Pallister stepping away from Tory leadership brings hope for First Nation leaders 

By Dave Baxter

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) says that although he would typically offer warm words and thanks to any outgoing politician, he can’t and won’t offer any words of appreciation for the time Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister has spent in office.

“While we as political leaders always attempt to thank outgoing leaders for their years of service, unfortunately, in this case, we at the AMC cannot,” AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas said in a Tuesday statement released just hours after Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister announced he will not seek re-election and will step away from his role as leader of the province.

The now outgoing premier outraged Indigenous leaders back in July when he made remarks in a press conference defending colonialism after statues of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth were toppled on Canada Day in Winnipeg and the premier has had an often contentious relationship with First Nations organizations in this province.

“While we always wish to be respectful and diplomatic, the hurt our citizens faced and still face by repeatedly hearing his comments remains far too raw and for that reason, we cannot truly thank the Premier as he steps aside,” Dumas said.

Dumas claimed that during Pallister’s time in office, First Nations groups have not been able to form meaningful partnerships with the premier or the ruling PC government.

“The AMC and member First Nations have worked tirelessly throughout Pallister’s time in government to seek a respectful and collaborative partnership to no avail,” Dumas said. “It has been a challenging half-decade, to say the least.

“We as First Nations are hopeful for what the future brings. We immediately call upon the incoming Premier to reopen communication, consultation and respect towards First Nations in Manitoba.”

Manitoba Metis Federation President David Chartrand said in a phone interview with the Winnipeg Sun on Wednesday that the next leader of the Manitoba PCs should “take a page and learn what not to do” when it comes to leading the party, and dealing with First Nations and Metis people.

“If you’ve learned what not to do from Mr. Pallister then you have a chance to be premier again in this province, but to take the Pallister `my way or the highway’ approach is not going to work with Manitobans, and it’s not going to work with Conservatives,” Chartrand said.

“It does not work to just go at everything alone and have that dictatorial style of governing.”

Chartrand is now asking the next premier of the province to step up and work collaboratively with the Manitoba Metis Federation and with Metis people in the province.

“There is going to be a lot of work that needs to be done between the new leader and the Metis if we want to rebuild that relationship and at this point, you have to ask yourself `how does the next leader repair this damage?”’

Southern Chiefs Organization (SCO) Grand Chief Jerry Daniels said that the announcement that Pallister will step down “could not come any sooner.”

“SCO is pleased to hear confirmation that Premier Brian Pallister will not stand for re-election and will stand down as premier before the end of his second term,” Daniels said in a Wednesday statement.

“We’ve been calling on the premier to show leadership in resigning for quite some time now, so we’re quite happy to hear that’s what’s going to be happening. SCO’s hope is to have leadership who will take bold action in partnering with First Nations.”

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) acting grand chief Shirley Ducharme also responded to Pallister’s announcement.

“On behalf of MKO, we are pleased to hear confirmation that Brian Pallister will not seek re-election for the position of Premier of Manitoba,” Ducharme said in a Tuesday statement.

“We look forward to working with a leader who is fully committed to truth and reconciliation and working with First Nations in a good way.”

– Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.


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