OTTAWA – A debate about whether to repeal the centuries-old Indian Act is back before the House of Commons.
Last week, the Conservatives moved forward with a private members’ bill that would delete several sections of the act as a start towards fully dismantling it.
Now, the Liberals have introduced their own motion calling for talks with First Nations to replace the old legislation with something better suited to current realities.
The Indian Act came into effect in 1876 and sets out the terms of the relationship between the federal Crown and First Nations.
The motion introduced by interim Liberal leader Bob Rae calls the existing legislation an embodiment of failed colonial and paternalistic policies.
Rae says it creates a barrier to economic and social development for First Nations and needs to be dismantled.
He says the Conservative bill was drafted without consultation with First Nations communities, while his own motion is the product of extensive talks.
Conservative MP Rob Clarke, who sponsored the bill, says it’s based on his discussions with aboriginal leaders.