The race to succeed Phil Fontaine will be an interesting one! The field is wide open and there is no obvious successor to the previous incumbent.
Although reports point to Shawn Atleo as the "frontrunner," I am hoping that the contest becomes more competitive.
While I believe the AFN needs to be reformed (let grassroots reserve people vote) and I do question its legitimacy as the "sole representative of all First Nations people," I think as long as it exists in its present form, we should pay attention, as it sets the national agenda on FN issues.
Perry Bellegarde has been endorsed by one First Nation columnist in the Calgary Herald because he is seen as very experienced and is traditional, but not overtly so.
My personal preference is John Beaucage. His calls for increased private home ownership for First Nations and economic development are what is needed to build indigenous prosperity.
He is also big on asserting First Nation jurisdictional authority. I think he does this in a smart way, as he wants to negotiate control over certain areas of control. He doesn't appear to be confrontational with Ottawa. He's an economist, for heaven's sake! I think it was Fontaine's ability to compromise and negotiatate that allowed for progress on the residential school file.
Anyways, I am open to any and all thoughts about the contest! I will at the AGM on July 22nd and will be blogging from the convention floor while there..