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13 September 2009
OTTAWA – As other nations today celebrate the second anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the world is again reminded of the stain the Harper Conservatives have left on Canada’s reputation with its refusal to sign it, Liberal Aboriginal Affairs Critic Todd Russell said today.“Two years ago today was a momentous occasion for indigenous people around the world, and Canada was not a part of it,” said Mr. Russell. “Stephen Harper’s Conservatives did everything possible to block a basic human rights document for indigenous people.
“They are sending a clear message to Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Metis that they don’t matter.”
Canada was one of only four countries to reject the historic document billed as a landmark recognition of native rights, reversing Canada’s previous position and ignoring an open letter from 100 legal scholars and experts stating that Canada did not have a legal basis to reject the UN Declaration.
Last year, the Conservatives also tried to stop the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, drafted during the Organization of American States’ meeting.
In honour of today’s anniversary, the Assembly of First Nations, ITK and other aboriginal organizations across the country have openly called on the government to support the UN Declaration.
“Since the Conservative’s offer no leadership on this issue, I fully support the AFN’s efforts to assist First Nation communities in implementing the standards set out in the Declaration,” added Mr. Russell. “Canada was once a leader on human rights issues and is once again an international embarrassment thanks to this government.
“Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples deserve a government who will support their rights and freedoms. Harper can not do better. Canada must.”
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