The Chiefs of Ontario (COO) is a political forum and secretariat for collective decision-making, action and advocacy for the 133 First Nations communities in Ontario. The Chiefs of Ontario have developed this toolkit to provide First Nations in Ontario the information they need, if they so choose to participate in the 2019 Federal Election.
This toolkit aims to provide First Nations in Ontario with a guide to finding where each of the major political parties stand on key First Nations-specific concerns as well as party priorities. We also provide additional information about where and how to participate in this years election.
Should any of this information change or be updated, it will be reflected within this post regularly leading up to election day on October 21st, 2019.
New Democratic Party of Canada
Founded in 1961 out of the merger of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). Since 2017, the NDP has been led by Jagmeet Singh.
The pre-election period has seen a number of long serving NDP MPs opt not to run in this year’s election. The NDP has put forward policy position on greater environmental protection, reconciliation and a focus on corporate taxation.
Liberal Party of Canada
The oldest and longest-serving political party in Canada, the Liberal party is led by current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who delivered a 184 seat majority in the 2015 election. Currently, the Liberal’s hold 177 seats in the House of Commons.
The Liberal party has yet to release its new platform, but it is likely to feature more commitments on boil water warnings and advisories, more emphasis on middle class fairness and economic empowerment, health and commitments on fighting climate change.
Conservative Party of Canada
Formed in 2003 from the multiple right-wing parties which had existed in Canada for over a century. The party’s leader is Andrew Scheer, who serves as Leader of the Official Opposition, is a long serving MP and former House of Commons Speaker.
The Conservative Party has not released its upcoming election platform, but over the last few months Andrew Scheer has made a few policy commitments. Most notably, he has committed that his party will not cut social programs if elected. It is expected that the Party platform will focus on economic and resource development, tax relief and healthcare.
Green Party of Canada
Founded in 1983, the party has supported policies strengthening environmental protection. In 2006, Elizabeth May became the party’s leader. She was elected as its first Member of Parliament (MP) in the 2011 general election representing the riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands.
In preparation for the upcoming election, the Green Party of Canada has put forward policies regarding greater reconciliation with First Nations, punishments for polluters and climate change policy tackling the current climate crisis.
People’s Party of Canada
The People’s Party of Canada was launched by Maxime Bernier on September 14, 2018, following his resignation from the Conservative Party, and was officially recognized by Elections Canada on January 18, 2019. Bernier, a former, a former cabinet minister and leadership candidate for the Conservative Party of Canada, is the party’s only Member of Parliament; having represented the riding of Beauce since 2006.
The PPC has formed electoral district associations (EDAs) in all of Canada’s 338 ridings and plans to run a full slate of candidates in the 2019 Canadian federal election.
Meet the Party Leaders
As Election season kicks off, we can expect to see a spirited debate amongst all party leaders, as Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau seeks his second term in office, while Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer looks to form a new government, and Green Party leader Elizabeth May, who has led the Green Party through the last three campaigns, as well as New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh look to firm up and bolster their number of seats in this election.
*No other parties have been included, as parties need twelve seats to maintain official party status in Canada.
How Many Seats Does a Party Need to Win?
It depends on what type of government is elected. In order to win a majority government, a party needs 170 seats. The Liberals won a majority with 184 seats in 2015. A minority government is won by the party that gets less than 170, but still has the most seats.
Party Platforms have been used as a promotional tool for each Party to set out their positions on key issues heading into the campaign and as benchmarks against which to hold each party accountable. Party Platforms are at present being finalized and are to be released once each Party is in full campaign mode. We can expect their release over the coming weeks.
Please stay tuned for updates from Chiefs of Ontario on federal platform commitments and announcements.
We have created four topic areas that we will put the various platform initiatives of interest to First Nations from the parties under these headings:
• Indigenous Issues
• Health Care
*Disclaimer: All wording choices have come directly from the political parties themselves. Chiefs of Ontario is a non-partisan organization and does not endorse any political party.
All candidate nominations have closed by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario as on May 17, 2018. To see all candidates officially named in each party thus far, please utilize the following links:
How do I find candidates in my riding?
Potential candidates had until Monday, Sept. 30 at 2 p.m. local time to file nomination forms. Please see attached document to find candidates across Ontario and ridings, along with a list of First Nation communities within that riding. Please refer list below for all Indigenous candidates running in Ontario announced this far.
Indigenous Candidates in Ontario
Green Party of Canada
- Lorraine Rekmans (Algonquin) – Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes
Liberal Party of Canada
- Vance Badawey (Métis) – Niagara Centre, Ont.
- Trisha Cowie (Hiawatha First Nation) – Parry Sound, Ont.
- Marc Serré (Mattawa/North Bay/Algonquin First Nation and Métis) – Nickel Belt-Muskoka, Ont.
- Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux (Chippewa of Georgina Island First Nation) – York-Simcoe – Georgina, East Gwillimbury, Bradford West Gwillimbury, Ont.
- Jesse McCormick (Chippewas of the Thames, Oneida First Nation) – Lambton-Kent-Middlesex – Chatham-Kent, Ont.
New Democratic Party
- Anna Betty Achneepineskum (Marten Falls First Nation) – Thunder Bay-Superior North, Ont.
- Lori Campbell (Cree-Métis) – Waterloo, Ont.
- Keith McCrady (Ojibway and Cree) – Scarborough Southwest, Ont.
- Rudy Turtle (Grassy Narrows First Nation) – Kenora, Ont. • Lori Campbell (Cree-Métis) – Waterloo, Ont.
