Ethics czar investigates fisheries minister LeBlanc over licence award – CP

Source: The Canadian Press
May 18, 2018

By Teresa Wright


OTTAWA _ The federal ethics watchdog is examining the actions of Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc over the granting of a controversial clam fishing licence.

The office of conflict of interest and ethics commissioner Mario Dion said Friday that confidentiality requirements limit it to revealing that a probe into LeBlanc’s conduct in relation to an unspecified licence began May 11.

However, The Canadian Press has independently confirmed the investigation concerns a multimillion-dollar licence to fish Arctic surf clam in waters off Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia.

Conservative MP Todd Doherty has been pressing the Liberal government for weeks about how Five Nations Clam Co., won the licence.

The deal, which ended a monopoly on the Arctic clam fishery held by Clearwater Seafoods since 1999, was supposed to offer 25 per cent of the catch to local Indigenous communities as a way of promoting reconciliation and economic growth.

The company, it turns out, has ties to the Liberal party and several sitting Liberal MPs, including LeBlanc himself.

Court documents also suggest it may not have met some key eligibility requirements in the government’s tender process when the deal was announced.

The minister should never have been involved in the deal, insists Doherty, who asked the ethics commissioner to investigate.

Doherty fears the possible ramifications of the deal, as well as the message he believes it sends about how the Liberal government is managing a vital East Coast industry.

“I think Canadians deserve for us to be questioning and fighting for answers,” said the B.C. MP, who plans to resume his broadsides against the Liberals when the House resumes on Tuesday.

“Up until recently there was consistent rules and regulations and now it just appears that if you’ve got some … connections within the party and within the cabinet, those rules aren’t going to be applied, and that’s what we’re seeing with this.”

The government issued an expression of interest, calling for proposals from Indigenous organizations in Quebec or one of the four Atlantic provinces, properly licensed and majority-owned by Canadians.

Proposals representing multiple Indigenous communities would be given priority, the tender indicated.

On Feb. 21, LeBlanc announced the deal had been awarded to Five Nations, describing the company as “comprised of First Nations from Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.”

In fact, at the time, the company only had two Indigenous partners: the Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick and the Nutashkuan Innu in Quebec.

The Miawpukek Band in Newfoundland, which had submitted its own proposal, has launched a court challenge alleging LeBlanc breached his duty of fairness in awarding the licence to Five Nations.

Court documents show LeBlanc not only knew Five Nations did not have confirmed partners in P.E.I., Nova Scotia or Newfoundland, but also indicate that even as he was approving their bid, he was urging the company to quickly rectify the problem.

“Please take next steps with proponent #6 (Five Nations) and ensure that additional Indigenous communities are quickly confirmed,” LeBlanc wrote in a handwritten scrawl on the final approval document.

In its proposal, Five Nations was forthright in admitting it did not yet have partners from the three other Atlantic provinces and was not yet incorporated. Indeed, the company was not officially registered in Nova Scotia until Dec. 13, 2017, records show _ well past the Nov. 22 proposal deadline to submit proposals. The company was not registered in New Brunswick until Feb. 28 of this year.

Five Nations is partnered with Premium Seafoods, a non-Indigenous Nova Scotia company whose president is Edgar Samson _ the brother of Liberal MP Darrell Samson. A recently added Indigenous partner, NunatuKavut, is headed by former Liberal MP Todd Russell.

Doherty has also drawn ties between the deal and LeBlanc himself: The Five Nations proposal said it would be headed up by Gilles Theriault, who is cousin to the minister’s wife.

“We believe that there are some serious enough questions that Canadians on all sides of the country should be worried about this,” Doherty said.

“I’m not saying which proposal was the strongest, but I don’t think Five Nations was the strongest by any stretch _ and to be awarded this contract just from a stroke of a pen from just who you know and, perhaps, who you’re related to, is pretty shocking.”

LeBlanc’s office would not make him available for an interview, but the minister has repeatedly defended the decision to award the licence to Five Nations as part of the government’s efforts to develop a renewed relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples.

