An important moment, if it happens - Macleans.ca

An important moment, if it happens

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A senior government source tells the Star that the Prime Minister understands the importance of Friday’s meeting with aboriginal leaders, but the Globe wonders if the meeting will happen at all—some chiefs apparently agreeing with Theresa Spence that the Governor General must be present. Or, as one chief explained to APTN, “If there is any honour in this Crown the governor general better get his ass there.” (I believe the proper phrasing is “his right honourable ass.”)

There is a lot of history between First Nations and the crown—some of First Nations leaders have requested a meeting with the Queen later this year—but it’s not clear to me what the Governor General could be expected to do here. If this were a larger summit or gathering, you might imagine the Governor General participating in an opening or closing ceremony. But this is said to a be a working meeting—Shawn Atleo has specifically noted the difference—and the Prime Minister and his cabinet are responsible for government policy.

In that regard, APTN lists a few potential demands that are being considered.

According to a draft position from Manitoba’s Southern Chiefs Organization obtained by APTN National News, it appears First Nations leaders are planning to put repealing the Bill C-45 and Bill C-38, the government’s omnibus budget bills on the table.

The draft outline, which APTN National News was told broadly, reflected the direction of discussions, also called for Canada to set a timeline and process to scrap the Indian Act and replace it with a “Treaty Recognition and Implementation Act.”

Fully repealing 900 pages of legislation—the combined extent of C-38 and C-45—seems a rather large request at this point, but the Indian Act is already up for debate and there seems unanimous agreement that it must (somehow) be replaced.