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Incumbent Fontaine faces tough AFN leadership challenge

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    ... From: Rarihokwats To: undisclosed-recipients: Sent: Tuesday, July 11, 2006 5:38 AM Subject: AFN Leadership
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 11, 2006
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Rarihokwats
      To: undisclosed-recipients:
      Sent: Tuesday, July 11, 2006 5:38 AM
      Subject: AFN Leadership


      Tuesday » July 11 » 2006

      Incumbent Fontaine faces tough AFN leadership challenge

      Maurice Bridge
      CanWest News Service

      Tuesday, July 11, 2006

      VANCOUVER -- Incumbent national chief Phil Fontaine is facing a serious leadership challenge as the Assembly of First Nations holds its annual meeting in Vancouver this week.

      The AFN will choose a new leader Wednesday, with the fight pitting longtime B.C. activist Bill Wilson against Fontaine, who has a significant history as a leader on the national level.

      Although Fontaine has the higher national profile, Wilson has the support of four former AFN national chiefs, including Ovide Mercredi, Matthew Coon Come, Del Riley and Noel Starblanket.

      In recent months, the two candidates have been working to build support across the country among the more than 630 hereditary chiefs who are eligible to vote in Wednesday's contest.

      The candidates are limited to $35,000 each in total campaign expenses, including travel, and will submit their expense documents for scrutiny before the the voting begins Wednesday morning. The winning candidate must receive the votes of 60 per cent of the chiefs registered.

      B.C. is considered a major player in the voting, with 200 Indian bands around the province eligible to cast their votes.

      University of B.C. political science professor Paul Tennant, a frequent commentator on aboriginal affairs, said the province's relative strength in terms of votes does not necessarily mean automatic support for Wilson. "They're by no means united," he said of B.C. bands Monday.

      Tennant added there are also "significant differences of outlook" among bands across the country.

      "Even in (his home province of) Manitoba, Fontaine faces some pretty stiff opposition," Tennant said.

      B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell, one of the keynote speakers at the meeting, is expected to expand on his vision of a new relationship with Canada's aboriginal population this morning.

      He will likely receive a warmer response than federal Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice, who is scheduled to address the group Thursday.

      Campbell has been actively courting the First Nations people, and challenged Prime Minister Stephen Harper in early May to make good on the previous federal government's so-called Kelowna Accord promise to spend $5.1 billion to improve the lives of Canada's aboriginal peoples.


      © The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2006

      Copyright © 2006 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest MediaWorks Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.

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