“The minister made his decision to allow for increased Indigenous participation in the fishery and we reject any insinuation to the contrary,” said LeBlanc spokesman Vincent Hughes.

Big players in the fishing industry are also upset over the deal.

The Fisheries Council of Canada, which represents 100 fishing companies across the country, accused the government of unilaterally taking 25 per cent of the Arctic clam quota away from Clearwater without consultation or due process.

That decision has created a sense of instability in the fisheries sector, council president Paul Lansbergen told a news conference in Ottawa.

“Taking away long-standing licences and quotas does not respect past investments and has eroded the sector’s confidence to invest and could undermine conservation efforts,” Lansbergen said.

Clearwater, meanwhile, was doing all it could behind the scenes to hold on to its monopoly.

Court documents show the company secretly offered to give up two of its four licences to an Indigenous group, but only if it could maintain control over the harvesting, processing and marketing of any seafood caught under those licences.

“If the policy objective is to diversify ownership, we are committed to finding constructive solutions,” Clearwater said in a letter to LeBlanc in May 2017.

“If it is to satisfy those who seek to grow their interests at our expense, then we have a problem.”

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AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says UN Human Rights Council Report Shows Need for Action and Partnership to End Discrimination in Canada and Uphold First Nations Rights

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says UN Human Rights Council Report Shows Need for Action and Partnership to End Discrimination in Canada and Uphold First Nations Rights

OTTAWA, May 17, 2018 – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde’s said the report by the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review examining Canada’s human rights record highlights the need for action to end discrimination against First Nations in Canada’s laws, policies and actions.

“It’s clear that the world is aware of the work Canada needs to do to improve the lives of First Nations peoples and to honour, uphold and implement our rights,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “Indigenous peoples are referenced many times in the recommendations and observations from states, including the need to end discrimination in Canada’s laws, policies and the country as a whole. Actions to ensure safety and security for Indigenous women and girls were brought forward numerous times, reinforcing our point that we can and must act now and not wait for the work of the National Inquiry. The only way we can achieve all these important goals is to work together using the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as our guide.”

The Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, established in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 5/1, held its thirtieth session in May of this year and the review of Canada took place on May 11. Canada’s delegation was headed by the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. The Working Group adopted the report on Canada on May 15.

The report includes a number of recommendations from states that point to ending discrimination and racism against Indigenous peoples in Canada, and calls for Canada to adopt or implement a number of human rights mechanisms. The report also includes a number of “Voluntary Pledges and Commitments” made by Canada. These include commitments to improve services delivered to Indigenous peoples; addressing violence against Indigenous women and girls; recognizing housing as a human right and co-developing distinctions-based approaches to First Nations, Métis and Inuit housing; and ending all long-term drinking water advisories in First Nations by March 2021.

AFN has repeatedly called on Canada to act on its statements of unqualified support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by ensuring the passage of Bill C-262 and explicitly renouncing the racist doctrines of discovery and terra nullius by addressing their impacts in all policy and law.

The National Chief noted a commitment by Canada to enhancing federal-provincial-territorial collaboration on human rights implementation through the creation of a “senior intergovernmental mechanism” did not include a reference to involving First Nations.

AFN National Chief Bellegarde stated: “Any senior intergovernmental mechanism must include First Nations and Indigenous peoples as full partners. The denial of our rights created many of the problems we’re dealing with today. We’re an essential part of the solution to a stronger, more fair and just country. This is our right and it is the right way to advance this work.”

The 44 written stakeholder submissions to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights noted that the same recommendations have been made repeatedly to Canada yet little progress had been made. The Canadian Human Rights Commission indicated that the current system for implementation of Canada’s international human rights obligations were inadequate and ineffective. During the review, over 70% of interventions referenced Canada’s obligation to address inequality facing Indigenous peoples and more than 1/3 of the recommendations focused on Indigenous peoples. Canada is required to provide responses to report no later than the thirty-ninth session of the Human Rights Council in September 2018.

