We are now into the final stretch of #elxn44. Eight days until Canadians head to the polls (if they haven’t already) and 29 days ago, the Bluesky team thought that reconciliation and Indigenous peoples would be one of the top issues in the campaign. While the Indigenous issues can be found in the platforms of the federal parties, they are not featured prominently. To date, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has been the only leader to visit the North and NDP leader Jagemeet Singh, the only leader to make a commitment seeking justice for Indigenous peoples during his first stop in Saskatchewan three weeks ago.
It seems that the horrific discovery of graves at the beginning of the summer has not been enough to get all the leaders making commitments, at every stop, on more inclusive economic participation in natural resource projects and further assistance to the former residential schools. That is why in this edition of the Bluesky Brief, we are wondering why Indigenous issues are not taking more prominence on the campaign trail and what, if any, will be the effect on the election outcome?
From the desk of Cameron Holmstrom, Consultant
After the discoveries this summer on the sites of former residential schools, many assumed that this would finally be the time when Indigenous peoples and our issues would be front and centre in the minds of electors and subsequently, the parties. Unfortunately, that assumption has proved wrong. While each party does have a platform that speaks to Indigenous communities and the specific issues we face, other issues have swamped any potential focus on them.
In the debates, what little time has been given to focus on those issues has turned into a shambolic mess that has left many Indigenous peoples like me, mad and cursing. During all three debates, Bloc Leader Yves-François Blanchet used questions on Indigenous peoples to claim that the Bloc were victims of discrimination, instead of talking about the serious issues before them.
In the English language debate, when faced with questions about his lacklustre record on Indigenous issues, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau attacked the messengers, saying those who dared to point that out were “cynical”. When NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh pointed out that Trudeau’s government has been fighting First Nations children in care in court, Trudeau went to say that wasn’t true and accused Singh of harming reconciliation by pointing out his record. That exchange led to a quick fact check from respected advocate Cindy Blackstock, proving that Trudeau was not being honest.
So at this moment, when the flags still fly at half-mast for those children lost in those hellish institutions, we haven’t gotten the serious discussion this moment deserved. While a few have tried to, others have gone the other way, seeing political advantage in gaslighting Indigenous peoples. But it all has flown under the radar because the attention of Canada seems to be elsewhere, a mere months after we thought everything was going to be different.
From the desk of Alyson Fair, Consultant
Sadly, my generation and those generations before me were never taught about the tragedies that befell the Indigenous Peoples of this country. It wasn’t until I became a journalist and had children of my own, that the difficulties and horrors of fellow citizens became part of Canada’s history books. It is a heartbreaking history that I was hoping would be significantly corrected by now and, given the findings of mass gravesites earliest this year, have a significant role in this election.
For the past four weeks, the leaders have crisscrossed this country and I cannot understand why Indigenous issues have not played a more prominent part in the election. While vaccinations and the crisis in Afghanistan have rightfully taken top billing, the leaders have been focused on discussing the issues they feel will give them a leg up on their opponents. Don’t get me wrong, recovering the economy post-pandemic, housing, child care and climate change are extremely important, but why are the leaders not tying in what they would do for the Indigenous population for these issues as well.
Each platform highlights what each party would do to make life in Canada better for the Indigenous communities. However, they are separate sections within the platforms. Why do they need to be separate? Why not make them an integral part of the platform just like they are within this country.
Unfortunately, I don’t think the lack of discussion on Indigenous issues will make a difference in the outcome of this election but I hope it will once our elected officials return to Ottawa. Enough is enough. The time is now for politicians to follow through on their promises. The Indigenous Peoples of this country deserve it.
FRIDAY’S ANNOUNCEMENT – Canadians have a choice to move forward on health care
SATURDAY’S ANNOUNCEMENT – Canadians have a choice to move forward and grow the middle class – for everyone.
SUNDAY’S ANNOUNCEMENT – Liberals move forward to deliver on Quebec’s priorities
SATURDAY’S ANNOUNCEMENT – Conservative leader Erin O’Toole announces plan for the GTA
SUNDAY’S ANNOUNCEMENT – Conservative leader Erin O’Toole announces plan to support grieving parents
SATURDAY’S ANNOUNCEMENT – Jagmeet will fix Justin Trudeau’s housing crisis
SUNDAY’S ANNOUNCEMENT – Jagmeet will end Trudeau’s free ride for big corporations
UNITED ON VACCINATIONS – Before the English debate all five main party leaders recorded this video encouraging all Canadians to get their COVID shot
Here is where you can expect the leaders to be today (all times are in Eastern):
Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada will make an announcement at 130 pm in Vancouver, B.C.
Erin O’Toole, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada is in Ottawa, where he will make an announcement at 11 am and then in the evening, he will hold virtual telephone town halls with Ontario and B.C. residents.
Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the NDP is in northern Ontario, where he will speak at 9 am in Sioux Lookout and he will then visit the Neskantaga First Nation.
Annamie Paul, Leader of the Green Party of Canada is on Prince Edward Island, where she will visit the University of P.E.I. in Charlottetown. At 130 pm,, she will hold a press conference with local candidates in Victoria-by-the-Sea and in the evening, she will virtually attend a Toronto Centre all-candidates meeting.
Yves Blanchet, Leader of the Bloc Quebecois is in Gaspé, where he will hold a press conference on judicial appointments at 9 am at City Hall and then he will meet with the mayor of Grande-Vallée.
Consultant Cameron Holmstrom appeared on CTV NewsChannel’s Political Pulse panel. Click on the link to watch.
About Bluesky Strategy Group
Bluesky Strategy Group Inc. is a full-service public affairs firm with nearly two decades of extensive experience working with clients - from corporate, not-for-profit, and national associations, to governments, departments and agencies. We provide our clients with government relations, strategic communications and media relations advice and execution.