Nation To Nation: Halfway through its mandate, the government defends its record. - APTN NewsAPTN News

Nation To Nation: Halfway through its mandate, the government defends its record.

Nation to Nation
Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister appeared before the House Committee on Indigenous Affairs Thursday and admitted that
more work needs to be done on any number of issues raised.

But Philpott announced at committee (and a news release was sent simultaneously) that the government was dropping its judicial review of Jordan’s Principle ruling from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and that progress is being made on the issue – and with the apology to residential school survivors in Labrador.

“We are going way beyond what the law asks us to do,” said Bennett. “In so many cases, whether it’s Anderson or because Labrador and Newfoundland weren’t in Canada yet. We are settling that case. I believe that our approach as a government is to do the right thing.”

Their appearance was to answer committee questions on how well they’ve fulfilled promises since being elected in 2015.

With the Liberal government’s mandate at the halfway point, the N2N political panel disagreed over how well the government has done.

Conservative MP Cathy McLeod and Indigenous Services Parliamentary Secretary Don Rusnak sparred over which government had done better on improving water quality on First Nations.

“If you actually did a comparison, and the water is a perfect example, (Rusnak) talks about advisories being lifted,” said McLeod. “But you look at the number of systems in trouble and it’s actually increased.”

“I think the problem with the Conservatives announcing these things like they did with a lot of infrastructure projects, they announce them but they never hit the ground,” Rusnak responded. “We see that over and over again.”

“That’s not true,” countered McLeod. “There was a lot of water systems worked on (during the Harper government).”

Rusnak also addressed the ongoing tensions between Indigenous people and the city of Thunder Bay. He is the member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Rainy River.

The relationship between First Nations residents and the city has been severely strained.

Whether it was the death of Barbara Kentner after having a trailer hitch thrown at her from a moving car or the drowning deaths of seven First Nations youth in the McIntyre River since 2000, some have characterized the city as racially divided and in crisis.

Last June, Rusnak said Thunder Bay wasn’t experiencing a crisis.

On Nation to Nation, he clarified his position that the problems in Thunder Bay aren’t new and have been going on for decades.

“Calling that a crisis it, I think, implies that there’s something immediate happening,” he told host Todd Lamirande. “This has been a long-term problem in Thunder Bay.”

As well, Marilyn Slett, who is the chief councilor of the Heltsiuk Nation, located on British Columbia’s central coast, was in Ottawa.

She was in the city to attend a conference when a barge broke free of its tug and ran aground this past weekend in the Heltsuik territory.

This incident follows one just over a year ago when a tug sank and spilled 110,000 litres of diesel fuel.

Slett managed to get meetings with Transport Minister Marc Garneau and Bennett.

She wants federal assistance to help implement her community’s emergency response plan.

She told Nation to Nation that last year’s spill still affects her community’s economy.

“The clam fishery, which would have been starting right about now, is closed for this season,” she said. “That’s the winter economy for many of the people in our community.”

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