Ontario’s aboriginals are welcoming the Liberal Party’s win in the October 6 provincial elections while emphasizing that more attention must be paid to their concerns for the sake of the common good.
Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty won a third term, though this time it’s a minority government with fewer legislative seats, one short of what he needs for a majority.
The Liberal Party won 53 ridings (districts), the Progressive Conservatives won 37 and the New Democratic Party (NDP) won 17, according to Elections Ontario, the provincial monitoring organization. A majority would have required 54 of 107 seats, CTV reported.
When the election was called, the Liberals held 70 seats, Conservatives 25 and the NDP had 10, with two Liberal seats vacant, CTV said.
Ontario’s aboriginals called on the government to continue working to help better the lives of the province’s indigenous.
“As our respective governments move into the future we each have responsibilities to uphold,” said Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee in a statement from the Union of Ontario Indians (UOI). “First Nations and the Province of Ontario have a unique legal history in this country, and as such, developing a better understanding of this relationship is integral to both our governments moving forward in a positive direction. I would like to assure Premier McGuinty that the Anishinabek Nation remains open and flexible to moving in a positive direction, but we need willing partners who stand behind their words with concrete solutions.”
Madahbee hinted at a lack of attention to aboriginal affairs, while other leaders said it outright.
“Minimal attention was paid to First Nations priorities during the campaign,” the Chiefs of Ontario (COO) said in its media release congratulating Premier Dalton McGuinty on winning his third term.
“There is a widespread and fundamental lack of understanding about our shared history and the original treaty relationships the settler governments have with First Nations, and some of that is reflected in Ontario’s principal policy document called ‘Ontario’s New Approach to Aboriginal Affairs,’ ” said Regional Chief Angus Toulouse in the COO statement. “We need to establish a common understanding and the Government of Ontario needs to be guided by modern policy taking into account legal developments in Canada including the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) was more tempered in its congratulations.
“In the next several years the MNO expects to move forward with the McGuinty government, building on our historic framework agreement, which sets out our mutual goals of enhancing the well-being of Métis individuals, families and communities, promoting economic development and facilitating the full and proper recognition of Métis in Ontario,” said President Gary Lipinski in a statement. “We are proud of our contributions to the building of this Province, and look forward to an inclusive Ontario that going forward has a place for everyone.”