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Aboriginal Policy Making and the Duty to Consult

Posted on August 6, 2013

Glenn Wheeler, Vice-President (Policy) – Many of us are familiar with the “Duty to Consult” owed by the Crown (as represented by the federal and provincial governments) to Aboriginal peoples.

The Supreme Court of Canada has stated that the Crown not only has a duty to consult but also to accommodate when actions are being considered that might impact Aboriginal or treaty rights.

As our Party puts its policy making process into high gear, it’s good to reflect on our obligations when we develop policy on Aboriginal issues.

Though the Duty to Consult for us as Liberals may not be legally binding as it is for governments, there are important moral obligations. After all, we aspire to govern. How we act as a Party sets a tone and builds trust among Aboriginal people whose vote can tip the balance in nearly 70 ridings across the country.

What does the duty to consult mean when we are in opposition without the power to set policy or make law?

Rebuilding trust means that we commit now that when we are in power we will act in the way that we say the current government should. In government, we must make the Duty to Consult task number one on all files that have Aboriginal impact.

In our current policy-making process, the Duty to Consult means treating policy making as a conversation and making sure that Aboriginal people are part of it. Many non-Aboriginal Canadians want to contribute to reconciliation by advancing progressive policy on Aboriginal issues. There may be no Aboriginal people on their riding association policy committee, so how do they consult?

With an active national executive, and Commissions right across the country, the Aboriginal Peoples’ Commission is here to offer feedback and provide important community contacts in this process.

The APC does not want to control, veto, or pre-determine the process of policy development in this area, but rather, we want to give you a heads-up about the way a certain proposal fits with existing Party policy and how it will be received and interpreted among Aboriginal people.

Liberals are eager to do their part to build a new relationship with Aboriginal peoples. The APC is your partner. Let’s work together and continue making positive change!

*Note 1: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of and/or official policy of the Aboriginal Peoples’ Commission and/or the Liberal Party of Canada*
*Note 2: The blog was published in the language it was received*

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