OTTAWA — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday that he intends to recognize “indigenous rights” above and beyond those already guaranteed to every citizen by the Canadian Charter of Rights.
Speaking to the House of Commons, Trudeau vaguely outlined a two-tier justice system that he says will enable Aboriginal people to be “in control of their own destiny.”
“Instead of outright recognizing and affirming Indigenous rights, as we promised we would, Indigenous Peoples were forced to prove, time and time again, through costly and drawn-out court challenges, that their rights existed, must be recognized and implemented,” Trudeau said.
Aboriginal people are already exempt from certain Canadian laws restricting hunting and fishing, and the Canadian courts have upheld their right to “practice their culture.” Trudeau said his ultimate goal is to move toward Native self-government.
“We need to get to a place where Indigenous peoples in Canada are in control of their own destiny, making their own decisions about their future.”
In a response emailed to The Daily Caller, the official opposition Conservatives applauded Trudeau’s initiative, calling it a “noble and important goal.”
“The Prime Minister and his government…intend to move forward with negotiations with a broad range of stakeholders, most specifically and crucially Canada’s Indigenous communities and peoples, on the construction of a new framework for Indigenous rights in Canada and a relationship rooted in those rights,” said Indigenous affairs critic Cathy McLeod.
“This is, of course, a noble and important goal. The rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada were for too long ignored, maligned, or bent in the pursuit of other interests, and it is incumbent on all of us to continue moving forward in the spirit of reconciliation.”
McLeod suggested the previous Conservative government was also working to toward the same goals as Trudeau: “It was, of course, a Conservative government that first made important steps for Canada to endorse the UN Declarations of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in a manner fully consistent with Canada’s Constitution and laws, almost a decade ago,” she said.