Poilievre backs First Nations’ demand for less bureaucracy in Ottawa, more resource money in their communities
Ottawa, ON (February 8, 2024): Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre has ignited debate within the Indigenous community by pledging his party’s support for the First Nations Resource Charge (FNRC) proposal.
The Conservative Leader during a stop in Thunder Bay in January stated, “We want to ensure that First Nations communities have the opportunity to earn powerful paychecks that fund local infrastructure, schools, and other necessities.
“And one of the ways we’re going do that is to give First Nations communities more control over their money, their decisions and their lands. We’ll allow First Nations to collect some of their own corporate tax it that will be business so that businesses will not have to send it all to Ottawa. They’ll be able to pay it to the local First Nation.
Poilievre continued, in Thunder Bay saying, “That will generate home source revenue and more financial autonomy, less top down colonialism by Ottawa, and more bottom up decision ant making by First Nations themselves. We’re going to respect First Nations’ hunting rights by stopping Justin Trudeau from banning hunting rifles.
“We’re going to quickly approve natural resource projects that First Nations support so that their young people can have jobs, paychecks and their local communities to generate resources to lift people out of poverty and give them a hopeful future,” added Poilievre.
The Conservative leader is continuing his efforts on this front with the Conservative’s First Nations Resource Charge (FNRC) proposal.
What is the FNRC?
The FNRC, championed by many First Nations, aims to streamline resource development negotiations by establishing a standardized charge. This charge would be levied directly by participating communities on resource projects within their territories, offering greater control and predictability over revenue streams.
Why the Buzz?
Currently, First Nations negotiate each resource project individually with the federal government and companies, a process often criticized as cumbersome and time-consuming. Proponents of the FNRC argue it would cut through bureaucracy, generate stable revenue, and empower communities to manage their resources effectively.
Poilievre declared his party’s support, stating, “The First Nations Resource Charge cedes federal tax room so communities will no longer need to send all their revenues to Ottawa and then ask for it back.” He also criticized the Trudeau government’s “radical anti-resource laws” and pledged to expedite project approvals.
First Nations Responses
The announcement drew mixed reactions from Indigenous leaders.
- Chief George Lampreau (Simpcw First Nation): “Real change means all governments need to offer tax room instead of revenue sharing.”
- Chief Trevor Makadahay (Doig River First Nation): “Resource Charge… will provide the kind of revenues we need to have the water, health care, education, and opportunities that every other Canadian takes for granted.”
- Chief Derek Epp (Tzeachten First Nation): “Thirty years ago, like many First Nations, we were 95% dependent on federal transfers; now, 95% of our revenues are from our tax and other own sources… The Resource Charge… is going to help a lot of rural communities take advantage of their resource advantages.”
- Grand Chief Mike Lebourdais (Whispering Pines First Nation): “The Resource Charge is a First Nation led initiative… Less time negotiating and more time raising our quality of life to national standards.”
- Councillor Thomas Blank (Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc): “What if instead of the federal government collecting money, and then negotiating with First Nations how much they get and how they spend it, we just let First Nations collect it and make their own decisions?”
- Chief Sharlene Gale (Fort Nelson First Nation): “While we choose to use this option, we will still need to build on it through negotiation… Those agreements must ensure… environmental impacts of major projects on our historic lands.”
- Additional Statement by Chief Lampreau (Simpcw First Nation): “[The FNRC] represents practical reconciliation… However, even if we choose to use this option, we will still need to build on it… comprehensive agreements.”
While Poilievre’s announcement has garnered attention, discussions surrounding the FNRC’s potential impact and long-term implications remain ongoing.
NetNewsLedger Indigenous News will be reporting on further dialogue and analysis, considering diverse perspectives and potential consequences for individual communities.