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Government to work with Métis, industry on consultation policy
The Métis Nation of Alberta is pleased to hear that the government will be implementing a consultation policy with the Métis.
However, Aaron Barner, executive director with the MNA, says the Métis need to be fully engaged in that process.
“We want to work with the government. We don’t want them to develop it in a vacuum ... and bring it to us. We need to be involved right from the get-go,” said Barner.
Alberta Aboriginal Relations Minister Robin Campbell announced late January that the province will begin working with the Métis later this year to develop a consultation policy for industrial development. He said the process will be similar to what the province has undertaken with First Nations. Campbell made his announcement at the Western Aboriginal Consultation and Negotiation forum attended by First Nations representatives from Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Campbell said a special paper will be drafted and then sent to the MNA and Métis Settlement General Council for input.
“We want to talk to industry and again bring all parties together and come up with a policy paper that makes sense for the Province of Alberta,” said Campbell.
Barner is in favour of a policy that outlines the process for the Métis and the Crown.
“We prefer a one-window approach to consultation, where industry comes through the window and they go down to the regional and local levels and we make sure they’re talking to the right people,” he said.
Presently, consultation is dealt with on a case-by-case basis and falls far short of the consultation that is carried out with First Nations.
“It’s fragmented as far as what’s happening within one region compared to the next, with one local compared to the next,” said Barner.
The MNA has had its own guidelines in place since 2009 in a policy entitled “The duty to consult and accommodate Métis Aboriginal rights and interests in Alberta.” That 10-page policy calls for consultation and accommodation to be meaningful. It also states, “The duty to consult is triggered whenever the Crown makes public its intention to embark upon a course of action or to take a decision that could potentially affect the rights and interests of the Métis Nation or any portion thereof. This includes a wide range of actions relating to the Crown’s authority over land use and economic development initiatives.”
The MNA’s policy also calls for the Crown to provide funding for the process.
“We need capacity dollars. We need to be able to support the consultation process,” said Barner.
The province has proposed an industry levy as part of the First Nations consultation policy with that money collected by the government and meted out to First Nations. Barner isn’t particular about how the government collects the money only that there is dollars available at the beginning of the process for Métis.
Campbell said the need for the policy has been driven by both industry and the Métis.
“I know that in our discussion with industry and a number of Métis locals, this is something that has to be done and to make consultation available to all Aboriginal people,” he said.
Barner agrees. “This is something industry has been waiting for and something the Métis Nation has been waiting for.”
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