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April 11, 2008
OTTAWA – The Conservative government must reverse yesterday’s decision to repeal legislation giving First Nations people full rights protection under the Canadian Human Rights Act, Liberal Indian Affairs Critic Anita Neville said today.“This bill would give First Nations people full rights protection under the Human Rights Act. It is inexcusable that the Conservatives would kill their own legislation because they don’t like some of the amendments passed during the committee process,” said Ms. Neville.
Section 67 was adopted as a temporary measure in 1977 when the Human Rights Act was introduced. Since then, individual First Nations have not been able to launch complaints under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
“Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion has been unequivocally clear in his support for the repeal of section 67. The Liberal Opposition in cooperation with the Opposition parties worked in good faith at committee to bring forward amendments to strengthen the bill. In contrast, the Conservatives have been unprincipled and have chosen to treat this issue as a high stakes partisan game,” said Ms. Neville.
“Their refusal to bring back their own legislation is not all that surprising when you take into consideration their opposition to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It sends the wrong message to Aboriginals. It sends the message that the government is not serious about their rights and not serious about their equality,” she added.
Ms. Neville also pointed out the amendments put forward by the Liberal Opposition are in line with those called for by the majority of the witnesses who appeared before the committee including the Assembly of First Nations and Native Women’s Association. They include a 36 month delay before the Human Rights Act takes force in aboriginal communities, in line with the implementation period recommended by the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
“The amendments reflected the views of Aboriginal leadership in this country,” said Ms. Neville. “The Liberals are willing to support the legislation if the amendments are accepted”.
“Last month the Canadian Human Rights Commission issued a second report calling for the repeal of Section 67. We support that call and urge the Conservatives to respect the democratic process, and the will of the committee, and call on them to bring the amended bill back immediately,” said Ms. Neville.
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