heads, is to negotiate and fund capital construction projects exactly like those described in Lubicon proposals.)
Instead, Mr. Wouters said, he wanted to discuss "how the media is going to be handled". He said "Siddon and I are talking but that's as far as it goes." (The effort here is purely and simply to try and keep the Lubicons from publicly contradicting the illusion of supposed "progress" with facts about what's really happening. Sources indicate that Mr. Wouters has in fact been having confidential media briefings on the Lubicon situation seeking to reinforce the false impressions being deliberately created by Mr. Siddon's letters to editors, Mr. Siddon's November 29th letter to the Chief (simultaneously faxed to the media and currently being widely circulated without attaching the Chief's pointed letter of response), the draft response letter to Canadian Missions, etc.)
Next Mr. Wouters recommended to Bob Sachs that Chief Ominayak "get Siddon to commit that the 95 (square miles) will be all reserve". (There is of course nothing wrong in principle with having Mr. Siddon reconfirm that "the 95 square miles will be all reserve". The problem is that there'll never be a settlement agreement if discussions don't move beyond simply repeating such broad, easily agreed propositions over and over again.)
Mr. Wouters also recommended that Chief Ominayak "get a specific commitment from Siddon that the Federal Government is prepared to commence immediately with community construction without releases". (Again there is nothing inherently wrong with having Mr. Siddon repeat that community construction can proceed without full and final releases. The problem is that there is no agreement on what is to be built, or for whom, and won't be until the discussions move beyond merely reiterating these kind of easy, general propositions and start dealing concretely with the kind of specific items contained in the comprehensive Lubicon draft settlement agreement.)
Bob Sachs pushed Mr. Wouters to either accept detailed Lubicon proposals or to make counter proposals. Mr. Wouters repeated that he had no mandate to discuss specifics. Bob Sachs told Mr. Wouters "go back and get a mandate to discuss specifics".
On February 20th Bob Sachs and Mr. Wouters met again. Mr. Wouters told Bob Sachs that "the Feds want to put together some kind of a memo of understanding, agreement-in-principle or partial settlement agreement which would talk about five general areas"; namely:
Mr. Siddon commenced the February 21st meeting by stating that he was prepared to confirm that the full 95 square mile area agreed at Grimshaw in October of 1988 would be recognized as reserve lands. Chief Ominayak responded that he considered the question of reserve land quantum settled long ago.
Mr Siddon asked the Chief "Can we come out of here today with some kind of memorandum of understanding, some kind of agreement on how we're going to proceed"? He asked "Are we going to work on some kind of partial settlement, go to court or whatever?"
Chief Ominayak told Mr. Siddon that there'd be no agreement of any kind until there was agreement on at least some of the substantive issues. He said "We can't go on meeting like this forever and not get anywhere". He asked "Why can't we get people together to look at the comprehensive Lubicon draft settlement agreement in order to at least determine specific areas of agreement and disagreement?"
Mr. Siddon agreeably chimed in that he'd "like to have as much information as possible so that (he) can go to Cabinet if any special monies are necessary".
Mr. Sachs and Mr. Wouters were then asked to join the meeting and Mr. Siddon directed Mr. Wouters in front of Mr. Sachs and the Chief "to get the work done (on preparing specific reactions to the Lubicon draft settlement agreement)". He gave Mr. Wouters "two weeks to get the work done, plus maybe a third week if necessary".
On February 22nd sources indicated that Mr. Wouters' next manoeuvre would be to insist upon first dealing with a supposedly reduced Lubicon membership resulting from creation of the new Woodland and Loon River Bands. On February 27th Mr. Wouters told Bob Sachs that the question of a supposedly reduced Lubicon membership would have to be dealt with before discussing comprehensive Lubicon settlement proposals.
Lubicon representatives told Mr. Wouters that Lubicon membership numbers had remained basically constant in spite of concerted Federal Government efforts to tear Lubicon society apart through such things as creation of the so-called new Woodland Cree and Loon River Bands. Consequently, Lubicon representatives said, the population base used for Lubicon settlement proposals remained valid and discussion of Lubicon settlement proposals should proceed as agreed with Mr. Siddon.
