Lubicon Lake Indian Nation
Little Buffalo Lake, AB
3536 - 106 Street
Edmonton, AB T6J 1A4
September 25, 1992
On July 16, 1992, the Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review issued a "status report" indicating that both levels of Canadian Government were refusing to appear before the Commission. The Commission statement said the Federal Government claimed that it couldn't appear because "it was subject to an agreement between itself and the Lubicon people that provided that it would not discuss the negotiations or its position with any other party". However, the Commission statement said, "The Lubicon people advise there was no such agreement and that (the Lubicon people) would welcome the Federal Government's appearance before the Commission". Under these circumstances, the Commission statement said, the Commission was making public the questions which it would like representatives of the Federal Government to answer. (A copy of the Commission statement including questions for the Federal Government is attached.)
The next day a Special Assistant to Federal Indian Affairs Minister named Doug Hoover phoned the Lubicon office in Little Buffalo Lake and said that Mr. Siddon would like to speak to Chief Ominayak on an urgent basis. Chief Ominayak was out of the office and unavailable. Mr. Hoover therefore left a phone number where the Chief could reach Mr. Siddon until midnight of that same day. (It's noteworthy that the last time Mr. Siddon phoned urgently seeking to talk with the Chief was immediately following a Lubicon appearance before the Lubicon Settlement Commission - - an appearance which Mr. Siddon's then Deputy Minister Harry Swain had unsuccessfully tried to prevent with a threat "to pull the plug" on negotiations if the Lubicons appeared.)
While Mr. Hoover was trying to contact the Chief through the Lubicon office Mr. Siddon's Regional Director General in Alberta Garry Wouters was simultaneously trying to arrange a meeting between Mr. Siddon and the Chief through Lubicon negotiator Terry Munro. Mr. Munro reached Chief Ominayak at a meeting in Edmonton and told the Chief that Mr. Siddon wanted to personally present the Chief with the long promised Federal Government reaction to Lubicon settlement proposals. Mr. Munro told the Chief that he'd seen "a preview" of the Federal Government's so-called reaction to Lubicon settlement proposals and that "it doesn't look any different from the earlier stuff". Chief Ominayak told Mr. Munro that he'd have to think about whether he wanted to again serve as a prop in one of Mr. Siddon's staged propaganda events designed purely and simply to create the false impression of progress in negotiations.
Mr. Siddon reached Chief Ominayak at home by phone late in the evening on July 22nd. In addition to presenting the Chief with the Federal Government's long promised reaction to Lubicon settlement proposals, Mr. Siddon said, he wanted to personally discuss several other important matters with the Chief. Under these circumstances the Chief agreed to meet with Mr. Siddon in Edmonton on July 24th at 10 A.M. in the morning. (The sole purpose of the meeting turned out to be public presentation of certain documents for propaganda purposes -- there were no "other important matters" which Mr. Siddon wanted to personally discuss with the Chief.)
As in the case of earlier meetings between Mr. Siddon and the Chief Mr. Siddon specifically asked the Chief that the media not be advised of the July 24th meeting. Mr. Siddon told the Chief that he didn't want "any big media event." Mr. Siddon then again promptly breached his own meeting pre-condition by having his PR people "background" selected media on both the up-coming meeting and the supposedly new and improved offer which he would be presenting to the Chief. (Inside sources advise that Federal representatives fear Chief Ominayak's "media skills" and therefore always seek to give Mr. Siddon an edge by trying to keep the Chief away from the media while simultaneously working with the media themselves. By now one would think that this transparent and repeatedly employed tactic on Mr. Siddon's part would be totally discredited and ineffectual but to some extent it still does produce the kind of one- sided news coverage sought by Federal representatives -- especially when Federal representatives work with selected reporters who aren't too smart or very professional about checking the facts and covering both sides of the story. It's also of course a tactic which makes very clear that Mr. Siddon is far more interested in creating self-serving public illusions than dealing seriously with the Lubicon people, since the unavoidable effect of such a tactic upon negotiations is to further poison the relationship between the Federal Government and the Lubicons by again underscoring the fact that the Lubicons simply can't believe anything said by representatives of the Canadian Federal Government.)
