Posts tagged ‘federal election’

Nipissing First Nation: Want to actively help get rid of Stephen Harper? Here’s how.


Stephen Harper and Patrick Brazeau.

My dear Nbisiing Anishinaabeg:

Please take a few minutes to consider this call to action.  It’s such an important time where we all need to do our part, to work together, to get rid of Stephen Harper and his insensitive, reckless and irresponsible government that has absolutely no care or concern for Anishinaabe families.

Several prominent community members and myself have been working to help our good friend Anthony Rota to take back the Nipissing-Timiskaming riding from Harper back-bencher Jay Aspin.

Harper, Aspin and the Conservative government have refused to work with First Nation on a nation-to-nation basis, choosing unilateral and arbitrary means to further their agenda.  An agenda that has seen them kill the $5 billion Kelowna Accord, a blind refusal to call an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, stripping environmental laws meant to protect fresh water, and cutting millions of dollars from First Nations organizations across the country.

Here’s what we need to know about the October 19, 2015 federal election:

  1. We need to take action. Stephen Harper has to go. So we must all do our part to help make that happen. What can you do?
  2. We need to vote strategically. In our riding, the last election was decided by only 18 votes. If we are to use “strategic voting” we can take a seat away from the Harper government. In our riding, strategic voting means that we all need to vote Liberal. In our riding, if you vote NDP or Green, you are helping re-elect the Conservatives.  See
  3. We need to help our friends. As a community, we should support our friend and our biggest supporter. No MP or local candidate has been a better friend, supporter and stuck with us through thick and thin than Anthony Rota. He’s really been there for our First Nation as an MP and a community leader. Even during the past four, hard years, Anthony’s been here and we can count on him. Anybody remember Rona Eckhert, Dave Fluri, Dianna Allen, Art Campbell, Wendy Young or Dawson Pratt??? Me neither. But Anthony will be here for our community, doing what he does best, regardless of the election result.

Do you want to know what you can do to help get rid of Stephen Harper?  Please consider volunteering a few hours of your time with the Anthony Rota campaign.

We need some Nbisiing Anishinaabeg to help out with the following:

  • Making phone calls to potential supporters.
  • Canvassing our community door-to-door.
  • Delivering lawn signs to homes in our community.
  • Acting as election day volunteers.
  • Being a scrutineer or poll agent on behalf of the campaign.

No experience is necessary. It does help if you have a car or a ride to the Campaign office in North Bay.  You’ll receive a little bit of training then you’ll be set to work with a lot of good, friendly and like-minded people.

If you can help out, please call Bob Goulais at (705) 805-9242 or e-mail me:

Miigwetch. Thank you in advance for your time and effort.


Bob Goulais, Tory Fisher, Trish Cowie, Anthony Rota, Marianna Couchie, Chief Scott McLeod, Robin McLeod


Finally, a reason for First Nations people to vote.


Isaac Jacobs casts his ballot in 1962. First Nations were only given the right to vote in Canada in 1960.

Now is our time, Canada. Now is our time, Anishinaabeg!

Today, Justin Trudeau, the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada announced a stunning and game-changing set of reforms to Canada’s election and parliamentary processes. The aim is to restore confidence in federal political processes, fairness in how governments are formed and transparency in how Canada’s affairs are governed.

If the Liberals win the election this fall, Justin Trudeau stated that this would be the last federal election to be held under the “first-past-the-post” electoral system.

This broken system makes it possible for a party to win a majority of seats in the House of Commons with less than 40 per cent of the national vote.

Finally, there seems to be a real commitment to reforming the election process and exploring proportional representation. This will effectively put an end to the first-past-the-post system and make every vote count when it comes to electing Members of Parliament (MPs) and forming representative governments.

I’ve been a long-time advocate for election reform and proportional representation… but not for the reasons that most people have.

First Nations people have long felt unrepresented by Canada’s mainstream election process. Our vote, although key in some swing ridings across the country, often don’t amount to any type of representation of our voice, perspective and issues. Some First Nations communities reject federal and provincial elections completely as a means of asserting their sovereignty. Many of our people have completely given up and have become disillusioned with these processes.

