No turning back the clock on Indigenous rights

“There are and always have been obvious flaws in a governing system that is designed to maintain a status quo and deny rights to people who power rejects. The process of bringing C-262 along the legislative path has highlighted this for me.” 
                   – MP Romeo Saganash, author of Bill C-262 

Amnesty International is appalled by the fact that a crucial piece of human rights legislation will not become law in Canada because of the procedural tactics of a few Senators.

Bill C-262, a bill setting out a framework to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, was passed by the House of Commons more than a year ago.

We are confident that if Bill C-262 had come to a vote in the Senate, it would have been adopted into law. However, a handful of Conservative Senators were able use delaying tactics to prevent such a vote taking place before the Senate adjourned last month.

This happened despite the fact that all parties in the House of Commons supported a unanimous motion calling Bill C-262 a critical piece of legislation and urging the Senate to pass the Bill into law.

Amnesty has joined Indigenous partners and other human rights NGOs in public statement condemning what we have called a blow to democracy and human rights.

The joint statement emphasizes, however, that the failure to pass C-262 does not diminish Canada’s obligation to uphold the UN Declaration. Nor does it turn back the clock on numerous initiatives already underway to hold federal, provincial and territorial government accountable to this obligation.

What this setback does is clearly underline is the hard work ahead of us to ensure that Canada’s commitments to rights the Indigenous peoples are actually put into practice.

In the words of MP Romeo Saganash, responding to the demise of the Bill he authored and championed: “Let us rise with more energy. Let us stand with a greater determination.”

Along with partners we are calling on all parties to support reintroduction of implementation legislation – at least as strong as the provisions of C-262 – following the federal election.