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Excluding human rights from project assessment and approval is an unworkable proposition

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The current federal system for review and regulation of resource development proposals is broken.

Not because, as some critics claim, the process is too slow and cumbersome, but because in a democratic society, governments simply cannot ignore the human rights implications of their decisions, especially in the era of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Although the protection of human rights is an explicit constitutional imperative, current federal impact assessment legislation does not include any direct or explicit reference to rights protections. This is despite the fact that large-scale resource development projects will have profound impacts on the Indigenous nations whose lands and jurisdictions are inevitably implicated, as well as for the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities that host the workforces which build and maintain such projects. And, it is all too clear in the discussions with Indigenous leadership, that Canada’s governments and proponents must plan the process at an early stage with Indigenous nations to meet an expectation of co-decision-making procedures.

Part of the purpose of assessments should be to understand those risks and ensure that rights are upheld when conditions for project approval are set out. In fact, however, the review panels struck to conduct public assessments have been........

© Calgary Herald