Conservative candidate Ryan Leef has responded to a list of questions from the Council of Yukon First Nations about his stance on key issues for aboriginal people in the run-up to the federal election.
Leef was late out of the gate – the Liberal, NDP, and Green Party candidates all responded last week. The council had requested answers from all candidates by Sept. 15. Earlier this week, Leef told the CBC he needed time to make sure the letter was legitimate, since it was “absolutely void of any First Nation leadership signature.”
The letter asked the candidates about their positions on an inquiry for missing and murdered aboriginal women, recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, self-government agreements, and Bill S-6, which made controversial changes to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Act.
In response to the question about Bill S-6, Leef wrote “The changes to YESSA (sic) came about through a five year legislated review. Most of the recommendations were agreed to and designed to improve our regulatory review in a manner that ensures socio-economic potential and our environmental integrity.”
Regarding missing and murdered aboriginal women, Leef wrote that an inquiry “would provide value to our nation and to the families and victims who have suffered the most.” However, he added that an inquiry was not a solution on its own, and he would support “all other measures to reduce violence.”
Leef was the only Conservative MP to vote for an NDP motion that called for an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women earlier this year.
The responses from the other three candidates were all fairly similar on the four issues highlighted by the council. All three said their parties would launch an inquiry for missing and murdered aboriginal women, and would repeal at least the four controversial amendments of Bill S-6. Atkinson wrote that an NDP government would repeal the bill outright during the next session of Parliament.
Atkinson also promised that an NDP government would provide “expanded access to shelter and transition houses to support women fleeing violence.”
De Jong wrote that Green Party MPs would push for “the swift and full implementation of all recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”
Bagnell said his party would implement the Kelowna Accord, an agreement introduced by Paul Martin’s Liberal government in 2005 that was never endorsed by the Harper government. The agreement would have provided more funding for First Nations education, housing, health services, and economic development.
“We will make up for 10 long, lost years,” Bagnell wrote.
All four candidates have confirmed they will attend a forum hosted by the Council of Yukon First Nations on Sept. 29 from 7 to 9 p.m.