New Westminster-Coquitlam MP Fin Donnelly says he understands why Native groups are upset over their exclusion from a federal advisory panel on hunting and fishing.
The Opposition’s deputy critic for fisheries noted that the announcement by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the composition of the hunting and angling advisory panel fits a pattern that has defined the Conservative government.
“This government is certainly not being inclusive,” Donnelly told the Straight in a recent phone interview. “And one of the things happening more and more is that they’re being extremely divisive. They are targeting groups. They’re excluding groups. They’re labelling groups.”
According to Donnelly, the non-inclusion of aboriginal groups in the hunting and fishing panel is part of the direction being taken by the Conservative government in dealing with various sectors.
“They’re creating this atmosphere of rewarding those that are with the government, that are supportive of the government, that will toe the government’s party line,” Donnelly said. “And they’re absolutely attacking those who speak out, whether it’s science, First Nations, environmental conservation, essentially anything that is not in line with their agenda.”
According to Ernie Crey, a senior policy adviser to the Sto:lo Tribal Council, the panel that was unveiled by Harper on May 30 is supposed to provide advice to the federal government on hunting and angling policies.
“I don’t know about you and other people, but what I know is that aboriginal societies, not all of them are located near urban centres. In fact, most of them are in remote parts of Canada where they rely on hunting and fishing,” Crey told the Straight in a phone interview. “More than that, they’re the only people in the country that have constitutionally protected rights to hunt and to fish. It seems to me that you’d want those voices around the table.”
Crey said he phoned his local MP, Mark Strahl, and the Conservative politician told him that he will raise this issue with his colleagues in Ottawa.
Strahl declined a Straight request for an interview.