A landmark piece of Liberal legislation aimed at harmonizing Canada’s laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has passed third reading in the Senate.
Bill C-15 cleared the Senate Wednesday with a final tally of 61-10 with nine senators abstaining.
The UNDRIP bill got a rough ride in the Commons and in the Senate, with Conservatives in both chambers raising concerns about potential negative impacts of the legislation.
Conservative MPs voted against the bill in the Commons, arguing it would give Indigenous people a “veto” over natural resource projects.
In the Senate, some Conservative senators brought forward concerns of six Tory premiers who expressed strong reservations about how the federal bill could affect provincial laws and areas of jurisdiction.
With a federal election potentially on the horizon, the bill needed to pass before Parliament rises for the summer next week to keep it from dying on the order paper once again.
According to a statement released by the Assembly of First Nations, the UNDRIP Act will require the federal government to “work collaboratively with First Nations and other Indigenous Peoples to develop a national action plan to implement the UN Declaration.”
This will include measures to “address prejudice and eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against Indigenous peoples,” the statement added.
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde welcomed the bill’s passing, calling it a “major step forward for First Nations and for Canada” following decades of advocacy by First Nations and Indigenous Peoples around the world.
“This is concrete action, this is history in the making,” he said.
“This legislation to implement the UN Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples in Canada can be a pathway to reconciliation, guided by our inherent and Treaty rights. Its full implementation will see First Nations rights respected and implemented and is essential to addressing all forms of racism and discrimination in Canada.”
— With files from Global News’ Emerald Bensadoun