Attawapiskat, site of a First Nations housing crisis.
Credits: REUTERS/Frank Gunn/Pool
OTTAWA - An aboriginal Conservative senator wants the federal government to bring in private property rights on First Nations reserves.
"I believe it's a great and necessary step for First Nations to become economically viable," Sen. Patrick Brazeau told QMI Agency about the Harper government's plan to let aboriginal bands opt into the same property rights every other Canadian has. "Allowing willing First Nations communities to have private property on reserve will assist individuals to get mortgages, bank loans and it may incite non-Aboriginal businesses to invest on reserve therefore creating jobs. Under the current system, First Nations citizens still do not have the same rights as every other Canadian, which includes the right to own their property on reserve."
"For the past six years, our government has taken concrete steps to create the conditions for First Nations to participate more fully in Canada's economy," Jason MacDonald, a spokesman for Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan, told QMI Agency. "In Economic Action Plan 2012, we committed to introducing legislation that would allow First Nations property ownership on reserve. This is something that some First Nations are calling for."
In the June 2011 Speech from the Throne, a month after winning the last election, the government pledged to "ensure that people living on reserve have the same matrimonial real property rights and protections as other Canadians."
Claude Carignan, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, introduced a bill last September, Bill S-2, that would protect the property rights of on-reserve women in case of divorce or death of the husband. But most aboriginal leaders opposed that measure, and are against property rights on reserves as well.