Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act

An Act to give effect to the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement and to make a consequential amendment to another Act

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in October 2007.

Sponsor

Jim Prentice  Conservative

Status

Not active, as of June 21, 2007
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment gives effect to the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement. It also includes a consequential amendment to an Act.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

November 20th, 2007 / 4:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Chair, of course this is a challenging topic. However, the perspective I would bring is that Bill C-51, the former bill, which has now been reintroduced to the same point that it was previously as Bill C-11, was endorsed by all parties. I think there are a lot of people in northern Quebec who are expecting this to occur. It is our hope that there is nothing that stands in the way of that.

It would be our suggestion not to meet at this point. I know that Mr. Lévesque has brought this up a number of times. It sounds like the committee may in fact endorse his motion. Should that be the case, we would like to recommend that the Makivik Corporation also be allowed to provide some balance during this discussion.

Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act
Routine proceedings

October 29th, 2007 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The Chair is satisfied that this bill is in the same form as Bill C-51 was at the time of prorogation of the first session of the 39th Parliament.

Accordingly, pursuant to order made Thursday, October 25, 2007, the bill is deemed approved at all stages and passed by the House.

(Bill deemed read the second time, considered in committee, reported, concurred in at report stage and read the third time and passed)

Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act
Routine proceedings

October 29th, 2007 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon
B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-11, An Act to give effect to the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement and to make a consequential amendment to another Act.

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to special order previously, I would like to inform the House that this bill is in the same form as Bill C-51 at the time of prorogation.

Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act
Government Orders

June 13th, 2007 / 6:40 p.m.
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NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Pursuant to order made earlier today, Bill C-51, An Act to give effect to the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement and to make a consequential amendment to another Act is deemed read a second time, deemed referred to a committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage and deemed read a third time and passed.

(Motion agreed to, bill deemed read the second time, considered in committee of the whole, reported, concurred in, read a third time and passed.)

Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act
Government Orders

June 13th, 2007 / 6:20 p.m.
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NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of Bill C-51. I know New Democrats are anxious to see this bill passed rapidly through this House.

In 1975 the Governments of Canada and Quebec, along with the Cree and Inuit groups in Quebec, agreed to the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, the first modern day land claims settlement. That agreement was an important step towards recognizing the rights of the Nunavik Inuit. It does not, however, adequately address all the issues surrounding the traditional territories of the Nunavik people.

Over 30 years later, Bill C-51 picks up where the James Bay and Northern Quebec agreement left off, addressing the use of land and resources off the northern coast of Quebec and Nunavut. Bill C-51 would bring into effect the Nunavik Inuit Land claims agreement, which was agreed to by the Governments of Canada and Nunavut and the Makivik Corporation, a group representing around 10,000 Inuit. This all took place in late 2006.

The agreement addresses the use and ownership of Nunavut land and resources in James Bay, Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait and the Ungava Bay, as well as a portion of northern Labrador. The agreement gives control of 80% of the land in the Nunavik Marine Region, nearly 5,100 square kilometres, to the Nunavik people. They will also retain full control of any resources found on these lands.

The Nunavik Inuit land claims agreement is a fair deal for the Nunavik people. I agree that we ought to bring this agreement into force. Too often land claims are finally settled, only for aboriginal people to face unreasonable and unnecessary delays in the implementation of these deals. In fact, that is what I wish to address with part of my time today. Claims need to be backed by adequate financial resources to ensure implementation. They need to be a government priority and the government must give land claims implementation its full and unwaivering support.

The Land Claims Agreement Coalition is a group comprised of aboriginal leaders from across Canada. The Land Claims Agreement Coalition has talked about the fact that treaties get signed, but the implementation is often very slow in coming. Many governments over numbers of years have talked about how important these agreements are in terms of providing a better quality of life, education, quality of water, housing and they often can lead to greater economic self-reliance and a better quality of life. They talk about the fact that these objectives must not be abandoned.

I want to quote from the conference the members of the coalition had last year. The said:

Objectives Must Not be Abandoned

However, in the experience of the members of the Coalition, the ink is barely dry on each land claims agreement before the federal government, and especially its officials, abandons any talk of those objectives, and proceeds instead on the basis that the government's sole responsibility is to fulfil the narrow legal obligations set out in the agreement, in the hope, presumably that everything will work out. The members of the Coalition are not aware of any policy having been explicitly adopted by the Government of Canada that the objectives of entering into the agreement are to be forgotten or ignored once it has obtained the Aboriginal signatures on the document. And yet that has become the entrenched attitude of Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

This attitude has led at least some of the Aboriginal peoples who have entered in good faith into these modern land claims agreements to conclude that there have been deliberate, continuing efforts on the part the federal crown to minimize, frustrate and even extinguish the rights and benefits the Aboriginal parties expected would accrue from their treaties.

Those are very hard words.

