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Ontario Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty speaks during a tour of a Thunder Bay Bombardier plant that builds mass transit vehicles on Sept. 15, 2011. (Brent Linton/Brent Linton/The Canadian Press)
Ontario Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty speaks during a tour of a Thunder Bay Bombardier plant that builds mass transit vehicles on Sept. 15, 2011. (Brent Linton/Brent Linton/The Canadian Press)

McGuinty's participation in northern debate an 'accountability' matter: First Nation Add to ...

Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty has one more voice calling for him to head north for a debate: A representative of a Thunder Bay-area First Nation has said in no uncertain terms he’ll view Mr. McGuinty’s absence as an affront.

“If the Premier is a no-show for the debate, it simply proves our concern that First Nations are not a priority for the McGuinty Liberals,” said Nishnawbe Aski Nation deputy chief Terry Waboose. “This is a question of accountability.”

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The Nishnawbe Aski Nation has come down on the Liberal government before, over the Far North Act. They say the piece of development legislation doesn’t allow for sufficient consultation with the First Nations groups in Ontario’s north.

But more recently, the Nishnawbe Aski has also been calling for a provincial inquiry into seven youth deaths here. The province’s chief coroner postponed an inquest into the death of 15-year-old Reggie Bushie, whose body was pulled from the McIntyre River four years ago, in the face of six other, similar deaths that occurred around the same time.

“No amount of meetings will accomplish the goal of full and credible scrutiny of all seven deaths,” the nation said in a statement Thursday.

“The Premier has some explaining to do,” Mr. Waboose said in a statement. “He is not beyond accounting for his actions.”

Provincial NDP Leader Andrea Horwath addressed the matter at a rally for candidate Celia Ross in Sault Ste. Marie. “Look, it's obvious: There are too many young First Nations people drowning in the rivers around Thunder Bay, being found dead. That is not something to be taken lightly.

“It's a pattern that is absolutely horrifying,” she added. “And I think anywhere else, this sort of thing would have gotten a lot more attention. It's disconcerting it hasn't.”

At first, Ms. Horwath said she wanted to consult with First Nations before saying whether she would support a full public inquiry. About 15 minutes later, a statement from her campaign, attributed to Ms. Horwath, stated that “Ontario New Democrats fully support the call by the Nishnawbe Aski Nation for a Commission of Inquiry into the deaths of seven First Nations youth in Thunder Bay.”

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