The Nuu-chah-nulth Council of Ha’wiih Forum on Fisheries has endorsed NDP candidate Gord Johns. Pictured is Johns speaking as a member of Parliament at the announcement of the Justification Ruling for the Ahousaht et al. court case in April 2018. (Eric Plummer photo)
As part of an effort to encourage Nuu-chah-nulth members to take their concerns to the polling stations on Oct. 21, the Council of Ha’wiih Forum on Fisheries has endorsed Gord Johns, the NDP candidates for Courtenay-Alberni.
Johns, who served as the region’s member of Parliament for the last four years, was given the endorsement during a fisheries meeting for Nuu-chah-nulth leaders Oct. 7. The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council has not formally backed any candidates in the three ridings that cover the First Nations’ territories on Vancouver Island, but this recent endorsement comes from the council of chiefs who decide on fisheries matters.
Council of Ha’wiih Chair Cliff Atleo said that Johns has consistently brought up issues of concern to Nuu-chah-nulth-aht while representing the region.
“I think that his track record in Ottawa on our behalf warrants further support,” said Atleo. “The issues that come before our table…we have had them highlighted by Gord Johns in Ottawa.”
Johns has also brought up Nuu-chah-nulth-specific issues during the campaign this fall. During a candidates debate in Parksville on Sept. 30 he mentioned the federal government’s continued court battle with the Ahousaht, Ehattesaht/Chinehkint, Hesquiaht, Tla-o-qui-aht and Mowachaht/Muchalaht over the First Nations’ right to catch and sell fish from their territories.
“They fought Indigenous people in our riding,” said Johns of the government’s participation in the Ahousaht et al. case. “They spent $19 million on lawyers fighting the Nuu-chah-nulth on their right to catch and sell fish.”
In 2015 the Council of Ha’wiih also endorsed Johns as he campaigned for his first term. The NDP candidate ended up winning with 38 per cent of votes, ahead of Conservative John Duncan’s 28 per cent.
On the day after a televised English-language leaders’ debate, national polls on Oct. 8 had the Liberals with a slight lead of 34.3 per cent to the Conservatives 33.9, while the NDP polled with 14.2 per cent and the Greens had 9.1.