Trudeau, Mulcair dodge 'Marry Out, Get Out' questions
While Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair were courting votes at the annual General Assembly of First Nations at Montreal’s Bonaventure Hotel on Tuesday, both acted coy when it came to the most divisive issue in the nearby Mohawk community of Kahnawake.
With renewed debate around the ‘Marry Out, Get Out’ law that says non-natives who marry Mohawks cannot live on the reserve, neither candidate would comment on whether the federal government should have final say on the issue.
While according to Mulcair, an NDP government would respect all international obligations on the rights of indigenous people, he was twice asked about Kahnawake, and refused to answer both times.
For his part, Trudeau replied to a question about the law by saying “We need to make sure that we’re working together so that situations like this don’t come up and cause the friction and uncertainty that far too many people are living right now.”
As first revealed in an article by Christopher Curtis of The Gazette and confirmed by CTV Montreal, the Conservative government has come forward saying that it has jurisdiction over who can call themselves a Mohawk.
"We urge community leaders to enact a more inclusive membership and residency approach, one that is in line with the spirit of Canadians' values of equality and freedom,” said Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt in a statement.
That approach seems likely to be rejected by Kahnawake Grand Chief Joe Norton, who has said he will enforce the ‘Marry Out, Get Out’ law.
“Any courts, any human rights tribunal or charter of rights will not dictate to us what we will do in Kahnawake,” said Norton.
An earlier version of this story did not attribute The Gazette for information it uncovered. This article has been edited to reflect that.