The leader of Fort William First Nation is speaking out after a provincial election candidate said on Facebook that businesses on the First Nation get an "unfair" advantage.
Chief Georjann Morriseau called Tamara Johnson’s remarks this week “almost ridiculous.”
The Thunder Bay PC candidate has stated she opposes any railway blockade to force CN Rail to fix the James Street swing bridge and that First Nations businesses complaining about losses from the bridge closure already have an advantage by selling cheaper gas and cigarettes.
Johnson operates a small business in Thunder Bay.
Morriseau countered her comments with the argument that anyone who thinks First Nations get an "unfair advantage" needs to take a look at history.
“If somebody of that calibre — and has the potential ability to run for any party — those aren't exactly the statements you want one of your elected officials making.”
Earlier in the week, Fort William First Nation had said that due to the fire-related closure of the bridge over the Kaministiquia River in October 2013, businesses in the community have lost $50,000 a day in business. At a public meeting, upset business owners and residents discussed options for getting the bridge reopened, including a blockade.
In an interview with CBC News, Johnson said she stands by her Facebook posts, although she has removed them. She said she was simply expressing opinion.
“I think I've always been frank, and I think I've always said … things [that] needed to be said. Of course there are always going to be people who oppose anything I say, especially when it comes to First Nation issues,” she said.
"I think I spoke out against any kind of illegal blockade … and that the laws of Ontario should be enforced.”
Despite the controversy, she said she has not yet heard from any PC party officials.