The Liberal government passed legislation to implement UNDRIP in June 2021. But six provinces officially opposed the legislation, citing concerns that it would impact provincial laws and jurisdiction.
The Call to Action:
We call upon federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.
The Liberal government has passed Bill C-15, legislation that will begin the process of bringing Canadian law into alignment with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP).
The bill was tabled in the House of Commons on Dec 3, 2020, passed third reading in the House of Commons in May 2021 and passed third reading in the Senate in June. It received royal assent June 21, 2021.
Bill C-15 requires the federal government to prepare an action plan within two years of the bill’s passage to achieve the declaration’s objectives, and to table an annual report detailing progress made.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister and New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs wrote a joint letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the spring of 2021, asking for amendments to make it clear C-15 would not change provincial laws or challenge provincial jurisdiction.
They also wanted it spelled out in the act that there would be an obligation to consult with the provinces in preparing the national action plan to achieve the objectives of the UN declaration.
In its December 2019 throne speech, the Trudeau government had promised to introduce legislation within a year to implement UNDRIP.
A previous private member’s bill to ensure Canadian laws are consistent with UNDRIP failed to pass the Senate before the 42nd Parliament sessions ended in 2019.
Bill C-262 was to ensure all Canadian laws are consistent with UNDRIP and calls for the creation of a “national action plan” that would ensure implementation across all jurisdictions.
It passed third reading in the House of Commons in May 2018 and had moved on to the Senate, where it stalled.
Earlier, in May 2016, the federal government officially removed its objector status to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) at the UN. At the time Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said “We intend nothing less than to adopt and implement the declaration in accordance with the Canadian Constitution,” although later in the summer, then-Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould called UNDRIP “unworkable.”
In February 2017, the prime minister ordered a working group of ministers to review federal laws as they relate to Indigenous Peoples. Its mandate included implementing UNDRIP.
British Columbia was the first province to pass legislation implementing UNDRIP, in November 2019.
In March 2019, a private member’s bill to adopt and implement UNDRIP in Ontario legislation passed second reading.
Prior to Quebec’s fall 2018 election, Coalition Avenir Quebec leader François Legault promised a CAQ government would implement UNDRIP. The Assembly of First Nations Quebec and Labrador has reminded the new government of its promise.
No other province or territory has yet formally committed to implementing UNDRIP, although some governments, like Nova Scotia, confirmed they are reviewing laws and policies related to Indigenous Peoples.