By John Geddes - Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - 0 Comments
Today in Question Period, Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan fielded questions on the consultation he’s launched into education in First Nations communities.
Duncan also discussed that subject briefly earlier this month in an interview with Maclean’s for this story. As the education file gains prominence, here are his answers, edited and condensed, on some key points up for debate:
Q Isn’t funding for First Nations education just too low?
A Because First Nations schools are in small, remote communities they require a higher per student expenditure to be at an equivalent level.
By John Geddes - Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 2:42 PM - 0 Comments
For a story in this week’s issue of Maclean’s, I interviewed several key figures about the ongoing controversy sparked by the “Idle No More” aboriginal protests, and the bid by the Assembly of First Nations to reassert its leadership through high-level, high-pressure talks with the federal government.
I focus on tensions over the process for settling comprehensive land claims. It’s not that this issue overshadows, say, improving education on reserves or figuring out how to give First Nations a share of resource revenues. But the claims negotiations do seem a clear point of friction, and thus a highly visible test for both the AFN’s leadership and Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan.
Duncan himself is, it seems to me, an inexplicably low-profile figure in all of this. After all, he’s the senior cabinet minister on the most-watched federal policy file of the past couple of months. Yet you don’t see all that much of him. Although he is far from a dynamic politician, Duncan is interesting if only for his unusually close personal links to First Nations.
By John Geddes - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 6:46 PM - 0 Comments
Few really expected any very specific progress to flow from today’s summit meeting between the Prime Minister and Aboriginal leaders, but an unexpectedly precise step forward on proper financing for reserves appears to have materialized.
The “Crown-First Nations Gathering Joint Statement” issued at the end of today’s sessions here in Ottawa includes an “Immediate Steps for Action” section. The very first item promises that “Canada and First Nations will work on a renewed relationship that is based on… movement toward a single, multi-year Government of Canada financial arrangement for First Nations with high-performing governance systems.”
The wording might sound bureaucratic, but the two underlying points are of critical importance. Ottawa will provide multi-year funding, but only to reserve communities that meet proper standards of governance.