Canada’s UNDRIP legislation headed for defeat
Liberal government promises to implement it if re-elected
Bill C-262, federal legislation that would harmonize Canada’s laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, looks like it’s a lost cause.
The Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples committee voted earlier this month to pass Bill C-262, a private member’s bill sponsored by NDP MP Romeo Saganash and passed in the House of Commons last year.
The legislation was due back in the Senate Chamber this week, where it remains essentially stalled by pushback from Conservative senators who opposed parts of the bill, mainly a section they argue would give veto to Indigenous groups over natural resources projects.
With both the House of Commons and Senate now adjourned for the summer, the order paper will be wiped clean ahead of the October federal election.
A bill would need unanimous consent to be brought back to the Senate following an election.
“It’s become clear to me that, at this stage, there is not a collective will to find an agreement to get to Bill C-262,” said Senator Peter Harder, the government’s representative in the Chamber, to the Senate on June 19.
“Regrettably, I simply do not see a path forward.”
But Harder announced the government has already committed to implement the legislation, if a Liberal government is re-elected in the fall.
“The Government of Canada will thereby intend to bring forward legislation introducing UNDRIP and ensuring its expeditious consideration, review and passage,” Harder said.
“Introducing government legislation to implement UNDRIP will be a platform commitment that Canadians will be able to vote on in the election in October.”
UNDRIP was first passed by the UN’s general assembly in 2007.
The declaration recognizes the basic human rights of Indigenous peoples, including rights to self-determination, lands and languages.
Two other important pieces of Indigenous-focused legislation did receive royal assent this week: Bill C-91, the Indigenous Languages Act and Bill C-92, an act respecting First Nation, Métis and Inuit children, youth and families—the latter one being a bill that would give Indigenous groups more control over family services.
It was a good effort by Saganash and the New Democratic Party to have UNDRIP passed. The power of the business lobby for one however has left UNDRIP quashed it like a bug on a windshield, it never did have much chance of becoming Canadian legislation.