Oct 15/98: Mohawk band council negotiates w/quebec


Canadian Press
Thursday, October 15, 1998

[S.I.S.I.S. note: The following mainstream news article may contain biased or distorted information and may be missing pertinent facts and/or context. It is provided for reference only.]

MONTREAL (CP) -- The Quebec government and Kahnawake Mohawks signed a wide-ranging agreement Thursday, hoping to calm years of tense relations dating back to the 1990 Oka crisis.

The deal, signed by Grand Chief Joe Norton and Native Affairs Minister Guy Chevrette, calls for Quebec to compensate Mohawks for the use of roads, railway lines and bridges running through the reserve south of Montreal.

It also spells out a framework for the two parties to negotiate issues such as public security, economic development and the administration of justice.

The pact is historic because it's the first ever signed between Quebec and Kahnawake Mohawks, said a spokesman for Chevrette.

"We will have negotiation now, not confrontation," Chevrette said as he shook hands with Norton at the signing ceremony, a rare public display between two men who have waged a war of words in recent months.

Last May, Norton chief threatened to block roads, railways and a key bridge leading into the reserve after Quebec changed the rules governing cigarette taxes.

Chevrette said he would apply the tax changes "with flexibility," but also suggested he would not back down.

On Thursday, both men expressed a willingness to discuss tax laws governing cigarettes and other goods during a series of talks to be held over the next three months.

But Norton reminded reporters the latest agreement did not resolve the dispute.

"We are still dissatisfied," he said. "We want the negotiations to bring results. We will be working on a plan recognizing the native right to buy goods without paying taxes."

Government negotiator Louis Bernard said while both sides are making progress on issues such as Mohawk sporting and alcohol permits, the federal government will need to participate in talks on the cigarette tax issue.

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