Mr. Wouters suggested instead that "reserve set-up costs be discussed in scenarios of 300 people, 400 people, 500 people and 600 people using the operating assumption that 90% will be living on-reserve". (With Sleazy Bob (Coulter) telling the Alberta Report that the Feds calculate "the band has shrunk to a total variously pegged somewhere between 250 and 300", and with Mr. Siddon further telegraphing Federal Government intentions by writing to the Aboriginal Rights Coalition that there are "perhaps (only) 300 band members who are (Government recognized) Treaty 8 Indians", it didn't take a weatherman to tell what direction the wind was blowing.)
Mr. Wouters then lectured Lubicon representatives on the difference between Lubicon recognized membership and Government recognized status under the Indian Act, making clear that the $25,000 per person now being "offered" by the Federal Government for socio-economic development didn't apply to so-called "non-Indians". In order to determine who qualified for status under the Indian Act, Mr. Wouters offered to "send a team (of Indian Affairs bureaucrats) to (the traditional Lubicon community of) Little Buffalo Lake to start registration (of individuals as "Indians under the Indian Act") as soon as possible". (The term "non-Indians" in this context has nothing to do with aboriginal blood but rather with whether the Government is prepared to recognize a person as "qualified for Indian status under the Indian Act". In the past the provisions of this Federal Government "Indian Act" has produced such anomalies as declaring a woman with no aboriginal blood to be an "Indian under the Indian Act" because she married a man recognized to be an "Indian under the Indian Act", and declaring a full-blooded aboriginal woman to be a "non-Indian" because she married a man not recognized to be an "Indian under the Indian Act". The Lubicons historically refused to allow the Federal Government to tear Lubicon society asunder using such deliberately destructive, artificial, unilaterally determined Federal Government criteria and insisted instead upon determining for themselves who their members are for all purposes, as had the aboriginal societies who'd in the past negotiated a settlement of aboriginal land rights with the Canadian Government. This "membership" question was supposedly settled in December of 1988 when Federal Justice Department lawyer Ivan Whitehall agreed that all of the Lubicons were entitled to sign a Treaty (or adhesion to Treaty) with the Canadian Government, and that everybody who signed such a Treaty (or adhesion to Treaty) thereby became a Treaty Indian entitled to "Indian Status under the Indian Act".)
Moving on to an earlier proposal to have an independent "cost estimator" assess the reasonableness of Lubicon cost estimates -- originally intended to settle disputes over how much it would cost to do various things -- Mr. Wouters said "the Feds would want Van Iterson present". "If Van Iterson agrees with a 3rd party cost estimator", Mr. Wouters said, "it might sway Swain". (Van Iterson is the Assistant Deputy Minister of Indian Services in Ottawa with whom the Lubicon negotiation team negotiated capital construction items during negotiations in December of 1988. Swain is Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs, Mr. Van Iterson's boss and Mr. Siddon's top staff man. Such an approach of course deliberately defeats the whole idea of an independent "cost estimator" to resolve cost disputes.)
In the end, Mr. Wouters told Lubicon representatives, "the Feds are (now) looking at a scheme of things where after the current round of (so-called) negotiations is finished, Siddon will table a proposal which (the Lubicons) can take away and respond to". He said that "the proposal from Siddon will consist of a section on community construction, a section on membership and a section on releases".
On March 12th Mr. Wouters presented Bob Sachs with a document entitled "LUBICON LAKE CAPITAL WORKS". These supposedly new Federal Government reserve set-up proposals obviously represent the "section on community construction" to which Mr. Wouters referred on February 27th. If discussions to-date are any indication, the so-called "sections" on "membership" and "releases" will be equally disappointing.
These supposedly new Federal Government reserve set-up proposals don't make any pretense of responding to detailed, comprehensive Lubicon settlement proposals but rather only very slightly re-cast the Federal Government's so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer. As in the case of the so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer, detailed Lubicon commercial and agricultural proposals aren't even mentioned, presumably in favour of rather relying upon the clearly inadequate and unacceptable Federal formula approach of providing $25,000 per capita for each of the Lubicons whom the Federal Government unilaterally determines to be an "Indian under the Indian Act", plus an un-indexed $5 million over ten years from the Province for socio-economic development and another $3 million from the Province to pay the salaries of Provincial Government employees operating an off-reserve academic up-grading trailer.
