Canada’s newest right-wing party, the Canadian Alliance, thinks Native people live in a ‘communistic system,” and would invoke the notwithstanding clause to overrule court rulings like the Delgamuukw decision.
The party, which unites members of the Reform and Conservative parties and has set its sights on winning the next federal election, also wants to tax Natives, and is against “special laws” for Native people.
But don’t call the Canadian Alliance anti-Native. The party believes most Native people support its platform. It believes the only ones opposing it are a small “elite” of chiefs, lawyers and consultants who make up the “Indian industry.”
Reform and Conservative party members are now voting by mail-in ballot on whether to accept the new party and its platform. The results will be announced March 25.
The party’s full name was originally the Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance Party, but this was changed because of its unfortunate acronym, CCRAP. Its new name is the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance Party, or CRCAP.
The party’s Aboriginal platform is virtually identical to Reform’s.
The Assembly of First Nations has strongly condemned the Canadian Alliance platform.
“They are saying they would just disregard treaties,” said Jean LaRose, an AFN spokesman.
“They are just as extremist as before, but now they are trying to form a party that would stretch across Canada and form the government. That for us is very worrisome.”
But Diane Ablonczy, a Reform MP from Calgary who is co-chair of the new party’s policy committee, said no one has raised any complaints about its Aboriginal platform. “I think it’s fairly balanced,” she said in an interview.
She said her party is especially sensitive to Native concerns because “one of our MPs is married to an Aboriginal.”
Ablonczy said she has problems with treaties like the one just approved with the Nisga’a people of British Columbia. She said First Nations should be run just like any municipality in Canada.
“Nisga’a and other treaties set up a communal, communistic system which Indians are forced to live in,” said Ablonczy.
She said First Nations are ruled by “a very strong central committee” – the chief and council – while Native people live in Third World conditions without the same rights as other Canadians.
“They (Native people) don’t have the same freedoms as other Canadians do, particularly when it comes to private property rights,” Ablonczy said.
The party would invoke the notwithstanding clause to overrule court decisions on Native issues it doesn’t like. This is the clause used by the Quebec government to overrule a court decision that struck down the province’s French language law.
LaRose said the AFN is now exploring how to fight the Canadian Alliance. He believes if Canadians know what the party proposes, they wouldn’t support it. “Canadians are fair-minded people. But we have to make sure they are aware,” he said.