On November 20, 2017, the Justice Minister, Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould, speaking on behalf of the Liberal government, announced that the federal government will support Bill C-262 - An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which affirms the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (“UNDRIP”), provides for the creation of a national action plan to achieve the objectives of UNDRIP and for the government to take measures to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with UNDRIP.

Bill C-262 is a private member’s bill sponsored by NDP MP Romeo Saganash and was introduced before the House of Commons for first reading in April 2016. This is the second time that Mr. Saganash has brought forward such a bill.

On December 5, 2017, Mr. Saganash proposed that Bill C-262 be move to the second reading and referred to a committee. The December 5, 2017 debate regarding the bill is available online. The time provided for the consideration of private members’ business having expired, the Members have yet to vote on the motion and the order was dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

Bill C-262 seeks to recognize the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations 43 and 44 which call upon Canadian governments to implement UNDRIP as the framework for reconciliation and to develop a national action plan to implement its objectives.

UNDRIP was adopted by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 61/295 on September 13, 2007. At the time, Canada voted against it. In 2010, Canada issued a statement of support endorsing the principles of UNDRIP.

In May 2016, speaking at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, indicated that Canada was “now a full supporter of the Declaration, without qualification”, and that Canada’s “constitutional obligations serve to fulfil all of the principles of the declaration, including ‘free, prior and informed consent’”(known as FPIC).

Indeed, since the very beginning of this government’s mandate, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeated his willingness to accept the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including the implementation of UNDRIP.

UNDRIP provides a set of principles relating to the rights and freedoms of indigenous people, including the rights to self-determination, cultural identity, freedom from discrimination, and FPIC, among others.

We will provide further updates on Bill C-262 as it works its way through the legislative process.