The Safety of their Populations is an Absolute Priority for the Chiefs of AFNQL, but not for the Harper Government

OTTAWA, Feb. 27, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - "Stephen Harper has recently stated to his caucus that the safety of the populations and the communities is one of his priorities."

"Apparently, this priority does not apply to First Nations", said Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL, in support for the many Chiefs and police officers present yesterday in Ottawa to denounce the negligence of the federal Minister of Public Safety, Vic Toews, and the indifference of the Harper Government when it comes to security in First Nation communities.

"It seems Minister Toews does not take to heart the critical situation of police services of our communities, a critical situation which he created himself by refusing to commit to an adequate and long-term financing of our police services. Twenty-six communities of the AFNQL will find themselves without police services on next April 1st. More than 240 of our competent and well trained police officers will find themselves in a situation of uncertainty. Why? What is going to happen? It is to ask this question to the Minister and to try and find responses that our Chiefs were gathered yesterday in Ottawa with several of their Chiefs and police officers", added Chief Picard.

For more than twenty years, police services in First Nation communities have been governed by tripartite agreements of which the First Nations, the federal government and the provincial government are signatory and the two levels of government providing respectively 52 and 48% of the financing. The signing of eighteen of these policing agreements affecting more than twenty-six communities is in jeopardy because the federal Minister of Public Safety refuses to renew the commitment of his department, without giving any explanation.

"Our Chiefs and councils, our communities are making considerable efforts to bring concrete solutions to the social problems plaguing their communities and to the consequences of these social issues on public security. Our police services are key contributors. Why jeopardize all the work already done?

The Chiefs and Chiefs of Police of the AFNQL, gathered yesterday in Ottawa, made a specific proposal to Minister Toews: on the one hand, that he confirms now and for one year the current level of funding and, on the other, that he commits to initiating immediately effective and respectful discussions with Chiefs of the AFNQL and their Chiefs of Police, with a view to ending very quickly the dangerous climate of uncertainty which currently prevails amongst First Nations.

I am also making an appeal to the new federal Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Mr. Bernard Valcourt. As a result of past experiences, Mr. Valcourt fully understands the reality of First Nations. I therefore ask him to make representations to his colleague of Public Safety, to help us make him see reason, to convince him to finally live up to his responsibilities and to engage in a long-term commitment to adequately fund the police services of our First Nations", concluded Chief Ghislain Picard.

About the AFNQL
The Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is the political organization regrouping 43 Chiefs of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador.


For further information:

Mélanie Vincent
(418) 842-5020
(418) 580-4442

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