Bill C-292 (Historical)
Kelowna Accord Implementation Act
An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord
This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.
This bill was previously introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session.
Paul Martin Liberal
Introduced as a private member’s bill.
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.
This enactment requires the Government of Canada to fulfil its obligations under the Kelowna Accord.
- March 21, 2007 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
- Feb. 21, 2007 Passed That Bill C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord, be concurred in at report stage.
- Oct. 18, 2006 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.
Bill C-471--Royal Recommendation
Points of Order
April 23rd, 2010 / 12:15 p.m.
Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC
As the House knows, the Conservatives have raised concerns on this issue in the House arguing that the bill needs a royal recommendation. The government contends that the repeal of the Public Service Equitable Compensation Act, or PSECA for short, requires a royal recommendation because delegating jurisdiction to the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal to oversee public sector pay equity complaints is “essentially a fundamentally new and altered purpose for those organizations”. We take exception to this argument on two grounds.
First, this repeal is a restoration of the status quo. The Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal have been charged with these precise responsibilities for nearly a quarter century. This repeal hardly constitutes a fundamentally new and altered purpose for those organizations. They have the expertise and resources necessary to continue to undertake these responsibilities in the short term.
Second, the PSECA has not yet come into force, meaning that Bill C-471's repeal of that legislation would have limited impact on the ability of either the Public Service Labour Relations Board or the Canadian Human Rights Commission to carry out procedures relating to pay equity complaints.
The government further argues that Bill C-471 represents a cost increase to the treasury but nowhere in the 2009 budget does the government indicate that the new PSECA represents a cost savings. It is difficult to evaluate cost implications when the government provided no such information in its own policy change.
Bill C-471 calls on the Government of Canada to ensure that all statutory oversight agencies are put in place by a specific date. The creation of statutory oversight agencies simply constitutes the creation of a framework under which a proper, proactive federal pay equity system could function. Expenditure of public moneys and liability of the Crown need not be considered in the creation of such a timeline. The framework costs nothing.
I am reminded of two rulings made in 2006 that dealt with a royal recommendation in which you, Mr. Speaker, ruled on both occasions that there was no need for a royal recommendation.
Members will remember your decision, Mr. Speaker, on Paul Martin's private member's bill, Bill C-292 regarding the Kelowna accord, where you explained:
...the Kelowna accord tabled in the House sheds light on the plan of action, but it is not clear whether the accord could be implemented through an appropriation act, through amendments to existing acts, or through the establishment of new acts. From my reading, implementation would appear to require various legislative proposals.
Also, Mr. Speaker, in your ruling dated September 27, 2006, regarding private member's Bill C-288 on the Kyoto protocol, which had been brought forward by my hon. colleague from Honoré-Mercier, you indicated:
Rather, the bill seeks the approval of Parliament for the government to implement the protocol. If such approval is given, then the government would decide on the measures it wished to take. This might involve an appropriation bill or another bill proposing specific spending, either of which would require a royal recommendation.
It would be the responsibility of the government to enact these changes in a manner that does not put a new charge on the treasury. We cannot prejudge how exactly this framework would be established. Once the government establishes the pay equity framework proposed in this bill, cost implications would become factors to consider. As this bill does not actually enact such changes, a royal recommendation is unnecessary.
Bill C-471--Pay Equity Task Force Recommendation Act
Points of Order
December 10th, 2009 / 3:20 p.m.
Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order regarding Bill C-471, the pay equity task force recommendations act, on the grounds that it requires a royal recommendation.
Normally, royal recommendation interventions are made before the first hour of debate, which occurred on this bill last night. However, after a request from the Liberal Party, who had an event of some importance last night, we delayed that so that we would not unduly delay the members opposite from attending their most important event.
Let me make my intervention now. Bill C-471 proposes to do two things. First, it imposes on the government a duty to implement the recommendations of the 2004 pay equity task force report that sets deadlines by which this must be done. It is noted in clause 2 of the bill that this includes establishing “all statutory oversight agencies”.
The second component of Bill C-471 is to immediately repeal the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act, which was passed by Parliament nine months ago in March 2009. I have objections to both of these components and will address them in turn.
Turning to the first component, subclause 2(1) of the bill imposes an imperative duty on the government to “implement the recommendations of the Pay Equity Task Force set out in its final report”. I have considerable concerns with this provision. While a sponsoring member may attempt to argue that Bill C-471 is similar to the Kyoto protocol implementation act or the Kelowna accord implementation act, which you ruled in order in the last Parliament, there is significant distinction.
