The Assembly of First Nations chiefs have nixed a proposed plan to co-operate with Minister of Indian Affairs Robert Nault on revamping the Indian Act. The plan, calling for co-operation between the AFN and Minister Nault to develop the proposed Governance Act, was voted down by a margin of 126-49 at a meeting held in Ottawa December 5th. The rejection of the plan to work together came in spite of National Chief Matthew Coon Come’s endorsement.
Coon Come, who had originally come out against the consultation process, encouraged the Chiefs to now participate in order to ensure some Native influence over the proceedings. The chiefs chose to maintain their boycott, seeing the Governance Act as a means to further limit Aboriginal and treaty rights. For his part, Minister Nault has insisted that he’ll push ahead with his plans with or without the co-operation of the AFN.
At a meeting held the following day, the AFN chiefs called for Minister Nault’s dismissal, stating that he is “brash, confrontational and disrespectful.” According to AFN spokesman Jean Larose, the chiefs voted 55-46 to call for Nault’s resignation, with ten chiefs abstaining.
Nault was absent from last week’s assembly meeting, claiming that he didn’t want to be seen to be influencing the debate. The Minister expressed disappointment with the results of the meeting and maintained that, “nonetheless. I’m still interested in working with them.” In reference to his ongoing dispute with the AFN Nault added, “you don’t have to rely on one organization.” Nault has suggested that the AFN needs restructuring in order to better work with the government since it is difficult to move ahead with initiatives when you rely on input from 633 chiefs. The AFN have accused Nault of using “divide-and-conquer” tactics in an attempt to break their resolve and gain approval for his plans. Nault was also accused of “fiscal intimidation,” for withholding or reducing funding to Aboriginal groups who refuse to co-operate.