In case we just talk about criticism, the Land Claims Agreement Coalition has extended to the Government of Canada a chance to enter into a mutual discourse. In their paper, “A New Land Claims Implementation Policy”, they make several recommendations to strengthen the land claims implementation process. These include:

Recognition that the Crown and right of Canada, not the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, is party to our land claims agreements and self-government agreements.

There must be a federal commitment to achieve the broad objectives of the land claims agreements and self government agreements within the context of the new relationships, as opposed to mere technical compliance with narrowly defined obligations. This must include, but not be limited to, ensuring adequate funding to achieve these objectives and obligations.

Implementation must be handled by appropriate senior level federal officials representing the entire Canadian government.

There must be an independent implementation audit and review body, separate from the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

For too long, the government has treated land claims as contracts between INAC and other departments, when they are clearly negotiated as agreements between nations. The institutional framework of the federal government's approach to implementing land claims must change if it is going to keep pace with the legal and constitutional realities of modern treaties. Yet as the Land Claims Agreement Coalition says:

There has not appeared to be any understanding that these agreements are not ordinary contracts, nor has there been any senior oversight of the agreements by institutions that transcend the various departments of the federal government...What is called for is a change in the perspective...

These are important words in the context of this current agreement. Although we celebrate the signing of this agreement, we must also remain vigilant to ensure that these agreements are implemented and do not end up being just another piece of paper that has first nations and Inuit taking these agreements to court as we have seen with Nunavut.

The land claims must be more than a simple real estate transaction. The relationship between aboriginal groups and the government must be defined in ways that ensure the continuing interests of claimants are recognized to provide for the economic, social and cultural needs of aboriginal peoples. This policy enjoys the support of aboriginal peoples and informs some land claims negotiations.

Living up to this policy will require continued effort by all parties to make sure land claims are implemented in ways that benefit both Canada and aboriginal peoples. This can be accomplished by the government providing support, financial and otherwise, to ensure land claims negotiations produce strong, forward-looking partnerships between aboriginal peoples and the government.

Part of the reason I want to speak to Bill C-51 is also to give some attention to another first nation, the Naskapis. They are a small community who traditionally lived on the inland portion of the Ungava Peninsula. Unlike their Inuit neighbours who traditionally lived on the coast, the Naskapis have always been an inland people. Their land was also included in the James Bay Northern Quebec agreement. However, their rights were not protected by that treaty. The Naskapis were not allowed to take part in the negotiations of the James Bay Northern Quebec agreement even though it included ceding title to their traditional lands.

The net effect was that the Naskapis land was divided between the Inuit and to a lesser extent, the Cree, as if the Naskapis had never existed, this despite the fact that the Naskapis had made it clear to both the Government of Canada and the government of Quebec that they desired to negotiate a treaty. The lands of the Naskapis could have been excluded from those negotiations, but it was not.

I want to read from a document entitled “The Inuit Regional Self-Government and the Naskapi Nation”. In this document they say:

When, in late 1975, the signatories to the JBNQA agreed to negotiate with the Naskapis a settlement of their claims, the first thing that the Naskapis had to do was to ask the Crees and the Inuit to "give them back" their lands and rights. You can imagine how humiliating that was.

The Naskapis did win back some of their territory, but not all. Historic communities and burial grounds were not returned to their control. Chief Philip Einish wrote to members of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs on June 6, 2007, to let us know of their concerns around the process after this land claim bill is passed in the House. I want to be clear. I spoke with Chief Einish and he and the Naskapis are supportive of Bill C-51 and want to see this long-standing claim of the Inuit settled. However, they do hope that the passage of this bill gives their own work to maintain and enhance Naskapi control of Naskapi more impetus. The Naskapi are simply asking for some justice in their own process.

I will read from a letter sent to the committee. This is from the letter of June 6, and it refers to the threat. It says:

The Inuit, the GoC and the GoQ have negotiated an agreement-in-principle...that contemplates, among other things, the possibility of granting new governmental powers over Naskapi lands to an enlarged de facto Inuit government.

The parties cannot affect the treaty rights of the Naskapis without their consent but they are behaving in a way that potentially threatens the very survival of the Naskapis both economically and culturally.

The transfer to the Inuit-dominated Nunavik Assembly of new legislative powers would threaten the Naskapis, because the Nunavik Assembly would be much more likely to favour Inuit interests over Naskapi interests that would be the GoQ, which currently holds all or most of the powers in question.

It is in this sense that the rearrangement of governmental powers contemplated in the AIP [the agreement in principle] is considered by the Naskapis to be such a fundamental change to the dynamic enshrined in the JBNQA...and that it would be a grave injustice and tantamount to a breach of their treaty rights if their consent is not given, since the existing legislative limits placed on the KRG in the JBNQA...with regard to Naskapi traditional lands are in themselves a Naskapi treaty right.

I want to emphasize that the next step in the negotiations of the self-government agreement in Nunavik gives the government an opportunity to address this long-standing inequity. The Inuit of Nunavik want to occupy their rights to self-government over their traditional territories and they should be able to occupy those rights.

