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 Canada's NDP, received on October 8, 2015.
P.S. Make sure you check out www.elections.ca 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?
NDP Response: Tom Mulcair and the NDP are committed to addressing a range of issues to improve the lives of the Canadian Inuit. The NDP believes Canada needs to invest in people and communities. We need to strengthen the environmental assessment process and involve
communities in finding the balance to grow the economy while protecting the environment. The NDP see these issues as priorities that have been neglected by successive Liberal and Conservative governments.
The NDP feel we can no longer ignore climate change. Major scientific findings show that a number of changes are occurring in Nunavut. Elders, hunters, and other Nunavummiut are noticing changes on the land as well. Science shows that in order to avoid catastrophic climate
change, countries need to cut their emissions and keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius.
Failing to get Canada’s emissions under control hurts our competitiveness in the global economy and it means we’re missing opportunities to grow green business and jobs. We cannot put off this issue any longer.
To take action and ensure that polluters pay the real costs of the pollution they create, the NDP will work with provinces and territories to put a price on carbon and reduce emissions; prepare a pan-Canadian cap-and-trade system, which will establish hard emissions limits for Canada’s
biggest polluters to ensure companies pay their environmental bills and to create an incentive for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
In the North, an NDP government will improve energy security and reduce pollution in over 25 northern and remote communities by investing in small-scale hydro, wind, geothermal, biomass and solar to reduce dependence on diesel flown in at a great expense.
The NDP will work cooperatively with other Arctic Nations through multi-lateral fora like the Arctic Council and in particular with the United States on their climate change agenda for the Arctic Council.
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?
NDP Response: The NDP is committed to implementing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), including committing $8 million to establish a National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. A major theme of TRC recommendations is the need to recover and preserve the culture and language of Indigenous people in Canada. An NDP Government would work with Inuit Peoples and local governments to establish mechanisms to preserve and convey their unique heritage and culture.
The NDP is the only major party that has committed to initiatives to revitalize and strengthen Indigenous languages by establishing, in consultation with Indigenous communities, a National Indigenous Languages Revitalization Fund and a National Indigenous Languages Institute with a total new investment of $68 million over four years.
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?
NDP Response: Tom Mulcair and the NDP have a deep commitment to the principle of Indigenous self-government as articulated in the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Rights, a declaration which the Harper Conservatives have refused to sign. The NDP recognize that Inuit are a distinct people with unique legal, historic, social, cultural and linguistic traditions.
An NDP Government would partner with Inuit as a distinct Indigenous people and work with them to develop and establish process by which greater levels of self-government might be achieved.
4. What policies would your government put in place to ensure the timely and effective implementation of Inuit land claims agreements?
NDP Response: Tom Mulcair and the NDP believe it’s time we had a federal government that stops spending so much time and resources fighting with Indigenous communities in court and seeks to work with them. It’s time for a new era of partnership.
An NDP Government will create a cabinet-level committee chaired by Tom Mulcair, as Prime Minister, to ensure that all government decisions respect treaty rights, inherent rights, and Canada’s international obligations, starting with the principles of the United Nations Declaration
on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The committee will work to fix our country’s broken treaty process and deal with unresolved land claims.
5. How would your government work with Inuit to support the creation of a sustainable housing supply in Inuit communities?
NDP Response: Improving affordable housing will be a priority for an NDP government. Over the past two decades, Liberal and Conservative governments withdrew from federal responsibilities regarding affordable housing and housing in northern and Indigenous communities. This is unacceptable.
The NDP will engage the provinces and territories and local governments in the creation of a national housing strategy. We will back up this commitment with an increased investment of $2.7 billion over four years in affordable housing and homelessness, including creating and
expanding housing agreements with Nunavut communities. We will work with territorial governments to identify regional needs and particular populations in need.
6. What measures would your government put in place to address the cost of living in Inuit communities?
NDP Response: Stephen Harper has used northern communities as convenient photo-ops for years while failing to address the most basic concerns of families – access to affordable food.
An NDP Government will take a different approach so that Inuit communities in Nunavut and across the north don’t have to rely on cheap, unhealthy foods that also put their health at risk.
To reduce the food costs in Inuit communities, an NDP government will take immediate action to fix and expand Nutrition North in partnership with northerners and Inuit to ensure it achieves the goals of lowering food prices and providing greater access to healthy food.
An NDP government will also begin a more in-depth process to address food insecurity. We will work in partnership to develop and support sustainable food security solutions that include reducing the prices of store bought food but also integrate the use of local and country foods
and community supports while drawing on successful models of local food production that are sustainable and create economic development and employment.
The NDP will help reduce their energy costs by introducing a home energy retrofit program to save energy, cut monthly bills and create local employment. The NDP will also increase the annual Guaranteed Income Supplement by $400 million in order to help lift every senior in
Northern Canada out of poverty.
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?
NDP Response: Tom Mulcair and the NDP have a deep commitment to building a Nation to Nation relationship with Inuit, and all Indigenous Peoples, based on respect and making meaningful progress. The Conservatives have failed to fulfill the Crown’s legal obligation to consult and accommodate Aboriginal and treaty rights in the course of reviewing development proposals.
To build a partnership and get things done, the NDP will uphold the legal duty to consult and accommodate First Nations on decisions that impact them. The NDP are aware that the international principle of free prior and informed consent is compatible with Canadian law and the Supreme Court has already begun using this principle in the 2014 Tsilhqot’in decision.
This inherent right is stated in UNDRIP, Article 19: “States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the Indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing
legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.”
8. What is your Party's position on the importance of collecting and analyzing 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 analyze Inuit-specific data?
NDP Response: Tom Mulcair and the NDP will bring back the long form census. Since it was replaced, the NDP have been have been calling on Conservatives to admit to the failure of the National Household Survey and bring back the long form census.
The NDP believes the consequences of not having the long form census will be devastating, as this is the primary source of health and demographic information for Indigenous communities. In many cases, the long form census has been the only reliable source of social data, since details on remote communities are otherwise hidden in incomplete and large data sets. Recent scientific studies that demonstrated life expectancy disparities for the Inuit infant mortality in Inuit inhabited areas (that are of up to four times higher than those for non-Inuit inhabited areas) would not have been possible without the long form census.
The NDP believes that the Conservatives have been irresponsible or worse in ending the long census when Canada needs more reliable information about the lives of Indigenous Peoples and all Canadians in order to have solid evidence as a basis to take action and to save lives.
Tom Mulcair and the NDP will bring back the long form census.