Ministers Announce Negotiators, Process for Long-Term Response to Marshall

Ministers Announce Negotiators, Process for Long-Term Response to Marshall 

The Canadian Press, CCN
Friday, February 9, 2001

OTTAWA, ONTARIO–Robert Nault, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and Herb Dhaliwal, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans today announced the launch of the Federal Government’s long-term strategy to address the Supreme Court’s 1999 Marshall decision and build a sustainable treaty relationship with Mi’kmaq and Maliseet communities. In addition, both Ministers named the negotiators they have appointed to represent the federal government in this process. 

The long-term strategy will proceed along two complementary tracks. The objective of the process led by DIAND is to reach long-term agreement on issues of Aboriginal and treaty rights. Recognizing that it will take time to reach agreement, a second initiative will be carried out by DFO to negotiate fishing agreements that will provide increased First Nation access to the fishery on an immediate basis. Fishing agreements will be without prejudice to the positions of the federal government or First Nations in any future negotiations. Broader issues relating to Aboriginal fishing which cannot appropriately be dealt with in the DFO process will be addressed in the more comprehensive process led by DIAND. 

“My colleague, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and I have complementary roles to play in addressing the aspirations of First Nations on the East Coast, including the full implementation of the Marshall decision,” stated Minister Nault. “While Minister Dhaliwal is responsible for expediting and facilitating the immediate participation of Mi’kmaq and Maliseet communities in the commercial fishery, I am responsible for the development of longer-term processes which will address the broader issues of Aboriginal and treaty rights. To assist me in this endeavour, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. W. Thomas Molloy to the position of Chief Federal Negotiator.” 

Mr. Molloy will be working with the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia and the government of Nova Scotia in a broad tripartite negotiation process to consider issues of Aboriginal rights, title and treaty rights to land, resources and self-government. In addition, Mr. Molloy will be in a position to commence exploratory talks with the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet and provincial governments of New Brunswick, PEI and Quebec on similar issues, should they be interested. 

“I am pleased that Mr. Molloy has agreed to work with the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet of the Maritimes and Quebec,” stated Minister Nault. “Mr. Molloy brings with him a wide range of experience on Aboriginal issues, including the successful negotiation of the Nunavut and Nisga’a Agreements. Gathering Strength – Canada’s Aboriginal Action Plan sets directions for a new course among governments and Aboriginal groups based on the principles of mutual respect and recognition, responsibility and sharing. This initiative is built on the kind of partnerships which bring real and practical improvements to the lives of not only Aboriginal people, but indeed all Canadians.” 

Mr. Molloy will represent Canada in exploratory discussions and negotiations involving the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet, and provincial partners, where possible, to consider issues of Aboriginal rights, title and treaty rights. He will also work closely with the fisheries negotiator appointed by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, who will conduct community level negotiations to ensure immediate access to commercial fishery consistent with the Marshall decision. The fisheries negotiator will also be closely involved in any fisheries matters raised in Mr. Molloy’s long-term negotiations on Aboriginal and treaty rights. Finally, Mr. Molloy will be responsible to negotiate measures to address the implications of the Marshall decision, beyond fishing, with the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet and to consult with Aboriginal and provincial partners on the possible creation of Treaty Commission(s) in the spirit of the Peace and Friendship Treaties and the continuing importance of the treaty relationship. 

Minister Dhaliwal announced that James MacKenzie will continue as the Federal Fisheries Negotiator (FFN), and Gilles Theriault will continue as Associate Federal Fisheries Negotiator (AFFN). They will work closely together to negotiate agreements that will immediately facilitate First Nations’ participation in the commercial fishery. 

“Mr. MacKenzie has a proven record of success in dealing with this important file, and I am pleased that he will again be representing the Government in its fisheries negotiations,” said Minister Dhaliwal. 

“In the year following the Marshall decision, Mr. MacKenzie negotiated interim arrangements with 30 of the 34 affected First Nations. Now, as we launch a multi-year approach to provide increased fishery access, Mr. MacKenzie’s experience will be key in ensuring successful outcomes for all.” 

As FFN, Mr. MacKenzie will be mandated to negotiate with Aboriginal communities and work out fishing arrangements that include increased access to fisheries, a greater role in management of their own fisheries, and fisheries capacity building for Aboriginal fishing communities, while minimizing disruption to surrounding communities. He will be authorized to sign agreements that last from one to three years. 

“Multi-year agreements will give greater flexibility to Aboriginal communities in their negotiations and planning, while offering more planning stability to non-Native fishing communities,” Minister Dhaliwal explained. “These agreements transfer fishing enterprises into the control of Aboriginal communities. They represent one practical way that the Government is following through on its commitment to work with Aboriginal people to strengthen their entrepreneurial and business skills, and to make the necessary investments to meet the needs of Aboriginal communities.” 

