Nfld. & Labrador

Yvonne Jones slams 'misguided' Innu leadership in NunatuKavut legal spat

Following her election win, the Labrador MP finally weighed in on the Innu's court challenge to NunatuKavut's Indigenous legitimacy, and she didn't mince words.

Labrador MP calls Innu Nation's court challenge a political and personal vendetta

Yvonne Jones speaks to her supporters after being re-elected as the Liberal MP for Labrador on Tuesday night. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Moments after her election win sent Yvonne Jones back to Ottawa for a third term, the Labrador MP broke her silence about a legal challenge to NunatuKavut from the Innu Nation, calling it a personal and political vendetta toward her from Innu leadership.

"I really believe that the position that the Innu took was wrong. I think they were misguided, they were misinformed, and I really think it was politically motivated against me personally. And against the Liberal government," Yvonne Jones told CBC News on Tuesday night.

Jones was named in a court application the Innu Nation filed in federal court on Oct. 1, challenging a memorandum of understanding on self-determination signed in September between the federal government and the NunatuKavut community council, and the NCC's Indigenous status overall. 

In the application the Innu Nation said Jones — a member of NunatuKavut— was in a "clear conflict of interest" to have been involved in the memorandum. Jones was present at the signing.

The Innu Nation filed the application amid the federal election, and Jones did not respond to CBC for comment on the matter while on the campaign trail. But on Tuesday night, she chastised its leadership as putting politics before people.

"The leaders in that community did not lead. They hung their own people out to dry because they had a political agenda, and that political agenda was to attack me," she told CBC News.

"They let politics and propaganda and the false information guide their thinking."

The federal government has been very supportive of the Innu Nation in the past, she said, and has "bent over backwards for the Innu communities in Labrador."

The legal application was the latest move by the Innu Nation against the NCC to question the latter's Indigenous legitimacy. NCC's president has maintained the Innu Nation's position is racist.

After winning a 2013 byelection, Jones was re-elected as the Liberal MP for Labrador in 2015 in a landslide, capturing a little more than 75 per cent of the vote. She will return to office in 2019 with significantly less, having garnered 42.3 per cent support.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Jacob Barker