In your ruling on September 27, 2006, regarding Bill C-288, you stated:
In a ruling earlier this week on a similar matter, namely, C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord, the Chair made a distinction between a bill asking the House to approve certain objectives and a bill asking the House to approve the measures to achieve certain objectives. So too in the case before us, the adoption of a bill calling on the government to implement the Kyoto protocol might place an obligation on the government to take measures necessary to meet the goals set out in the protocol but the Chair cannot speculate on what those measures may be.
In the case of Bill C-471, the measures are set out in detail in the 113 recommendations of the task force report, which is referenced in this bill. The recommendation is that “Parliament enact new stand alone proactive pay equity legislation”. The other 112 recommendations describe the measures that should be included in that legislation.
As a result, this bill raises grave concerns. It places an impossible duty on the Crown of implementing the recommendations, which can only be done by passage of legislation. It seeks to bind this or a subsequent Parliament to pass this new legislation, which I submit would unconstitutionally undermine the fundamental principle of parliamentary sovereignty. It would fundamentally alter the relationship between the Crown and Parliament, and that is the heart of the financial initiative.
In your February 24, 2005, ruling, you aptly quoted:
Suffice it to say that those relations are neatly summed up in the phrase, “the government proposes, and parliament disposes”.
Bill C-471 clearly turns that relationship on its head by both proposing and disposing the measures in purposes for which public moneys should be spent. This is made even more apparent by subclause 2(2) of the bill. This provision sets the deadline by which the government must implement the task force recommendations. In particular, it states:
The Government of Canada shall ensure that all statutory oversight agencies are put in place no later than January 1, 2011.
This provision of the bill also distinguishes it from Bill C-288 and Bill C-292, considered in the last Parliament. Neither of those bills dictated the establishment of new institutions, much less as part of its expressed terms. Based on the task force report, the duty in subclause 2(2) entails the new creation of two new statutory agencies as well as a new system of adjudicators. Assuming Bill C-471 is constitutional and the government is bound by its terms, it has no choice but to establish these new bodies.
It is trite to say that such a measure would require the expenditure of new funds to a new purpose. For example, the Speaker's ruling of September 19, 2006, concluded that the creation of advisory committee requires a royal recommendation, since this clearly would require the expenditure of public funds in a manner not currently authorized. For this reason, Bill C-471 requires a royal recommendation to be in order.
The second component of Bill C-471 also clearly demonstrates that a royal recommendation is required. As mentioned at the beginning of my remarks, Bill C-471 at clause 3 repeals, in its entirety, the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act. This repeal would take immediate effect if this bill were to be given royal assent.
To fully understand why it has an impact on the financial initiative of the Crown, it is first necessary to understand the purpose of the PSECA. The purpose of this act, put simply, was to remove jurisdiction over public sector pay equity complaints from the Canadian Human Rights Act and to create a new statutory scheme for dealing with public sector pay equity issues proactively.
By the same token, the PSECA removed jurisdiction for dealing with public sector pay equity complaints from the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Complaints that arise out of the PSECA process are instead dealt with by the Public Service Labour Relations Board. The grounds for those complaints are defined in the PSECA.
This is underscored in the PSECA's consequential amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act, which states:
The Commission does not have jurisdiction to deal with complaints made against an employer within the meaning of the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act [related to the pay equity provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act].
The effect then of clause 3 of Bill C-471 is to reverse all of that. This has two distinct impacts. First, it gives jurisdiction over public sector employers to the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal, whose jurisdiction was expressly removed in the PSECA. Second, it subjects public service employers, that is, the Crown as employer, to liability for new statutory grounds of complaint under the Canadian Human Rights Act. Both of these impacts infringe upon the financial initiative of the Crown.
In the second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, O'Brien and Bosc state a fundamental principle of the royal recommendation at pages 833 to 834:
An appropriation accompanied by a royal recommendation, though it can be reduced, can neither be increased nor redirected without a new recommendation...A royal recommendation not only fixes the allowable charge, but also its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications. For this reason, a royal recommendation is required not only in the case where money is being appropriated, but also in the case where the authorization to spend for a specific purpose is significantly altered. Without a royal recommendation, a bill that either increases the amount of an appropriation, or extends its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications is inadmissible on the grounds that it infringes on the Crown's financial initiative.
