Another speaker at the forum, Quebec lawyer Paul Joffe, stated that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples — which Canada signed in 2010 — has legal consequences in this country.
He cited a recent decision regarding a human-rights complaint about child-welfare services on First Nations reserves. “The Federal Court said the following: ‘The Supreme Court of Canada has recognized the relevance of international human-rights law in interpreting domestic legislation,’ ” Joffe said. “So right away, you can see there are legal effects.”
The UN declaration has 46 articles calling on countries to protect indigenous peoples’ economic, social, cultural, political, environmental, and spiritual rights. The Conservative government has claimed that the UN declaration is “not legally binding”, describing it as “an important aspirational document”.
Joffe, however, adamantly rejected that argument. He noted that the Federal Court decision stated that Parliament “will be presumed to respect the values…
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