Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act

An Act to give effect to the Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.

Sponsor

Chuck Strahl  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

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

This enactment gives effect to the Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement. It also makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

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.

Votes

  • May 26, 2008 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

The House resumed from June 16 consideration of the motion that Bill C-34, An Act to give effect to the Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the third time and passed.

Reference to Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs
Privilege
Government Orders

June 17th, 2008 / 6:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Before we proceed to that item, in view of the general support that has been expressed in the House earlier with respect to Bill C-34 dealing with Tsawwassen, I wonder, in the interests of expediting that matter, if we might, now by unanimous consent, deem that bill read a third time and passed?

Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act
Government Orders

June 17th, 2008 / 1:50 p.m.
See context

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to stand today in relation to Bill C-34 and speak at third reading.

This is important legislation, which culminates after much time, in relation to the B.C. treaty process, the first historic modern treaty out of British Columbia. Our government is very proud to have achieved this incredible treaty.

I thank all the opposition parties for their support on the bill and we look forward to sending it to the Senate for final ratification.

Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act
Government Orders

June 17th, 2008 / 1:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Motions in Amendment
Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act
Government Orders

June 16th, 2008 / 5:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, as a member of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-34.

The Tsawwassen First Nation final agreement was negotiated by Canada, the Province of British Columbia and the Tsawwassen First Nation.

Tsawwassen treaty negotiations began 15 years ago in 1993. Tsawwassen members ratified the final agreement through a community vote, with 70% of eligible members voting in favour. In October 2007, the Province of British Columbia introduced and subsequently passed settlement legislation to ratify the Tsawwassen final agreement.

The majority of the clauses in Bill C-34, which have been proposed for deletion, are fundamental to the Tsawwassen First Nation final agreement. The effect of removing these clauses would render Canada unable to fulfill the commitments it has made in the final agreement. In fact, deleting these clauses would effectively result in Canada not ratifying the Tsawwassen First Nation final agreement.

Canada negotiated the Tsawwassen First Nation final agreement in good faith and we are fully committed to implementing this agreement with all its provisions and commitments. To delete these fundamental clauses of Bill C-34 would be unacceptable, unfair to the parties and to the agreement, and a dishonour to the Crown.

When Tsawwassen chief, Kim Baird, addressed the provincial assembly in November, she said that one of the most important things the Tsawwassen treaty achieved was a new relationship between the Tsawwassen, British Columbia and Canada, that it achieved reconciliation, that true reconciliation signified real action and tangible change and that true reconciliation was the product of this treaty.

I am proud of the Tsawwassen First Nation final agreement and all Canadians can be proud of this treaty. It represents a positive and tangible step forward in building a new relationship with the Tsawwassen First Nation and the Crown.

I would like to take this opportunity, however, to address concerns that have been expressed about the possible impact of tax sharing arrangements on non-member residents of Tsawwassen First Nation lands. No such tax sharing arrangements have been concluded and may not be concluded for many years.

However, the Government of Canada supports the exercise of tax powers by first nations and has a well established policy approach for negotiating tax sharing arrangements with aboriginal governments. About 40 such arrangements have already been concluded under existing legal frameworks, such as the First Nations Goods and Services Tax Act enacted by Parliament in 2003.

Such GST and personal income tax arrangements are outside the treaty and would not change the amount of tax that non-member residents of first nation lands would pay, how they pay their taxes or what they receive in the way of federal services or benefits. These tax arrangements will not affect the ability of resident non-members to vote in federal or provincial elections or to make their views known.

The Tsawwassen treaty itself does not give the Tsawwassen First Nation the ability to impose taxes on non-members of the first nation. The first nations tax system only applies to non-Tsawwassen members through government to government agreements outside the treaty. Canada will only answer these arrangements under conditions that would protect non-members' interests, such as full harmonization and coordination with the corresponding federal tax.

There would be no additional tax burden on non-members. GST and income tax would continue to apply in exactly the same way as enacted by Parliament in federal tax legislation, using the same rates, the same rules and the same Canada Revenue Agency forms, administration and recourse processes.

Based on delegated, discretionary and terminable tax arrangements, Parliament retains ongoing political accountability for the application of the tax to non-members and for its decision to share tax room. Under these circumstances, these arrangements do respect the principle of representation.

Tax sharing arrangements would also include mechanisms to contain the amount of forgone federal revenue where, for example, non-members of the first nations account for a significant proportion of the first nation tax base. For instance, if such a tax arrangement were in place now, the Department of Finance estimates that about 40% of the total personal income tax derived from all residents of Tsawwassen lands would be shared with Tsawwassen and Canada would retain 60%.

