Bill C-3 (Historical)
Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act
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)
This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.
Chuck Strahl Conservative
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
January 18th, 2011 / 7 p.m.
Representative, B.C. CEDAW Group
I want to talk very briefly about root causes. We've heard a lot of people say colonization. Remember that the colonizer was also a patriarch. Patriarchy is part of what colonization means. We're still doing it. When we talk about matrimonial property, when we talk about Bill C-3, which just went through and has not taken out all of the discrimination in the Indian Act, the government is still legislating, overtly, about aboriginal women in a way it doesn't legislate about any other group of women in the country. So we are still in the process of playing out the patriarchy of the colonizer. Aboriginal women and children are still suffering from it. And that's part of the violence and part of the gravest conditions.
January 13th, 2011 / 11:40 a.m.
War Lake First Nation, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
My name is Betsy Kennedy. I'm the Chief of War Lake First Nation. With me is Chief Francine Meeches of Swan Lake First Nation.
We have many notes here, I notice, and a lot of information, but we would like to speak to the family violence prevention programs, the missing and murdered women, and also the sexual exploitation of our girls and women in our communities.
To give you the history of the AMC women's committee, the chiefs sit on this committee. It works toward improving the situation of first nations women and ensuring that Manitoba first nations are involved in decision-making. This is comprised of chiefs and councillors in leadership roles in their communities.
The issue of family violence and intervention is one of our major concerns and takes up many of the lead initiatives. Bill C-3 is supposed to highlight this, but I think some of these things also pertain to what's happening in the communities and how these women are being exploited.
Bill S-4 deals with matrimonial and real properties. When women have to leave the communities because they're just not going to be able to stay on their reserves, they are coming into the city, and this is where many of them are being exploited. I mention this because I believe you wanted to know some of what happens here.
There's also our section 37, which we would like to see. I know this is going to go to the Commons. This has to do with the missing and murdered women of Manitoba and Canada. Following the directions of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, the committee continues to advocate on the issues of missing and murdered women, as a disturbingly high number of women have gone missing and have never been found. Most are aboriginal. According to the Native Women's Association of Canada, approximately 580 aboriginal women have gone missing and have not been found across Canada; 84 are from Manitoba. The AMC has called upon the federal government to initiate a public inquiry into this number of missing and murdered women. There has also been an announcement by the federal government that the amount of $10 million is to be spent within the two years.
Also, in 2009 Grand Chief Evans developed an agreement with the RCMP to have a first nations community liaison worker, Constable Monique Cooper, to be located at the AMC office in Winnipeg. This was established when the parents, the mothers of these missing and murdered women, came to us. We had a working relationship with the RCMP, and now have a woman working exclusively at the AMC office. We would like to recognize that work, which is happening right now. To this day, in both southern and northern Manitoba, there has not been any word on these women to their parents that they've...or how far this was going. The AMC continues to work closely with the families of these missing and murdered women and with the RCMP and Winnipeg Police Service's missing persons unit.
There's also the issue of human trafficking. Since 2009 AMC has been actively addressing human trafficking. The grand chief and the women's committee continue to raise the issue for discussion at the chiefs assemblies.
I want to tell you that when we have our annual assembly, women's issues are being brought out to the forefront, and we do have the support of all our chiefs. We are very proud to say that they really recognize what we've been doing. In turn, these discussions bring awareness into our homes.
The next part will be on family violence. We sit on a committee on family violence and--
December 15th, 2010 / 4:35 p.m.
The Speaker Peter Milliken
I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate chamber His Excellency the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
Bill S-3, An Act to implement conventions and protocols concluded between Canada and Colombia, Greece and Turkey for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income--Chapter No. 15
Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts--Chapter 17
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)--Chapter 18
Bill S-215, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (suicide bombings)--Chapter 19
Bill C-36, An Act respecting the safety of consumer products--Chapter 21
Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Old Age Security Act--Chapter 22
Bill C-28, An Act to promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian economy by regulating certain activities that discourage reliance on electronic means of carrying out commercial activities, and to amend the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act, the Competition Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Telecommunications Act--Chapter 23
It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, Canadian Council on Learning; the hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway, Public Safety.
December 6th, 2010 / 5:20 p.m.
Yvon Lévesque Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Lavallée, earlier we raised the issue of adopting and implementing Bill C-3, which has to do with matrimonial affairs. Larry told us a few things about it. Now, you startled me when you said that this would help the children be more secure.
Most of the community members who came to meet us expressed their concern regarding this almost crazy reflex that many people will have to require that their membership to first nations communities be recognized. They also discussed the growing population in the communities. This is a great and worrisome concern for the communities.
You are already short of funds with regard to help for children. How will the children be better protected? Could you explain this to us?
December 1st, 2010 / 3:35 p.m.
