Through education and advocacy campaigns, The Macdonald-Laurier Institute for Public Policy (MLI), an Atlas Network partner based in Ottawa, is ensuring that the Indigenous populations of Canada are treated with individual respect and given a voice in legislative matters.
MLI has worked tirelessly to educate policymakers on upcoming legislation; generating four research papers, two policy panels, and offering research-backed recommendations to specific bills that affect the Indigenous community. The Indigenous people do not have one governing body that represents all groups, so having the Canadian government involved with issues that affect them can be problematic since there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. By working directly with groups, such as the Indian Resource Council and the First Nations Major Project Coalition, MLI has made it a point of emphasis to include their perspectives in their research and advocacy.
By cultivating collaborative relationships with both Canadian lawmakers and Indigenous communities, MLI has played a vital role in the legislative process. For example, their important contributions to the public debate around Bill C-262 revealed that, while well-intended, the proposal was potentially harmful to the Indigenous population.
Bill C-262 would have implemented the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People in Canada which, as an international law, is not specific enough for Canada and its extensive Indigenous groups to guarantee their protection.
MLI Senior Fellow Dwight Newmann was invited to testify before the Senate Standing Committee in 2019 to discuss the unintended consequences of the proposed legislation. Newmann explained that, although the bill was intended to provide harmony between Indigenous people and the government, it would have led to massive uncertainty in the Canadian legal system since it was an international act that didn’t consider local priorities or the local economy. The bill was ultimately defeated.
MLI was a finalist for the Templeton Freedom Award in 2017 for their work to promote liberty and economic freedom for the indigenous peoples of Canada. "As proud finalists for the 2017 Templeton Freedom Award, we at MLI are enormously grateful for the continued support of the Atlas Network in giving MLI's work a terrific international profile,” noted Managing Editor and Communications Director David Watson when describing his organization’s partnership with Atlas Network.
Atlas Network supported this initiative with a Poverty & Freedom grant.