Common sense leader backs First Nations’ demand for less bureaucracy in Ottawa, more resource money in their communities
Ottawa, ON – The Hon. Pierre Poilievre, Leader of Canada’s Common Sense Conservatives, today committed to enable First Nations to take back control of their resource revenues from big government gatekeepers in Ottawa.
For hundreds of years, First Nations have suffered under a broken colonial system that takes power away from their communities and places it in the hands of politicians in Ottawa.
The Indian Act hands over all reserve land and money to the federal government. This means that First Nations have to go to Ottawa to ask for their tax revenues collected from resource projects on their land.
This outdated system puts power in the hands of bureaucrats, politicians and lobbyists – not First Nations. The direct result of this ‘Ottawa-knows-best’ approach has been poverty, substandard infrastructure and housing, unsafe drinking water and despair.
Conservatives have listened to First Nations, and today we are announcing support for an optional First Nations Resource Charge (FNRC) that enables First Nations to take back control of their resources and money.
This is a First Nation-led solution to a made-in-Ottawa problem. First Nations and the First Nations Tax Commission developed the plan, brought it to Conservatives, and we accepted.
This new optional model will simplify negotiations between resource companies and First Nations.
The FNRC will not preclude any community from continuing to use other existing arrangements, such as Impact Benefit Agreements. First Nations can choose the FNRC to replace the financial component in Impact Benefit Agreements or supplement IBAs, as they wish. The FNRC will respect all treaty rights and all constitutional rights—including the Duty to Consult.
Putting First Nations back in control of their money, and letting them bring home the benefits of their resources, will help get local buy-in for good projects to go ahead.
In other words, more earnings for grassroots First Nations communities, not Ottawa gatekeepers. Those earnings will mean paycheques, schools and clean water for people.
Only common sense Conservatives will fight for real economic reconciliation by supporting First Nations taking back control of their money and lives. Let’s bring it home.
“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. It will also make resource projects more attractive to First Nations so they are more likely to go ahead.
“I am committed to repealing Trudeau’s radical anti-resource laws to quickly green-light good projects so First Nations and all Canadians bring home more powerful paycheques.”
“The Simpcw First Nation is leading the First Nations Resource Charge. I call on the federal and provincial governments to cede room for the first governments of Canada to implement a First Nations Resource Charge. Real change means all governments need to offer tax room instead of revenue sharing.”
– Chief George Lampreau – Simpcw First Nation
“It’s ridiculous that the smallest governments must navigate the most complex negotiations. We want to implement a charge like other Canadian governments to streamline business. The Resource Charge is going to provide the kind of revenues we need to have the water, health care, education, and opportunities that every other Canadian takes for granted.”
– Chief Trevor Makadahay, Doig River First Nation
“Confederation in 1867 divided everything between federal and provincial governments, treating us as if we didn’t exist – wards of the state – leading to poverty, dependency, and the existence of residential schools for years. The solution is to bring First Nations into the federation by granting us tax powers to exercise our own jurisdictions. The First Nations Resource Charge aligns with this goal.”
– Chief Donna Big Canoe, Chippewas of Georgina Island 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 Fiscal Management Act (FMA) and the Framework Agreement (FA) helped us take advantage of our location advantage. Similarly, the Resource Charge supported by the FMA and FA is going to help a lot of rural communities take advantage of their resource advantages.”
– Chief Derek Epp, Tzeachten First Nation
“In 1910, my ancestors asked then Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier to accommodate our jurisdiction and fiscal powers in Canada. We wanted to look after ourselves and be part of the economy. Instead, they took our children and denied our rights, fiscal powers, and jurisdictions. This approach has failed. It’s time for a real change. The First Nations Resource Charge is a practical step towards the better future my ancestors asked for 114 years ago – together [with all Canadians and governments] we will make each other great and good.”
– Manny Jules, Chief Commissioner of the First Nations Tax Commission.
“In 1989, we passed amendments to the Indian Act that gave First Nations the option to assume tax room and service responsibilities on reserve lands. A lot of people thought it was minor and would never amount to much. Other people thought we simply weren’t capable of carrying out such responsibilities. That, to me, is the most dangerous form of discrimination. Other people thought it was some plot to hold First Nations back. But First Nations all over the country proved the naysayers wrong. A lot has changed since then, and for the better. I was there in ‘89, so I know. And I’m proud to be here now. This is going to allow many First Nations who were unable to take advantage of that earlier initiative to become more self reliant and more self-determining. It’s also a major step in acknowledging our rights and obligations over our historic lands. I welcome the Leader of the Opposition for supporting this, and I hope every political leader in the country will support this. It’s the right thing to do for First Nations and for the country too.”
