Bill C-8 (Historical)
Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act
An Act respecting family homes situated on First Nation reserves and matrimonial interests or rights in or to structures and lands situated on those reserves
This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in December 2009.
Chuck Strahl Conservative
Introduction and First Reading
(This bill did not become law.)
- May 25, 2009 Failed That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word "That" and substituting the following: “Bill C-8, An Act respecting family homes situated on First Nation reserves and matrimonial interests or rights in or to structures and lands situated on those reserves, be not now read a second time but that it be read a second time this day six months hence.”.
Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act
November 1st, 2012 / 1:40 p.m.
Laurin Liu Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC
Mr. Speaker, I listened with great pleasure to the speeches by my colleagues here in the House. I am pleased to speak today to Bill S-2 regarding family real property on reserves.
From a technical point of view, the bill provides that a first nations community is authorized to adopt legislation “respecting the use, occupation and possession of family homes on first nation reserves and the division of the value of any interests or rights held by spouses or common-law partners in or to structures and lands on those reserves”.
The provisional federal rules set out in the bill would apply until a first nations group brings their own laws into force.
I acknowledge that the bill is well intentioned: it is meant to fill a legal vacuum in the field of matrimonial law and to grant equal property rights to both spouses in the event of their separation. However, we know what the Conservatives are like. They conducted consultations just to be seen to be doing something; they ignored many serious studies into the matter and they ended up introducing a defective bill that has been rejected by the main first nations spokespersons.
Earlier in the day in this debate, we heard a Conservative member put a price on the consultations. She told us how much the consultations had cost. However, the Conservatives retained hardly any of the recommendations that were made during the consultations, so they were obviously only a facade. It is an enormous mess as only the Conservatives can create.
Before going into greater detail about the reasons why we oppose the bill, I would like to tell the people who are listening to us about the problem we are facing.
Right now, when a couple divorces, the division of family property, such as the house and the couple's personal property, is determined by provincial legislation. Subsection 92(13) of the Constitution Act, 1867 provides that property and civil rights are under provincial jurisdiction. However, under subsection 91(24) of the Constitution, the Parliament of Canada has exclusive legislative jurisdiction over Indians and lands reserved for Indians. Therefore, provincial laws are not applicable to the division of property on the reserves. In 1986, in the Derrickson case, the Supreme Court of Canada created a legal vacuum when it ruled that the courts could not rely on provincial law when determining the division of matrimonial real property on reserves.
The absence of provisions both at the federal and provincial levels with regard to the division of matrimonial real property on reserves is a problem, because the people who live on reserves cannot appeal to the Canadian legal system to resolve issues relating to the division of property when a marriage has broken down. It is usually our aboriginal sisters who bear the costs of this legal vacuum. As Beverley Jacobs, the president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, said so clearly, “the lack of a matrimonial property law regime is a denial of women's equality.”
Bob Watts of the Assembly of First Nations spoke about the problem that this poses for women. He said:
While the lack of a legal regime to govern the disposition of matrimonial real property on reserve is a serious human rights issue that must be addressed, this legislative gap merely represents the tip of a much greater iceberg. The legislative gap in matrimonial real property rights on reserve lands is exacerbated by chronic housing shortages that exist on most reserves and difficulties in securing financing to purchase or construct alternative housing on reserve upon marital breakdown, in part due to the restrictions in the Indian Act against mortgaging reserve lands. These factors play an equal if not greater role in imposing hardship on first nation families, and in particular on women and children, who are often forced to relocate to off-reserve locations upon marital breakdown, particularly if domestic violence was a factor contributing to the breakdown in marriage.
Most stakeholders who expressed their opinions in the various forums agree that the status quo is no longer an option. Yet, Bill S-2 does not meet the needs of the first nations, who are speaking out against the lack of consultation, the lack of recognition of the first nations' inherent jurisdiction over matrimonial law, and the need to improve access to the justice system and to alternative dispute-resolution mechanisms.
