It was three years ago that Stephen Harper’s Conservative government said it planned to introduce the First Nations Property Ownership Act, which would expand property rights for Canada’s Aboriginal people, but we still haven’t seen the legislation.
Such an Act would create a voluntary system of transferring title of reserve land from the Crown to an individual First Nation.
The First Nation could then choose to divide up the land and give individual title to band members living on the reserve.
Giving such property rights to Aboriginal people would allow them greater opportunity to improve their economies and give families better living conditions on First Nations.
Right now First Nations are prevented from fully participating in the economy by review processes and legal restrictions because their land is held in trust by the Crown.
The United States provides evidence of a more effective system.
Native American land that has been privatized has a stronger economic base than the land that’s still held in trust.
Canada’s First Nations have a good track record when it comes to embracing voluntary initiatives, and Ottawa’s recent bad experience in trying to reform Aboriginal education should persuade the government to change its approach and focus now on property rights.
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.