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Martin critical of Harper Conservatives' approach to First Nations

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – A former Liberal prime minister is critical of the Harper government’s controversial reforms to First Nations education.

Paul Martin said in Vancouver today that the government’s “my way or the highway” treatment of First Nations schooling is a mistake.

The bill has divided aboriginal leaders, with many saying it gives the federal government too much control over their children’s education.

Chiefs from across Canada have voted to reject Conservative education reforms, and they demanded a new agreement.

However Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt has said he won’t go back to square one on the reforms.

When Martin was prime minister he was a driving force behind the so-called Kelowna Accord, a $5 billion funding agreement with First Nations.

But it never materialized after his government was toppled by the Conservatives in 2006.

Martin was in Vancouver to receive an award from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation recognizing his work in putting Canada’s financial house in order as finance minister in the government of Jean Chretien.