As a result, the vast majority of voting-age First Nations men and women simply do not exercise their right to vote.

Under a proportional representation system, First Nations people may finally have a reason to vote. It may give us all a new rationale to explore when it comes to participating in the federal election.

Over the years, First Nations have tried on several occasions to create an indigenous political party to represent our unique interests. Under the first-past-the-post system, a vote for a First Nation party amounted to a wasted vote – a protest vote of a fringe party and fringe candidates. We’re not the same as a Libertarian, Rhinoceros, Communist or Marijuana Party.

The idea of a First Nation party in Canada is incredibly important to us. Having a leader, candidates and elected members with our voice, that understand and share our perspective is important to us.

We are a founding nation within Canada. It’s time for our voice to be heard in Parliament.

Under proportional representation, a First Nations party, with a full slate of candidates, with even one per cent of the vote, could theoretically obtain a seat in Parliament.

That’s right! Our own seat in the House of Commons. Not a set-aside seat (although that is important too) but someone who we actually elect during a general election, to sit in office as our Member of Parliament.

Grass roots indigenous people, with the support of the Chiefs, Aboriginal organizations and organizations such as Fair Vote Canada, need to stand up and press for true and fair representation for First Nations people in Canada. We need to be represented in the House of Commons with our own members, our own voice, by our own people.

Justin Trudeau has committed to appointing an all-party committee to study proportional representation and bringing viable options to the House of Commons. The time for action and raising awareness is now. The opportunity for proportional representation may finally be within reach.

Don’t get be wrong, I’m a true, red Liberal. That’s been the case because the Liberal Party of Canada has been a voice for me through the Aboriginal People’s Commission, the Aboriginal Caucus, and our great history of Aboriginal MPs and candidates.

However, if presented with an option for a system that will lead to true representation of First Nations people, that’s something I can support. That’s something that a lot of my Liberal colleagues can support too.

Indigenous policy ideas, committee representation and a voice in the House of Commons – it only makes sense that all First Nations people consider what proportional representation may mean to the future of indigenous people within Confederation.

Day 38: E-Day… Two messages

1.  Vote.  (This means YOU!)
2.  Vote Liberal.  (Everything else, is everything else.)

Day 37: My Final Pitch to Vote Liberal

Friends, family and community members:

I’m going to leave you with a final pitch, from the heart.  I’ve been in politics for a while now and I know my way around.  I personally know many candidates and executives from various parties.  I know the lay of the land.  I wholeheartedly give my endorsement to the Liberal party.  I urge you to do the same and vote Liberal tomorrow.

For me, the Liberal party has the best chance to govern and are the only alternatives to ongoing “chaotic government”.  From our well-rounded economic platform, our caring choices for families and Elders, to our specific commitment to working with First Nations on protecting the water, the Liberal platform is Canada’s ideal.  The Liberal party continues to work closely with First Nations people, even within the party through the Aboriginal Peoples Commission.  The Liberal platform was developed by First Nations, for First Nations people.  I may have had a hand in influencing the platform, including the commitment from Michael Ignatieff to work with Anishinaabek women on water issues.

Michael Ignatieff has shown himself to be a charismatic leader through his townhalls, and how he stays to answer questions from the media and from the general public.  He is, by far, the most intelligent of all the other leaders.  That’s why I think he will make the best Prime Minister.

The candidates I’ve worked with and wrote about throughout this campaign are among the best of the best, including Karen Mock (Liberal, Thornhill), Anthony Rota (Liberal, Nipissing-Timiscaming), Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux (Liberal, York Simcoe), Ruby Dhalla (Liberal, Brampton-Springdale), Christine Innes (Liberal, Trinity-Spadina), Mark Holland (Liberal, Ajax-Pickering) and Steve Clarke (Liberal, Simcoe North).  I’m proud of them and all their hard work during this campaign.  I wish you well and good luck on e-day.

