Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa says Premier Doug Ford is ‘trampling’ on the rights of First Nation communities across the province, after he failed to respect treaty rights in Bill 197.

“The government has a legal duty to consult First Nations on any decisions or actions that impact treaty territory,” said Mamakwa, who serves as the NDP’s Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation critic, in a prepared statement.

“Doug Ford failed to respect the constitutional right of Indigenous communities to be consulted when he passed laws affecting First Nations without consultations.”

Mamakwa’s comments come after First Nations across Northern Ontario have expressed their concerns that they were not consulted before Bill 197 was passed in July. Mamakwa says Ford quietly brought in the order, which includes scrapping consultations with Indigenous people on environmental projects.

“Doug Ford is setting back the clock by excluding Indigenous communities from consultations,” added Mamakwa. “By trampling over First Nation’s treaty rights to consultation, Ford continues to attack the process of reconciliation that was meant to renew the relationship with Indigenous peoples based on respect and partnership.”

Bill 197 – the COVID-19 Recovery Act - was introduced earlier this year as Ontario moved into Stage 3 of their reopening framework, in the fight against COVID-19. The new piece of legislation aims to streamline regulations in a number of sectors, as Ontario leadership says they want to reduce ‘red tape’ and ‘open for business’ to kickstart a slowed economy, due to the pandemic.

However, one of the new changes is to the Environmental Assessment Act. The changes seek to expedite projects from a 6-year average to 3-years, but won’t be taking land claim settlements and other agreements with First Nation communities into consideration, which were outlined when the original Treaties were signed.

 “Ford must stop bulldozing over the rights of First Nations on treaty territory and their right to be consulted,” said Mamakwa.  “He needs to respond without delay to all of the First Nations who have reached out to his office with their concerns.”

Northern New Democrat MPPs are calling on Ford to respond to First Nations who have contacted him about their concerns.

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