The Naskapis also desire to occupy their rights to control their traditional territory, rights that have been taken from them. In exchange for the new and varied power that the governments of Canada and Quebec will be granting to the Inuit, they should ask for the assistance of the Inuit in correcting the injustice done to the Naskapis. Even so, the Naskapis are not saying that the self-government agreement with the Inuit should not take place. They recognize that all aboriginal people should have the right to self-government. However, they want some assurances from the government that it will not grant any new powers that affect the land of the Naskapis unless the Naskapis have agreed.

I would also like to point out that the Cree-Naskapi Commission in its 2006 report to Parliament had a specific recommendation about this:

The Government of Canada, Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach and other parties concerned should forthwith settle the mandate of the Naskapi-Inuit-Canada-Quebec Working Group which should commence to address the concerns of the Naskapi Nation respecting the current negotiations on the establishment of the Nunavik Government.

This is a reasonable request. I will continue to ask the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development for his assurance that the Naskapis' concern will be addressed before any agreements are executed.

In conclusion, peoples who are affected by this agreement are simply asking that their rights are also recognized. I would encourage all members of this House to support this very important piece of legislation. Certainly the New Democrats will be. I look forward to its rapid passage.

Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act
Government Orders

June 13th, 2007 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Yvon Lévesque Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

That does not seem to bother very many people, because you can hear them all over the place. Their actions speak louder than I can.

The Inuit will receive financial assistance to implement the agreement.

It took 15 years for this to happen. Incredible. It is pathetic to see so much of this department's substantial budget go to legal fees. It is not that I take issue with the fact that the department has lawyers or with their usefulness, but I think the people have reason to believe the system is being abused.

A joint management board will be set up to ensure the Inuit are involved in managing their lands and resources.

In my opinion, section 5.2 of the agreement, which provides for the creation of the Nunavik Marine Region Wildlife Board, is unclear. The board includes only three representatives of Nunavik. The Makivik Corporation is certainly aware of this and has certainly informed the people of Nunavik, who support this agreement. Considering that they are willing to go ahead, we are here to support their legitimate claims.

Even though the Government of Quebec is not a party to the agreement, it has examined the agreement and has not found anything that requires amending.

This agreement is a first step. Recognition of land claims is always important for a people, but given the situation at present and the many needs the Inuit have, it is a small step.

The Inuit need decent incomes, appropriate tax credits, road and rail development and affordable, good-quality food. They also need equitable transportation costs, because they need to be able to make contact with people in the rest of their country at prices that are affordable and comparable to what other Canadians pay.

Beyond wealth, Quebec and Canada need to be presence to affirm the sovereignty of their respective territories and, as for the environment, the effort required today is certainly much less than the drastic corrective action that will be necessary in the very near future.

The Inuit, whether from Nunavik or from Nunavut, also hope for the creation of a standing committee so that Members of Parliament will take an interest in and examine their living conditions and their very particular difficulties, in terms of their culture, their distinctive geographic location and their very difficult but energetic economic activity.

If adopted, Bill C-51 will officially result in creation of the Torngat Mountain national park in Labrador, a landscape of some 10,000 square kilometres that deserves to be recognized.

Adoption of Bill C-51 is a first step forward for the Inuit of Nunavik. The recognition of a territory is always an important stage in the evolution of a people. However, in the present circumstances, considering all the socio-economic needs of the Inuit of Nunavik, the Government of Canada must continue and increase its efforts, jointly with the Inuit, to improve their well being.

Regardless of the wealth of the territory of Nunavik, Quebec and Canada need the presence of the Inuit to impose their sovereignty. The effort called for today is certainly easier to bear than the correction would be necessary and which would call for draconian measures in the very near future.

For many years, successive but different governments have shown a shocking lack of awareness of the realities of this area, of its people, of its needs and the dangers that threaten it. We, too, could be accused of genocide if nothing is done about the environment. What other countries did with weapons, we could do through collective poisoning.

On a number of occasions, we have seen the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs accusing the opposition in the House of delaying implementation of this bill. In fact, was it not rather to camouflage his inability to convince the Cabinet to act? To consider that would be preferable to using blackmail in an effort to adopt other, less noble bills.

On the subject of the problems facing the Neskapi, we heard the representative of the government tell us that we have come full circle. But there is another nation living in the territory of Nunavik. They are the Neskapi, and the government is their trustee. Before granting governmental autonomy to Nunavik and creating problems between two nations, the government has a duty to settle those problems itself.

As we can see, the circle is still far from complete, as the representative of the government claims.

Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act
Government Orders

June 13th, 2007 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Yvon Lévesque Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, before I was interrupted, I was talking about malnutrition, housing not meeting minimal public health standards and seepage of toxic substances in the water table, which will create huge costs in terms of transportation and medical care, costs that will become difficult to recover in the context of a vision of social and economic well-being.

My comment deals with how slow the various governments are in responding to the urgent needs of these populations with respect to housing, as provided under the James Bay and Northern Quebec agreement. In fact, 14 people from three generations now have to live under the same roof. This creates all sorts of health issues and major problems.

