Belanger Says Protests Might Get Government Action

Friday, July 17, 2009 at 14:55



An opposition MLA from northern Saskatchewan says northerners might have to hold protests to get better treatment from the Saskatchewan Party government.


Athabasca MLA Buckley Belanger says northern residents are angry that the current government has cancelled road projects in a region in need of better roads, and that very little appears to be being done about the growing drug problem in the north.


Belanger says northern residents don’t believe they’re getting a fair return for the resources that are extracted from the region.


He says there’s no way northerners are going to let the current situation continue — and he says they might have to resort to holding demonstrations.


Belanger also says if protests of this sort are organized, he will be a part of them.


However, Belanger says he will only take that sort of action if the demonstrations are part of a unified effort of First Nations, Metis and non-Aboriginal northerners.


First Nations and Metis Relations Minister Bill Hutchinson says the latest statistics indicate that job growth in the Aboriginal population in the province over the last year is in the thousands — and that many of the people who gained employment are from northern Saskatchewan.


As well, he says northern municipalities are now getting 50 per cent more funding from the province than they’ve ever received.


As for Belanger’s statements about demonstrations, Hutchinson says protests may have been the only way to get the previous NDP government’s attention — but adds his government prefers to discuss the issues with citizens and work together to resolve them.


Hutchinson adds he finds Belanger’s remarks “completely inappropriate and disrespectful to northerners”, and is challenging Belanger to issue an apology.