Mr. Speaker, this principle is reflected in your ruling of February 11, 2008, in which you held that Bill C-474 required a royal recommendation because it proposed to substantially alter the mandate of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. The same principle applies to the bill before you today.
The object of the Public Service Equitable Compensation Act was to fundamentally change the structure, process and jurisdiction for dealing with public sector pay equity issues from what existed before the passage of the act. A royal recommendation accompanied the budget implementation bill, which included the PSECA.
Accordingly, repealing the PSECA and giving the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal jurisdiction over public sector pay equity complaints is essentially a fundamentally new and altered purpose for those organizations. No royal recommendation accompanies that change in Bill C-471.
The royal recommendation that accompanied the PSECA cannot be redirected to the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal, and past appropriations for the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal cannot be used for a purpose and jurisdiction that Parliament expressly removed from the PSECA. On that ground alone, Bill C-471 infringes upon the Crown's financial initiative.
In addition, the bill infringes upon the financial initiative on the basis that it exposes the Crown to a distinct liability that would be paid by public moneys. As stated in Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice, 21st edition, on page 714:
Any proposal whereby the Crown would incur a liability or a contingent liability payable out of money to be voted by Parliament [requires the Queen's recommendation].
In this vein, a June 12, 1973, Speaker's ruling held that a royal recommendation was required for Bill S-5, an act to amend the Farm Improvement Loans Act.
The Speaker noted:
It may be said that the proposal in Bill S-5 does not in itself propose a direct expenditure. It does, however, propose substantial additional liabilities on public moneys.
Similarly, a May 5, 2009, ruling from the Speaker of the other place ruled Bill S-219 out of order because it would change the Crown's liability under the Canada Student Loans Act. As held in that ruling:
The passage of Bill S-219 would expand the range of conditions under which the government would have to make good its guarantee of loans under the Canada Student Loans Act. This would change the existing scheme, since payments from the Consolidated Revenue Fund might increase due to the change in possible obligations. As such, the bill should have a Royal Recommendation, and would have to originate in the other place.
This is also consistent with a ruling on February 12, 1988 regarding Bill S-4, an Act to Amend the Canada Shipping Act. In that case, Mr. Speaker, you found that increases to the limits of civil liability of shipowners did not require a royal recommendation because the payment was covered by the authorization in section 30 of the Crown Liability and Proceedings Act.
My correction, Mr. Speaker, if you were not here in 1988. You have been for so long, I think of you as being here forever. That is a compliment, and please take it as such.
That act essentially provides that the Crown could be civilly liable in court for breaches of what is known in the common law tradition as tort or property law. Crown liability for breaches of its law of civil salvage is also expressly provided under section 5. Section 30 provides judgments issued by a court against the Crown are authorized to be paid.
The case of Bill C-471 is clearly distinguishable from Bill S-4 in that it creates a new and distinct statutory liability for the Crown under the Canadian Human Rights Act. The Crown Liability and Proceedings Act does not authorize payments for new statutory liabilities of the Crown. In fact, section 33 states:
Except as otherwise expressly provided in this Act, nothing in this Act affects any rule of evidence or any presumption relating to the extent to which the Crown is bound by an Act of Parliament.
Bill C-471 would create a new and distinct statutory charge of the Crown's liability. The more adversarial quasi-judicial setting of the human rights regime is fundamentally different from the proactive and integrated approach of the PSECA.
Under the PSECA, pay equity obligations are integrated in the bargaining process subject to complaint on certain grounds of the Public Service Labour Relations Board. In contrast, under the Canadian Human Rights Act, liability is initiated by individual complaints adjudicated before an administrative tribunal and potentially results in awards for damages. The authority for awarding those damages is the Canadian Human Rights Act.
As you may recall, Mr. Speaker, through the previous complaints based process under the Canadian Human Rights Act, the government has paid out of public moneys multi-billion dollar judgments. The Crown's obligations are significantly different under the PSECA and a royal recommendation is required to change that.
Before concluding, and I know the wish is for me to conclude quickly, I would like to address a point that may arise during the study of this bill. As we know, the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act has been passed by Parliament, but it has not been not been proclaimed into force. Like many other statutes, Parliament delegates to the Governor-in-Council the authority to determine the day on which the act comes into force.
