Canada opposes UN aboriginal treaty
Canada is threatening to scuttle a UN declaration that would enshrine the rights of aboriginal people worldwide.
The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva is expected to hold a vote on the treaty before the end of the month, but the Conservative government is one of several that feels the language is too all-encompassing.
Other nations opposing the declaration also have significant aboriginal populations —for example, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.
"It contains provisions that are inconsistent with the Canadian charter," Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Jim Prentice said of the deal. "It contains provisions that are inconsistent with the Constitution Act of 1982. It's quite inconsistent with land-claims policies under which Canada negotiates claims."
Prentice said the document would hinder land-claims talks with some aboriginal bands on handing over rights to exploit resources. He said Canada would vote against the document if it remained unchanged.
The Assembly of First Nations and Amnesty International were quick to criticize the government for delaying a document they said has already taken 20 years to craft.
"We feel that there's been sufficient discussion, and let's get on with the declaration and let's have the international community acknowledge the rights of the indigenous peoples," said Angus Toulouse, Ontario regional chief.
The declaration is not legally binding, but rather, would be a symbolic gesture that shows countries support the sovereign rights of aboriginal people.
In a joint statement last month, the United States, Australia and New Zealand rejected the assertion that aboriginal people have the right to "self-determination," saying it was inconsistent with international law.