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Bill C-45 Affects All Canadians, Not Just First Nations

January 16th, 2013     by Christine Miskonoodinkwe-Smith     Comments

Bill C-45 is a 457-page omnibus budget legislation bill (also known as the Jobs and Growth Act) that will make changes to several Canadian laws and enactments. Bill C-45 includes the following:

Bill S-6 First Nations Election Act Bill S-8- Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act Bill S-2-Family Homes on Reserve and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act Bill C-428 Indian Act Amendment and Replacement Act Bill S-207- An Act to Amend the Interpretation Act Bill S-212- First Nations Self Government Recognition Act.

This includes the Indian Act, the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and the Navigable Waters Act. These changes are detrimental to all Canadians, not just First Nations peoples.

The passing of Bill C-45 for First Nations people eliminates treaty rights. It will allow First Nations to lease out/surrender reserve lands based on votes taken at a single meeting, rather than a majority vote from an entire First Nation (community consent). It also exempts companies behind major pipeline and inter-provincial power line projects from needing to prove that they won’t damage or destroy navigable waterways in Canada.

The changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act would see just 97 of Canada’s approximately 32,000 major lakes protected by the stripped down act. Changes to the Fisheries Act and the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act will wreck havoc on our ability to maintain a sustainable environment and have clean water and healthy oceans for all Canadians.

The Government of Canada never consulted with ANY First Nations in regards to these amendments as outlined in our treaty rights and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Article 32 in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states:

1. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources.States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the Indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources and other constructive arrangements concluded with States or their successors and to have States honour and respect such treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements. 2. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as diminishing or eliminating the rights of Indigenous peoples contained in treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.

and lastly, Article 40 states:

Indigenous peoples have the right to access to and prompt decision through just and fair procedures for the resolution of conflicts and disputes with States or other parties, as well as to effective remedies for all infringements of their individual and collective rights. Such a decision shall give due consideration to the customs, traditions, rules and legal systems of the Indigenous peoples concerned and international human rights.

The Idle No More Movement is more than First Nations peoples protecting their rights, it is about standing up for all Canadians and protecting everybody’s future.

Tags: activist report, indigenous

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