John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC
I was here last week, and I was before the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights this week, so this is my third committee appearance since last week.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for inviting me to appear before the committee today.
This is, as you know, my second appearance before this committee, and while I'm happy to discuss the supplementary estimates (B) of my department, I'll also take this opportunity to touch on some important other issues.
In the four short months since my appointment as minister, we've seen some significant developments that underline the government's commitment to making real progress on the issues that matter to aboriginal peoples and northerners.
I was particularly proud that one my first actions as minister was to apologize for the relocation of Inuit from Inukjuak and Pond Inlet to Grise Fiord and Resolute Bay in the High Arctic in the 1950s, and for the hardship, suffering, and loss they experienced as a result of that relocation. Our government is working to renew our relationship with the Inuit, and to support social and economic development in the north as part of the northern strategy.
Also as part of the northern strategy, I was honoured to be in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, with the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health and minister responsible for the north, to announce the location of the new Canadian High Arctic Research Station in that community.
The Northern Strategy is, of course, only one component of our government's plan to improve the quality of life for aboriginal peoples and northerners. The main estimates, for the first time, included $61 million in funding for an important part of the government's Northern Strategy.
The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, CanNor, was created in August 2009 and is the first ever regional development agency for the north and the only federal agency headquartered in the north.
In little more than a year, CanNor has made great strides. The agency has established regional offices in all three territorial capitals and is developing its headquarters in Iqaluit in a new office facility being built by a local, Inuit-owned enterprise.
In May of this year, CanNor launched the Northern Projects Management Office, based in Yellowknife. This service works with the proponents of major development projects, federal departments, and regulators in the north to help improve the timeliness, predictability, and transparency of regulatory processes. It is a key part of the government's work to improve northern regulatory systems.
As you know, CanNor is the lead federal agency for the delivery of Canada's Economic Action Plan in the territories and its investments in the northern economy and northern communities have doubled as a consequence. To date, CanNor has supported 307 economic development projects in the north and has allocated over $66 million to strengthening the economies of the three territories. In this way, CanNor is not only fulfilling the vision of the government's Northern Strategy, but also is helping northerners and northern communities to manage the impacts of the global economic downturn.
The investments included in supplementary estimates (B) support this commitment and enable us to address our priorities. Take child and family services for example.
Earlier this year, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Canada, and Manitoba negotiated a framework to improve on-reserve child and family services. Included in the estimates is $17.6 million, which is part of a five-year commitment of $177 million to implement the framework in Manitoba. As I explained when I appeared before this committee last week, a similar framework was completed three years ago in Alberta, and the preliminary results are very promising.
The key to success, I believe, has been working in partnership with first nations groups and provincial governments. Manitoba is the sixth jurisdiction to start implementing the new preventive approach. This government hopes to complete frameworks in the four remaining provinces by 2013.
Also included in the supplementary estimates is $295 million for the funding of awards to claimants resulting from the independent assessment process and alternative dispute resolution related to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. The process is designed for former students who suffered serious physical or sexual abuse while attending an Indian residential school. The additional funds are needed because the number of claims filed and the average settlement per individual are higher than originally forecast.
Mr. Chairman, we are also working with first nations and provinces in the area of education.
As we all know, access to quality education is essential to long-term, sustainable improvement for communities, as well as personal success. Together, we've been working to ensure first nations children receive the education they require to prepare them for the future.
Since I've been minister, we've signed two more tripartite agreements with the provinces and first nations. There was a sub-regional agreement in Saskatchewan and another in Prince Edward Island. So there are now seven agreements in place across the country that give first nations communities greater control over education and, most importantly, first nations students a greater chance for success.
Settling claims is also important to ensuring that first nations have the resources they need to prosper. Through claim settlements, the relationship between Canada and first nations is strengthened, and first nations can access the lands and resources they need to allow their communities to prosper. For instance, in October, I was pleased to join community members to celebrate the final settlement of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation's Brant Tract and Toronto Purchase specific claims.
Included in the supplementary estimates is the department's request to re-profile $308 million from the previous fiscal year to fund specific claims settlements. This amount was originally set aside for specific claims during the last two fiscal years but was never spent. Re-profiling this money makes it available to fund specific claims settlements in the current fiscal year.
These initiatives are but a few examples of the concrete actions that support the department's goal of improving the quality of life of aboriginal peoples and northerners.
Canada's economic action plan invested a total of $1.4 billion over two years in programs for aboriginal peoples. This includes programs and initiatives led by many government departments. Significant amounts are going to skills development and training programs for aboriginal peoples. Most of this investment, however, is going to infrastructure projects in first nations communities: water and waste-water treatment facilities, schools, and housing.
The provision of safe drinking water, the effective treatment of waste water, and the protection of sources of drinking water in first nations communities are critical to ensuring the health and safety of first nations people. The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that significant progress is made in improving water conditions on reserves across Canada.