To mention only a few examples: lack of privacy to allow young people to study and sleep properly, tuberculosis and mildew problems resulting from overcrowding, and cases of incest due to close proximity. As if that were not enough, there is now global warming caused in large part by the friends of this government to contend with. Add to that the government's lack of action on this issue, and we are sitting on a time bomb.

Passing Bill C-51 would enable the Inuit to manage the development of the Nunavik marine region themselves. The agreement entered into by the parties empowers the Inuit to protect their environment, stimulate their economy and improve the well-being of their communities.

This proposal raised sufficient interest that 81% of the population voted 78% in favour of the agreement, authorizing Makivik to sign it in order to address a land problem affecting the lifestyles and the hunting, fishing and trapping habits of the Inuit who are responsible for the survival of the population of Nunavik.

With this agreement, the Inuit own 80% of the offshore islands—

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-51, An Act to give effect to the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act
Government Orders

June 13th, 2007 / 5:25 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Yvon Lévesque Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, if Bill C-51, An Act to give effect to the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, is passed, it would be a major step forward for the Inuit in my riding.

Back in 1975, the Nunavik Inuit and James Bay Cree signed the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, the first comprehensive land claims agreement in Canada. At that time, the Government of Canada signed an undertaking with the Nunavik Inuit on land claims in offshore areas of Nunavik. The Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement deals with a number of issues related to land and resources in offshore areas adjacent to Quebec. It specifies property rights to the land and the sharing of resources, with financial compensation of course.

The Bloc Québécois will support the bill to give effect to the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement. The wishes of the people of Nunavik are very clear in this regard. When the referendum was held in October, 2006, 81% of the people of Nunavik cast a ballot. This is a very high figure. In addition, 78% of them voted in favour of the agreement, thereby enabling the Makivik Corporation to legitimately sign it on their behalf. The purpose of the agreement is to resolve a land problem that is central to the hunting, fishing and trapping lifestyle of the Nuvavik Inuit. It reflects the democratic choice of the people of Nunavik. It took 15 years of negotiations between the Inuit and the Government of Canada before this agreement could be signed on December 1, 2006.

In contrast to what many people think, the Nunavik Inuit—whom we are basically dealing with here—consist of around 10,000 people living in some 15 municipalities scattered along the shores of Hudson Bay, Ungava Bay and Labrador. Canadians still seem to know very little about these people who pay taxes without ever getting the benefit of roads, railways or adequate services. Their culture, based on their survival methods, has made them very community-minded. In each village, they are divided into several different groups whose jobs are determined by the needs of the community. There are hunters, trappers, fishers, and people engaged in various other activities.

Every participant in these groups uses their own tools and personal equipment, such as boats, engines, all terrain vehicles and trucks, which, in these circumstances, are considered recreational equipment unlike anywhere else, where they would be viewed as commercial equipment. Gas is now almost $2 a litre. What is more, gas for the equipment and tools is not tax deductible as it is in our communities. Ironically enough, they pay the most tax in Canada per capita—dollars/value. Take for example a car for which we would pay $30,000. Add another $2,000 to have it transported by boat and you end up paying federal and provincial sales tax on $32,000.

And what about daily needs such as food, clothing and drugs? The area along the coasts is very important to the survival of the Nunavik Inuit, who live on the coast and not inland. These activities are important for harvesting flora and fauna, which they do, and for preserving their culture. The Inuit have been inhabiting and using this area for almost 4,000 years for hunting and fishing for food. They also use this area for transportation. Some 75% of the Inuit's traditional food comes from the marine life found in this area. The Inuit are the occupants and guardians of these shores, thereby allowing Quebec and Canada to justify occupying the land. They ensure the sovereignty and surveillance of these lands. And what do they get in return? As Rangers or researchers of whale and seal populations or marine life, they receive salaries below the minimum cost of living in this sector, only to be replaced by officials hired to verify their skills.

In your opinion, what skill would be more convincing than 4,000 years of practice carried on from generation to generation? Considering it has never been disputed, should this practice not count for more than theories acquired off site and out of season?

We are reaching the point where malnutrition, housing that does not meet minimum public health standards and toxic substances leaking—

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-51, An Act to give effect to the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act
Government Orders

June 13th, 2007 / 5:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Todd Russell Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-51 and encourage its passage. My leader supports the bill, as do, I believe, all leaders in the House today.

Many years ago a great Inuit leader, Zebedee Nungak, called for what he termed the completion of the circle of Confederation by the acceptance of Canada's Inuit peoples. It has taken too long, but we are moving closer to that goal.

I was greatly impressed by the briefings I received from Nunavik Inuit leaders on this treaty. The agreement, and the bill that implements it, reflects their objectives while respecting the rights and interests of my Inuit and other constituents in Labrador.

I wish to acknowledge in the House the president of Makivik, Pita Aatami, and my good friend and cousin, Johnny Peters, vice-president, representing the Nunavik Inuit.

