As if it wasn’t bad his personal assistant racially slurred a protesting Barriere Lake youth spokesman, now Conservative MP for Pontiac and Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon is telling community members that they will have to wait until after the election to see their urgent needs met.
On September 18, Norman Matchewan, a 25-year-old community school teacher and part-time police officer decided to attend Cannon’s campaign launch in Maniwaki, along with a few other community members. Attempting to meet with Cannon, who would not acknowledge them, the group followed the minister outside the building.
As they followed, Cannon’s assistant Darlene Lannigan was caught on tape saying to the Algonquins, “If you behave and you’re sober and there’s no problems and if you don’t do a sit down and whatever, I don’t care,” in regards to their desire to speak with Cannon.
Though the Conservative government has publicly apologized for the slur, the residents of Barriere Lake have only received lip service.
The Barriere Lake community is one of Quebec’s poorest and is known for its Third World-like circumstances as its members are not beneficiaries under the Indian Act and receive very little, if any funding.
In a press release, Matchewan stated, “(Cannon) said he didn’t have time to ensure the federal government accepts reasonable demands we’ve spent years trying to reach him about – that the government honour agreements they’ve signed with us, stop undemocratically propping up an illegitimate Chief and Council in our community, and appoint observers to witness a leadership re-selection and respect its outcome in order to resolve the mess they’ve created.”
Matchewan and others from Barriere Lake have vowed to make their plight an election issue.