Truth and Reconciliation commissioner calls out Trudeau for reconciliation “façade”
Some First Nation and Metis Leaders have stated that despite the recent SNC-Lavalin scandal, they will still continue to support the Trudeau government in their reconciliation efforts.
Grand Chief Littlechild has taken a different approach, not choosing sides in the growing divide in the Liberal Party but instead, supporting efforts to work together towards healing.
Littlechild is calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to put aside his pride and contact former cabinet ministers Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott to reconcile all current differences.
“I chose to wait until hearing from all called to appear before the Justice Standing Committee on the SNC Lavalin issue before giving my personal opinion on the recent resignations,” Littlechild wrote in a media statement posted on the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations Chiefs Facebook page March 11.
The former Conservative Member of Parliament weighed in saying he was not convinced by the argument of protecting jobs put forward by Trudeau and his inner circle.
Grande Chief Littlechild found it difficult to believe that former Principal Secretary Gerald Butts did not know of former Attorney General Wilson-Raybould’s decision not to intervene until her testimony before the Justice Committee.
“I am deeply saddened with the resignation of these two hard-working, dedicated individuals, who have worked tirelessly on issues impacting our First Nations from the federal government level,” Littlechild wrote, speaking of Wilson-Raybould and Philpott.
Littlechild said Wilson-Raybould “maintained the ethical requirements as a lawyer, and even more stringently enforced as an Indigenous person as demanded in our cultural teachings.”
Regarding MP Jane Philpott, Littlechild said she was an outstanding minister of Indigenous Services Canada, who took a humanistic view of the issues impacting First Nations and Treaty citizens.
Jane Philpott resigned her post as president of Treasury Board over the government’s handling of the SNC Lavalin affair.
Littlechild commended both Wilson-Raybould and Philpott for “taking a stand in what I would definitely say is a path to reconciliation, standing up for what they believe in.”
“It is not an easy task to do this, to go against the Party.”
He advised the Liberal Caucus to “look at reconciliation as a way to heal and move forward.”
Littlechild was one of three commissioners to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and worked on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He also served as the Member of Parliament for Wetaskiwin in Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservative Party from 1988-1993.
In his statement, Littlechild also wrote that he was disheartened that the actions taken on SNC Lavalin had overshadowed the important work of correcting past wrongs, “to uphold the minimum standard of rights for my fellow Indigenous peoples in Canada”.
He said the loss of the former Cabinet ministers would have a “severe backlash” on Indigenous issues for the way the matter was handled.
“Eight months ago we studied and proposed a National Council for Reconciliation” and nothing has happened with the recommendation.
“My deepest concern and regret now is that reconciliation was just another façade.”
“I extend my hand to Prime Minister Trudeau, as representing the government for the Crown we entered into Treaty with, should he wish to find a path to true reconciliation,” the statement reads.
Analysts are suggesting that the anti-pipeline protests that have blockaded railways, roads and certain ports are likely to result in a spike in gas prices.
The railroad tracks in Belleville, Ont. have now been halted for the last 12 straight days and don’t have an end date in sight at this time. The protestors vow to remain there until the government cancels the proposed Coastal GasLink pipeline that will partially run through the unceded land of the Wet’suwet’en First Nations.
The consequences of these blockades are already being felt across the country as the movement of goods has been greatly delayed. Experts now say that gas prices in Lower Mainland BC are expected to rise as a result of these protests.
Kent Fellows, an Alberta-based economist at the University of Calgary predicts the spike could be anywhere from 10 to 30 cents per litre. “If blockades persist you will definitely see an increase in fuel prices… A lot of the volume that is coming in from Alberta refineries to the Lower Mainland is now on rail.”
CTV News Vancouver interviewed commuters in the Vancouver area and they expressed their frustration.
“I mean, everything goes up all the time. Especially in this city (Vancouver). So it’s just another thing to endure,” driver Mike Freides said.
“You can’t go without gas, much like you can’t go without utilities or food. It’s above my paygrade to solve that problem.”
Trudeau recently held a meeting to attempt to remedy the problem of growing frustrations on both sides of the issue.
“I understand how worrisome this is, and difficult. We are going to continue to focus on resolving this situation quickly and peacefully,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The Port of Vancouver has also been affected by the demonstrations, preventing the loading and unloading of cargo.
“Demand for anchorage is currently exceeding the availability, causing a backlog of ships waiting to get into port,” said a spokesperson for the Port.
Teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg tweeted her support for the anti-pipeline protests that have stalled Canada’s economy and left tens of thousands stranded without train transportation.
On Tuesday she tweeted, “Support the Wet’suwet’en Nation and the pipeline protests happening now in Canada! #WetsuwenStrong.” Thunberg included a link to a “Wet’suwet’en Supporter Toolkit.”
The toolkit speaks of “revolution” and claims that reconciliation is dead: “The Wet’suwet’en have been violently invaded and ripped from our ancestral lands, sparking a REVOLUTION. Reconciliation is dead. The time is NOW to recognize indigenous sovereignty around the world! We are asking for folks to continue, harness the power of this catalyzing moment, create sustained action in solidarity, and #ShutDownCanada!”
Many Canadians were unimpressed including prominent conservative pundit Stephen Taylor who pointed out the negative affects these continued protests are having on the environment. “Thanks to the rail blockades, I’ve been flying more. So… win?”
The protests and blockades throughout Canada are a response to the raid of an anti-pipeline camp in northern British Columbia that was set up to oppose the building of the Coastal GasLink pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory.
Despite the protests, the Wet’suwet’en Tribal Council and the majority of hereditary chiefs support the pipeline project.
According to Global News, Premier Doug Ford’s house is currently being investigated by Toronto police’s hazardous materials team for a suspicious package. The package was reportedly opened by Ford’s wife, Karla.
There was reportedly white powder in the package that authorities have not yet been able to identify.
A spokesperson for the Toronto police informed Global News that officers received a call to show up at a house in Etobicoke on Tettenhall road where the Premier’s house is situated.
Blockades across the country continue to put a halt on the Canadian economy as goods cannot be transported to where they need to be. Prime Minister Trudeau has said that he wants to come to a quick and peaceful solution but that does not seem very plausible at this point.
BMO Capital Markets senior economist, Doug Porter, said that the coronavirus has negatively affected the global economy and the rail shutdown is an added extra pressure for Canada’s economy according to Financial Post.
“The ultimate cost will depend on the duration of the shutdown, and we have plenty of recent evidence to make an early assessment,” said Porter. “The November CN strike, which lasted more than a week, ended up carving less than 0.1 ppts from GDP that month. However, this shutdown threatens to be more open-ended, with the situation ‘fluid.’”
Manufacturers are assuming that their revenues will also be negatively affected by the rail blockades.
Today, Maple Leaf Foods president and chief operating officer, Curtis Frank along with President of CKF Inc., Ian Anderson noted at a press conference that “every day the rail stoppages continue, $850 million worth of manufactured goods are sitting idle.”
Other guests at the conference include ArcelorMittal Dofasco, BB Résaux Électriques, Demers Ambulances, J.D. Irving LTD., Énergie Valero and more.
Chief Perry Bellegarde, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations was also scheduled to hold a press conference today in Ottawa with hopes of discussing the present Wet’suwet’en situation.