OTTAWA-The NDP is slamming the Liberal government for opposing its motion that echoes a private member’s bill the Commons passed last week which ensures Canada’s laws are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.
“ 1/8 Liberals 3/8 seem to believe in Aboriginal rights and title if Aboriginal people happen to agree with Liberals. That’s not the way rights work,” NDP MP Nathan Cullen told reporters in the foyer of the House on Monday.
The NDP motion asks the Commons to reaffirm its support for the UN declaration, which requires Indigenous consent for projects such as the Trans Mountain pipeline.
Romeo Saganash, the NDP critic for reconciliation, introduced it Monday, less than a week after the House passed his private member’s bill, which would require that Canadian laws conform to the declaration.
Cullen said the motion, which has yet to be voted on, calls for the application of Saganash’s bill.
The motion also asks the House to acknowledge that advancing reconciliation through a nation-to-nation approach means respecting the right to self-determination of Indigenous Peoples and their institutions, including those which say the pipeline does not have the required consent.
Saganash said that reconciliation means recognizing the need for Indigenous Peoples’ consent.
Cullen said there are a number of court cases pending involving Aboriginal title which are “significant and real” and said the government should wait to see whether those cases will be sustained by the courts before spending more money on building a pipeline.
“You either believe in rule of law or you don’t,” he said.
“You either believe in Aboriginal self-determination or you don’t.”
Georgina Jolibois, NDP critic for Indigenous Services, said in question period that she is “shocked” the government decided to “completely disregard its obligation under the UN declaration.”
Jolibois asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau if he understands that respecting the rights of First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples means respecting those who do not agree with him.
“I respectfully suggest that indeed during consultations and listening and working to build reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples means listening to all voices of the Indigenous community including those who disagree with us,” said Trudeau.
Trudeau insisted the government has respect for all Indigenous voices which includes those who oppose the pipeline and those who want the pipeline to move forward.