CBA Says Canadian Human Rights Act Should Apply to Indian Act
For Immediate Release
April 24, 2007
OTTAWA – The Canadian Bar Association supports the repeal of section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) – which protects the Indian Act from scrutiny under the CHRA – but says preliminary steps must be taken before the repeal comes into effect.
The CHRA prohibits certain discriminatory practices, but section 67 has exempted the Indian Act from the scrutiny of the CHRA. Bill C-44 would repeal that exemption.“While the CBA supports the repeal in principle, a number of steps must be taken, including full consultation with First Nations, the introduction of an interpretive clause, and adequate time and resources for Indian bands to prepare for the scope and number of changes and challenges that are likely to follow,” says Christopher Devlin of Victoria, Chair of the CBA’s Aboriginal Law Section.
Bill C-44 proposes a six-month delay between the Act coming into force and its application to bands. The CBA argues that an 18- to 30-month delay would be more appropriate. An interpretive clause would guide the application of the CHRA to stress that nothing it contains should be seen as taking away from existing rights of Aboriginal Peoples, and also emphasize that the rights extend equally to both women and men.
In its nine-page submission, the CBA says many parts of the Indian Act would no doubt attract human rights scrutiny, and review or repeal of that Act may well be overdue. “But if the underlying intent or even the likely result of Bill C-44 would be to gradually erode the Indian Act through piecemeal amendments, the better approach would be to meet that challenge directly and comprehensively,” reads the CBA submission.
The CBA says the proper approach would be through normal parliamentary process, with appropriate attention and a full public policy debate of the important and complex issues involved.
The submission is available on the CBA website at http://www.cba.org/CBA/submissions/pdf/07-23-eng.pdf.
Christopher Devlin will present the CBA submission to the Commons Aboriginal Affairs Committee on Tuesday, April 24 at 11 a.m. in Room 268 of the West Block.
The Canadian Bar Association is dedicated to improvement in the law and the administration of justice. Some 37,000 lawyers, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.
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CONTACT: Hannah Bernstein, Canadian Bar Association. Tel: (613) 237-2925, ext. 146; E-mail: [email protected]