SIN Assembly Hears From Political Leaders

Thursday, October 25, 2007 at 14:38



Leaders from the three main political parties involved in the upcoming provincial election spoke at the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Fall Legislative Assembly in Saskatoon yesterday.


Saskatchewan Party leader Brad Wall made what sounded like a policy announcement.


Wall pledged that within the first six months of taking office, a Saskatchewan Party government would host a roundtable session with First Nations, the FSIN, mining companies and economic development agencies to identify what needs to be done regarding the duty to consult and accommodate.


Wall also said the province needs to look to First Nations people to address the labour shortage, not just immigration.


NDP leader Lorne Calvert told the chiefs an NDP government will enhance measures it has introduced in the last four years to tackle poverty and addictions, and to address housing, education and justice issues.


Calvert pledged his party will continue to work to close the gap in the standard of living that exists between First Nations citizens and the rest of the population.


Calvert added any relationship his party has with First Nations people will be based on treaties.


Liberal leader David Karwacki said partnerships need to be developed in areas of housing, education and gaming.


Karwacki said the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation should negotiate individual agreements with First Nations to ensure on-reserve teachers have the same professional standards and protection that other teachers have.


Karwacki made a proposal that even he admits will be unpopular — making First Nations trust funds from gaming revenues accountable to the provincial auditor.


FSIN Chief Lawrence Joseph welcomed at least part of what the three leaders had to say.


He was pleased each of them spoke about partnerships with First Nations people.


However, Joseph noted he didn’t like the fact that no party talked about how they would reinvest the tax money First Nations people pay.


He said the position of First Nations is that they should be tax-exempt.


Joseph promised to push that issue with whoever forms government.