Saskatoon·Special Report

Saskatoon Meewasin byelection: Candidates on First Nations revenue sharing

Ahead of the Saskatoon Meewasin byelection, CBC Saskatoon checked in with all five candidates to get their thoughts on the biggest, political issues Saskatchewan faces.

Wondering who to vote for? Here's what Saskatoon Meewasin candidates think about Saskatchewan's biggest issues

Running in the Saskatoon Meewasin byelection are (clockwise from left) Brent Penner, Ryan Meili, David Prokopchuk, Shawn Setyo and Darrin Lamoureux. (CBC)

Voters will cast ballots in the Saskatoon Meewasin byelection on March 2.  

To help prepare, CBC Saskatoon is publishing responses from the five candidates running, on a different issue every day this week.

Today, the candidates respond to a question about revenue sharing with Saskatchewan First Nations.

Question: Should the provincial government share resource money with Saskatchewan First Nations?

Candidate responses

Shawn Setyo, Green Party

Yes, especially when development is done on First Nation land.
Shawn Setyo is running for the Saskatchewan Green Party in the Saskatoon Meewasion byelection. (Shawn Setyo/Facebook)

But money is not the only variable. Re-investing that money in communities where resource development occurs is essential for community well-being and development. We hear of too many cases in Saskatchewan where companies move in, take what they want and leave the people and the land in dire conditions — only to have the people at the top receive the lion's share of the profits.

By reinvesting in the people and the communities they represent, a healthier and more robust society emerges.

The right thing to do would be recognize inherent First Nation jurisdiction and governance over the resources. Rather than collect the money and then redistribute it as the province sees fit, it may be a better idea to make direct transfer payments which allow First Nations to decide where the money goes. Accountability to be built into the scheme from bottom up.

David Prokopchuk, Progressive Conservative Party

David Prokopchuk is running for the Progressive Conservative Party in the Saskatoon Meewasin byelection. (David Prokopchuk/Facebook)

Over the last few decades, the Saskatchewan governments have not been living up to the treaty land entitlement agreements. Those agreements, mineral and resource rights on treaty lands need to be transferred along with the defaced land.

That has not been happening in all cases and needs to be done as a first step in building the resource and wealth base of the Indigenous peoples of Saskatchewan.

This will offer education in a growing sector and job creation for Indigenous people on reserves.  

The PC party government was the first Saskatchewan government to successfully negotiate treaty land entitlement claims. [The] current PC party leader was the minister responsible for those first negotiations and signings.

Darrin Lamoureux, Liberal Party

Darrin Lamoureux is running for the Saskatchewan Liberal Party in the Saskatoon Meewasin byelection. (Darrin Lamoureux/Facebook)

I stand behind the specific commitments we made in the 2016 election:

  • Develop a First Nations and Métis Federation-owned pipeline system to run the entire province from south to north. The infrastructure required will create jobs at a time when needed most to keep Saskatchewan's economy growing.
  • Promote partnerships with private industry to construct additional refineries, resulting in thousands of new full-time, permanent jobs.
  • Connect these refineries to a pipeline that will cross through Manitoba to the Port of Churchill.

These three initiatives will provide Saskatchewan oil producers the infrastructure required to get refined oil products to tidewater for shipment around the world.

Ryan Meili, New Democratic Party

Ryan Meili, the Saskatoon Meewasin MLA, was chosen as the new leader for the Saskatchewan NDP on Saturday. (Ryan Meili/Facebook)

Ending inequality and supporting those who have the least should be a priority of any government.

First Nations communities have many strengths, but they also experience high rates of poverty, in particular child poverty. Many experience challenges with overcrowded housing, food insecurity and high rates of unemployment. These social factors lead to high rates of illnesses and social problems.

We are in an important moment in this country where reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples is a prominent part of the national conversation, with individuals, organizations and public institutions dedicating a great deal of effort to meeting the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Despite commitments from the provincial government to follow these recommendations, we have seen no significant effort from them on this front.

Reconciliation and fairness for all will not be achieved with lip service. We need to see a process that involves meaningful negotiations among the federal, provincial and First Nations governments focused on real improvements in the circumstances of Indigenous people in Saskatchewan.

One example that could have a direct impact immediately would be to close the funding gap between on- and off-reserve schools. We can't sit idly by while the federal government continues to spend 30 per cent to 50 per cent less for on-reserve education.

We all end up paying for Ottawa's lack of action on this file because the discriminatory under-funding of on-reserve education leads to the downloading of costs to our courts, emergency rooms, and social services.

We expect the provincial government to live up to its responsibilities to all of the people of Saskatchewan, and stop using jurisdictional excuses to perpetuate historic injustice and inequities.

​Brent Penner, Saskatchewan Party

Brent Penner is running for the Saskatchewan Party in the Saskatoon Meewasin byelection. (Brent Penner/Facebook)

I believe that Saskatchewan's resource revenue money is best shared by all residents of Saskatchewan.

The revenues received from our resource royalties go toward improving our schools, hospitals, highways and keeping our taxes low for the benefit of all Saskatchewan people, including First Nations.

I do not believe that a portion of our resource revenues should be allocated in any special deal to any particular group.

The Saskatchewan Party has made it a priority to address First Nations education outcomes in provincial schools. The government set a goal in the Saskatchewan Plan for Growth to reduce the disparity between First Nations and Métis and non-First Nations and Métis students in the pre-kindergarten to Grade 12 system by 50 per cent by 2020.

To this end, over $6 million has been invested to address recommendations made by the Joint Task Force on Improving Education and Employment Outcomes for First Nations and Métis. These investments are producing results: the on-time graduation rate for First Nations and Métis students has increased by 10 per cent over the past seven years.

This is the fourth of a five-part series by CBC Saskatoon ahead of the Saskatoon Meewasin byelection on March 2. Each day CBC Saskatoon will publish one answer from each of the five candidates to a question regarding a pressing Saskatchewan issue.