This transitional period, as one of the terms under which Parliament has passed the law, allows the executive time to prepare for the effective implementation of provisions. For purposes of assessing the need for a royal recommendation for Bill C-471, it does not matter whether or not the legislation has been proclaimed into force, it suffices that the law has been passed by both Houses of Parliament and that it has received royal assent.
What is and should be most critical and salient is Parliament's decision to make law. In the 21st edition of Erskine May, in formulating the test for whether a charge is new and distinct, it is stated at page 712:
The question may arise whether a proposal for expenditure or for increased expenditure is not already covered by some general authorization. The test for determining this question in the case of a substantive proposal, ie. a provision is in a bill, as introduced, is a comparison with existing law.
In this case, the Public Service Equitable Compensation Act was passed by Parliament on March 12, 2009. It forms part of the Statutes of Canada, it reflects the will of Parliament and it will be implemented under the terms passed by Parliament because that is what the law directs.
As Erskine May puts it, it forms part of the existing law, this is the law against which the provisions of Bill C-471 must be compared. To look at it another way, there would be no purpose for clause 3 of Bill C-471 but to change the law. It follows that in this instance it also changes the purposes and conditions for which the House has authorized expenditures. For that reason it requires a royal recommendation.
While Bill C-471 is a short bill, it has significant consequences and there are multiple reasons for which it requires a royal recommendation to be in order. I should also add that the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore, the sponsor of Bill C-471, has said that he believes Bill C-471 would result in some additional unspecified costs for the government. In other words, the leader of the official opposition, who is the sponsor of this bill, agrees that his own bill requires a royal recommendation.
June 18th, 2008 / 3:25 p.m.
The Speaker Peter Milliken
I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate chamber the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
Bill C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord--Chapter 23
Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Judges Act--Chapter 26
Bill C-287, An Act respecting a National Peacekeepers' Day--Chapter 27
Bill C-21, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act--Chapter 30
Statements By Members
February 12th, 2008 / 2:10 p.m.
Todd Russell Labrador, NL
Mr. Speaker, it has been almost a year since Parliament passed Bill C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord. Since then, the bill has been stalled in the Senate because the Conservative senators have used tactics of delay and diversion. They have done so in spite of the will of Parliament and in spite of their own election promise to honour the terms and objectives of the Kelowna accord.
In so doing, they have turned their backs on aboriginal Canadians. The Conservatives have denied aboriginal Canadians better health care for their children and families. They are denying aboriginal Canadians a better education and housing. The Conservatives are denying the aboriginal people of Canada the hope of a better life.
The Conservatives like to talk an accountability and transparency game but practise exactly the opposite. They said that they would honour the commitments of Kelowna but they have refused to fund the agreement and are using parliamentary tactics to back out of their commitments.
How can they continue to justify turning a blind eye to the needs of the aboriginal people of Canada? Why does the Prime Minister not show some leadership and order his Conservative senators to pass BillC-292?
Tackling Violent Crime Legislation
February 11th, 2008 / 12:30 p.m.
John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON
Mr. Speaker, I would have been much more impressed by the hon. minister's speech had he not first killed his own legislation in order to bring us to this point in the first place. Every element of the bill that is currently before the Senate was in the Senate prior to prorogation.
In 2006 the Liberal Party offered to fast track this legislation, but we were refused. In 2007 we offered to fast track it and again we were refused. The bills passed through the House and were sitting in the Senate and being dealt with in an expeditious manner. Then the government killed its own legislation by prorogation.
So what we have here is a minister telling us to pass this legislation, to pass this legislation because we must have this legislation, and all he is doing is recycling his speeches from last year because he likes to make those speeches. For goodness' sake, the Conservative government has wasted a year and a half on its own legislation and now it has the gall to tell the Senate to hurry up.
My goodness gracious me. It is an extraordinary circumstance in which a minister kills his own legislation through prorogation, then comes back to the House and says he has a new package and he wants us to pass it immediately. That is my number one point.
My number two point is about the further hypocrisy of the government. Two bills, Bill C-292 and Bill C-293, have been sitting in the Senate since March 2007. Conservative senators stonewall them, divert them and do everything but deal with them. Therefore, I wonder if the minister's enthusiasm to have the senators move on his own legislation extends to other bills that this chamber has in fact passed.
Statements By Members
February 4th, 2008 / 2:10 p.m.