In May 2009, the Native Women's Association of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations published a joint statement to make known their opposition to the bill. The statement pertained to Bill C-8, Bill S-2's predecessor. However, in the end, nothing has really changed. I would like to cite an excerpt from that statement:
NWAC and the AFN (including the AFN Women’s Council), all agree that [the bill] ...will do nothing to solve the problems associated with Matrimonial Real Property (MRP) on-reserve; that the federal government failed in its duty to consult and accommodate the views of first nations; and, as a result, the bill is fatally flawed and cannot be fixed. It should not proceed to committee.
I believe that their point of view is fairly clear. Even though this is the fourth version of this bill and many studies were conducted in this regard, aboriginal people and legal experts who are interested in this issue are concerned that the Conservative government is trying to ram this bill through.
Pam Palmater, who teaches aboriginal law at Ryerson University, has criticized the government's haste: [Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada] appears to be rushing this legislation through the process by introducing multiple bills in the House and the Senate at the same time. This does not allow sufficient time for most first nation communities to become informed or to determine how best to advocate on their own behalf. It is therefore critical that this committee see the issue in its broader context and why first nations are making their right to be consulted such a priority in their submissions before you.
I would also like to remind members that, according to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Canada has agreed to honour, consultation implies the consent of the people consulted. This point is very important. Although Canada did undertake limited consultations, no consent was given by aboriginal representatives. I would like to emphasize this point. In our opinion, if Bill S-2 is passed without the consent of the principal parties, we will be violating article 32 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which requires the free, prior and informed consent of the rights holders.
Aboriginal women in particular have spoken out against Bill S-2. They believe that it will only force families to resort to the provincial court. That is not a solution because it is too expensive for many families. Seeking remedies in provincial court, when accessible, can place another financial burden on members of first nations who divorce. The fact is that the bill could create additional obstacles for members of first nations who seek justice, and it will not provide effective recourse for people seeking compensation.
The Conservative members on the other side of the House may claim that they defend women's rights but, as we know, aboriginal women have already condemned this bill. I urge my Conservative colleagues to listen to those who are truly concerned and who will be affected by this bill.
The president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, Beverley Jacobs, is very worried. She believes that:
[The Conservatives' bill] will put women who are experiencing family violence at further risk by forcing them to wait long periods for justice without adequate social supports, services or shelters.
Need I remind the House that, according to Statistics Canada, 35% of aboriginal women have been victims of violence, and first nations women suffer three times as much violence as non-aboriginal women and are overrepresented among homicide victims? Those are very alarming statistics. I would note that the Native Women’s Association of Canada estimates that 510 aboriginal girls and women have disappeared or been murdered since 1980, and this is far too many.
I find the lack of political will on the part of the Liberals and Conservatives, when it comes to the housing problem facing the first nations, particularly egregious. We have to understand that the shortage of decent, affordable housing on reserves is closely tied to the division of property on divorce.
At present, because of a legal vacuum, women have no rights when their marriage breaks down. That means they have no choice but to leave their home. There is no vacant, healthy housing on the reserves. As a result, some women are forced to leave their reserve.
Like the first nations, we will again be opposing this bill. In fact, we will not support any legislation concerning matrimonial real property unless it is accompanied by non-legislative solutions to put an end to violence against aboriginal women, addresses the housing crisis on reserves and ends the systematic discrimination in funding for first nations children.
In closing, I would like to tell the House about recommendations made by the Native Women’s Association of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations. I hope my Conservative colleagues will listen to these recommendations.
A report entitled “Walking Arm-In-Arm to Resolve the Issue of On-Reserve Matrimonial Real Property” was published in 2005.
It made five recommendations. It recommended that the NWAC and the AFN be consulted on developing new legislation or amending the Indian Act; that financial aid be provided to first nations to develop their own matrimonial real property codes; that any new legislation not apply to first nations that had developed their own code; that the Canadian Human Rights Act be amended to apply to individuals living on reserves; and that Canada recognize the first nations’ inherent right of self-government.
