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January 11th, 2013

Statement from NDP Aboriginal Affairs Critic Jean Crowder

In recent days we have seen the frustrations from years of failed promises. Prime Minister Stephen Harper heard about these frustrations first-hand from the delegation of Chiefs who met with him this afternoon.

After the Crown-First Nations Gathering last year, many First Nations were hopeful that the Prime Minister would change how he dealt with First Nations issues. And last November, National Chief Shawn Atleo sent a letter to the Prime Minister asking when those commitments would be honoured, because there had been no action. The Prime Minister could have prevented all this if he had followed up on his commitments from last year's meetings. Instead of respectful dialogue, Conservatives pushed through an omnibus budget bill without ever consulting the First Nations being affected.

In a letter to the Prime Minister before Christmas, our leader, Tom Mulcair, warned Stephen Harper that it was past time to follow through on the commitments, and urged him to act immediately.

In recent days we have witnessed an incredible diversity of First Nations youth, women, leaders and politicians letting all Canadians know that issues like treaty implementation, missing and murdered Aboriginal women, resource sharing, protecting the environment, and poverty eradication need to be given a higher priority by this Conservative government.

The grassroots movement we are witnessing has the potential to unite all Canadians who share these concerns.

Now it’s time for the government to start listening.