Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Daniel Salée (Concordia University)
Institutional Design and Legislative Representation: The Case of the Nunatsiavut Assembly: Christopher Alcantara (The University of Western Ontario), Michelle Caplan (The University of Western Ontario), Graham White (University of Toronto) Abstract: Representation is a core feature of all democratic systems. The nature of that representation depends, at least in part, on the design of the legislative system. This paper investigates the impact of institutional design on political representation in the Legislative Assembly of Nunatsiavut. Nunatsiavut, located in northern Labrador, was created by the 2005 Labrador Inuit Lands Claim Agreement, which established an Inuit self-government for the beneficiaries of the claim. The Nunatsiavut Assembly provides a unique opportunity to investigate the effect of institutional design on representation because it includes members with very different electoral bases and constituencies. In addition to a president, who is elected by all beneficiaries, the Assembly includes four distinct types of members: 1) ‘ordinary members’ elected in the five Inuit communities within Nunatsiavut; 2) ‘ordinary members’ elected by beneficiaries living outside Nunatsiavut; 3) the AngajukKâks, the elected “mayors” of the five Inuit communities within the land claims territory; and 4) the two chairs elected by the Inuit community corporations located in Labrador but outside the claim territory. Only ordinary members may serve in cabinet. To assess the effect of these different positions on representation, the paper applies dictionary analysis to Nunatsiavut Hansards from 2005 to the present using a list of local and nonlocal terms derived through content analysis and elite interviews. It also draws upon these interviews to provide insight into the sorts of issues, particularly in terms of the regional-local dimension, raised by different types of members.
Self-Governance Agreements, Treaty Frameworks, and Indigenous Well-Being: Mario Levesque (Mount Allison University), Joshua Johnson (University of Toronto) Abstract: This exploratory paper analyzes whether self-governance agreements (SGAs) between Indigenous nations and the Government of Canada lead to more equitable socio-economic outcomes and well-being for Indigenous peoples compared to those living within Indigenous nations defined by a treaty relationship. An asymmetry exists regarding SGAs and treaties, specifically concerning their allocation of rights, the application of the Indian Act, and fiscal resources utilized in order to provide services for Indigenous citizens. We examine this asymmetry by engaging Brofenbrenner’s Ecological Model of Development, where interrelated factors interact from various scales in order to impact individuals within their meso, exo and macrosystems, in relation the Kwanlin Dün First Nation in the Yukon, guided by its self-governance agreement, and the Rolling River First Nation in Manitoba, a treaty First Nation. Our preliminary results reveal significant differences in outcomes in favour of self-governing agreements and we offer policy options for how Indigenous nations and the Government of Canada can work towards negotiating and implementing SGAs.
Comparing Indigenous Criminal Justice Initiatives in Canada and Australia: Emma Gill-Alderson (University of Toronto) Abstract: Indigenous peoples in Canada and Australia have long faced discrimination and over-representation in the criminal justice system. Governments, courts, and community-based agencies began to respond to this trend in the 1990s by organizing initiatives aimed at addressing Indigenous disadvantage in the courts. This paper compares specialized courts and community alternative sentencing programs in Canada and Australia through the theoretical lens of Indigenous self-determination. It probes the degree to which concepts of self-determination have been operationalized in Indigenous criminal justice initiatives in the two countries, and aims to determine whether these initiatives go beyond simple recognition by the state by taking meaningful steps towards decolonizing the justice system. I argue that community alternative sentencing programs in Canada allow greater opportunities for self-determination than to those in Australia, while specialized courts in both countries allow very limited opportunities for self-determination.
A comparative analysis of the policies and stakeholders that govern the initiatives demonstrates where the power to conceptualize, create, and administer these initiatives lies. I analyze these sites of power to measure the impact that Indigenous communities have on initiatives compared to that of state or other non-Indigenous actors, thereby identifying opportunities for Indigenous self-determination. I suggest that when Indigenous communities have control over the conceptualization, creation, or administration of initiatives, opportunities for self-determination are created. My work responds to the growing importance of Indigenous self-determination in political science by evaluating whether policies and programs aimed at Indigenous populations reflect practices of self-determination, or whether they perpetuate paternalistic and cost-cutting state agendas.
What is a Territory?: Jerald Sabin (Bishop's University) Abstract: This paper compares the political development and administrative uses of territories as subnational jurisdictions in Canada (Yukon, NWT, Nunavut), the United States (Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands), and Australia (Australian Capital Territory, Jervis Bay, Northern Territory). It develops a set of comparative criteria (i.e. population, geography, economic indicators) to theorize the use of territories as administrative divisions within Anglo-American jurisdictions. These uses include state-led political development by central governments, the bolstering of sovereignty claims, ensuring central government access to land and resources, among others. The paper pays special attention to the colonial histories of territories and how the political and economic rights of territorial residents differ from states/provinces, including citizenship, representative democracy, and mobility rights. The paper concludes by proposing a research agenda for the study of territories as a key component of political development in the Anglo-American world.