‘Strong Mayor’ powers don’t cancel obligation to consult on treaty issues, Chief tells Pickering Mayor

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Published May 10, 2024 at 2:24 pm

Mississauga of Scugog Island First Nation

Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation (MSIFN) Chief Kelly LaRocca and her Council met with Pickering Mayor Kevin Ashe Friday to remind him that ‘Strong Mayor’ powers do not cancel the “constitutional duty” to consult on matters involving treaty lands.

discuss their concerns with the use of ‘Strong Mayor’ powers to make MZO requests.

“Neither Strong Mayor powers nor MZOs” (Ministerial Zoning Orders) can override Section 35 of the Constitution Act, said LaRocca, who chatted with Ashe about his use of MZOs, which are designed to expedite development applications.

MSIFN Chief Kelly LaRocca

“All too often we find that there is a poor understanding on the constitutional duty to consult by local governments”, said LaRocca, who noted that provincial policy dictates that municipalities must consult with First Nations on planning decisions. “MSIFN is working on a general framework for Indigenous consultation that will be made publicly available soon. In the meantime, we are connecting with all members of Pickering Council to discuss our concerns.”

LaRocca said the First Nation does not “fundamentally object” to infrastructure projects and the need to advance development that benefits the ‘greater good.’

“But no decision that could infringe upon our inherent rights and territories should be made in secret.”

Pickering Mayor Kevin Ashe

Proper consultation requires more than engagement after decisions are made and Indigenous people deserve genuine partnership and mutual respect, she added. “We look forward to continuing this conversation with members of Pickering council in the coming weeks.”

“MSIFN is committed to meaningful consultation, and we are willing to participate in such a process.”

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