The "Introduction" of the "LUBICON LAKE CAPITAL WORKS" document states that the "main document" figures "are essentially the same as those used as the basis for the 1988-89 (take-it-or-leave-it) Capital Works proposal to the Lubicon". While not exactly untrue, a close reading of the document makes clear that it's a little more complicated than just simply reiterating the so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer.
Most of the items in the Federal Government's supposedly new reserve set-up proposals are basically the same as in the "take-it-or-leave-it" offer, and the document therefore suffers from essentially the same gaps and weaknesses as the "take-it-or-leave-it" offer. However some of the items like water supply have actually been rolled back to an earlier and less acceptable Federal Government proposal than the one included in the "take-it-or-leave-it" offer, and some other things like an earlier proposed Federal "contribution" to development of a natural gas utility have been deleted altogether -- supposedly because Federal officials have now determined, in spite of concrete, specific Lubicon information to the contrary, that "there are no sources of useable gas near the (proposed) community".
Moreover, while the items and the numbers included in the Federal Government's new "LUBICON LAKE CAPITAL WORKS" document are basically the same as those included in the Federal Government's unacceptable so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer, the new numbers are in 1992 instead of 1988 dollars and consequently have significantly lower practical value simply as a result of inflation.
Using maximum possible figures total community construction costs in the so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer are $30 million in 1988 dollars (not including a one year inflation figure of $3.8 million in the 1988 so-called offer which can't be compared to an undefined inflation figure of $3 million in the 1992 so-called offer), or about $44 million in 1992 dollars. The total maximum value of community construction costs in the new "LUBICON LAKE CAPITAL WORKS" document is about $36 million in 1992 dollars (not including an undefined inflation figure of $3 million in the 1992 so-called offer which can't be compared to a one year inflation figure of $3.8 million in the 1988 so-called offer), or under $25 million in 1988 dollars. The effective total value of the new proposals is thus approximately 8 million dollars less than the value of the so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer.
Related correspondence and media coverage are attached for your information.
Attachment #1: February 13, 1992, letter from Tom Siddon to Ms. Elaine Bishop, Chairperson, Aboriginal Rights Coalition (Project North)
Dear Ms. Bishop:
This is in response to your open letter of December 13, 1991, concerning the Lubicon Lake Indian Band land claim.
The interest of Project North in the Lubicon Lake Indian Band land claim and its support for the band has been consistent for a number of years. Given the correspondence between us, I am not sure that I can elaborate on the government's position beyond repeating what I have said previously.
I would like to re-emphasize, however, that the Government of Canada does recognize a valid claim by the Lubicon Lake Indian Band and is committed to resolving it on a fair and just basis. For that reason, I met with Chief Ominayak in November 1991 to explore how the stalemate which now surrounds negotiations could be overcome. That meeting was productive and a further meeting with the Alberta Minster Responsible for Native Affairs is planned for February 1992. I hope progress will be made at that time.
As you are aware, in 1988 Chief Ominayak demanded 95 square miles of land for a reserve under Treaty 8. Premier Getty agreed to provide the land. The agreement includes mineral rights and ended the long-standing question of the size of the reserve to which the band is entitled. The major outstanding issues which now remain all relate to money. In November 1992, Chief Ominayak gave me a proposal to resolve these issues. The total cost of the proposal is in excess of $200 million from Canada and Alberta for perhaps the 300 band members who are Treaty 8 Indians. This monetary demand is excessive and far beyond the real merits of the band's claim.
I know your desire to have this land claim resolved in a fair and just manner is both genuine and heartfelt. Consequently, I would ask you to encourage Chief Ominayak to approach the forthcoming meeting in a spirit of ensuring the real merits of his claim are met through a settlement within reasonable bounds. I am convinced the claim can and must be resolved on that basis.
