Some things just need to be said...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Promise Keepers

Aboriginal summit in Kelowna

The Prime Minister, Premiers, Aboriginal leaders and opposition members will be meeting in Kelowna November 24.

BC's Premier Campbell says, " This is -- for me -- a call to nation building." I sure hope the other leaders watch closely because Campbell has a pretty bad record when it comes to addressing issues of poverty, healthcare, jobs and affordable, safe and secure housing.

Recent headlines have told the story as to why we need this summit and how improtant it is to have our national and provincial leaders held accountable for what has to be done. I don't need to go into the appalling circumstances many of Canada's aboriginal people find themselves in.

Government response has been slow or delivered in the form of a promise. In the case of Gilford Island, a remote aboriginal settlement off BC's coast people are living in houses that if they exisited in any municipality would have been condemed due to the extensive mold and lack of maitenance. The Martin government response was to build a three houses now and over five to ten years replace the others. Hardly a quick response. How many children or seniors or those in poor health will be left in these homes before they are replaced?

This conference has to kick start action. Given the federal Liberal history of promises, their lack of response and Paul Martin's budget cuts over 12 years I have to take these new promises for action with a grain or tub of salt. Premier Campbell's own inaction and his record has not included first nations and in many cases its been adversarial.

Promise keepers they have not been. Is it too much to hope that this time it will be different? I hope so. With the possibility of an election hanging over the meeting, the best way to ensure action is to return as many MP's to Ottawa that will hold whomever is elected to account. Jack Layton managed to get money added to the budget this year for Aboriginal issues when none was the Liberal budget. That's how you make Parliament work.

Perhaps then we can have Promise makers become Promise keepers.

No comments: