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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

FELDSTED - The government and indigenous people have different definitions and there is “no meeting of minds”. Until there is, there can be no reconciliation

Our “leaders” are really followers -- they are not interested in acting in the best interests of Canada and her people.

Four of the six party leaders are in favour of writing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) into Canadian law. That will add to the complexity of reconciliation. If we were to adopt the UN Declaration (promulgated in 2007) it should be based on replacing all existing treaties.

A serious impediment to reconciliation is the failure to reach an agreement on what “treaty rights” are, and are not. The government and indigenous people have different definitions and there is “no meeting of minds”. Until there is, there can be no reconciliation.

Adding another set of “rights” created by an unelected body with no responsibility for the outcome of imposing the declaration on Canada will result in problems our leaders are not considering. There has been no serious discussion or debate on the merits of adopting UNDRIP ... which is a disservice to all Canadians, including indigenous people.

A UN working group started the process of drafting a declaration in 1988, and a first draft was prepared in 1994. On 28 December 2006, the Third Committee of the General Assembly (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) adopted a draft resolution to defer consideration and action on UNDRIP by the General Assembly, with the aim of concluding consideration of the Declaration before the end of its current sixty-first session.

Under a revised draft resolution, whose main sponsor was Peru, with several European and Latin American countries listed as co-sponsors, the full text would have been adopted by the Assembly in relatively short order. But an initiative led by Namibia, co-sponsored by several African countries, resulted in the draft being amended.

In its new form, the draft would have the Assembly decide “to defer consideration and action on UNDRIP to allow time for further consultations thereon”. Furthermore, the Assembly would also decide “to conclude consideration of the Declaration before the end of its sixty-first session”.

Finally, on 13 September 2007, UNDRIP was adopted by a majority of 144 states in favour, 4 votes against (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States) and 11 abstentions (Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Samoa and Ukraine).

In May 2016, the government Justin Trudeau officially removed Canada’s objector status to UNDRIP, almost a decade after it was adopted by the General Assembly. There was no public discussion or debate on the issue before the change was made.

Bill C-262, federal legislation that would harmonize Canada’s laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, looked 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.

Our leaders are not considering that adopting UNDRIP must not be done without a close examination of unintended consequences. That is not leadership, or fair to Canadians.


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