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HomePolicy Articles Article Summary

A New Agenda for Strengthening Canada’s Aboriginal Population: Individual Treaty Benefits, Reduced Transfers to Bands and Own-Source Taxation

Backgrounder by John Richards

John Richards suggests he has two purposes in writing this paper: 1) to make the case for diverting a significant share of Treaty benefits from Band Councils to individual Aboriginal Canadians; and 2) to make the case for introducing on-reserve taxation by Band Councils. While he points out that many Aboriginal Canadians want to live a more traditional life on a well-run reserve, he also notes that others prefer to live off-reserve. In order to give Aboriginal Canadians greater flexibility in their choice of where to live, Richards argues the federal government needs to initiate sound economic policies.

Richards points out that the rationale underlying Canada’s Aboriginal policy has changed radically in the past 30 years. He references the 1969 White Paper, tabled by Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal government, as the starting point of modern Aboriginal policy; in Richards’ view, this paper denied the significance of any cultural differences that exist between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. On the other hand, Richards suggests that the view expressed in the Final Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples reflects a belief that culture is the most salient factor differentiating the two, and that the groups share little of substance. These very different statements have significant implications for policy.

Richards argues that more recent approaches to Aboriginal policy are more accurate, in that such approaches suggest Treaty rights should be broadly interpreted, and Band governments should be given the scope to act outside the legal and political constraints of those established by non-Aboriginal governments.

Richards also contends that economics needs to be applied to the issue, and does so accordingly.

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Policy Publication Details

Author(s): John Richards;
Publisher: C.D. Howe Institute [ Visit Website ]
Year Published: 2003; Publisher Type: Research Institute
Publicly Available: Yes Research Focus: National;
Registration Required: No Language: English French
Payment Required: No Publication Format: Adobe PDF

Subjects / Categories:

Policy Articles / Aboriginal / Governance
Policy Articles / Aboriginal / Treaty Rights
Policy Articles / Aboriginal / Governance / 2003
Policy Articles / Aboriginal / Treaty Rights / 2003
Policy Articles / Aboriginal

Keywords / Tags:

treaty benefits; on-reserve taxation; band governments; Aboriginal cultural significance; living off-reserve; federal government policy ;