The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

For further information: or for media requests, please contact: Jamie Monastyrski, Press Secretary, National Chief’s Office, 343-540-6179 (cell),; Monica Poirier, Bilingual Communications Officer, 613-241-6789 ext. 382, 613-290-0706 (cell),


Grassy Narrows chief skeptical as Ontario party leaders pledge mercury clean up – CP

Source: The Canadian Press
May 18, 2018 

By Colin Perkel


GRASSY NARROWS, Ont. _ The leaders of all three of Ontario’s major political parties pledged Friday to clean up a mercury-contaminated river that has plagued the Grassy Narrows First Nation for decades, as NDP Leader Andrea Horwath toured the community.

However, the New Democrat leader who flew to the First Nation in northwestern Ontario failed to win a full-throated endorsement from the community’s recently elected chief, Rudy Turtle.

“As leadership, we’re definitely concerned about who gets in (to office),” Turtle said. “Definitely, we’re hoping that either the Liberals or NDP _ one of them _ gets in.”

Residents of the 800-strong reserve in an otherwise idyllic part of the province have suffered from mercury poisoning since a paper mill in Dryden, Ont., dumped 9,000 kilograms of the toxic heavy metal into the English-Wabigoon River system in the 1960s. A report authored by five experts and released last year suggested mercury could still be leaking into the river system.

The governing Liberals under Premier Kathleen Wynne committed $85 million last year to remediate the river, but Horwath criticized her election rival’s inaction on the situation.

Wynne has “nothing else to say after 15 years in government herself,” Horwath said as she toured Grassy Narrows on Friday. “We will not sit by and let another generation go by and have this community continue to be in a situation where they don’t have clean drinking water, where the mercury poisoning that their community members are dealing with is not being addressed.”

Horwath pledged as part of her election platform to ensure the money promised by the Liberals actually flows. She also promised to build a treatment centre on the reserve, which now has only a nursing station, for those suffering from the effects of mercury poisoning, and to ensure those suffering from poisoning are adequately compensated.

Despite some cleanup efforts, mercury concentrations in the area haven’t decreased in 30 years. Dangerous levels are still present in sediment and fish, causing ongoing health and economic impacts in Grassy Narrows and the Wabaseemoong First Nation. Turtle said it appears things were finally moving.

“It’s coming. It’s slow, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done,” Turtle said. “Definitely, it’s been a struggle. Some of the victims are at the elderly stage and they’d like to see something happen before they leave this world.”

Wynne, speaking in Toronto, said preliminary work on the cleanup was already starting but she gave no timeline for when local residents can expect their drinking water to be safe.

“They are putting in place the conditions, the infrastructure to deal with the cleanup,” Wynne said. “Whatever leakage that is still happening has to be stopped and then whatever mercury is in the system has to be cleaned up. So that work is underway now and it will take as long as it takes.”

Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford said in a statement that a Tory government would make it a priority to “work as quickly as we can to clean up the contamination.”

Turtle, however, made it clear Ford’s commitment would win him few friends among Indigenous people. He cited the Ipperwash incident, in which provincial police killed an unarmed Aboriginal protester in 1995 under then Progressive Conservative premier Mike Harris.

“I’m not really too fond of the PC government,” Turtle said. “That’s something that most of our people are very leery of. I haven’t heard if their way of handling native issues would be any different from those previous people.”

Grassy Narrows has also been under a boil water advisory for more than eight years because of an inadequate treatment plant that would cost $15 million to upgrade, Turtle said. So far, however, the water remains undrinkable.

“We’re hoping that we will be one of the next ones that are funded and (we) get this place upgraded,” the chief said.

Sol Mamakwa, the NDP candidate in the new Kiiwetinoong riding, of which Grassy Narrows is part, greeted Horwath as she arrived in the drizzle at Kenora airport ahead of her tour of the reserve.

Horwath took pains to say it was time residents got justice.

