Ottawa, September 14, 2016—The Canadian Chamber of Commerce asks the federal government to bring more clarity to the roles of all parties involved in the constitutional duty to consult and accommodate Indigenous peoples in a new report launched today.
“Governments must consult Indigenous peoples and accommodate them when proposed projects would affect their constitutionally-protected rights. They may delegate the procedural aspects of this duty to business, usually by mandating project proponents to consult during the regulatory process. This is usually a positive way for industry and the Indigenous communities to work together, but the lack of a clear framework on how to do this can undermine everyone’s interests,” explained the Hon. Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
The uncertainty businesses of all sizes and Indigenous communities experience when faced with the lack of clarity in the duty to consult process can lead to unfortunate consequences. Project delays and cancellations can result. Canada’s legal and regulatory stability is a competitive advantage to our businesses and attractive to prospective foreign investors. A glaring exception is the duty to consult and accommodate process. Adding more clarity would improve our international competitiveness as well as the quality of life of Indigenous peoples and all Canadians.
“The negative consequences aren’t just bad for business – they can also work against the interests of Indigenous communities . In many cases, these communities support projects that will have long-term benefits for their people, which include jobs, infrastructure and the creation of new businesses,” said Mr. Beatty.
This report is the result of nearly a year of consultations with over90 business and Indigenous representatives, legal experts and government officials. Its findings include that sometimes businesses find their projects face roadblocks because Indigenous communities want to make a point with the Crown regarding un-kept promises that affect their quality of life, including safe drinking water and adequate housing, and not because they oppose the proposed development. “Clearly the federal government can improve this situation by living up to its commitments to improving Indigenous peoples’ quality of life as well as measuring and communicating its progress as it does so,” added Mr. Beatty.
“Businesses also know that they have a responsibility in this process,” said Mr. Beatty. “They need to regard consultation with Indigenous peoples as an investment in their businesses and that they can do a lot to help themselves by engaging early and often with Indigenous communities.”
The report is available here.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is the vital connection between business and the federal government. It helps shape public policy and decision-making to the benefit of businesses, communities and families across Canada with a network of over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, representing 200,000 businesses of all sizes in all sectors of the economy and in all regions. News and information are available at Chamber.ca or follow us on Twitter @CdnChamberofCom
G. Will Dubreuil
Director, Public Affairs and Media Relations
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce