British Columbia

B.C. questions Conservative commitment to First Nations deal

The B.C. government will ask the federal Conservative Party to clarify its position on the landmark accord signed with First Nations in Kelowna last fall.

The B.C. government will ask the federal Conservative Party to clarify its position on the landmark accord signed with First Nations in Kelowna last fall.

Conservative finance critic Monte Solberg stunned and angered Aboriginal leaders this week when he said his party would not honour the accord.

In a radio interview in Saskatchewan, Solberg said the agreement is "something the Liberals crafted at the last moment on the back of a napkin."

That has drawn heated reaction from B.C. First Nations leaders, who are concerned that the financial commitments made by the federal and provincial governments at the Kelowna meeting could disappear under a Conservative government.

The agreement promises more than $5 billion over 10 years to upgrade health care, housing and education for First Nations.

B.C. was one of the biggest boosters of the accord. And Aboriginal Relations Minister Tom Christensen says there's now a need for clarification by the Conservatives.

"I think the context in which the comments were made is important. It was on a radio show. I think it's important there be some clarity as to the commitment going forward."

The Conservatives have issued a statement saying it supports the objectives, targets and principles of the Kelowna accord. But the party also says there is still no agreement on how the $5 billion will be spent.

The Conservatives reject what they describe as the Liberals approach of "spend now and ask questions later."

Meanwhile Christensen says he'll work with whoever his federal counterpart is after the election, to carry out the goals of the Kelowna accord.