TIMMINS – Discussion during the final day of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation’s Spring Chiefs Assembly got quite heated after provincial Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Zimmer was the only one out of the three expected government ministers to come and field questions from the chiefs and other delegates.
When it came to his turn to ask a question, Mushkegowuk Council Grand Chief Jonathon Solomon tore into Zimmer about the Liberal government’s climate change legislation which was announced on Wednesday. Solomon called the legislation a “betrayal” and a continuation of the practice of considering the interests of First Nations as an afterthought.
“Mr. Minister I have a lot of respect for you, and I am being respectful when I say that I feel that I have been betrayed. I feel that there is a knife sticking in my back because we have been talking about an honourable relationship, but nothing has really changed,” said a visibly angry Solomon. “They say the Harper era was terrible, we say the Harris era was terrible in this province, but those practices are still continuing despite talk of a positive relationship.”
The legislation in question will see Ontario put in place a cap and trade system where carbon producing industries will be given a limit on how much carbon gas they create and a marketplace for buying credits to offset the amount they go over.
Money from the new system will be deposited into a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account and will be invested into green projects and initiatives.
Solomon’s criticism is not of anything in the proposed bill specifically, but the fact that the legislation is being introduced without coming to an agreement with First Nations, including the Mushkegowuk Council, about how their communities will participate in the new green economy the bill wants to establish.
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