UNDRIP bill is the way forward says justice minister, while critic says it lacks clarity

‘The government would appear to have moved forward in a symbolic way but not in a measurable way’


Ministers Carolyn Bennett and David Lametti at the 2019 AFN assembly, where they promised UNDRIP legislation by the end of 2020. Photo: Mark Blackburn/APTN

The Liberal government recently tabled a new bill that aims to affirm in federal law the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP).

“And there’s a process requirement that requires us to really work with Indigenous leadership across Canada,” said Justice Minister David Lametti, on Nation to Nation, of Bill C-15.

When asked to provide a concrete example of how UNDRIP would be affirmed in federal law Lametti pointed to legislation passed by the Liberal government last year.

That’s Bill C-91, the Indigenous Languages Act, and C-92, an act that affirms Indigenous jurisdiction of its own child welfare.

Both, Lametti said, were drafted in the spirt of UNDRIP in that they were co-developed by Indigenous groups and the government.

Not so fast said the Crown-Indigenous Relations critic for the federal Conservative party.

Cathy McLeod said the current UNDRIP bill, that still has to work its way through the House of Commons and then the Senate, lacks clarity.

“So the government would appear to have moved forward in a symbolic way but not in a measurable way,” said McLeod.

Related: Battle brewing over UNDRIP: A primer on government Bill C-15

McLeod also pointed to the lack of consensus over C-15 at the recent Assembly of First Nations annual chiefs assembly.

“They did not give a motion to support this bill. So if the government is true to its words about free, prior and informed consent. If they can’t get the support of the chiefs at the AFN then I’m not sure that they’re ready to move this bill forward,” she said.

Lametti said there’s time to work with chiefs but also nations to address concerns.

“We’re going to continue to consult where we can with not just national Indigenous groups but regional Indigenous leadership groups as well as nations,” he said.

Catch both of those interviews below.