I have had a warm relationship over the last decade with the leadership of the Nunavimmiut as we have collaborated in trying to ensure that all Inuit people in the Labrador peninsula are accommodated. This is a historic agreement for Canada, for Nunavik, for Quebec, for Labrador, and for all Inuit.

At the same time, the people of Canada and Labrador deserve honesty, accountability and clarity. Today I want to explore the implications of this proposed treaty. I also want to deliver a message that treaty making is the way of the future for reconciling Canada's sovereignty with all aboriginal peoples, Indian, Inuit and Métis.

We must certainly do better as legislators in moving the process of treaty making forward. Some of the major land claims we have faced were filed 20, 30, even 40 years ago, and most are still unresolved. Surely we can find a better way. Yesterday's announcement, unfortunately, does nothing to relieve the backlog in comprehensive claims.

I also have a special concern as the member for Labrador to ensure that the land ownership, the jurisdictional and the compensation aspects of this treaty are fully consistent with the honour of the Crown. I must be assured that the Nunavik Inuit and anyone else affected by the treaty are fully and fairly accommodated.

The bill before the House is a well crafted, well negotiated and fair expression of Nunavik Inuit interests on the offshore regions of Quebec and Labrador and in the overlap territories the Nunavik Inuit share with my other cousins, the north coast Inuit within my riding.

To be sure, as my friend in the other place, Senator Charlie Watt, has put it, the agreement could be better, particularly in relation to certainty and the continuing demand by Canada that aboriginal groups give up what is undefined about their rights, but the Nunavik Inuit have accepted the wording in the course of their negotiations.

The treaty strikes an important balance in providing Nunavik Inuit, as well as the Inuit of Nunatsiavut, northern Labrador, with solid, constitutionally protected rights and interests in the management of lands and ocean resources.

This treaty has been negotiated over a great many years. The deal has been approved and ratified by the Nunavik Inuit. It has been reviewed and signed off by the Nunatsiavut government, which will play an important role in implementation within terrestrial Labrador.

I am pleased that the government has recognized the hard work done by our previous Liberal government, as most of the federal work was done under our watch. I hope that the reciprocal arrangement defining the rights of Labrador Inuit in Nunavik will soon be finalized as well.

This treaty does not require provincial approval. All the offshore areas involved are fully within Parliament's jurisdiction. The land based impacts are within a national park reserve, the Torngat Mountain national park, to be created by this bill, which is also within federal jurisdiction.

The treaty affirms Nunavik Inuit interests and rights in the Labrador Inuit settlement area in accordance with an overlap agreement between the two Inuit organizations as originally provided for in the Labrador Inuit land claims settlement agreement.

The treaty respects the interests of Canadians, of Labradorians and of Labrador's aboriginal peoples.

I wish to highlight the next steps to bring reconciliation a final and deciding step closer to realization in Labrador.

This is a piece of a wider solution. Part of Canada's agenda must be a treaty with the Innu Nation of Labrador. These negotiations have languished for so long that the social and economic prospects for both the Innu and all Labradorians have suffered. It is important to move ahead and closer to an agreement like those achieved by the Nunatsiavut and now the Nunavik Inuit.

The Innu Nation of Labrador has built important relationships with Nunatsiavut and their Innu brothers and sisters in Quebec. One day they will enjoy a renewed relationship with the provincial and federal governments through land rights resolution and self-government treaties.

Unfortunately, there are legitimate fears that the recent dismissal and shuffling of chief federal land claims negotiators may delay progress on the Innu Nation negotiations. This does not help.

There is also one last Inuit descendant group in Canada that must be accommodated in Labrador. I am, of course, talking of the Inuit-Métis of Labrador, of which I am one. This is a unique group, the only aboriginal people in the country to span the Inuit and Métis peoples recognized in the Constitution Act, 1982.

In 1996 the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples took special efforts to assess and comment on the Labrador Inuit-Métis. In 2003 the Supreme Court of Canada also made specific mention of the Labrador Inuit-Métis in its Powley decision and clearly implied the need for a reconciliation for this unique people.

Only in southern Labrador have Inuit people been associated with Europeans for so long, in fact since the 16th century. Yet, we are clearly an Inuit people of mixed descent, unique in Canada. It is a historical and legal fact.

Last year the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador took these precedents into account and ordered the provincial government to accept reality: that the Inuit-Métis exist and have rights that are certain to be upheld in a court of law. The provincial position that Powley and other aboriginal jurisprudence do not apply in Labrador is simply not tenable.

The province, at least tacitly, has consented to the Nunavik-Nunatsiavut agreement, yet it continues to blockade progress by the Labrador Métis Nation. This is unfair, unjust and hypocritical. It is also contrary to the solemn, written promise made by Premier Williams during the 2003 election campaign. It does not serve the interests of the province of Labrador or of the Métis Nation.

It is for Canada, through Parliament, to take action to restore a fair and equitable basis for accommodation and reconciliation. In this spirit, yesterday, we heard the minister announce the creation of a special Indian claims tribunal. It is a step forward.

