Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

October 01, 2010 15:48 ET

Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs and Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Receive Support From Government of Canada for Engagement on First Nation Elections

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwire - Oct. 1, 2010) - The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, announced today that the Government of Canada will support the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs as they lead an engagement effort across the country to discuss a better electoral system for First Nations.

The Atlantic Policy Congress (APC) and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) have made several recommendations to address concerns about the election process under the Indian Act. With the support of the Government of Canada, they will now meet with other First Nation leaders across the country to seek advice and consensus on improving the election process for First Nations.

"The Government of Canada is proud to give its support to the APC and AMC in their efforts to discuss electoral reform with First Nation organizations", said Minister Duncan. "This reform will help First Nations create the political stability they need to establish solid business investments, practice long-term planning, and build relationships that will increase economic development for First Nations."

Following the engagement process, the Government in partnership with First Nations will develop new, opt-in legislation that will help address concerns and support stable and effective First Nation governments.

"This First Nation led engagement will guide our Government in drafting new opt-in legislation that will build a stronger electoral system for First Nations," added Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence.

"The modernization of the Indian Act election system for our First Nation Governments will help all of us to look toward the longer term and build confidence in our governance so we can pursue our goals of economic development," said APC Co-Chair (Nova Scotia) Chief Morley Googoo.

"Our joint initiative with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs is 'paving new ground' by making the necessary changes to the existing election system which will support the stability of leadership, long-term planning and increased accountability," added Chief Candice Paul, APC Co-Chair (New Brunswick).

"The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs is pleased to lead this historic electoral reform process in partnership with the APC," said Grand Chief Ron Evans, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. "The ultimate goal of all First Nations is to be self-sustaining and self-governing. Creating an electoral system that is driven by First Nations will create the stability that will strengthen First Nation governance in Canada."

Many First Nations have been critical of the election process under the Indian Act, which they believe sets out an electoral regime that is antiquated and paternalistic. Terms of office that are much shorter than municipal, provincial and federal counterparts, a loose nominations process and an absence of penalties for offences related to the electoral process are some of the key concerns that are up for discussion.

There are currently 247 First Nations in Canada holding elections under the Indian Act election system. This initiative will not affect the 338 First Nations who follow custom code elections.

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    Michele-Jamali Paquette
    Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
    Office of the Honourable John Duncan
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