Finally, I would stress that these taxes would apply equally to members of the Tsawwassen First Nation. The Tsawwassen treaty will end the existing Indian Act tax exemption following an agreed upon transition period. It, therefore, encourages the first nation to exercise its tax powers. These taxes would generate revenues that would help to fund the first nation's programs and services. They would contribute to the shared responsibility for funding self-government and reduce dependence on federal transfers. They would also encourage greater accountability between the first nation and its citizens and thereby promote better governance.

It is clear that it is important that Parliament pass Bill C-34 in the form in which it was ratified by Tsawwassen members and by the British Columbia legislature.

Motions in Amendment
Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act
Government Orders

June 16th, 2008 / 5:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Todd Russell Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise today to speak in support of Bill C-34 and to denounce the amendments that the member for Delta—Richmond East has brought before the House.

They are not simple amendments that would change a small bit of a bill or certain specific aspects of the bill. They are so broad that they would gut the bill, in essence, and there would be no treaty. The amendments attack everything from the taxation provisions to the provision of fish and wildlife for food and ceremonial purposes.

The amendments attack the provision that would provide for some economic development and some participation in the resources of the Tsawwassen people. That would be the commercial sale of salmon.

The amendments denounce or take away the issue of financial assistance that the Tsawwassen people would require in order to implement the provisions of the treaty. They also say that the Tsawwassen people should not have the ability to make laws for themselves, which is the essence of land claims and the issue of self-determination.

The amendments talk about the issue of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms not applying. That is totally misleading. It would apply. It says so in the treaty. It says so in this particular act, which purports to implement the treaty.

The amendments also talk about the provisions of the bill that would basically stop businesses from starting on the reserve.

All of those things fly in the face of what the Minister of Indian Affairs testified at committee on June 4. Indeed, he used language to say that there are “misleading interpretations” of provisions in the act and that he wanted to set the record straight.

I am just wondering if the member for Delta—Richmond East has had an opportunity to have a chat with the Minister of Indian Affairs. I wonder how the two could be so diametrically opposed.

We have the minister saying one thing. We have a government bill that has been presented to the House. It has taken years and years of hard work, if not decades, in order to reach this particular point. Then we have a couple of members, the member for Delta—Richmond East and the member for Calgary Northeast, saying something that is the total opposite.

I find it remarkable that this seems to happen only on the aboriginal file. Perhaps people can find or others can point to other instances in the House, but it seems like it is only on the aboriginal file that the Prime Minister allows people to oppose the government's own legislation.

Why is it that one can stand in the House on one day and make an apology based on historic grounds, on a tragic episode in our country's history, and call for a new day of reconciliation, of tolerance, a reconciliation of aboriginal and non-aboriginal people, and then tolerate what the Minister of Indian Affairs himself said are “misleading interpretations”?

We need to reflect a little. I want to quote from some of the notes that were prepared for us in the committee.

The notes are about the Tsawwassen people and the Tsawwassen First Nation, who are “a Coast Salish group whose historical use of the southern Strait of Georgia and the lower Fraser River and their environs is well documented”. It is well documented because the Tsawwassen people, like so many indigenous and aboriginal peoples around the country, have been there from time immemorial, but then it is noted, “Over time, [the Tsawwassen First Nation] lost the use of all but a fraction of its claimed traditional territory”.

Therefore, we have indigenous people with indigenous rights, aboriginal people with aboriginal rights, living in the historic lands that they have always occupied. They have lost much of it by the encroachment of others, and now we have arrived at a place where we are trying to reconcile that.

Believe me, there is no way that one can look at the traditional land use and occupancy of the Tsawwassen and think even for a second that the band members are getting that land back. They are getting only a fraction of that land back under this particular treaty.

To say that we should not have modern treaties, which is basically the essence of what a couple of members on the other side are saying, is to fly in the face of longstanding policy in this country. I think back to Labrador, where we have had a land claim accepted for the Innu Nation since 1978, one that has not been fully negotiated out and finalized. I think about the Labrador Métis Nation, which filed a land claim in 1990 and is still awaiting a decision from the federal government on whether it should negotiate or not.