The morning of July 24th Mr. Siddon's Edmonton "Communications Manager" Wayne Hanna phoned selected media and set the stage for the up-coming meeting. Wayne Hanna is another of those supposedly apolitical Canadian civil servants apparently prepared to say or do anything in hopes of receiving a pat on the head from their political bosses -- the same bunch that whines and complains like hell whenever they're publicly called to account for the overtly political things they say and do because they're supposedly apolitical civil servants.
When the Chief arrived for the supposedly private, confidential meeting with Mr. Siddon he was met with a solid wall of media photographers arranged by Mr. Hanna to publicly record Mr. Siddon's presentation of the Federal Government's supposedly new and improved Lubicon settlement offer. The resulting photograph of Mr. Siddon making the presentation to Chief Ominayak appeared on the front page of the Edmonton Journal the following morning along with a story by Edmonton Journal reporter Jack Danylchuk headlined (inaccurately) "Siddon Sweetens Proposal to Lubicons".
During the public presentation of the Federal Government's so-called reaction to Lubicon settlement proposals Mr. Siddon was deliberately low- key, implying more than he actually said. It was left to Mr. Hanna to scamper around the edge of things making sure that Mr. Siddon's sly insinuations and innuendos were given the intended slant. The purposefully up-beat mood thereby created became the main story and the Chief's understandably wary reaction to documents which he had yet to read was effectively submerged in the carefully orchestrated media hoopla.
Following the pre-arranged public presentation of the documents and related "photo opportunity" the media were predictably excused and Mr. Siddon verbally summarized the documents presented. The documents which Mr. Siddon presented to the Chief consisted of:
(A copy of the cover letter is available as an addendum. The so-called "Comparison" document is attached to the hardcopy mailout ony since its tables are virtually impossible to reproduce in the strait e-mail text format. The so-called "Federal Response" document is over 100 pages long and consequently isn't attached but is available upon request.)
On August 4th a Departmental official phoned and informally asked about Lubicon reaction to the documents which Mr. Siddon had presented to the Chief on July 24th. He was told that the documents which Mr. Siddon had presented didn't fool anybody. Simply applying standard Present Value Tables to calculate the current value of 1988 dollars, he was told, the supposedly new and improved Federal offer represents a $8.7 million decrease from the unacceptable 1989 "take-it-or-leave-it" offer rather than the $8.5 million dollar increase claimed in the so-called "comparison" document.
Clearly anticipating the Lubicon reaction to the supposedly new and improved "offer" the Departmental official advised that the Federal Government intended to challenge Lubicon present dollar value calculations by claiming an annual inflation rate in Canada of only one per cent over the last three years. He was told to challenge away -- that annual inflation in Canada over the last three years had in fact been running at about 6% and that properly calculating the value of 1988 dollars in 1992 dollars technically involved more than just adjusting annually for inflation.
On August 6th Chief Ominayak publicly released a letter which he'd sent to Mr. Siddon reacting to the documents which Mr. Siddon had publicly presented to the Chief on July 24th. In his August 6th letter the Chief characterized the supposedly new and improved offer as little more than a repackaged version of the 1989 "take-it-or-leave-it" offer again with "no adequate provision for the Lubicon people to once again achieve social, political and economic self-sufficiency". A copy of the Chief's August 6th letter to Mr. Siddon is attached.
On August 9th Mr. Siddon's Regional Director General in Alberta Garry Wouters again phoned Lubicon negotiator Terry Munro trying to arrange another supposedly "private, confidential, don't tell the media" meeting for Mr. Siddon with the Chief -- this time at the Calgary airport. Reflecting upon the solid wall of media photographers waiting for him when he arrived for the last supposedly "private, confidential, don't tell the media" meeting with Mr. Siddon, Chief Ominayak wearily told Terry Munro that he'd "think about it".
On Tuesday, August 11th, Mr. Siddon proceeded with an obviously pre- planned media event at the Calgary airport. The Chief was not in attendance but Mr. Siddon told reporters that he hoped to meet or talk with the Chief on August 13th. No one talked to the Chief about the possibility of a meeting with Mr. Siddon on Thursday -- either before or after Mr. Siddon's airport press conference.
