Quebec Election Campaign: The debate must not bypass the First Nations

    WENDAKE, QC, March 12 /CNW Telbec/ - On the eve of the debate, the Chief
of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL), Ghislain
Picard, warns the leaders of the three main parties that certain issues should
not be proposed in any way without taking into account First Nations. "When
Leaders venture on issues such as forestry, regional development or
independence, they must take into consideration the specific interests of
First Nations. Any silence in this regard will be considered as a
confrontation", warns Chief Ghislain Picard.
    The AFNQL wishes incidentally that a specific question concerning First
Nations be raised during the debate. Here are two questions which merit clear
answers from the candidates:

    1. In 1985, the National Assembly recognized the existence of Aboriginal
       Nations and their right to autonomy. In 1996, the Royal Commission on
       Aboriginal Peoples concluded Aboriginal people had, in Canada, the
       inherent right to Self-Government. In 1995, the federal government
       acknowledged the existence of such a right. Will Quebec, under your
       administration, acknowledge the inherent right of Self-Government of
       Aboriginal peoples? If so, which means will allow doing so?

    2. On large territories of Quebec, Aboriginal people possess rights and a
       title still in effect. Will the government of Quebec, under your
       governance, be ready to acknowledge these rights and agree upon joint
       management terms, without having to wait for the signing of treaties
       (which cat take several generations)?

    Whether or not the topic is raised during the debate, Chief Ghislain
Picard wishes that each party leader answer the questions. He also draws your
attention to a debate on First Nations will be held on March 20, at 7 p.m., at
the Maison Théâtre, in Montreal. Until now, the Liberal Party of Quebec
(Geoffrey Kelley), Québec Solidaire (François Saillant) and the Green Party
(Scott McKay) have accepted to participate in this debate which will be hosted
by the journalist Anne Panasuk.

    The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is the regional
organization that represents the Chiefs of First Nations of Quebec and
Labrador. It has published a document entitled "Final Summon to Provincial
Political Parties", available online at ( and
which contains the principles and issues that First Nations are confronted to.

For further information:

For further information: Alain Garon, communications officer, (418)
842-5020, Cell: (418) 956-5720

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