No one will say the Canadian election will be as hotly contested as the U.S. presidential race, at least those in their right minds. Prime Minister Chretien called the election not as a result of taunts from Stockwell Day, but because he felt he could win another term becoming one of the few Canadian Prime Ministers to have three consectutive terms in that highest of offices in Canada. But the question remains on whether or not to vote? Can Crees make a difference. The answer is yes as in the last election the difference between the top two candidates seen the incumbent Liberal Candidate Guy St. Julian winning out over Bloc Quebecois candidate Jeannot Couture by a mere 2,635 votes. There are more than 2,635 voters in the Cree territory so the Crees can be seen as a political player giving victory to one party or the other.

At present there are 4 candidates running the Abitibi-James Bay and Nunavik riding. They are from the Liberal, Bloc Quebecois, NDP and Alliance parties. As well as informing you about them, we’ve decided to have a little fun and cover all the parties recognized by Elections Canada. Enjoy.

Ed. Note: The graphic of the soldier came from the first web page of the Democratic Canadian Union Party.

Liberal Party Candidate Guy St Julian

The incumbent candidate, Guy St. Julian, has dreams. St. Julian’s biggest dream is to give the Cree and the Inuit a chance at democracy. He is looking at making a Private Members Bill that would see the Abitibi-James Bay-Nunavik riding become three ridings consisting of Abibiti, James Bay and Nunavik. In fact St. Julian was responsible for the name change of the riding. “I changed the name of the electorial district two years ago,” said St. Julian. He plans ahead and said “the strategy was there. It was about time. I like the Cree people and my dream is to see the Cree people inside of the Parliament.” He said that it was time they came in off of the street. St. Julian says the province recognizes the size of the riding and have four ridings in the area compared to the Federals’ one. He said it was difficult for one person to travel and get to know all of the area. “Do you know how many kilometers Gilles Duceppe (Bloc Quebecois leader) has to travel?” asked St. Julian. He said it was a riding nine kilometers long for a riding of 100,000 people compared to St. Julians’ riding of 100,000 covering almost half of Quebec. St. Julian said he was happy that he had his wife along to help him drive so he could visit the Cree communities. St. Julian was one of the few candidates in the last election who actually knew how many Cree communities there were as well as having visited each community. He remembers going to Waskaganish on the winter road and getting stuck three times on the way. “I got a free car wash,” said St. Julian.

St. Julian is on the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and plans to be its next chairperson if he wins. He wants to fight for housing for First nations if he wins. He has a lot of experience in politics having started his political career in 1984. He has been a member of Parliament for a total of 12 years and six months. St. Julian sees himself as a backbencher who doesn’t go after power but tries to serve his riding as best as he can. “My job in Parliament is to fight and say to the Minister’s ‘hey look, that case is not going ahead like it should,”’ said St. Julian. “My job is not a speech and not a party (political). My job is to tell the Prime Minister and ministers that they only respect 50 per cent of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and they signed to respect 100 per cent of it. My job is there. I push the government. I don’t work for the party first, I work for the people first.” St. Julian said it’s a difficult job but he enjoys it.

St. Julian talked about the recent $20 million dollar deal the Crees signed with the Federal Government. St. Julian said he was still fighting to do something about the 2,000 houses backlog the Crees are experiencing in the Cree communities. “It’s an issue that we can win if we work as a team,” said St. Julian adding that he needs the participation of the Cree leadership to make it happen.

St. Julian would like to see the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement reopened with real dialogue between the Crees and the Federal and Provincial Governments. He would like to see more work on the economic sector and jobs for Crees. He is happy that Matthew Coon Come was elected National Grand Chief and sees this as an opportunity. “He pushes me and I push the Prime Minister,” he said. “This year is the year for voting. I need your vote, not just for myself but for you. I ask that the Crees vote and I will go to the government and say ‘Look at the mandate the Crees have given me. That vote is not for me but for the families, the children and people in James Bay. Give me a chance to create a new electorial district for the James Bay Crees. The new riding will include all of the nine communities and Matagami.

