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Indigenous people had an ally in Ed Broadbent – The Record

January 25, 2024

The former leader of federal New Democratic Party, who died earlier this month, helped keep Indigenous issues visible during difficult decades for First Nations and Indigenous peoples, writes Gary Whetung.

One of Canada’s political giants, Ed Broadbent, died this month at the age of 87. First elected as an MP in 1968 at the height of “Trudeaumania,” he served as leader of the federal New Democratic Party from 1975 to 1989.

I didn’t agree with all of Broadbent’s political ideals, but he was a strong leader — principled, but open-minded; a great speaker, but better listener; and a politician who could be tough without letting disagreements get too personal.

His pursuit of social justice will be his greatest legacy. But it is another part of his legacy that I am reflecting on today — his allyship with Indigenous peoples.

Some of us still recall the drama surrounding the Constitution Act of 1982. This legislation enabled Canada to change its own constitution without British parliamentary approval, making us truly politically independent. It followed on the heels of the separatist referendum in Quebec in May 1980 and the Liberals’ concurrent return to power.

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