TORONTO, Jan. 19 /CNW/ - The appointment of Attorney General Chris Bentley to serve as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs while retaining his position as Attorney General is a surprise according to Regional Chief Toulouse. "The previous statements by the Government of Ontario to build a stronger relationship with First Nations in Ontario and speed up the resolution of outstanding issues through the implementation of the Ipperwash Inquiry Report as the road map was a major undertaking. The fact that Premier McGuinty has revived an old approach to First Nation relations by having the Attorney General once again hold dual roles for both Ministries raises concerns about the importance of resolving First Nations issues," said Regional Chief Toulouse.
In the course of the last two years, through the efforts of Minister Duguid, agenda setting and collaborative approaches on matters such as economic development, resource revenue sharing, the Mining Act and education have advanced. This progress required the full time effort of a Minister singularly dedicated to the business of the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs. Recently, Premier McGuinty wrote the Prime Minister of Canada to encourage the Government of Canada to reconsider their opposition to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Furthermore, Premier McGuinty wrote to the Prime Minister to support the Ontario and First Nations position relating to the continuation of the PST point of sale exemption in the new HST framework.
Regional Chief Toulouse noted that "Minister Duguid's efforts were substantial and the relationship building was heading in the right direction" and added that "much work remains to be done. It will be essential for Minister Bentley to maintain the commitments as previously expressed by the McGuinty government to forge a stronger relationship based on trust and mutual respect."
Regional Chief Toulouse also highlighted that it will be important for Minister Bentley to structure his office to manage his dual roles - to ensure that First Nation concerns do not lose out to AG concerns, particularly since First Nations are often in an adversarial relationship with the AG.
"On behalf of the regional First Nations leadership in Ontario, through the Political Confederacy, I will call on the new Minister to meet with us to hear his plan on maintaining the path forward and ensuring that resolving outstanding issues will continue to be a priority. We also look forward to meeting with Minister Dombrowsky to discuss the relationship building and collaborative approaches in addressing the education issues concerning First Nations education in Ontario," said Regional Chief Toulouse.
"I wish to congratulate Minister Duguid on his new appointment, thank him for his hard work and look forward to working with him in his new energy and infrastructure portfolio which is emerging as a very important Ministry in First Nations and Ontario relations," concluded Regional Chief Toulouse.
SOURCE Chiefs of Ontario
For further information: For further information: Pam Hunter, Chiefs of Ontario, (416) 522-0706, email@example.com