Premier should withdraw argument implying Sipekne’katik a “conquered” people
November 24, 2016
For immediate release.
HALIFAX – The NDP Caucus is calling on Stephen McNeil to withdraw offensive arguments made last week in a court case with the Sipekne’katik band in regards to the Alton Gas Project. The Premier announced he will apologize to Mi’kmaq Chiefs for government’s argument in court that the Sipekne’katik are not entitled to consultation.
“Reconciliation requires more than words. It requires action,” said Lenore Zann, NDP Aboriginal Affairs Critic. “If the arguments made in court do not reflect the true position of the provincial government, the Premier should write to the judge to correct the record.”
On November 10, prior to the argument being made in court, Zann questioned the Premier about a government legal brief submitted to court that argued “the [Sipekne’katik] band’s submission in 1760 negates a claim of sovereignty, and therefore negates a constitutional duty of consultation.” The Premier provided no explanation for the Liberal government’s position in court.
Following these questions, the argument went forward and was argued in court on November 14 and 15. When Stephen McNeil and Diana Whalen were questioned about the position following the court proceedings, both said they were not aware that this argument was being made on behalf of the provincial government.
“I don’t question the sincerity of the Premier’s regret for the disrespect conveyed by his government’s arguments to the court,” said NDP Leader Gary Burrill. “But this regret rings hollow unless the offending arguments are withdrawn and the government formally notifies the court that its actual position is not the position that has been presented on its behalf.”
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