University of Calgary

Tom Flanagan

April 12, 2010

Reservation property rights will reduce poverty

Tom Flanagan says Aboriginal Canadians need to embrace private property rights for a better quality of life.
Tom Flanagan, author and U of C political science professor, will discuss the need for Aboriginal Canadians to embrace private property rights in order to raise their standard of living and reduce poverty on reserves, during a Fraser Institute policy briefing on Thursday, April 15.

Flanagan, a Fraser Institute senior fellow, will be joined by C.T. (Manny) Jules, a former chief of the Kamloops Indian Band and chief commissioner of the First Nations Tax Commission.

Canada's Aboriginal people are the least prosperous demographic group in the country. In life expectancy, income, unemployment, welfare dependency, educational attainment, and quality of housing, the pattern is the same; Aboriginal people trail other Canadians.

"What we're suggesting will increase the quantity and quality of reserve housing, thereby helping to alleviate the chronic housing shortage that exists on almost all Canadian reserves," said Flanagan, who is in the middle of a cross Canadian tour promoting his book, Beyond the Indian Act: Restoring Aboriginal Property Rights. "It will also allow First Nations to engage in large scale economic development that will create jobs and raise living standards on reserve."

According to both Flanagan and Jules, Aboriginals are potentially wealthy landlords, with land reserves totaling 6.5 million acres. Transferring ownership of these lands to Aboriginals could be a critical step towards raising their standard of living. But standing in the way is Canada's Indian Act, which prevents Aboriginals from unlocking the potential value of their reserve lands either as communities or as individuals.

"Private property rights have been suggested before, but always in a form that would break up the reserves and destroy tribal government," said Flanagan. "This is the first proposal that works with, rather than against, the concept of First Nations' self-government."

All are invited to attend this event. The event takes place at the Calgary Chamber of Commerce (100, 6 Ave. S.W.) from 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 15. Visit http://ow.ly/1w4Ed for information and to register.

Student tickets are $30 (includes lunch)—students must register via email to trisha.girard@fraserinstitute.org. Staff, faculty and the Calgary community can order their tickets ($45) online.

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