Question Period: United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

By: The Hon. Marty Klyne

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Rideau Canal, Ottawa

Hon. Marty Klyne: Senator Gold, in September and October, this chamber heard from Minister Miller and Minister Lametti on the government’s work to prepare and implement an action plan by June of next year to uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, known as UNDRIP. We heard that funds have been dispersed to support capacity in consultations. We also heard that the government is looking to Indigenous leadership groups to inform the mechanics of the consultation process.

Senator Gold, is the government confident on delivering a thoughtful and effective action plan on time next year, and is there anything the Senate as a collective can do to support this work?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Let me answer the very end of your question first. The Senate has already played an important role in its study of UNDRIP and at least in some quarters — a majority of this Senate is certainly in support of UNDRIP moving forward. I think the Senate, through the Indigenous Peoples Committee, statements and inquiries can continue and should continue to shine a light on the progress that still needs to be made so that the government knows that parliamentarians are watching and holding them to account.

To your question, the government is working, as you’ve mentioned, in consultation and cooperation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis, to ensure the consistency of federal law, to develop the action plan to which you have referred and develop annual reports on progress critical to making sure that we don’t falter.

On this last item, I note that these reports are intended to be submitted or tabled in Parliament so that we have a role in overseeing it as well. I’m advised that early work has been concentrated on supporting the participation of Indigenous partners in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act implementation process, including support for Indigenous-led consultations in this regard. The collaborative work to close the socio-economic gaps — which we are aware of and are too great — to advance reconciliation and renew relationships remains a priority of this government.

I have been reassured that, as it was reiterated by the government on the fifteenth anniversary of UNDRIP, the action plan will be completed within the timeline.

Senator Klyne: I am reassured; thank you.

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