Status: There are currently two Bills in the House of Commons relating to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP): Bill C-262 and Bill C-332. Bill C-262, The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act proposes to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with UNDRIP. Bill C-262, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Reporting Act, required the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to table an annual report that outlined the Parliament of Canada’s compliance with UNDRIP.
Both of these Bills were sponsored by MP Romeo Saganash (Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou, NDP) as Private Members Bills, and both are currently in first reading. It is also worth noting that Bill C-262 has been proposed in various forms six times as a Private Members Bill since 2008, three of those times sponsored by Mr. Saganash.
The difference in this case compared to previous attempts at the Bill is that on May 10, 2016 Canada removed its objector status to UNDRIP, formally adopting UNDRIP. This occurred after the Bills went to first reading, but may impact the outcome of the proposed legislation.
Impact: If this bill were to pass, the implications would be far reaching. Bill C-262 states that “The Government of Canada, in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples in Canada, must take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” This language is broad, particularly the key word of “laws.” Enacting this core provision in the Bill could potentially require the government to revise the Criminal Code. It would also require all future laws to be created with UNDRIP in mind.
Chiefs of Ontario affirmed the Assembly of First Nations’ resolution to ratify UNDRIP in 2007, and in a 2009 resolution called for Canada to ratify UNDRIP. In a 2011 All Ontario Chiefs Conference resolution, the Chiefs in Assembly resolved to promote UNDRIP in ways that are consistent with this legislation.