No justification is acceptable, according to NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, for the Liberals’ failure to follow through on their 2015 promise to withdraw all drinking water advisories in First Nations communities.
Speaking to reporters in Sioux Lookout, Ont., some 230 kilometers northwest of Thunder Bay, Singh acknowledged that remote populations are difficult to reach, but said Canada’s riches and technology are adequate to eliminate all remaining drinking warnings.
Singh stated, “These Indigenous people continue to be denied a basic human right to drinking water.”
“This isn’t how it has to be.”
Singh will be campaigning later in Neskantaga First Nation, which had a drinking water advisory issued more than 25 years ago.
Neskantaga First Nation Chief Wayne Moonais said in a press release his communities will be welcoming Singh for the second time in a month to have a first-hand view of the effects the 26-year water advisory has on the conditions in the community.
In 2015, Trudeau promised to lift all long-term drinking-water advisories by March 2021. His government acknowledged in December that the deadline would be missed despite the lifting of more than 100 long-term drinking-water advisories in five years.
The Liberal government stated in March that it is committed to removing all advisories, but that it will not set a new date because 52 long-term drinking-water advisories in 33 First Nations communities remain in effect.
Singh didn’t say how he would terminate the remaining drinking water warnings faster than the Liberals, but he did say that if elected, he would make it a priority.
“When it comes to resources, it is not a difficulty for a G7 nation; it is not an issue of access to technology; it is not an issue of access to resources; it is actually making it a priority question, and that is what we will do,” he said.
Singh also chastised the Liberals’ efforts on greenhouse gas emissions and housing.