Canada better on human rights, but not Indigenous rights: Amnesty International
Approval of hydroelectric dam highlights Canada's failure to keep Indigenous rights pledge, rights group says
Canada has made progress improving its human rights record in the last year, Amnesty International says, but has "stumbled" or "failed" in a number of areas — including Indigenous rights, Justin Trudeau's cornerstone commitment.
Alex Neve, the secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, said Trudeau's Liberal government has demonstrated leadership in areas such as transgender rights and fighting the death penalty around the world.
But Canada loses points from Amnesty for approving a multibillion-dollar sale of arms to Saudi Arabia and for granting permits for Site C, a controversial dam and hydroelectric proposal in B.C.
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- B.C. First Nations Site C dam challenge plays out in Federal Court in Montreal
- Justin Trudeau accused of 'bulldozing Aboriginal rights' with Site C
Neve called the decision to abandon the Northern Gateway pipeline a victory for Indigenous rights, but said the government has moved ahead with Site C and other projects "without Indigenous consent."
When she was regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations in 2012, Jody Wilson-Raybould — now Trudeau's justice minister — said Site C ran "roughshod" over Aboriginal rights and title.
The Fisheries Department said it approved permits for the project in July following "extensive First Nations consultations," noting the approval came with 40 separate conditions.
There's a disconnect between the prime minister's aspirational statements about a new relationship with Indigenous peoples in Canada and what's happening on the ground, Neve said.
"We are worried Indigenous rights are not being adequately protected in the face of a strong push to move forward with a resource development agenda in Canada," he said.