APTN National News
RICHMOND,BC—A Conservative government would allow First Nation bands to implement private property ownership on their reserve lands on an opt-in basis, according to the party’s platform unveiled Friday.
The Conservative platform says a Stephen Harper-led government would immediately move to introduce legislation, requested and influenced by the Whispering Pines-Clinton Indian Band in British Columbia, to introduce a property ownership regime on-reserve.
A Conservative government would introduce similar legislation for any additional First Nations that would want to follow the same path, the platform said.
“A re-elected Conservative government will enact legislation that allows this specific band to move forward in this way,” said the platform document. “If other First Nation bands also choose to pursue this option on a voluntary, opt-in basis, we’ll proceed with similar legislation for them.”
The chief of the Whispering Pines-Clinton Indian Band is quoted in the platform document saying the proposed legislation is “First Nations-led.” Chief Michael LeBourdais says his First Nation created the proposed property ownership legislation, according to the document.
“We want what other Canadians have: title we can leave to our future generations,” said LeBourdais, according to the document.
The Conservative platform also says that while the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act is now dead, the Harper government would now try to strike deals with provinces and First Nations on education.
The Conservative platform states that the Harper government’s response to the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission would include directing the Mental Health Commission of Canada to focus on addiction and suicide prevention in First Nation communities, direct palliative care research funding to services directed at First Nations, increase broadband Internet access to Indigenous communities and expand anti-gang programs along with increasing funding for Indigenous languages by $10 million over four years.
The Conservatives would add 40 communities to the Nutrition North program. The costing document states the program would get an extra $32 million over four years. A Conservative government would also require all northern retailers to use a point-of-sale system so customers can see how the program subsidy applies to the foods they’ve purchased.
The Conservative party pledges in the platform to complete devolution of land and resource powers to the Nunavut government over four years.