Canada-Congress of Aboriginal Peoples Political Accord
On December 5, 2018, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) celebrated the signing of a renewed Political Accord with the federal government. It was a breakthrough moment for the people that we represent and builds a foundation for CAP and Canada to work in cooperation.
What is the Political Accord?
The Accord is an agreement between CAP and the Government of Canada to set out jointly agreed objectives, policy priorities, and a process for implementation with resources/funding. The goals of the agreement include building a renewed relationship based on rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership with the goal of closing the socio-economic gap between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians.
What led to the Accord?
CAP signed previous Political Accords with the federal government in 1994, 1998 and 2005. Back in 1994, CAP was the first National Indigenous Organization to formalize a relationship with government through this type of mechanism. The 2018 Accord was negotiated with government over the past two years, in particular to reflect a renewed relationship with government in response to the 2016 Supreme Court of Canada’s CAP Daniels decision.
Who was a part of the Political Accord discussions?
On December 5, 2018, Minister Carolyn Bennett, National Chief Robert Bertrand and National Vice-Chief Kim Beaudin signed the Accord at a gathering of CAP’s Board of Directors and senior officials from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Norther Affairs Canada.
Why is this important for CAP’s relationship with the government?
Through the Accord, the government has committed to working with CAP and supporting the participation of the Congress and its provincial affiliates in matters related to the rights, interests and needs of their constituents.
The renewed Accord also recognizes the federal government’s jurisdiction and fiduciary duty to Métis and non-status Indians as confirmed in the Supreme Court of Canada’s CAP Daniels decision. It is a tool for collaborative work and to hold the government to account to engage with CAP’s constituency.
What are the next steps?
As a next step, CAP will be negotiating multi-year resourced work plans with the government to address the joint policy priorities identified in Schedule 1 of the Accord. Through this negotiation, CAP will work together to establish clear timelines and concrete deliverables for its constituency.
What does this mean for actions on the CAP Daniels decision?
In 2016, CAP won a landmark victory in the Supreme Court of Canada’s unanimous decision in Daniels v. Canada. The decision affirmed that Métis and non-status Indians are “Indians” under section 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867. The CAP-Canada Political Accord reflects the government’s commitment to uphold the CAP Daniels decision and notes that the decision contributes to increased clarity with respect to federal government jurisdiction in relation to Métis and non-status Indians.
As stated in the Supreme Court decision, “[Métis and non-status Indians] are deprived of programs, services and intangible benefits recognized by all governments as needed.” Through the signing of the Accord, the federal government is acknowledging their responsibility to the off-reserve Métis, status and non-status Indians, and Southern Inuit Indigenous Peoples. The Accord sets out a path toward Daniels implementation as part of joint work-planning process, including co-developing policies and initiatives.