The Government of Nunavut believes it has no reason to negotiate a redefinition of its borders with Quebec, said a spokesman.
The Prime Minister of the country, Peter Taptuna, declined an interview request on applications presented recently by Quebec, which wants to expand its jurisdiction.
But in a statement, her publicist, Yasmina Pepa, recalled that the islands of James Bay, Hudson and Ungava Bay in northern Quebec, are under the jurisdiction of Nunavut.
Ms Pepa said the Nunavut Act enshrines this fact since the territory was created in 1999.
In a letter last August to federal leaders, the Prime Minister of Québec, Philippe Couillard wrote that it was “urgent” for Quebec to expand its northern borders, which currently ends at the water’s edge, which could complicate economic development and infrastructure construction.
Quebec wants the coastal islands and part of the northern seas are attached to its territory “in order to get a more appropriate boundary and correct problems related to the current configuration of the border.”
Last week, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Jean-Marc Fournier was confident of getting a constitutional amendment on this subject, following negotiations with involved parties including the federal government.
Questioned, the Government of Nunavut, however, showed little interest in any discussions on an amendment to its borders.
“We see no reason to start discussions on specific borders Nunavut, Ms. Pepa wrote in an email. Nunavut boundaries include the islands in Hudson Bay, James Bay and Ungava Bay. ”
The spokesman reminded the existence of an agreement in 2009 with representatives of the Cree and Inuit communities of northern Quebec, which provides their members with rights to marine areas of James Bay and Hudson Bay .
“Nunavut has comprehensive territorial agreements with the Cree and Inuit of Quebec to clarify the government’s jurisdiction over the islands and the Nunavut aboriginal rights and Quebec with respect to these islands,” said she wrote.
Under this agreement, reached with representatives of Ottawa and Nunavut, the Grand Council of the Crees (GCC) and the Kativik Regional Government have agreed on a distribution of marine areas and islands that are located in both berries.
The Cree and Inuit have obtained ownership rights to almost all of the islands (including their basement) as well as rights to the use of the marine area, explained Brian Craik, Director of Federal Relations GCC.
In an interview, Mr. Craik said the Crees are interested in participating in discussions that may arise in this matter at the request of Quebec.
“If there are changes to the boundaries or to describe, I think the Cree could always do something like that, he has said. We did not negotiate the limits of Quebec in the Treaty, it is only half of the James Bay Cree assigned. ”
Mr. Craik said that beyond the environmental impacts of potential projects on wildlife, the Cree would have little to lose from a redefinition of borders.
“Did they lose something? I do not think they could lose much, “said he said.
No representative of the Kativik Regional Government (KRG) has requested grant interview on this subject.
“The KRG will not issue any comment on the possibility of a constitutional amendment as proposed by the Government of Quebec,” said his communications department in an email.
So far, no federal official has acted on the application for release borders of Quebec, Mr. Fournier wants to revive with the election of a new government in Ottawa.
In his letter to federal leaders during the election campaign, Mr. Couillard had stressed the importance of reviewing the northern borders to eliminate all barriers to economic development projects that may arise under the Plan Nord Maritime Strategy.
The mining company Oceanic Iron Ore, which is seeking a financial partner for its proposed development of an iron ore deposit, includes the construction of a deepwater port near Aupaluk in Ungava Bay .
Its president, Alan Gorman, however, indicated that it had so far encountered no jurisdictional problem for the construction of infrastructure, which nevertheless theoretically end up in the maritime territory of Nunavut.
“We are involved only with the Quebec government for this,” he said.
For its part, the Québec Mining Association explained that no member of the grouping has not raised problems relating to maritime jurisdictions in northern Quebec.
“For the Association this is not a case that we think has treated or processed soon,” he has said spokesman Mathieu St-Amant.