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Western Arctic NDP MP Dennis Bevington. (CBC)

Western Arctic MP Dennis Bevington says the federal government’s handling of Bill C-15 harkens back to colonial times.

Bevington says the bill, which would bring in devolution and combine regional land and water boards, is ignoring the rights of some land claims groups, and the federal government isn’t listening to people's concerns about it.    

He made a members statement in the House of Commons yesterday.  

Here’s the full text of that statement:

Mr. Speaker, on Monday, the aboriginal affairs committee held hearings in Yellowknife on Bill C-15, which combines devolution with the elimination of regional land and water boards.

A clear message from the hearings was that there is a strong opposition to the Conservative plan to shut down these regional boards.

These boards give a local voice to development decisions, which is a system that works. They were created through constitutionally protected land claims agreements. Even the chamber of mines said they have a good working relationship with the local boards.

The aboriginal governments of the Gwich'in, Sahtu and Tlicho have pledged that they will use every avenue available to fight these changes, meaning greater delays for future development.

“Canada has returned to the old colonial ways of thinking they know what is best for us. They are silencing our voice. This is not the constitutional promise made in the Tlicho agreement,” said Tlicho Grand Chief Eddie Erasmus.

The standing committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development heard much opposition to the Bill during hearings in Yellowknife Monday.

This afternoon, the committee is in Ottawa and is scheduled to hear from Brendan Bell of Dominion Diamond Holdings, Rick Meyers of the Mining Association of Canada and Bob Bleaney of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

The Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources is also holding meetings in Ottawa today. It’s scheduled to hear from representatives of the Sahtu, Tlicho and Gwich’in land claim groups.