Jul/97: New DIA Minister; AFN election candidates


The following articles are reprinted from BC's Kahtou magazine, July, 1997


On June 11, 1997, Prime Minister Jean Chretien appointed Jane Stewart as Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. Prior to this, Mrs. Stewart was Minister of National Revenue. Mrs. Stewart was elected as Member of Parliament for the Ontario federal riding of Brant on October 25, 1993. She served as Chair of the National Liberal Caucus from February 1994 until being called to cabinet. On January 25, 1996, she was appointed Minister of National Revenue.

In addition to her role as National Caucus Chair, Mrs. Stewart was an active member of the Standing Committee on Finance which undertook the first ever pre-budget consultations designed to make Canada's views an integral part of the budget process. As a member of Parliament, Mrs. Stewart has been an active opponent of the use of anti-personnel land mines [though she has been silent about the Canadian use of land mines against Natives at Gustafsen Lake in 1995 - S.I.S.I.S.]. In September 1995, she travelled to Cambodia to view first-hand the human devastation and indiscriminate use of land mines.

Mrs. Stewart has also been a Canadian delegate to a number of international conferences. In July 1996 - along with Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy - she represented Canada at the P-8 Ministerial Conference on Terrorism held in Paris.

In her portfolio as Revenue Minister, Mrs. Stewart has focused on increasing fairness in tax administration, streamlining Revenue Canada's operations and making the department more transparent and accountable to ordinary Canadians.

Mrs Stewart graduated from Trent University in 1978 with an Honours Bachelor of Science. She built a successful career as a human resources professional, working with both small and large companies across Canada and in the US. Before becoming a self-employed human resources consultant, Mrs. Stewart worked with Imperial Oil Limited.

Mrs. Stewart's father, Bob Nixon and her grandfather, the Honourable Harry Nixon, represented the provincial riding of Brant for a combined 70 years. Mrs. Stewart and her husband Jim reside on the Nixon family farm near St. George Ontario. They have two sons, Alex and Bobby.

Mr. Scott Serson was appointed Deputy Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs.


North Vancouver BC - Leaders of the First Nations Summit congratulated the Honourable Jane Stewart on her appointment as Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. Summit leaders say that it is a positive step for the BC treaty negotiations process to have a new minister who is familiar with Aboriginal issues in Canada.

"Minister Stewart will be bringing valuable experience on Aboriginal issues from her time on the federal standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs," said Chief Joe Mathias, Task Group Member of the First Nations Summit. "The Summit looks forward to meeting Stewart in the next few weeks to discuss how we can work together to improve the efficiency of the current treaty process in BC," said Chief Mathias. Mathias also pointed out that Ms. Stewart's record as Revenue Minister shows that she is committed to efficiency and that this same approach applied to the treaty process in BC would be beneficial.

"We hope she is prepared to have a more direct role in the BC treaty process", said Grand Chief Ed John, another Summit Task Group member. "It is my hope that Minister Stewart takes a lead role in eliminating some of the bureaucracy that is impeding the current process in BC", added Chief John [John was also a director of BC Rail and CEO of Tanizul Logging. John's wife Wendy Grant is running for AFN Chief against Ovide Mercredi - S.I.S.I.S.]

The Summit also sent congratulations to the BC MP's who will be playing an important role in the new cabinet. "We are encouraged to see David Anderson chosen for the fisheries portfolio" said Chief John. Chief John went on to say, "Fisheries is an important issue in the current treaty process and we are encouraged to see that there is now a Minister from BC in place who understands that." Chief John added that the Summit looks forward to working with all members of the BC Liberal Caucus as they have shown in the past that they are very aware of the treaty negotiations in BC and the issues relating to the current process.


People are wondering who is all running for Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. To date we have knowledge of five candidates: Ovide Mercredi, the present National Chief; Phil Fontaine, Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs; Chief Larry Sault of Mississauga, Ontario, former leader of Alberta Indian Brotherhood; Wendy Grant-John, former Chief of the Musqueam Band, Vice Chief for the AFN, former member of the BC Claims Task Force, and former Treaty negotiator. Shuswap Tribal Council member Bobby Manuel has put his name forward to join the race for the national position of AFN.

This is Mercredi's third run, while Phil has been in the race before and was defeated by Mercredi. This could be the one for Phil if he gets the backing in the second or third round. But do not count the BC candidate out because the strategic planning of Wendy Grant-John's team of volunteers has been working over-time to spread the good word to all the possible electors who will be at the General Assembly in Vancouver July 29, 30, & 31. Each one of these candidates is capable of being the National Chief of the AFN but it's unfortunate that only one can be elected.

Kahtou would like to encourage each and every [DIA] Chief to attend this important election. As Canadians we are on the verge of drastic change, an evolution that we must heed. We cannot ignore it. It is up to all First Nations to initiate that positive move in the right direction for a future that will be an inspiration to countries that are struggling with their OWN IDENTITY and economic stability. See you at the general assembly. Good luck to all the candidates and Happy BC Day to everyone (August 1, 1997).

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