Clearly, the Conservatives did not listen to those recommendations and their consultations were a mere passing fancy. That is how the Conservatives do things: they introduce bills on which there has been no consultation whatsoever of the people affected by the measures in the bill.
I will be very happy to take questions from my hon. colleagues.
April 20th, 2010 / 3:30 p.m.
Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC
Mr. Chair, I'll soon be making a proposal—I'll wait for my Liberal colleagues first—that the clause-by-clause consideration of the bill be postponed to next Tuesday. I'll explain why later. I realize there are many people with us now and that is something I regret. I respect the witnesses, and they have only five minutes to make a statement concerning a bill that is key to their future, not ours, theirs.
With all due respect, Mr. Chair, this process is beginning to weigh on me. I would like the witnesses to have the time they need to explain their positions. If ever we do not have time to ask them questions, we could continue Thursday during the first hour. The witnesses are here and I know that some of them have worked very hard to prepare for today. This is probably one of the most important bills we have debated, along with Bill C-8, An Act respecting Family Homes situated on First Nation Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights in or to structures and lands situated on those reserves, and Bill C-21, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act. So I think we can take another day or two. I'm ready to listen to the people here today; we have until 6:30 p.m. If we're not finished, then we can continue Thursday afternoon. Five minutes is not enough to discuss section 6 of this bill, C-3, An Act to promote gender equity in Indian registration by responding to the Court of Appeal for British Columbia decision in McIvor v. Canada (Registrar of Indian and Northern Affairs).
Mr. Chair, I am not questioning your good faith. I know you want to do the right thing. I have the utmost respect for that, but there are essential aspects. The members of the committee have questions and so do the witnesses. It is their future that is at stake here, and I say this with all due respect.
December 3rd, 2009 / 11:35 a.m.
Todd Russell Labrador, NL
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Good morning, Mr. Quinn and Mr. Wernick. It's good to have you and your officials here for the 20th time, and I'm sure you can look forward to a 21st at some time in the future.
To start off, I have a couple of questions. In your remarks, you mentioned Bill C-8, matrimonial real property, and you said it may come next year or sooner. Well, there are not many days left in this particular year: are we anticipating that this would come next week?
December 2nd, 2009 / 11:55 a.m.
The Chair Dean Allison
I want to go back to you, Jean, in the context of consultation and Bill C-8, for any recommendations. There are obviously members around the table who will go back to their respective parties. What are your thoughts—and I realize it's your opinion, so it's as it relates to you—on what you've seen concerning the bill? Is it something you'd still recommend that we move forward on?
Speaking to Mr. Martin's point, is there a need for more consultation, in your opinion, on Bill C-8?
December 2nd, 2009 / 11 a.m.
Jean McKendry Individual Presentation
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good morning, Mr. Chair and members of this committee. My name is Jean McKendry. I'm an academic librarian at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, in Surrey, British Columbia. It is pure serendipity that I am here today, and thank you for letting me speak.
I'm visiting Yellowknife for 10 days to do legal anthropology archival research at the courthouse in Yellowknife and at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, but my doctoral research at the University of British Columbia is about homelessness. When I was listening to the CBC Radio this morning, I heard about this committee and decided that I would stop in on my way to work.
I can't speak at all about the poverty issues in the north, but I'm aware of homelessness in other areas of Canada. My doctoral research at the University of British Columbia in the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies is what to do for homeless men in public libraries from an architectural point of view. In my doctoral research I've learned that homelessness costs Canadian taxpayers about $6 billion per year. I've also determined that about 0.5% of every community in Canada is homeless.
There are three stages of homelessness. First of all, there are the hidden homeless, and they don't want anyone to know they're homeless. They can survive for about six months. They do not go near the shelters or other homeless people because they are so stigmatized that their life is at this crisis. After about six months, these people will move towards availing themselves of the services at the shelters.
In my community in Surrey, British Columbia, most of the shelter beds are now occupied by the working poor. They get up in the morning and they go to work, but they don't have enough income to support themselves and their food and daily living costs and housing, so they live in the shelters. But after about two years of living in shelters, a lot of the people become the absolute homeless, and they're the people who we see on the streets pushing the shopping carts. They don't live in shelters. In Vancouver they're lucky because the temperature is warm enough that they can live outdoors most of the year.
