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Kelowna Accord off the table

Tories scrapping $5.1-billion package for natives

Daniel Nolan
Hamilton Spectator
May 3, 2006

[SISIS note: The following mainstream news article is provided for reference only, as an example of how mainstream media treats indigenous resistance to genocide. Mainstream media often presents biased and distorted information, lacking pertinent facts and/or context. Inclusion of this article on our site should not be considered an endorsement by SISIS.]

The Conservative government has backed away from the landmark deal reached last year between Ottawa, the provinces and aboriginal leaders to improve conditions for natives through a $5.1-billion package.

The move comes as the government's relations with natives are at a delicate time due to the occupation of a Caledonia housing project by Six Nations protesters and their supporters. The three-month occupation is being called a land reclamation by the protesters.

The deal, brokered by the former federal Liberal government at a meeting in Kelowna, B.C. -- and thus called the Kelowna Accord -- offered a plan to tackle native health, education and housing standards.

Instead, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty yesterday promised $150 million in 2006 and $300 million in 2007 for vaguely defined efforts to improve education programs, provide clean water, repair crumbling housing stocks and close "the socio-economic gap." The accord was not mentioned.

Brant Liberal MP Lloyd St. Amand wouldn't say the Tory move will harm attempts to resolve the land claim dispute in Caledonia, but believed it won't help.

"I had thought the federal government was at the negotiating table to earnestly resolve that land dispute and I would have hoped, and expected, a commitment to the Kelowna Accord would have been a reflection of solid good faith on the part of the government in assisting our aboriginal brothers and sisters," St. Amand said.

"I'm hoping it doesn't scuttle the negotiations. I'm hoping it doesn't put a monkey wrench into the negotiations, but I'm sure there will be expressions of disappointments felt by First Nations people, including Six Nations of the Grand."

St. Amand said he was "disappointed to the point of being shocked" by the move. He said the accord was greeted enthusiastically by native leaders, but the Tories have slashed 80 per cent of the funding from it.

The Tories said the government will meet "with aboriginal leaders and provinces and territories to develop a new approach with workable solutions."

Assembly of First Nations Chief Phil Fontaine said he was disappointed the Tories rejected the accord, despite all the work put into it by aboriginal leaders, the provinces, territorial governments and Ottawa. He's willing to meet and discuss implementing measures that "will improve quality of life for First Nations, but this budget does not appear to offer much."

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