Speaking from a First Nations perspective, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and former Quatsino First Nation chief Fran Hunt-Jinnouchi agree about the significance of this year’s October 19 federal election.
“This is the most important election this country has ever faced,” Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, told the Straight at the sidelines of the Vancouver Pride Parade on August 2.
How the election should be decided, though, is where Phillip and Hunt-Jinnouchi differ.
Phillip believes that it’s Thomas Mulcair and the New Democrats that “offer the fundamental change that this country needs and deserves”.
As to what that entails, Phillip said: “Clearly, this country is crying out for a new national vision that is more inclusive, that respects democratic values and understands the need for sustainable development and to ensure that the natural values of this great country are preserved for our future generations.”
Phillip is not impressed with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, saying: “He’s really obsessed with trying on [Conservative prime minister Stephen] Harper’s big-boy pants and really wouldn’t represent the type of fundamental change we need in this country.”
The outspoken leader disapproves of Bill C-51, the antiterrorism measure brought in by the Conservatives that was supported by the Liberals and opposed by New Democrats and the Green Party.
“Clearly, Bill C-51 is designed to silence the voice of indigenous peoples, to intimidate Canadians,” he said.
Hunt-Jinnouchi, who is running for the Greens in the Vancouver Island riding of Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, doesn’t take lightly her responsibility in this exercise for the country’s future.
“This is a defining moment for Canada,” Hunt-Jinnouchi told the Straight by phone.
She said that the Green Party’s proposal to create a Council of Canadian Governments represents an opportunity to have a “nation-to-nation dialogue”.
The proposed council, a body to be chaired by the prime minister, would include provincial premiers, territorial leaders, delegates from municipalities, and indigenous leaders in the development of national policies.
With First Nations, Métis, and Inuit representatives at the national table, Hunt-Jinnouchi said, that could finally herald the “actual time of reconciliation”.
Jody Wilson-Raybould, a former regional chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations who is running for the Liberals in Vancouver Granville, didn’t grant the Straight an interview about what the election means for indigenous people.