OTTAWA, O.N. — A session in the House of Commons on Wednesday saw criticism from both the New Democrats and the Tories against the Liberal party for their approach to aboriginal rights, as the Vancouver Sun reports.
The Vancouver-based newspaper reported that the Liberal’s campaign promise to deal with aboriginal rights and title issues wasn’t well received in parliament.
The NDP called on Justin Trudeau’s Liberals to reject BC Hydro’s Site C plans, citing First Nations opposition and claiming they aren’t going far enough with that policy.
Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson called it a ‘litmus test of the prime minister’s solemn commitment.’
But the Conservatives’s concerns were that the Liberals need to balance aboriginal rights with property rights, citing the case of a claim filed in the B.C. Supreme Court — which saw the Kamloops-area Tk’emlups and Skeetchestn First Nations against the B.C. and federal governments and the Polish company KGHM Ajax Mining Inc. KGHM Ajax is seeking approval for a huge open-pit mine in the outskirts of Kamloops.
Conservative MP Rob Nicholson urged the Trudeau government to echo B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s declaration from January on the sanctity of private property — saying Wednesday the B.C. premier has reassured Canadians while the federal Liberals are leaving private landowners in the dark.
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said she has asked the court for a delay in filing Canada’s statement of defence and acknowledged that her objective is to review her department’s litigation strategy.
“We need all members of the House to understand what it means to move forward in a nation-to-nation approach based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership,” said Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, calling on all MPs to unite behind their government’s approach.
Meanwhile, a letter had been sent to Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo from the NDP, stating that Trudeau isn’t going far enough in his ‘nation-to-nation’ pledge and calling on the government to deny permit applications from BC Hydro until proper consultations take place with First Nations opposing Site C.
“The obligations on the part of the Canadian government to not only consult but also to obtain consent are already enshrined in Canadian and international law,” the letter from two BC MPs, Nathan Cullen and Fin Donnelly, and Quebec’s Romeo Saganash, stated.
B.C. Liberal MP Jonathan Wilkinson responded to questions from the NDP in the House of Commons, stating the Liberals are respecting the 2014 decision by the Harper government to conditionally approve the project.
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