NDP environment critic Nathan Cullen puts federal feet to the fire on Site C dam

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      The Trudeau government has promised a new relationship with Canada's indigenous peoples, but according to the NDP's environment critic, it's the same-old story with respect to the proposed Site C dam.

      Today in Parliament, Skeena–Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen asked why Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo is still signing permits even though this "megadam" on the Peace River "would have irreversible and negative impacts on the rights of Treaty 8 people".

      "When is the Liberal government going to actually commit to its sacred policy to respect First Nations rights?" Cullen asked.

      Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr fielded the question without once mentioning the word "Site C dam".

      "The member knows that this government has done whatever it can do to send the signals to indigenous communities across the country that this will be a new era on meaningful nation-to-nation consultations with indigenous peoples," Carr said. "It has been more than a decade since that has happened. its time has come for a new era in that relationship. That time is now."

      This hasn't the only NDP salvo on indigenous issues.

      Last week, NDP House Leader Charlie Angus previously demanded to know why wheelchairs, medication, and emergency dental surgery have all been denied to First Nations children.

      Another NDP MP, Georgina Jolibois, has asked Health Minister Jane Philpott what she's doing to end systemic discrimination against First Nations children when it comes to accessing health services.

      Shortly before last year's federal election, the Assembly of First Nations gave the NDP the highest marks for addressing six broad topics: strengthening families, sharing and equitable funding, upholding rights, respecting the environment, revitalizing indigenous languages, and truth and reconciliation.

      The AFN credited the Liberals for their promises in five areas but concluded that not enough was being done to address languages.