Trudeau government moving forward on UNDRIP legislation, says minister

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said Wednesday that Ottawa is moving forward with proposed legislation on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Bennett said the proposed legislation would be co-developed with Indigenous representatives. 

"We are going to work together to co-develop UNDRIP legislation," Bennett said in a speech to Assembly of First Nations chiefs gathered in Ottawa for their annual December meeting. 

"There will only be a partnership if you feel it is a partnership. You are setting the path for decolonization and reconciliation.

The declaration sets minimum standards for how nation states should deal with Indigenous peoples. 

Bennett said it was "a shame" Bill C-262, a private member's bill tabled by former NDP MP Romeo Saganash, did not make it into law. The bill died in the Senate as a result of obstruction from Conservative senators.

The minister said the bill would be "the floor" for the proposed UNDRIP legislation. 

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said during the last federal election campaign, in an echo of the arguments of Conservative senators, that he did not support UNDRIP legislation because of a clause on "free prior and informed consent."  

Scheer said that clause could block resource development.

B.C. Premier John Horgan, whose government passed provincial UNDRIP legislation, spoke to the AFN on Tuesday and addressed that concern directly.  

"Free prior and informed consent is not the end of the world." 

Horgan said the UNDRIP legislation would create more certainty in the province because it has clearly enshrined Indigenous rights in law.