It’s been the prettiest love story in recent Canadian political history — the romancing of the Assembly of First Nations by the Liberal government. But there are early signs that the relationship between the star-crossed lovers could be fraying.
Jody Wilson-Raybould, the justice minister, spoke at the AFN’s general assembly in Niagara Falls Wednesday, where she dropped the bombshell that adopting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as Canadian law is “unworkable.”
She went further. “Respectfully, it is a political distraction to undertaking the hard work required to actually implement it,” she said. This will have come as news to Perry Bellegarde, the AFN’s national chief, who celebrated the Trudeau government’s “unqualified support” for UNDRIP as a historic day on the path to reconciliation.
Strangely, the AFN’s response to Wilson-Raybould’s distinctly qualified support for UNDRIP was muted — a reaction that may or may not have something to do with the $96 million handed to groups representing aboriginal interests in the federal budget.
But native activists and the NDP portrayed the news as another broken Liberal promise. Adoption of UNDRIP in the first place was “smoke and mirrors,” said NDP MP Romeo Saganash, who sponsored a private member’s bill that called for full implementation of UNDRIP’s articles in the last parliament.
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