NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is backing away from giving the provinces a veto over resource projects that would be built, or run through their territory.
Singh made the comments during an interview with APTN News on Tuesday.
“That’s not what I’ve said and those words actually never came out of my mouth,” he said. “What I’ve said very clearly is that we have to do things differently, and that means not imposing pipelines on provinces, and that means working with communities, and it absolutely means working with Indigenous communities.
“We’ve seen the past approach of Liberal and Conservative governments have been disrespectful and it hasn’t worked,” Singh continued. “And what we need to do is have a collaborative approach, one that is based on the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We need to move forward in a way that actually is collaborative that actually respects and works with people so that we can solve problems and move ahead with projects.”
APTN asked Singh if the issue was misreported.
“Absolutely, that is something that I’ve never said. And I’ve said very clearly that my approach is to do things differently.
“We’ve got a series of powers that exist but the way those powers have been used has not achieved the results. So instead of continuing down the same path of trying to do things the same way let’s do things differently. And our approach is that we actually have to have serious conversations, work collaboratively with people, make sure Indigenous communities are respected, given dignity and work with as partners not as imposing and enforcing things.”
While not using the word veto, Singh told the CBC on Sept. 23 that an NDP government would not impose a resource project on the provinces.
“I would not impose projects on any province,” he said. “And that means there has to be social acceptability, there has to be communities that are onside, provinces that are onside.
“If we want to move forward with a project, there has to be a buy-in from all the people involved. Indigenous communities have to be onside. It’s hard work but we know if you don’t do that work the project isn’t going to go ahead anyway.
“What if you’re not able to build that consensus,” Singh is then asked in the CBC interview.
“It just won’t go forward.”
Singh was pressed on the matter after the NDP released its commitments to Quebec, a province where the party saw a surge of support in the 2011 election but watched that support collapse in 2015.
In ‘Together for Quebec’ the party says on its website that it “firmly believes that Quebec should have a say on any oil pipeline project that passes through its territory, in the appointment of judges representing Quebec, in agreements with web giants, and in any trade deal that impacts Quebec.
“The NDP firmly believes that infrastructure projects which could have an environmental impact – particularly those related to the transportation of hydrocarbons – must be subject to Quebec’s environmental assessment procedures; they cannot bypass Quebec’s environmental laws and cannot proceed without the agreement of the Government and people of Quebec.”
APTN asked the NDP to clarify its position.
“It’s not a veto – the current approach doesn’t work. Clearly no pipeline has been built and all we’ve done is spend millions of taxpayers money fighting in courts,” a spokesperson for the party said in an email.
“Jagmeet is going to adopt a different approach — actual consultation with communities, municipalities and provinces impacted to get the social license required to build these projects.”
The idea of giving a veto to Indigenous communities came up during the 2015 campaign.
In an interview with APTN, host Cheryl McKenzie asked the Liberal leader if a ‘no’ from Indigenous communities would mean ‘no’ under a Liberal government.
“We cannot have a government that decides where the pipelines (are going to) go without having proper approval and support from the communities that are (going to) be affected,” said Trudeau during that interview.
When pressed again, Trudeau responded saying, “Absolutely.”
Aside from the resource project issue, Singh also talked about UNDRIP and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action in a wide-ranging interview that aired on APTN National News Tuesday night.
“I believe that to build a country where we move forward and tackle the problems we have to do it in a different way,” he said. “And it’s got to involve honestly working towards reconciliation. Not just talking about it but actually implementing. That’s why we’re committing to not just vague promises but very clear and distinct things. We’re saying we need to respect Indigenous communities, and that means implementing the declaration.
“We’re committed to cleaning drinking water, making sure there’s equal access to education, not taking Indigenous kids to court to challenge whether they have the right to equal funding,” Singh said. “We believe fundamentally, at a minimum, Indigenous kids have the right to equal funding and more. We have to go beyond that.”
On climate change, Singh says Indigenous communities have to be more involved in the solution.