“I had a sense from the community that they believe things are just taking too long, and they’ve been taking too long for decades now,” Horwath said. “Governments have been avoiding their responsibility in terms of the cleanup, they’ve been avoiding their responsibilities in terms of making things better. They shouldn’t have to wait any longer.”


New Inshore Rescue Boat graduates will boost Canadian Coast Guard summer Search and Rescue services in Central and Arctic Region

From: Canadian Coast Guard

News release

Ottawa, Ontario – The Canadian Coast Guard plays a vital role in ensuring the safety of mariners and the marine environment. To augment its search and rescue services during the busy summer boating season, each year the Coast Guard hires and trains close to 100 post-secondary students to work at 26 Inshore Rescue Boat stations in strategic locations on the Great Lakes, the Saint John and St. Lawrence Rivers, and Canada’s coastal waters.

On May 12, 2018, the 46 students who will work at stations in the Coast Guard’s Central and Arctic Region graduated from an intensive two-week training program, held at Canadian Forces Base Trenton. This group included the eight crew members who will staff the Coast Guard’s first Inshore Rescue Boat station in the Arctic.

The students received classroom and on-water training in advanced boat handling, how to respond to capsized, lost and disabled vessels, how to rescue persons who have fallen overboard, and how to respond to medical emergencies. All graduates are certified in First Aid and Level C CPR.

The students also took part in a simulated search and rescue exercise in partnership with a Royal Canadian Air Force CH-146 Griffon helicopter from 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron, to familiarize them with joint search and rescue operations.

The Coast Guard’s new Arctic Inshore Rescue Boat station is located in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. It was announced in January 2018 as part of the Government of Canada’s $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan, which aims to improve marine safety and protect Canada’s marine environment and coastal communities. The station is expected to open in June 2018 using interim facilities.

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“The Canadian Coast Guard has a strong relationship with the communities where we operate our Inshore Rescue Boat service, and we are committed to strengthening these relationships. This service not only enhances marine search and rescue in the Central and Arctic region, including in northern communities, it is also a unique and rewarding summer job, with crew members often continuing on to careers in the Coast Guard.”

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., Q.C., M.P.

Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Quick facts

  • In the regions where they operate, Inshore Rescue Boat crews are often the first to respond to distress calls from mariners or to those in need of assistance. Across Canada, the crews respond to approximately 1,200 incidents each season.
  • The crews also provide public education on boating safety, and each year conduct more than 1,400 Pleasure Craft Courtesy Checks in partnership with Transport Canada’s Office of Boating Safety Program.
  • ·The Arctic Inshore Rescue Boat station will be operated by Indigenous students from Arctic communities, initially under the leadership of an experienced Coast Guard officer until the crews are experienced enough to operate independently.
  • The Government of Canada worked with local governments and community leaders on the choice of Rankin Inlet as the location for the Arctic station, and will continue to involve partners and stakeholders as construction plans for the permanent station progress.

Associated links



Media Relations
Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Vincent Hughes
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister
Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard


Things Are Not Looking Good – Wawatay News Online

I don’t understand what is happening in the world these days. For example, I thought things were getting better between First Nation people and non-Natives in this country. There has been so much bad history having to do with violence, residential schools, and hundreds of years of colonization. It seemed that under a federal Liberal government and with the new sensitivity in our developing civilization that life was getting better for my people.

To realize that a young Native man by the name of Colten Boushie was shot in the head by Gerald Stanley, a Saskatchewan farmer who thought he was about to be robbed on his property is inexcusable. The fact that Stanley only received a $3,000 fine and a ban of owning a firearm for ten years, has outraged Native people across Canada. Yes there are a lot of problems with the entire story but the fact is you just don’t shoot to kill people and then try to call it an accident. We pride ourselves as having better gun laws and more sanity when it comes to that issue in Canada but in a lot of ways we don’t. Here is one example when one gun was used too freely to solve a problem.

