First Nations voters flipped 22 ridings in 2015 and ready to do it again: chief

OTTAWA _ Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde has a pointed message for federal politicians: Listen to First Nations priorities, or else.

Bellegarde says First Nations voters were responsible for flipping 22 ridings in the 2015 federal election and candidates in next year’s election had better attend to First Nations’ needs and demands.

Bellegarde was speaking at the Assembly of First Nations’ Special Chiefs Assembly in Ottawa today.

He talked about putting his organization’s “Closing the Gap” document in front of each party during the last federal election. It outlined priorities on everything from the environment to Indigenous languages and he said it sent the message that they had better be part of a party’s platform if it wanted power.

Bellegarde says he wants to see a few key pieces of legislation passed before the House rises in June, including the long-awaited Indigenous Languages Act, recently announced child welfare legislation and NDP MP Romeo Saganash’s private member’s bill, which seeks to ensure the laws of Canada line up with the United Nations declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

He also spoke about climate change and asked the chiefs and delegates to support a carbon tax as one way to head it off.

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