In my community, in South Surrey and White Rock, I am one of the people who sit on the community board that looks into the issues of homelessness and housing in South Surrey. A lot of people are amazed that there are even homeless people in our community, but 0.5% of every community are homeless people. So in my community, in White Rock, British Columbia, I determine that there are about 100 people who are homeless, even though there are only about three people visually on the street who are absolutely homeless. We have to take into account all of the homeless, not just the visibly homeless.
After about two years of living in shelters, the absolute homeless stop using these services because they realize that there is no housing strategy and they aren't going to get housing, and they give up. And most absolute homeless people do not celebrate their fiftieth birthday. They die. And they have nowhere to die. They die on the street or in the parks or along a roadway. The number of homeless people who are dying in Vancouver is more than the average for the mortality of that age of the population. That's a separate issue.
What I also know is there's a disproportionate number of aboriginal people who are homeless all across Canada. Four per cent of the Canadian population is aboriginal, approximately, 4% to 6%, but more than 25% of the homeless are aboriginal. I kept asking myself why is this so disproportionate, and I kept looking for reasons why.
What I have determined is that there is a problem with the matrimonial property rights on reserves in Canada. I realize in the north the Inuit people do not live on reserves, but here's what happens on reserves in Canada. There is a certificate of possession that has to be signed from the band office for anyone who lives in housing on the reserve. One signature goes onto that certificate of possession, and if a marriage breaks down, which is more common than off reserve, it is usually the mum and the children who leave the matrimonial home. The matrimonial home goes to the person whose name is on the certificate of possession, and the family members who are not on the certificate of possession are often evicted from the reserve and they leave the reserve with no child support, no equal division of property. There is nothing for them, and they are the next generation of homeless children. They go with their mums, and in the Lower Mainland, they end up on the downtown east side of Vancouver. Those are the aboriginal mums who end up as prostitutes. Those are the mums who ended up, a lot of them, the victims of the Pickton fiasco we had in Vancouver. I know this sounds a little bit embellished, but it's not.
The Indian Act also has a clause in it that says wages cannot be garnisheed, which means children don't get child support. So there is a mum, probably with no high school graduation, who is trying to look after maybe up to three children, and she is under age 21 in Vancouver trying to survive. It's a really tough life. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Nobody wants to be homeless.
Here's how this ties into my research. Literacy is fundamental for Canadian society to function. Being illiterate is a severe handicap, but it can be overcome. When I talk to people about my research, I don't tell them I am working on homelessness because it is so stigmatized. I just tell them I am working on a public health crisis, and that's what I believe homelessness is in Canada.
What has literacy to do with poverty and homelessness? I think it has lots to do with it. For example, without an address you can't get a library card at most public libraries in Canada. It's a fact that children who use public libraries do better in school and have a better chance of succeeding because they are literate. Public libraries in Canada are trying to be more inclusive and welcoming to the at-risk people in our communities, especially aboriginal children and families. But many communities in Canada do not issue library cards to families who live on reserves. This is true in my own community. The Fraser Valley regional library system, which serves from the Fraser River on the south side all the way up to Boston Bar, will not issue a public library card to a family that lives on a reserve because they don't pay property taxes. I think this is discrimination; if you can't pay property taxes, that shouldn't stop you from being eligible for a public library card.
To wrap this up, I would like to encourage everyone to encourage the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians in Canada, to please pass Bill C-8, the family homes reserves and matrimonial interests or rights act. It has only had first reading, and that was last February. If that bill were passed, aboriginal women and children in Canada would have more opportunities to be independent and we would give them the same matrimonial property rights that the rest of Canada has enjoyed since the Divorce Act was enacted in 1968.
Thank you very much.
October 6th, 2009 / 12:40 p.m.
Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON
Mr. Chair, I wasn't going to go there, but I will.