Tina Keeper Churchill, MB
Despite the harsh and disappointing opposition from the Conservative members, a majority of MPs passed this critical bill in the House of Commons last year. As important as the investments for first nations, the Inuit and Métis, Kelowna represented a new partnership. It was the commitment to principles which Canadians hold dear: human rights, equity and justice.
The passage of this bill is well overdue and will finally correct a grave error in judgment at the hands of the government. I call on the Conservative members to urge their colleagues in the upper chamber to work together to swiftly pass this bill.
Business of the House
Opening of the Second Session of the 39th Parliament
October 16th, 2007 / 6:45 p.m.
The Speaker Peter Milliken
Order. It appears we have a few moments and to save time later I will inform members of something they are just aching to hear about now.
As hon. members know, our Standing Orders provide for the continuance of private members' business from session to session within a Parliament.
The list for the consideration of private members' business established on April 7, 2006, continues from the last session to this session notwithstanding prorogation.
As such, all items of private members' business originating in the House of Commons that were listed on the order paper during the previous session are reinstated to the order paper and shall be deemed to have been considered and approved at all stages completed at the time of prorogation of the first session.
Generally speaking, in practical terms, this also means that those items on the Order of Precedence remain on the Order of Precedence or, as the case may be, are referred to committee or sent to the Senate.
However, there is one item that cannot be left on the Order of Precedence. Pursuant to Standing Order 87(1), Parliamentary secretaries who are ineligible by virtue of their office to be put on the Order of Precedence will be dropped to the bottom of the list for the consideration of private members' business, where they will remain as long as they hold those offices.
Consequently, the item in the name of the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, Motion M-302, is withdrawn from the Order of Precedence.
With regard to the remaining items on the order of precedence let me remind the House of the specifics since the House is scheduled to resume its daily private members' business hour starting tomorrow.
At prorogation, there were seven private members' bills originating in the House of Commons adopted at second reading and referred to committee. Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 86.1:
Bill C-207, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Finance;
Bill C-265, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (qualification for and entitlement to benefits), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities;
Bill C-305, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (exemption from taxation of 50% of United States social security payments to Canadian residents), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Finance;
Bill C-327, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act (reduction of violence in television broadcasts), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage;
Bill C-343, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (motor vehicle theft), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights;
Bill C-377, An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change, is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development; and
Bill C-428, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
(Bills deemed introduced, read the first time, read the second time and referred to a committee)
Furthermore, four Private Members' bills originating in the House of Commons had been read the third time and passed. Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 86.1, the following bills are deemed adopted at all stages and passed by the House:
Accordingly, a message will be sent to inform the Senate that this House has adopted these four bills.
Hon. members will find at their desks an explanatory note recapitulating these remarks. The Table officers are available to answer any further questions that hon. members may have.
I trust that these measures will assist the House in understanding how private members' business will be conducted in this second session of the 39th Parliament.
(Bills deemed adopted at all stages and passed by the House)
Opposition Motion--Indian Residential Schools
Business of Supply
May 1st, 2007 / 4:05 p.m.
Colin Mayes Okanagan—Shuswap, BC
Mr. Speaker, when the former prime minister was a witness at the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs discussing Bill C-292, one of the statements I made was that leadership was about knowing when the talk stops and the work begins, which is one thing our government has moved forward. We are getting the work done. We are taking action to address those needs that were addressed in those negotiations, those discussions, that led up to the meeting in Kelowna.
I would just say to the member opposite that the evidence is there. The proof is in the pudding. We are getting things done for aboriginal people. For instance, with regard to the issue around water quality, we inherited a situation where over 200 communities were on water advisories. We cut that in half within a year. I think that is a great accomplishment that the minister and his department have managed to accomplish over the past year.
Kelowna Accord Implementation Act
Private Members' Business
March 21st, 2007 / 6:50 p.m.
The House resumed from March 20 consideration of the motion that Bill C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord, be read the third time and passed.
March 21st, 2007 / 2:45 p.m.
Tina Keeper Churchill, MB
Mr. Speaker, today my colleagues and I will proudly vote for the member for LaSalle—Émard's private member's bill supporting the historic Kelowna accord.
It is shameful that the government is widening the economic, educational and social gaps between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians, and there is only lip service and misleading in this House.
Now that former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney says that he supports the Kelowna accord absolutely, will the government reverse itself and support Bill C-292 unanimously?