At the August 11th press conference Mr. Siddon released the by now predictable barrage of pre-prepared propaganda materials including:
During the press conference itself Mr. Siddon then concentrated on four main points, none of them truthful, but each of which ha d obviously been carefully calculated to create and reinforce a certain desired public illusion.
First Mr. Siddon repeatedly expressed incongruous surprise and puzzlement over Lubicon rejection of the supposedly new and improved Federal offer claiming that "The Chief's response is totally out of context with the discussions we had and the understanding I thought we had reached". (This claim on Mr. Siddon's part is demonstrably untrue. See, for example, the June 24, 1992 mail-out recording the June 5th community meeting in Little Buffalo Lake between Mr. Siddon and Chief Ominayak.)
Secondly Mr. Siddon insisted that "This (offer) is at the top end of any offer to any First Nation in Canada" and "exceeds the Federal Government's (take-it-or-leave-it) offer by almost $8.5 million". (Again this claim by Mr. Siddon is untrue. See the January 20, 1991 mail-out for comparison of contemporary settlement agreements and Chief Ominayak's August 6th letter regarding Mr. Siddon's claim that the so-called new and improved offer "exceeds the Federal Government's (take-it-or-leave-it) offer by almost $8.5 million".)
Thirdly Mr. Siddon denied that the Federal Government had dramatically exaggerated the value of the supposedly new and improved offer by failing to properly take into account the difference in value between 1988 and 1992 dollars. He claimed that "inflation has been factored into community construction costs". And, inexplicably and in spite of the fact that it is he who created the inflation issue by deliberately using the difference in value between 1988 and 1992 dollars to jack-up the supposed value of the so-called new and improved offer, Mr. Siddon tried to dismiss Lubicon charges that he'd artificially inflated the numbers by saying that he "(found) the debate about indexing irrelevant because we have to know the membership". (Attachments to the attached "Details" document state that a factor of 19% was applied to construction costs, citing housing construction costs since 1988 as an example. However when one checks this statement against the dollar increases actually shown in the supposedly new and improved "offer", the only item with a 19% increase is "site clearing". "Housing" shows an increase of only 3% and overall construction costs show an increase of only 12%. By way of comparison Present (Dollar) Value tables originally introduced into the negotiations by Provincial representatives to calculate the current value of 1988 dollars -- and since confirmed as accurate by independent financial experts -- show a cumulative differential in the value of the Canadian dollar from 1988 to 1992 of 29 1/2%.)
Lastly Mr. Siddon continued the transparent pretence which he'd introduced during the June 5th meeting in Little Buffalo Lake that the membership issue is one of how many Lubicons exist, not, as is demonstrably the case, how many Lubicons the Federal Government is prepared to recognize as being "entitled" to adhere to Treaty 8. (The question of who determines membership is another of those long-standing issues between the Lubicons and the Federal Government about which voluminous documentation is available upon request for anyone not familiar with how the Canadian Government has historically used the membership issue to tear aboriginal societies asunder.)
On August 16th a group of Lubicon women issued an open letter to Mr. Siddon reacting to the Federal Government's supposedly new and improved "offer" and inviting Mr. Siddon to bring his family and spend a week in the Lubicon community of Little Buffalo Lake so that he could experience Lubicon living conditions first hand. On August 21st Mr. Siddon released a prepared statement responding to the letter from the Lubicon women in which he claimed that he shared the objectives of the Lubicon women for decent living conditions and a future for their children and urging them to convince Chief Ominayak to return to the negotiating table. (In fact the Lubicons had never left the negotiating table and Mr. Siddon knew it. On August 7th Mr. Siddon's Alberta Regional Director of Indian Affairs Garry Wouters contacted the Lubicon office and asked, in light of the Chief's August 6th letter, if Lubicon negotiators would be attending a negotiating session planned for the following Monday. It was pointed out to Mr. Wouters that the Lubicons hadn't withdrawn from the negotiating table but had only publicly set the record straight on a so-called "offer" which Mr. Siddon and his PR people had presented publicly and publicly misrepresented.)
