New Ontario Cabinet Seen As Important 'Turning Point' in Crown-Aboriginal Relations in Province

    TORONTO, Oct. 30 /CNW Telbec/ - The leadership of the Métis Nation of
Ontario (MNO) enthusiastically welcomed the announcement of Premier Dalton
McGuinty's new Ontario Cabinet. Tony Belcourt, President of the MNO, was one
of the invited guests who attended the swearing-in ceremony that was held in
Toronto today.
    "This new Ontario Cabinet signals an important turning point in the
relationship between the government and Aboriginal peoples in this province.
The appointment of the Hon. Michael Bryant, as the first Minister to solely
represent the interests of Aboriginal peoples around the Cabinet table, is
truly historic. For years, Aboriginal leaders have pointed out the inherent
conflict of having the Attorney General or Minister for Natural Resources also
acting as the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Premier McGuinty has not only
acted to address this issue, but he has appointed the ideal person for the job
- a person who knows our issues, who is sensitive to them and who has the kind
of political currency needed in order to advance our issues at the Cabinet
table," said Belcourt.
    Gary Lipinski, MNO Chair, added, "With Minister Bryant's appointment and
the recommendations from the Ipperwash Inquiry report, we have strong momentum
to move forward on strengthening the relationship between the government and
the Métis people. More specifically, we look forward to moving forward on our
priorities of signing an Ontario-Métis Nation Framework Agreement, improving
the educational outcomes for Métis students in the province and addressing the
pressing housing needs of Métis families with Minister Bryant and Ministers
Watson, Milloy and Wynne."
    President Belcourt also welcomed the appointments of the Hon. Donna
Cansfield as Minister for Natural Resources, the Hon. Gerry Phillips as
Minister for Energy and the Hon. Michael Gravelle as Minister for Northern
Development and Mines. "We look forward to working with these three Ministers
to ensure Ontario is meeting its constitutional obligations to consult and
accommodate Métis communities in relation to energy and resource development
across the province."
    "Both Ministers Phillip and Gravelle know the Métis people well and we
look forward to once again working with these honourable men," added Belcourt.
"We also look forward to working with Minister Cansfield on implementing the
historic MNO-MNO harvesting agreement and renewing our discussions with MNR on
harvesting and other Métis access to resource issues."
    The MNO also acknowledged the efforts and work of David Ramsay in his
previous roles as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Minister for MNR. "David
Ramsay was the first Minister in Canada to negotiate and enter into an
agreement on Métis harvesting rights, following the release of the Supreme
Court of Canada's decision in R. v. Powley. His efforts show that if the
political will is there, Aboriginal peoples and governments can resolve their
issues at the negotiating table, rather than in the court. On behalf of the
Métis people in this province, I want to thank him for doing the right and
honourable thing," said Lipinski.
    Belcourt concluded, "Premier McGuinty's new team signals an exciting road
ahead for the Métis people in this province. We see today's announcement as a
positive and proactive approach to Aboriginal issues, so that our work is
focused on cooperative approaches rather than those, which are
confrontational. We are very optimistic for the future."

    The Métis are a distinct Aboriginal people with a unique culture,
language and heritage, and with an ancestral Homeland that centres around
Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, parts of the
Northwest Territories, as well as the northwestern United States. The Métis
played an instrumental role in the shaping of Canada and work tirelessly to
share their culture, music, traditions and knowledge of the environment with
their fellow Canadians. Today, the Métis live, work, raise their families and
pay taxes in communities all across Canada.

For further information:

For further information: see the MNO website at:; Or
Contact: Chelsey Quirk, Communications Assistant, Work: (613) 798-1488 Ext.
104, Cell: (613) 299-6085,

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