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“Political expediency” doomed the deal to failure
(Ottawa, ON – April 17, 2008) Paul Martin’s repeated call for the Conservative government to implement the so-called Kelowna Accord is fundamentally flawed due to the removal of accountability measures originally committed to by the former Prime Minister’s Government.While Kelowna began as an opportunity for inclusion and accommodation, its ultimate announcement of $5.1 billion in proposed spending was more about political expediency than about ensuring the majority of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples – those living 0ff-reserve – were recognized and accommodated through its provisions.
So says, Canada’s youngest national Aboriginal leader, National Chief Patrick Brazeau, the leader of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP). Chief Brazeau made these assertions in his appearance this week on Parliament Hill before the Senate Aboriginal Affairs Committee for hearings on Martin’s Private Member’s Bill.
This occurred despite clear promises of accommodation made to the off-reserve Aboriginal community, and indeed to all Canadians, by the Martin government in the February 2004 Speech from the Throne. In it, we were told,”with our partners, we will tackle head-on the particular problems faced by the increasing number of urban Aboriginals and Métis. We will not allow ourselves to be caught up in jurisdictional wrangling, passing the buck and bypassing their needs.”
Brazeau was also emphatic in his view that Canada must reassess its spending on Aboriginal affairs given the latest data released from the 2006 Census which shows that the largest growing segment of the Aboriginal population is non-status Indians. This single group is expected to increase by 77% by 2026.
Other highlights of the National Chief’s address included:
- CAP remains unconvinced that money — and lots of it — is the answer to the challenges that confront all Aboriginal people, regardless of residency.
- In its report, “Where Does The Money Go?” CAP reviewed thousands of federal grants and contributions, in an effort to better define the exact nature of the funding environment.
- This analysis identified over 6000 grants and contributions, by 30 federal departments, to over 2,054 recipients. The review concluded that the Government’s reporting system is deeply flawed, permitting only $5.6 billion of the reported $10 billion in Aboriginal spending to be clearly accounted for.
- The most fundamental trend to emerge is that CAP’s analysis poses more questions than it answered. These questions remain relevant to the Committee’s deliberations on Mr. Martin’s Private Members Bill currently before committee. These questions are appended. These questions and the answers that they beg form the substance of CAP’s objection to the final version of the so-called Kelowna Accord due to a fundamental lack of accountability.
The National Chief offered the Committee a distillation of the bottom line in respect of the proposed commitments that were offered in Kelowna. “The Kelowna Accord promised big money. It created expectations for National Aboriginal Organizations, Provinces, First Nations, and the federal bureaucracy. But did we all do our homework to ensure that the money would be directed to the priorities, programs and services that adequately reflected the real truth of modern aboriginal realities on the basis of existing data?”
Chief Brazeau concluded, “As Canada’s Aboriginal peoples struggle to find the balance between traditional and modern concepts of governance, the Government of Canada remains not only their principle source of funding, but through its own example, it sets a standard for acceptable governance practices and a potential “best practice” to be emulated.
As Parliamentarians, I would urge you to consider what Aboriginal Canadians will have learned from your example if this bill is approved in the absence of an honest resolution of the outstanding issues of a lack of accountability measures?” said National Chief Brazeau.
The full text of National Chief Brazeau’s remarks, and the questions CAP is posing on the basis of its review of Grants and Contributions, are appended.
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Speaking Notes for Congress of Aboriginal Peoples National Chief Patrick Brazeau to the Senate Committee on Aboriginal Affairs – BILL C292 – AN ACT TO IMPLEMENT THE KELOWNA ACCORD
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