In relation to your concern over the Loon River Cree Indian Band, I should mention that the band was recognized so residents of the Loon Lake community who are Indians could have unfulfilled collective entitlements under Treaty 8 fulfilled by the Government of Canada. I acted in creating the band because of these outstanding obligations and because the band is the only vehicle through which these can be fulfilled.
The notion that the Loon River Cree and Woodland Cree Indian bands were established as part of a campaign to discredit the Lubicon claim is inaccurate. No such campaign exists or has ever existed. However, it would be an injustice to force other communities to wait until the Lubicon Lake Indian Band claim was settled as these communities have similar claims which ought to equally demand the attention of the government. I appreciate the ongoing interest of Project North in a just settlement of the Lubicon Lake Indian Band land claim. I share that goal and would welcome anything you might be able to do toward ensuring progress is made at the upcoming meeting.
Yours Sincerely, Tom Siddon
Attachment #2: Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (12:00 Noon) Friday, February 14, 1992
Phil Henry, CBC News
Talks between the Lubicon Cree Nation and the Canadian Government are back on again. Chief Bernard Ominayak will be meeting this afternoon with the Federal Minister of Indian Affairs Tom Siddon and the Alberta Minister Responsible for Natives Dick Fowler. The meeting will start in about half an hour in Premier Don Getty's office at the Legislature. Negotiations between the Federal Government and the Band broke down more than 3 years ago. At the time, the two sides were far apart. Ottawa's offer was worth up to $45 million. The Indians wanted about $170 million. They said $100 million of that was for compensation for oil and gas taken from their land. The Lubicon Cree live in northwestern Alberta about 100 km. east of Peace River.
Attachment #3: Transcript of CKUA Radio News Broadcast (5:15 P.M.) Friday, February 14, 1992
...and Alberta Solicitor General Dick Fowler. The parties agreed to meet again in a few weeks, but it looks like that's all that was decided. CKUA's Ian Gray reports.
Ian Gray, CKUA Radio
The meeting was the first between the Lubicons and Ottawa since last November. The Government's reviewed the Band's list of demands for control over the Lubicons' traditional territory and for money. The Indians want at least $170 million to develop their reserve and in compensation for oil and gas pumped out of disputed lands. Ottawa has offered $45 million. Federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon says there was no movement on any of those issues. He says they weren't even discussed. Instead, Siddon said the parties tried to work out a process that would lead to a resolution. He says he hopes more substantial progress will come from this point on.
Tom Siddon, Federal Indian Affairs Minister
I certainly appreciated getting to know Chief Ominayak better. He is an honourable person who is representing the needs of his people very effectively and I just want to work with him to see that history will record that in the months ahead we were able to find a solution to these matters.
For his part, Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak says he detected a change in attitude and tone on the part of the government. He says he hopes that will lead to a resolution, but says he's not willing to wait indefinitely.
Chief Bernard Ominayak, Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
I certainly wouldn't want to wait another 50 years or even 5 years. If the will is there, this matter could be resolved in months. It's just that simple.
Ominayak now goes back to his Little Buffalo settlement near Peace River and Siddon goes to Ottawa to discuss with their sides whatever was talked about in the Edmonton meeting. They've agreed to hold another meeting within the next few weeks, somewhere in Alberta. Ian Gray, CKUA News, at the Alberta Legislature.
Attachment #4: Transcript of CBC TV News Broadcast (6:00 P.M.) Friday, February 14, 1992
Bob Chelmick, CBC News
It's Alberta's best known land claims dispute, and certainly it's been the most bitter. But tonight there's been at least some promise for an end to the Lubicon Indians' fight. For the first time all the big players got together in Edmonton to talk today. Graham Thompson was there and has the story.
Graham Thompson, CBC News
It is a familiar walk for Chief Bernard Ominayak headed for yet another round of land claim talks. But these promise to be different today. For the first time he'll be negotiating directly with both the Federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon and his Alberta counterpart Dick Fowler. But after 3 years of disappointment, Ominayak is prepared for the worst in today's talks.
Chief Bernard Ominayak, Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
I'm sick and tired of all the rhetoric and all the propaganda that's been dished out. Hopefully we won't get into a similar situation.
