Indigenous

Trudeau government moving forward on UNDRIP legislation, says minister

The Justin Trudeau Liberal government is moving forward with proposed federal legislation on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).and is aiming to pass it by the end of 2020, according to two cabinet ministers.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said law would be co-developed

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said Trudeau government is moving ahead with legislation on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. (CBC News)

The federal government is moving forward with proposed legislation on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), with the goal of passing it by the end of 2020, according to two cabinet ministers.

Justice Minister David Lametti and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett announced the government's plan in speeches to chiefs gathered in Ottawa this week for the annual December meeting of the Assembly of First Nations.

"Our government has committed to co-develop legislation, to implement the legislation by the end of 2020," Lametti told the chiefs.

Bennett said in her speech that it was "a shame" Bill C-262, a private member's bill tabled by former NDP MP Romeo Saganash, did not make it into law. The bill died in the Senate after being blocked by Conservative senators.

The minister said that bill would be "the floor" for the proposed new UNDRIP legislation.

"There will only be a partnership if you feel it is a partnership. You are setting the path for decolonization and reconciliation," said Bennett.

The UNDRIP declaration sets minimum standards for how nation states should deal with Indigenous peoples. 

Bennett told reporters after her speech that the government would take a "made-in Canada" approach to developing the legislation.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, echoing the arguments made by Conservative senators, said during the recent federal election campaign that he did not support UNDRIP legislation because of a clause in the declaration calling for "free prior and informed consent" from Indigenous peoples for projects on traditional Indigenous land.

Scheer said that clause could block resource development.

B.C. Premier John Horgan, whose government passed provincial UNDRIP legislation, spoke to the AFN on Tuesday and addressed that concern directly.

"Free prior and informed consent is not the end of the world," he said, adding the UNDRIP legislation would create more certainty in the province because it has clearly enshrined Indigenous rights in law.

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