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2015 Election Questionnaire Green Party Response (Received October 2, 2015)

Media Release: October 05, 2015

Let's get informed!

As the National Inuit Organization, ITK represents the close to 60,000 Inuit in Canada and, as part of that role, we circulated a questionnaire to the Federal Parties during the ongoing Federal Election with Inuit-specific questions to get their views on Inuit-specific policy issues.

We committed posting the responses as they were received. Here is the response from the Green Party of Canada, received on October 2, 2015.

P.S. Make sure you check out to make sure you are ready to vote on October 19, 2015!

1.       In the opinion of your Party, what is the most important current issue and/or opportunity for Canadian Inuit and what would your Party do on this file in the next 5 years?

Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples is both Canada’s responsibility and our shared opportunity. True reconciliation will take time, and while we work to build a new, nation-to-nation partnership based on mutual respect and understanding, there are urgent and important steps that must be taken by the federal government to put the relationship on firmer footing.

To confront the massive deficit faced by so many Inuit and Indigenous communities, we need significant new investment in Indigenous communities. In our platform we commit to $800 million in new annual federal funding for First Nations education, safe drinking water, and improved housing until 2020. This funding would provide AANDC the resources necessary to reflect Inuit, First Nations’ and Métis needs and priorities and allow us to meet reestablish the Kelowna Accord.

Greens will also speedily move to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and restore the Kelowna Accord to improve education, housing, health care, employment, and living conditions for Indigenous peoples in Canada and achieve economic parity.

We will transform the relationship between Ottawa and Indigenous peoples by establishing a Council of Canadian Governments. This body will bring together governments representing the provinces, territories, municipalities, and Indigenous Peoples so that all parties will be able to work towards solutions to the challenges facing their people. For the first time, we will meaningfully engage First Nations, Métis, and Inuit leadership as full partners in intergovernmental decisionmaking, for the good of all of us. The Council of Canadian Governments will give Inuit leadership a seat at the table when decisions are made that affect Inuit communities.

Bold proposals to combat climate change is a defining issue in this election. Climate change impacts will have implications on northern peoples.  Reports from scientists and elders indicate that the Arctic will be free of summer sea ice within the next several decades. This is a profound change that will impact not only the Arctic, but the entire planet. We are committed to working on solutions in consultation to reduce carbon emissions and ensure emergency preparedness measures are underway to protect communities. We will restore the post of Ambassador to the Circumpolar North.

We will also ensure that resource development proposals are undertaken in full consultation with Inuit people to ensure development does not negatively impact on the rights of Inuit people.

2.       How does your Party view the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and what, if anything, would your government do about implementing the recommendations made in the TRC report?

The path to justice, healing, and reconciliation begins with accepting a painful truth: the horrors of the residential school system constituted a policy of cultural genocide.

The Green Party will implement all the “Calls to Action” of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that are within federal jurisdiction. Green Party Leader Elizabeth May worked across party lines to successfully obtain unanimous consent to table the TRC report recommendations and the testimony of survivors in Parliament. These recommendations serve as the means to work with Indigenous communities to begin to overcome the historical and ongoing injustices of brutal colonialism and cultural genocide.

While we would like to move as quickly as possible to implement the TRC recommendations, we recognize that a one-size-fits-all, top-down approach is antithetical to the need for cooperation and collaboration between Indigenous Peoples and the federal government. As such, we will work to ensure that Inuit communities are equal partners in the implementation of the TRC recommendations. Recommendations that are implemented with due consideration for the needs and wishes of Inuit people have a greater chance of making meaningful, lasting change.

3.       How would your government acknowledge and incorporate Inuit Nunangat, the Inuit homeland, in federal policy to ensure that all Inuit regions (whether North or South of 60) are included in programs designed for the North, recognizing that Inuit are a distinct people with unique legal, historic, social, cultural and linguistic considerations?

The Green Party, in a new relationship as a federal government, will respect the traditional governance capabilities of Inuit people, their oral traditions, governance systems and vision for their own future as Arctic Stewards.

A new relationship with the Green Party of Canada means a new beginning based on a foundation of respect, recognition of rights and responsibilities.

We also recognize the critical importance of defending languages and cultures, and will provide new federal funding for culturally appropriate education in traditional Inuit languages.

4.       What policies would your government put in place to ensure the timely and effective implementation of Inuit land claims agreements?

The Green Party is committed to honouring Canada’s fiduciary responsibility and the rights of Indigenous Peoples, including treaty rights and inherent rights to self-government. Our policies are guided by the recommendations made in the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People (RCAP), the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommendations. Land claims must be based on a true nation-to-nation negotiation with Indigenous Peoples, without any objective to extinguish rights. We will work collaboratively with Inuit toward timely and effective implementation of land claims agreements and honour Canada’s commitments in these agreements.