This acknowledged that in aboriginal claims and rights issues, it is important to provide an efficient and fair avenue for negotiations, and for dispute settlement where negotiations do not succeed. This is all part of the essence of reconciliation.

Although it is a step forward, I have expressed certain concerns about the tribunal. I would stress again that there must be progress on comprehensive claims, as well as on specific claims.

The 6,500 Inuit-Métis of Labrador living in isolated communities, as they have for time immemorial, have been waiting almost two decades for a response to their claim. They have been denied justice.

The royal commission in 1996 had suggested and recommended acceptance of the claim. In 2003 the Supreme Court also commented on the Inuit-Métis claim and clearly paved the way for acceptance. The people of Labrador are ready to accept the Inuit-Métis claim.

I have resolutions from the combined councils of Labrador, representing all municipalities, to the same effect. My friends and indeed relations from Nunavik have themselves been very sympathetic and supportive. It is time that the federal and provincial governments take action.

I have worked to break that deadlock. In 2003 I negotiated an agreement with the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs to have an independent legal assessment done of this Inuit-Métis claim filed by the Labrador Métis Nation.

This is exactly the kind of alternative dispute resolution called for and must be respected through the creation of the tribunal. Yet, the independent assessment that was agreed to has not started.

It is now 17 months into Canada's tired—

Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act
Government Orders

June 13th, 2007 / 5 p.m.
See context

Conservative

John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

moved that Bill C-51, An Act to give effect to the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Bill C-59 and Bill C-51
Business of the House
Routine Proceedings

June 13th, 2007 / 3:15 p.m.
See context

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of this House, after no more than one speaker per party and provided that the members may be permitted to split their time by so indicating to the Chair, for the second reading stage of Bill C-59, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (unauthorized recording of a movie), and Bill C-51, An Act to give effect to the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, Bill C-59 and Bill C-51 shall be deemed to have been read a second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole, deemed considered in Committee of the Whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at the report stage and deemed read a third time and passed.

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

June 11th, 2007 / 4 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have before us a motion which asks, pursuant to Standing Order 27(1), that commencing on Wednesday June 13, 2007, and concluding on Thursday June 21, 2007, the House shall continue to sit until 10 p.m.

The Bloc Québécois will support this motion because we are determined to see Bill C-52, the budget implementation bill, passed before we adjourn for the summer. As you know, this bill contains some significant transfers for Quebec. They do not correct the fiscal imbalance, but they will make it possible to relieve the fiscal and financial pressures Quebec is experiencing.

The Bloc Québécois set the bar at $3.9 billion in additional transfers to Quebec, the third year, to be satisfied with the budget. As you know, there is $3.3 billion. More remains to be done, especially when it comes to post-secondary education, but we think that with $3.3 billion for Quebec in the third year, an important step has been taken to relieve Quebec's financial pressures.

Once again, this does not correct the fiscal imbalance. A solution to the fiscal imbalance will take negotiations to transfer tax points equivalent to the transfers for post-secondary education and health care to Quebec, to prevent Quebec from being at the mercy of unilateral decisions by the federal government. In the mid-1990s, for example, when the former finance minister and former Prime Minister decided unilaterally to cut transfers to the provinces in order to solve the government's problems, this created problems for the provinces. It is therefore extremely important to us that the budget be adopted before the summer recess.

In addition, I do not completely share the opinion of the House leader of the official opposition that we are referring to 2006-07 when we are talking about closing the books. It is true that when the books are closed in September, they will be the books for 2006-07. But if we have not disposed of the budget surplus, if we have not decided how the surplus is to be used before the books are closed, that money could well be used simply to pay down the debt.

I have an opinion here from the Library of Parliament that supports what I am saying. I would like to read a short excerpt from it:

If the budget were adopted before the end of the fiscal year but the Budget Implementation Act creating the trust [we are talking here about the Canada ecotrust] were adopted later in the 2007-08 fiscal year but before the government's books were closed, for reasons related to the parliamentary calendar, a portion of the 2006-07 surplus could no doubt be deposited in the trust.

It is very clear, then, that if we do not dispose of the budget before the House rises for the summer, that money will no longer be available for the Canada ecotrust, because the books will be closed in mid-September. This is also true of certain amounts for the health trusts.

We cannot take that risk. That said, the Bloc Québécois had another extremely serious concern. When the government talked to us about the possibility of introducing this motion, we indicated that what was important to us was the budget—and we are going to work to get it adopted as soon as possible—but that we also wanted an amendment to the notice of ways and means motion concerning the Bankruptcy Act and protection for workers' salaries when their employer goes bankrupt. We told the government that this was imperative for us.

As I was saying, we will support this request for extended hours. It is a priority not only to ensure that the notice of ways and means is tabled and corrected by taking into account the unanimous motion of the National Assembly, but also that the government agrees to fast tracking this bill to amend the Bankruptcy Act so that wage earners are protected—which is what all parties in this House now want—and that the laws of Quebec and the Civil Code of Quebec are respected.

