Romeo Saganash says he has been fighting for Indigenous people most of his life.
In fact, he knows when that battle really started.
“I started in 1981 with late grand chief Billy Diamond who asked me to work on these issues for his mandate back then,” said Saganash Thursday on the final episode of Nation to Nation this season.
That’s why he tabled Bill C-262 in 2016 as it would require Canada to align its laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which articulates the global minimum human rights standards for Indigenous peoples.
But it’s not law yet and time is running out. There are just a few weeks left to do it before Parliament breaks for the summer and gears up for the fall federal election.
“We are in 2019. This is a place that everybody assumes to be a progressive place called Canada,” said Saganash.
His bill, which is endorsed by the Liberals, is currently tied up in the Senate where it’s been for months. Conservative senators are said to be slowing it down.
“We could be leaders. Our institutions to refuse this legislation will be probably the most disappointing fact in my life,” said Saganash.
To read more on the bill’s current state read this story by APTN News reporter Justin Brake.
But Saganash talks about more than the bill.
He said when he was first elected in 2011 he always planned on two terms.
He also talks about the late Jack Layton recruiting him and what could have been for the NDP if the leader didn’t pass away from cancer.
However, he feels the NDP stand a decent chance in the fall election because of the squabbling between the Liberals and Conservatives.
But there are more bills trying to beat the clock on Parliament Hill, particularly those affecting Indigenous child welfare and languages.
Our political panel takes one last crack at the issues.
Liberal MP Dan Vandal and NDP MP Georgina Jolibois sparred over just how much consultation was used to craft the child welfare legislation. The Liberals voted down most amendments to C-92 this week.
“First of all, it’s important to note on both C-92, child welfare, and C-91, languages, there was extensive consultation. There was over a thousand (crosstalk), if I can finish my thought without being interrupted. There was over a thousand people consulted from chiefs to grassroots people,” said Vandal who was interrupted by Jolibois.
“The witnesses spoke about both pieces of legislation and they need to improve. And again the government dismissing … (Tuesday), the Liberal MP said the work of Dr. Cindy Blackstock wasn’t that significant, wasn’t that important,” said Jolibois.
Nation to Nation will be back in the fall right in time for the federal election.