by Greg Poelzer
|This post is based on the author's recent co-authored article in Policy Options.|
Three things to know about Aboriginal political participation:
- In the 2011 federal election, the general voter turnout was 61 percent; First Nations on reserve turn out was 44 per cent.
- Aboriginal MPs have held federal cabinet posts in both Liberal and Conservative governments (in 2011, there were three Aboriginal cabinet ministers), as well as Aboriginal MLAs have served as cabinet ministers in all four Western provincial governments.
- Aboriginal self-government, modern treaties, and court defined obligation of the Crown regarding the duty to consult with First Nations before resource development can take place means Aboriginal political engagement with provincial and federal governments will become an increasingly important issue.
Three myths about Aboriginal political life:
Reality: In our study in Northern Saskatchewan, self-reported voting in Band elections was 77 per cent; 31 percent said they had attended a band council meeting; 23 percent reported contacting a government office about an issue in the past year. These rates of political engagement are far higher than the general population.
Reality: Although across Canada, Aboriginal people overall vote more for NDP and Liberals candidates, Aboriginal voters cast votes for all the major political parties and run as candidates for all the major political parties. In the last federal election, of the seven Aboriginal elected MPs, five were Conservatives. In past parliaments, the Liberals and NDP have elected several Aboriginal MPs to their caucuses. It is worth the effort for all political parties to engage Aboriginal voters.