Harper government�s common sense approach and acceptance of responsibilities
represent "historic" opportunity for Aboriginal Peoples
(OTTAWA � January 27th, 2006) The Conservative election victory Monday night represents the beginning of drive towards more inclusive, equitable and sustainable Aboriginal public policy, according to the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.
The Congress, which represents and advocates for the rights and interests of off-reserve and non-status Indians, and M�tis across Canada, was the only one of the five main national Aboriginal organizations to endorse the Conservative party in the period leading up to the January 23rd vote. National Chief Dwight Dorey and the CAP Executive did so with the consensus of his National Board, on the basis of a number of meetings with Conservative Aboriginal affairs critic, Jim Prentice, and upon demonstration of the Harper team�s commitment to Canada�s Aboriginal people. Stephen Harper spelled out his commitments to the Congress at length in a seven-page response to CAP�s series of questions that were posed to each of the three mainstream federal parties.
"We asked the three party leaders to commit to us those measures they were prepared to take to respond to the needs and aspiration of our constituency � Non-status and off-reserve Status Indians, M�tis, and Inuit-M�tis in Canada", said Chief Dwight Dorey. "The Liberal party did not even respond to us, proving again with a measure of certainty, that in their view, those for whom we speak remained the "Forgotten People", said the National Chief.
"Conversely, the approach taken by the Harper team since even before the campaign began has been one of attentiveness and pragmatism. They listened, considered the needs of our people, and when asked, responded in detail and with clarity," said National Chief Dorey.
CAP applauds the Prime Minister-designate on his victory and looks forward to getting down to work with the new government to deal with the pressing issues facing Aboriginal people in Canada. While recognizing that minority parliaments are not always capable with dealing with all pressing public policy matters, CAP remains confident that much can be achieved � including addressing the commitments which flowed from the recent First Ministers Meeting on Aboriginal affairs, held just days before the election call in late November 2005.
"We agree with Mr. Harper�s view that the Kelowna commitments must be examined in the context of where the money was to have come from, where it was to have been distributed and the ways and means by which the needs of all Aboriginal peoples were to have been served. This was not made clear in any way at Kelowna, and it is something that Mr. Harper�s government and the Congress agree is fundamental to the success of any investments," said Chief Dorey.
The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples sees the recognition by the Harper government of the needs of off-reserve status and non-status Indians, M�tis and Inuit-M�tis, and the commitment to address them, as an historic moment. "Over the past many years, such recognition usually required years of litigation in order to be ultimately dealt with by the Supreme Court. The steps taken by Mr. Harper, and by Mr. Prentice, who served as the architect of the Conservative Aboriginal affairs platform, demonstrate a new commitment to inclusive government", said the National Chief.
"The recognition by the Harper government of the real needs of real people is a giant step away from distinctions-based approaches taken in the past which resulted in what amounted to a class system for Aboriginal people. Most importantly, they offer a clear hope of a pragmatic and common sense approach to Aboriginal affairs and send a signal of intent that it will be the new government and parliament who will deal with our needs � rather than the Supreme Court," said National Chief Dorey.
CAP is anxious to begin to work with the new Government and cabinet once Mr. Harper has chosen it. Mr. Harper and his team have demonstrated their commitment to Aboriginal peoples in Canada, specifically to the needs of those for whom CAP speaks. "Now that the election is over, we�re anxious to get down to work, roll up our sleeves and work with the Harper government and other national Aboriginal organizations to make the Conservative platform a reality. Together, we have work to do � and future generations are depending on us", said National Chief Dorey.
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For further information, please contact:
Senior Advisor � Communications
Congress of Aboriginal Peoples
(613) 747-6022 Office
(613) 867-8696 Mobile
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