No other land claim is as well known in Alberta. The Lubicon Band attracted international attention in 1988 when they set up barricades on land they claimed as their own. And they organized a boycott against the giant Daishowa Company when it cut down trees on disputed land. The Alberta Government stepped in to help but it's the Federal Government which has the power to make a final deal. That did not happen today. But after the meeting Ominayak was more hopeful than when he arrived.
The mood of the Minister is that he's looking for ways to arrive at a settlement.
Tom Siddon, Federal Indian Affairs Minister
I was very happy with the meeting today but I think it's important that the Chief discuss with his people some of the matters we discussed and we hope to meet again soon, very soon.
And that was the bottom line today. They didn't agree on a solution, but they have agreed to meet again to start working on a solution...Graham Thompson, CBC News, Edmonton.
Attachment #5: EDMONTON JOURNAL, Saturday, February 15, 1992
MEETING CALLED GOOD START IN TACKLING LUBICON DISPUTE
Preliminary talks focus on process, not settlement
Journal Staff Writer
Ottawa, Alberta and the Lubicon Cree reported progress Friday on developing a process that might resolve the band's 50-year-quest for a land reserve and cash settlement.
"I hope this will enable us to start having serious discussions that may lead to a settlement," Lubicon chief Bernard Ominayak said after meeting with Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon and Solicitor General Dick Fowler.
Fowler and Siddon called the meeting useful, but all three stressed that most of the discussion focused on process, rather than any settlement proposal.
Siddon is to discuss Friday's meeting with the federal cabinet and Ominayak will talk to his band members before the three men get together again within the next few weeks.
"We want to find an honorable way to meet our obligations to the Lubicon people," said Siddon, who described Ominayak as "an honorable person who represent the needs of his people very effectively.
"We hope for the children and the families and the people of the Lubicon nation that we can find an honorable settlement."
Ominayak described the mood of the two-hour meeting as "good" but remained cautious: "I hope it leads to a positive resolution rather than saying the minister is again trying to shaft us. I would hope that very few meetings from now we're seriously into the process.
"I wouldn't want to have to wait another 50 years or even five years; if the will is there, this could be resolved in months."
The timing of a settlement "remains to be seen," said Siddon.
Ominayak entered the meeting arranged by Siddon's office hoping for "something of substance rather than more rhetoric" and looking for a response to the band's settlement proposal.
Siddon has been studying the Lubicon proposal since last November.
Ominayak wants $170 million for an estimated 500 band members whose numbers may have been reduced by 20 to 30 per cent in the last year by Ottawa's recognition of two new bands in northern Alberta -- the Woodland and Loon Lake Cree.
Attachment #6: Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (12:00 Noon) Friday, February 21, 1992
Phil Henry, CBC
Chief Bernard Ominayak is meeting again today with two senior politicians to try to resolve his Band's land claim. Ominayak will meet with the Federal Minister of Indian Affairs Tom Siddon and the Provincial Minister Responsible for Native Affairs in Alberta Dick Fowler. The three met last week. They're trying to resolve the Lubicon land claim that's dragged on for more than 50 years. The Lubicon Cree live in northwestern Alberta. They've never signed a treaty with the Canadian Government. That meeting will take place today in Edmonton.
Attachment #7: Transcript of ITV News Broadcast (10:00 P.M.) Friday, February 21, 1992
Louanne Fraser, ITV
The Lubicons are inching towards settling their 50 year old land claim dispute with the Federal Government. Today there was another meeting to discuss re-starting talks that stalled 3 years ago. Ottawa's Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon and Alberta's counterpart Dick Fowler called the Lubicons to the Legislature just one week after the last round of talks. They only covered a process for negotiations. Lubicon leader Bernard Ominayak entered this meeting hoping for results, but emerged with the same vague statements about hope for a possible settlement.
Chief Bernard Ominayak, Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
We can't go on meeting forever while not producing any results. I think that's why we've appointed several people to look at it and try to make recommendations to us as to where both parties stand.
Attachment #8: EDMONTON JOURNAL, Saturday, February 22, 1992
LUBICONS TO MEET FEDERAL NEGOTIATORS
Journal Staff Writer
Lubicon Band negotiators will meet directly with their federal counterparts, says Chief Bernard Ominayak.