Greens will transform the relationship between Ottawa and Indigenous peoples by establishing a Council of Canadian Governments. The Council of Canadian Governments will restore a more cooperative federalism to Canada. In partnership with Indigenous peoples, the Green Party will work towards the creation of an Aboriginal Lands and Treaties Tribunal Act to establish an independent body to decide on specific claims, ensure that treaty negotiations are conducted and financed fairly, and ensure that treaty negotiations and claims resolutions do not result in the extinguishment of Aboriginal and treaty rights.

5.       How would your government work with Inuit to support the creation of a sustainable housing supply in Inuit communities?

The housing crisis in Inuit communities can no longer be ignored. The Green Party is committed to working with Inuit communities on the challenges of Inuit Housing highlighted in ITK’s “Social Determinants of Inuit Health in Canada” (2014), including:

-       Housing shortages and high rental costs;

-       Poor quality housing and ventilation;

-       High cost of home construction and repair in Inuit regions;

-       Homelessness.

Our policies will be guided by our commitment to implementing the Kelowna Accord, including the commitments to:

-       Enter into partnership agreements with relevant Inuit organizations in four regions (Labrador, Nunavik, Nunavut and Inuvialuit);

-       Create, with relevant provinces and territories, an Inuit Housing Institute; and

-       Use multi-year housing investments to create economic development initiatives.

Following the lead of Inuit communities, we will invest in sustainable communities with affordable, long-term housing.

6.       What measures would your government put in place to address the cost of living in Inuit communities?

­In addition to working on affordable housing in Inuit communities, the Green Party will develop a national food policy that fits the northern context, including the right to food for Indigenous Peoples in Canada. The Green Party is committed to improving food insecurity rates in Canada, and recognizes the unique needs and challenges of Indigenous and Northern communities.­ The Green Party will provide adequate and sustainable funding for Community Food Coordinators in all northern communities.

We will overhaul Nutrition North. In a recent report, the Auditor General found many inefficiencies in the Nutrition North program, concluding that the government “has not managed the Program to meet its objective of making healthy foods more accessible to residents of isolated northern communities.” It is clear Nutrition North is not supporting food security in Northern communities properly.

As Elizabeth May said, in response to the Auditor General’s report, “We must ensure that Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada identify which communities are in need of subsidies to make sure that the program’s benefits get to the people who need it the most.” Greens will ensure that Northern communities have the funding and support staff they need to access healthy, affordable food.

The Green Party will work to implement the Auditor General’s recommendations to ensure the benefits of the program accrue to communities, including:

●      Ensuring community eligibility criteria is based on need

●      Determining whether retailers are passing on the full subsidy to consumers

●      Tightening up compliance reviews and monitoring the implementation of subsequent recommendations

●      Improving monitoring to ensure program is meeting its objectives

Further, the Green Party of Canada is devoted to the establishment of local agriculture, a decrease in food prices and an increase in food quality. The potential of this idea is demonstrated by the establishment of successful greenhouses in Inuvik and even further North. Funding much larger scale local agriculture powered by renewable wind, solar and tidal energy as well as ever better battery tech will drive down the cost of food and increase the concentration of wealth in Northern Communities.

7.       What approach would your government take toward working with the Inuit of Canada, especially in regard to ensuring the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent?

The Green Party will work to build a new, nation-to-nation partnership based on mutual respect and understanding with Inuit peoples. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples affirms that indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands, territories and other resources. This includes the right to require that states obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands, territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.

The Green Party is fully committed to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This means enshrining true principles of free, prior, and informed consent into law. Nothing less is acceptable. We will work with Inuit and territorial governments to ensure that the responsible development of Canada’s natural-resource wealth benefits the peoples on whose traditional territories they exist.

8.       What is your Party's position on the importance of collecting and analysing Inuit-specific data to guide policy and decision making? What, if any, measures would your government put in place to strengthen Canada's ability to collect and analyse Inuit-specific data?

The Green Party calls for the restoration of the long-form census as an essential step to ensure the federal, territorial, and Indigenous governments have the necessary and accurate information to guide appropriate and effective action. Replacing the census with the National Household Survey significantly undermines efficient governance, which depends on solid data. The damage has become all too evident after five years without the long-form census. For example, it is more difficult now to demonstrate the specific needs for Inuit housing without accurate and detailed information.

The census was cut without the consent of Inuit people, even though Inuit people had worked closely with Statistics Canada and had been trained as data collectors. Census data is absolutely essential to track progress in closing the unacceptable gap in quality of life between Inuit peoples and non-Indigenous people.