REGINA – A decision to no longer pursue First Nations revenue sharing is leading to divisions within Saskatchewan’s NDP.
Ryan Meili, a high-profile member of the party, took to social media this week to criticize NDP Leader Cam Broten’s decision to drop the party’s promise to share resource royalty revenue with First Nations.
A post on Meili’s Facebook page calls it a decision “that needs to be identified as an embarrassing step backwards.”
Meili lost to Broten by only 44 votes in the NDP’s most recent leadership race.
Chief Bobby Cameron of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations said he’s disappointed with the NDP’s reversal.
He said First Nations people contribute millions of dollars into Saskatchewan’s economy every year, and their communities deserve to see resource dollars.
“We must be partners when it comes to resource development so that we in turn can help our First Nations communities when it comes to treaty rights, to shelter, water, infrastructure — the list goes on,” Cameron said.
“I think there is a good case to be made for revenue sharing, both as a practical tool to improve quality of life for First Nations people, and from a constitutional point of view as has been put forward by the FSIN,” said Meili.
The NDP pledged in the 2011 provincial election to pursue revenue sharing, but after losing more than half its seats, the party decided last year not to campaign on the promise in the next election.
“After consulting widely, we confirmed for the province about 18 months ago that we wouldn’t be campaigning on the vague pledge from the last election. Instead, we’re campaigning on meaningful specifics, starting with closing the education funding gap,” a statement from the NDP read.
Meili said the party’s revenue sharing promise shouldn’t be dropped because of the unsuccessful 2011 campaign.
“I don’t believe the case was well made in the last provincial election but that should be cause for a better approach, not an abandonment of the policy,” he said.
The next provincial election is scheduled for April 4, 2016.