Ottawa has introduced Bill C-9, the First Nations Elections Act.
It comes in response to concerns expressed by First Nations in Manitoba and Atlantic Canada about rules governing the election of chiefs and band councils.
Among other things C-9 will allow First Nations to establish fixed election dates.
It also cleans up the nominations process for chief and council, and provides for penalties for those who break the rules.
The legislation extends the term for chiefs and councilors from two years to four.
This is seen as a positive move, enabling bands to better engage in long-term planning, especially when it comes to economic development.
With a two-year term, many councilors are perpetually worried about re-election.
These are some of the concerns identified by individual band members in the Aboriginal Governance Index which is put together each year by the Frontier Centre.
Elections are an important component of the survey.
Bands who work to ensure fair and open elections are often the ones who are ranked highest.
The provisions of Bill C-9 are voluntary. Bands must choose to opt in.
Hopefully that will happen in aboriginal communities on the prairies.
I’m Roger Currie. Join us again next week for more thoughts on the Frontier.
For more on Aboriginal policy, visit our website www.fcpp.org.