KENORA – Politics – In recent weeks there has been a great deal of discussion about the potential closure of the Treaty 3 Police Service.
Rather than get involved in the process, both the Provincial and Federal governments have called the situation a “labour dispute” and refused to get involved. This despite the fact that both levels of government are responsible for sharing all costs related to First Nations policing, and the root cause of the dispute being their decision to chronically underfund the service.
The decision to stay on the sidelines is part of a frustrating trend among governments and elected officials to brush off their responsibilities, rather than perform the duties they were elected to do.
Another recent example is the Federal Government’s attempt to close the Experimental Lakes Area, under the guise that the freshwater research being performed at the facility was no longer within the government’s mandate. How this mandate suddenly changed after more than four decades, without any constitutional change to redefine roles or redistribute powers – or a couple of years after the same government invested nearly $1 million in upgrades to the facility – was never fully explained, nor was it explained whose mandate it is to perform such research.
While there are times when the lines “it’s not our mandate,” and “it’s another jurisdiction’s issue” are legitimate, the fact is there are many circumstances where this is nothing more than an excuse, or a thinly veiled attempt to make headlines.
A good example of this is the proposed twinning of Highway 17 between Kenora and the Manitoba border, which was announced in 2009 by both the Provincial and Federal Governments. While both levels had made the decision to co-fund the project, the necessary groundwork – such as route planning, environmental assessments, and negotiating with First Nations whose land the highway passed through – had not been done, meaning neither level of government was in a position to announce the project. At the time that did not matter, because both levels of government were more interested in having a feel-good photo op than ensuring the project went ahead and in 2013 we are still waiting for both levels of government to step up and move that process forward.
When times are difficult, governments need to show leadership. They need to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. Unfortunately, the tendency has been to avoid getting involved, blame another level of government, put it on the back-burner by announcing a study or a task force, or to take credit before credit is due.
Since being elected I have been critical of these tactics and have done what I can to hold governments accountable. Governments at all levels need to step up. Empty promises, blame and other tactics simply aren’t good enough.
Sarah Campbell MPP