Terence Corcoran: The Trudeau Liberals will have to live with being in breach of a UN declaration they should never have adopted

In other words, says the UN, Canada should stop all work on its three largest energy projects worth billions in new investment

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomes Members of Parliament to the House of Commons as parliament prepares to resume for the first time since the election in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada December 5, 2019.Patrick Doyle / Reuters

According to an ancient political proverb, governments that pander to the globalist sword fighters at the United Nations run a grave risk of getting their policy necks lopped off. And so, as prophesied, that object now rolling across the Canadian West toward Ottawa is the Trudeau government’s self-righteous 2016 decision to wrap its arms around UNDRIP — the 2007 United Nations United Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

With Canada now signed on to the United Nations’ feel-good indigenous agenda, UN operatives are back and claiming, as is their practice, that Canada is failing to live up to the full meaning of the declaration, which among other things requires Ottawa and the provinces receive full agreement from Indigenous peoples before proceeding with economic development.

Through a subgroup called the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the UN has drafted a two-page decision calling on Canada to “immediately cease” construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, to “immediately suspend” construction on the Site C dam in British Columbia and to “immediately halt” all work on the Coastal Gas Link LNG pipeline.

In other words, says the UN, Canada should stop all work on its three largest energy projects worth billions in new investment. According to the “decision”— following typical global bureaucratise — CERD said it is “concerned” about the pipeline plans, “disturbed” by forced removal and harassment of protesters and “alarmed” by what it calls escalating threats of violence against Indigenous people.

Had the Trudeau government refrained from enthusiastically adopting the UN Indigenous rights declaration in 2016, the quick answer to these insistent directives would be to tell the global agency to look to parts of the world where rights are actually being trampled on. China, for example. Or how about Venezuela? Iran, anyone?

The only option is to let the pipelines be built and to hell with the UN.

But having signed on to the declaration, Canada is an easier target, a goose with its self-righteous neck sticking out for easy political removal. When Canada adopted the declaration in May of 2016 — nine years late — the formal announcement by Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett was greeted with a standing ovation at the UN. Canada, she said, is “now a full supporter of the declaration, without qualification.”

Well, not quite. There are a couple of clauses in the declaration that most legal scholars and clear-eyed politicians view as all but impossible to adopt within Canada’s constitutional framework.

Even former Trudeau justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould sounded more than skeptical about the UNDRIP adoption. In a 2016 speech, she said much as she would like to cast Canada’s Indian Act into the fire of history, “simplistic approaches, such as adopting the UNDRIP as being Canadian law, are unworkable.” In another comment, she said “it is important to appreciate how come it cannot be simply incorporated, word for word, into Canadian law.”

But that is exactly what the UN wants Canada to do. In its decision calling for the shutdown and suspension of Trans Mountain and Coastal Gas Link pipelines, CERD insists that Canada constitutionally adopt a UNDRIP legal concept that requires Canadian governments to seek the “free, prior and informed consent” of Indigenous people over large-scale economic development projects that may impair their rights, culture and way of life.

Free, prior and informed consent — known in the business as FPIC — is imbedded in UNDRIP and was for a decade the major reason Canada did not sign the 2007 declaration. Canada was so strongly opposed to the idea that it was the only UN member to refuse the UN’s FPIC principles.

Even after the Trudeau government adopted UNDRIP, it continued to fudge the issue. A recent paper in the International Indigenous Policy Journal says the latest Trudeau government pronouncement on FPIC is weak. The best Ottawa can do is claim that it “recognizes that meaningful engagement with Indigenous peoples aims to secure their free, prior and informed consent.”  A policy that “aims to” do something is not a hard policy.

Canada’s Supreme Court has ruled that governments, including provinces, have a “duty to consult” Indigenous peoples, but legal experts say FPIC takes the concept several steps beyond mere consultation to requiring full “free will” agreement.

The province of British Columbia has also embraced UNDRIP, so it will have to find a way to respond to the UN criticisms of the Site C hydro project.

The Trudeau Liberals are now in a bind of their own making. Ottawa moved to adopt UN principles that are incompatible with Canadian constitutional law, and now the UN is knocking at Canada’s door demanding action.

Alberta has firmly responded: “With all the injustice in the world,” said Minister of Energy Sonya Savage, “it’s beyond rich that the unelected, unaccountable United Nations would seemingly single out Canada — one of the greatest champions of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.”

What will Ottawa do? In his post-election mandate letter to Carolyn Bennett as minister of Indigenous relations, the prime minister instructed her to “support the minister of justice and attorney general of Canada in work to introduce co-developed legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the end of 2020.”

If legal scholars and Jody Wilson-Raybould are right, introducing “free and prior consent” into Canadian law is a legal impossibility, which means that the Trudeau Liberals will have to live with being in breach of a UN declaration they should never have adopted.

The only option is to let the pipelines be built and to hell with the UN.