Read More:

First Nations Fishing Rights – Fact Sheet

First Nations Fishing Rights – Fact Sheet


Fishing is part of First Nations culture and identity. It sustains First Nations peoples and economies and is a constitutionally protected inherent and Treaty right. In the spirit of reconciliation and raising awareness of our shared history and future, the Assembly of First Nations National Fisheries Committee, by direction from Chiefs across the country, have declared May 21, 2018, a National Day of First Nations Fishing Rights. This is a day to honour the inherent right to fish, to raise awareness of its interconnectedness to growing sustainable environments, conservation and water protection and fostering healthy individuals and nations. Victoria Day was chosen by the National Fisheries Committee as a statement: this is an effort to decolonize a day named for the Queen who presided over many of the Treaties made with First Nations.

Fisheries & Colonization

  • At Canada’s Confederation in 1867, the federal government was given authority over fisheries and set up the Department of Marine and Fisheries. First Nations governments were not consulted or involved in the development of this legislation.
  • The Numbered Treaties were a series of 11 Treaties made between the Government of Canada and First Nations from 1871 to 1921, covering the area between Lake of the Woods (northern Ontario, southern Manitoba) to the Rocky Mountains (northeastern British Columbia and interior plains of Alberta) to the Beaufort Sea (north of Yukon and the Northwest Territories). 
  • As part of the obligations of the Hudson Bay Company for the transfer of Rupert’s Land and the North-Western Territory to the federal government, Canada had to address Indigenous claims to those lands. The Crown used the Numbered Treaties to get access to traditional territories and assert its jurisdiction in exchange for certain promises such as reserve lands, annual payments and hunting and fishing rights to unoccupied crown lands. 
  • From 1850-54, the Crown negotiated 14 treaties (known as the Douglas Treaties) with some of the Indigenous Peoples of Vancouver Island, that confirmed the right to “carry on our fisheries as formerly.”

Celebrating Fishing, Indigenous Cultures and Languages

  • Fishing promotes healthy family connections and activities. Fishing is more than the act of removing fish for food – it is teaching and talking about fish, the water sources and the many activities that impact First Nations rights and cultures.
  • Fishing in many First Nations is a key activity in transmitting cultures and languages. Use May 21 as an opportunity to learn, share and pass on those words and practices.
  • Fishing and food is integral in First Nations cultures. Fishing is an important part of trade, labour and the economy. It helps to shape identity, promote mental, physical and spiritual health, including suicide prevention and life promotion.
  • Sustainable, strong fishery economies and water and environmental protection fosters strong individuals and nations.

Inherent Rights and Governance Systems

  • First Nations in Canada have inherent and Treaty rights protected in the Canadian Constitution. These rights include the right to traditional and customary governance of traditional lands, waters and resources, including fisheries.
  • The duty of the Crown states that the federal government must consult and accommodate First Nations in any decision-making involved in First Nations territories. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples further articulates Indigenous rights including Free, Prior and Informed Consent.
  • Courts in Canada, including the Supreme Court of Canada, have made a number of decisions recognizing First Nations rights. Some significant decisions recognizing the rights of First Nations to fish and exercise governance over their traditional fisheries include Sparrow (1990), Gladstone (1996), Delgamuukw (1997), Marshall (1999), Haida (2004) and Ahousaht (2009).
  • 200+ Canadian Supreme Court decisions bear the name of many First Nations individuals who fought valiantly for their rights. First Nations must now be included in any discussions on fisheries and oceans management, water source protection.
  • First Nations rights are also articulated in international law, specifically in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Specific articles related to fishing include Article 25, Article 32 (2) and Article 32 (3).

A number of First Nations are exercising the right to institute their own laws in regards to fishing. These include the Sheshegwaning First Nations first aquaculture law, Listguj Miqmaq first-ever salmon law and Nisga Lisims fish and wildlife laws.


Statement by Minister Joly on International Museum Day

OTTAWA, May 18, 2018

International Museum Day, observed today around the world, is the perfect time to celebrate the important role our museums play in communities across Canada.

