[Canadian Election] Confronting the Aboriginal question – by Irvin Studin (National Post – August 19, 2015)

The National Post is Canada’s second largest national paper.

The second, growing risk, concerns Canada’s ability to exploit natural resources
and to deliver on major infrastructure projects of national consequence. Growing
lack of clarity on the Crown’s duty to consult and fiduciary requirements,
regular threats of litigation and extremely long turnaround times will make
governments and industry alike increasingly diffident in betting on Canadian
resources and undertaking large-scale national building projects. (Irvin Studin)

Irvin Studin is editor-in-chief and publisher of Global Brief magazine, and president of the Institute for 21st Century Questions.

Apart from the recent Liberal announcement in Saskatoon on First Nations education, the Aboriginal question has not yet really entered the lexicon of the federal election. It should very soon, as it’s by far the most complex and consequential one for Canada today and for the foreseeable future.

What is the Aboriginal question that our leaders must address? On the one hand, it is about how to lift Canada’s indigenous people from the posture of being the losing parties — strategically speaking — in Canadian history to one of being co-equals in Canadian governance this century. On the other hand, it is about ensuring that the Canadian state remains coherent and governable, even as this transition to Aboriginal co-equality takes place.

How do we make indigenous people co-equals in Canadian governance? Canada has already largely accomplished this with our French-Canadian minority, which enjoys full legal, political, cultural, educational and linguistic rights and opportunities in a land of general prosperity.

Historically defeated, the French Canadian in Canada — and in Quebec especially — today walks with his or her shoulders held high, properly self-respecting and in turn respected by the English-speaking majority as politically equal and as hailing from a culture that is just as prestigious as the Anglo-Saxon culture of the historical victors in North America. The French language is not only studied in all of the schools of English-speaking Canada, but is held in equally high regard in official national institutions and in the minds of most Canadians.

Part of the push to co-equal status in Canada for the Aboriginal people will involve making the binational logic at the heart of Canadian constitutionalism far more porous for purposes of Aboriginal representation, control of territory and governing responsibilities.

For the rest of this column, click here: http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/irvin-studin-confronting-the-aboriginal-question