INDIGENOUS RIGHTS Meet with your Member of Parliament in support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Meet with your Member of Parliament

Meeting with your MP is an important part of our democracy. It is an opportunity to share your views with your elected representatives. The aim of this meeting is to communicate the following key points:

  • Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is an essential part of reconciliation. Many Canadian churches have already taken this step in accordance with TRC Call to Action 48, and as part of our commitment, we are encouraging the government to do so now.
  • Implementing the UN Declaration must be done in a legislative framework.
  • The Government of Canada’s decision to establish a Working Group of Ministers to Review Laws and Policies Related to Indigenous Peoples in consultation with Indigenous organizations is welcome.
  • State that Private Member’s Bill C-262 is a minimum standard to begin to make Canadian legislation consistent with the principles of the UN Declaration.

All MPs can and should be open to dialogue regarding the UN Declaration. If your MP plans to support legislative implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, affirm your MP’s decision. If your MP has concerns about supporting Bill C-262, this is an opportunity to discuss those concerns and let your MP know there are people in his or her constituency who support Bill C-262.

Please note that another Private Member’s bill concerning the UN Declaration, Bill C-332, has less detail and fewer accountability mechanisms than Bill C-262. Your MP may ask you about it, and you will want to be able to explain that Bill C-262 will come up for a vote in the House of Commons before Bill C-332 has its second reading.

The Clerk of the House of Commons estimates that C-262 will come up for second reading near the end of October, perhaps as early as October 18. This vote will determine if the bill will be sent to committee to study and hear from witnesses.  It is very important that parliamentarians hear Indigenous communities and expert witnesses talk about the importance of Bill C-262, the UN Declaration and its potential to strengthen human rights legislation in Canada.

Our hope is that MPs will vote in favour of a legislative framework for implementing the UN Declaration. Since bringing Canadian laws and policies into conformity with the UN Declaration will require many years of work, the 20-year commitment that would be established by Bill C-262 is important for ensuring that a legislative framework is in place beyond the term of the current government.

Plan a Meeting with your Member of Parliament

Who is my MP?

Your MP is listed on the Parliament of Canada’s website www.parl.gc.ca

How do I contact my MP?

Once you identify your MP, phone the local constituency office and request a meeting regarding the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Government of Canada’s decision to review laws and policies and Private Member’s Bill C-262. Your MP will be in her or his constituency:

  • Week of October 9, 2017
  • Week of November 13, 2017
Plan Ahead

Pull together a small group (no more than 3 or 4 people) to discuss the meeting. Read the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples together. Read Bill C-262 and Bill C-332. Discuss anything that is important to you, or that you have questions about. It is important that you address these together before your meeting. Write down the questions and discussion points you wish to raise with your MP. Make sure everyone who will be at the meeting is comfortable with the points you wish to discuss with your MP. Assign speakers to address each point. This ensures everyone participates and no one on your team is surprised by what is being said. Also assign a note taker to record what the MP says and prepare a report.

Prepare a half page document that summarizes your position and take it with you to the meeting to give to your MP. This summary should include:

  • The names of the people on the delegation.
  • The name of the congregation or parish you attend.
  • Why do you feel strongly about this issue?
  • Why is the faith community involved in this matter?
Suggested questions for your MP
  • We support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and its implementation. Do you?
  • It is my understanding that Private Member’s Bill C-262 provides a legislative framework and timeline to implement the UN Declaration. Will you support Bill C-262 when it comes up for second reading?
  • Will you talk to other MPs about supporting Bill C-262?
  • Can you offer us an update on the work of the Working Group of Ministers on the Review of Laws and Policies? Suggested Speaking Notes
  • Acknowledge the territory you are from, and you are meeting on (if different).
  • Explain your commitment to reconciliation.
  • Key elements of Bill C-262:
    • Is a public affirmation that the UN Declaration has application in Canadian law.
    • Outlines a review process of federal legislation to ensure that legislation meets minimum standards set out in the UN Declaration.
    • Requires that the Government of Canada meet with Indigenous Peoples to develop an action plan to implement the UN Declaration.
    • Requires annual reporting to Parliament on progress being made in implementing the UN Declaration. The twenty year timeline for reporting acknowledges the long-term nature of this commitment and work.
  • If your MP raises questions about the UN Declaration’s consistency with law, explain that your understanding of Bill C-262 is that it establishes a legislative point of entry for these issues to be resolved. The Bill sets out a twenty year reporting timeline that acknowledges the long-term nature of reconciliation. The Bill sets out implementation of the UN Declaration as its objective. It does not provide a prescriptive plan for achieving implementation, but rather sets up the necessary circumstances for Parliamentarians to develop a plan for implementation.
  • Consult the Questions and Answers on the UN Declaration on page 4-6 for further information.
  • If your MP raises questions about the Ministerial Working Group explain that while it is a welcome initiative it still does not establish legislative framework for makingchanges to Canadian laws and policies.
Tips for the Team
  • Arrive at least 15 minutes before your appointment.
  • Be polite. Your MP is a person with hopes, fears, gifts and challenges just like you. Your MP may or may not agree with you, but becoming annoyed or confrontational will not achieve a positive outcome of the meeting. Be a strong but composed advocate.
  • Be prepared for questions you haven’t anticipated. Decide as a group ahead of time who is best suited to field unexpected questions.
  • Do not take up the entire meeting time. After presenting your statement, and addressing your questions, allow your MP time to ask questions and express his or her views.
  • If your MP doesn’t know the issue well, he or she may ask “What do you want me to do?” Or “What role can I play?” Be prepared to suggest that he or she support Bill C-262 when it comes to a second reading. Ask him or her to raise questions about the Bill at meetings with his or her caucus.
  • Do not run longer than the time allowed for the meeting.
  • Thank your MP for taking the time to meet with you. Make sure you give your MP a copy of the half page statement about who you are and what you have asked for.
Next Steps

Before you meet with your MP, decide if you wish to ask him or her for a photo with the meeting team. This is at the discretion of your group members, and the MP. Send high resolution photos and a report on the MP’s responses to KAIROS at the following address UNdeclaration@kairoscanada.org.

Send your MP a follow up email or letter:

  1. Reminding them who you are and when you met.
  2. Thanking them again for meeting with you.
  3. Summarizing comments and or verbal commitments your MP made.
Resource

KAIROS Media training webinars, including Meeting with your MP, MPP or MLA

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