The longstanding policy in this country is based on mutual respect, the recognition of the law and the many court cases that have gone to the Supreme Court of Canada which state that aboriginal people have rights and they have rights to their land and resources. For the member opposite to introduce these amendments is to fly in the face of the treaty itself and the comprehensive land claims policy that we have been working with since as early as 1975. Of course, there have been many variations on it.

The Tsawwassen treaty itself points to the need for certainty. The various provisions of the treaty point out the specifics that have been agreed on. It is not what everybody is happy with, but it is a compromise. It is something that people can live with. It is a treaty whereby people on the reserve lands and also those outside those lands can see some hope in terms of where the Tsawwassen people should be and want to be in Canadian society.

It brings back a bit of a déjà vu time. I recall watching the ratification of the Nisga'a treaty. It happened in the House. The minister of Indian affairs at the time, who had been the opposition critic, introduced 471 amendments to that particular treaty, trying to kill it.

So as for the voices I hear from the two particular members on the other side, they are not voices that have not been heard in the Conservative Party or the Reform or Alliance parties. Indeed, they are consistent with the voices and the objectives of certain individuals in whatever manifestation that particular party had at the time.

I want to close on a positive note. I want to quote Chief Baird, who appeared at the aboriginal affairs committee. She stated:

--I have to say this treaty is a good deal for Tsawwassen First Nation. My responsibility was to negotiate the best treaty I could for my community. I had to be pragmatic and accept things that weren't palatable, but the overall impact will transform my community.

We could not afford to wait for the perfect agreement. The world is changing, and we have to change as well. The poverty and inadequate governance structure of the Indian Act is not sustainable. I refuse to see another generation lost.

She went on to say:

We recognize that the treaty is only a tool box. Hard work is still required, but at least it can be done with tools that can make a difference. We will have to work on poor education rates and underemployment and...[get rid] of poor socio-economic conditions. We have never fooled ourselves that a treaty would be utopia with a bow on it.

It is with great pride, optimism, and determination that we face our destiny. We have already turned all our energy toward implementing the treaty, and for us there is no turning back.

This is not just about the technical or legal issues that the member opposite likes to raise. It is also about a future for the Tsawwassen people, their children and their grandchildren.

June 16th, 2008 / 5:05 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

I am sorry to be late. I wanted to be here for the beginning of the meeting, but a Conservative member of Parliament decided to cause some problems in the House, by tabling motions against his own government on Bill C-34. I find that unacceptable, but it is not important.

Having said that, Statistics Canada's definitions of aboriginal populations seem clear to me: aboriginal descent, aboriginal identity, registered or Treaty Indian, member of an Indian band or a first nation. I find it is both easy and clear. However, I think there is a real problem when we are talking about the Métis. No one here is going to make me believe that there are 27,000 Métis in Quebec.

How does Statistics Canada define the Métis? Is it as specific as it is for first nations? If so, I would like to know what the definition is, because if not, anyone could tomorrow morning—for example myself, Marc Lemay, member of Parliament—declare himself to be Métis. Is that correct?

Motions in Amendment
Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act
Government Orders

June 16th, 2008 / 4:45 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-34, specifically to indicate that New Democrats will be opposing the proposed amendments. I want to put this into context.

The Tsawwassen first nation treaty is the first urban treaty in modern day British Columbia. In the address that Chief Kim Baird gave to the provincial legislature, she outlined many reasons why British Columbians and all Canadians should support this treaty. I want to use a couple of her words. Chief Baird said:

Critics choose to ignore Tsawwassen's history of being a victim of industrial and urban development to the benefit of everyone but us. The naysayers do not seem to care that they are calling for the continued exclusion of Tsawwassen from opportunities everyone else has enjoyed. “So what of Tsawwassen First Nations legitimate economic needs? So what of Tsawwassen First Nations land base needs? Let's just continue to ignore Tsawwassen First Nations needs”.

I try not to become too disheartened, and I hope the members of my community take the same approach, because the facts speak for themselves. Today we have a tiny postage stamp of a reserve, a small fraction of a percentage of our traditional territory fronting a dead body of water trapped between two massive industrial operations. Our land and aquatic ecosystems have been fouled beyond human comprehension.

Later on in her speech, she says:

I think I can say on my and my community's behalf that true reconciliation requires this treaty receive broad support. I want our treaty to have the support of as many parties and individuals as possible. To have it become a political football due to various specific public policy issues, in my view, sullies the whole point of true reconciliation.

Compromises are indeed difficult but also very necessary....

This treaty has been under negotiation for many years. In fact, over 14 years of negotiation have gone into this treaty.

