View from the Hill: Making things easier for First Nations

The Conservative government is delivering results for constituents in Kootenay-Columbia.

The Conservative government is delivering results for constituents in Kootenay-Columbia and for all Canadians on the priorities that matter most.

In December and January, I travelled throughout Kootenay-Columbia riding attending meetings with chambers, councils and individuals. Despite Canada’s very encouraging record, with one of the strongest economies in the G7, the job is far from done.

That’s why our Jobs and Growth Act (Bill C-45) implements additional measures, as promised in the budget. These measures are essential to keeping Canada on the right track toward long-term prosperity.

In addition to general measures, they include action on long-standing requests from some First Nations for more logical and timely processes for leasing land, helping them attract investment and jobs. Our government is working to support economic opportunities for all Canadians, with measures to enhance interprovincial trade and by cutting taxes more than 140 times.

Our government has responded to requests from First Nations to make it easier for them to promote economic growth and jobs. Some First Nations have had success leasing land for commercial development, bringing jobs and generating property taxes to pay for services to members.

Unfortunately, the lengthy, multiple-step approval process has delayed projects, sometimes causing developments to fall through during the average one-to-two year wait. Before our bill, approval of a lease required approval of a majority of voters in a vote in which a majority of potential voters in the First Nation took part.

Because of the second requirement, 80 per cent of votes failed, forcing a second simple majority referendum. In addition, these leases require approval by the federal government ­— and we’ve replaced a lengthy Governor-in-Council process with approval by the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, saving additional months.

These measures were undertaken in response to requests by First Nations, and following committee hearings that consulted with First Nations representatives. They show our government’s commitment to listening to First Nations and acting on their concerns, as well as our commitment to supporting economic opportunities across Canada. It’s important to note that these measures apply only to leasing — no land is lost — and that no First Nation is required to lease land or take any other steps. Instead, we’re simply making things easier for those First Nations for which land leases offer the potential for more jobs, more opportunity and better services supported by tax revenues.

Canadians can be assured that our Conservative government remains focused on their priorities. As long as any Canadian is looking for work, we’ll continue to support jobs and growth. Through our low-tax plan, we’re helping keep Canada on track for long-term prosperity. For more information, call (613) 995-7246 or email

David Wilks is the Conservative MP for Kootenay-Columbia.