Earlier, in response to a question that the Bloc Québécois asked and that I myself asked the Minister of Labour, we were assured that sometime tomorrow an amended notice of ways and means, taking into account the unanimous motion of the National Assembly, would be tabled with a bill. I think we will have the unanimous consent of all the parties in this House. I do not see why the New Democratic Party or the Liberal Party would oppose the will expressed so many times by the government and the Bloc Québécois

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate my colleague for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, who worked so hard on this and who never stopped hounding the entire Conservative government—especially the Minister of Labour—to achieve today's result. With these two guarantees, we feel comfortable knowing that Bill C-52 will be adopted before the summer break. This will ensure that Quebec receives the transfers it needs even though this bill does not close the debate on the fiscal imbalance. This will also put workers in Canada and Quebec on the list of preferred creditors, thereby giving them new protection when businesses go bankrupt. The creation of a wage protection fund will give them a chance to be compensated should their employers be unable to pay their wages. We think that this is extremely important.

As my colleague mentioned earlier, one of our priorities is Bill C-51, which would cede certain islands that are currently the property of the federal government back to Inuit nations. This is a request that dates back a long time, and it seems that everyone is in agreement. That is also the case for Bill S-6, An Act to amend the First Nations Land Management Act. We think it is very important that this bill be passed to bring justice to the first nations of Quebec. There is also Bill C-59, which would make using digital cameras to make unautorized recordings of movies a new offence under the Criminal Code. Unfortunately, Canada, Quebec and even Montreal have become hotbeds of this kind of piracy, which is a threat to the development of the Montreal region's very prosperous film industry.

This idea has already been raised in committee by the hon. member for Hochelaga. If my memory serves correctly, he also introduced a motion adopted by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. We feel it is important that this bill is passed before we break for the summer, which, incidentally, is not all vacation time. We have many appearances and meetings planned in our ridings. It is, however, a time for festivals, and we have many in the Lanaudière region. I invite all members to come and enjoy them. Furthermore, I would like to take this opportunity to once again ask the government and the Minister of Canadian Heritage to unfreeze the money, to ensure that these festivals can continue to provide relevant programming, not only this year, but also for years to come. She does not seem to be conscious of this. If, for financial reasons, one festival or another shows a deficit, that would jeopardize the survival, the development and the future success of that festival or those festivals. In that regard, it is very important that the government unfreeze the money immediately. I also think that common sense dictates that we focus our attention on bills, such as Bill C-47, for instance.

The Olympic Games will be held in my former riding of Vancouver. I think it is important to cover all aspects dealing with the legitimacy of all trademarks surrounding these Olympic Games.

For all these reasons, we support the government motion to extend the sitting hours to 10 p.m., beginning on Wednesday until Thursday, June 21.

I will close on another note, because I have not often had the opportunity to speak in this House, since I became the House Leader of the Bloc Québécois. Indeed, I had more occasions to address this House when I was the Bloc Québécois finance critic.

I would like to thank Catherine Lacroix, who works in the whip's office, here behind the scenes. She will be leaving us a few days from now, after working here with us for many years. All the members of the Bloc Québécois—and I am sure this is also true for many members of all the parties—have appreciated her finesse and her ability to work well under pressure, while always keeping a smile on her face. She plans to travel for a few months, in Europe, particularly.

Like Ulysses in Homer's The Odyssey, I hope she gains wisdom and fulfillment from her travels. I have no doubt that she will always be successful in all areas of her life. I would like to thank her and wish her all the best.

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

June 11th, 2007 / 3:40 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that the government, in proposing this motion today, has chosen once again to maintain its habitual lack of consultation and reluctance to attempt a collaborative approach to organizing the business of the House.

On more than one occasion, as I think the Chair will remember, I asked directly whether the government intended to make use of Standing Order 27. As other House leaders can confirm, the reply was, “probably not”. I do not think we would be off base in the opposition in expecting that if that were no longer the case, if the government had in fact changed its mind, that it would have decently given us a heads-up that it was going to propose this motion today, at least given us that notice some time earlier than around one o'clock this afternoon.

Frankly, as we saw the government House leader making his travels across the floor of the House, I will not say where he went, the heckling and yelling as he departed the chamber obviously indicates the kind of demeanour of which we have to deal.

I do not see what there is on the order paper at present that this motion will get through the House any more quickly than would have otherwise been the case. I presume, judging by the government House leader's remarks, that the government is principally concerned with Bill C-52, the budget bill.

It has represented to the House and to the public that the government is now extremely concerned the bill will not receive royal assent in time for certain expenditures to be booked in the appropriate fiscal year. Let us be clear. The fiscal year the Conservatives are talking about is 2006-07, and that is the point.

The issue is retroactive fiscal bookings for the last fiscal year, not the future fiscal year, as members would have gathered from the remarks of the government House leader. If there is concern about the lateness of the date, the government really has only itself to blame.

Usually federal budgets are delivered in or about the third week of February, which then permits the introduction of a budget implementation bill by the end of that month. If things are properly managed, this would permit the bill to be in committee before the end of March and to be passed at all stages by the end of May or, at the very latest, the beginning of June.

