OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 22, 2012) - The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, today rejected the Liberal Private Member's Motion M-386, which calls for a halt to progress being made by the Harper Government in addressing the impediments of the Indian Act for First Nations.
"The Harper Government believes in working with First Nations and taking concrete action; the Liberals believe the answer is more talk, more plans, and more proposals," said Minister Duncan.
For six years, the Harper Government has taken steps to provide tangible alternatives to the Indian Act. For instance, the Government has significantly expanded the First Nations Land Management Regime, which allows participating First Nations to opt out of 34 land-related sections of the Indian Act and assume greater control over their reserve lands and resources. The Government also introduced Bill S-6, the First Nations Elections Act, which - if passed into law - would enable First Nations to opt out of the provisions of the Indian Act governing elections on reserve, and would provide community members with a more transparent and accountable election system. We have also introduced Bill S-2, the Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act, and we have committed to intensive consultation with First Nations across Canada to have in place by 2014 a First Nations Education Act that will contribute to improving the quality of First Nations elementary and secondary education.
In addition to these legislative efforts the Harper Government has made significant investments in First Nations education, housing, water infrastructure, child and family welfare services, and economic development initiatives. And the Government recently announced its support, in principle, for Private Member's Bill C-428, the Indian Act Amendment and Replacement Act, which will give First Nations greater responsibility over day-to-day issues and remove outdated provisions of the Indian Act.
"With this Private Member's Motion the Liberals are proposing to abandon the progress we are making in favour of starting over," added Minister Duncan. "First Nations cannot afford to halt this progress and for this reason we will not be supporting M-386. Instead, we will continue to work with First Nations toward our shared goal of healthier, more self-sufficient First Nation communities. We ask the Liberals to join us in this effort."