QUÉBEC, Dec. 14, 2018 /CNW Telbec/ - As the hearings of the Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec: listening, reconciliation and progress (Viens Commission) conclude today, David Birnbaum, MNA for D'Arcy-McGee and Official Opposition Critic for Indigenous Affairs, expressed his surprise and disappointment regarding the CAQ government's attitude towards First Nations and Inuit communities.
While Premier François Legault failed to offer any concrete vision or direction on Indigenous affairs in his inaugural address and summarily rejected the Apuiat project, his Minister Responsible Indigenous Affairs, Sylvie D'Amours has been notable in her absence at a number of strategic meetings, including an emergency session on the problem of suicides in Nunavik.
She is supposed to be the voice of Indigenous communities within government, to ensure that their interests are properly considered in decision-making; instead, Mme D'Amours has been noticeable in her absence and her silence.
"The CAQ government has been boasting that its over-all approach will be marked by 'humanism and boldness', " Birnbaum noted. "Well, what we're seeing is an administration that is evidently disengaged and uncommitted to addressing Indigenous issues, or in building a nation-to-nation relationship with the communities concerned.
"That unfortunate stance was clear on the Apuiat file. The Innu and local partners on the North Shore had worked in collaboration with our government to launch this major wind-power project valued at $600 million. In addition to creating hundreds of jobs, Apuiat would generate important annual revenues and contribute to improving the quality of life for Innu communities. The response from François Legault was dismissive: 'Not now, maybe in 20 years.'
"As the Viens Commission concludes its hearings, I call on the Premier and the Minister Responsible to demonstrate the courage to apply the recommendations that will be proposed. First Nations and Innuit communities are facing important challenges and opportunities. Minister D'Amours must step up and address those problems – and support the economic development of these same communities," Birnbaum concluded.
SOURCE Aile parlementaire du Parti libéral du Québec
For further information: Marie-Pier Richard, Attachée de presse, Aile parlementaire libérale, 418 446-6783