Canada's Original Think Tank

Open Caucus

In the spring of 2014, the Senate Liberals began our Open Caucus initiative. The goal of these meetings is to foster nonpartisan discussion on issues facing our country. We invite all parliamentarians as well as the public to take part in the discussion with a panel of experts on any given topic, and focus informing ourselves and others on matters that are important to Canadians.


Open Caucus Themes

  • September 27, 2017—Government-Inuit Relations in the Canadian Arctic

    The Open Caucus was first established in 2014 when Senate Liberals opened their Caucus doors to the public on Wednesday mornings. Today, for the first time, the Independent Senators Group (ISG) and the Independent Senate Liberals are beginning a pilot project of co-sponsoring discussion on issues of national importance. This non-partisan collaboration brings together two groups representing the majority of the Senate’s current membership.


    On September 27th, we invited you to join us in a discussion on Government-Inuit relations in the Canadian Arctic. We have seen dramatic changes in the area of international law and Indigenous human rights, but older and existing agreements are yet to accommodate these changes. For example, Indigenous peoples were not given the opportunity to have a voice in the making of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), unlike other international instruments and conventions.  The UNCLOS system needs a serious update to reflect the development of international law and standards that respect, recognize and protect Indigenous peoples’ rights. Today, we have the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which specifically recognize Indigenous peoples’ rights to their lands, territories and resources. Canada signaled its support for UNDRIP in 2012, and has committed to working towards better processes to include direct Indigenous participation, yet they have consistently failed to include Inuit.

    Panelists included:

    • Dalee Sambo Dorough: Former Chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
    • The Honourable Senator Charlie Watt: Quebec, Nunavik
    • The Honourable Hunter Tootoo: Member of Parliament, Nunavut
    • Dr. Claudio Aporta: Director of Marine Affairs Program, Dalhousie University

    This meeting took place:

    Wednesday September 27th, 2017
    9:15 am – 11:15 am
    Room 160S, Centre Block

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    Forum des sénateurs libéraux