Our people are demanding fundamental change says Russ Diabo

Unless there is significant change in the lives of First Nations people, Russ Diabo says there will be more push back from the people.

“Our people are increasingly demanding fundamental change, not incremental change,” Diabo said on Tuesday’s edition of Face to Face with Host . “And they’re continuing to act on it at a local level.”

Diabo was hoping to bring about some of that change himself when he ran for the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations last summer.

But he only received ten votes on the second ballot that saw Perry Bellegarde re-elected by a landslide.

Diabo was critical of the election process that he felt was tainted by meetings that Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett held with Alberta chiefs and proxies.

During his concession speech, Diabo warned “there would be consequences” for re-electing Bellegarde as national chief.  Diabo believes the AFN has become a “cheerleader” for the Trudeau government.

“The colonial system is making our conditions worse,” he said.

The long-time policy analyst who worked on the Liberal party’s Aboriginal Platform for the 1993 federal election is also one of the most vocal critics of the Trudeau government’s proposed Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework legislation.

“Our people have nothing to do with it and don’t know anything about it” said Diabo.  “I’m not surprised because they’re doing it in secret and they’re doing it through public relations.

“Trying to say nice things to us but they’re doing something different than what they’re saying.”

Diabo may be a critic of the Trudeau government but he is willing to concede they’re better than the government of Stephen Harper when it comes to programs and services.

“They’ve put in $17 billion in new programs and services, mind you they’ve back ended a few billion of that until after the next federal election but they have come up with more money.”

However, Diabo said the billions promised are “Indian Act dependency dollars” which are needed “but aren’t changing the system and a lot of that is going to be eaten up by the bureaucracy both the First Nations bureaucracy and the federal bureaucracy.”

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