APTN National News
Green Party leader Elizabeth May says she wants to see the Indian Act reviewed when a brand new Parliament reconvenes after the Oct. 19 federal election.
May said the Indian Act is at the root of many of the historical injustices faced by First Nation people.
“A lot of the failures of Canada in achieving justice and fairness and respect with First Nation communities stems from the Indian Act and fixing that is a high priority,” said May during APTN’s first virtual town hall held Tuesday.
The virtual town hall with May, hosted by APTN anchor Cheryl McKenzie, is the first of three with federal party leaders which will air this week.
A virtual town hall featuring Liberal leader Justin Trudeau will be broadcast Wednesday followed by an appearance by NDP leader Thomas Mulcair on Thursday.
All the town halls will be livestreamed on APTN’s news website.
The Conservative campaign did not respond to APTN’s invitation to take part in the event.
The town hall covered a wide range of issues, from the need for a public inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women, to the Arctic and pipelines.
May said she doesn’t expect to become prime minister, but she expects the election will produce a minority government and she hopes enough Green candidates gain sets to hold the balance of power.
May said her party supports an inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women, but she also wants to see more cultural and gender sensitivity training for RCMP officers who investigate these cases.
“We don’t want to just make this an inquiry into people we’ve lost, we need to stop the violence,” said May.
May also called the Supreme Court’s landmark Tsilhqot’in decision “the most exciting thing that has happened in Canadians’ history living on Turtle Island.” In particular, May said the part of the decision—which stems from a long-running battle launched by the Tsilhqot’in Nation in British Columbia’s interior—that discussed the impact on future generations rings true to her.
“Whatever is important to this generation needs to be available to future generations,” said May. “What does this look like generations from now and are we in our generation taking away chances that people in our generation have a right to expect.”
May repeated her previous stated stands against the shipping of raw resources, like bitumen or logs, out of the country.
“We shouldn’t be shipping any bitumen and all the pipelines being proposed they are all about shipping raw bitumen out of Canada,” said May.
May said her party would also push for the re-establishment for a Canadian ambassador for the Circumpolar North to push Canada’s interests in the region which is under acute threat from climate change.
“Stephen Harper got rid of the position of ambassador for the Circumpolar North,” said May.
The May-led Green party will also push for the application of the principles contained in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the next Parliament.
“It is a stain on Canada’s reputation that we were dragging our feet and not accepting it and not implementing it,” said May.
When it comes to treaty rights, May said the next prime minister needs to be the one on point when it comes to ensuring Ottawa is living up to the honour of the Crown.
“This is the sort of thing that should rest on the desk of a prime minister to make sure treaty rights are observed and taken as a priority,” said May.
The Green Party will also push for the next Parliament to address all the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations that fall within federal jurisdiction, said May. The Green Party will also continue to push for First Nations, Inuit and Metis to have a seat at the Council of the Federation along with the provinces and municipalities.
May said all it takes is for politicians to take these issues seriously and place them at the top of their priority lists to push these issues forward.
“I think it’s political will,” said May. “I don’t think it’s a money question, I don’t think it’s a legal question.”