In the Tsawwassen treaty summary and key benefits, the Tsawwassen people talk about a new relationship. They say:

The treaty, signed on December 6th, represents a new relationship between Canada, British Columbia, and Tsawwassen First Nation. It begins the process of reconciliation, and sets TFN on the path towards self-sufficiency. Tsawwassen First Nation becomes a full partner with its provincial and federal counterparts, and undertakes the rights and obligations of its section 35 responsibilities. The treaty is not a windfall, nor is it perfect. It represents a compromise borne out of difficult and complex negotiations. It also represents a significant challenge to Tsawwassen First Nation: the responsibilities of treaty present a set of policy and operational challenges that TFN recognizes and is preparing for.

In any agreement that is developed there are often differences of opinion. Because this treaty has been in negotiation for many years, has gone through the provincial legislature and has now come to the House of Commons for ratification, I argue that there has been much discussion and review, especially in light of the historic apology that happened last Wednesday in the House. I think for many people it signals a step forward into a new era of recognizing nation to nation respect and status. This treaty is a way to signal that intent is truly there.

I want to also put it into a couple of other perspectives and one is an international perspective.

Under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, article 26 says:

1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.

2. Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well as those which they have otherwise acquired.

3. States shall give legal recognition and protection to these lands, territories and resources. Such recognition shall be conducted with due respect to the customs, traditions and land tenure systems of the indigenous peoples concerned.

Tsawwassen grandmothers and grandfathers and great grandmothers and great grandfathers for centuries have lived on the Lower Mainland and in areas around there, using the land and the sea to feed, clothe and house their people.

Many of us in the House support the UN declaration in terms of recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands and territories and to their economic self-sufficiency. This treaty would be an opportunity to signal, although Canada has not acknowledged the UN declaration, that at least we acknowledge the Tsawwassen people have the right to a small part of their traditional territory.

I want to go back, also in terms of historical context, to the report by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples in volume two, “Restructuring the Relationship”. The commission spent a fair bit of time covering and talking about the importance of treaties.

The commission talked about the historical need for justice and reconciliation. It quoted Josephine Sandy from the Ojibwa Tribal Family Services. She said:

Our people have always understood that we must be able to continue to live our lives in accordance with our culture and spirituality. Our elders have taught us that this spirit and intent of our treaty relationship must last as long as the rivers flow and the sun shines. We must wait however long it takes for non-Aboriginal people to understand and respect our way of life. This will be the respect that the treaty relationship between us calls for.

In this context, this treaty is a very important piece of having Tsawwassen and its neighbours move forward with some certainty, whether it is economic or social. It allows both the Tsawwassen and the surrounding community to establish that forward looking relationship, which will allow all to benefit economically and socially.

The same report talks about the need for reconciliation as being a way to move forward. Again, I know Chief Kim Baird talked about reconciliation. She talked about the fact that the treaty was compromised. The report states:

By reconciliation we mean more than just giving effect to a treaty hunting right or securing the restoration of reserve land taken unfairly or illegally in the past. We mean embracing the spirit and intent of the treaty relationship itself, a relationship of mutual trust and loyalty, as the framework for a vibrant and respectful new relationship between peoples.

New attitudes must be fostered to bring about this new relationship. A consensus will have to evolve that the treaty relationship continues to be of mutual benefit. New institutions must be created to bring this relationship into being. At present, the relationship between the treaty parties is mired in ignorance, mistrust and prejudice. Indeed, this has been the case for generations.

In 1996, 12 years ago when the RCAP report came out, there was a signal that the need for reconciliation was so important, both to the first nations and to the non-first nations communities. It is a call for us to find ways to build collectively together to move forward, to establish some trust, to establish those long term relationships that can truly make a difference for both the first nations and the non-first nations community.

In the conclusion of the recommendations, although some of these have been covered, it talked about fulfillment of historical treaties. In this case we are talking about the signing of a treaty and not the fulfillment. Under the recommendations, the commission recommends:

The parties implement the historical treaties from the perspective of both justice and reconciliation:

(a) Justice requires the fulfilment of the agreed terms of the treaties, as recorded in the treaty text and supplemented by oral evidence.

(b) Reconciliation requires the establishment of proper principles to govern the continuing treaty relationship and to complete treaties that are incomplete because of the absence of consensus.

I think the treaty is an opportunity to heal some of those long-standing wounds that exist with the first nations. It is an opportunity to recognize the contribution that first nations make to this country and will continue to make. It is an opportunity to truly move forward.