- Sabrina Sawyer (Mnjikaning First Nation) – Brantford-Brant, Ont.
*Please note, the Conservative Party of Canada, People’s Party and Independents have no Indigenous candidates running in Ontario.
Should you choose to vote, the Elections Canada Website (https://www.elections.ca/) has everything you need from finding where your local polls are located, which riding you are in and what candidates are registered to run in your riding, what ID is required to vote, and how you can register to vote.
For information on how and where to vote, please visit: Elections Canada Voter Guide
Elections Canada also provides voting and ID information in printable format in more than a dozen indigenous languages including:
- Plains Cree
For additional information for Indigenous voters, please visit click here.
How do I vote if I live in a remote community?
Elections Canada says it has polling stations already planned for many remote locations. However, for the most remote places, like fly-in communities, it relies on service agents.
These agents travel with the ballots to these locations in advance of election day and often wait until residents are finished voting so they can make sure the ballots get back safe.
What if I can’t make it on election day?
There are four days of advance polls on Oct. 11, 12, 13 and 14. You can also vote at your local Elections Canada office during most of the election period. If you apply in advance right now, you can vote by mail.
There are 338 ridings, each represented by a member of Parliament, these ridings are distributed between provinces and territories. If you are unsure of your riding, a riding summary chart of the ridings in Ontario has been attached for your convenience with all Ontario ridings, along with all First Nations communities in Ontario and their respective riding and candidates.
You can also click on the following link and type in your postal code. Once you do so, your riding will be listed: https://www.elections.ca/scripts/vis/FindED?L=e&PAGEID=20
Ridings in Ontario with a significant Indigenous population
Indigenous voter turnout in the 2015 election was 61.5 percent compared with overall voter turnout of 68.3 percent. As a result of this increase, 10 MPs were elected to the House of Commons, which accounts for 3% of the 338 seats. According to statistics from the 2016 Census more communities are showing an increase in their Indigenous populations, with a consequent impact at the riding level. Please note, figures below are from the 2015 Federal Election and sourced from 2016 Census.
How to Participate in Election Activities
If you wish to get involved during the election campaign and meet your local candidates, there are a few easy steps you can take:
1) Join a pre-existing debate and/or watch national leaders debates
- Most candidates participate in debates with their competitors. These are usually hosted by community groups locally.
- Call your candidates and ask them what debates they may already be attending.
2) Offer to host a debate
- With enough warning, it is possible to arrange an all candidates debate in your community or with another local organization.
- In order to this, reach out to all of the candidates running in your area and offer them a date and location for a debate. It is helpful to tell the candidates what some of the areas of focus of the debate will be as well as ensure that all candidates will get equal time to speak.
3) Send in a candidate questionnaire (sample below)
- Campaigns can get very busy for candidates. An easier way to find out their thoughts on particular issues are to get in touch with candidate’s volunteers and ask them to answer a questionnaire that you will send to them as well as the other candidates.
4) Offer to host an ‘all candidates town hall’, which could focus on one particular issue
- Rather than inviting the candidates for a debate, organizing a town hall around a single issue can be easier to organize. In a town hall, each candidate is asked to speak for 5 minutes or so on a particular issue and then the rest of the event is a ‘reception’ style, where members of the public and their community can meet them and ask them questions.
5) Attend gatherings and forums
- Look up local candidates gatherings and forums, either as individual events, debates or town halls, and attend as a participant. This is an opportunity to also inform the broader population of your community’s key priorities and issues. Be as specific as possible in your questions posed to the candidates to try to encourage more fulsome responses, as each candidate will have scripted key messages and canned responses.
Sample Questions for Candidates
*Disclaimer: These questions were generated as guidelines only and are meant to generate thought and discussion on issues and topics that First Nations may find relevant. These questions do not represent the views or positions of the Chiefs or the Chiefs of Ontario but are examples only. Please alter, edit and change to suit your region or community’s needs.
- We are seeing severe changes in the weather throughout the regions, what is your party proposing or doing to address climate change? What more can be done and how will you work with First Nations as partners in addressing this significant issue?
- Clean drinking water is right, and many First Nations across the region don’t have access to such an essential part of life. Please provide an overview of your party’s platform on what it is doing to address First Nation Water Advisories? What more can be done and will your party commit to ending water advisories/warnings in a short-term period?
- First Nations communities everywhere face housing shortages, and infrastructure deficits, be they; clean drinking water systems, community or recreation centres, electricity, or broadband services. What is party proposing to address these ongoing issues concerning First Nation Housing & Infrastructure?
- Please provide an overview of your party’s platform on what your party has done and is prepared to do in order to support and implement Treaties and First Nations Treaty Rights?
- What concrete steps will your party take to further the much-needed work on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and addressing the 231 recommendations from the Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls?
- What has your party done to date regarding the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and what will your party do to implement the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission?
- What has you party done to date on increasing economic opportunities with First Nations and will your party commit to instituting a resource revenue sharing policy with First Nations? And If elected, how else will you and your party work with First Nations to enable economic prosperity and growth?
- Canada has prided itself on ranking #1 in the World when it comes to the general Quality of Life of its citizens. If we were to add the quality of life of Canada’s First Nations peoples into that equation, the ranking would fall to #48. How does your Government commit to improving the quality of life for First Nations Youth and creating opportunities for them to succeed?
Kindly re-visit this post regularly as we will be updating it throughout the campaign as new pieces of information become available. Macleans website and CBC serve as an invaluable resource and guide that capture the larger landscape of the Federal Election 2019.