Mr. Speaker, meegwetch.
[Member spoke in Cree]
I wanted to start by expressing my gratitude. I would like to thank all of the members who have spoken about this very important bill, even those who expressed concerns about it. I appreciate their comments. I am looking forward to taking a very close look at this bill in committee because I think some of the questions and concerns people raised are worth discussing.
I know I only have five minutes, but there are a couple of things that are important to talk about in reply.
It was said that the UN declaration is an aspirational document. I have heard that before and I heard it again today. I want to respond to that. I also heard that the UN declaration is going to create some uncertainty in this country. I want to respond to that as well. Let me remind members that Bill C-262 is the first piece of legislation in the country that explicitly rejects colonialism. If we are going to move on to reconciliation, then we have to reject colonialism. It cannot continue within that framework in this country.
This is what former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said about the declaration:
The Declaration is a visionary step towards addressing the human rights of indigenous peoples...and provides a momentous opportunity for States and indigenous peoples to strengthen their relationships, promote reconciliation and ensure that the past is not repeated.
The other thing I heard in this place today is that Bill C-262 might be incompatible with our Constitution as it stands today. Back in 2008, in response to that very same claim, over 100 experts, law professors, international human rights experts, and scholars said:
The Declaration provides a principled framework that promises a vision of justice and reconciliation. In our considered opinion, it is consistent with the Canadian Constitution and Charter and is profoundly important for fulfilling their promise.
It is important to remind people of that very fact. It is important to remind people that it is not appropriate to try to read provisions of the declaration in isolation. When we talk about prior and informed consent, we have to read those provisions alongside the other provisions. There are 46 provisions in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and we have to combine them.
Paragraph 3 of article 46 of the UN declaration states:
The provisions set forth in this Declaration shall be interpreted in accordance with the principles of justice, democracy, respect for human rights, equality, non-discrimination, good governance and good faith.
I think one of the reasons that article was drafted in that way is that we need to balance the rights that are enshrined for indigenous peoples contained in the UN declaration with the rights of others. That is important to remember when considering the UN declaration.
I thank all the members who stood up to speak to the bill. I look forward to the work in committee on the bill.