Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attempted to dispel anger from Prairie premiers on Wednesday surrounding recent comments on the Natural Resources Transfer Act made by Justice Minister David Lametti.
During an Assembly of First Nations meeting last week, Lametti promised he would “look at” the agreement after several chiefs called for it to be rescinded, fielding accusations of attempting to override constitutional rights which give provinces autonomy over natural resources.
“Let me be very clear. The Minister of Justice said no such thing. If you actually look at his remarks it is very clear that we’re talking about the importance of the federal government living up to our responsibilities under UNDRIP,” claimed Trudeau.
“It’s something that unfortunately the Prairie premiers have not taken seriously and they are instead trying to elevate fears that have absolutely no grounding in truth.”
Lametti made the comments in response to statements by Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte of the Prince Albert Grand Council and Chief Donald Maracle of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte.
“I take from Chief Brian also from Chief Don Maracle the point about the Natural Resources Transfer (Act) … I obviously can’t pronounce on that right now but I do commit to looking at that. It won’t be uncontroversial is the only thing I would say with a bit of a smile,” said Lametti.
The Justice Minister’s remarks led to a flurry of condemnations both from Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre and premiers Danielle Smith, Scott Moe and Heather Stefanson.
“The federal government cannot unilaterally change the Constitution. It should not even be considering stripping resource rights away from the three Prairie provinces,” the premiers said in a joint statement.
“The prime minister needs to immediately retract these dangerous and divisive comments by his justice minister.”
Meanwhile, Poilievre labelled the statement an “attack” on resource workers.