Idea alert

Paul Adams proposes seats for aboriginals in the House of Commons.

Having their own MPs would give Canada’s first peoples an opportunity to vote for representatives who hold their concerns as a priority and who could speak for them with a degree of independence and authority that no one now has. None of us thinks it is remarkable that Albertans or Québécois have their voices directly heard in Parliament: we have even had parties such as Reform and the Bloc which ran for election as voices for regional concerns. Is there something fundamentally wrong with aboriginal Canadians having a similar voice?

Aboriginal seats would hardly be a panacea. They would not displace protest or moral suasion. They would not end the need for negotiations over land and they would not remove the need for organizations such as the AFN. But they would ensure that aboriginal concerns were raised in the process of legislation, and not just in anguished howls afterward.

 More on New Zealand’s Maori MPs here and here.



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Idea alert

  1. Yes, they need a voice in the HOC, and in the country as a whole.

    On edit: I should add that with the Bloc Quebecois, Bloc Alberta, 50% women and now a start of 10 seats for FN…..we seem to be well on our way to PR by default.

    • Parrot!

    • Which first Nation would hold this seat, EmilyOne? You do know that not all Natives are of one kind, do you?

      If I tell you that Canada should have as many Natives seats in the House as there are Native differences, would you parrot that suggestion to?

      You are so simple. Nothing but a parrot.

  2. Paul Adams is a veteran of the CBC, the Globe and Mail, and EKOS Research.

    That, and the fact that Wherry is back, explains such sentences as

    “None of us thinks it is remarkable that Albertans or Québécois have
    their voices directly heard in Parliament: we have even had parties such
    as Reform and the Bloc which ran for election as voices for regional
    concerns.”

    Same old drivel, same old mis-interpretations. No wonder the Native community cannot be understood, if these so called learned folks don’t even understand the difference between the Reform Party and the Bloc.

    Alberta now being compared as if it is a complete separate entity within Canada.

    Welcome back Wherry: your beginning to a very predictable year of blogging, again!

    • Alberta now being compared as if it is a complete separate entity within Canada.

      Alberta IS a complete separate entity within Canada.

      • As are all provinces. So why is Alberta considered different here when referring to the Reform Party?

        May I remind you and especially Wherry, that the Reform party’s slogan was : “The West wants in” whereas the Bloc’s slogan was: “Quebec wants out.”

        The exact opposite of each other.

        You know, every political party has to start somewhere, and the Reform party happened to start in Alberta. Where did the LPC start? Not in the west. Probably Ontario or Quebec. So why not compare the LPC to that of the Reform party or the Bloc? Because none of what Paul Adams is proposing makes sense. None of it.

        • Yep, there is a large distinction between the two.

      • Agreed. Alberta even has a separatist party.

      • Funny.

        The distinction is that the Reform Party has its roots here. But the Reform party ran candidates outside of Alberta and dominated Western Canada as a whole, including BC, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and gaining, barely, one seat in Ontario at its height. Contrast that to the BQ, which has never ran anyone outside of Quebec and never intended to either.

  3. It is a racist proposal because Adams wants to divide people based on their race. It doesn’t make it less racist just because he has good intentions. Why should Natives be the only ethnic minority group with its own MPs. Canada does not have a great history with its treatment of a variety of Asian people, either, so why don’t we also have MPs representing Indians or Chinese. Maybe our governments should copy whatever the Americans are doing – they have black president, how many decades before Canada has a PM with ancestors from Korea?

    Canadian politics and journalism, dominated by paternalistic white people who think they have all the answers for everyone.

  4. Hmmm…and would it not be ironic if, in some future parliament, an aboriginal caucus held the balance of power and, hence, the capacity to determine the governing party (i.e., the PM)?

  5. Terrible idea. As Adam’s points out himself, there are more native’s in parliament right now than ever before, mostly from the Conservative’s. First Inuit cabinet minister. (I know, the CPC is soooo racist). So why fix a problem that seems to be solving itself?

    But more importantly, do we really need to add race as another dividing factor in our politics? We’ve already got regional resentments, the partisan divide, religions vs non-religoius factions, do we really need to split races up between parties also?

    I mean, we’ve already got a party for the Quebecois, so we then add a new party for Native’s. What’s stopping Asians and East Indians from forming their own parties? And then suddenly it becomes acceptable to have a political party dedicated to bettering white people’s lot in the country. How’d you think that’s going to end?

    “Progressives” need to realize that racist good intentions are still racist. Equality will never be achieved until people are actually treated equally. Too bad proponents of Indian Industry continue to perpetrate the lie that we can somehow continue down this path of paternalistic policy control and deep-seeded racial resentment and get different results.

    • That’s why it’s a bad idea to implement rep by pop, because it would open up this can of worms.

      Don’t believe me? In the Netherlands, all sorts of political parties have popped up: there is the “over 50′ party; there is the animal welfare party; there is the green party. I don’t remember them all.

      And so coalition governments have to be formed with keeping all of these small parties in mind. There will always be coalition governments because there are soooo many parties to vote for. Governments don’t usually last very long. and so more people get dissatisfied and more political parties are set up and on and on it goes. It’s a circus a lot of the time.

  6. I don’t think ridings have to be geographically contiguous by law do they?

    So, a riding composed of several say Northern Ontario band reserves could be created with an acceptable population (size equal to a riding in PEI?) and from then on it would be the same as any other riding. Not racists since everyone living in the riding could vote. Bunch together 10 of these across the country and the problem is solved.

    Of course these constituencies would likely elect members from different parties, not really a block, but would have voice in more than one caucus.

    • Great minds think alike. This is essentially what I was going to propose.

  7. Gerrymandering black majority seats in the United States has let to the super safe Republican Tea Party nearly all-white districts that has destroyed compromise in the US House of Representatives. In far too many districts, Republicans don’t have to try to win any minority votes at all, which creates more divisive politics since they don’t have to get any minority votes to win their district.

    Hence the disaster that is US politics.

    Paul Adams apparently wants to bring that here.

    Allowing candidates to be able to narrowcast and speak only to their own “tribe” is extremely damaging to democracy.

  8. Great idea. How about seats for hispanics? seats for chinese speakers? seats for elderly females? seats for one-legged midgets? seats for stocky black people? There is no end to this great idea.

    • Well, they vote….and pay taxes….so thank you for the suggestion.

      • What if they don’t vote and pay taxes? .What if it’s one legged chinese midgets who don’t vote and pay taxes?

        • …….

      • How about seats for American born folks who you would scream “hater and “racist” at and who don’t speak English to your (ahem) high standards.?

      • Would you give seats to childish Elmo muppets who are psychologically defective and who refer to themselves in the third person

    • You missed it. They do have geography; the other don’t.

      • Over 50% of natives live in Canada’s cities, in the same geography as everybody else. Only 40% of natives live on reserves, and most reserves have non-natives living there.
        But I will grant you the fact that the other groups I mentioned do not have reserves.

  9. I thought the FN people did have representatives in the ridings they dominate. And I recall a few FN MPs and MLAs being elected over the years as well, here and there across this nation. Currently one has a prominent seat in the HOC…seems to me they have a voice in Parliament…though not all of them are in agreement….just as all of them are not in agreement regarding the recent bills passed in the HOC…some bands promoted the ideas, while others opposed them. Go figure.

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