Harper Government re-introduces First Nations Elections Act in the House of Commons

OTTAWA, Oct. 29, 2013 /CNW/ - The Government of Canada today re-introduced Bill C-9, First Nations Elections Act, in the House of Commons. This proposed legislation takes action on the Government's commitment to provide all Canadians with strong, accountable and transparent government. It is also an example of how working in partnership with First Nations can lead to positive results.

"Our Government is proud to support this historic legislation that will provide willing First Nations with a robust framework for real improvements in their elections," said Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Minister Bernard Valcourt. "This new system will give First Nations who choose to elect their leaders under it the political stability necessary for solid business investments and long term planning that will lead to increased economic development, job creation and improved quality of life for the community."

"The First Nations Elections Act will be a catalyst for the way in which First Nations are governed, will create stability and credibility, strengthen self-governance and allow First Nations to move forward on important initiatives in the areas of social and economic development that are vital for communities, their well-being and their quality of life," said Chief Ron Evans, Norway House Cree Nation and former Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. "I would like to urge our representatives in the House of Commons and the Senate to support this important piece of legislation and be part of making the positive and necessary change for First Nations in Canada."

Bill C-9, First Nations Elections Act, addresses longstanding issues with the current election system under the Indian Act by extending the terms of office for chiefs and councils, introducing a more robust nomination process, adding penalties for defined offences and fraudulent activities, as well as raising the possibility for common election days among several First Nations. This bill incorporates the recommendations provided by the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs following a national engagement process with First Nations on the development of a better electoral system.

Chief Dean Vicaire from Listuguj Mi'gmaq First Nation and Atlantic Policy Congress co-chair said, "The legislation will fix a number of problems with the existing election process. As well, longer election terms will help strengthen governance and accountability beyond the limits of the current Indian Act election process." "The new Act allows those First Nations who opt into the legislation real measures to improve the election process and will give greater clarity of the election rules and will have clear penalties included for any person who attempts to circumvent the process," said Chief Deborah Robinson of the Acadia First Nation and Atlantic Policy Congree co-chair. "It puts the power in the hands of the membership to select leaders, which can build a strong and prosperous future for their communities and people."

This legislation will be of particular interest to the 238 First Nations who still hold their elections under the Indian Act and who may choose to opt in to this new legislative framework.

To learn more about the contents of Bill C-9, First Nations Elections Act, please consult the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada website.

This release is also available on the Internet at www.aandc.gc.ca.

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SOURCE: Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

For further information:

Minister's Office       
Erica Meekes
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Bernard Valcourt

Media Relations
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern
Development Canada

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