– Councillor Strater Crowfoot (Siksika Nation)
“It is our responsibility to act as stewards and guardians of our lands and waters in a balanced way. Our connection to the lands and waters runs deep, but we also know the importance of economic opportunity. Homalco has projects and businesses that work towards this balance – whether it is forestry, tourism, or fishing. There is a proposed $10 billion hydroelectric dam in our territory. The Resource Charge doesn’t mean we won’t say no to bad projects where the costs to us are too high. It could mean, however, that good projects happen faster. This is what we all want. We want to continue to open up good, quality economic opportunities and participate meaningfully in projects in our territories.”
– Chief Darren Blaney (Homalco First Nation)
“We have many resource projects in our territory. The current process for negotiating financial compensation for First Nations takes too long, and it costs too much. We are small administrations. We cannot respond and negotiate in a timely way. It costs us hundreds of thousands of dollars. Our time is scarce. It costs Canada tens of billions in lost investment every year. The FNRC changes this. It is a pre-specified standardized charge for doing business in our territory – whether that is forestry, mining, hydroelectricity, oil and gas or any other resource project.”
– Starr Acko (Treaty 8; Doig River First Nation)
“The Resource Charge is a First Nation led initiative. Whispering Pines and many other First Nations want to be in the business of doing business. We don’t want to be in the business of negotiating how we should do business. The First Nations Resource Charges means less time negotiating and more time raising our quality of life to national standards.”
– Grand Chief Mike Lebourdais (Whispering Pines First Nation)
“Tkemlups has led First Nation tax initiatives for the last 50 years. The First Nations Resource Charge builds on what made our previous tax proposals work. 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? It worked for urban First Nations, like our community Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, with property tax and property transfer tax. We know not all First Nations have a location advantage, but many have resource development opportunities on their territories. Let’s make it work for rural First Nations with the First Nations Resource Charge.”
– Councillor Thomas Blank, (Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc)
[Translation] “We recently participated in a conference on the initiation of the First Nations Resource Charge organized by the First Nations Tax Commission. This initiative makes sense for us. We have many industries on our traditional territories. Gone are the days when we simply received offers of low-paying jobs. We expect to receive a share of tax benefits and charges, as do other governments. That’s why we support the resource tax proposal.”
– Jean-Claude Therrien Pinette (ITUM [Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam])
“For too long, our people and governments have been left out of the resource bounty of this land. Many of our nations and members want to be part of the resource economy. They want careers, business opportunities, and equity stakes in resource companies. The First Nations Resource Charge finally means our fiscal jurisdiction over the resources on our lands is implemented. The Resource Charge will mean we can increase the economic benefits to our members and regions, improve services and infrastructure and close the gaps with the rest of Canada sooner.”
– Chief Sharlene Gale – Fort Nelson First Nation, Chair, First Nations Major Projects Coalition
“The FNRC will provide a good option for First Nations, especially those who have not had the same opportunities as urban communities, like my community, Simpcw. However, even if we choose to use this option, we will still need to build on it through negotiation, to develop fully comprehensive agreements. Those agreements must ensure that we can take advantage of the economic opportunities that projects bring and that our voices are heard with respect to understanding the environmental impacts of major projects on our historic lands.”
– Additional Statement by Chief Lampreau (Simpcw First Nation)
Tzeachten Welcomes Conservative Support for First Nation led First Nations Resource Charge
The Tzeachten First Nation welcomes the announcement by the Leader of the Official Opposition in support of the First Nations Resource Charge (FNRC).
First Nation jurisdiction should be a non-partisan issue, and we call on all parties and provinces to do the same and support the FNRC.
The Tzeachten First Nation has been a leader in First Nation tax and jurisdiction initiatives for the last 30 years. This includes our work with the First Nations Tax Commission to advance the FNRC along with other First Nation fiscal powers.
The FNRC is a proposed First Nation charge on projects within First Nation territory established in First Nation law and supported by our institutions like the First Nations Tax Commission. It would be optional for interested First Nations.
Currently, First Nations must negotiate economic and fiscal agreements for every proposed project in our territories. No other government in Canada must do that. These constant one-off negotiations are wasting time and money.
It is good to see the Conservative Party of Canada propose to cede some of the federal corporate tax room. The First Nations leading the FNRC proposal, and the First Nations Tax Commission will hold them to this commitment.
The First Nations Resource Charge represents practical reconciliation. It addresses long-standing grievances and starts to bring the first governments of Canada, First Nations, into the federation. Confederation was based on the fiction that First Nation rights didn’t still exist.
The Indian Act legislated First Nations out of the economy. The FNRC will help right these historic wrongs and begin to legislate First Nations back into the economy.
The FNRC allows interested First Nations to become more self-reliant. It will mean First Nations can begin to close the many infrastructure and service gaps that exist between them and other Canadians. This includes education, health, social, and environmental services.
The FNRC will build on the most successful First Nation-led legislative initiatives in history – the First Nations Fiscal Management Act (FMA) and the Framework Agreement on First Nations Land Management (FA). There are now over 400 First Nations using one or both frameworks.