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2014-02-13 at 16:43

PC candidate defends First Nation business comments

By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
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Tamara Johnson says just because people don’t share her view that First Nations businesses get  an unfair advantage, doesn’t automatically make her wong.

The Progressive Conservative candidate for Thunder Bay-Superior North said that while she understands why people go to Fort William First Nation to buy things like gas and cigarettes, and she doesn't blame businesses there, it's not fair that they can sell those goods for less.

"It does make it unfair for somebody who can't have the same advantages," she said Thursday. "What I've been saying isn't wrong, people just don't like what I'm saying and there's a big difference."

Johnson’s stance was made public after comments she published on her Facebook account following a public meeting at Fort William First Nation where it was learned businesses there are losing about $50,000 since the close of the James Street bridge after a fire in October.

"But something isn’t right when a group of people complain about how their businesses are affected when they are able to sell gas and cigarettes at a discount, which in my opinion ... seems a tad unfair to other business owner(s) on the other side of the bridge who isn’t (sic) given the same pricing ability,” Johnson writes.

“So what is it? They can buy gas cheaper or businesses on this side are ripping us off?”

She also took issue with an idea put forward by Northern Superior Grand Chief, and former Fort William chief, Peter Collins after he said maybe a blockade was needed in order to get CN rail to speed up the process to open the bridge.

"I just can't stand for it. I think our laws of Ontario should be followed and enforced," she said.

But Collins said while a blockade isn't always the answer, sometimes ideas like that get those in charge to pay attention and speed up the process.

"It takes whatever it takes to get people to open their eyes and ears again," he said.

Speaking of unfair advantage, Collins said CN took 1,600 acres of land from Fort William First Nation.

His community has been at an unfair advantage for more than 150 years and beyond. To hear a politician speak like that is disheartening, he said.

"I think Tamara needs to educate herself about the real impacts and about the impacts of of the treaty and what it meant to our community," he said.

"Look at the unfair advantage that has been brought to our community from that treaty."

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