As for polls, I can’t explain it other than the majority of Canada wants change.  However, that won’t happen by supporting three different centre-left parties.  It’s time we actively consider a coalition government, some form of Liberal-led partnership government or even an effort to “Unite the Left”.  If this doesn’t happen and our centre-left support isn’t strategic and coordinated, we’ll continue to be spinning our wheels and giving Harper ongoing power and chaotic government.

Day 36: Why I’m Voting Liberal

We have, more or less, four choices this election:

You have the status quo, a Conservative party.  I need to continue to stress that for First Nations, a Conservative government is really a non-starter.  They don’t have OUR best interests in mind.  In fact, a Conservative majority could spell an end to our nation-to-nation relationship as our Aboriginal and Treaty rights would be cast aside in favour of ignorant, anti-native policies.

You have the NDP.  They may seem like a good choice, especially for First Nations.  But the reality is that they support every social cause in Canada!!  Take it from me, in my experience the NDP have never said no to me or anyone.  Many also forget the fact that the NDP supported the Conservatives in killing the largest single government investment in First Nations history.  Layton also supported the Conservatives in killing a massive investment in an indigenous languages strategy.  You may also consider that voting NDP may split the centre-left vote and result in a Harper majority.  A vote for Jack Layton, may very well mean a vote for Stephen Harper.  Also, the NDP economic policies are not realistic.  For example, Jack Layton says he will “hire” 1,200 doctors and 6,000 nurses for $25 million per year.  The reality is this amounts to an annual salary of $3,472 per year!!  Ridiculous.  The NDP have absolutely no experience in fiscal policy or in government.  The NDP is amateur-hour, folks.

You have the Green Party. Once  again, they are supportive of issues near and dear to our hearts as First Nations.  But once again, they further split the centre-left vote.  Thankfully, a vote for the Green Party is a vote for no-one.  They have absolutely no chance of electing a single MP, much less a caucus in Ottawa.  The Greens are a no-go.

Finally, you have the Liberal party.  Their Aboriginal platform was developed for, and by First Nations people.  Their Aboriginal Peoples’ Commission consist of people like you and me.  We have more Aboriginal candidates running than any other party.  The Liberals are really the only feasible alternative to the Conservative government, as it would be practically impossible for the NDP to increase their results by 100 seats.  The Liberal platform focusses on Aboriginal education, which is First Nation’s top priority.  The Liberal platform focusses on families – another top priority.  The Liberal platform focusses on the environment, and in particular the protection of water – a top priority for Anishinaabe kwewag.  Finally, the Liberal economic platform is solid and is based on experience.  The Liberal party has experience in government and are in the best position to lead Canada away from the Conservative nightmare.

My choice is easy.  That’s why I’m voting Liberal on May 2.

Day 35: Where are the Conservatives? First Nations want to know.

We all know that Stephen Harper hasn’t been very accessible. I’m pretty sure his party is worried that if people actually got to know Mr. Harper and what he stands for, no one would actually support him. So the Conservative flacks limit his exposure.

He only takes five questions at a time from media that he trusts. When he’s done his five answers, he’s whisked away. A Stephen Harper Town Hall? Forget about it. He certainly doesn’t take questions from average Canadians.

We also know that the Conservative Party only invites Conservatives to their campaign events and rallies. Even if you have an invite to one of their events, they have campaign staff on hand to check your Facebook. If they don’t like that they see you get the ole Harper boot.

When it comes to candidate’s debates, the Conservatives are often absent. Just look at the headlines: “Tory a no-show at poverty debate”. “Conservative incumbent a no-show”. “Missing: Another Conservative Candidate in BC”. “Town Hall meeting proceeds despite Minister no-show”. The Globe and Mail did a story, which I can’t find right now, but I’d say 95 per cent of their listed no-shows were Conservative candidates. Shame!

Most notably, they’ve been no-shows at some of the highest profile First Nations-organized events.

Harper’s soldiers were absent from an AFN Town Hall held earlier this week in Toronto. They skipped out on a recent Assembly of Manitoba Chief’s debate organized in Winnipeg. They we also no-shows in all-candidates events held in Wasauksing and Edmonton.

Why would they skip out on trying to court the First Nation vote, I wonder? Are they not proud of their record? Are they not proud of their Aboriginal platform? Are they not afraid of questions and accountability?