Kelowna Accord Implementation Act
Private Members' Business
March 20th, 2007 / 6:15 p.m.
Colin Mayes Okanagan—Shuswap, BC
Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak at third reading of Bill C-292, the Kelowna accord implementation act.
The so-called Kelowna accord is the product of a meeting held more than a year ago of the former prime minister, the provincial and territorial premiers and several national aboriginal leaders.
The actual document that is represented as the accord, what the right hon. member for LaSalle—Émard purports to be a binding commitment of the Government of Canada, is in fact a news release presented by the government of the day at the close of the meeting. The release lists several proposed investments that total more than $5 billion over a period of five years.
Although the former government says that it meant this to be a statement of the amount of money it wished to spend, there was no consensus among participants regarding how the money was to be disbursed. There was no detailed plan on how the government would allocate this new funding and how it would ensure that these resources would be spent wisely and produce measurable results.
Indeed, the provincial and territorial premiers and national aboriginal leaders who attended the Kelowna meeting clearly indicated in subsequent statements that considerably more work was needed to develop specific policies, programs and implementation plans.
The challenges that face aboriginal peoples in our country are simply too daunting to be overcome through unfocused, unaccountable spending. A more considered approach is required if we hope to improve socio-economic conditions and to ensure that aboriginal peoples have a standard of living comparable to that of other Canadians.
Canada's new government has developed and begun to implement precisely this type of approach. It is based on practical solutions, targeted expenditures, clear roles and responsibilities, measurable results and accountability, all fundamental elements of prudent, effective administration.
In the short time this government has been in office, our pragmatic, results based approach has generated tangible results for aboriginal peoples. In fact, the number of achievements is too vast for me to recount in the time that is available to me this evening.
Instead, to illustrate the success of our approach, let me use the last time that the House debated Bill C-292, on October 18, 2006, as a reference point. Let me share with the House just a few examples since that date of how this government has taken concrete steps to begin to improve the quality of life of aboriginal peoples in Canada.
On October 20, Bearspaw First Nation in Alberta opened a state of the art water treatment plant. This achievement stems directly from the plan of action to ensure safe water supplies for first nation communities announced by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development last March.
As the House is no doubt aware, soon after this government came into office we learned that more than 200 first nations communities had drinking water systems that were classified as high risk or worse. To address this crisis, Canada's new government devoted some $450 million to address issues affecting quality of life, including safe drinking water.
In addition to this vital budgetary measure, the minister and the Assembly of First Nations appointed a three member expert panel to provide legislative options for safe drinking water in first nations communities.
On December 7, the minister tabled in the House the expert panel's findings and recommendations, along with a report that outlined progress made on all aspects of the government's plan of action. This includes the removal of several drinking water advisories, improvements to a number of water treatment plants, and increased assistance and training for plant operators. The minister is now considering the panel's recommendations and I expect we will be hearing more on the government's initiative.
Along with helping first nations communities to overcome such crises, this government is working to ensure a brighter long term future for these communities. Indeed, when it comes to land claim settlements, we are living through an extraordinary period of Canadian history, particularly in British Columbia.
In recent months, negotiating teams have achieved a series of unprecedented agreements.
On October 29, federal, provincial and first nations negotiators initialled the Lheidli T'enneh final agreement, the first settlement reached through the British Columbia treaty process.
On December 8, the minister was in Delta, B.C. to attend the initialling of the Tsawwassen First Nation final agreement, the first final agreement for a B.C. first nation whose traditional lands are situated in an urban area.
On December 9, the minister witnessed the initialling of the Maa-nulth First Nations final agreement, the first final agreement in British Columbia that involves more than one first nation community.
I am happy to report that the successful resolution of land claims is not restricted to British Columbia. On December 1, the government signed a land claims agreement with the Inuit of Nunavik resolving a claim over offshore areas in northern Quebec and Labrador that had dragged on for more than 13 years.
Canada's new government has also partnered with first nation groups in Quebec to improve school performance among students from first nations communities in the province.
A landmark memorandum of understanding signed on October 26 will lead to incentives for first nation schools to create stimulating learning environments, enhance teaching quality and improve accountability to parents and students.
Education is also the focus of a historic bill that received royal assent on December 12 of last year. The First Nations Jurisdiction over Education in British Columbia Act will enable first nations communities in B.C. to assume increasingly greater control over on reserve education. It is an important step in ensuring first nation students receive a high quality education that respects their languages, cultures and traditions.
