Indian Affairs is trying once again to change the 134-year-old Indian Act.
Federal Indian Affairs Minister Robert Nault plans to introduce legislation to “update” the Indian Act soon.
His department is now working on what will be called the Modern Governance Act, and says it will consult First Nations.
“It’s either going to be part of the Indian Act, or it will be a stand-alone piece of legislation,” Nault told Southam News in an interview earlier this month.
Last time the Liberals tried to change the Indian Act, they had to back down due to fierce protests from First Nations, who said they weren’t properly consulted.
Nault said Indian Act is outdated and is continually being challenged in the courts because it does not comply with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
He said the legislation will be sweeping. He wants to set out conflict-of-interest rules and make administration of funds “so transparent that bands could post their financial dealings and administrative salaries on the internet,” according to the Southam report.
The law would also “help enhance Indian self-government by increasing the power of First Nations to develop their own bylaws.”
Nault also wants to allow communities to vote out band officials who are seen as paying themselves too high a salary.
The idea, said Nault, is that better band governance would strengthen First Nations economies, and in turn improve social problems in the communities.
Nault said he wants to get a “consensus” from First Nations “that this is the right way to go,” before introducing any bill into the House of Commons.