Senate committee passes UNDRIP bill, but not without push-back

“Speak up on behalf of the Indigenous peoples of Canada,” Makivik urges Nunavut senator

Dennis Patterson takes his oath of office in the Senate chamber on Sept. 15, 2009, as then-Senator Charlie Watt, left, looks on. Watt, now president of Makivik Corp., is calling on Patterson to support Bill C-262. (File photo)

By Sarah Rogers

The Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples has passed a bill to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

The committee finally voted June 11 to carry Bill C-262, a private member’s bill sponsored by NDP MP Romeo Saganash and passed in the House of Commons last year, which calls for Canada’s laws to be harmonized with UNDRIP.

But this month’s review came with push-back from Conservative senators, who raised concerns the new legislation would give Indigenous groups a veto over natural resources projects.

During Tuesday’s clause-by-clause review of the bill, Nunavut Senator Dennis Patterson proposed a number of amendments, one of which would require the government to direct questions about the legislation’s veto power to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Patterson said there was a lack of clarity on how the legislation would apply in Canada and called the process to pass the bill rushed.

Later, Patterson raised a question of privilege, saying the limited time allocation for debate around his proposed amendments constituted a breach. He recommended that the bill be sent back to the committee. The speaker has yet to rule on that question.

Though the bill ultimately was passed, the approach of Patterson and other Conservative Senators angered a number of Indigenous leaders and groups.

Makivik Corp. president Charlie Watt penned a letter to Patterson last week, asking him to support the legislation, as a representative of Inuit.

“Now I am asking you, Mr. Senator, to speak up on behalf of the Indigenous peoples of Canada to ensure that Bill C-262, known as the UNDRIP Bill, receives proper consideration in Committee, and subsequently Royal Assent in the Senate of Canada,” Watt asked Nunavut Senator Dennis Patterson in his June 7 letter.

“I encourage you to discuss this with your fellow Senators and reverse the trend and push the bill to a speedy passage.”

Watt also copied the letter to Quebec Conservative Senator Larry Smith.

Watt goes on to explain Nunavik’s vested interest in seeing the UNDRIP implemented, as the region explores the possibility of self-government.

Though the Canadian Constitution has recognized Aboriginal rights since 1982, Watt said the federal government needs a mechanism to pool legislation to support the needs of its Indigenous groups.

“We need clarity on all sides, regular Canadians and its first peoples with the Canadian Government in the centre,” Watt wrote. “That mechanism is Bill C-262, at least it’s a start and its timing is good.”

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, though it’s not a legally binding document.

The bill now goes back to the Senate chamber for a final legislative debate and vote.

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(6) Comments:

  1. Posted by Dougie on

    Now now, you don’t want too much power and decision by native people, big corporations and Government should have that power. I’m glad these Conservatives are pushing back and telling natives to sit down and listen!

    Read between the lines, pretty clear how the Cons work, unlike all the memes out there about the current government, what we see in cuts to education, health, programs, blocking legislation. The decade of Harper most of us saw how the Cons operated as a government and like what these Cons senators and Ford are doing today I hope that people will not have a short memory and stop reading all the half truths and lies and memes and instead do a little more research for themselves to see if what they are saying is true. Shame on these Senators and shame on our so called Nunavut Senator who did not live in Nunavut when he got appointed.

  2. Posted by Paul Murphy on

    Dougie: we have seen how the Liberals work with the Aboriginal peoples thru the treatment of Jodi. So lets not give misleading BS. Try reading the actual lines before you opine and maybe you will then understand the real issue.

    • Posted by Dougie on

      Paul we all know you support the Cons no matter what, to you they cannot do no wrong.
      I am not a big fan of Trudeau but compared to Scheer I’d take Trudeau over another corporate puppet who hangs out with far right groups and never shown any real support for indigenous people.
      I think your issue you have is a outdated, like a lot of Cons supporters, now do you support all these Cons senators who are trying to stonewall this before the election?
      Where is the support from these Cons senators for indigenous people?

      • Posted by Common Sense on

        Dougie if you don’t think Trudeau is in the pockets of big corporations as well then you are blind. None of the parties are free from corporate influence. None of the parties have our best interests in mind.

        • Posted by Strawman on

          To ‘Common Sense’ your point about ‘big corporations’ was irrelevant to what was being said in this discussion. You’ve essentially derailed to topic and reframed it in order to make for a discussion that you are more comfortable in having. I believe this is known as a”strawman”. Would you agree?

  3. Posted by Dougie on

    I never said Trudeau is not in the pockets of big corp, but most of us know the Cons are more in the big corps pockets and between the two Scheer and Trudeau, I’d pick Trudeau over Scheer any day.
    I am not big on supporting fear mongering and having a leader support a alt right wing group. Backwards thinking, no thank you.

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