In the conclusion of Chief Baird's speech to the legislature, she talks about the fact that:

Our treaty is the right fit for our nation. More land, cash and resources provide us the opportunity to create a healthy and viable community, free from the constraints of the Indian Act. We now have the tools to operate as a self-governing nation for the first time in 131 years, since the first Indian Act was introduced.

The Tsawwassen treaty, clause by clause, emphasizes self-reliance, personal responsibility and modern education. It allows us to pursue meaningful employment from the resources of our territory for our own people or, in other words, a quality of life comparable to other British Columbians.

The NDP will not support the amendments as proposed. We encourage members of the House to move quickly to ensure this treaty moves through the House and on into the Senate.

Motions in Amendment
Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act
Government Orders

June 16th, 2008 / 4:30 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak about the present file and particularly about the amendments proposed by the member for Delta—Richmond East.

From the outset, I should say that the Bloc Québécois will not support these motions, and I hope that all of the members in the House, with the exception of the two Conservative members, will vote against these motions. The two Conservative members—the member for Delta—Richmond East and his colleague—will perhaps be the only two in the House to vote against an agreement that has been reached between aboriginals and the governments of British Columbia and Canada.

Why is this bill so important for the Bloc Québécois? Because it talks about autonomy and negotiation between nations.

I think that my colleague, the member for Delta—Richmond East, missed some history classes. If he thinks that the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, for which I am the Bloc Québécois critic, did not adequately study this bill, I must tell him that not only did we study it very carefully, but we also received documents to prove what I am about to say. I am sure that my colleague was not alive, nor was his grandfather, nor his great-great grandfather when, in 400 B.C., reference was made to Tsawwassen being in the Vancouver delta. I think that they have a right.

Better yet, there is more, because my colleague thinks that all rights are to be taken for granted. He thinks that because white people came along, the Indians should make way. That is what my colleague opposite wants. In 1851—and I did not make this up, this is from the research results we were given, results that were double-checked—Tsawwassen territory was split in two by the establishment of the Canadian territory and the United States. That predated 1867 and, unfortunately for my colleague opposite, unfortunately for the member for Delta—Richmond East, that was long before he, his parents, his grandparents, or his great-grandparents came into this world. So I think that the aboriginals have some long-standing rights.

The Tsawwassen reserve was created in 1871. That was four years after Canada became a country. To my knowledge, British Columbia did not even exist then. See how the facts have been twisted. When talking about what is going on now, we have to remember that in 1874, the reserve included 490 acres in the Vancouver port and the delta.

The surprising thing is that they are now telling us that it does not exist, that the Indians can be shoved aside. That is bizarre because in 1906, the chiefs went to England—there is evidence supporting that—to ask for their traditional lands back. How would the member for Delta—Richmond East solve the problem? He would solve it by sticking the Indians in the lake or the river, anywhere at all, as long as he could get rid of them and make room for nice white people. He should be ashamed.

The member is part of the government. His government is responsible for this bill. The member is taking issue with a bill introduced by his own government. Not only is he challenging it, but he is introducing amendments that, if passed, would rob Bill C-34 of everything that was agreed to, of everything that was discussed and addressed in the treaty between the Tsawwassen and the governments of Canada and British Columbia. So much for self-determination. Bizarre actions like these lead us to believe that his government's apology was nothing but lip service. The member for Delta—Richmond East is part of the government that apologized just last week.

The ink on the documents is not even dry yet. It was only a week ago Wednesday that the government issued a formal apology for the ethnocide of aboriginals. It was indeed an ethnocide, that is, causing a people to lose their status, thus destroying their culture. That is exactly what was done to aboriginals on reserves who were sent to residential schools. It would certainly make things easier for the member if we could do the same thing to the people of Tsawwassen. If we could get them out of the way, that would take care of the problem. It would done with, one could say.

But my hon. colleague should know that aboriginals, especially with this treaty, will probably take much better care of the salmon. Actually, he seems to care more about the salmon issue than he does about first nations. That is not to say that I am not concerned about the salmon. In fact, with this agreement, the first nations peoples will be able to take much better care of the salmon than the white people that some would like to replace them with.

Furthermore, the agreement also proposes that the Tsawwassen nation, which negotiated nation to nation with British Columbia and Canada, be able to sit at the same table as the regional committee in the Delta and Vancouver area, in order to allow the same developments.

