Some ideas for aboriginal policy...
The Canadian Taxpayer Federation has 8 sensible recommendations for aboriginal policy. Shouldn't the Conservatives be stealing some of these ideas?
The Canadian government must abolish the Indian reserve system. Thus allowing individual native Canadians the freedom to choose how and where they wish to live.
If native communities are to become economically self-sustaining, the reserve land which is now held by the Crown should be transferred to individual natives living on-reserve, and to band members living off-reserve. It will be up to natives themselves to decide if they want to transfer the land into a communal arrangement or allow for the property to be owned and managed individually.
The tax exemption now provided for natives living and working on reserves is a provision of the Indian Act, not the Canadian Constitution. The Indian Act is like any other piece of legislation, capable of being amended and/or abolished at any time. Taxation at all levels (municipal, provincial, federal) should be phased in for natives over a period of 10 years. As it is now, an artificial competitive advantage for native businesses has emerged.
In order to increase the level of accountability on reserves, the payments currently transferred to native band councils should be re-directed to individuals. The money necessary for native governments could then be taxed back by the local native government.
A system of independent annual financial audits and operational audits of Indian governments – similar to how the federal and provincial auditors conduct their audits of government departments and programs – should be implemented. Expansion of the current Auditor General’s mandate to include native bands is imperative for improved accountability and transparency.
The Indian Act does not sufficiently address the concerns of native Canadians. As an interim measure to ensure native Canadians receive appropriate redress, an Ombudsman for Aboriginal affairs needs to be established.
Municipal-type governments successfully manage small communities all over Canada. This model should be implemented for native reserves rather than a constitutionally protected "third order" style of government. In addition, the development of individual property rights must be established and protected in order to generate the wealth needed for a self-financed municipal-style of government.
Non-natives living on reserves and paying taxes in their local communities must be granted the democratic right to participate in the local political community by being granted the right to vote. In addition to a right to vote, non-natives living on reserves must be given the opportunity to serve as elected representatives on band councils.
For too long the Indian Act and Aboriginal policy in Canada has segregated native Canadians from Canadian society. Aboriginal issues are a growing area of public policy and perhaps the most important moral dilemma facing Canada. If the recommendations illustrated above are implement, native Canadians living in native communities will be empowered and the entire system of Aboriginal affairs and the Indian Act will soon cease to exit.