First Nations communities should explore municipal partnerships

Published on Mar. 27, 2014, in The Waterloo Region Record.

It’s no secret that many aboriginal communities across Canada are underserviced and underfunded.

Media reports over the last several years have highlighted the lack of adequate funding for on-reserve education, clean water, housing, and health services, among other things.

Earlier this year, a story surfaced about a house fire on a reserve in northern Saskatchewan. Commentators noted how a lack of financial support from the federal government for proper training and equipment had directly contributed to the death of two young boys. As a result of that tragedy, First Nations’ leaders have called for the federal government to increase funding to on-reserve communities for proper fire protection services.

In many ways, these demands make sense. Aboriginal governments frequently lack the fiscal tools to raise sufficient revenue to pay for these services, and so federal and provincial money is crucial to building healthy and safe aboriginal communities.

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Ideas, Executive Federalism and Institutional Change: Explaining Territorial Inclusion in Canadian First Ministers’ Conferences

Author: Christopher Alcantara

Published online on March 2013 in Canadian Journal of Political Science.

Abstract: Official participation in Canadian First Ministers’ Conferences has long been exclusive to federal and provincial first ministers. In March 1992, however, the membership of this intergovernmental arena was expanded permanently to include territorial premiers. Using the tools of historical institutionalism and drawing upon relevant literature and eleven elite interviews with former first ministers and senior civil servants, this paper seeks to explain why this instance of incremental institutional change occurred. It finds that significant friction between the institutional and ideational layers of the Canadian federation during a period of mega-constitutional reform allowed federal, provincial and territorial actors to draw upon ideas about democracy and the political and constitutional maturation of the territorial North to expand permanently the membership of First Ministers’ Conferences.

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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LISPOP Associate discusses moving beyond the Indian Act

Broadcasted Jan. 22, 2013, in TVO.

LISPOP Associate Christopher Alcantara examines the key concerns coming out of the Idle No More movement and how to go about amending or scrapping the Indian Act altogether in an effort to improve the lives of First Nations in Canada.

Watch Here

LISPOP Associate discusses property rights for First Nations

Published Jan. 11, 2013, on CBC Radio.

LISPOP Associate Christopher Alcantara discusses proposed law that would extend individual property rights to first nations living on reserves. Supporters say it’s a tool for economic prosperity. Critics say it’s an attack on sovereignty.

– Listen Here –