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NDP MP Romeo Saganash wants to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to find a way to improve the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the federal government. Two Indigenous MPs want to meet with the prime minister to discuss the duty to consult Indigenous groups on major projects.

Liberal MP Don Rusnak and NDP MP Romeo Saganash want to sit down with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to find a way to improve the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the federal government.

“The conversations are … looking at a way we can do this better and improve the relationship,” Rusnak told iPolitics. “If you don’t have a positive, honest, good relationship, then it becomes very difficult to get things done.”

The plan for these consultations with the PM began in the spring, Rusnak said.

The meetings have become more timely after the Federal Court of Appeal quashed the Trans Mountain pipeline-expansion project in August. The court found the government “acted in good faith” to select an appropriate consultation framework with the public, but “failed” to fulfil the duty to consult Indigenous peoples on Phase III of the project.

Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution states the government has a duty to consult Indigenous people “when it acts in a manner that may adversely affect Aboriginal or treaty rights.”

For these reasons, the court concluded that the National Energy Board’s process and findings were “so flawed,” the government “could not reasonably rely” on the report to understand the scope of the problem.

A decision on how the government will consult Indigenous peoples on the expansion is expected in the next couple of weeks.

News of the meetings came after Saganash dropped the F-bomb last week in the House of Commons while asking the Speaker about the government’s failure to adequately consult Indigenous people before approving the expansion.

“When the prime minister insists that this pipeline expansion will be done no matter what … it means they have decided to wilfully violate their constitutional duties and obligations (to Indigenous peoples).

“Why does the prime minister not just say the truth and tell Indigenous peoples that he does not give a f–k about their rights?” Saganash said last Tuesday.

The MP’s comments were met with a roar from parliamentarians on both sides of the House of Commons, and prompted Speaker Geoff Regan to press Saganash for an apology.

Saganash quickly took his comments back, but not without having the final word.

“What is going on right now is so insulting that it is making my blood boil,” he told the Commons. “I am sorry. I withdraw that word. I am truly sorry.”

Saganash could not be reached for comment by the time of publication.

As for his colleague’s conduct during question period, Rusnak said he is “at a loss.”“It seems like part dramatics and part the party pushing things, which often gets in the way of getting stuff done,” he continued.However, Rusnak said he could understand where Saganash’s frustration is coming from, adding he wasn’t updated on the progress of Indigenous consultations on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.The pipeline’s parent company, Kinder Morgan Inc., first made the announcement that it wanted to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline in 2012 after it received support from several oil shippers, at which time the company also announced it would begin public consultations.By May 2016, the National Energy Board was ready to recommend the government approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion after its 29-month review led it to conclude the project was in “the Canadian public interest.” Along with the board’s recommendations was an environmental assessment certificate from the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office that also recommended the project proceed.It was this […]

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