Bill C-9, First Nations Elections Act to Provide Stronger Governance Framework
OTTAWA, April 14, 2014 /CNW/ - Today, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Minister Bernard Valcourt welcomed Royal Assent of the First Nations Elections Act, which supports the Government of Canada's commitment to provide all Canadians with strong, accountable and transparent government. The Act will provide a robust election framework, improve the capacity of First Nations to select leadership, build prosperous communities, and improve economic development in their communities.
The opt-in First Nations Elections Act is a result of the positive partnership between the Government of Canada and First Nations organizations, and is a testament to what can be achieved by working together. The Act addresses longstanding issues with the current electoral system under the Indian Act. First Nations who opt-in will have access to modern electoral provisions including:
- longer terms of office;
- more robust nomination processes;
- defined penalties;
- a common election day for interested First Nations; and
- removal of the Minister's role in election appeals.
This stronger election system will provide the foundations that First Nations governments need to attract solid business investments, practice strategic long-term planning, and increase economic development. Now that the legislation has received Royal Assent, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada will be working with the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs and other First Nations to develop the Act's regulations. These regulations will provide the details on the more technical aspects of an election system such as on the posting of notices, the nomination of candidates, and voting by mail-in ballot and in person. The regulations must be in place before a First Nation can hold its election under the First Nations Elections Act.
- The Act was drafted based on recommendations provided by First Nations organizations for a strong legislated alternative for First Nations elections.
- Currently, of the 617 First Nations in Canada, 238 hold elections under theIndian Act and the Indian Band Election Regulations. This opt-in legislation will be primarily of interest to these First Nations.
- The Act provides for terms of office of four years and addresses many of the weaknesses of the Indian Act election system.
"This Act delivers on a commitment, in partnership with First Nations in Canada, to set the conditions for strong, accountable and transparent governments. By opting into the new system First Nation's can get out from under the Indian Act and benefit from the political stability required for long-term planning to attract business investments that lead to increased economic development and job growth. This is a step-forward for First Nations and all of Canada"
Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development
"Today is a historic day for First Nations in Canada. Today marks the beginning of a new era of self-governance, where First Nations can now break away from the Indian Act to create stable and credible governance systems, and the necessary social and economic changes to improve the quality of life for First Nations."
Chief Ron Evans
Norway House Cree Nation
"The new legislation will provide a real opportunity for positive change and help strengthen governance."
Chief Dean Vicaire
Listuguj Mi'gmaq Government
Atlantic Policy Congress Co-Chair
"The new way to do elections will help bring economic progress to communities who embrace change as well as stability."
Chief Deborah Robinson
Acadia First Nation
Atlantic Policy Congress Co-Chair
SOURCE: Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
For further information:
Office of the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
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