Saskatchewan

Sask. Party candidate apologizes over First Nations remark

A Saskatchewan Party candidate is apologizing after suggesting First Nations people who get "handouts" sometimes spend it on drugs and alcohol.

Greg Ottenbreit asking for forgiveness

A Saskatchewan Party candidate is apologizing after suggesting First Nations people who get "handouts" sometimes spend it on drugs and alcohol.

Greg Ottenbreit, who is the party's Yorkton candidate, issued a written apology Friday for comments he made two days earlier at an all-candidates forum.

Ottenbreit said he made the improper remarks in response to a question about resource revenue-sharing with First Nations, something the NDP wants to hold talks about, but which the Saskatchewan Party opposes.

"I don't remember my exact words, but I said something like,  'What I have been told by some of my First Nations friends is that sometimes when there are handouts or the money comes free and easy, it can be used for alcohol and drugs,'" Ottenbreit said in a news release.

The exact wording of Ottenbreit's comments at the Yorkton Chamber of Commerce candidates’ forum wasn't immediately available.

"This was an inappropriate comment.  I sincerely apologize for any pain my words have caused and ask forgiveness from anyone I have offended," Ottenbreit said.

There are several reserves around Yorkton, a city of about 15,000 people that's home to a First Nations-run casino and several other First Nations-run agencies.

"My words were poorly chosen. Drugs and alcohol are a challenge in every community and not specific to First Nations.  This issue has nothing to do with revenue sharing,"  Ottenbreit said.

On Thursday, Sask. Party Leader Brad Wall criticized NDP Leader Dwain Lingenfelter for not being specific about how much revenue-sharing with First Nations would cost.

The Saskatchewan treasury takes in billions of dollars every year in oil, gas, potash revenues, money that goes toward hospitals, schools, highways and other expenses.

Wall and his campaign have suggested that based on what some First Nations leaders have said, a revenue-sharing deal could cost the province $1.6 billion over four years.

However, Lingenfelter has said there's no set number because there's no agreement in place — any revenue-sharing deal would have to be negotiated.

 

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