Piapot First Nation is demanding an apology from a Saskatchewan MP over remarks he made at the House of Commons.
Last Week, during a debate over the First Nations water bill, Conservative MP Kevin Waugh spoke out against the Liberal government’s handling of the issue saying he has seen First Nations burn down water treatment plants because the government hasn’t done enough. He also says more education needs to be provided for First Nations to operate the treatment plants.
“In Saskatchewan, I’ve witnessed reserves burn down water treatment plants because the Liberal government has done little or nothing,” said Waugh during the debate. “The other thing is that there needs to be education provided for people on reserve to operate these water treatment plants, which is part of the problem we have seen with the government over the last eight and a half years.”
The MP’s office would later say he did not intend to imply anything about why the fires happened.
Piapot First Nation, whose water treatment burned down in 2018, released a statement Sunday night demanding an apology from Waugh over the remarks.
The statement says the First Nation’s fire was due to a propane leak, and called Waugh’s remarks “grossly disrespectful” and “entirely unfounded.”
“These statements from the MP are not only without merit, but deeply disrespectful to the people of Piapot First Nation and all First Nations committed to the stewardship of our lands and resources,” said Piapot Chief Mark Fox.
The First Nation called for Waugh to provide a formal apology and retract the remarks.
The following is a statement the office of Kevin Waugh provided to MBC Radio News in response to Sunday’s media release from Piapot First Nation.
“MP Waugh was pointing out that after eight years of Justin Trudeau and this Liberal government, what we have is a trail of broken promises and countless Indigenous communities that don’t have access to clean drinking water.
MP Waugh also raised concerns about two incidents on reserves in Saskatchewan, publicly reported in the media, that saw water treatment plants burn down, disrupting clean water access for First Nations families. He is not familiar with the specific circumstances of these incidents and did not intend to make any implication about the cause.
MP Waugh has reached out to Piapot First Nation Chief Mark Fox to offer an apology and clarify his remarks. MP Waugh will meet with Chief Fox and the Elders next week to tour the community. Common sense Conservatives will continue to work with Indigenous People, in the spirit of reconciliation, to ensure that First Nations communities have access to clean drinking water.”