Chiefs of Ontario Leadership Council Stands United in Support of Auditor General of Ontario’s Special Report

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Eagle Flying Indigenous News

The Chiefs of Ontario (COO) Leadership Council stands united in support of the findings of Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s Special Report on Changes to the Greenbelt, which highlight actions taken by the Government of Ontario that are extremely concerning Ontario First Nations.

The Chiefs of Ontario First Nations Leadership Council met to discuss how to proceed with their relationship with the provincial government, particularly with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in light of the Auditor General’s report.

The Chiefs of Ontario will be moving forward with the important ongoing work on many of our files and will continue to participate in the Leadership Advocacy Strategy, which are a series of meetings that are held between the Leadership Council, Premier Ford, and his Ministers on a quarterly basis to discuss high priority issues and files.

The Leadership Council has explicitly stated that we will not shy away from outlining their concerns with the situation and that the way in which government representatives are evading responsibility and ignoring critical findings within the Auditor General’s Report is unacceptable.

As was also decided during yesterday’s meeting, the Chiefs of Ontario will continue to work with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) but will cease any current relationships with Minister Steve Clark until an adequate resolution of this issue has been confirmed.

The Chiefs of Ontario will also be requesting an urgent meeting between Leadership Council and Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Greg Rickford, to discuss both Leadership’s stance on this issue as well as demands that must be met in order to rebuild a working relationship with the Province.

The demands that will be put forth to the Premier and Minister Rickford are as follows:

  1. The immediate resignation of the MMAH Chief of Staff, Ryan Amato and that MinisterClark either resign or be removed as the Minister of MMAH;
  2. Premier Ford to commit to the 15th recommendation from the Auditor General’s Report and return the removed land parcels to Greenbelt immediately;
  3. A complete repeal of Bill 23 and an immediate reinstatement of environmental protections for the Greenbelt;
  4. A written commitment to seek consent from First Nations before any further changes are made to the Greenbelt; and
  5. An extension of the engagement deadline for the land use planning policy change (EROnumber 019-6813) by at least one (1) year to allow for fulsome engagement from FirstNations on the proposed changes.

COO will be undertaking an advocacy campaign to support these efforts and will be drawing on support from civil society and the public at large to ensure that the province hears our demands.

Further, the Leadership Council will be launching a formal request to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and Integrity Commissioner to undertake an official investigation into this matter.

As the Chiefs of Ontario continue to monitor this situation, it has become glaringly clear through the Auditor General’s Report findings that the processes in which these events took place were not transparent or fully informed, nor did they consider the need for consultation with First Nations before taking actions that directly affect First Nations inherent, treaty, and constitutionally protected rights.

The COO looks forward to raising these concerns and demands directly with the Premier and his staff to ensure that First Nations voices are heard and that substantial action is taken to rectify the situation and reinstate the trust of all Ontarians to have a transparent and trustworthy government.

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