I saw the stocks. I went to see for myself. I find it exceptional, and I say this out of respect for the current government. Once again, I would like to repeat to my hon. colleague from Delta—Richmond East that negotiations began on this agreement in 2003. It has not been merely a couple weeks or a couple months. They have been going on since 2003 and even earlier. An agreement was reached with British Columbia and Canada around 2003 and, since that time, people from the Tsawwassen nation have come to Ottawa several times. They have met with the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development several times to move this file forward.

For once, a file is finally making some progress in this government and I find it appalling that a member—a government member, at that—would put forward such a proposal to destroy his own government's bill. It makes no sense.

It is important to look at what they are claiming. At first, I thought they wanted half of British Colombia. I thought to myself that this made no sense. But no, it would give them 724 hectares of land. Sure, maybe the land is a prime location, in a commercial area. It is true that the Vancouver port will perhaps not be able to expand as it wanted to. It will just need to come to an agreement with the Tsawwassen First Nation. That is it. Finally, they can deal with each other as equals. The objective of the agreement, of the treaty, is to be able to negotiate as equals, as nations.

That is why the Bloc is in favour of this. The Tsawwassen agreement is the first of its kind below the 60th parallel. We think it could have a significant impact on other land claims.

I realize I am running out of time. I urge all of my colleagues in the House to vote in favour of this bill, with the exception of those two members. I would like to teach them a lesson so that they understand once and for all. I would like us to all vote in favour of this bill. Thus, the aboriginals of Tsawwassen will be able to finally reclaim their land, to get back what is rightfully theirs.

Motions in Amendment
Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act
Government Orders

June 16th, 2008 / 4:10 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat surprised, and in a few minutes, I will explain why. I am stunned and disappointed. My colleague opposite's position is unacceptable, and I hope that other members of his party will vote against these motions that—I will try to choose my words carefully here, but it is hard for me—seem to me to be infused with paternalism, smugness and disrespect despite the fact that not even a week ago—the ink is still wet—the government apologized for what was done to aboriginals in Indian residential schools.

I studied Bill C-34 very closely, from all angles. The Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development also studied it thoroughly.

The final agreement covers approximately 724 hectares of treaty settlement land including approximately 290 hectares of former reserve lands. These lands belonged to the Indians, not to the whites, because the Indians were there first. The aboriginals will get 372 hectares of provincial Crown land belonging to British Columbia back, and the first nation will also own in fee simple 62 hectares of waterfront land comprised of the Boundary Bay and Fraser River parcels.

I do not understand what gives them the right to say that the aboriginals, under this agreement that took five years to negotiate, do not have rights to these lands that belong to them. I would really like him to explain that.

Speaker's Ruling
Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act
Government Orders

June 16th, 2008 / 4 p.m.
See context

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

I must first share with the House a ruling by the Speaker on Bill C-34, An Act to give effect to the Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

There are nine motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-34.

Motions Nos. 1 to 9 will be grouped for debate and voted upon according to the voting pattern available at the table.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-34, An Act to give effect to the Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

June 16th, 2008 / 3:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Nancy Karetak-Lindell

I call to order meeting number 34 of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

We had decided that we would have Statistics Canada and Indian Affairs come before us today. We're going to start with Statistics Canada and then go on to the Department of Indian Affairs.

First of all, I hear that congratulations are in order for one of our colleagues on this committee. Mr. Chris Warkentin and his wife have just had a baby girl, so that's why he's not in today. We're very happy for him.

I know that some members are waiting to speak on Tsawwassen and Bill C-34, so that's why some of them aren't here. I think some members will be coming and going, so no offence, but we have some rotating members who are on the speaking list.

I think we'll start with Ms. Badets. Go ahead.

Extension of Sitting Hours
Routine Proceedings

June 9th, 2008 / 3:10 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 would like at this time to move the standard motion that can be made only today. I move:

That, pursuant to Standing Order 27(1), commencing on Monday, June 9, 2008, and concluding on Thursday, June 19, 2008, the House shall continue to sit until 11:00 p.m.

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated last week in answer to the Thursday statement, this is we have work to do week. To kick off the week, we are introducing the customary motion to extend the daily sitting hours of the House for the final two weeks of the spring session. This is a motion which is so significant there is actually a specific Standing Order contemplating it, because it is the normal practice of this House, come this point in the parliamentary cycle, that we work additional hours and sit late to conduct business.

