2011 Federal Election Platforms and NAO Positions - Woefully Empty
How are any of us supposed to figure this out? I do am certainly no genie who can know anything for certain, but what I do know is that our issues have no priority in this election - which is a shameful situation given that we are the First Peoples of this land and that so many Canadians live off the prosperity gained from our lands and resources.
In my last blog, I provided a chart which compared how the platforms compared with my own list of important issues. I have now fully updated that chart with all the major parties' platforms.
I admit that this chart is not the best as blogger has certain space limitations, so I will try to summarize the platforms here in a more concise way:
LIBERAL Election Platform:
(1) a partial removal of the funding cap on First Nation post-secondary education with an extra $200M in the first 2 years;
(2) stable funding for First Nations University of Canada;
(3) $5M per year (for 3 years) for a Metis scholarship;
(4) $300M for k-12 education in year 2;
(5) Will continue support for Aboriginal Headstart;
(6) Will create a First Nation Auditor General;
(7) Will have an inquiry into the number of Murdered and Missing Aboriginal Women; and
(8) "Retain lessons and spirit of Kelowna process".
CONSERVATIVE Election Platform:
(1) New investment in First Nation Land Management to promote development of their land;
(2) Expand adult basic education in territories;
(3) Environmental safety upgrades to fuel tanks;
(4) Promote clean energy;
(5) Commemoration of War of 1812 celebrating First Nation veterans and others;
(6) Work with Aboriginal people and others to create National Conservation Plan;
(7) New national park in Rouge Valley and will try to talk to Aboriginal people and others;
(8) Hunting Advisory panel that will include some Aboriginal people;
(9) Will continue to work cooperatively with Aboriginal people, by enacting accountability legislation publishing salaries of chiefs;
NDP Election Platform:
(1) Increase Canada Student Grants by $200 million, with focus on Aboriginal people and others;
(2) Legislation to target poverty reduction in consultation with Aboriginal and other governments;
(3) Recruit Aboriginal and other medical students;
(4) Lower carbon future in partnership with Aboriginal governments and others;
(5) New partnership with Aboriginal people on nation-nation basis;
(6) End discrimination faced by Aboriginal people - access to capital, improve housing and drinking water, remove 2% funding cap and increase education budget by $1 billion a year over 4 years;
(7) Federal response to violence against Aboriginal women and support funding their organizations;
(8) Work with First Nations and provinces to add 2500 new police officers
BLOC Election Platform:
(1) Establish nation to nation relations with Aboriginal Nations.
GREEN PARTY Election Platform:
(1) Small scale project funding to restore wild fish stocks;
(2) Greater role of Aboriginal people and others in managing fishery;
(3) Encourage Aboriginal eco-tourism;
(4) Work with Aboriginal people and others to extend land and marine protected areas;
(5) End trophy hunting but protect Aboriginal and other hunters' subsistence hunting;
(6) Eliminate exposure of Aboriginal people and others to toxins;
(7) No commercial seal hunt, only subsistence hunting by Aboriginal people and others;
(8) No bowhead whale hunting for Aboriginal peoples or others;
(9) Honour intent of land claims agreements;
(10) Regulate all arctic activity, except traditional Aboriginal activity;
(11) Restore $5.1B in funding and Kelowna Accord;
(12) Create baselines for Aboriginal health;
(13) End to policies of assimilation and strong support for health and education;
(14) Will ensure governments and corporations respect 1990 Sparrow decision and that Aboriginal people be consulted and accommodated;
(15) Nation to nation relations and no more shameful events like Oka, Calendonia etc;
(16) Honour fiduciary duty and inherent right to self-government;
(17) Implement treaties and land tribunal, respect Douglas Treaties of Vancouver Island;
(18) Fully implement Royal Commission on Aboriginal People's 1996 recommendations;
(19) Promote Aboriginal culture, language and history as part of Canadian identity;
(20) Set up task forces on violence against Aboriginal women and over-representation of Aboriginal peoples in the justice system;
FIRST PEOPLES NATIONAL PARTY Election Platform:
There is no real platform contained on their website. However they have a two-pronged "vision" which includes:
(1) Make Native studies courses compulsory in high school and university;
(2) Abolish Senate and replace with elected First Nations House.
So that is the overview of the party platforms with regard to Aboriginal peoples in Canada. There is also the English leadership debate that can be viewed online at CBC:
While I had fully intended to do a thorough debrief of everything said by the party leaders with regards to Aboriginal peoples, it turns out that Aboriginal issues were not raised or discussed. The SOLITARY comment made about Aboriginal issues was made by Jack Layton of the NDP at 1 hour and 30 minutes into the 2 hour debate. Layton commented that violence against women needs specific attention by addressing underlying issues like those raised by Aboriginal leaders around housing. That's it - not a single word was raised by anyone else on any other issues specific to Aboriginal peoples. It was simply too brief to debrief.
What about information and positions from our own National Aboriginal Organizations (NAOs)? I reviewed the websites for the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the Native Womens' Association of Canada (NWAC), the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP), the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK); the Metis National Council (MNC) and even included the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) for good measure. While the AFN had the most information posted, CAP and NWAC's websites were embarrassingly empty.
The AFN provided information related to the AFN's election platforms, questions they asked of the parties, a survey asking for feedback on election priorities, news releases and statements about election issues and a summary of the party platforms.
They also provided an easy to read chart on how the party platforms measured up to the AFN's priorities:
The MNC has an "Election Page" which highlights the MNC election priorities, the questions they asked of the federal parties and the corresponding responses they received:
The ITK has one media release about the election questions it asked of the parties but no other information was posted.
CAP and NWAC on the other hand had nothing posted on their websites. In fact, if their constituents relied solely on their organisations' websites for information, they'd be out of luck. CAP's homepage has outdated information from October of 2010 and NWAC's most recent announcement concerns the Joint Process for Bill C-3. These two organisations, which allegedly represent the majority of the Aboriginal population, and especially the urban Aboriginal population should be more "present" in the lives of their constituents.
Even the NAFC has information posted on their website for urban Aboriginal people and they are not even a political organization:
For all those Aboriginal people that want to vote and want to be informed about the party they may vote for, I think we all need to help inform each other. I hope you all find this summary useful and if not, please keep emailing me about what you would like to see. With regard to my own opinions, I will be offering my commentary on these platforms in the days to come, but for now I will try to highlight as many resources as possible based on the questions and comments I get in the interim.