EDMONTON ‑ While the Liberals and Conservatives are vague with their promises to First Nations as the Oct. 19th election draws near, the NDP have come right out and said what the others have only implied.
Last Wednesday, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair spelled out what a New Democratic government would do to establish a “nation to nation” relationship with Indigenous Peoples in Canada.
He was speaking at a meeting of the Assembly of First Nations and the Enoch Cree Nation at Stoney Plain Reserve near Edmonton.
He declared that if elected, his government would close the gap between the “two Canadas” as he referred to it, by making investments to improve the lives of aboriginal people.
“I truly believe it is time for a new era based on a nation to nation relationship,” he said. “There is a Canada where clean drinking water is simply taken for granted, it’s a fact of life, and families live in the comfort of quality, affordable housing. And there’s another Canada, where the basic right to clean drinking water remains out of reach and families live in homes that are overcrowded and unsafe.”
He also promised to create a cabinet-level committee which he would chair, to ensure that all government decisions respect treaty rights and the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which the current Conservative government was browbeaten into signing by the rest of the civilized world when Harper stood as the only world leader not willing to sign on.
Other Mulcair promises to First Nations include:
The removal of the ‘punitive’ two per cent funding cap imposed and maintained by previous Liberal and Conservative governments.
Increase investment in First Nations by $1.8 billion over the next four years and $4.8 billion over eight years based on an annual escalator.
Improve critical infrastructure in indigenous communities, including clean water and sanitation facilities, with $375 million over four years.
Provide $96 million over four years and long-term funding of $800 million over 20 years to support infrastructure projects.
Call an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women within 100 days of taking office and provide $50 million to support it.
Commit $68 million to revitalize indigenous languages.
Improve health services available for indigenous people living in urban centres with an investment of $120 million.
All of this, added to promises already made along the election trail including billions of dollars for affordable housing initiatives, a $100-million Mental Health and Innovation Fund for Children and Youth, which would include $5 million for a suicide prevention strategy for at-risk populations, of which First Nations, Métis and Inuit would be a part.