Conservative governments voice concerns over Bill C-15

·2 min read

Saskatchewan joined five other provinces in December, requesting that the federal government delay Bill C-15 until stakeholders and governments could be consulted on what the implications of the legislation are.

Bill C-15 is proposed legislation that states the Government of Canada, “must take all measures necessary to ensure the laws of Canada are consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” It received a first reading in Ottawa on Dec. 3.

When the measure was initially debated at the United Nation in 2007, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States all opposed it. National governments in all four opposing nations have since supported the declaration, which addresses individual and collective rights of Indigenous people, as well as their rights to culture, identity, education, health, employment and language. The UN declaration also states Indigenous people can determine their own political status as well as rights to engage in their own economic, social and cultural development, while retaining the right to be part of the same activities within the state.

“While we support the principles of UNDRIP, as far as the Government of Saskatchewan, we don’t endorse the federal legislation because there was very little consultation done before the initial bill was presented,” Indian Head-Milestone MLA and provincial government relations minister Don McMorris told The Forum. “The interpretation of the legislation is still to be determined and we can’t support something until we know what the impact is going to be within our province.”

The provincial government is reviewing the legislation and is trying to determine what this bill means for the province. It is also consulting with First Nations and Metis leaders as well as other economic sectors which could be impacted by this law, McMorris said.

“The spirit is one thing, what the legislation says is another, and that’s why we can’t support this,” McMorris said, adding a further statement on this bill will be released once the province has completed its review of the bill. Similar reviews are underway in Manitoba, Ontario, Alberta, Quebec and New Brunswick — all provinces, like Saskatchewan, with conservative governments.

Keith Borkowsky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Quad Town Forum