As in the first phase of the program, it is intended that access provided to First Nations will be obtained through a voluntary license retirement program. 

To ensure that the concerns of non-Native commercial fishers continue to be well-represented as the process continues, the AFFN, Gilles Theriault will work closely with Mr. MacKenzie, and will focus on consultation with industry and other groups. Minister Dhaliwal said, “As always, communication with all interested communities will be key to the success of the program.” 

“Our fishery negotiations will be guided by three priorities. First, we must preserve the fishery resource for future generations of fishers, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal. Second, we intend to respect the Treaties that have been signed. . Third, we will ensure that the fishery is regulated and managed effectively, to the benefit of all users.” 

Consistent with arrangements last year, DFO will continue negotiation of fishing agreements with Native Councils of Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, and with the New Brunswick Aboriginal Peoples’ Council. These organizations represent off-reserve status and non-status Aboriginal people. Agreements on access to the commercial fishery will again be negotiated by Departmental staff under the existing Aboriginal Fishery Strategy. 

Ministers Nault and Dhaliwal emphasized that, although their two negotiators will operate within their own mandates, and report separately to their responsible Ministers, their efforts will be closely coordinated and mutually reinforcing. 

“The Government of Canada is committed to honouring its Treaties and to building a new relationship with First Nations. The Federal Fisheries Negotiator and his associate, and the Chief Federal Negotiator will play important roles in achieving that goal,” Minister Dhaliwal said. 

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STATEMENT BY HERB DHALIWAL 

MINISTER OF FISHERIES AND OCEANS 

Launch of Longer-term Marshall Response 

B-HQ-01-09(148) February 9, 2001 

CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY 

Thank you all for coming today. 

In the months that followed the Supreme Court of Canada’s Marshall decision, First Nations and established commercial fishermen throughout the Atlantic region faced major uncertainty about their place in the fishery. There were some well-publicized tensions between people who were dealing with that uncertainty, and confronting the prospect of dramatic changes in an industry that they rely on for their livelihood. But for the most part, all parties showed goodwill, patience, and a willingness to work together for sustainable solutions. 

Following the Supreme Court decision, my Department worked hard to provide for increased First Nation access to the commercial fishery. This was done through the negotiation of one-year fishing agreements. Increased access was achieved in a manner that accommodated the interests of non-Native commercial fishermen, while respecting my responsibility for conservation and an orderly fishery. But from the very beginning, the government has been clear that there would need to be a longer-term process to address an expanded role for Aboriginal communities in managing and profiting from natural resources, including the fishery. 

Today, I am pleased to be able to tell you what that longer-term process will look like for the fishery. My colleague, Minister Nault, has told you about the work he is doing to address outstanding issues on Aboriginal and treaty rights. But I want to explain what my Department will do in a very practical way to make sure that First Nations in Atlantic Canada see an immediate and beneficial increase in their access to the commercial fishery. 

When the Marshall decision was handed down, it was clear that we needed to make some changes in the fishery. But I think it was equally clear that change needed to be managed carefully, to ensure that progress was peaceful and sustainable. We addressed that challenge through negotiation. We talked with Mi’kmaq and Maliseet communities about their needs and aspirations in the fishery, and about their readiness to fish immediately. We negotiated agreements that responded to the unique circumstances faced by each band. And we consulted with non-Native commercial fishermen, to keep them informed of the changes that were coming to the fishing industry and fishing communities. 

Today, I want to tell you that we are still committed to negotiation as the means of addressing our obligations under Marshall. But we will no longer be negotiating on a year-by-year basis. Instead, I am renewing the mandate of the Federal Fisheries Negotiator, who will now be authorized to negotiate fishing arrangements of anywhere from one to three years, according to the preferences of the communities. I am pleased that Mr. James MacKenzie has again agreed to serve in this capacity. 

Mr. MacKenzie has a proven record of success in dealing with this important file, and I am pleased that he will again be representing the government in its fisheries negotiations. In the year following the Marshall decision, Mr. MacKenzie negotiated fishing arrangements with 30 of the 34 affected First Nations. The increased fishery access provided through those agreements has the potential to generate landed value of more than 20 million dollars per year. That translates into potential earnings of almost 14 million dollars per year. The agreements also brought about a 174 (LM1)per cent increase in the number of commercial lobster enterprises fished by Aboriginal communities. They have resulted in tangible change for the better for First Nations in the Maritimes and Gaspe. Now, as we launch a multi-year approach to honour our treaty obligations to provide increased fishery access, Mr. MacKenzie’s experience will be key in continuing to ensuring successful outcomes for all. 

