Response received: Aug 04, 2016 – 7.12 a.m. (PT)
Dear Mr. Board,
Thank you for reaching out to me regarding the opportunity to speak about Indigenous sovereignty.
The NDP is a party that adheres to Canadian Law and to International Law.
The Royal Proclamation recognized the legal sovereignty of Indigenous Nations in British law in 1763. Canada as a nation was founded on this principle; since that date, the Supreme Court of Canada has agreed with the recognition of inherent rights of Indigenous Peoples on this land.
In Canadian law sovereignty and self-determination have been defined many times. In the Haida Nation decision of 2004, the Court determined that the government must “reconcile pre-existing Aboriginal sovereignty with assumed Crown sovereignty”. This duty is grounded in the honour of the Crown, and applies even where title has not been proven.
Recently, Senator Murray Sinclair, former Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, has affirmed that “Tsilqhot’in is the law of the land”. This Supreme Court decision clarified that rights conferred by Aboriginal title include the right to decide how the land will be used, to enjoy, occupy and possess the land, and that governments must obtain approval from the title-holder.
Based on these and many other legal decisions, the NDP recognizes Indigenous Sovereignty on traditional territories in this continent.
The NDP has shown its commitment to honouring Indigenous sovereignty and the agreements and obligations Canadian society has to Indigenous nations.
Article 3 and 4 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples affirm the right of Indigenous Peoples to exercise their right to self-determination through economic, social and cultural development and in matters related to programs and policy in their communities. The NDP respects these inherent rights and has consistently worked with Indigenous Peoples in regards to issues like Jordan’s Principle, Shannen’s Dream, language revitalization, education, national inquiry into MMIWG2S, and child welfare.
In 2009, the NDP pushed for a study of Harmonized Sales Tax especially regarding Ontario First Nations which resulted in Indigenous people keeping their tax exemption based on treaty obligations.
In 2015, the NDP committed to implementing the TRC Calls to Action in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples according to their priorities. In particular Action 45, in regards to repudiation of the concepts of Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius, renewed treaty relationships based on mutual recognition and recognition and integration of Indigenous laws and traditions.
The NDP continues this commitment and respect in the 42nd Parliament. For example, the NDP has long believed that the Government of Canada has a duty to engage in true nation-to-nation relations with Indigenous peoples across Canada. The Assembly of First Nations, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, and individual First Nations have called on the federal government to suspend approval for the Site C Dam on the Peace River. We have called on the government to suspend approval of any further permits for Site C, and to finally meet with First Nations to hear their concerns before this project goes any further.
MP Romeo Saganash has introduced his private members bill C-262, to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, responding to the TRC Calls to Action 43 and 44. The bill calls for a National Action Plan made in collaboration and cooperation with Indigenous Peoples in regards to concrete measures to achieve the goals of the Declaration. Bill C-262 also contains accountability provisions that will require the federal government report on progress made towards implementing the Declaration. Bill C-262 will also confirm the application of the UN Declaration into Canadian law.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me on this important matter and please do not hesitate to contact me should you wish to further discuss.
Députée de Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot // MP for Saint-Hyacinthe –Bagot
Porte-parole en matière de Famille, enfants et développement social // Critic for Families Children and Social Development
Porte-parole adjointe en matière de santé // Deputy Critic for Health
Saint-Hyacinthe – Bagot : 1-800-463-0505 // Ottawa : 613-996-4585