NIPISSING FIRST NATION (September 17, 2006) – Prominent aboriginal organizer and local Liberal executive Bob Goulais endorsed Ken Dryden today stating that Dryden is the best choice for Liberal leader, not only for aboriginal Canadians but the leader most likely to win the next election.
Goulais, who sits on the executive of the Nipissing-Timiskaming Federal Liberal Association, cites a recent poll by CBC Newsworld which stated that Dryden leads the leadership race with 19 per cent among both Liberals and general voters.
“It was a close choice for me but in the end Ken can deliver what is needed. To make aboriginal issues a top national priority and a leader who has the best chance of winning the country,” said Goulais, who is also the Chief of Staff for the Anishinabek Nation-Union of Ontario Indians Political Office.
Goulais has been in constant contact with Ken Dryden and will be actively working on his leadership campaign team beginning this week.
Over the past few weeks, Bob Goulais has had a number of conversations with Ken, and talked in depth about First Nations issues and concerns, especially implementing self-government, eliminating poverty and improving First Nations housing.
“He has confirmed to me that the implementation of the Kelowna Accord would be a top priority as Leader. He went on further to say, we cannot just stop at Kelowna and that the historic accord was only a starting point,” added Goulais.
Goulais criticised the reigning Conservative Government for their about-face in supporting the goals of the Kelowna Accord.
“Either it’s Kelowna or it’s not. Either it’s Kyoto, or it’s not. Either it’s child care, or it’s not. The Conservatives are clearly taking Canada in the direction that we don’t want to go,” said Goulais.
Goulais will be one of 47 aboriginal delegates from Ontario and will be working over the next ten weeks to influence other aboriginal delegates across Canada to support Ken Dryden.
Goulais has acknowledged that many of the Liberal Aboriginal Peoples’ Commission members are supporting Ignatieff. However, Goulais is concerned over his lack of involvement in Canadian politics and the fact that Ignatieff has been living abroad for many years.
“Mr. Ignatieff may be out-of-step with Canadians, especially with First Nations people and complex issues all aboriginal people are facing,” said Goulais.
“Ken Dryden’s vision is in step with that of our First Nations leaders across the country: with the support and commitment of all governments, First Nations can make positive changes, eliminate poverty and improve our social conditions ourselves,” said Goulais. “That is what self-government and self-determination is all about.”
Goulais is also contemplating a run for a position with the Liberal Party of Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples Commission. Goulais feels that aboriginal people should play a greater role in mainstream politics and within federal political parties.
“People will listen to us, but only if you take steps to be heard. First Nations people, especially our youth, need to play a role in all aspects of Canadian society. When we get involved, we can make a difference,” concluded Goulais.
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