Or are they ambivalent about First Nations issues? Are our issues not important to them? Perhaps they don’t care about First Nations poverty, education, health status and our aboriginal and treaty rights?

Perhaps they are like Harper and are afraid we’ll actually get to know them, and find our what they stand for.

Day 34: NDP Split May Result in Harper Majority

Avoid Vote-Splitting at

I’m a little concerned over the way the election campaign is headed. Unfortunately, it seems that the Conservatives are a shoo-in to win this election. But what’s even more concerning, is the shift of support away from the Liberals and Bloc to the NDP and how that can actually result in a Harper majority government.

I’m not anti-NDP. I’m quite thankful for their insights and contribution in elevating the issues important to me as an Anishinaabe person. My biggest concern is how the poll results may send a lofty reassurance to NDP supporters, that will only result in damaging vote-splitting.

According to Wikipedia: “Vote splitting is an electoral effect in which the distribution of votes among multiple similar candidates reduces the chance of winning for any of the similar candidates, and increases the chance of winning for a dissimilar candidate.”

The intangible factor remains that polls and the popular vote doesn’t always translate into seats. In 1988, the NDP enjoyed an unprecedented lead in the polls of up to 41 percent. It didn’t translate into a significant amount of electoral seats. The Green Party had over six percent of the popular vote in the 2008 election. However, they have never elected a single MP.

My analysis indicates the Liberals will form the official opposition. The NDP have little chance in picking up enough swing seats to meet or exceed the 77 seats currently held by the Liberals. Even with their surge in Quebec, I can’t see the NDP picking up that many seats at the Bloc’s expense.

Remember, there is absolutely no mathematical chance of the NDP forming the government. Period.

Yet, Jack Layton’s personal likability and surge of poll support has pleased a lot of NDP supporters and new voters. If NDP supporters vote their conscience, or the they pick up Liberal and Bloc support – the result may be a Conservative majority government.

Remember, a Harper majority will spell untold catastrophe for First Nations issues and respect for aboriginal and treaty rights. We could possibly see an end to the post-secondary student support program and non-insured health benefits under Harper’s slash-and-burn approach.

What is the solution to this quandary? The answer lies in strategic voting.

First Nations have long debated the use of strategic voting. As First Nations don’t have strong voting numbers, with the exceptions of a dozen key ridings across Canada. First Nations are in a prime position to use strategic voting to skew the results in a few more ridings to our favour. In this case, our goal should be to work together to ensure Harper doesn’t get a majority.

In this election, thanks to the influential environmental lobby, we have the use of a powerful tool called Project Democracy. The primary goal of Project Democracy is directly aligned with our goal: to ensure Harper does not get a majority in the House of Commons.

The website, makes use of a riding-by-riding, statistical-based analysis to provide voters with up-to-date information on how to use strategic voting to ensure the Conservatives do not achieve a majority.

I urge you all to carefully consider your vote. Sure, you may be happy to vote your conscience and mark your ‘X’ next to the NDP. But when you wake up the next morning to a Stephen Harper majority government, because the NDP/Liberals/ Bloc vote-split, you may be filled with regret.

Especially, when you have to pay for your eyeglasses, prescription drugs and college tuition.

Day 33: Rise Up For Canada Rally Tonight

I’m sending you my personal invitation to attend the “Rise Up For Canada” rally tonight in the Downsview area of Toronto. It is sure to be the largest campaign event in the election campaign thus far.

It will include all the top Liberal candidates in the GTA including our Leader Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae, Ken Dryden, Martha Hall-Finlay, and special guest, The Right Honourable Jean Chrétien.

Wednesday, April 27 · 7:30pm – 10:30pm

Montecassino Hotel, 3710 Chesswood, Toronto, Ontario

I know Jean Chrétien isn’t a hero to most Anishinaabeg, myself included. After all, he was the Minister that brought forward the 1969 White Paper, and nearly, the First Nations Governance Act. That’s a lot to overlook for many First Nations people.

The Liberals eventually abandoned the White Paper, and the Trudeau government enshrined Aboriginal and Treaty Rights in the Constitution.

