NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says no excuse is acceptable for the Liberals’ failure to deliver on their 2015 promise to lift all drinking water advisories in First Nations communities.
Speaking to reporters in Sioux Lookout, about 230 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay, Ont., Singh said he is not dismissing that it’s hard to reach rural communities, but Canada’s wealth and technology are sufficient enough to lift all remaining drinking advisories.
“These Indigenous people continue to be denied a basic human right of drinking water,” Singh said.
“It doesn’t have to be this way.”
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.
In March, the Liberal government said it remains committed to ending all the advisories but it won’t set a new deadline, as 52 long-term drinking-water advisories in 33 First Nations communities are still in place.
Singh didn’t offer specifics on how he would end the remaining drinking water advisories more quickly than the Liberals, but he said he will make it a priority if elected.
“It is not a problem for a G7 nation when it comes to resources, it’s not an issue of access to technology, it’s not an access to resources question, it’s really making it a priority question, and that’s what we’ll do,” he said.
Singh also criticized the Liberals’ progress on emission levels and housing.
Follow the party leaders and where they stand on the issues this election campaign by signing up for our Morning or Evening Update newsletters.
For subscribers only: Get exclusive political news and analysis by signing up for the Politics Briefing.