The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project is a great opportunity, economically for Metis people says David Chartrand.
The long-time president of the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) is also currently the national spokesperson of the Metis National Council (MNC).
Chartrand recently applauded the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal to uphold the approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
According to Chartrand, Trans Mountain is a nation-building project.
“We believe that Trans Mountain pipeline is very important for this country,” says the MMF President.
In Manitoba, Enbridge’s Line 3 project was also important economically says Chartrand.
According to Chartrand, 220 Metis citizens worked on Line 3, earning more than $7-million dollars during construction and new Metis owned companies started up because of it all.
Chartrand believes there can be a balance between economic development and protecting the environment.
“You’re going to have people, environmentalists coming out who are not part of the Indigenous world because they have an agenda and they will disappear back into their urbanite communities and we’ll be left to fend for ourselves,” says Chartrand.
“To save our environment is going to cost money. It’s not going to come by quitting all economics, altogether and the environment is going to take care of itself.
“If the government doesn’t have the revenue, how do you expect them to deal with the environment at the same time. Let’s also understand that governments operate by way of taxes. They need to collect taxes in order to govern, to do services, to provide services for all Canadians. If the economy is not working well enough and they’re not collecting enough taxes to run a government then there’s going to be cuts happening.”
Trans Mountain has been a divisive project with some First Nations taking their opposition to the courts.
However, some Indigenous groups are also looking at purchasing the pipeline.
During part-one of a two-part interview on Face to Face, Chartrand addresses his relationship with Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister.
It’s an important year in Manitoba as it celebrates it’s 150 birthday.
Chartrand believes Pallister is deliberately leaving out the Metis.
The Manitoba Metis Federation has numerous events of its own planned to celebrate the 150.
“We still will have one hell of a party all year long,” says Chartrand.
The relationship between the two has been strained since Pallister cancelled tens of millions of dollars in hydro deals with the MMF.
“That’s when it all blew up,” says Chartrand.
Chartrand says Pallister doesn’t want to recognize the MMF as a government and it a “special interest group.”
“To this day, his vengeance is still out there and he still thinks he will out maneuver or just show disrespect to us and we will feel the hurt for standing up and defending ourselves. Premiers come and go and he will be like other premiers, he’ll disappear, he’ll go to Costa Rica and retire and we’ll continue to live and prosper,” says Chartrand who believes the olive branch will come out from the Conservative party after Pallister leaves politics.
Chartrand also addresses reports the MMF is trying to quash a deal between the federal government and Treaty 1 First Nations over a large parcel of land in Winnipeg known as Kapyong Barracks.
After decades of arguing in the courts, Canada and Treaty 1 First Nations signed an agreement in 2019 that would see Treaty 1 purchase 68 per cent of the approximately 65 hectares of land in an affluent Winnipeg neighborhood.
“Let me say this first very publicly and very clearly, we are not trying to quash any deal, in fact I support Treaty 1, I support their economic development on Kapyong. I think they should move ahead under the business ventures, I’ve spoken to several chiefs on that matter. We will not intervene in any way,” says Chartrand.
“We have a court matter dealing with sections of Kapyong because we’re not included and the government of Canada admits they did not include us in the consultation which they should have so that’s a matter between us and Canada. But we will not in any way hinder or hold back they First Nations on Treaty 1.”
Part two of the interview with Chartrand will air on Face to Face on Feb. 25 and focuses on the infighting within the Metis National Council.