Bill C-45 passed 50–27 as aboriginals across Canada continued protesting under the motto “Idle No More,” and Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence began her fourth day of a hunger strike to protest abhorrent reserve conditions.
The bill will be sent to the Governor General and become law once he signs it, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network reported. Conservative Algonquin Senator Patrick Brazeau, who voted in favor of the bill, told APTN that many chiefs supported it and that fear mongering had led to a misunderstanding of the bill. Many First Nations claim the bill undermines sovereignty and treaty rights, with some even going so far as to say that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is trying to terminate all their rights.
The bill amends the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, hte Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Canada Labour Code, according to the Chiefs of Ontario. First Nations reacted immediately and strongly to the passage, citing the lack of consultation with First Nations during the creation of a bill that profoundly affects aboriginals' daily lives.
“Bill C-45 will not be enforced or recognized by their First Nations," said a statement released by the Chiefs of Ontario in conjunction with the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Anishinabek Nation, Grand Council Treaty No. 3, Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians, and Independent first Nations.
“At no time in the nine months that Bill C-45 was being considered did the Government of Canada discuss any matters related to it with First Nations—this bill breaches Canada’s own laws on the fiduciary legal duty to consult and accommodate First Nations," said Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy in the statement. "The Canadian government just gave birth to a monster.”
Chiefs unanimously adopted a Statement of Unity at the Assembly of First Nations' conference on December 6, 2012.