In fact, since 1982, when the House adopted a fixed calendar, such a motion has never been defeated. I underline that since a fixed calendar was adopted, such a motion has never been defeated. As a consequence, we know that today when we deal with this motion, we will discover whether the opposition parties are interested in doing the work that they have been sent here to do, or whether they are simply here to collect paycheques, take it easy and head off on a three month vacation.

On 11 of those occasions, sitting hours were extended using this motion. On six other occasions, the House used a different motion to extend the sitting hours in June. This includes the last three years of minority government.

This is not surprising. Canadians expect their members of Parliament to work hard to advance their priorities. They would not look kindly on any party that was too lazy to work a few extra hours to get as much done as possible before the three month summer break. There is a lot to get done.

In the October 2007 Speech from the Throne, we laid out our legislative agenda. It set out an agenda of clear goals focusing on five priorities to: rigorously defend Canada's sovereignty and place in the world; strengthen the federation and modernize our democratic institutions; provide effective, competitive economic leadership to maintain a competitive economy; tackle crime and strengthen the security of Canadians; and improve the environment and the health of Canadians. In the subsequent months, we made substantial progress on these priorities.

We passed the Speech from the Throne which laid out our legislative agenda including our environmental policy. Parliament passed Bill C-2, the Tackling Violent Crime Act, to make our streets and communities safer by tackling violent crime. Parliament passed Bill C-28, which implemented the 2007 economic statement. That bill reduced taxes for all Canadians, including reductions in personal income and business taxes, and the reduction of the GST to 5%.

I would like to point out that since coming into office, this government has reduced the overall tax burden for Canadians and businesses by about $190 billion, bringing taxes to their lowest level in 50 years.

We have moved forward on our food and consumer safety action plan by introducing a new Canada consumer product safety act and amendments to the Food and Drugs Act.

We have taken important steps to improve the living conditions of first nations. For example, first nations will hopefully soon have long overdue protection under the Canadian Human Rights Act, and Bill C-30 has been passed by the House to accelerate the resolution of specific land claims.

Parliament also passed the 2008 budget. This was a balanced, focused and prudent budget to strengthen Canada amid global economic uncertainty. Budget 2008 continues to reduce debt, focuses government spending and provides additional support for sectors of the economy that are struggling in this period of uncertainty.

As well, the House adopted a motion to endorse the extension of Canada's mission in Afghanistan, with a renewed focus on reconstruction and development to help the people of Afghanistan rebuild their country.

These are significant achievements and they illustrate a record of real results. All parliamentarians should be proud of the work we have accomplished so far in this session. However, there is a lot of work that still needs to be done.

As I have stated in previous weekly statements, our top priority is to secure passage of Bill C-50, the 2008 budget implementation bill.

This bill proposes a balanced budget, controlled spending, investments in priority areas and lower taxes, all without forcing Canadian families to pay a tax on carbon, gas and heating. Furthermore, the budget implementation bill proposes much-needed changes to the immigration system.

These measures will help keep our economy competitive.

Through the budget implementation bill, we are investing in the priorities of Canadians.

These priorities include: $500 million to help improve public transit, $400 million to help recruit front line police officers, nearly $250 million for carbon capture and storage projects in Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, and $100 million for the Mental Health Commission of Canada to help Canadians facing mental health and homelessness challenges.

These investments, however, could be threatened if the bill does not pass before the summer. That is why I am hopeful that the bill will be passed by the House later today.

The budget bill is not our only priority. Today the House completed debate at report stage on Bill C-29, which would create a modern, transparent, accountable process for the reporting of political loans. We will vote on this bill tomorrow and debate at third reading will begin shortly thereafter.

We also wish to pass Bill C-55, which implements our free trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association.

This free trade agreement, the first in six years, reflects our desire to find new markets for Canadian products and services.

Given that the international trade committee endorsed the agreement earlier this year, I am optimistic that the House will be able to pass this bill before we adjourn.

On Friday we introduced Bill C-60, which responds to recent decisions relating to courts martial. That is an important bill that must be passed on a time line. Quick passage is necessary to ensure the effectiveness of our military justice system.

Last week the aboriginal affairs committee reported Bill C-34, which implements the Tsawwassen First Nation final agreement. This bill has all-party support in the House. Passage of the bill this week would complement our other achievements for first nations, including the apology on Wednesday to the survivors of residential schools.

These are important bills that we think should be given an opportunity to pass. That is why we need to continue to work hard, as our rules contemplate.

