The Federal Franchise and First Nations
The extension of the federal franchise to Canada’s registered aboriginal population in 1960 was the culmination of several years of controversial debate and a century of animosity between First Nations and the administration that controlled them. Enfranchisement of First Nations was a complex issue tied to a convoluted federal definition of aboriginal status. Complications arose with attempts to hammer out ‘one-size-fits-all’ legislation at a time when race relations were coming under intense international scrutiny. This paper explores the nature of the debate surrounding the passage of Bill C-3 by the Diefenbaker government, and attempts to clarify the attitudes and concerns that informed the discourse surrounding aboriginal rights, Charter rights, and the notion of citizenship between 1960 and 1990.
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