Metis Nation Saskatchewan pulls support for Liberals' belaboured self-government bill

OTTAWA — The Métis Nation — Saskatchewan is pulling its support for a federal bill that proposes to enshrine its self−government over concerns about the other two groups it recognizes.

President Glen McCallum says the legislation is holding the group back, and its members made the decision to pull support after a meeting earlier today.

Leaders of Métis organizations in Alberta and Ontario have defended the legislation, saying it would rightfully give them control over child welfare and other internal matters.

But First Nations chiefs in Ontario have accused the federal government of overstepping its jurisdiction and alleged the legislation steps on their rights.

The Manitoba Métis Federation has also opposed the extension of self−government to the Métis Nation of Ontario, saying its membership is not up to par with its definition of Métis.

And the Federal Court said in a recent ruling the federal government was too broad in defining who the Métis Nation of Alberta represents when it signed a self−government agreement with the group.

The Saskatchewan group is now distancing itself from the whole situation.

"This ’one−size−fits−all’ approach did not recognize the unique context of (the organization) and exposed the legislation to legal and political pressures due to outstanding issues in Alberta and Ontario," McCallum said.

"As a result, the legislation has been stalled."

The legislation faced a testy House of Commons committee process, with 65 witnesses testifying and 274 briefs being submitted that argued vigorously either for or against its passage.

The proposed bill has yet to be brought back to the House of Commons after that process, with federal officials consistently saying they have no timeline for its return.

The Métis National Council, of which the Métis Nation — Saskatchewan is a member, passed a resolution brought forward by Métis Nation of Ontario president Margaret Froh earlier this year calling for the bill’s speedy passage.

Froh called the level of committee study "unprecedented," and said it set a new, negative standard for all future Indigenous self−government legislation.

"The legislative process being dragged out has resulted in the amplification of toxic falsehoods, misinformation and painful lateral violence that has negatively impacted Métis youth and Elders," she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 17, 2024.

The Canadian Press

Photo: the organization