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Justice (25-42)

Doctors who perform coerced sterilizations need to be held criminally liable, says senator

March 28, 2024

APTN News: An Ontario senator says the time is now to take serious action against doctors who continue to perform sterilizations on Indigenous women without consent.

“My office has counted 12,000 women that have been sterilized against their will,” Yvonne Boyer told Nation to Nation. “This bill is not meant to penalize all doctors…

“The bill was created to address the sterilization of Indigenous women and others who are vulnerable, and it aligns with what we know on the state of law on consent, and it paves the road for accountability for physicians.”

Boyer acknowledged there are already provisions within the Criminal Code that classify sterilization without consent as assault. But she said her private member’s bill – S-250 – tightens existing legislation and makes forced and coerced sterilization an indictable offence with a sentence of up to 14 years in prison if convicted.

The bill is currently at the committee stage in the Senate, but if all goes well Boyer said she hopes the proposed legislation reaches the House of Commons by June and is enacted into law sometime this year.

Supreme Court decision 

On Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld a Yukon First Nation law that requires members to live in the community if they want to serve on the band council.

APTN reporter Danielle Paradis says it remains to be seen how the decision will play out.

“I think we could see a real division as to whether or not this is fair, whether or not it’s fair to have people stay connected to their community,” she said. “Especially in situations like Old Crow.

“Although Ms. Dickson (Cindy) grew up in Old Crow she needed to move for her son and for work…But there’s an argument on the other side that the VGFN’s (Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation) lawyers have talked about, which is that importance to connection and land and keeping that ancestral land strong as well as keeping people with skills in the community.”

Dickson challenged the band law under Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms saying it violates her individual rights to equality. She lives in Whitehorse because her son has medical issues that require him to live close to a hospital.

Old Crow is a fly-in community located 800 kms north of Whitehorse that doesn’t have a hospital.

Climate change action 

Saskatchewan’s opposition to the federal carbon tax is out of sync with First Nations who wants to see action on climate change, says one of Saskatchewan’s most prominent political commentators.

“This is very serious,” said Saskatoon StarPhoenix columnist Doug Cuthand. “The (provincial) government is not taking (climate change seriously).

“It’s a few cents on a litre of gas and they’re blowing that up out of all proportion when the real problem is the climate crisis.”

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe recently said the province was going to break federal law by refusing to remit its share of the carbon tax on natural gas used for home heating.

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