On August 27th Mr. Siddon phoned Chief Ominayak and proposed a meeting in Edmonton on September 4th to discuss putting negotiations "back on track". Chief Ominayak agreed to meet Mr. Siddon on September 4th to discuss putting negotiations "back on track". Immediately following his telephone conversation with the Chief Mr. Siddon's Alberta "Communications Manager" Wayne Hanna issued an obviously pre-prepared "media advisory" on the September 4th meeting stating that "The purpose of the meeting is to resume negotiations aimed at reaching an early settlement of the Lubicon Lake Nation land claim". (On September 3rd Mr. Hanna issued a second "media advisory" regarding the September 4th meeting, underscoring Mr. Siddon's obvious desire to reinforce the public impression that he's working very hard and effectively to settle Lubicon land rights.)
Prior to meeting with the Chief on September 4th Mr. Siddon met with a delegation of Lubicon women. He told the Lubicon women that "The problem is that the Chief is holding up settlement by rejecting the Government's generous offer".
The Lubicon women told Mr. Siddon that they knew better. They told him that they weren't stupid. They told him that they'd read the Government's so-called "generous offer" and that "it's worse than the take-it-or-leave-it offer". They told him that "the Government is the only one holding up settlement". They told him that "The issue of control over membership is non-negotiable". And they told him to "stop playing media games with us and with the public".
According to Maggie Auger, spokesperson for the Lubicon women, Mr. Siddon "blew his top" when the women refused to buy the deliberately divisive snake oil he was trying to peddle. When the women questioned Mr. Siddon's various claims about the offer, Mrs. Auger said, he referred to one member of the group as "that damn woman" and told the group collectively that they were "full of bullshit". It was the first meeting the Lubicon women had with the Canadian Indian Affairs Minister and it was an eye-opener for them. They were shocked and offended by both Mr. Siddon's language and his obvious lack of respect for them and their efforts to explain to him the problems being faced by the Lubicon people as a direct result of the Federal Government's refusal to negotiate a fair and equitable settlement of Lubicon land rights. Following the meeting Mrs. Auger told reporters "(Mr. Siddon) was disrespectful and used coarse and vulgar language with our women and elders".
The main topic of discussion during Mr. Siddon's subsequent meeting with Chief Ominayak was membership. Mr. Siddon insisted that the Federal Government has to "verify who on the Lubicon membership list is entitled to adhere to treaty (and consequently participate in a settlement agreement)". He claimed inexplicably that the membership issue which had supposedly been settled in December of 1988 had to be re-opened because of aboriginal self-government provisions in new Canadian constitutional proposals. (There are no aboriginal self-government provisions in new constitutional proposals which by any stretch of the imagination would require re-opening of the Lubicon membership issue.)
Chief Ominayak responded by reiterating the historic Lubicon position that the Lubicon people would determine their own membership for all purposes using Lubicon-determined membership rules. He pointed out to Mr. Siddon that the Federal Government had reviewed and accepted Lubicon membership rules as long ago as March of 1986. He reminded Mr. Siddon that Federal negotiators had agreed in December of 1988 that all of the people on the Lubicon determined membership list were qualified to adhere to Treaty 8 and thereby become entitled to participate in any settlement agreement as well as receive the benefits of Treaty status. The Chief told Mr. Siddon that "There's never going to be a settlement if we're going to keep going back on agreements already made".
Reacting to strong public statements made by the Chief following the meeting that the Lubicon people will never accept having someone else determine Lubicon membership, Mr. Siddon reverted to his earlier public pretence that the membership issue is only one of how many Lubicons exist, not Government determination of which Lubicons qualify to participate in a settlement agreement. Mr. Siddon told reporters that he didn't "see any difficulty in accepting the Chief's proposals on how the membership would be defined and what forms of restriction would apply". He reassuringly said "I don't think we are very far apart". He said cryptically "The question of numbers is one where I'm not anxious for an immediate result". He concluded ominously that the question of membership "is not a deal-breaker at this point". (Mr. Siddon didn't explain the apparent contradiction between these comments and the statements he'd made in his earlier meeting with the Chief; nor the apparent contradiction between these comments and the wording contained in the so-called new and improved offer; nor why there would be any outstanding membership issue at all if the Federal Government truly accepts Lubicon determination of Lubicon membership -- excepting perhaps only Federal officials satisfying themselves that people on the Lubicon membership list really meet Lubicon membership criteria. Presumably Mr. Siddon is just using deliberately confusing phraseology in order to simultaneously deflect predictable political criticism of an indefensible Federal Government position while trying to keep the Lubicons under maximum pressure to make concessions in areas other than membership, since if he has any brains at all he's got to know that control over Lubicon membership is "non-negotiable".)
