We just need more time



Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development




Ottawa -- Since the mid-1980s, successive Canadian governments have been

working to achieve a United Nations declaration affirming the rights of

indigenous peoples (Some Ideas For The PM -- letter, June 26). In its

current form, however, the draft declaration would not provide any practical


guidance; much of the text is vague and ambiguous.


The text on lands and resources, for instance, uses language that is broad

and unclear; these provisions could be used to support claims to potentially


revive rights that were lawfully extinguished or ceded by treaty, as agreed

by affected aboriginal groups.


As I have said in Parliament, some provisions of the text are inconsistent

with the Charter of Rights, the Constitution Act, previous Supreme Court

decisions, the National Defence Act and policies under which we negotiate

treaties. The chairman-rapporteur of the UN working group has proposed

language on several key points that requires discussion among all parties.

We need to work with other states and indigenous peoples to arrive at a more


workable document.


Canada is a world leader for indigenous rights, and the new government has

made it a priority to work toward improving the quality of life for

aboriginal peoples. We are simply asking for more time: After years of

negotiation, a few more months would allow all parties to arrive at an

improved text.