First Nations Election Act: Will Democracy be Better Served?
June 7, 2012 :: Mike Frank
Moderated by Kristal Frank
At a January 24, 2012 meeting between the Federal Government and First Nation Chiefs, the Harper government told the Chiefs the Indian Act would not be abolished. Instead, a new act known as Bill S-6, The First Nations Election Act would be implemented. Bill S-6 is voluntary and First Nation Governments can opt into the First Nations Elections Act or continue to be legislated by the Indian Act election requirements.
Many political concerns exist regarding the leadership /electoral process on Canada’s Indian Reservations. Because the structure of government is legislated under the Indian Act, it is a municipal style of elected officials in a single electoral zone. Therefore, the only recourse by peoples living on reserves is to raise their concerns with the Minister of Indian Affairs regarding corrupt acts of their government. Rather than hearing each case individually, the Harper Government has introduced Bill S-6 in an attempt to solve the internal problems of Chief and Council elections on Indian Reserves across Canada.
The speaker will argue that Bill S-6 has several measures which are not democratic for First Nations. Under Bill S-6, the existing government/Chief and Council may abuse their legislative powers and arbitrary reduce the number of elected officials without referendum or consultation with voters. Another danger of Bill S-6 is the lack of official consultation with First Nation governments by the Federal Government resulting in a lack of Treaty /fiduciary obligations. Furthermore, if corrupt acts are taking place by the existing First Nation government, the Minister of Indian Affairs can impose Bill S-6 without consultation.
Currently, Bill S-6 is at the Senate for third reading and as of May 4, 2012, has been introduced to the House of Commons.
Speaker: Mike Frank
Mike Frank has been the Chief Electoral Officer for the Stoney (Chiniki) First Nation, a Deputy Electoral Officer for the Kainai First Nation, a Deputy Returning Officer for the recent Provincial election, and policy advisor for many First Nation Governments. Mike is a member of the Kainai First Nation and is a graduate from the University of Lethbridge Currently; Mike is a Lethbridge College & Peigan Board of Education Instructor.
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