APTN National News
OTTAWA–Moments after Manitoba chiefs stated during an Ottawa press conference they would not participate in a planned meeting Friday with the prime minister unless Gov. Gen. David Johnston also attended, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying a ceremonial meeting would take place with the Crown’s representative at Rideau Hall.
Johnston will be meeting with First Nations chiefs at 6:30 p.m. Friday, following a planned meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a delegation of about 30 people including First Nations chiefs, elders, women and youth.
It’s remained unclear Thursday afternoon how this invitation would impact the position of chiefs who have said they would not participate in the meeting with Harper unless Johnston was involved.
The governor general’s involvement was one of the prerequisites set by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence to end her nearly month-long hunger strike. It also remained unclear whether Friday’s planned ceremonial meeting with Johnston would be enough for Spence to end her hunger strike.
Danny Metatawabin, Spence’s spokesman, said he had no comment until he consulted with the Attawapiskat chief who began her hunger strike on Dec. 11.
Harper is scheduled to meet with First Nations leaders at about 12:45 p.m. at Langevin Block, which houses his working office across from Parliament Hill. Harper is expected to be present at the meeting for only the beginning and again at the end.
The three-hour meeting will also include Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, Treasury Board President Tony Clement and parliamentary secretary for Aboriginal Affairs Greg Rickford.