NAN Questions McGuinty’s Failures on the North

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NANTHUNDER BAY – “The Premier has some explaining to do. He is not beyond accounting for his actions,” states Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Terry Waboose. “If the McGuinty Liberals were serious about working with First Nations and addressing these issues the Premier would make himself available.” The Deputy Grand Chief says Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is ducking First Nations issues by refusing to participate in a northern Ontario leaders’ debate in the run-up to the provincial election.

“The Premier has a duty to answer the tough questions that are being put to him by First Nations, and other northern Ontario leaders. Dalton McGuinty is willing to come north for a barbeque, but won’t show up when there are tough questions to be answered,” charged the Deputy Grand Chief. “This is a question of accountability. If the Premier is a no-show for the debate, it simply proves our concern that First Nations are not a priority for the McGuinty Liberals.”

While the other party leaders have committed to a Northern debate, Premier McGuinty has thus far refused to attend.

NAN states, “This is not the first time that the McGuinty Liberals have failed First Nations. On land-use and resource development, without any meaningful consultation, the Far North Act (Bill 191) was passed while First Nations initiatives to modernize the Mining Act and input on the Forest Tenure Modernization Act were ignored”.

At the time, NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy stated, “The Premier of Ontario has failed to honor his promise to NAN First Nations that Bill 191 would not become legislation without our support. In yesterday’s Question Period, Premier (Dalton) McGuinty could not answer as to whether he intended to keep his word. It is obvious that his words mean very little and his promises even less.”

NAN adds that “The Ontario justice system has also failed First Nations as it is currently impossible to strike a valid jury in the north as a result of long term systemic exclusions of First Nations from jury rolls. Tragically, seven NAN youth have died while attending school in Thunder Bay and the justice system can’t (Bushie Inquest) or won’t investigate (call for Commission of Inquiry ignored)”.

In addition, the jailing of the leadership of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) in 2008 for protecting their homelands demonstrates a blatant disregard for the authority of First Nations leaders to exercise their rights over their lands.

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