Ontario has just elected a new premier who believes that Native people “spend all their time” on land claims and “do nothing” to help themselves economically.
In a speech before winning a huge majority in the provincial election, Conservative Party leader Mike Harris blasted the previous NDP government for being “willing to give away Northern Ontario” to settle First Nations land claims.
The Conservatives won about 60 per cent of the seats in the June 8 election.
In a speech reported in the Peterborough Examiner, Harris said land-claims talks should involve everyone living in the affected areas, not just First Nations and the government.
“There’s a whole notion of guilt because Native people haven’t fully adapted from the reservations to being full partners in this economy,” he said.
“We can’t let that guilt preclude us from reaching a common sense revolution.” He didn’t outline specific solutions, but he made it clear he considers many First Nations land claims unjustified. “Too many (Natives) spend all their time on courts and lawyers, and they just stay home and do nothing,” said Harris, who used to work in his family’s ski resort and ran a golf course before entering politics.
In a press release, Harris said the NDP was wrong to recognize the “inherent right” of First Nations self-government. Harris also expressed concern about “the impact of Native hunting and fishing on natural resources,” and said “the concept of conservation must also be applied equally to all Ontarians.”