That’s all and that is an opportunity. All of the time in the past the MP’s for the riding of Abitibi-James Bay-Nunavik have come from the south. I prefer that the Cree have a chance to have their own MP in Parliament. That’s why I say to the Cree people to go and vote this year. I will appreciate it and work harder on your behalf.”

Bloc Quebecois

Candidate: Francious Lemieux.

The Bloc came in a close second last election. Lemieux is a new face on the national ticket for the Abitibi-James Bay-Nunavik riding. He is a farmer, who just happens to be the mayor of Landrienne. Also, he’s an official with the regional executive council of the Abitibi MRC. In the past Lemieux has been in such diverse organizations as Amos Economic Council, UP A, the Development Corp. of Landrienne, the yes committee and the Funeral Co-operative. He was involved in the labour union as a representative for Canadian Paperworkers. “I have worked in sawmills, the forests and the mines. I’m active in my community with social and economic development,” said Lemieux. He joined the Bloc as a candidate kind of fast. “It was an election we didn’t expect would happen before spring but I was always interested in politics. Becoming a candidate was a surprise to me,” said Lemieux. He said that he accepted the nomination to give a choice to the population of the Abitibi-Baie James-Nunavik riding. “I wanted debate about the real issues because during elections you can talk about real things. Sadly after the election those things are put aside sometimes.” Lemieux said the choice of who will represent the people in the riding belongs to them and he hopes everyone will come and vote. “We’re a big region and all the cuts that were made to put order into public finances, well it’s in regions like ours that were hurt the most.” Lemieux says that most of the available jobs in the region are part-time or seasonal. “When you lose your job, you move. It’s bad for the region. We don’t have as many services as elsewhere. I like this area and I like to serve my community,” said Lemieux. He sees this election as a chance to serve the area on another level.

“On First Nations I am quite at ease with the Bloc Quebecois platform because long before I was a candidate for the Bloc I participated in Reflections on Native People. There were natives with us and we work with them and the First Nations communities. They are close to us,” said Lemieux. He said that he had a passion for history and has looked at British colonial practices around the world. “The party is a soveriegnist movement and we were the first government in North America who recognized the Aboriginal people as nations. When we say nations we mean belonging to the land.

Even the French aren’t recognized by the Federal government as having that. We’re recognized as a people but not a nation. I’m quite at ease recognizing Aboriginal people as nations because they always were nations,” said Lemieux.

Progressive Conservative Party of Canada Candidate Sylvain Gemmes

I never have been able to figure out how the words progressive and conservative can be combined to form a party, but there you go. Party leader Joe Clark wants to secure the future of health care, the environment and education. Clark also claims to want a stronger economy and more integrity in government. Who doesn’t? I can’t really tell you what Sylvain Gemmes wants, because he wouldn’t tell me. He returned my message promptly and politely, but didn’t want to discuss issues. Seeing as I didn’t call to talk about the weather, the call went no further. Thank you Mr. Gemmes

Canada’s New Democrat Party

Candidate Daniel Fredrick

Bom in Oakville, Ontario, and raised in next-door Burlington, Fredrick moved with his family to the prairie town of Camrose, Alberta as a teenager. He has studied at Augustana University College (Camrose, AB), Bishop’s University (Lennoxville, PQ), University of Calgary (Calgary, AB), Université Ste.-Anne (Pointe de l’Église, NS), and Carleton University in Ottawa, as well as at the Yemen Language Center in Sana’a, Yemen. Fredrick holds a B.A. (Hons.) and an M.A. in Religious Studies, and will complete his M.A. in International Development from Carleton’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs later this year.

Fredrick’s professional experiences span a wide range of fields, from groundskeeping to university teaching, and have taken him across Canada and around the world. Most recently, Fredrick has worked as a Canadian immigration consultant, assisting immigrants and refugees with their applications and cases. In this capacity, he has worked in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, as well as London, England, and Lahore and Islamabad, Pakistan.

