Government Commitments

Business and Reconciliation (92)

Poilievre to endorse First Nations proposal for greater control over resource revenues

February 7, 2024

KRISTY KIRKUP

Manny Jules, Chief Commissioner of the First Nations Tax Commission, said in a letter last year that the First Nations-led initiative ‘will support their governments in receiving direct, secure and stable fiscal revenues from resource projects on their lands, just like other governments.’DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Globe and Mail: Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre will be in Vancouver on Thursday to endorse a First Nations proposal that is designed to allow their communities to take greater control over resource revenues.

The party’s support for the First Nations Resource Charge (FNRC) was confirmed to The Globe and Mail by a Conservative source with direct knowledge of the plan. The Globe is not identifying the source because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.

In a news release shared by the source, Conservatives say the FNRC would result in simplified negotiations between resource companies and First Nations and that the proposal will respect treaty rights and constitutional rights, including the duty to consult.

The voluntary plan, which was the subject of consultations announced more than a year ago between First Nations leaders and the Conservatives, was developed by the First Nations Tax Commission.

Thursday’s announcement on the FNRC underscores efforts by the Conservatives to attempt to strengthen relations with First Nations.

Former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper placed an emphasis on First Nations resource development during his tenure. However, he was subject to criticism from some First Nations leaders on issues including his decision to not call an inquiry into missing Indigenous women and girls.

Cindy Woodhouse, the new National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, recently said that she is “optimistic” that Mr. Poilievre will work with First Nations. Mr. Poilievre is expected to detail on Thursday how the FNRC will make resource projects more attractive to First Nations, meaning that they more likely to go ahead.

In the news release, the Tzeachten First Nation, located in the Upper Fraser Valley near Chilliwack, B.C., said it welcomes Mr. Poilievre’s announcement.

The community said currently First Nations must negotiate economic and fiscal agreements for every proposed project within their territories. It said no other government in Canada is required to do that and “constant one-off negotiations” are wasting time and costing investment.

The Tzeachten First Nation said it is good to see the Conservatives “propose to cede some of the federal corporate tax room.” It said the communities who have been leading the proposal, and the First Nations Tax Commission, intend to hold them to this commitment. It added that First Nation jurisdiction is a non-partisan issue and that it wants all parties and provinces to support the FNRC.

Since 2012, the First Nations Tax Commission and interested First Nations have worked on a proposal for the FNRC, saying the plan supports their fiscal jurisdiction over resource projects on their lands.

Last year, the chief commissioner, Manny Jules, said in a letter that the First Nations-led initiative “will support their governments in receiving direct, secure and stable fiscal revenues from resource projects on their lands, just like other governments.”

Mr. Jules said that since the 1970s, multiple court decisions have led to the recognition that First Nations have an inherent right to revenue generated by using land and resources in their jurisdiction. “However, there is no clarity about how to distribute fiscal benefits among governments and economic benefits among individuals while also paying for environmental costs,” he said in the letter.

“As a result, individual negotiations are needed for every project. This process significantly burdens First Nation administrations and makes negotiations costly, laborious and time-consuming.”

He said the FNRC would amount to an important step toward defining First Nation fiscal benefits that would result in transparent agreements and successful outcomes.

Chief George Lampreau of the Simpcw First Nation also said in the same news release that federal and provincial governments need to “cede room for the first governments of Canada to implement a First Nations Resource Charge.”

“Real change means all governments need to offer tax room instead of revenue sharing,” he said.

KRISTY KIRKUP, PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER, OTTAWA

With a report from The Canadian Press