The Liberals also eventually abandoned the First Nations Governance Act, in favour of a more collaborate approach with First Nations under a Paul Martin government.

However, the Chrétien government did attempt to develop a new relationship with First Nations. A lot of that has to do with the work of former National Chief Phil Fontaine during his first term. Many don’t realize that the Chrétien government made an official apology to First Nations over the residential schools in 1997. They responded by creating the Aboriginal Healing Foundation a year later. In fact, the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, may have been finally signed off by the Harper government, but it was established and well underway under the Paul Martin government.

The Chrétien government was best known for slaying a massive deficit. In 1997, the government had to make difficult decisions, including limiting growth of First Nations spending. Many erroneously call this the “establishment of the 2 per cent cap”. But the real story was there was government-wide freeze. The fact was that the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada was the only government department permitted 2 per cent growth every year, in order to address the needs of communities. During those tough fiscal years, the 2 per “cap” was really a positive thing.

Just as Paul Martin was going to lift the cap and provide the single largest investment in First Nations history, the NDP and the Conservatives killed the Kelowna Accord by defeating the Martin government.

The biggest reason that First Nations people might give Chrétien his due, is he is the Elder statesman of the Liberal party. I’m happy to provide my respect to this Elder whose heart, I feel, was always in the right place.

I’m definitely more of a Paul Martin guy. After all, he was the engineer of the Liberal fiscal policy that eliminated a massive government deficit in the 1990s and early 2000s. He truly believes in First Nations social justice. To this day, puts his money where his mouth is by supporting so many worthwhile First Nations initiatives.

I look forward to seeing you at the Rise Up For Canada rally tonight.

Day 32: What Door Will You Choose?

Borrowing an analogy from a recent speech by Liberal Party President Alf Apps, this election is about a clear choice between a Door of Fear, A Door of Inexperience and A Door of Hope.

You can take the blue door. We call this the “Door of Fear”.  Behind that door you’ll find a bunch of bullies. A group with no respect for democracy. You’ll find a leader who lives in a bubble.  He won’t take questions from the people and won’t take legitimate questions from reporters.  You’ll be asked for your credentials at the door.  They’ll check your Facebook profile too.  Behind this blue door you will find only empty promises of corporate tax cuts, fake lakes, fancy jets and mega-prisons.  For First Nations people, this door leads to a nasty precipice, which will erode and lead to the eventual loss of our aboriginal and treaty rights.

Behind the orange door, the Door of Inexperience, you’ll find a friendly, likeable fella.  The folks in there genuinely care about social issues and First Nations issues.  But they’ve never been in government.  Heck, they never even been in opposition.  They promise the world and support every single cause that’s brought to them.  But behind that door are a series of dark hallways.  Dark hallways of government inexperience, fiscal inexperience, and inexperience in First Nations issues.  Just lots of folks fumbling around in the dark.  In the orange tent, you’ll even find locked doors that can’t possibly be opened, as we are unable to afford them.

Or you can take the red door. We call this the “Door of Hope”. You won’t find a bubble or any dark hallways… you’ll find a door to a great red tent that has a place for everyone, including First Nations.  In fact, First Nations already have a seat at the table.  This great red tent is meant for families. You have a choice for new opportunities for every student to attend college or university. You have the choice to be able to look after your elderly loved ones.  You’ll have increased investment in First Nations education.  You’ll also find protection for the environmental and a Canadian Fresh Water strategy.  Behind the red door and under the great red tent, you’ll find Hope.  Hope is a wonderful thing.

This election is so important because it is about this important choice.  Ask yourself, what is your vision of Canada?  What door will you choose?

Day 31: First Nations, Get Out The Vote

Happy Easter!  I’m going to leave you with a simple, short message before we hit the road from NYC en route to Toronto…

First Nations people: stand up for your aboriginal and treaty rights.  Get out and vote.  Today is the last day for advanced polls.  Vote.  The election is next Monday.  Vote.  If you care about your future.  Vote.  If you want to ensure the government respects your rights.  Vote.  If you want to make a difference.  Vote.

Have a great day.