Over the past year, Fredrick has volunteered his time at the office of Svend Robinson, Member of Parliament for Burnaby-Douglas, and NDP critic for international affairs and international human rights issues. He lives with his partner of ten years, Marie.

Party platforms:

Secure justice for Aboriginal peoples and First Nations and recognize the inherent right to self-government.

Make the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Affairs a priority. Resources devoted to negotiating land claims settlements should be increased to step up the pace of resolving these disputes and accelerate negotiations on self-government.

Recognize Quebecers as a people, which means embracing Quebec as a diverse, multi-ethnic society and the centre of one of the two linguistic societies to which immigrants to Canada belong and recognizing that Quebec must have the tools necessary to respond to the challenges this fact entails.

Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance Candidate Francois Dionne

What is there to say about the Alliance party that hasn’t already been said in a recently uncovered secret paper? The official, but confidential policy document was distributed to Alliance candidates and uncovered by the Globe and Mail newspaper. In it one discovers a very strong position on aboriginal issues. Unfortunately, the word strong, in this sense, is usually combined with the word odor. The document states that, “the Canadian Alliance will ensure that status Indians living on reserve have the same tax obligations as aboriginal people living off-reserve and all other Canadians.” You can’t be anymore straightforward about it. Native people shouldn’t feel singled out for special treatment at the hands of the Alliance party, especially in light of the party’s stand on employment equity. In short, they seek to abolish the Employment Equity Act, under which women, aboriginals, visible minorities, and the disabled are afforded greater opportunities for employment in federal government positions. The campaign ads are slick (Stockwell Day seems to jog through the woods and chop wood a great deal of the time) and the web site is nifty, but the policy side of things is a little worrisome. In case you’re interested, the party is running Francois Dionne in the Abitibi-Baie James-Nunavik riding.

Canadian Action Party

The national leader is Paul Hellyer. This party hates the North American Free Trade Agreement with a vengence. Hellyer said that they recognize that investment trade is needed but hate giving the United States “unfettered access.” They also don’t like the immergance of globalization.

On Aboriginal Issues Hellyer said that his party would take the Royal Commission on Aboriginal people’s as a starting point. “We don’t necessarily agree with everything in it but it is a good place to start the dialogue,” he said. The Canadian Action party has a unique proposal for First nations people who with to urbanize. They propose two cities, one in the east and one in the west that would be built by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal people. “It would be designed, built and governed by First Nations,” said Hellyer. “It would provide jobs, training, economic opportunities and much more.” He said that for Aboriginal people it would be a non-threatening urban setting. A Nation wit promptly dubbed the idea super-rez.

Christian Heritage Party of Canada

The Christian Heritage Party of Canada has 46 candidates in all, with 5 running in Quebec. Party principles are based on Biblical ethics and are unalterable according to the party. “There is one Creator God, eternally existent in three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe in the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The Holy Bible to be the inspired, inerrant written Word of God and the final authority above all man’s laws and government,” reads the party platform. The national party leader is Ron Gray, from B.C., where he was born.

Gray said his platform includes reconciliation with the First Nations and more. He sees a need for dialogue and understanding between the different cultures in Canada He identified these as First Nations, French, English and landed immigrants.

Gray sees civil government as being under the authority of God. “We’ve lived the deception long enough,” he said, “no matter what religion you are there is a higher standard. The state ensures that we live a moral code (ie. Laws) and the church teaches us a moral code, so I feel they compliment each other.”

Gray said that his party is looking to find that standard which is transcendent rather than a flavor of the day or something that is politically correct or expediant.

Marijuana Party

Marijuana party head honcho, Boris St. Maurice was clear about being a one-issue party with a brief and direct five-word platform. St. Maurice was clear about “ending marijuana prohibition in Canada.” At last count the party was fielding 63 candidates all across Canada, with the exception of Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, and P.E.I.

Though the party centers on one principle, Boris informed me that all candidates are encouraged in their right to dissent and to voice their own personal views and opinions. According to Mr. St. Maurice, “marijuana is less harmful to your health than the Liberals.”

Natural Law Party

The natural Law party is based in Ottawa and led by Dr. Neil Paterson.