In terms of partisanship, I was at the cabinet table when my colleague Andy Scott worked for a good 18 months to prepare the terrain to arrive at an accord that would see the Government of Canada try to address fundamental problems of health, housing, and post-secondary education for the aboriginal community at large. When 13 premiers and territorial leaders and the Prime Minister of the country and six aboriginal national leaders all agreed on a certain weekend in a certain community that indeed that was the way to go, they didn't get around to signing a document, because it wasn't yet drafted. It was agreed that it would be drafted and signed and that the government would include in its fiscal framework, over the next five fiscal years, an investment of $5 billion in additional money. That was called the Kelowna Accord. I would argue, with all due respect to Madam Glover, that it was bringing to the table and bringing forward some very positive action, which was supported. We had not only consensus but unanimity. Unfortunately, the government that was elected in 2006 decided not to follow up and not to respect that agreement.
If we're going to go that route, let's put all the facts on the table. I wanted to address—and it's a question I need to understand, if I may—a piece of legislation that's pending. We don't know what the government intends to do. They said that they wanted to bring it forward again. It's Bill C-8. You're aware of what I'm talking about. It is amendments to the matrimonial situation in the legislation. When we were debating that in the House, we were told that you supported that legislation. Then we were told otherwise. Could you clarify that? If you don't support it, tell us--perhaps not today, we won't have time in four minutes, but perhaps in future exchanges--what you would like to see. I think that would be very useful.
September 17th, 2009 / 4:50 p.m.
Rick White Executive Director, Canadian Canola Growers Association, Grain Growers of Canada
Yes, thank you, Richard. And thank you to the committee for providing an opportunity to talk to you about some of these topics.
First of all, I would like to change the focus of the discussion here a little bit to the broader issue of competitiveness. As growers, we need an efficient, effective, and affordable rail transportation system to keep us competitive in the global market.
There are two components to rail transportation in general that affect our competitiveness as growers in that market. The first one is timely service. This has been a problem for a very long time. However, there has been some progress on this front with the passage of Bill C-8, giving shippers more negotiating power and options to hold the railways more accountable in providing service. In addition, there is a formal review of railway service currently being undertaken by the government. We fully support that initiative and look forward to its completion and the implementation of the recommendations that will emerge. We're optimistic on the service issue.
The second component of rail transportation that affects our competitiveness is the price we pay to transport our grain. If rail freight charges are too high, we cannot compete in the export market, or, at minimum, our competitiveness would certainly be reduced. We are fortunate to have a legislated revenue cap in place for the movement of western Canadian grain, and we certainly need that cap to remain in place in the future. The revenue cap is effective in allowing the railways to have pricing flexibility to reflect proper market signals, and at the same time, it protects farmers to some degree by limiting the overall yearly revenues earned by the railways from the movement of grain. While the existing regulation governs maximum railway revenues, nonetheless, it is still cost based, where the costs are historical railway costs. In fact, the current revenue cap is based on the costs of railways established by the WGTA way back in 1992, almost 18 years ago. We all know that a lot has changed in railway operations and infrastructure over the years, and we're talking about some of those changes even at this meeting today.
We believe the time has come for the federal government to conduct a costing review of the railway revenue caps to re-establish and update the base year to the current operational environment. This recalibration is required to ensure that the revenue cap remains relevant and fair to the industry, and to ensure our competitiveness in the future.
In very quick summary, we support SARM's proposal to amend the Canada Transportation Act to ensure that sidings go through a fair abandonment process. Secondly, we strongly support the level of service review that is currently under way and ask members of all parties to act swiftly to implement the recommendations when they come forward next spring. Last, we feel the time has come to conduct a costing review of the railway revenue caps, and we would encourage this committee to support us in that endeavour.
Thank you again for the opportunity to be here. We look forward to your questions.
Opposition Motion--Business of the House
Business of Supply
June 19th, 2009 / 9:20 a.m.
Prince George—Peace River
Jay Hill Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to the opposition day motion moved by the hon. member for Wascana, the Liberal House leader.
