MLI Managing Director analyses how Canada’s endowment of institutions, including property rights, can finally benefit Aboriginal peoples. Who owns Canada? We all do.Logo_Placeholder_Red

OTTAWA, Jan. 29, 2015 – In a new commentary, Macdonald-Laurier Institute Managing Director Brian Lee Crowley explains the importance of property rights among the “institutions and behaviours” that make Canada such a successful nation, and the place of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples in the discussion of property rights.

Contrary to common assumptions about Aboriginal culture, Crowley writes, in the paper, titled “Who Owns Canada”, the Canada of established property rights, and the prosperity they confer, belongs to everyone.

We are currently in the process of attempting to fix Canada’s “original sin”, in Europeans’ dealings with Aboriginal peoples, writes Crowley, an effort that includes “40 years of successful judicial, political and constitutional activism by an ageing generation of Aboriginal leaders”.

This process has yielded, among other victories, the Supreme Court-mandated “duty to consult” with Aboriginal communities before developments can proceed, and the recognition of unresolved Aboriginal title and unresolved Aboriginal interest on non-treaty lands.

The problem, though, is that natural resource opportunities are fleeting. A wise investment for a company today may not be so profitable tomorrow. For Canada as a whole, missing out on those developments will not be a death blow. But for many Aboriginal communities an unwillingness to participate in a specific opportunity “may put back local economic development by decades”.

Crowley urges Aboriginal peoples to start to use their newly acquired power to “turn opportunities into real jobs, investment, capacity and prosperity”.

Brian Lee Crowley“The good news,” writes Crowley, “is it is happening on a scale most Canadians would find startling”.

Crowley writes that this evolution is only gathering steam, and as we progress rapidly in the coming years, “the Canada that really matters, the Canada of that institutional endowment that confers prosperity, really will belong to everyone.”

This commentary is based on a speech Crowley gave at the Institute for Liberal Studies’ 3rd annual Canadian Property Rights Conference on Oct. 17, 2014.

Click here to read the full commentary.

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Brian Lee Crowley is the Managing Director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, the only non-partisan, independent national public policy think tank in Ottawa focusing on the full range of issues that fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

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