I spoke with Miville Couture who is the national secretary and is running as a candidate in St. John, N.B. The party has 69 candidates running, including 25 in Ontario and 19 in Quebec.

First and foremost the party advocates the “development of consciousness” as the first step in any pursuit of policy. Consciousness is regarded as our “most important resource”. Couture suggested that: “most people use only a fraction of their potential; the potential of the human brain is lying dormant; decisions depend on the quality of our thoughts; and we must get rid of stress and improve our memory and health. “Natural law isn’t written in books, it is inscribed in our cells.”

Canadian International Focus Party

The CIFP considers itself a lobby group, not a party, even though it has “party” in its name.

Apparently it began as a high school project for Father Henry Carr Secondary School, and is now focus group for several university students at York U. The CIFP will only be a party after its members “leave their university years.”

Elizabeth Jackson is the party’s main candidate and her message is that, “challenge for CIFP is to make Canada an example to the world of a nation that best combines prosperity with social, economic, and political equality. CIFP pledges itself to working with those the world over who seek to build a global society respectful of human rights and cultural diversity.” Sounds good, but will it work outside the classroom?

Communist Party of Canada

Though the Soviets and the Eastern Bloc may have been relegated to the history books, the Communist Party is still alive and kicking. The Communists, led by Miguel Figueroa, who is running in the Danforth riding of Toronto, have 52 candidates on the slate this year (12 in Quebec), but none in the Abitibi-Baie James-Nunavik region. The party still holds to the tenets of communism as an overriding principle. In regards to native issues, the party feels that it is right for land claims to be answered and dealt with quickly.

Green Party of Canada

The Green Party, led by Joan Russow, is fielding approximately 105 candidates across the country, including Brian Jones in Nunavut. Party policy stems from a primary concern over the environment. The party seeks a “socially just and ecologically sound economy.” Official policy contains provisions to make corporations responsible for their products from cradle to grave, and to make polluters pay compensation for previous destructive use of resources. The Green Party also wants to stop the sale of Candu nuclear reactors, as well as ending uranium mining while providing a “fair and just transition for all affected workers and communities.” Following is a release for the Green Party Department of Indian And Northern Affairs:

A Green party government would undertake:

-to recognize the Royal Proclamation of1763 in its confirmation of original nations as sovereign peoples with inherent rights.

-to act on the commitment made at the United Nations conference on Environment and development (1992) to not carry out arty activities on the lands of indigenous peoples that would cause environmental degradation or that would be culturally inappropriate.

-to prevent the deposit on the land of first nations peoples of toxic, hazardous, and atomic wastes, and disallow all testing of weapons over the lands of indigenous peoples.

-to seek honourable settlements with the successors of original nations that will lead to the creation of culturally and economically self-governing successors of origindl nations throughout Canada.

-to seek nation to nation partnerships with the original nations of North America.

-to not impose a form of self-government or a framework of nationhood on the successors of the original nations, original peoples can best choose the forms of governance appropriate for themselves.

-to ensure that no resource extraction, economic activity, or settlement occurs on land which is in dispute, unless the successors of the original nations involved consent to such activity. In the absence of consent, interim measure shall be in place. The fiduciary obligations of the Federal Government to the successors of the original nations, wherever they live in Canada, must be increased during this healing and transition process. Programs flowing from these obligations need to be planned, operated, and controlled by original people in their local communities in order to be culturally appropriate and responsive to needs.

-to call a national meeting in 1997 to discuss the implementation ofthe recommendations of the Royal Commission Report on Aboriginal Peoples.

-to apologize to First Nations for the Indian Act, andfor residential schools.

The bad news is that the Green Party is without a candidate in northern Quebec.

Libertarian Party of Canada

Attempts to contact the Libertarian party were thwarted by the simple fact that party leader Jean-Serge Brisson is currently in jail. I was informed over the phone, by a man who was unable to furnish me with any party information, that Mr. Brisson will be in the hoosegow for the next 105 days. If things go in his favour he might only have to serve one third of his sentence. Apparently there was an issue of not wearing a seatbelt and some unpaid tickets. The judge, “didn’t want to listen,” and threw the book at him.

