New Indian Affairs Minister Must Renounce his Anti-Aboriginal Comments
August 15, 2007
WINNIPEG – Chuck Strahl, the newly-appointed Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, must immediately renounce his past disparaging comments about Aboriginal Canadians, said Liberal Indian Affairs Critic Anita Neville.
“This portfolio is significant to the lives of many Canadians. The only way to succeed in advancing aboriginal issues is to build a level of real trust and mutual respect with that community,” said Ms. Neville.
She also noted that Mr. Strahl developed a reputation for the undemocratic tactics he used in his campaign to dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board.”Aboriginal Canadians want a Minister who will work in a spirit of genuine consultation and cooperation. Minister Strahl must drop the heavy-handed approach he used in Agriculture,” said Ms. Neville.
“Minister Strahl comes from the Reform Party tradition and has taken many positions that are antithetical to Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Aboriginal Canadians will need to be assured that the Minister’s views and undemocratic style has changed considerably before there can be any level of real trust.”
Ms. Neville pointed to several comments that Minister Strahl made in the past concerning aboriginals that she said he must withdraw now that he has been made Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs:
On gravel excavation by the Cheam Indian band: “I do not even think the land they scalped the gravel from is theirs.” (The Canadian Index, May 17, 1999, Volume: Vol. 10, No. 14)
On aboriginal fisheries: “In a recent Chilliwack Progress article, Strahl compared Cheam band members to ‘children.'” (Canada News-Wire, September 13, 1993)
On concerns that aboriginal programs for substance abuse, anger management and family violence were not being offered at a prison: “Strahl said he has little empathy for [this] position. Strahl said there is plenty of attempts to be sensitive to aboriginal culture in prison to the point at which other inmates, who are not aboriginal, are bitter about it. “If I got a letter like that, I wouldn’t put it on my high-speed to do list.” (Chilliwack Times, November 22, 2002)
On aboriginal fishing rights: “The government has an obligation to all of its citizens, not just to select groups,” said B.C. Reform MP Chuck Strahl. “It cannot allow the courts to draw racial boundaries through Canada’s national resources.” (Windsor Star, October 16, 1999)
On the Nisga’a agreement: “Let us look at this Nisga’a treaty one more time. First of all it creates a state within a state, an idea which I think the Bloc Quebecois would find fairly palatable. This is sovereignty association in the heart of British Columbia.” (Chuck Strahl, Hansard, May 4, 1999)