MONTREAL -- Canada has failed its native population, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney told QMI Agency.
In an exclusive interview Friday, Mulroney said he isn't surprised that native Canadians are protesting across the country against what is seen as attacks on their sovereignty by the Canadian government.
He said that native and non-native leaders in Canada have a "reasonable chance" to resolve the crisis if they all come together for negotiations. Mulroney warned that if talks don't involve all parties, "then the chances are zero."
The former prime minister was in power in 1990 when Mohawk protesters faced off against Quebec provincial police and then the Canadian army after developers planned to expand a golf course onto disputed land in the town of Oka, Que. The Oka Crisis drew worldwide attention and put native land rights into the spotlight.
Mulorney said that the Canadian government has been "generous" with First Nation communities, however, the approach hasn't worked.
"We have to understand that after 145 years since Confederation, Canada has failed its native population," he said.
He said the conditions on many native reserves across the country are deplorable and he said he is worried about many native communities in the long term.
"Are (native people) always going to live on reserves, in conditions that are economically lamentable or is there going to be some kind of integration or a re-negotiation of natural resources (treaties)?" he asked.
Mulroney called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to look to Quebec as a model for relations between natives and non-natives.
"This is another area where in which Quebec is probably the leader of all the provinces," he said.