APTN National News
OTTAWA–The NDP is calling on the Harper government to allow the UN special rapporteur on Indigenous peoples into the country on an official visit.
In a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, the NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar and the deputy critic of intergovernmental Aboriginal affairs Romeo Saganash say they are “concerned” Ottawa has yet to respond to a 13 month-old request by James Anaya, the rapporteur on Indigenous peoples.
Anaya first approached the federal government in February 2012.
“We ask that you quickly rectify this situation and approve Mr. Anaya’s request,” say Dewar and Saganash in the letter, dated Monday.
Anaya has already received approval to visit Brazil, Australia, Finland, Norway, Sweden, New Zealand and the United States, the letter states.
“Mr. Anaya’s request was standard procedure under the relevant procedures and rules of the United Nations and its member states, which state he is required to have the consent of the government of a country in order to enter it for an official visit in his capacity as UN special rapporteur,” the letter states. “At this point, Mr. Anaya is still waiting for a response from the government of Canada to his request.”
Foreign Affairs told APTN National News last week that Anaya’s request is in “active consideration.”
Anaya has made at least three requests to visit Canada but met with Canadian officials last summer and they discussed a number of issues related to his mandate.
He said in a recent letter to the Union of BC Indian Chiefs that he will find a way to meet with First Nations leaders through unofficial channels if he doesn’t receive an official invitation from Ottawa.
“If I do not receive a positive response from the government in the coming months, I can explore ways of meeting with First Nations leaders from Canada outside the context of an official visit,” writes Anaya.
Anaya’s letter came in response to an invitation from Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the UBCIC.
Anaya’s term ends in May 2014.