August 4, 2020

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Vows on Métis land claim

Three leaders make commitments on deal

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/9/2015 (1770 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

THREE federal leaders have committed to negotiate a massive land-claim settlement with the Manitoba Metis Federation, one that could cost Ottawa billions of dollars.

Only the Conservatives haven't yet responded to a questionnaire the MMF sent to all parties, gauging their positions on the land claim and other Métis issues.

Tuesday, following a visit by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau to Winnipeg, the Grits announced their support for a negotiated land-claim settlement to deal with the outstanding issues raised by the Supreme Court of Canada in a 2013 decision that found Canada bungled the land deal that ended the 1870 Red River Rebellion. And the Liberals pledged to spend more on economic development and training for Métis people, including boosting funding for the Aboriginal Strategic Employment and Training Strategy by $50 million and spending $25 million over five years on economic-development strategies in Métis communities.

Following the rebellion, roughly 7,000 Métis children were promised 1.4 million acres of land by the federal government. But the process of identifying what land ought to be made available to which Métis children was an unmitigated mess, rife with, in the words of the Supreme Court, "repeated mistakes and inaction that persisted for more than a decade." Thousands of Métis people never won the land they were promised, leading to a 30-year court fight launched by the MMF.

MMF president David Chartrand said the Liberal policy on Métis issues was the only one to come with a dollar figure. But he said it's gratifying most federal parties are willing to deal with the land-claim issue, including NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.

"I commit to you that an NDP government will sit down with the MMF and negotiate in good faith to ensure that justice in this case is not delayed any further," wrote Mulcair to the MMF earlier this month.

"We're still waiting for the Conservatives," said Chartrand. "Whether they respond or not, I don't know." But Chartrand acknowledged the Harper government appointed a special representative tasked with reviewing the decision and determining next steps. The representative's report should be done late this year or early next year.

It's likely a settlement would include millions, if not more, for education, housing and economic development for Métis people, but such a settlement is likely years away, even if all parties come to the table.

Chartrand called Métis voters the "sleeping giant" of the federal election. He is asking all Métis people to review the party positions posted on the MMF's website and make an informed choice.

 

-- Mary Agnes Welch

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