Marxist-Leninist Party

The Marxist-Leninist Party is the only one that I looked at that had a party memorial. They are running 83 candidates in Canada with 27 in Quebec.

Sandra Smith is the national leader of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist). Sandra joined The Internationalists, the precursor organization of CPC(M-L), in 1968. She is a founding member of the Party, she has played a leading role in all its main work throughout the years. She is particularly known nationally and internationally for her work on the modem definition of rights and their defense. She has put forward the thesis that people have inviolable rights by virtue of being human, that modem definitions of economic, political, social, cultural and collective rights stem from this reality, and that society must harmonize the rights of the individual with those of their collectives, and those of individuals and their collectives with the general interests of society. On the basis of this work, Sandra champions the recognition of the right of Quebec to self-determination, the hereditary rights of the First Nations, and the affirmation of the collective rights of women, youth and students, the working class, national minorities, the impoverished, the disabled, and all others.

Unity Party

This party isn’t active this year beyond seeking out like-minded individuals to run in the next election. Below is their platform.

As we separate ourselves from the American economy, we will strengthen our military forces. The Canadian military will join the Electronic Front (the Internet).

Canada will cancel the free-trade agreement and remove itself from the globalization of the United States’ economy. White-collar criminals will be punished with jail terms, rather than fines. Monopolistic practices will be strictly outlawed.

Internet technology will play a vital role in Canadian society. The education system will be changed to help exceptional individuals. Teachers will not be forced to take part in extracurricular activities. Environmental criminals will be punished with jail terms, rather than fines. Canada will cancel the free-trade agreement and remove itself from the globalization of the United States’ economy. No ethnic groups will be given special status. Provincial governments will be abolished. The Health of the Nation will always come first. Censorship will be abolished and both marijuana and prostitution will be legalized. Taxes on cigarettes will not be raised, although steps will be taken to persuade people not to smoke. People interested in learning about the party or running as a candidate in the next election (2004) can look at the website:

Dead but not forgotten Party section!!!!!

Confederation of Regions Party

Party for the Commonwealth of Canada – We couldn’t find any candidates, the Reform got them all.

Rest of Canada Party – not running as it couldn’t field enough candidates. They were interested in forming a coalition with the Bloc Quebecois to curtail Federal duties and responsibilities.

Canada Party – No answer to repeated phone calls.

Cannabis Canada Party – Joined the Marijuanna Party. Operates out of the Phoenix Mission of God…. Cool…. Looking for candidates!!!! Fringe Benefits?!?!?!

Socialist Party of Canada – The slogan is catchy: “Election 2000, Don’t Get Fooled Again!” Steve Szalai, the general secretary of the party informed me that the Socialists aren’t running any candidates in the election, though they are running a campaign. His message is a simple one: “Vote for what you want, not for what’s on offer.”

Socialist Alternative – Another effective slogan: “Big business has 5 parties, workers need one of their own!” Unfortunately, the phone was disconnected, so we’re still unsure of the alternative.

Canadian Clean Start Party

The phone call went something like this: “Is this the Clean Start Party?” “Yes, what’s left of it.”

They’re not running in the current election, but leader James K. Smith, of Surrey, B.C., assured me that they still exist. -The party appears to consist of a few scattered members, namely James K. Smith & “a couple of buddies”.

The Clean Start platform is to dump the debt rather than pay it. Mr. Smith suggests that the, “debt is a plot to destroy Canada” He strongly advocates that we “just stiff the bastards” and not pay the debt. When asked about the issue of self determination, Smith replied that, “it’s very easy if you want out of Canada, just win a civil war.” Their website mentions that the party will accept gay candidates, but not if they’re “flaming.” In terms of native land claims, Smith notes that you don’t earn “title to the land by camping on it.” The party is inactive at the moment, but will be ready to leap into action once it becomes apparent that we can’t pay off the debt. We can hardly wait.