Liberals to introduce bill to enshrine UN Indigenous rights declaration into law

The Liberal government is expected to introduce legislation today that will formalize the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) in Canadian law.

The Liberals promised during the 2019 federal election to do so within the first year of a new mandate, but postponed tabling of the bill earlier this year as a result of the rail blockade crisis.

Justice Minister David Lametti and Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. to discuss the new bill along with a group of Indigenous leaders.

The proposed legislation is expected to be modelled on a private member’s bill tabled by former NDP MP Romeo Saganash and passed by the House of Commons in 2018. That bill never passed the Senate after Conservative senators slowed its progress, warning it could have unintended legal and economic consequences.

The bill died when Parliament was dissolved before last fall’s election.

UNDRIP is a framework that affirms the rights of Indigenous peoples to language, culture, self-determination and traditional lands. It also establishes “minimum standards for the survival and well-being” of Indigenous people, according to the UN.

Opponents have argued that a clause in the declaration calling for “free prior and informed consent” from Indigenous people for projects on traditional Indigenous land could block resource development.

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