ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS PRESS RELEASE
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Seeks Answers to Seven "Key Questions" from Federal Political Party Leaders: Seeking Response by Friday, January 6
OTTAWA, Jan. 5 /CNW Telbec/ - Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine has presented the leaders of the major, national political parties with a set of seven key questions that will be used to assess each party's commitment to a progressive and productive agenda for First Nations and Canada.
"We are seeking clear statements of commitment to a new relationship between First Nations and Canada, and the seven key questions we have put to each party leader will help us determine their commitment to a new relationship and a new, positive agenda for our people and all Canadians," said AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine.
Letters and questions were sent on December 14, 2005 to the leaders of the Bloc Quebecois, the Conservative Party, the Green Party, the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party and the newly-formed First Peoples National Party of Canada. The letters requested that party leaders provide information about the policy positions of each party on key subject areas of interest to First Nations by January 6th.
"We will note the responses we receive and do not receive from the various parties and share this information with First Nations and the general public so they can make an informed decision on how to vote," said National Chief Fontaine.
The National Chief stated that the role of the AFN is not to tell First Nations citizens how to vote, but to provide them with best information and analysis of party platforms and commitments so they can make an informed decision when casting their ballot.
"This is part of our overall initiative to encourage First Nations voters to exercise their right to vote, to go to the polls, and to make our voices heard," said the National Chief.
Currently, there are at least 62 federal ridings in which Aboriginal peoples comprise a substantial portion of the electorate and 25 ridings where Aboriginal peoples make up 10% or more of the voters.
National Chief Fontaine stated: "First Nations can be the deciding factor in these ridings. We can have a real say in who forms the next government. If this election is as close as predicted, that means First Nations voters have tremendous influence over the final outcome. Every vote counts. This reality should compel all the parties and their leaders to speak out about First Nations issues and their agenda for change."
The Assembly of First Nations will make available responses from the various parties as they are received. The responses will also be posted on the AFN website.
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.
Seven Key Questions for Party Leaders
For further information:
Don Kelly, AFN Communications Director,
(613) 241-6789 ext. 320, cell: (613) 292-2787;
Ian McLeod, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer,
(613) 241-6789 ext. 336, cell: (613) 859-4335;
Nancy Pine, Communications Advisor, Office of the National Chief,
(613) 241-6789 ext. 243, cell: (613) 298-6382