Senate committee passes UNDRIP bill, Tories warn of an Indigenous ‘veto’

Senators debate what exactly ‘free, prior and informed consent’ means for natural resource projects

Liberal Saskatchewan Sen. Lillian Dyck, left, and Conservative Alberta Sen. Scott Tannas, right. Dyck pushed a bill that will implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), against objections by Conservative senators. (CBC News)

The Senate’s Aboriginal peoples committee has passed a bill that will implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in Canada — over the objections of Conservative senators who say they fear adopting the legislation will give Indigenous peoples a veto over future natural resource development.

The legislation, introduced as a private member’s bill by NDP MP Roméo Saganash, will now go back to the Senate chamber for the last legislative phase of debate and a final vote.

During this morning’s raucous committee meeting, Conservative senators accused committee chair Liberal Sen. Lillian Dyck of — with the support of Independent senators — unfairly “railroading” opposition to the legislation by refusing to allow some Tory senators to fully speak to their concerns.

The Conservative contingent also has been accused of unfairly stalling the bill, which passed by a large majority in the House of Commons.

“My freedom of speech has been arbitrarily limited and all I was trying to offer was a balanced view,” Conservative Nunavut Sen. Dennis Patterson said as he was prevented from reading remarks on one of his proposed amendments to the bill. Other senators did not have a chance to speak to Patterson’s proposed amendments.

“There hasn’t been sufficient clarity on how the legislation will apply in the Canadian context. To rush through a private member’s bill, with so many open questions and so few answers forthcoming from the government of Canada, and on the eve of a federal election, would be reckless and unprecedented,” Patterson said.

Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde, who has called Tory procedural tactics on the bill “shameful” and “undemocratic,” praised Dyck in statement Tuesday for her “strong, principled and tenacious leadership when dealing with legislation as important as this.”

UNDRIP recognizes the rights of Indigenous peoples to be free from racial discrimination, to self-determination, to autonomy with regard to their “internal and local affairs” and to financial compensation for confiscated lands. MORE


This week has been a rollercoaster; due to some very quick thinking on the part of Senator Sinclair and the persistence and patience of Senator Dyck and the independent senators, the Aboriginal committee was able to complete the clause by clause consideration of C-262. The bill will be referred back to the Senate for third reading now.

Can we ask you to do two things today?

  1. Email the Conservative national caucus members and express concern with what the Senate is doing, and speak in favour of Indigenous Rights (don’t have their email address? Don’t know what to write? Click here!)
  2. Call Andrew Scheer’s office with the same message (Don’t know what to say? Click here!)

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