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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bill C-45: There's A Duty to Consult

(January 11- Youth in Ottawa Protesting- Photo By: Christine McFarlane)

 Bill C-45- There's A Duty To Consult:
By: Christine McFarlane

Bill C-45 is a 457-page omnibus budget legislation bill (also known as the Jobs and Growth Act) that will make changes to several Canadian laws and enactments. Bill C-45 includes the following:

Bill S-6 First Nations Election Act
Bill S-8- Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act
Bill S-2-Family Homes on Reserve and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act
Bill C-428 Indian Act Amendment and Replacement Act
Bill S-207- An Act to Amend the Interpretation Act
Bill S-212- First Nations Self Government Recognition Act.

This includes the Indian Act, the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and the Navigable Waters Act. These changes are detrimental to all Canadians, not just First Nations peoples.We need to all stand together instead of falling to the divide and conquer strategy that has been used upon us all.

Stephen Harper and the Government of Canada need to recognize that they cannot just enact legislation such as Bill C-45 without negotiation. A refusal to negotiate means that they are not considering First Nations people, their distinct nations and their ownership of what we all know as Turtle Island. Their refusal is an affront to international law, the Constitution of Canada, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Government of Canada never consulted with ANY First Nations in regards to these amendments as outlined in our treaty rights and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Article 32 in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states:

1.Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources.States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the Indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources and other constructive arrangements concluded with States or their successors and to have States honour and respect such treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.

2. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as diminishing or eliminating the rights of Indigenous peoples contained in treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements."

and lastly Article 40 states

"Indigenous peoples have the right to access to and prompt decision through just and fair procedures for the resolution of conflicts and disputes with States or other parties, as well as to effective remedies for all infringements of their individual and collective rights. Such a decision shall give due consideration to the customs, traditions, rules and legal systems of the Indigenous peoples concerned and international human rights.

There is a duty to consult. There is the need for the Canadian government to acknowledge the ongoing systemic nature of Canada's colonial past and present before First Nations/Metis/Inuit Peoples see and believe that PM Stephen Harper and his government are sincere about paving a path forward together.

 [1] United Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Retrieved January 15 2013.

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