Politics
'Inappropriate' for GG to attend future meetings with First Nations: Duncan

Idle No More protesters block Highway 2 North near Gateway Park in Edmonton, Alta., on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013.

Credits: CODIE MCLACHLAN/QMI AGENCY

KRISTY KIRKUP | QMI AGENCY

OTTAWA — Canada's governor general doesn't steer government policy and it would be "inappropriate for him be involved" in future meetings with First Nations,  Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan says.

"The prime minister has made it quite clear the governor general is not a policy decision-maker," Duncan told reporters in Vancouver on Tuesday. "The governor general has been quite generous, actually, in his ceremonial role."

Gov. Gen. David Johnston held a ceremony for First Nations leaders at his Rideau Hall residence on Jan. 11, following a small working meeting between some chiefs — including Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo — and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

But the government has said Johnston won't be present for ongoing discussions between the feds and First Nations, despite repeated calls from aboriginal leaders and grassroots protesters for a joint-meeting.

The Assembly of First Nations executive issued the most recent request over the weekend.

A demand for discussions with Harper, Johnston and aboriginal leaders has also been the centrepiece of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence's protest on Ottawa's Victoria Island, where she hasn't eaten solid food in six weeks.

Duncan says Spence has "made her point and it is time to move on."

"I think almost everybody has weighed in that they wish that she would end her hunger strike," Duncan said.

Idle No More organizers plan to launch a "global day of action" on Monday to continue calls for treaty implementation.

— with files from Byron Chu

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