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Liberals serve notice of motion to impose closure on UNDRIP bill debate

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government is prepared to try to shut down debate today on a bill that would harmonize Canadian laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

It has served notice of a motion to impose closure on the opening round of debate on Bill C-15 in order to put it to a vote and move it along to a House of Commons committee for further scrutiny.

The move comes just two days after Indigenous leaders expressed concern that the bill, stalled at second reading since it was introduced in December, might never make it through the all the legislative hoops before an election, which would kill it.

If the minority Liberal government chooses to move the closure motion today, it will need the support of at least one opposition party, most likely the NDP, to pass it.

C-15 represents the third attempt to have Parliament approve  implementation of the UN declaration in Canada.

Former NDP MP Romeo Saganash introduced two private member’s bills to implement UNDRIP, the first defeated at second reading in the Commons in 2014 and the second stalling in the Senate just before the 2019 election.

This time, the Liberals have essentially turned Saganash’s bill into a government bill.

The UN declaration, which Canada endorsed in 2010, affirms the rights of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination and to their language, culture and traditional lands.

It also spells out the need for free, prior and informed consent from Indigenous Peoples on anything that infringes on their lands or rights.

The bill does not include a definition of consent, raising objections from Conservatives who fear it would give First Nations a veto over natural resource development projects.

Their concerns have been dismissed as “fearmongering” by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, a former judge who helped draft similar legislation in British Columbia in 2019.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 15, 2021.

The Canadian Press