Penticton MLA Dan Ashton says engagement with B.C.’s Indigenous Peoples will be “front and centre” in his role as Indigenous relations critic for the B.C. Liberal Party.
The shadow cabinet list of 37 Liberal MLAs was released on Thursday by the party, placing Ashton across the aisle from Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser from Vancouver Island.
“I have a known track record for working with our (bands) … through my days at the regional district and at the municipality of Penticton,” Ashton said. “The priority is to ensure that the current government follows through on their promises.
“In my opinion, our government made some phenomenal advances with the bands, and I just want to ensure that continues.”
Ashton said he wants to make sure the government’s dealings with Indigenous Peoples in the province are “fair and equitable.”
“I grew up in a family that had a great appreciation for First Nations, and my father taught me well, and I plan to carry that on,” he said.
Ashton was previously the secretary to the minister of energy and mines and core review, and more recently the secretary to the minister of finance.
The Western News asked Ashton what he believed needed to be done to advance the position and quality of life of B.C.’s Aboriginal population.
“A consultation on a continual basis, carrying on with what the government had done, especially in the North,” Ashton said.
“When I was the former chair of the regional district and mayor, I had an incredible working relationship with the PIB (Penticton Indian Band), especially under Chief Jonathan Kruger. I take a look at those and those are the first steps in the right direction.”