Jagmeet Singh turns table on reporter who asks if he's writing a blank cheque for First Nations

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      The leader of the New Democratic Party may not be leading in the polls.

      But Jagmeet Singh left himself in a far better position to capture the support of many First Nations voters after his trip this weekend to the Grassy Narrows Reserve in northern Ontario.

      He was campaigning with Chief Rudy Turtle, who's the NDP candidate in Kenora.

      At one point, a reporter asked Singh if he was writing a "blank cheque for all problems for all Indigenous communities across the country"?

      The NDP leader responded by questioning whether the reporter would have even asked this question if there were drinking-water problems in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, or Edmonton.

      "No, you wouldn't," Singh said. "That's what I'm saying. Why is it that we ask the question about whether or not Indigenous people should have clean drinking water? We've got to take a minute and think why is that even a question. Yes, they deserve clean drinking water."

      He called it a "matter of priority".

      "And I'm going to do it."

      It was a memorable moment for anyone who saw the video.

      The NDP promise to provide clean drinking water to First Nations would cost about $1.8 billion. 

      Turtle entered the race after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mocked a Grassy Narrows protester at a Liberal fundraiser earlier this year.

      The female demonstrator was at the fundraiser to draw attention to the federal government's failure to address mercury poisoning in the reserve's English-Wabigoon River system.

      Trudeau thanked the woman for her "donation" as she was escorted out of the room by security officials. The prime minister later apologized.

      But that's not his only problem with Indigenous voters.

      Late last week, the Trudeau government filed a judicial-review petition in court in response to a devastating Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision regarding the treatment of Indigenous children and youths.

      The tribunal ruled in September that the federal government must pay $40,000 to each child and youth who was apprehended after January 1, 2006 to an unspecified date.

      "It's always about money," Indigenous activist and academic Pam Palmater told CTV Question Period. "But more than that, it's about devaluing the lives of First Nations kids because I guarantee you that if this was about some students in Quebec in a French school and they were dying because of discriminatory underfunding, we wouldn't even be having this conversation."