AFN slams brakes on environmental talks with Trudeau over secrecy - APTN NewsAPTN News

AFN slams brakes on environmental talks with Trudeau over secrecy


(The AFN executive in a meeting with Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr, back to the camera with dark suit Sept. 28. Twitter photo) 

Kenneth Jackson
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) slammed the brakes on drafting legislative amendments on environmental and regulatory processes with the Trudeau government last month saying it had become strangers within the process.

Regional Chief Isadore Day said it was supposed to be a co-development of legislative changes but it became clear to him – and other regional chiefs – that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was moving ahead without them.

“We became strangers to people who said they were our friends,” Day told APTN News Thursday. “The prime minister had agreed to fix this and to work with us. They’ll work with us when it is appropriate for them after they have made decisions after they have drafted documents.

“They’re drafting continually.”

Day said the government is drafting new legislation in cabinet and claiming cabinet secrecy as a reason not to share the information.

He said this is a situation of the federal government not wanting to give up control.

Day said the AFN developed a committee, including himself and chiefs Kevin Hart and Bill Erasmus, that was to work with the federal ministers to draft legislative changes on everything from the National Energy Board and climate change to the Fisheries and Navigation Protection acts.

They were also supposed to develop a joint secretariat with the Trudeau government but hasn’t happened.

Then it was expected their joint work would be taken to the communities, as the AFN is not a rights holder and the government can’t use the AFN to cross off their duty to consult.

Day broke the news to Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr Sept. 28 at the office of the AFN in Ottawa.

“He obviously didn’t want to hear that. His words to us were he was making efforts and hiring a director of Indigenous relations,” said Day.

“And I saw that as a slap in the face.”

The message was, to the Day and other chiefs in the meeting, Carr wanted the AFN to deal with a new director and not him.

“My response to him was: ‘Maybe the AFN will hire a non-Indigenous relations liaison. His response to me was: “Well, you want me to hire that person or not?” said Day.

Day said the message they were trying to get across was lost on Carr.

Another person at the meeting told APTN Carr was visibly upset when he left the meeting.

APTN requested comment from Carr’s office Wednesday but have not received answers to questions.

“At the end of the day, this is about respect for First Nations, respect for our jurisdictions. We’re not letting up on our concerns here,” said Day.

Day said this doesn’t mean the talks are over, as he described the “engine is still on” but they are not moving forward until the government levels the playing field.

“The way the government is working on a top-down approach on the process of these environmental reviews is not acceptable. We can no longer act as if everything is okay,” he said.

A letter was drafted shortly after the September meeting but was delayed, according to Day, because National Chief Perry Bellegarde would not sign the letter.

Instead, it was signed by Day, Hart and Erasmus.

It was sent on Monday to Trudeau and essentially asks the prime minister to come back to the table and keep the promises he made.

Bellegarde also attended a clean energy forum in Winnipeg last week with Carr.

However, Day added it’s important to him to be able to walk into any of the 133 communities he represents in Ontario with his head up. 

“I have 133 bosses,” he said.

APTN News is waiting for a comment from Trudeau’s office.

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4 Responses to “AFN slams brakes on environmental talks with Trudeau over secrecy”

    Randal Hadland October 23, 2017 at 2:19 am #

    The Minister of environment should be the one at the table anyway. Jim Carr is just there to try and cut a deal for the resource extraction industry. First the environment, and then let industry fit itself in.

    Frank J Molley October 22, 2017 at 3:23 pm #

    As if they did not see this coming, there’s a relationship of broken promises, false hope and permission to ask for more slack on the leash around Assembly of First Nations neck. This will go on time and time again. The AFN is just the AFN, a necessity to have around. It’s not even the equivalent in functionality as The Senate,. Why continue with it? Oh yes, because that’s the way it is. Running out of time People’s, think, think, think.

    Rosemary Breschuk-Chiu October 19, 2017 at 9:31 pm #

    Much respect to Regional Chiefs Day, Hart and Erasmus, for putting their collective feet down on this crucial matter. Much less praise for Chief Bellegarde who seems to be confused on whose side he is on! The longer this issue is delayed, the more damage to the environment, and ALL the living beings whose habitat is Turtle Island. I also did NOT see any word about geo-engineering and environmental spraying, which are doing tremendous damage to our forests and natural fields, and most if not all the planes flying overhead almost daily, showering us with nanoparticles of strontium, barium and aluminum oxides, among other UNIDENTIFIED additives, toxins and chemicals, as well as bio-mass components, which would appear to be sickening not only plants, water ways, vegetation and animals, but human beings, too. Get WITH the program, Chief Bellegarde, or GET OUT OF THE WAY of the chiefs who are trying their best to push an agenda for changes on everything from the National Energy Board and climate change to the Fisheries and Navigation Protection acts. FOOD AND WATER SECURITY are two of THE MOST IMPORTANT issues facing North America, and Canada specifically, TODAY. So, ACTION MUST BE TAKEN……TODAY!

      Randolph Jones October 20, 2017 at 12:33 pm #

      Keep up the good way thank u cheif’s