Liberals & NDP deny Wet’suwet’en voice at Indigenous committee

Written By Guest User, Posted on May 30, 2020

On Friday morning, the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs met via video conference to discuss the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as it relates to Indigenous matters. 

The committee heard from Tabatha Bull, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, Shannin Metatawabin, Chief Executive Officer National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association, and Sébastien Michel, a Member of the Board of Directors of the Northern Air Transport Association. 

During the committee proceedings, Conservative MP Jamie Schmale, introduced a motion to have the committee invite the elected chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en people as witnesses. 

The motion would have provided the committee the opportunity hear how COVID-19 has affected the Wet’suwet’en’s ability to be consulted on the details of the Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) signed between the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, the provincial government of B.C. and the federal Liberal government. 

However, the Liberal and NDP members of the committee voted against the motion, barring the elected chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en people from being able to provide testimony. 

The crux of the matter revolves around the recent MOU signed by the hereditary chiefs, which is part of their negotiation with B.C. and the federal government on the proposed pipeline that Coastal GasLink wants to build through their land. The MOU laid out the fact that Canada and B.C. recognize that the rights and title are held by house groups within the Wet’suwet’en Nation, “under their system of governance.”

The Liberal and NDP MP’s made the case that this MOU was not COVID-19 related and therefore should not be studied by the committee. The Conservative MP’s argued that it was COVID-19 related because it was signed during the pandemic and was not done in a public place but rather via the internet. 

“It seems insincere to me to claim that this is not a COVID-19 related matter. When I asked Ms. Bennett she stated that because of the COVID-19 outbreak, it was impossible to do that [sign the MOU] in person. If we’re not willing to be open and transparent, what are we trying to hide here?” 

TNT reached out to Bob Zimmer, the Shadow Minister for Northern Affairs and Northern Economic Development Agency, and Member of Parliament for Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies, to get his take on the decision. 

MP Bob Zimmer at committee.

MP Bob Zimmer at committee.

“I can’t understand why the Liberals and the NDP members on the Indigineous and Northern Affairs Committee would vote down a motion to hear the voices of the Wet’suwet’en people. I have heard from Hereditary Chiefs Theresa Tait-Day, Gary Naziel and Herb Naziel as well as the elected chiefs of the Westsuwetin and they have many questions that deserve answers. What are the Liberals hiding, why won’t they allow elected and hereditary chiefs to come to the committee and be heard?” – MP Bob Zimmer

Zimmer said he has been trying to ask questions about the recently signed deal on rights and title signed between the federal government and the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs through his work on the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs. The deal has been the subject of much criticism from within the Wet’suwet’en community.

“We have been shut down every time because it isn’t ‘COVID-related’, even though it is. This is shameful and just one example of how Parliament isn’t working as it’s supposed to,” Zimmer said. 

Following the defeat of the motion, its mover, Schmale released a statement saying that “it is appalling that the Liberals, with the support of the NDP who represent the Wet’suwet’en in the riding of Skeena-Bulkley Valley, would shut down a motion giving a voice to Indigenous peoples.”

If you are interested in watching the full exchange, the video can be found here and the motion is moved at the 12:54:41 mark. 

Guest User

3 responses to “Liberals & NDP deny Wet’suwet’en voice at Indigenous committee”

  1. Glenda says:

    Why do the Aboriginals have to be "in" on anything? Or "consulted" when they don’t want to be Canadians and part of Canada but want their own nation? Isn’t that like being friends (or not) with benefits and Canada is the booty call that pays, pays & pays? Hell, even Canadian taxpayers don’t get "consulted"!! Thè are two many double standards and two tier crap going on!! ENOUGH!!!

    • Rachel says:

      Shhhhh….your ignorance is showing. Aboriginal peoples ARE Canada! It’s the governing powers that are ignoring pluralism and ignoring policies that are suppose to serve the well-being of aboriginal Canadians. There is an Anglo undertone when it comes to gov/Aboriginal solidarity and it shouldn’t be regardless. The fact that Aboriginal communities continue to be skirted outside of society makes my point clear. There is a weakness that discriminates that hardly accepts diversity of this community. The underlying challenge remains the emotional state that hovers over these monastic communities where resilience is challenged by governing forces that are ambiguous and pretentious which ultimately facilitates inequality. Unfortunately, honesty within the dominate government is the relentless pursuit. But that’s just my opinion.

  2. Al pellatt says:

    This violation of the democratic rts of the Wet’suweten people is how the NDP and Liberals violate the Indian Act ignore the voices who cry to be heard. The Wet’suweten have called for the resignation of Carolyn Bennett but Trudeau refused to act. If I were the Wet’suweten I would lodge a complaint with the United Nations against Trudeau and Sing I find it unacceptable that the liberals and NDP have so little regard for my fellow citizens.