It is thus now nearly a full year since the boycott of Daishowa paper products convinced Mr. Siddon to ask Chief Ominayak for a "private, confidential, don't tell the media" meeting to discuss the resumption of Lubicon land negotiations. That meeting with the Chief took place last November 1st shortly after Mr. Siddon discussed it with the Editorial Board of the Edmonton Journal contrary to Mr. Siddon's own meeting pre- condition that the media were not to be informed. During his meeting with the Editorial Board Mr. Siddon falsely suggested that the Chief had asked for the up-coming meeting and told the Editorial Board that he planned to tell the Chief that the so-called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer tabled by the Federal Government in January of 1989 wouldn't be changed except to be reduced to take into account creation of the Woodland Cree and perhaps the new Loon River Band.
Informed prior to their subsequent meeting about Mr. Siddon's comments to the Editorial Board of the Edmonton Journal, and especially given Mr. Siddon's comments that the Federal Government's unacceptable "take-it-or- leave-it" offer was in effect non-negotiable, Chief Ominayak asked Mr. Siddon why Mr. Siddon had requested a meeting supposedly to discuss resumption of negotiations. Mr. Siddon pleaded a combination of ignorance and innocence and indicated that all he wanted to do was try and re-start negotiations. Chief Ominayak consequently gave Mr. Siddon a comprehensive set of Lubicon settlement proposals and asked for a detailed reaction from Mr. Siddon in order to see if there was anything to talk about. Mr. Siddon promised to provide the requested detailed reaction to Lubicon settlement proposals.
Eleven months later the Lubicon people still don't have the detailed reaction to Lubicon settlement proposals first promised by Mr. Siddon last November 1st, then promised again by Mr. Siddon on February 14th, then promised again by Mr. Siddon on February 21st, then promised again by Mr. Siddon on June 5th. As close as Federal officials have come to providing the promised detailed reaction to Lubicon settlement proposals is the document presented to Chief Ominayak by Mr. Siddon on July 24th which essentially only displays Lubicon settlement proposals on one side of the page and items from the Federal Government's 1989 "take-it-or- leave-it" offer on the other side of the page. What the Lubicon people have rather received from Federal negotiators during the past 11 months is three variously packaged versions of the Federal Government's 1989 so- called "take-it-or-leave-it" offer presented in the context of an increasingly elaborate Federal Government propaganda campaign explicitly designed to falsely portray these three variously packaged versions of the 1989 "take-it-or-leave-it" offer as representing progress and negotiations as close to successful completion. This increasingly elaborate Federal Government propaganda campaign has in turn been skilfully used by Daishowa and the Federal Government to deflect political criticism and to undercut the boycott of Daishowa paper products. (Daishowa's Vice President and General Manager in Canada Tom Hamaoka has gone so far as to claim credit for the negotiations and to tell people that "(Daishowa) sources indicate that the Lubicons are very encouraged with the proposals tabled to date and that there is expectation of settlement sometime this year".)
Sadly all that's really happened during the last 11 months is that the Lubicon people have moved 11 months closer to extinction -- which seems to be the Federal Government's real objective in all of this. No discernable progress has been made around the negotiating table toward settlement of Lubicon land rights; gas and oil exploitation activity on unceded Lubicon lands is proceeding apace; Daishowa is again poised to start clear-cutting Lubicon trees as soon as the ground freezes (likely towards the end of October), and 13 key Lubicons -- the very people upon whom the Lubicons must depend to defend them on the ground -- will shortly be facing criminal prosecution with related jail terms of up to 50 years each for allegedly burning out a Daishowa-related logging camp which had moved into unceded Lubicon territory and commenced clear- cutting operations.