‘Epic Fail’: Government Bungled Response to Youth Reconciliation Call to Action, Advisors Say

Lack of communication and consultation in awarding $15.2-million contract, failure to act on report cited.

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Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett: ‘Our government is ensuring that the voices of Indigenous youth from coast to coast to coast are heard and incorporated into decision-making process.’ Photo via Shutterstock.

The federal government’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action on Indigenous youth is “an epic fail,” says Gabrielle Fayant, a former government advisor.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett announced this month that Canadian Roots Exchange, a Toronto-based charity, would get $15.2 million over three years to implement Call to Action 66 on youth reconciliation.

The Call to Action urged “multi-year funding for community-based youth organizations to deliver programs on reconciliation and establish a national network to share information and best practices.”

But Fayant, one of three youth advisors appointed in 2017 to guide the government’s response to the Call for Action, said Bennett’s announcement falls short of what is needed and ignores key recommendations of their report, titled “A Roadmap to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action #66.”

The report called for the creation of an independent, community-based and Indigenous-led organization called Indigenous Youth Voices to hold the government accountable on Indigenous youth welfare in Canada.

“The money that we asked for, the $15.2 million, was specifically to start an organization to hold the government accountable,” said Andre Bear, another one of the three advisors.

Fayant agreed. “TRC [Call to Action] 66 was always about getting funds to grassroots for multi-year funding,” she said. “CRE has done a lot of great work around building relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth, but that’s not what TRC 66 is about.”

Bear said the government initially wanted them to develop plans for a national Indigenous youth advisory council.

But the youth advisors rejected that approach, because there was no assurance it would be independent, he said. Future governments could easily turn the council into “puppets,” said Bear, who is from the Little Pine First Nation in Saskatchewan.

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Gabrielle Fayant and Andre Bear, both former Special Youth Advisors to the Minster of Indigenous-Crown Relations. Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Fayant and Andre Bear.

“We advised that the ‘TRC 66’ calls for a national network to share best practices, so we said we’d build that national network instead of the youth council,” he said.

Over 2.5 years, the three advisors travelled to Indigenous communities, administered a national survey, and organized a national youth gathering to get feedback on the best ways to address the diverse needs of Indigenous youth.

The government failed to implement their proposal in the 2018 budget. MORE

 

 

Wilson-Raybould battled Bennett, other ministers over Indigenous rights framework

Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick denied Globe and Mail report he rebuked Wilson-Raybould over speeches


Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick said former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, right, battled Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, left, and other ministers over an Indigenous rights framework. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The federal government’s top bureaucrat revealed Thursday that Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former Justice minister, was locked in a fierce battle with Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett and other ministers over the direction of a promised piece of legislation central to the government’s reconciliation agenda.

Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick said a Sept. 17, 2018, meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould, which has emerged as a key event in the SNC-Lavalin affair, was actually in response to cabinet tensions over the direction of the promised recognition and implementation of an Indigenous rights framework.

The framework was meant to enshrine the Constitution’s section 35, which affirms Aboriginal rights, in federal law, allowing First Nations to reconstitute their governance structures outside the Indian Act. Trudeau announced the framework during a speech in the House of Commons in February 2018.

Wernick said the prime minister met with Wilson-Raybould to discuss “very serious policy differences” between the former justice minister, Bennett and other ministers over the framework. MORE

 

Did the PMO ‘sideline’ Wilson-Raybould on failed framework negotiations? This chief believes so

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As the scandal involving the Prime Minister’s Office and former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould continues to grow by the day, everything that led up to it erupting last week is now getting a closer look.

That includes Wilson-Raybould’s involvement in the failed Indigenous rights framework that fell apart late last year.

Or more so, her apparent lack of involvement in what was supposed to be a game-changer for First Nations and the dismantling of the Indian Act.

“I feel the Prime Minister’s Office held (Wilson-Raybould) back on this work,” said Chief Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Indian Band in British Columbia. “We were dealing mostly with Minister (Carolyn) Bennett who, as you know, rolled it out very terribly.” MORE

Indian Act to blame for pipeline gridlock in northern B.C.: federal minister

Canada’s Indian Act blamed for creating a gridlock in northern British Columbia where some hereditary clan chiefs say a liquefied natural gas pipeline doesn’t have their consent.

 

VANCOUVER — Canada’s minister of Crown-Indigenous relations is pointing her finger at the Indian Act for creating a gridlock in northern British Columbia where some hereditary clan chiefs say a liquefied natural gas pipeline doesn’t have their consent.

Carolyn Bennett would not say whether she believes the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation have jurisdiction over the 22,000 square kilometres they claim as their traditional territory, saying that it is up to each community to determine its leadership structure.

But she says the situation is an example of why the federal government is working to increase First Nations capacity for self-governance, including a new funding program to rebuild hereditary structures. MORE