"He (federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon) is going to have his people and our people looking at what's going to be involved by way of a settlement," Ominayak told reporters Friday after emerging from a two-hour meeting with Siddon and Alberta Solicitor General Dick Fowler.
"I guess at that point we have to decide if it's something we can live with."
This meeting -- the 2nd between the three men -- also focused on outlining a process for resolving the band's 50-year quest for a land reserve and cash settlement which would not collapse at the negotiating table, said Lubicon lawyer Bob Sachs.
"It happened to the Dene, it happened to us. You think you have an agreement that's going to happen down the road and then it doesn't."
The leaders agreed to meet again in two to four weeks.
But asked if any headway was made Friday, Ominayak sounded a note of frustration, saying he hoped the next round of meetings could "get things moving" and "lead to something of more substance."
"We can't go on meeting forever," the soft-spoken Cree leader told reporters.
The band's final offer is still on the table and Siddon has been studying it since last November.
Ominayak wants $170 million for an estimated 500 band members. Those numbers, however, may have been reduced by 20 to 30 per cent in the last year by Ottawa's recognition of two new bands in northern Alberta -- the Woodland and Loon Lake Cree.
Attachment #9: WINDSPEAKER, March 2, 1992
INTERVIEW WITH THE FEDERAL MINISTER
By Rocky Woodward
Windspeaker Staff Writer
Fresh from a meeting with Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak, the Minister of Indian Affairs, Tom Siddon was reluctant to speak about anything that transpired between the two men. However, in an exclusive question answer interview at WINDSPEAKER, Siddon offered some of his views about the Lubicon issue, the cry for self-government from Native people across the country and his personal thoughts about the future of the department of Indian Affairs.
WS: You met with Bernard Ominayak today (February 21). Can you tell us what transpired in the meeting?
SIDDON: No I can't. We've had a series of very positive and productive meetings with Chief Ominayak, and we are hoping to move towards a solution to a problem that has gone on for too long. As I said on the occasion of my last visit to Edmonton, it's the children and the families, it's the people in the Lubicon Lake community that really need to have something brighter to look forward to. I've told the Chief -- and the minster (of Municipal Affairs and Native Affairs for Alberta) Dick Fowler has enforced the undertaking that the two governments have made -- that we want to solve this problem. Beyond that, I don't think it's the right time to talk about the nature of our discussions.
WS: Mr. Siddon, Is the Lubicon issue simply a question of money?
SIDDON: I really don't think you can characterize the solution as being a matter of money. When we move through the process to detailed negotiations, I think we will see a solution come together, and I hope it will be acceptable to the Lubicon Lake Indian people. But it's too early to anticipate what that's going to look like.
WS: Are you afraid if you meet the Lubicon demand it might set a precedence for negotiations with other bands?
SIDDON: When parties sit down to seek an agreement no one comes away with the result that they are hoping to achieve. An agreement has to be reached that everyone can be happy with. And out of respect for Chief Ominayak and the Lubicon people, I'm not prepared to go into the details of those discussions. When we hopefully achieve success, you'll be the first to hear.
WS: Other bands that are covered by treaties get royalties. The Lubicons are missed by historical fluke. Do the Lubicons have rights to compensation?
SIDDON: Well, there you're asking me to get into specifics with matters that have been negotiated and before the courts for some time. I hope you understand that this is not the place for conducting those sensitive discussions. We have been underway between myself, Chief Ominayak and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Native Affairs, and when we continue those discussions, I hope, optimistically, that we'll find a solution.
WS: Can you answer this question: Is the Daishowa, Lubicon clearcutting issue a provincial matter or is there a federal obligation involved?
SIDDON: Well I'm sorry Rocky. These are sensitive negotiations and I think Chief Ominayak will tell you that we don't want to conduct them in public. Sorry I can't help you with that.
WS: Can you answer this one? Is Daishowa going to clear cut this year on Lubicon...
SIDDON: I don't know.
WS: Do you see an agreement taking place between the federal government and the Lubicons in the near future?
SIDDON: Yes...I'm very hopeful.