Minister Morton’s Misinformation

by NationTalk on July 1, 20071253 Views

Press Release
Attention News Editors

Edmonton, AB (June 29, 2007) – Today, the Métis Nation of Alberta issued the following to refute the misinformation that has been put forward by spokespersons for Minister Ted Morton and the Alberta Government. “We believe Albertans need to know the truth about what has taken place, not denials and political spin,” said Audrey Poitras, President of the Métis Nation of Alberta.• Contrary to claims, the MLA Committee did not recommend cancelling the Interim Métis Harvesting Agreement (IMHA). The MLA’s written report first recommends the current agreement “be amended through further negotiations.” (Report of the MLA Committee on Métis Harvesting, p. 4 (para. 2)). Mr. Morton was the one that promised in his leadership campaign that he would cancel the IMHA. He achieved his promise, but that was not what the MLA Committee recommended.

• Contrary to claims, the IMHA was not “originally set to expire in April”. In April, the Alberta Government unilaterally terminated the IMHA. The IMHA had a 90 day notice provision, therefore, the IMHA expires on July 1st. Alberta’s claim is contradictory to the terms of the IMHA and the Alberta Government’s own press release of April 3, 2007.

• Contrary to claims, two courts did not find that the IMHA needed to be cancelled. Both courts found that the IMHA was not legally enforceable because Sustainable Resource Development, the department Mr. Morton leads, did not incorporate the IMHA into Alberta’s regulatory regime in order to make it legally enforceable. In fact, Justice Verville of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench found that the IMHA was Alberta’s attempt to fulfill the ‘constitutional imperative’ to accommodate Métis harvesting rights throughout the province. (R. v. Kelley, [2007] ABQB 41 at par. 67)

• Contrary to claims, Alberta’s unilateral approach has nothing to do with conservation. Last year, Alberta licensed over 94,000 harvesters. The MNA estimates there are less than 3,500 active Métis harvesters in the province. As well, the MNA and the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs arrived at Points of Agreement for an amended IMHA that would have seen the MNA implement a Harvesting Policy and collect information on the number of harvesters, where they were harvesting and what was being harvested. Sustainable Resource Development does not have this type of information on any other Aboriginal peoples harvesting in this province, but the Métis were willing to work with the province on this. Mr. Morton ensured these Points of Agreement were rejected and now he will get to act as the judge and jury on who is Métis and who can harvest in this province.

For background documents visit www.albertametis.org or for interviews contact:

Marilynn Underschultz
Cell: (780) 920-1322

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