UN special advisor on indigenous rights still not allowed to visit Canada

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

The NDP have sent a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird urging him to approve a year old request by James Anaya — the United Nations' special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples — to come to Canada for an official visit.

In an email exchange with Yahoo! Canada News, in January, Anaya said that he's made at least two requests to the Harper government.

"Under the relevant procedures and rules of the United Nations and its member States, I am required to have the consent of the government of a country in order to enter it for an official visit in my capacity as UN Special Rapporteur," he wrote adding that he has received several requests from First Nations in Canada to visit the country.

"In February of 2012 I formally communicated to the Government of Canada my desire to conduct an official visit to and requested its cooperation for the visit. I have since reiterated that request to the Government."

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New Democrats say that a one year wait is far too long.

"We in the Official Opposition are concerned at this 13-month delay in responding to a very simple and reasonable request from this highly respected special rapporteur," the NDP notes in their letter obtained by Yahoo!.

"Since 2009, Mr. Anaya has received consent to visit and study nations like Brazil, Australia, Finland, Norway, Sweden, New Zealand and most recently the United States of America."

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The Harper government hasn't had much luck with UN rapporteurs of late.

Last year, Olivier De Schutter, the special rapporteur on the right to food, visited Canada for two weeks and chided the government for its record on food security.

Anaya himself, has been critical of Canada from afar.

In 2011, in response to the Attawapiskat housing crisis, Anaya called conditions in many First Nations communities "dire."

"I have been in communication with the Government of Canada to express my deep concern," Anaya wrote in a statement.

"The social and economic situation of the Attawapiskat seems to represent the condition of many First Nation communities living on reserves throughout Canada, which is allegedly akin to third world conditions."

Minister Baird's office would not say what was causing the delay in approving Anaya's visit. A spokesperson from Foreign Affairs simply told Yahoo! that his request is "under active consideration."

(Photo courtesy of Reuters)

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