BRANT/BRANTFORD – Justin Trudeau started the Liberal landslide in Atlantic Canada, which spread across the rest of the country like a red tide, gobbling up NDP and Conservative strongholds in its wake for a Liberal Majority government, as elections results came in on Monday night.
By 10 pm, and even before Pacific Canada got to the polls, Trudeau’s Liberals had already won enough seats to ensure Canada’s most recent Prime Minister had been vanquished and a new era had begun, hopefully for the better.
Along the campaign trail, Trudeau made many references to a change in relationship with First Nations that “ensures high-quality education and economic opportunity, both of which are vital to our long-term economic growth.”
He also pledged, “Canada only succeeds when we all succeed. Indigenous Peoples are the fastest growing segment of our population, and it is critical to our shared future that they have the same education and economic opportunities as everyone else. This must be a real priority for the federal government. A Liberal government will immediately engage in a renewed, respectful, and inclusive nation-to-nation process to make important new investments in First Nations education and close the existing funding gap.”
The new federal government also promises an initial, immediate new investment of $515 million per year in core annual funding for First Nations K-12 education, rising to over $750 million per year by the end of our first mandate; An immediate new investment of $500 million over the next three years for First Nations education infrastructure; and $50 million in additional annual support to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP), which provides financial assistance to Indigenous students who attend post-secondary education.
In addition, Trudeau told First Nations he will deliver substantial new funding to promote, preserve, and enhance indigenous languages and culture; and work collaboratively to include aboriginal and treaty rights, residential schools, and the contributions of indigenous peoples to Canada in classroom learning.
“We believe in First Nations control of First Nations education, with the federal government working nation-to-nation as a partner,” said Mr. Trudeau. “Closing the persistent and unacceptable gap in education and economic outcomes for First Nations requires real action, and only the Liberal Party is offering a plan that will deliver growth that works for everyone.”
In 2014, Harper announced $1.9 billion for First Nations education but the funding was contingent on First Nations’ support of the government’s First Nations Education Act.
Trudeau defended his support for Bill C-51 and reiterated his position that a Liberal government would repeal the sections of the law that are of most concern to First Nations.
Only a few weeks ago the Liberals were listed as a distant third behind Tom Mulcair’s NDPs and Harper’s Conservatives, but a Liberal ground swell began to undergird Trudeau’s decisive, dramatic come-from-behind win.
The Conservatives ended election day with 99 seats and 31.9 percent of the popular vote, the NDP with 44 seats (19.7%), the Bloc Québécois with 10 seats (4.7%) and the Greens with one seat, leader Elizabeth May’s in B.C., and 3.5% support.
In his acceptance speech, Trudeau, who took the high ground after millions of Tory dollars were spent on attack ads, made several references to the stark change in political attitude, transparency, approachability and respect Canada would see under a majority Liberal mandate.
“You can appeal to the better angels of our natures, and you can win while doing it,” he said. “We beat fear with hope, we beat cynicism with hard work, we beat negative, divisive politics with a positive vision that brings Canadians together.”
Locally, Conservative incumbent Phil McColeman retained his seat in Brant/Brantford riding which he has held since 2008, by a wide margin, attracting 25,824 votes. Next was Liberal candidate Danielle Takacs with 19,377 votes and NDP candidate Marc Laferriere with 15,750 votes.
Six Nations’ Elected Chief Ava Hill was very optimistic about a future without Harper’s Conservatives in Ottawa.
“I’m glad we have a new government,” she told the Two Row Times. “One that I hope will sit with us and will commit to land rights settlement.”
Chief Hill and members of her council met with Trudeau in May and came away feeling optimistic about a Liberal government.
“It’s now up to us to hold his feet to the fire,” says Hill.