The motion recognizes the role of the House in ensuring government accountability. As we know, that is the primary function of Parliament in our Westminster system.
More specifically, the motion at hand calls for three things: first, that the Standing Orders of the House be changed with respect to the scheduling of allotted days this fall; second, that the House calendar be altered to accommodate the G20 meetings in September; and third, that the government table an additional report on the implementation of the 2009 budget.
I will touch on these three points very briefly, as it is the government's intention to support the motion. I will devote the remainder of my remarks to a more general discourse on the successful functioning of Parliament and my experiences of this past session.
The opposition day motion provides for a change to the rules of Parliament with regard to how the government may allocate opposition days this fall. Since coming to office in 2006, as a general rule our government has always tried to evenly distribute the opposition days in the parliamentary calendar. In certain circumstances we recognize that legislative priorities can force a deviation from this practice. However, we do support the idea of amending the Standing Orders to ensure that this usual practice becomes a rule.
The second provision of today's opposition day motion provides for a change to the House calendar for the fall of 2009. Under this provision the House would open a week earlier than currently scheduled and it would then adjourn for the week of September 21. This will enable the government to focus on the G20 meetings in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 24 and 25.
The G20 is the chief forum for the world leaders, as a group, to address issues resulting from the global economic crisis, and Canada has played an active and important role in these discussions. At the fall G20 meetings, the Prime Minister and other world leaders will discuss progress in promoting economic recovery and they will consider new ways to address global economic and financial challenges.
I think we can all agree that there is no more pressing issue before Parliament than dealing with the global economic downturn, which has caused personal hardship and job loss around the world. Unfortunately, as we all know, Canada has not been immune.
Our legislative program of this past session has reflected that the economy is the number one issue for Canadians. As such, I am pleased to support a motion that permits the Government of Canada to give its undivided attention to the critical economic discussions that will be taking place at the G20 summit in September.
The third provision of today's opposition motion requests that the government table an additional report on the implementation of the 2009 budget. In the face of global economic uncertainty, this government presented a budget in January with a comprehensive economic action plan to stimulate economic growth, restore confidence and support Canadians and their families during this global recession.
This economic recovery program is unprecedented in our history, and it is working. Canada was the last group of seven country to enter recession and the International Monetary Fund expects that we will have the strongest recovery coming out of it.
The government has also taken unprecedented steps in reporting on our economic action plan. We tabled an initial budget report in March. A week ago we tabled a second budget report, which outlines how 80% of the measures in our economic action plan are already being implemented. This government welcomes the opportunity provided by today's opposition day motion to table a third budget report in September. In fact, we committed to such a report in our budget presentation earlier this past winter.
The Minister of Finance announced at the time that he would be tabling an economic report in the fall. This being the case, I commend the official opposition for echoing the government's pre-existing intention and commitment to provide quarterly reports on the economy in and through the House to all Canadians. As we debate this today, I think it is important to remember that the government was already committed to providing that report in September.
As all members in the House know, the last few weeks have not been easy in this place. In fact they have not been easy on Canadians from coast to coast to coast. During this time of economic challenge, Canadians did not want to hear about the possibility of an election. Canadians want us to continue to work to achieve results for them. They know we cannot afford an election, which would put Canada's economic recovery at risk, halt stimulus investment across the country and limit our ability to continue to implement our economic action plan for Canadians.
By avoiding an election, we have enabled the government to continue its course of doing everything possible to turn this global recession around on our own soil. The cooperation we have seen emerge over this week, spearheaded by our Prime Minister, has not only avoided a costly and unwanted election but has clearly demonstrated to Canadians that their Parliament can work for them.
Despite the partisan political drama played out during the daily 45 minutes of question period, Canadians may be surprised to know just how cooperative and productive this past session of Parliament has been. Since January, our government has worked with all opposition parties to advance many important bills that will help Canadian families. We have moved forward on our electoral commitments, and I am pleased that much more has been done.
