Assembly of First Nations National Chief Says the Federal Party Leaders Debate Ignores First Nations Economic Issues

OTTAWA, Sept. 17, 2015 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde said that tonight's federal political party leaders debate on the economy was a clear opportunity for all leaders to explain their vision and plans for including First Nations in the economy and close the gap in the quality of life between First Nations people and Canadians. Unfortunately, First Nations were largely unaddressed and the economic crisis across Canada in First Nations communities was ignored apart from Mr. Trudeau's effort to raise First Nations economic issues.

"Keeping Canada's economy strong and competitive means action on First Nations priorities," said National Chief Bellegarde. "Canada's economic future demands that we work on First Nations land issues, resource issues, Treaties, First Nations rights and strong First Nations peoples and communities. Our citizens are getting organized and they'll be voting in this next election. I am calling on all federal leaders to tell us where they stand on our issues because our people matter, our priorities matter and our votes matter."

The leaders of the three federal parties participated this evening in a debate on the economy organized by the Globe and Mail, assessing their plans on everything from energy and housing to taxation and jobs. First Nations issues, besides a mention by Mr. Trudeau, did not form any substantial part of the debate and was a lost opportunity to enhance First Nations priorities.  On September 2, National Chief Bellegarde released Closing the Gap: 2015 Federal Election Priorities for First Nations and Canada setting out a plan and vision for change that would strengthen First Nations and Canada. The National Chief stated that closing the gap will add $400 Billion to the country's economy, and save $115 Billion in social spending. The National Chief will be calling on all party leaders to provide a full and clear response to the plan.

"Closing the gap builds a stronger Canada for all of us," said National Chief Bellegarde.  "Canadians are waking up to the fact that the current approach needs to change. The parties need to show leadership. We have raised our priorities and released our Closing the Gap agenda and we need some clear commitments by all federal parties."

Closing the Gap: 2015 Federal Election Priorities for First Nations and Canada is available on the AFN website at:

The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.  Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.


SOURCE Assembly of First Nations

For further information: Alain Garon, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer, 613-241-6789, ext 382; 613-292-0857 or; Jenna Young Castro, AFN Communications Officer, (613) 241-6789 ext 401 or (613) 314-8157 or

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