These places for education and the dissemination of arts, history and science reflect our inclusive society and our pride in its diversity. Many of them allow Canadians to learn about the essential contribution of Indigenous communities to our country’s development, thereby contributing to reconciliation efforts.

Our museums keep our heritage alive and put it within reach of current and future generations. In addition, as repositories of reliable information in an age of “fake news,” museums play an essential role in informing our reflections and critical thinking.

This year’s theme, “Hyperconnected museums: New approaches, new publics”, reminds us that our museums are constantly innovating. They offer renewed experiences as they expand their outreach to a changing and ever-growing clientele.

The Government of Canada is committed to supporting heritage institutions across the country. Through various programs and services, it supports the work of some 36,000 employees and 115,000 volunteers who provide us with rewarding cultural experiences.

Canada’s museum community is dynamic, creative and well worth discovering. Heritage institutions welcome more than 75 million visitors annually, including nearly 7 million students. In 2015, their websites recorded more than 200 million hits.

As Minister of Canadian Heritage, I encourage all Canadians to take advantage of the wealth of our country’s national, regional and local museums, which excel in the art of exhibiting our treasures, telling our stories, and highlighting our talents.

For more information (media only), please contact:

Simon Ross
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage


Grassy Narrows clean up will ‘take as long as it takes,’ Wynne says – CP

Source: The Canadian Press
May 18, 2018

TORONTO _ Ontario Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne says cleaning up a mercury-contaminated river that has plagued two First Nation communities for decades “will take as long as it takes.”

Wynne, whose government committed $85 million for the remediation of the English-Wabigoon River system in northwestern Ontario, says preliminary work is starting now.

She says the infrastructure for the remediation is already being put in place and ongoing contamination must first be stopped before the mercury is cleaned up.

She gave no timeline for when residents of Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong First Nation can expect the river system to be clean, but says it has to be done.

People in those communities have dealt with mercury poisoning since a paper mill in Dryden, Ont., dumped the substance into the water in the 1960s, but mercury concentrations haven’t decreased in 30 years and are causing ongoing health and economic impacts.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is taking her election campaign to Grassy Narrows today.


Where the leaders are for Friday, May 18 – CP

Source: The Canadian Press – Broadcast wire
May 18, 2018

Where the leaders of Ontario’s main political parties are campaigning on Friday, May 18:


Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne

9 a.m. _ Makes an announcement, 4th Floor Rooftop, 401 Richmond St. W., Toronto.

1:15 p.m. _ Visits Mill Creek Gardens, 3 Little York St., Orangeville, Ont.

3 p.m. _ Tours Stevenson Memorial Hospital, 200 Fletcher Cres., Alliston, Ont.


Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford

11 a.m. _ Makes an announcement, Advanced Medical Group, 230 Victoria St., London, Ont.


NDP Leader Andrea Horwath

10:15 a.m. _ Holds a campaign event, Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation, Band Administration Office, Grassy Narrows, Ont.

2:45 p.m. _ Holds a campaign event, 1520 Valley Dr., Kenora, Ont.


(The Canadian Press)


OAHS and Habitat for Humanity Partner in Northumberland

Port Hope, ON – On Friday, April 20th local dignitaries, Habitat for Humanity Northumberland staff and volunteers, and Port Hope community members came together “Where Harcourt meets Hope St.” to welcome three local Port Hope families to their new homes.

“All of these volunteers have contributed to ensuring that these three families can achieve strength, stability and independence through affordable homeownership.” (- see article).

Habitat Northumberland partnered with OAHS’ Assisted Homeownership Program to provide one of the three families with access to down-payment assistance.

“It is of utmost importance to provide options when our people are faced with barriers to obtaining a traditional mortgage. This OAHS/Habitat partnership, along with the hard work and dedication put in by the Canniff/Smoke family, has resulted in an Indigenous family of five (5) now having a safe and permanent home in which to grow as a family,” said Sylvia Maracle, Chair OAHS Board of Directors.

Through the above partnerships and funding, a total of fourteen people (5 adults and 9 children) now have a safe and stable home.

Read the full article


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