By Krystalline Kraus
With the provincial election closing in, Ontario Libertarian Party candidate, Tamara Johnson, published a full page ad in Tuesday's Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal raising issue with First Nations communities and its treaty rights. For example:
The ad speaks to Voters and asks:
"No group of people are above the law
No group of people can legally block our roads and rail lines
No group of people are 'entitled' to handouts"
And speaks to Tax Payers and asks:
"Help me stop this doctrine of entitlement
Help me stop the inequality
Help me stop the injustice"
At the end of the ad, she asks Thunder Bay residents to vote "for their future".
Critics were quick to point out that the Libertarian Party ad unfairly takes aim at First Nations communities and its treaty rights.
One statement in particular that makes it clear that Johnson was singling out Indigenous communities is, "No group of people 'own' Crown lands. Crown lands are public lands. No native lands."
While the Libertarian Party of Ontario stand behind their right to freedom of speech, Anishinabek Nation communications director, Maurice Switzer, feels differently. In an CBC interview, he said the ad, "falsely paints First Nations people as lawbreakers by using terms like 'illegal' blockades and 'no group of people are above the laws of Ontario.'"
Switzer also questioned the integrity of news organizations that would allow such an ad -- which he says is factually incorrect -- to be published unchallenged in its publications.
In a Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) press release dated the day after the original Libertarian Party ad was published, NAN Grand Chief Harvey Yesno stated, "The statements made by Libertarian candidate Tamara Johnson are outrageous and disparaging against First Nations and our Treaty rights. All citizens have the right to express their opinions, but we strongly disagree with the dissemination of information that is factually incorrect and appears to be racially motivated."
The press release continues, "We do not see ourselves as 'above the law', but we are fighting for the justice that has been denied us. We are not looking for 'handouts', but we are trying to raise our children in safe and healthy environments with a quality education. We are not owed a 'debt' by taxpayers, but we deserve to benefit from resource development in our homelands. Finally, we are not 'Super-Citizens', but we honour and respect our unique nation-to-nation Treaty relationship with the Governments of Ontario and Canada."