The new leader of the federal Conservatives says he would outlaw blockades that target critical infrastructure, not support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and promote sustainable resource development if elected prime minister.
For Erin O’Toole, resource extraction is key to prosperity, part of his igniting the Indigenous economy platform.
He went into detail on Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde’s podcast last week.
“Resource development is done responsibly. You mitigate the impacts on the environment,” he told Bellegarde. “But also maximize the benefit for Indigenous communities and the direct stakeholders in a project. So this is where I think the re-launch of the economy is key. And where I think uniting the Indigenous economy and leadership is central.”
O’Toole however considers blockades like the one at Tyendinaga in February that halted trains in the country’s busiest rail corridor to be illegal and not a valid protest.
He says an O’Toole government would pass a Freedom of Movement Act, and make it a criminal offense to block a railway, airport or major road.
O’Toole also does not support legislation that brings Canada’s laws in line with the principles of UNDRIP.
“I’m not a fan of UNDRIP. And here’s the reason: Our Supreme Court of Canada developed the duty to consult and Indigenous engagement far before the UN did any work on this topic,” he said.
But O’Toole is familiar with several studies, including the Hawthorn report, the White Paper, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the calls to action of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
He promises to do something based on their recommendations.
“I want more action and I’m willing to partner with you and leadership across the country to make sure some of the stuff in several commissions and studies is acted upon,” O’Toole again told Bellegarde.
“I want action, less talk.”
O’Toole could get his chance to be prime minister in the fall.
His acceptance speech was also a campaign speech – a pitch for a stronger, more united and prosperous Canada.
“If you want to stop insiders from getting ahead while you are falling back, you should be voting Conservative,” he said in an appeal to voters of other parties.
“If you are proud of what we produce in this country, whether it’s the resources in the ground or the ideas in our head, you should be voting Conservative.”
If the Liberal minority can’t get other parties to support its throne speech on Sept. 23, an election could follow.