Nation to Nation
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a bold announcement Wednesday in the relationship between his government and Indigenous people.
“To truly renew the relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples – not just for today, but for the next 150 years – we need a comprehensive and far-reaching approach. We need a government-wide shift in how we do things,” he said.
He promised, before the next election, to have a legislative framework in place to recognize Indigenous rights. It will guide all government interactions with Indigenous people.
Dan Vandal, the chair of the Liberal party’s Indigenous caucus, said during N2N’s political panel that it will mean less time spent in court litigating Indigenous people’s inherent rights.
The opposition wonders if this can be done in the given time frame.
“Eighteen months, it does worry me because in 18, the way the system works in Ottawa, it moves very slowly,” said NDP MP Georgina Jolibois. “And I am concerned that the hopes of Indigenous people may be raised again. And therefore I hope the prime minister will move along not slowly, but move along to make progress.”
Cathy McLeod, the Conservative shadow minister for Indigenous Affairs, is skeptical of how such a far-reaching framework can be achieved.
“He’s got to be careful about raising hopes that you know (are) possibly just going to be dashed again,” she said. “This is a huge complex initiative and he’s committed to it in 18 months.”
Policy analyst Russ Diabo believes this framework, which is supposed to use the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People as its base, will replace NDP MP Romeo Saganash’s efforts to do the same through his private member’s bill, C-262.
Diabo said the government paid lip-service to C-262 because this framework initiative was always the priority. But there’s a lack of meat on the bones of Trudeau’s message.
“I think the lack of time to respond, to react is very concerning. And the lack of details in the announcement yesterday, very concerning,” he said.
Diabo is especially troubled by a lack of detail because the initiative will guide relations with Indigenous people for decades.
“It’s going to last for generations,” he said. “So that regardless of what happens in the next election, it will be hard for the next government to undo it.”