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This article was published 21/8/2018 (420 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) says there can be no room for reconciliation in the province unless government officials will discuss planned litigation against them outside a courtroom.
In a letter sent to MMF president David Chartrand on Aug. 16, Minister of Crown Services Colleen Mayer and Minister of Indigenous and Northern Relations Eileen Clarke say their government is committed to advancing reconciliation with all Indigenous peoples in Manitoba, but they will not discuss the MMF's pending lawsuit, for now.
"We understand that when addressing the difficult concepts of reconciliation, consultation and accommodation, parties often have different perspectives. Different perspectives are valid and can inform communications going forward. We are optimistic that we will enjoy a successful partnership in concluding consultations regarding the Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project and the Lake Manitoba Outlet projects," Clarke and Mayer wrote.
"Your letter raised several issues currently before the Court," the ministers said, referring to a letter Chartrand sent in July, requesting a meeting with then-Crown Services Minister Cliff Cullen.
"As we mentioned in our June 21, 2018 letter, our lawyers are in contact about the litigation. We do not intend to address it further outside of the court process."
The letter concludes with the ministers saying their offices will be in touch to schedule a meeting with Chartrand to "continue our conversation and discuss common priorities."
On Monday, Chartrand told the Free Press a meeting would be futile if the province refuses to discuss disagreements over Manitoba Hydro and night hunting. Bill 29, the Wildlife Protection Act, seeks to set limits on night hunting, which infringes on Indigenous rights, he said.
"That clearly is unconstitutional and, in many ways, will definitely be illegal. There will definitely be court challenges on that," he said.
"So there is no reconciliation with this government. There’s never been a temporary conciliation and I don’t see how they can even have the nerve to say, ‘Let’s start talking about reconciliation.’ You have to have something to talk about that you’re trying to do to make things better and enhance and find a balance of where reconciliation matters and everything works. But if you have nothing, how can you even begin reconciliation?"
A government spokesman said neither Mayer nor Clarke would be available for interviews Tuesday to discuss why they won't talk about legal issues in their planned meeting with Chartrand.
"MMF commenced the litigation and as such, we respect the judicial process and won’t comment any further," the spokesman said by email.
The Manitoba government has hired Toronto-based law firm Osler, through its Calgary offices, to defend the province in court against a legal challenge by the MMF, who submitted a judicial review request over orders cabinet gave Manitoba Hydro on March 21 to kill a land-entitlement deal worth $67.5 million over 50 years.
Among the provisions of the agreement — which the government argues was a mere proposal — is the MMF would not oppose a proposed $453-million hydro transmission line to Minnesota that would facilitate increased U.S. sales.
— With files from Larry Kusch
Jessica Botelho-Urbanski covers the Manitoba Legislature for the Winnipeg Free Press.
Updated on Tuesday, August 21, 2018 at 6:45 PM CDT: Clarifies identity of law firm representing province.