Since January, the government has introduced a total of 54 bills. By the time the Senate adjourns for the summer next week, I expect we will have royal assent on 26 of those bills, including such important legislative initiatives as Bill C-33, which will restore war veterans' allowances to allied veterans and their families; Bill C-29, to guarantee an estimated $1 billion in loans over the next five years to Canadian farm families and co-operatives; Bill C-3, to promote the economic development of Canada's north; Bill C-28, to increase the governance capacity of first nations in Canada; and Bill C-14, a critically important justice bill to fight the scourge of organized crime.
Although much work has been accomplished, a good number of bills that continue to be priorities of our government remain on the order paper, including Bill C-6, to enact Canada's consumer product safety act to help protect the health and safety of all Canadians; Bill C-8, to provide first nations women on reserve with the same rights and protections enjoyed by all other Canadians; and Bill C-23, to open new doors for trade between Canada and Colombia.
Furthermore, our government has continued to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to fighting crime and violence in this country. Our justice minister, the hon. member for Niagara Falls, has been unrelenting in his determination to hold criminals accountable and protect victims and law-abiding Canadian citizens.
Over a dozen justice related bills have been introduced since the beginning of this parliamentary session, which include Bill C-15, Bill C-26 and Bill S-4, to help fight crimes related to criminal organizations, such as drug-related offences, identity theft and auto theft; Bill C-25, which will return truth in sentencing and eliminate the two for one credit; Bill C-36, which will repeal the faint hope clause, and Bill C-19, the new anti-terrorism bill.
Unfortunately none of these bills have completed the legislative process during this session of Parliament. Again, due to the leadership of our Prime Minister, thankfully our country will not be plunged into an election and these bills will remain on the order paper. We hope to pass them into law in the fall.
I look forward to continuing the spirit of cooperation in this place in September to accomplish this unfinished business for all Canadians. Five of these bills have already passed one chamber of Parliament and they are before the second House for consideration. On behalf of vulnerable Canadians in particular, we have to keep moving to get the job done on this important legislation.
In closing, I am pleased that the government has been able to develop today's opposition day motion in cooperation with the official opposition. This House of Commons should more often focus on what all of us have in common rather than what divides us. While I would have liked to have seen some debate on some of our newer bills that we have just introduced and passed more of our justice and safety bills, this parliamentary sitting is winding down in the age-old Canadian tradition of compromise.
We all know that this place is about debate, trade-offs, negotiations and compromise. This is how Parliament works. This is how our very country was born, has grown and continues to develop and flourish.
As I have already indicated, the government will be supporting today's motion. I again salute our Prime Minister for his leadership in staving off an election, which I think would be dreaded by the vast majority of Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, I wish you, and all colleagues in this House, a very happy summer.
Extension of Sitting Hours
June 9th, 2009 / 11:55 a.m.
Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON
Mr. Speaker, I tend to agree with the assessment of the hon. member, that there does not seem to be good faith in this motion. I expect the press release to come out, saying that the opposition parties are not serious about doing work. That is just not the case and I think we can prove it.
When we start this place each day, we say a prayer. In it, we say that we make good laws and wise decisions. Good laws take important debate in the House and good work in committees. If the government House leader and the parliamentary secretary wanted, as they put it, to act in the best interests of the country, they would call Bill C-23 on the Colombia free trade agreement and let us deal with a tough bill. They would also call Bill C-8 on matrimonial real property, which I do not believe enjoys the support of the majority of the House and which, if defeated, would give the government an opportunity to go back and commence negotiations and consultations with first nations in Canada so we could deal with an extremely important matter for Canadians.
Would the member agree?
Extension of Sitting Hours
June 9th, 2009 / 11:25 a.m.
Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC
Mr. Speaker, that is what I have been saying from the beginning. On May 15, 2009, I publicly expressed my concerns about how thin the legislative agenda was. Once again, I see things exactly as the member does. There is no need to extend the sitting hours to reach this government's objectives. From what I understand, Bill C-8 and Bill C-23 were not part of the government's objectives to be met by June 23. Personally, I do not feel they are part of what we need to address before the summer break.