Chief and council for Doig River First Nation met with federal Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre on Tuesday for talks about a new First Nation-led fiscal framework for resource revenues in their territories.
In a news release, the First Nation says it met with Poilievre and other Conservative MPs about a proposed resource charge by the First Nations Tax Commission, designed to help communities exercise their self-determination by securing shared revenues and simplifying development applications and negotiations.
“Canada needs a better way to address First Nation rights with respect to resource projects. The current method takes too long, and costs all of us too much,” said Doig River Chief Trevor Makadahay in a statement.
Makadahay said a First Nations Resource Charge would be a "pre-specified standardized charge for doing business in our territory."
“We have many resource projects in our area. We must negotiate and re-negotiate every one of them on a project by project, issue by issue, basis," Makadahay said. "It will be fair, transparent, easier to administer and will not add costs to investors. Resources are the lifeblood of the Canadian economy, and that must include First Nations.”
Poilievre gave his support for the proposal at a news conference in Vancouver, where he announced he was launching consultations with First Nations and industry to develop the fiscal model that could incorporate such a voluntary, opt-in charge.
“This is a grassroots, First Nations solution to an Ottawa-made problem” he said.
Poilievre said too much revenue from resource projects goes directly to the federal government while First Nation communities suffer poverty, substandard housing, unsafe drinking water, and unemployment — “forcing First Nations people to go back to the nation’s capital and ask for their money back.”
“That puts power and control in the hands of bureaucrats, politicians, and lobbyists, not grassroots people in the community,” Poilievre said.
“It leaves First Nations leader spending their time seeking approvals, filling out paperwork, dealing with incompetent and intransigent bureaucrats in a faraway place that are not accountable to the people on the ground.”
Poilievre called it a "broken system" that has failed First Nations under both political parties. He said First Nations have a right to receive more revenues and benefits from their resources.
“We want resources for First Nations communities to defeat poverty and provide for the people," Poilievre said, "not to fatten the faraway bureaucracy in Ottawa."
In its release, Doig River noted its recent agreement signed with the provincial government “proposes coordination with British Columbia and the federal government on this initiative.”
Coun. Starr Acko called the proposal “a non-partisan issue” and welcomed the support of the Conservative party.
“Doig supports responsible resource development in our traditional territory so we can provide the same benefits, services, and infrastructure for our members. We all need clean water, access to natural gas and safe roads,” Acko said in a statement.
“We are hopeful the Liberals, NDP and other federal and provincial parties will also support this initiative.”
Coun. Brittany Robertson said the proposal would protect treaty rights while balancing economic development for her community.
"Doig River has always been a part of the Northeast economy and look forward to sharing in the resources and benefits with our valued neighbours," Roberston said.