Sunday, July 08, 2007

Dion Calls Out Harper

Dion released a letter, urging the government to support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples:
Of the 47 member nations on the UN's human rights council, Canada and Russia are the only countries to oppose the declaration.

Dion said Canada has never attacked an international document on the protection of human rights. Canadians want their country to be perceived globally as a defender of human rights, he added.

Canada's position marks a significant shift from the country's traditional stance on the issue. It has helped promote and elaborate on the declaration for 20 years.

The Conservative response, blame the Liberals:
Prentice's spokeswoman said Sunday the Liberals are the only party changing their position on the declaration.

"No previous Canadian government has ever supported the document in its current form, and if the Liberals felt so strongly about it, they had 13 years to sign it," Deirdra McCracken wrote in an e-mail.

Nevermind, by all accounts, the fact the previous Liberal governments were "instrumental" in bringing together a consensus, that ultimately lead to the final draft the Tories rejected.

What non-partisans are saying:
Amnesty International Canada

"Canada had played a key role in the successful conclusion of the negotiation process, helping find common ground between Indigenous peoples and the vast majority of participating states. But Canada reversed its position after the election of the minority Conservative government.

Not only did Canada oppose the Declaration at the Human Rights Council, Canada has also called for the rewriting of at least a dozen articles, including articles Canadian officials helped draft. More recently, Canada has endorsed a proposal by a group of African states calling for the rewriting of 36 out of 47 articles of the Declaration"

Grand Council Of The Crees

"Canada has played a key role in developing and building state support for the proposed text that will come before the Human Rights Council, but the current Harper government has not publicly stated that Canada's support for the Declaration will continue."

The M├ętis National Council

"Under the Liberal government, Canada had been a champion of theDeclaration until the last June, when the minority government in a stunning reversal of international human rights policy and diplomacy voted with Russia against the Declaration in the Human Rights Council."

I would appear, those in the know, namely indigenious peoples, don't see it the same way as the Conservative government. Another dodge and weave, with no factual foundation. Quite the trend developing, none of it flattering and/or "accountable". Canada is back alright, backwards.


Tomm said...


Your on a roll. Another great post.

It does seem inexplicable that Canada would be a major player in developing something and then back away from it at the 11th hour (Kyoto?, Kelowna?) but I do take your point that there is some precedence.

One thing I was looking for was the reason Canada didn't sign it. The article indicated the following:

"...Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice has said the declaration is unconstitutional, could prevent military activities on aboriginal land and could harm existing land deals..."

I would like to know more about that. I know it is certainly problematic given the hundreds of settled land claims and the hundreds more on the docket.


Steve V said...

Some of the government objections are outlined here.

Tomm said...



I didn't even know that kind of summary existed. Our Government of Canada hard at work.


burlivespipe said...

Taking aside last month's smokescreen by Harpor on aboriginal land claims, this group as led by Harpor has been slowly upping the temperature on native issues. Nothing like filing policy through the Calgary Herald (re. fishing rights) or having vigilant anti-native rights people like Cummings and candidate Eskviald (sic) carrying CON colours. And in the shadows, the man no one can photograph, Tommy Flanagan -- hmmm, Tomm? -- has written and spoken very clearly on where he feels natives belong on the totem pole...

Tomm said...


Interesting bit of speculation. I can answer one of your pieces.

No, I have never been seen in the same room, at the same time, as Tom Flanagan. Coincidence?

Just spit balling here, but I think Flanagan might use something other than Tomm as a nom de plume.


JimBobby said...

Whooee! There's speculation that Australia's John Howard played a role in getting Harper to reverse Canada's position. The Aussies have just enacted racist and draconian legislation to deal with their "Aboriginal problem."
This was originally in the G&M. It's behind their subscriber wall.


OTTAWA — Canada·s decision to withdraw support for the United Nations Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples coincided with a visit to Ottawa by Prime Minister John Howard of Australia — a country that strongly opposes the declaration, according to The Globe and Mail.

Shortly after Mr. Howard·s meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in May, 2006, Mr. Harper called Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice to tell him to review Canada·s position of support, government sources said Friday.

Although previous Liberal governments had difficulty with the declaration that had taken more than two decades to craft, by 2005 Canada was fully supportive and actively encouraging other countries to sign on.

But the United States and Australia remained staunchly opposed. And Mr. Harper walked away from his meeting with Mr. Howard believing the declaration would be problematic, the sources said.

“It was very much the Prime Minister [Harper] directing Prentice to relook at this thing,” a source said.


"No previous Canadian government has ever supported the document in its current form, and if the Liberals felt so strongly about it, they had 13 years to sign it," Deirdra McCracken wrote in an e-mail.

Nevermind that the statement is a comlete lie. Canada DID support the current version. Suppose the Liberals DID sign it. Would that mean any more to the CPoC than Kyoto or Kelowna?


Anonymous said...

Excellent blog today, as usual. It has occurred to me that perhaps (would be quite a job) we should start up a Fact-O-Meter of some sort setting out the CPC statements and setting out the real truth. There's a site called the Harper Index that sort of does this.

I remember during the Kelowna Accord event, a Metis chief saying they've always had their hardest times under the Conservative governments.

Mike said...

"...Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice has said the declaration is unconstitutional, could prevent military activities on aboriginal land and could harm existing land deals..."

I find this line of reasoning ironic from the Conservatives, who, throughout their time in opposition and a few times during their time in government, supported and still support, "reverse onus" clauses in various criminal laws (street racing, bail, probation and parole etc) - clauses which are clearly unconstitutional as per the decision in R. v Oake (1886).

Seems to me to merely be an excuse. They don't want to abide by the terms of the declaration, so they claim they can't do anything unconstitutional. But when they want to "get tough on crime" (like we need it) they are more than happy to chuck the constitution out the window.

Remember Ezra and his "Its the stupid Charter" buttons. These jackasses don't give a damn about the Constitution, unless they think it happens to agree with them.

Gayle said...

mike, I think Oakes was in 1986 :).

I scanned their report, and it seems they are complaining because the accord grants MORE rights than our constitution. I doubt that violates the Charter. The Charter would be violated if it restricted their rights, not if it expanded upon them.

Anonymous said...

It's easy for Dion to sign it, he can go live in his country of France anytime he likes, but if Canada is simply given to the descendants of people who were here previously - most Canadians have no where else to go...

Steve V said...


Thanks for the completely asinine comment.