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Chief Rudy Turtle of the Grassy Narrows First Nation will be running for office in Kenora, Ontario under the NDP banner in the coming October election, according to CTV News.
Turtle’s announcement to run comes in the midst of frustrations within his community over frequent delays in delivering a mercury poisoning treatment centre that was promised by former Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott in 2017.
“Clearly there is still a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done in terms of addressing the issues in those two communities,” said Philpott at the time.
“We have made a commitment to be there for these communities in making sure they have the health facilities they need.”
Turtle says he’s running because he believes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has “let Indigenous people and nations down.”
“Justin Trudeau promised us that he’d be different, but what we got was a prime minister that says the right thing in public, and does another behind closed doors,” Turtle said to CTV News.
“When Indigenous communities want to work with Trudeau—on issues from clean water to community safety—we get a condescending Prime Minister that’s willing to pose at ceremonies, but not willing to take action to make people’s lives better. Like millions of others, I’m tired of being let down,” Turtle continued to say.
The Kenora riding is currently held by Bob Nault, who has served as MP since 1988. In the last election, Nault narrowly beat out NDP candidate Howard Hampton by less than 500 votes.
In a press release, New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh said he’s “proud” to welcome Turtle to the NDP team.
“Together, we’re going to fight to change the government—from one that works to make life easier for multi-millionaires and big corporations, to one that’s focused on making life better for people, including Indigenous people,” Singh said in a press release.
Seamus O’Regan, the current Indigenous Services Minister, says the federal government hasn’t been able to deliver with their promises due to jurisdictional issues. In an interview with CTV’s Power Play in April, O’Regan says the federal government needs to worth with the Ford government to provide the community with “highly specialized medicines” which are necessary in treating mercury contamination.
“We haven’t been as engaged with this government,” O’Regan said. “We need to be. We need them to be at the table.”
Though attention around the election is high, the race between Nault and the NDP candidates is expected to be a close one, yet again.