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N.B. premier’s comments on fracking and First Nations sparks criticism, prompts clarification

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs is clarifying comments made about natural gas development and First Nations after criticism.

Higgs told AllNewBrunswick in an article published Thursday he wanted First Nations to be part of the conversation on hydraulic fracking.

“But there comes a time when you just got to find a way to move on, if I can’t have any meaningful discussions to make this happen,” said Higgs.

In a response, a statement on Thursday from the Chiefs of Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Inc. said the comments underlined “why First Nations lack trust in the Higgs government.”

On Friday afternoon, Higgs said his comments weren’t intended to suggest the government would operate outside of the duty to consult obligation.

“We understand the importance of that process and it will be followed,” said Higgs in a written statement.

St. Mary’s First Nation Chief Allan Polchies Jr. said Higgs’ comments in Europe went “against everything this country is trying to do on reconciliation, including the law.”

“When it comes to First Nations and reconciliation, he’s about retaliation,” said Polchies in an interview Friday.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn was asked about Higgs’ comments in the legislature on Friday morning.

“I am the minister responsible,” said Dunn during question period. “There will be consultation, and not only because it’s the right thing to do, it’s respectful, and it’s the law.”

Later, Dunn wouldn’t answer direct questions from reporters about whether the P.C. government believed consent from First Nations was legally required for natural gas development. Top Stories

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