On December 13, our new government introduced in the House another significant piece of legislation: Bill C-44. By repealing section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, the bill would ensure that all members of first nations communities will have the legal authority to defend their human rights, a power that all Canadians should be entitled to enjoy.
Despite these and other significant achievements, I readily concede that much work remains to be done to ensure that aboriginal peoples have living standards comparable to those of other Canadians. Both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development recognize this fact but action to help aboriginal peoples achieve this objective does not come from legislation based on a news release presented at the close of a meeting.
Genuine progress is difficult. It requires clear thinking, diligent effort, patience and collaboration. Canada's new government will continue to work in concert with our aboriginal, provincial and territorial partners to achieve this progress. Together, we will create practical solutions. We will allocate appropriate funds. We will establish clear roles and responsibilities. We will set goals and we will achieve them.
Accordingly, I will be voting against Bill C-292 and I urge my colleagues to do the same.
Kelowna Accord Implementation Act
Private Members' Business
March 20th, 2007 / 6:05 p.m.
Gary Merasty Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK
Mr. Speaker, it is with honour and pride that I speak today to Bill C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord, introduced by the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard who I am very honoured to have worked with in the past on this issue.
To begin, it is important to understand the context of the Kelowna accord. The Meadow Lake Progress, in its July 23, 2006 editorial, stated it best, “There is no underestimating the importance of the agreement”.
The Kelowna accord represents an historic consensus brought about by the commitment of the previous Liberal government to meaningfully engage and collaborate with first nations, Métis and Inuit leadership, along with the provincial and territorial governments, to address the challenges faced by aboriginal Canadians and by extension, Canada itself.
This effort, initiated by the member for LaSalle—Émard, was unprecedented. It signified a high-water mark in aboriginal state relations. Never before had the political leadership of our country committed to moving together, setting meaningful benchmarks and stable funding relationships.
This historic consensus remains intact. All first nations, Métis and Inuit leadership as well as the premiers remain steadfastly committed to the Kelowna accord. Only the Conservative government lacks the commitment needed to meet its goals.
The support for the Kelowna accord is also unanimous with the provincial political leadership in Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan Party, the NDP and the Saskatchewan Liberals are all resolutely in support of the Kelowna accord. In fact, the NDP government and the Saskatchewan Party opposition joined together in March 2006 to pass a unanimous motion in the Saskatchewan legislature, urging the federal Conservative government to fully implement the Kelowna accord. Saskatchewan has committed to the accord because it knows the potential of its aboriginal population and the opportunities it presents.
The first nation and Métis population is the fastest growing segment of the Saskatchewan population. By 2045, the aboriginal population is set to be a majority in the province of Saskatchewan. This emerging population is well poised to become the leaders of a prosperous new Saskatchewan, particularly with baby boomers retiring and the economy in Saskatchewan and the west heating up. However, investments and strategies are needed to be put in place for education, housing, health and economic development.
The Kelowna accord made those investments and allowed communities to design strategies to respond to their own unique challenges, something that is absolutely critical in giving and empowering the communities to come up with the solutions because this is from where the best solutions come. This is exactly what the Kelowna accord was designed to do. Moreover and more important, it set the stage for greater collaboration in the future, setting a road map for moving beyond the goals of Kelowna with a relationship based on mutual respect and recognition.
It is a disappointment that the Conservative government does not seem to understand the full opportunity to strengthen the economy in western Canada and engage first nations, Métis and Inuit people to their fullest capabilities.
The July 23 Meadow Lake Progress editorial also captured the risks of abandoning the accord stating:
The accord should have been honoured by [the Prime Minister's Conservative] government after its January election....If the Kelowna Accord is gone for good, it will be this nation’s aboriginals who will suffer the brunt of that decision.
There’s a lot riding on the Kelowna Accord, including the relationships between aboriginals and nonaboriginals—which will deteriorate if the agreement is not honoured...
To allow that relationship to deteriorate now, after it has been slowly evolving and improving over the last 50 years, would be a terrible betrayal of the progress that been made by the first nations, the Métis and the Inuit of our country who at the table with the prime minister and the premiers of our country.
This relationship has moved from first nations, Métis and Inuit being completely ignored by governments in the past to where they stood tall and demanded recognition, to a phase where mutual respect and collaboration became the norm. The Kelowna accord marked the culmination of this relationship building.