Multi-year agreements will give greater flexibility to Mi’kmaq and Maliseet communities in their negotiations and planning, while offering more planning stability to non-Native fishing communities in terms of the future of the fishery. We are making big changes in the fishery. And to make them successfully, we need a planned, phased approach to ensure a smooth transition. The three-year process we’re embarking upon provides that planning stability. The agreements negotiated in this process will build on the successes of the initial one-year agreements, while offering a more stable framework in which to explore issues like an expanded Aboriginal role in management of their own fishing activities. And they will map out a blueprint for a focused period of change, allowing both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal fishing communities to plan their fishing strategies for the longer-term. 

The focus of these community-level multi-year agreements will still be on practical, real-world measures to increase First Nations’ access to the fishery. They will be without prejudice to the positions of First Nation communities in the broader DIAND-led process. Our goal and our commitment remain constant: we want to achieve successful Aboriginal participation in the commercial fishery. We don’t want to just hand over licences to Aboriginal communities. We want to equip them for success. That is why Mr. MacKenzie will be negotiating agreements that will provide, not just fishery access, but also the training to develop skilled, professional Aboriginal fishers. 

Most of Mr. MacKenzie’s work will focus on developing fishing agreements with First Nations at the community level. But there are some fishery issues that cannot be resolved at the Band level. 

Some of these are practical fishery issues concerning the role of First Nation groups in the co-management of the fishery, and will be part of Mr. MacKenzie’s continued work. Still other fishery issues will need to be discussed in the context of longer-term Aboriginal and Treaty rights discussions led by Minister Nault and Tom Molloy, with assistance from Mr. MacKenzie. 

Of course, changes in the fishery do not only affect Mi’kmaq and Maliseet communities. They also have impacts on non-Aboriginal fishing communities and their industries. To ensure that we are aware of and sensitive to the concerns of non-Native commercial fishers and other stakeholders, I have again appointed Mr. Gilles Theriault to serve as Associate Federal Fisheries Negotiator. He will work closely with Mr. MacKenzie, by focusing his efforts on ongoing consultation with industry and other interested groups, and facilitating communications between those groups and Aboriginal communities. Mr. Theriault and Mr. MacKenzie will both continue working to help build and facilitate productive and cooperative working relationships between Native and non-Native fishers. There is significant potential in this area. Mentoring, for example, could allow Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal fishers to work together, and share knowledge and techniques to their mutual benefit. Mi’kmaq and Maliseet communities also need to be engaged in advisory processes relating to the fisheries, offering their perspective on the issues and challenges facing all fishers today. I cannot emphasize enough the priority we place on this kind of dialogue and cooperation among communities. 

As just one example of the ways we are working with the non-Native commercial fishing industry, let me tell you about how we have made room for more Aboriginal fishing. In the first phase of our Marshall response, we were reminded again and again that Atlantic fisheries were fully subscribed – they could not accommodate more fishers without jeopardizing both the resource, and the livelihoods of the people who relied on it. It was for that reason we introduced a program of voluntary licence retirements. So far, we have accommodated new Aboriginal entrants to the commercial fishery by retiring capacity from other fishers. We will be continuing this program. And I am optimistic that voluntary retirement will continue to provide us with the means to accommodate increased commercial fishing by Aboriginal communities. 

Throughout our fishery negotiations, we need to keep our priorities in mind. 

First, as I have said many times, our priority is conservation. We must preserve the fishery resource for future generations of fishers, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal. 

Second, we intend to respect the Treaties that have been signed. We will address our obligations consistent with the Marshall decision. 

Third, we will ensure that the fishery is regulated and managed effectively, to the benefit of all users. 

I am a realist, and I know that change to the fishery alone will not resolve all the problems or answer all the aspirations of Aboriginal communities. But the success we have achieved over the past year demonstrates that the measures I’m announcing today are important elements of addressing those broader concerns. I am convinced that, as part of the federal government’s integrated approach for resolving outstanding Aboriginal and treaty rights, these initiatives have the potential to make change for the better. 

I am optimistic about the future of the fishery in Atlantic Canada, and about the future of relationships between the Canadian government and First Nations in the Atlantic region. And I am excited about this new phase in our response to Marshall, as a foundation for that future and those relationships. 

– 30 – 

For further information, please contact: 

Heather Bala 

Director of Communications 

Office of the Minister 

Fisheries and Oceans Canada 

(613) 996-0076 

For additional information on the Marshall decision: See the DFO home page – www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca – under “Supreme Court of Canada decision in the Marshall Case.”

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