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Ms. Barclay’s letter was misleading and full of inaccurate information

Dear Editor
Susan Barclay’s recent July 30th letter to your paper misleads your readers with inaccurate information regarding the proposed First Nations Governance legislation.
The most glaring of Ms. Barclay’s errors is her statement that the “act actually increases the involvement of the minister in the day-to-day lives of aboriginal people.” How can this be true when the legislation proposes to do the exact opposite? In fact, the proposed Act will remove the Minister of Indian Affairs’ power to disallow First Nation bylaws. Under the proposed legislation, First Nations will rightly have the authority to make their own bylaws with the democratic support of their community members and not require any approval from me or any future Minister.
Ms. Barclay completely misleads readers by stating that the Act was created “without dialogue and meaningful input from the people whose lives will not be affected.” I think your readers would agree that 400 consultation meetings and the participation of over 10,000 individuals is, in fact, meaningful. To hold an equivalent consultation with all citizens in Canada would translate into consulting with close to one million people.
Of course we went directly to First Nations people - and not just their leaders - in our efforts to broaden the democratic process. Consultations were designed to give First Nations citizens the direct opportunity to participate - with no “middle man” between them and the federal government. The results of the consultations were shared with all chiefs - whether they had participated or not - and their participation at any point was always welcome. That door will always be open.
I want to make it clear that I am concerned with only one legacy - a legacy that will lead to a brighter future for First Nations people. I truly believe that any efforts to increase the democratic rights of First Nation people, to improve their communities, to provide leaders with the tools to govern more effectively, and to build a future where self-government can truly become a reality, is meaningful, not only to First Nations people but to all Canadians.

Robert D. Nault
Member of Parliament, Kenora Rainy River
Minster of Indian Affairs and Northern Development