Election cast shadow on Canada aboriginal goals
Updated: 2005-11-25 10:07
Canadian government and aboriginal leaders denied on Thursday the looming
federal election would scuttle their lofty hopes of launching an attack on the
dire poverty of the country's native people.
Prime Minister Paul Martin, provincial leaders and the heads of major
aboriginal groups began a two-day summit in Kelowna, British Columbia, that is
expected to see billions of dollars in new funding to address inadequate
housing, education and medical services for Canada's native people.
here today because the descendants of the people who first occupied this land
must have an equal opportunity to work for and to enjoy the benefits of our
collective prosperity. Today, the majority do not," Martin said at the event's
Protestors, one wearing a giant effigy head of
Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, demonstrate in Kelowna, British
Columbia November 24, 2005. About 50 correctional officers on strike
protested outside the site where Martin and the provincial premiers were
meeting with native leaders.[Reuters]
Martin said that among the summit's goals was eliminating the gap in high
school dropout rates between aboriginal and non-aboriginal students within 10
years and cutting the gap in housing conditions by 80 percent.
But the long-planned meeting has been overshadowed by political developments
in Ottawa, where opposition parties are poised to bring down Martin's minority
Liberal government on Monday and force a January election.
"I think this is something that transcends that politics," said British
Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell, a key organizer of the summit. "Frankly, it's
easy to talk about the politics. It's difficult to talk about the solutions."
The Kelowna talks, which began with ceremonial native song and drumming, will
debate a 10-year program backed by aboriginal leaders and Ottawa, It reportedly
will include up to C$4 billion ($3.4 billion) in new federal funding, with
native groups taking a bigger role in running the programs.