Ontario eyeing law after Indigenous councillor refuses oath to Queen


spaminator
#1
Ontario eyeing law after Indigenous councillor refuses oath to Queen
Canadian Press
Published:
December 5, 2018
Updated:
December 5, 2018 2:54 PM EST
Gaetan Baillargeon, the Liberal candidate for the new riding of Mushkegowuk-James Bay in northern Ontario, is seen in Hearst on April 18, 2018. Colin Perkel / THE CANADIAN PRESS
The Ontario government said on Wednesday it was looking into rules requiring all municipal councillors to pledge allegiance to the Queen after an Indigenous councillor-elect refused to do so.
The issue arose in Hearst, Ont., where Gaetan Baillargeon said he was forced to vacate the seat he recently won in a general election because he wouldn’t take the oath.
“It’s inconsistent with my views regarding the relationship between the Crown and the Indigenous people of Canada,” Baillargeon said in an interview. “To me, the Queen represents residential schools, the reserves, and the breaking of all the treaties.”
Baillargeon, of the Constance Lake First Nation just west of Hearst, said he believed a pledge exemption existed for First Nations but the town clerk said no. He said the clerk told him he had to give up his seat or the swearing-in ceremony on Monday would have ground to a halt — something he said he didn’t want to have happen.
“I would rather have pledged allegiance to Canada and its laws, Ontario and to the people of Hearst,” Baillargeon said. “I want to pledge allegiance.”
Roger Sigouin, the mayor of the northern Ontario town of about 5,000, said the ball was in the government’s court.
“We’re behind (Baillargeon), 100 per cent,” Sigouin said on Wednesday. “The only thing is we wait and see what government is going to do. We didn’t have any choice because the law is there.”
Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark said he was aware of the concerns and was considering options.
“We are looking into the matter further,” Clark said in a statement. “At this time, there is no exception to the requirement to take the declaration of office prior to taking your seat as a local councillor.”
Under Section 232 of the Municipal Act, councillors are required to take the pledge in the form “established by the minister for that purpose.” The current incarnation, set in 2001, reads in part: “I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second (or the reigning sovereign for the time being).”
“The declaration is established provincially and there is no local authority to amend the declaration,” Clark said.
At the same time, he said he hoped those elected could take their places to serve municipalities and their residents.
Sigouin, too, said he hoped the issue could be resolved before the council’s first meeting on Dec. 18, at which point council would have to declare the seat vacant, starting the 60-day countdown clock on a new vote or a replacement appointment.
Baillargeon said he didn’t want to give up his seat.
“The people of Hearst voted for me,” he said. “If I can’t make any changes, then what use am I as a politician.”
It’s not the first time the issue has surfaced.
In January 2011, the town of Hearst formally appealed to then-Liberal municipal affairs minister Rick Bartolucci to drop the requirement after a francophone councillor raised the issue. Bartolucci refused, saying it was not a priority for the government.
Other Indigenous politicians have been allowed to bend the rules in other situations by using Cree for a pledge or changing the wording, Baillargeon said.
The oath issue also surfaced a few years ago in a failed challenge to Canadian citizenship rules, which requires a pledge of allegiance to the Queen.
Sigouin said there was some irony in that the province has been adamant in recent years about consultations with Indigenous people as a precursor to any development of the north.
“Now we have a guy like Gaetan who is willing to sit at council to make a difference between both communities, to work together, but the regulation is not there,” Sigouin said. “So that’s where the government has got to jump and say, ‘OK, I think we have to do something about it.”‘
http://torontosun.com/news/provincia...-oath-to-queen
 
spaminator
#2
Ontario's Indigenous politicians won't have to swear allegiance to Queen
Canadian Press
Published:
December 11, 2018
Updated:
December 11, 2018 1:09 PM EST
Gaetan Baillargeon is seen in Hearst on April 18, 2018. Colin Perkel / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Indigenous people will no longer have to swear allegiance to the Queen when they’re elected to civic office after the Ontario government created a new municipal oath.
The change comes after an Indigenous councillor-elect in a northern Ontario town was nearly forced to vacate his recently won seat because he wouldn’t pledge allegiance to the Crown.
Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark said in a statement Tuesday he was made aware of Gaetan Baillargeon’s case and asked ministry staff to create an alternate oath that would better reflect the views of Indigenous people.
Baillargeon, who was elected to council in Hearst, Ont., had said he would not pledge allegiance to the Queen because the Crown represents residential schools, the reserve system, and broken treaties.
“I pledge allegiance to the Indigenous peoples.(The Queen), she doesn’t represent me,” he said. “Nor does the Crown. I represent the people that I work for and that’s the people of Hearst, and the Indigenous peoples of Canada.”
Ontario eyeing law after Indigenous councillor refuses oath to Queen
He said some initially suggested he take the original oath nonetheless but he felt that would be dishonest.
“A lot of people said, ’Why don’t you just cross your fingers, why don’t you just lie or say it through your teeth?”’ Baillargeon said. “People say (politicians) always lie. They never hold their word. I wanted to show people that it’s part of me and hopefully people respect what I did.”
The new oath acknowledges pledging allegiance to the Crown would not be consistent with an Indigenous person’s views.
Baillargeon, who is expected to be sworn in Tuesday afternoon, praised the Ontario government for taking action. He said others have expressed frustration with the pledge in the past, adding the change will send a positive message to Indigenous youth.
“Younger generations that are going to come after us are going to be able to say, this is something I want to do,” he said. “They can look at other Indigenous peoples across Ontario and in Canada, taking office and are willing to fight for their own rights and represent their own people.”
In January 2011, the town of Hearst formally appealed to then-Liberal municipal affairs minister Rick Bartolucci to drop the requirement after a francophone councillor raised the issue. Bartolucci refused, saying it was not a priority for the government.
Other Indigenous politicians have been allowed to bend the rules in other situations by using Cree for a pledge or changing the wording, Baillargeon said.
The oath issue also surfaced a few years ago in a failed challenge to Canadian citizenship rules, which requires a pledge of allegiance to the Queen.
http://torontosun.com/news/provincia...iance-to-queen