This year the government chose, for its own partisan reasons, to delay the budget until the third week of March. We did not even see it until then. Then it unilaterally interrupted the budget debate. Then having finished that, belatedly, it interrupted, again, the second reading debate on the budget implementation Bill C-52. That interruption lasted for three full weeks, getting the bill to committee only in the middle of May.

As a consequence, the government then bulldozed the bill through the committee, breaking procedural agreements, denying many interested and informed citizens and groups the right to testify on the bill. Let it be clearly understood that any procedural issue on Bill C-52 is a direct result of government breaking the agreement on the process, which had been fully settled by members of the committee.

Nevertheless, the bill is now only in its third day of debate at third reading and there is every indication that the third reading and final stage would come to an end in debate in the House by the end of business tomorrow at the latest.

It is important to underscore what these dates are with respect to the budget. Remember that the House resumed in the final week of January. The budget was not presented to the House until March 19, fully eight weeks into the parliamentary sitting. That was followed by a ways and means motion and the introduction of the budget bill, but that was delayed because the government interrupted its own budget debate on the financial principles of the government.

Its budget was late, the budget debate was unilaterally delayed by itself and then it finally got around to introducing the budget bill on March 29, which was debated at second reading for the first time on March 30. It was then debated in a haphazard, sporadic fashion, brought forward to the floor by the government, until April 23, and then it was hoisted altogether. The House did not see it again until May 14, full three weeks later.

Finally, it went to the committee, not as a result of any filibuster by the opposition or any party in the opposition. The delay was entirely the procedural mismanagement of the government. It was there for less than two weeks and one of those weeks was a break week when Parliament was not even sitting.

It finally passed through the committee, rather expeditiously, thanks to the cooperation of the opposition, and it was brought back to be debated at report stage on June 4. For how long? One day, that is all the report stage took. Now it is at third reading where there have been three days of debate, and probably a conclusion could have been arrived at very easily by the end of the day tomorrow.

This is why I made the point at the beginning of my remarks that there really is nothing on this order paper that could not be dealt with in the ordinary course of business without the measure the government House leader has introduced. Obviously it is a tactic to blame the opposition for the delays that lie entirely within the control of the government.

What is it then? If it is not Bill C-52, what is it that causes the government to move the motion today? Despite frequent requests for the government to outline its realistic legislative priorities before the summer, all we have heard repeatedly from the government House leader and from others on the government's side is a flow of partisan rhetoric. Legislation has in fact been moving along through the House and through committees, despite the government's erratic management of its agenda.

In fact, the most controversial bill on the order paper, and this is what gives me perhaps a little hope here, is probably Bill C-30, the clean air act, as it has been revised by members of Parliament. Significantly, only the government has been stalling it up to now. However, now we will have some extra time, some extra hours of sitting every day beginning on Wednesday.

Can we then conclude that the extra time the government is seeking is to facilitate the work of the House in consideration of Bill C-30? I certainly hope so. It is in this fervent hope that I indicate to the House that my party, the official Liberal opposition, will support the minister's motion for the extension of hours.

In the time available, in addition to Bill C-52, which will probably be done tomorrow, and in addition to Bill C-30, which I hope the government has the courage to recall and put before the House once again, the official opposition also looks forward to making progress on Bill C-11, lowering freight rates for farmers, on Bill C-14, dealing with foreign adoptions, on Bill C-23, dealing with criminal procedure, on Bill C-29, dealing with Air Canada and the use of official languages, on Bill C-35, dealing with bail reform, on Bill C-47, dealing with the Olympic, on Bill S-6 and Bill C-51, dealing with land claims and on Bill C-40, the private member's legislation that would provide free postage for mail from Canada to our troops in Afghanistan.

Then there is an item that was referred to in question period today. This is the bill we are anxiously awaiting to see, the one dealing with wage earner protection. I hope the government will follow through on the commitment given in question period, that it will table the bill in amended form so it can be passed at all stages and brought into law before Parliament adjourns for the summer recess.

Let me mention one other matter, which is outstanding and which should be dealt with by the House, or at least dealt with by the government when the House is sitting. This is the examination undertaken a few weeks ago by Mr. Brown in connection with the matters that have been of great concern to Canadians in respect of the RCMP pension fund.

As we understand it, there is a report due from Mr. Brown on June 15. That was the original undertaking given by the Minister of Public Safety. It would be very important for us to know that the examination is on time, that we will hear from Mr. Brown on time, and that the Minister of Public Safety will take the step that he promised to take and make that report public immediately.

Perhaps the government might also consider, in whatever time that remains before the summer recess, reforming its approach to the mood in the House. The mood could be improved if the government would refrain from certain of its more hostile practices. For example: no more gratuitous attack ads, no more broken agreements on how witnesses will be heard, no more manuals about dirty tricks for disrupting parliamentary business, and no more devious games to misuse Standing Orders of the House. A little good old fashioned good faith could change the mood for the better.