Trudeau Says Premiers’ Claims About Natural Resources Power Grab Have ‘no Grounding in Truth’


Premiers criticized justice minister for saying Ottawa will look at resource agreement

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is accusing the premiers of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba of misinterpreting remarks by a federal minister on whether Ottawa might review agreements that give those provinces control of natural resources.

“Let me be very clear. The minister of justice said no such thing,” Trudeau said.

At an Assembly of First Nations special chiefs’ meeting last week, Minister of Justice David Lametti said during a question-and-answer session that the government would be “looking at” the 1930 Natural Resources Transfer Agreements (NRTA). The agreements, signed by the federal government and the four western provinces, gave Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia control over their natural resources.

“I obviously can’t pronounce on that right now, but I do commit to looking at that. It won’t be uncontroversial, is the only thing I would say with a bit of a smile,” Lametti told the meeting.

The premiers of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba swiftly denounced Lametti’s remarks. In a joint statement issued Tuesday, the premiers called on Trudeau to reject Lametti’s comments, which they called “dangerous and divisive.”

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre accused Lametti of “threatening to overturn the Constitution.”

On Wednesday, Trudeau said the premiers misinterpreted Lametti and denied his government was reviewing the agreements. Trudeau said Lametti was instead talking about the federal government’s commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP)

“If you actually look at his remarks, it is very clear that we’re talking about the importance of the federal government living up to our responsibilities under UNDRIP,” Trudeau told a news conference.

“[That’s] something that, unfortunately, the Prairie premiers have not taken seriously, and they are instead trying to elevate fears that have absolutely no grounding in truth.”

UNDRIP, which the UN General Assembly adopted in 2007, stipulates that “Indigenous peoples have the right to the conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of their lands or territories and resources.”

The Trudeau government has committed to implementing all 46 articles of the UNDRIP declaration.

On Wednesday, Trudeau said the federal government, the provinces and Indigenous people can all benefit from natural resources development.

“Indigenous people need to be partners in how we develop land, in how we move forward in respectful and responsible ways,” Trudeau said.

“We know we need to move forward in true reconciliation, in partnership with Indigenous peoples, and that’s something that we certainly hope we’re going to work on with the premiers and with Indigenous peoples.”

Manitoba chiefs denounce premiers

The Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO), which represents 34 Anishinaabe and Dakota Nations in southern Manitoba, criticized the premiers’ position on the NRTAs.

“NRTAs were created in the 1930s by the federal government to purposely exclude First Nations from benefiting from the wealth of our territories, and instead give that control and financial windfall to the provinces,” SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels said in a media statement.

“I am dismayed to see our Prairie province Treaty partners wanting to continue that colonial trend. This is not about federal control over provincial resources, this is about First Nation control of our lands and resources.”

Daniels said the federal government never had the authority to transfer the lands and resources to provincial control in the first place, and the agreements violate treaty rights. He called on the provinces and the federal government to work with the SCO.

“I want to invite all parties to the table, so that together we can find ways to partner and build strong economic relationships that will benefit us all,” he said.

Source: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation