The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted in 2007. Its recurring theme is that Indigenous peoples have the right to dignity and self-determination, and that no actions regarding their persons or lands should be taken without their “free, prior and informed consent.” Canada became a signatory in 2014, but the government provided no legislative machinery to implement the declaration’s principles. MP Romeo Saganash, formerly an Indigenous leader from northern Quebec, drafted Bill C-262, which he says would ensure that Canada’s laws are consistent with the UN declaration. Saganash’s bill was debated in the House of Commons on December 5, 2017 and he spoke to it.
Maclean’s magazine hosted its annual Parliamentarians of the Year Award in Ottawa early in November 2017. The magazine presented a lifetime achievement award to Monique Bégin, who served as an influential cabinet minister in Pierre Trudeau’s governments, most notably as the minister of health and welfare. After leaving politics in 1984, Bégin pursued an academic career, including 11 years at the University of Ottawa. In her acceptance speech, she talked about male power and women’s equality in the context of numerous allegations about sexual assault and harassment in the entertainment and news industries and in politics. A significant portion of Bégin’s remarks follow here. The full text of her address is available on the Maclean’s site.
It was 150 years ago, on November 6, 1867 that the Parliament of Canada convened for the first time in a made over lumber town called Ottawa. Recently, on the anniversary of that historic day MPs celebrated with former prime ministers Joe Clark, John Turner, Brian Mulroney and Paul Martin looking down from the visitors’ gallery. Geoff Regan, the House speaker, talked about how far the country has come.
“On this day 150 years ago, our predecessors embarked on an ambitious journey that continues to this day, the journey towards a fair, prosperous country for all citizens,” Regan said. “It is difficult to imagine the enormity of the task before those first parliamentarians gathered in the chamber that used to stand here, facing the monumental challenge of governing a vast and sprawling country still in its infancy.” Continue reading Searching Canada’s parliamentary debates back to 1867