Cameron chooses to fight for Dewar as NDP leader
By Jon Thompson
Kenora’s federal NDP candidate, Tania Cameron, is formally backing Ottawa Centre MP Paul Dewar to lead the official opposition.Cameron announced her support for Dewar as he visited the city on Tuesday, hoping to court a few of the riding’s 9,000 NDP members to support his leadership bid.
“If we’ve got that many members in this riding alone, you’d think we’d have candidates coming through here left and right. That’s hardly so,” Cameron said, expressing thanks to Dewar for meeting with the local party faithful.
Cameron had been backing Quebec MP and former Cree leader Romeo Saganash until he dropped out of the race on Feb. 10. She said Dewar’s vision of Canada’s relationships with First Nations people attracted her to his campaign and seeing his performance at the leadership debate in Winnipeg last month sealed the deal.
“There’s that reconciliation partnership he’d like to have with First Nations people,” she said. “His policy is, the government isn’t only there to serve the urban voter. I like how the outreach in Paul’s campaign is also rural.”
About a third of the MPs, MPPs, MLAs and candidates supporting Dewar are from rural areas of Canada, including Charlie Angus, whose riding has been in the spotlight due to the housing emergency in Attiwapiskat. Dewar said the conditions in First Nations remind him of the time he spent in Nicaragua in the mid-1980s.
He condemned the “nasty shell game” of the federal and provincial governments abrogating responsibility on First Nations issues, from inadequate infrastructure to human resources. For that partnership to work, consent from Canada and First nations is required.
“There’s a nation-to-nation approach to governance that needs to be put on the table,” he said. “It needs to be a capital ‘P’ partnership where First Nations aren’t only going to be at the table but they’re going to be a part of making the decisions. The government talks about consultation and it’s a joke right now. There’s no consultation without participation.”
In this riding, the NDP has been silent over the decade-long blockade in Grassy Narrows. It made no release when Ontario jailed the leadership of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug in 2008 and the party hasn’t taken a stance on the water issue between Winnipeg and Shoal Lake. Dewar vowed to have local movements engage First Nations to make links and advocate.
“My belief is that it needs to be done between elections. That has to be done on the ground and we have to show up where the issues are happening,” he said. “It’s not going to be done by one person.”