People’s Party of Canada founder and party leader Maxime Bernier says the government has a lot of things to fix when it comes to “complex”aboriginal issues.
Bernier says when it comes to aboriginal issues, he is looking forward to building a new relationship based on mutual respect.
The PPC leader was speaking to a crowd of about 200 at a rally for Nipissing-Timiskaming PPC candidate Mark King in North Bay Saturday night.
Bernier said if elected, his party would explore options to repeal the “paternalistic Indian Act” which he says, “keeps aboriginals in a state of dependency and allows the federal government to control most aspects of their lives.”
He explained that his party would look at replacing the Act with “a new legal framework that guarantees equal rights and responsibilities to aboriginal people as Canadians and promotes the autonomy and self-reliance of communities.”
Bernier made it clear there would be consultation moving forward, and his governnment will respect the Constitution and treaties.
“It will reaffirm the federal government’s power to approve natural resources and infrastructure projects, after adequate consultations with affected aboriginal groups, and in partnership with them to ensure they can benefit from these economic opportunities.”
Bernier said the PPC would prioritize issues on the basis of its four key principles, respect, freedom, fairness and responsibility.
On the principle of respect, Bernier referred to injustices committed out by the Canadian government.
“We cannot rewrite the past, but only seek the best way to live together in the future. This relationship must be based on mutual respect and a balanced approach between the needs of the aboriginal population and the interests of the Canadian population as a whole.”
Regarding the freedom principle, Bernier said he would be willing to explore avenues to promote the establishment of individual property rights on reserves.
“So as to empower its residents and give them increased control over their lives.”
When it comes to fairness, Bernier says it is unacceptable that some aboriginal communities live in conditions no better than those in some third world countries.
“A People’s Party government will ensure that aboriginal communities assume more ownership of their infrastructure and the services they receive in partnership with Ottawa and other levels of government.”
And on his final principle, responsibility, Bernier told the crowd, there is no evidence that living conditions are improving in aboriginal communities despite Ottawa spending about $21 billion a year on aboriginal programs.
He went on to say the federal government and aboriginal administrations have a responsibility to ensure that taxpayer’s money is well spent.
"A People's Party government will review federal spending to ensure that programs are better targeted to benefit the aboriginal population, in particular the communities that have the greatest needs."
The PPC leader acknowledged that some communities are prosperous, while others are much poorer than the Canadian average..
“Many don’t have the basic services that we take for granted, such as access to clean water. There are other major issues to address regarding treaty negotiations, housing, and property rights on reserves.”
Bernier pledged to review federal spending to ensure that “programs are better targeted to benefit the aboriginal population, in particular the communities that have the greatest needs. We need to do reform. We need to do consultation.”