The government would also like to take advantage of extended hours to advance important crime and security measures. Important justice measures are still before the House, such as: Bill S-3, the anti-terrorism act; Bill C-53, the auto theft bill; Bill C-45 to modernize the military justice system; and Bill C-60, which responds to recent court martial decisions.

There are a number of other bills that we would like to see advanced in order to improve the management of the economy. There are other economic bills we would like to advance.

These include Bill C-7, to modernize our aeronautics sector, Bill C-5, dealing with nuclear liability, Bill C-43, to modernize our customs rules, Bill C-39, to modernize the Canada Grain Act for farmers, Bill C-46, to give farmers more choice in marketing grain, Bill C-57, to modernize the election process for the Canadian Wheat Board, Bill C-14, to allow enterprises choice for communicating with customers, and Bill C-32, to modernize our fisheries sector.

If time permits, there are numerous other bills that we would like to advance.

These include Bill C-51, to ensure that food and products available in Canada are safe for consumers, Bill C-54, to ensure safety and security with respect to pathogens and toxins, Bill C-56, to ensure public protection with respect to the transportation of dangerous goods, Bill C-19, to limit the terms of senators to 8 years from a current maximum of 45, and Bill C-22, to provide fairness in representation in the House of Commons.

It is clear a lot of work remains before the House. Unfortunately, a number of bills have been delayed by the opposition through hoist amendments. Given these delays, it is only fair that the House extend its sitting hours to complete the bills on the order paper. As I have indicated, we still have to deal with a lot of bills.

We have seen a pattern in this Parliament where the opposition parties have decided to tie up committees to prevent the work of the people being done. They have done delay and obstruction as they did most dramatically on our crime agenda. They do not bother to come and vote one-third of time in the House of Commons. Their voting records has shown that. All of this is part of a pattern of people who are reluctant to work hard.

The government is prepared to work hard and the rules contemplate that it work hard. In fact, on every occasion, when permission has been sought at this point in the parliamentary calendar to sit extended hours, the House has granted permission, including in minority Parliaments.

If that does not happen, it will be clear to Canadians that the opposition parties do not want to work hard and are not interested in debating the important policy issues facing our country. Is it any wonder that we have had a question period dominated not by public policy questions, but dominated entirely by trivia and issues that do not matter to ordinary Canadians.

The government has been working hard to advance its agenda, to advance the agenda that we talked about with Canadians in the last election, to work on the priorities that matter to ordinary Canadians, and we are seeking the consent of the House to do this.

Before concluding, I point out, once again, that extending the daily sitting hours for the last two weeks of June is a common practice. Marleau and Montpetit, at page 346, state this is:

—a long-standing practice whereby, prior to the prorogation of the Parliament or the start of the summer recess, the House would arrange for longer hours of sitting in order to complete or advance its business.

As I stated earlier, it was first formalized in the Standing Orders in 1982 when the House adopted a fixed calendar. Before then, the House often met on the weekend or continued its sittings into July to complete its work. Since 1982, the House has agreed on 11 occasions to extend the hours of sitting in the last two weeks of June.

Therefore, the motion is a routine motion designed to facilitate the business of the House and I expect it will be supported by all members. We are sent here to engage in very important business for the people of Canada. Frankly, the members in the House are paid very generously to do that work. Canadians expect them to do that work and expect them to put in the time that the rules contemplate.

All member of the House, if they seek that privilege from Canadian voters, should be prepared to do the work the rules contemplate. They should be prepared to come here to vote, to come here to debate the issues, to come here for the hours that the rules contemplate. If they are not prepared to do that work, they should step aside and turnover their obligations to people who are willing to do that work.

There is important work to be done on the commitments we made in the Speech from the Throne. I am therefore seeking the support of all members to extend our sitting hours, so we can complete work on our priorities before we adjourn for the summer. This will allow members to demonstrate results to Canadians when we return to our constituencies in two weeks.

Not very many Canadians have the privilege of the time that we have at home in our ridings, away from our work. People do not begrudge us those privileges. They think it is important for us to connect with them. However, what they expect in return is for us to work hard. They expect us to put in the hours. They expect us to carry on business in a professional fashion. The motion is all about that. It is about doing what the rules have contemplated, what has always been authorized by the House any time it has been asked, since the rule was instituted in 1982. That is why I would ask the House to support the motion to extend the hours.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

June 5th, 2008 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Conservative

Barry Devolin Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. In accordance with the order of reference of Monday, May 26 the committee has considered Bill C-34, the Tsawwassen first nation final agreement act, and has agreed to report it without amendment.