Don’t exclude market-based solutions in addressing aboriginal poverty

Published June 20, 2013, in The Waterloo Region Record.

Aboriginal people are one of the most impoverished demographic groups in Canada, and over the last several years, there has been a vigorous debate on how to address this seemingly unending cycle of poverty.

Recently, a consensus has emerged that the solution to the “aboriginal problem” is not to be found in market-based solutions, such as private property reform. Instead, it’s argued that aboriginal communities must more actively assert their treaty and self-government rights by using conventional and protest-style political action to force Canada to treat them fairly. Indeed, these were some of the key messages that came out of the Idle No More movement that dominated the headlines last year.

To some extent, these experts are right. Aboriginal groups must be more assertive in protecting their rights and interests. As well, market forces have sometimes wreaked havoc on aboriginal communities in Canada and the United States, leaving behind an awful legacy of poverty and political disengagement.

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