Amnesty International says the BC government’s written arguments for the Site C injunction hearing — which can be read here — not only break Premier Horgan’s promises to respect the rights of Indigenous peoples, they could have far reaching negative implications for human rights in BC and across Canada.
In an analysis posted today, Amnesty says these implications include undermining the power of Treaties to protect the rights of Indigenous peoples, making it even more difficult for Indigenous peoples to obtain justice, and further shielding government from the oversight and scrutiny of the courts.
The article on Amnesty Canada’s website names what it calls “five particularly insidious arguments” made by the government of BC:
- The BC government would exclude Indigenous history, culture, traditions and law from the interpretation of the Treaty
- The BC government’s position effectively denies any responsibility to protect Treaty rights
- The BC governments thinks two small, remote First Nations should be punished for trying to avoid a long and costly civil suit
- The province expects to be rewarded for rushing ahead with construction while underlying Treaty rights concerns went unresolved
- The province wants to exercise unfettered decision-making powers, even while ignoring Constitutionally protected rights
As Amnesty notes, the courts will decide whether the BC government’s arguments in this case are supportable in Canadian law. It is the responsibility of all of us to judge whether these arguments are compatible with the values of reconciliation, justice and regard for rights that we claim to have embraced as a nation.