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MMF leader sides with Trudeau over Wilson-Raybould

David Chartrand believes testimony of former justice minister could set back reconciliation

Manitoba Metis Federation president David Chartrand said the MMF is staying loyal to the federal Liberals. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press files)</p>

Manitoba Metis Federation president David Chartrand said the MMF is staying loyal to the federal Liberals. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 1/3/2019 (525 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

OTTAWA — Manitoba’s Métis leader is doubling down on his support for embattled Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, discounting the SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. scandal, as well as the federal Conservatives.

"This is about personalities and egos, and having hurt feelings — that’s what this is about," David Chartrand, head of the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF), told the Free Press.

He was reacting to comments by Indigenous leaders that Trudeau has hurt reconciliation in his treatment of former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould.

Wilson-Raybould resigned last month from federal cabinet, alleging Trudeau politically interfered in a corruption prosecution.

"There’s never anyone who’s spent so much political capital in trying to make a difference in Indigenous lives in this country," Chartrand said Friday of Trudeau.

"The sad part about it is an Indigenous person (Wilson-Raybould) trying to bring that same government down and that prime minister down. It’s an irony."

Chartrand said the MMF is staying loyal to the federal Liberals following a historic acknowledgment of Métis people in multiple Indigenous programs, including funding allocations.

That loyalty was visible Thursday, when the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs lashed out at the Liberals’ long-awaited reform of child welfare, accusing Ottawa of "stealing" its research in crafting a bill that had "no teeth" to assert First Nations authority.

Former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould testified Wednesday about political interference from the prime minister and his staff in her department's handling of the SNC-Lavalin prosecution. (Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press files)

Former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould testified Wednesday about political interference from the prime minister and his staff in her department's handling of the SNC-Lavalin prosecution. (Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press files)

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, a First Nations advocacy group, showed timid support for the bill. But the MMF hailed the legislation as "another historic accomplishment by Trudeau."

Christopher Adams, a University of Manitoba political scientist, said Métis and First Nations within the province have diverged at different points in how they interact with the federal government, largely because Ottawa has obligations for services on reserves, while Métis people largely fall under provincial systems.

"The MMF have a history of, when they see something politically of advantage, they jump at it," said Adams, who co-edited the anthology Métis in Canada: History, Identity, Law and Politics.

Adams said Métis leaders have generally resisted outright endorsements, instead highlighting federal and provincial candidates of various parties who are Métis.

He expects Chartrand would drop his support for Trudeau if ongoing discussions over a major Métis land claim would fall through.

Chartrand said he’s supporting the Liberals because they have created Métis-specific budget lines and policies, something he claims has been lacking since Manitoba joined Canada in 1870.

"They’re doing a great job in advancing reconciliation; the Métis nation have never seen in their entire history any government go as far as Trudeau has gone," he said. "We’ve made historical changes beyond our wildest dreams that we’ve been championing for a hundred years."

Chartrand also slagged the federal Tories, saying they haven’t outlined specific promises for Métis people, should they take government this fall.. He said the Tories’ focus on equal rights could undermine Métis-specific rights.

He also accused Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer of associating with racists in the so-called yellow vest movement:

"I’m a big supporter of the Trans-Canada pipeline, but I’m definitely not a supporter of racists and discriminatory, outspoken individuals, whom Scheer jumped in front of."

dylan.robertson@freepress.mb.ca

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