APTN National News
OTTAWA—An NDP MP wants to see the oath MPs swear before they take office amended to include text that acknowledges the treaties signed between the Crown and Indigenous peoples.
Cree NDP MP Romeo Saganash said he recited additional text during his swearing-in ceremony on Friday referencing the treaties.
After reciting the formal oath, which includes promising allegiance to the Queen, and signing the Test Roll, a book with pages headed by the text of the oath, Saganash then pledged to uphold the treaties.
“And, I solemnly affirm that, in the carrying out of my duties, I shall honour and respect the treaties signed with Indigenous peoples,” Saganash recited during his swearing-in ceremony last Friday.
Quebec NDP Pierre Nantel also included the additional text during his swearing-in ceremony. Manitoba NDP MP Niki Ashton and Dene NDP MP Georgina Jolibois, who represents a Saskatchewan riding, also plan to use the text during their swearing-in ceremonies scheduled for this week.
Saganash said he would like to see the oath MPs swear amended to include reference to the treaties. With the Justin Trudeau Liberal government promising to change the oath of citizenship to include a reference to the treaties—as was called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)—Saganash said the same should apply to MPs.
“We have the TRC report and its 94 calls to action and 94 is a call to action to change the oath of citizenship,” said Saganash. “I said to myself, if it’s valid and appropriate to ask new citizens to respect our treaties, then parliamentarians in this country should do the same.”
The Trudeau government has pledged to implement all the TRC’s recommendations.
Liberal MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette said he supports Saganash’s push to change the text of the oath of MPs.
“It sounds like a great idea,” said Ouellette, who is Cree. “I know when I was doing the oath it was with a bit of mixed emotion…I would love to work on it with (Saganash).”
The text of the MP’s oath is contained in schedule 5 of the Constitution, but Saganash doesn’t believe it necessarily requires a constitutional change to amend the text. Saganash said it remains unclear whether the change could be done through federal legislation, or if it would require the re-opening of the Constitution.
“There is a question of what is the status of schedules in the Constitution,” he said. “I have confronted many difficult issues, constitutional issues in my life and this one is no different…It’s something we need to consider…With respect to treaties in this country, it is the Crown foremost that signed the treaties.”
APTN is awaiting a response from Citizenship and Immigration on when it plans to change the citizenship oath.