The Williams Lake Tribune/Weekend Advisor reached out to federal candidates in the upcoming Oct. 19 election in the Cariboo-Prince George riding.
This is the second set of answers to five questions posed to candidates, which will be published leading up to the election.
Each candidate was given a 200-word limit per answer.
What do you feel is the Federal Government’s role in First Nations Land Claims?
Green Party candidate Richard Jaques
I feel the federal government must make a genuine effort to engage the local First Nations in meaningful discussions regarding consent to share the resources in their traditional and ancestral territories.
I want to be that conduit for communication, First Nations must be at the table from day one, they must be equal parties when resources extraction proposals are put forward that follow the guidelines in the recent Tsilhqot’in Supreme Court decision.
Conservative Party candidate Todd Doherty
The federal government should be a leader at the table, and has worked with the province of BC, First Nations, and community groups to negotiate a deal that works for all parties involved.
Strong partnerships among Aboriginal people, governments and the private sector are emerging as outstanding land claims and treaty issues are addressed, and self-government agreements are negotiated. Land claims and self-government agreements achieve:
• greater certainty over rights to land and resources contributing to a positive investment climate and creating greater potential for economic development and growth
• greater control for Aboriginal people and Northerners over the decisions that affect their lives.
While there is still a long way to go, I want to ensure treaties are negotiated by ensuring that we have a strong voice in Ottawa that is able to represent our region, and bring forward their concerns to the negotiating table.
NDP Party candidate Trent Derrick
An important factor in land claims negotiations is trust.
With Tom Mulcair as Prime Minister, the federal government will build a Nation-to-Nation relationship with First Nations.
Getting beyond words and taking concrete action on key issues is an important step in building trust. This includes the NDP commitment to call an inquiry in missing and murdered aboriginal women within the first 100 days in office, action on housing, healthcare and education. A Tom Mulcair government will implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and act on the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Christian Heritage Party candidate Adam De Kroon
Unfortunately I think oftentimes the government completely ignores the First Nations and doesn’t even listen to what they would have to say. I would say one of the biggest things that the government needs do is to improve communication and maintain an open dialogue with First Nations.
Independent candidate Sheldon Clare
Traditionally speaking, the Federal Government was the highest authority in negotiations with First Nations across Canada. However, since Trudeau introduced the Charter in 1982, the Supreme Court has become more and more involved in First Nations issues, specifically land claims and rights issues. Also, given the lack of treaties in British Columbia, First Nations land claims in our region involve the province as well.
Politicians at all levels of government have shrunk away from this issue for far too long, and it is disrespectful that the current federal government is more likely to call its lawyers before any First Nations leadership when a disagreement arises.
Local MPs and the governments they support are supposed to exhibit leadership, and if elected, I intend to do so by reaching out to First Nations leaders in our area so we can develop a strong, respectful relationship.
Goodwill should be the starting point, not a last resort.
Without this, the federal government will continue to be adversarial regarding First Nations land claims, as well as other issues affecting native peoples.
Apolitical candidate Gordon Campbell
Not less than the messenger plus having a mediator that represents First Nations above all else.
Like it or not First Nations are the poors’ best friends.
Please for God’s sake become apolitical as soon as possible.
Liberal Party candidate Tracy Calogheros
The federal government must play a significant role in the resolution of First Nations land claims. The first step towards resolving any land claims is to establish a degree of trust between government (federal and provincial) and First Nations. Meaningful negotiations on land claims (or any other issues involving First Nations people) won’t go anywhere without trust. The Conservatives’ fighting with First Nations in the courts hasn’t built trust.
The Conservatives making policy changes and economic and resource-development decisions without consulting First Nations hasn’t built trust. Given the track record of the Harper Conservatives over the last decade, I can’t imagine any First Nations person or group ever would trust the Conservative government on any front.
If Canada is to have any hope of regaining the trust of our First Nations people, we must embrace them genuinely as equals. We must dispel the myths of misinformed stereotypes which breed mistrust and are barriers to collaboration.
We must prove to First Nations, by what we say and by what we do, that we respect their culture and their institutions and that we are sincere in our efforts to work together with them to resolve all of these issues.