The boycott of Daishowa paper products should consequently continue and if possible be accelerated until Daishowa publicly agrees to stay out of the unceded Lubicon territory pending a settlement of Lubicon land rights and negotiation of an agreement between Daishowa and the Lubicon people respecting Lubicon wildlife and environmental concerns. People should continue insisting that representatives of both levels of Canadian Government appear before the Lubicon Settlement Commission and publicly answer questions about their position on the issues and just exactly what they think they're doing with this transparent propaganda campaign. And people should let both Mr. Siddon and Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney know that they're not deceived by the Federal Government's transparent propaganda campaign but are rather madder than hell at Government efforts to deceive them and don't intend to take it any more.
(The following is a list of attachments provided with the original hardcopy mailout package. )
LUBICON SETTLEMENT COMMISSION OF REVIEW, STATUS REPORT (July 16, 1992)
Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (5:30 P.M.) Thursday, July 23, 1992
July 24, 1992, Tom Siddon letter to Chief Bernard Ominayak
July 24, 1992, Federal Government document entitled "Comparison of Federal (1989) Offer, Federal (1992) Offer" (Not included -- available by mail upon request)
Transcript of CFRN TV News Broadcast (6:00 P.M.) Friday, July 24, 1992
Transcript of CKUA Radio News Broadcast (12:00 Noon) Friday, July 24, 1992
Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (5:30 P.M.) Friday, July 24, 1992
Transcript of ITV News Broadcast (10:00 P.M.) Friday, July 24, 1992
July 25, 1992, Edmonton Journal article "Siddon Sweetens Proposal to Lubicons"
July 28, 1992, Edmonton Journal Editorial "OPTIMISM ON THE LUBICON CLAIM"
July 30, 1992, Edmonton Journal article "SOURCE CLOSE TO LUBICON TALKS UNIMPRESSED BY FEDERAL OFFER"
August 03, 1992, Windspeaker article "LUBICONS GET NEW PROPOSAL"
August 6, 1992, letter to Tom Siddon from Chief Bernard Ominayak
August 06, 1992, Statement of Lubicon Lake Women to Lubicon Settlement Commission of Review
Transcript of CKUA Radio News Broadcast (5:15 P.M.) Thursday, August 6, 1992
Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (5:30 P.M.) Thursday, August 6, 1992
August 07, 1992, Edmonton Journal article "LUBICONS REJECT OTTAWA'S LATEST OFFER"
August 1992 Alberta Native News article "LUBICON REJECT NEW FEDERAL OFFER"
GOVERNMENT OF CANADA INFORMATION, August 1992
GOVERNMENT OF CANADA INFORMATION, August 11, 1992
August 07, 1992, Government of Canada Communique
August 12, 1992, Edmonton Journal article "LUBICON TALKS TO CONTINUE, MINISTER SAYS"
DAILY CLIPPING SERVICE, REGIONAL ISSUES, August 12, 1992
August 16, 1992, letter from the Women of the Lubicon Lake Indian Nation to Federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon
Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (7:30 A.M.) Wednesday, August 19, 1992
August 17, 1992, letter from Calgary resident Elleonora Jilek to Federal Minister Tom Siddon
Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (6:30 A.M.) Friday, August 21, 1992
August 27, 1992, Federal Government "Media Advisory"
September 03, 1992, letter to the Editor of the Edmonton Journal from Federal Minister Tom Siddon
September 03, 1992, Federal Government "Media Advisory"
September 04, 1992, Edmonton Sun article "OMINAYAK TO MEET SIDDON"
Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (7:30 A.M.) Friday, September 4, 1992
Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (4:30 P.M.) Friday, September 4, 1992
Transcript of CKUA Radio News Broadcast (5:15 P.M.) Friday, September 4, 1992
Transcript of CBC Radio News Broadcast (5:30 P.M.) Friday, September 4, 1992
Transcript of CFRN TV News Broadcast (6:00 P.M.) Friday, September 4, 1992
Transcript of CP News Report (6:47 P.M.) Friday, September 04, 1992
Transcript of CBC TV News Broadcast (9:00 P.M.) Friday, September 4, 1992
Transcript of ITV News Broadcast (10:00 P.M.) Friday, September 4, 1992
September 22, 1992, Letter from Red Deer resident John Hamer to the Edmonton Journal
September 22, 1992, Letter from Edmonton resident Hermann Kirchmeir to the Edmonton Journal