The Conservatives' refusal to implement the Kelowna accord and their inability to form any sort of replacement plan is a huge disappointment, particularly because they promised to honour the goals of it.
Unfortunately, the abandonment of the Kelowna accord is only one aspect of a general larger backward trend of Conservatives choosing to become increasingly confrontational, ignoring their fiduciary duty to first nations, Métis and Inuit people. With respect to being confrontational, the Conservatives have adopted a much more adversarial attitude in treaty negotiations and the recognition of aboriginal rights.
The Prime Minister and the Indian affairs minister made repeated attacks on aboriginal rights during treaty negotiations in British Columbia. These attacks began in July with the Prime Minister's letter to the Calgary Herald, in which he used inflammatory language in opposing so-called “race based” fisheries, which are actually “rights based” fisheries, and refused to acknowledge the Supreme Court's affirmation of aboriginal fishing rights.
This is not a race issue; it is a rights issue. I ask the Prime Minister not to focus on the colour of the skin of my people, but to focus on the rights that they have fought so hard their entire lives to advance in our country. Instead, his focus should be on his government's constitutional and fiduciary responsibility to the first nation, Inuit and Métis people of our country.
The Indian affairs minister has also been very insulting and inflammatory in his comments regarding aboriginal Canadians, showing incredible disrespect and refusing to honour his fiduciary duty to work for first nations, Métis and Inuit Canadians. The Indian affairs minister has been vocally attacking aboriginal funding levels and has been very misleading about the amount of money the federal government spends on aboriginal Canadians.
The finance minister has readily backed up him up, stating that $9.1 billion is the amount spent directly on aboriginal Canadians, but has failed to admit that a large part of that money is being spent on the administration across several departments. In INAC alone, the Treasury Board estimates that $600 million is spent on administrative costs, and INAC admits only 82% of the grants and contributions actually make it out.
The minister is also mixing up the entire amount going to Métis and Inuit as well as first nations and ignores the cuts that have occurred without consultation or notice. For instance, budget 2006 dedicated only $150 million in new money for “aboriginal investments” as $600 million for housing was already dedicated through Bill C-48 and passed by the previous Liberal government. However, spending cuts, totalling at least $220 million directly, were imposed on aboriginal programs, including health and languages funding. This means that first nations, Métis and Inuit actually lost $70 million in funding last year, not even including the terrible loss that the Kelowna accord represents.
Even more disappointing, the Indian affairs minister has made a bad situation worse by neglecting his fiduciary responsibilities. The Calgary Sun reported that a child and family welfare service executive in Calgary confirmed that INAC had been forced to redirect “non-core funding” such as those budgeted for child welfare to deal with the water crisis on reserves. Yet many communities are still under a boil water advisory and the minister has admitted he has failed in achieving his targets.
These meagre amounts in new spending for this year are an even bigger insult. They do not address population growth or inflation rates. They ignore the scope of housing, water, child welfare and health funding concerns evident in the first nations, Métis and Inuit communities. They do not make up for literacy and youth employment program cuts that had been made.
This budget is from a finance minister who is on record saying too much health money was being spent on aboriginal Canadians, who are not real people, and from an Indian affairs minister who is on record for saying that they already receive an awful lot of money. This is gutter politics. This time of confrontation has served no one and threatens to have terrible effects on the communities of our country.
The opportunities are still there, though. We encourage the government to respect and implement the Kelowna accord as it passes the House tomorrow night, as I am confident it will. However, regardless of the Conservatives' commitment to the Kelowna accord, the agreement still lives on as a goal and achievement. More than the funding, more than the benchmarks, the Kelowna accord represents a historic time when first nations, Métis and Inuit were respected and empowered to take leadership on behalf of their communities.
Doug Cuthand, a respected columnist for The StarPhoenix, wrote:
The great failure of Indian policy in Canada has been that other people have been making all of the decisions and deciding what is best for us. Politicians, Indian agents, pundits, missionaries and other various do-gooders have all done their share of thinking for us.
Over 30 years ago our leaders stood tall and fought for their rights in various court arenas throughout the country. They fight again today, using the best skills they have at their disposal, to move forward and respect what the Kelowna accord represented.
Kelowna Accord Implementation Act
Private Members' Business
March 20th, 2007 / 6:05 p.m.
The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.