Mr. Peter Tabuns: To the minister of Indigenous relations: Yesterday, Grassy Narrows First Nation announced they’re pursuing legal action against Ontario for issuing mining exploration permits which authorize companies to drill for gold on their territory. In a statement, Chief Randy Fobister said, very clearly, “The government isn’t working with us, they are working against us. They need to stop logging and mining so the land can heal. Good land will heal our people from all the damage the government has been pushing on us,” like mercury and industry.
Will the government listen to the leadership of Grassy Narrows and rescind those permits?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The parliamentary assistant, the member for Peterborough–Kawartha, to respond.
Mr. Dave Smith: What has been issued have been exploration permits, and I can arrange a briefing for the member if he’d like to have a better understanding of what the difference is between the types of permits. The crown has a duty to consult with Aboriginal communities in relation to approval for mining exploration. Our government takes the challenges faced by the people of Grassy Narrows very, very seriously, and we are engaging in conversation with them. But because this matter has now come before the courts, I’m afraid that I’m not able to discuss anything further about it.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): And the supplementary question?
Mr. Peter Tabuns: The government did not consult or even notify the people of Grassy Narrows before issuing these permits—not consult, not even notify. But now that the people of Grassy Narrows know what’s going on, they are being perfectly clear.
Chief Fobister went on to say, “Since Premier Ford came into power there has been a huge expansion of mining claims and permits on our territory, and now the government is starting to plan for more industrial logging on part of our territory again. How many times must our people fight off these attacks on our health and our way of life?”
The community is being very clear about their needs. Why won’t the government listen?
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Again to respond, the—
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Members will please take their seats.
Member for Peterborough–Kawartha.
Mr. Dave Smith: The ministry continues to work with Grassy Narrows to establish a positive relationship and promote reconciliation, and to ensure that the community is appropriately consulted regarding proposals to resource development in the area. We actually have a meeting scheduled with them for Thursday of this week.
But because the matter is before the courts, it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further.
Here's the link for the video of the exchange: https://youtu.be/6ZQ64H5JHMQ