Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke in Winnipeg on April 12 about “clean energy” and natural resources. CPAC screenshot

 

WINNIPEG, OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Winnipeg on Wednesday, April 12 to talk about “clean energy.” While there, he was asked about the kerfuffle between his justice minister and the Prairie Premiers on natural resources in recent days.

An APTN reporter asked, “First nations leaders in the prairie provinces are becoming increasingly alarmed at what their governments are doing, with regard to natural resources and exerting their assumed authority. They’re wanting a place at the table. So what can you do to assure them that they’ll be heard in any consultations?

Trudeau responded, “As a federal government, we have been very clear that reconciliation is an essential priority, not just for Canada, as a moral imperative, as the right thing to do for our country, to fix and to counter the decades, generations and even centuries of colonial and extraordinarily damaging practices. But it’s also about building a strong economy for the future, as we look to developing the critical minerals and natural resources needed for coming years, as we look to building a stronger future with great jobs right across the country. Indigenous peoples need to be partners in how we develop land how we move forward in a respectful, responsible ways. We, of course, at the federal government are very much committed to bringing in the actions around the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) that we have within our jurisdiction. We will continue to work with provinces to ensure that they are also moving forward on the path of reconciliation. This is something that, unfortunately, we’ve seen conservative politicians across the country not take as seriously as either our moral responsibilities or our economic responsibilities where required.”

A Winnipeg Free Press reporter asked specifically about the dustup with the premiers of Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba over comments made on April 5 by federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General David Lametti on provincial control over natural resources.

The reporter asked, “I wanted to ask about the Natural Resources Transfer. Is it appropriate, in your opinion, to review the agreements, and how do you address the concerns raised by the Prairie premiers?

Trudeau said, “Let me be very clear. The Minister of Justice said no such thing. If you actually look at his remarks, it is very clear that we’re talking about the importance of the federal government living up to our responsibilities under UNDRIP, something that unfortunately the Prairie premiers have not taken seriously and they are instead of trying to elevate fears that have absolutely no grounding in truth.

“We know we need to move forward in true reconciliation and partnership with Indigenous peoples and that’s something that we certainly hope we’re going to be able to work on, with the premiers and with Indigenous peoples – to be able to grow the economy and create those great jobs, including in natural resources, that are going to be there for decades to come as we move towards a net-zero world.

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Poilievre attacks Lametti

The day before, on April 11, federal Conservative Leader and Leader of the Opposition Pierre Poilievre took a run at embattled federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General David Lametti over his April 5 comments on provincial control over natural resources.

Poilievre tweeted, “Trudeau’s Justice Minister David Lametti threatened to overturn the constitution & take federal control over provincial resources.

“I’ll never allow this attack by the costly coalitition on our prairie resource workers.

“I’ll put westerners in control of their resources and lives.”

Lametti quoted that tweet and responded on April 11, “This isn’t true. At no point did I commit our government to reviewing areas of provincial jurisdiction. Read my statement, or watch what I actually said: https://bit.ly/400fDJR

“What I did promise Indigenous partners is what I will always promise Indigenous partners – to listen.”

There appears to be over exaggeration on both fronts. Lametti did not “threaten to overturn the constitution,” as Poilievre suggested. But neither was Lametti’s tweet about not committing the government reviewing areas of provincial jurisdiction accurate, either. And then there’s Manitoba premier Heather Stefanson’s comments, as well.

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What Lametti really said

Here’s what was actually said by Lametti, with emphasis added by Pipeline Online.

During a panel at the Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly, in Ottawa on April 5, Justice Minister David Lametti was asked by two people about provincial jurisdiction over natural resources. Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte from Prince Albert Grand Council asked Lametti to “rescind the act, The Natural Resource Transfer Act, that affect the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. That’s what we’re asking you, minister as an action item with a statement. It affects our treaty rights, of course, under the Sask First Act, that we hear about. And it’s to do with natural resources. Indian natural resources.”

Chief Don Maracle of Mohawks of Bay of Quinte said, “Canada exporters natural resources to other countries. They earn trillions of dollars in revenues from those resources. Those resources were given to the provinces, without ever asking one Indian if it was okay to do that, or what benefits the First Nations expect to receive by Canada consenting to that arrangement.”

In response, Lametti said, “I take from Chief Brian and Chief Don Maracle the point about the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement … You’re on the record for that. I obviously can’t pronounce on that right now. But I do commit to looking at that.

“It won’t be uncontroversial, is the only think I would say, with a bit of a smile,” Lametti said.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti rises during Question Period, in Ottawa, Wednesday, March 29, 2023. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is accusing Prairie premiers of distorting the words of his justice minister after comments David Lametti made at a meeting of Assembly of First Nations chiefs last week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

 

Manitoba premier jumps in

Also on April 11, Manitoba premier Heather Stefanson joined the fray. In addition to the joint statement put out by Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, and herself, Stefanson said this in a tweet:

“The federal Justice Minister suggested he’s “looking at” taking away provincial authority of our natural resources in the prairies. That’s reckless.

@JustinTrudeau

“This needs clarification ASAP! Read my full statement below:

“Reckless comments from the federal Justice Minister threatening Manitoba’s control over natural resources need to be immediately withdrawn.

“The recent suggestion that the federal government will look at rescinding constitutional Natural Resources Transfer Agreements from the 1930’s with Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta is another example of divisive disregard for the prairie provinces.

“I will always defend Manitoba from any attempt to unilaterally strip clear provincial constitutional authority over natural resources. This needless provocation by the federal government now requires early clarification from the Justice Minister and the Prime Minister.”

Editor’s note: A few hours after Trudeau’s press conference in Winnipeg on “clean energy,” Alberta’s 3,618 megawatts of wind power generation fell to 70 megawatts, or 1.9 per cent nameplate capacity, according to the Alberta Electric System Operator. 

Pipeline Online provides the in-depth coverage on energy issues in this province that no other media comes close to. It does NOT receive federal journalism subsidies. However, with recent threats from Facebook to block news links, it’s important to follow Pipeline Online in other manners. The easiest is to check each morning at PipelineOnline.ca, with the top story posted at 7 a.m. Monday to Friday, and additional coverage throughout the day and weekend. But you can also follow on LinkedIn and Twitter. You can follow editor Brian Zinchuk online at LinkedIn as well (you’ll see more stories that way). Finally, you can subscribe to a weekly newsletter

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