Adverb trouble

November 26th, 2010
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“The federal government has finally endorsed the UN declaration on rights of indigenous peoples” –

CBC Radio news copy, as read by Bernie McNamee and others.

Indian and Northern Affairs minister John Duncan recently announced that Canada would endorse the aforementioned UN declaration. The commitment was made in the Throne Speech last March but, for some people, the follow-up announcement clearly couldn’t come soon enough.

Canada had, along with Australia and New Zealand, originally opposed the declaration. The federal government cited incompatibility with several aspects of Canada’s constitution.

It’s worth a word here to talk about these UN declarations.They are technically non-binding on the signatories. Here’s the Wikipedia blurb: (The declaration is) … “not a legally binding instrument under international law, according to a UN press release, it does ‘represent the dynamic development of international legal norms and it reflects the commitment of the UN’s member states to move in certain directions’ …”

However, it should be noted that energetic judges have a tendency to “align” Canadian jurisprudence with “the spirit” of these UN declarations – binding or not. So it is that these high-minded, often motherhood-ish declarations – formulated as far from political accountability as one can imagine – come to be imposed on Canadians through the back door. So perhaps one should be a little cautious when entering into them.

Obviously the CBC sees no reason for such hesitance. They have an opinion and, darn it, they won’t let the strictures of mere news reporting get in the way. Too bad it gets passed off as news…

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By John Weissenberger
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