These investments are very much in keeping with our ongoing priorities. Furthermore, INAC currently has four bills before the House and Senate which seek to address these same priorities.
Bill S-11, the Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act, will enable the Government of Canada to continue making tangible progress on its commitment to improving water conditions on reserve. This bill is currently being considered before the Senate.
Bill S-4, the matrimonial real property act, proposes legislation to resolve the long-standing issue of on-reserve matrimonial real property.
Mr. Chairman, this government recognizes that money alone cannot address the issues facing northerners and aboriginal peoples. This is why we continue to seek and expand partnerships with groups that share our larger goal of ensuring that all Canadians, regardless of where they live, can participate in and contribute to this country's prosperity.
Every specific claim settlement, every tripartite agreement on education and on child and family services, and every aboriginal employment training partnership program brings us one step closer to this goal. I'm confident that the investments included in the supplementary estimates will lead to further progress.
Thank you. I'll do my best to answer any questions that members of the committee might have.
December 1st, 2010 / 3:05 p.m.
Vancouver Island North
John Duncan Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Mr. Speaker, in terms of the exploratory process we will launch once Bill C-3 becomes law, assuming it does, it is an exercise that will be led by the national aboriginal organizations. They will set the terms of reference for the most part.
I do not understand where the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan is coming from on that.
November 24th, 2010 / 4:55 p.m.
Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC
I don't want to make you disclose any secrets. However, we know that the implementation of Bill C-3 is imminent. It will soon be passed by the Senate; that's clear. In our view, it's a matter of weeks.
The next budget is coming. Perhaps I should have put the question to the minister, but here it is. In preparation for that next budget, is the implementation of these tripartite agreements being taken into account in order to make requests? Have you prepared any items for the next budget taking into account the requests for implementation of these tripartite agreements?
Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act
November 22nd, 2010 / 5:25 p.m.
Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS
Mr. Speaker, first, my colleague, the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre, since coming to the House 10 years ago, has been a champion and an advocate on a great number of issues, certainly none more so than the rights of first nations women. It is an issue she continues to drive within caucus and in the chamber as well.
I was not in the House for the first part of the member's speech. Out of the ruling, I understood fully that this had been tied up for a great number of years. What has the response been on Bill C-3? Has Ms. McIvor had an opportunity to testify before the committee? What was her impression of the legislation being presented by the government?
Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act
November 22nd, 2010 / 5:15 p.m.
Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to comment on the bill. I am supporting Bill C-3, but I am supporting it with considerable reluctance and certainly not with much enthusiasm.
There should be no doubt that Bill C-3 moves the agenda forward on addressing gender discrimination in the status provisions of the Indian Act, but it is only one very small partial step toward full equality for aboriginal women and their descendants.
The government has brought forward these amendments as a response to and because of the efforts of Sharon McIvor of British Columbia. In my previous remarks on Bill C-3, I paid homage to the other brave aboriginal women who have fought the battle for full equality and have pushed the courts to recognize discrimination under the law and subsequently pushed Parliament to remedy the injustice. I would like to do so again today.
These women are Mary Two Axe Early, Jeannette Corbiere Lavell, Yvonne Bédard, Sandra Lovelace and, as I mentioned earlier, Sharon McIvor. Yet in acknowledging these individuals, I feel great sadness for them that the battle for full equality is falling to yet another generation of aboriginal women. We can be sure it will be the battle for aboriginal women. Discrimination is discrimination is discrimination and at some point we must take it upon ourselves as parliamentarians the responsibility to fully eradicate all gender discrimination in the Indian Act.
When Bill C-31 was passed in 1985, Parliament and the government of the day knew that the residual discrimination would remain. I want to read into the record some of the comments made. It is important that we know this because 25 years later we are poised to pass a bill that also leaves residual discrimination.
In April we heard in committee from Martin Reiher of the Department of Justice. He said Bill C-31:
—is a very focused answer to the McIvor decision, given the limited time we had to develop legislation in response to the British Columbia Court of Appeal decision of April 9, 2009. There are other issues that have been raised in litigation that are not dealt with by this bill at this time. Depending on subsequent court decisions, obviously, the government might have to consider how to respond to these other decisions.
I also want to read from Sharon McIvor, an increasing hero of mine, when she said to the committee in April:
—But when the act was changed in 1985, parliamentarians knew there was residual discrimination. [Former Minister] Crombie's records show that they understood that some of us would still suffer from the residual discrimination....yet they forced someone like me to take it through the courts and have the courts decide that it was discriminatory....I am here today to ask you, to plead with you, to include all of those women and their descendants who are discriminated against, not just the narrow view that the B.C. Court of Appeal addressed. As parliamentarians you know that the court does not draft legislation. They just put it back into your lap so you can do what is right.
A final quote from April that I will cite is from Gwen Brodsky, who is counsel to Ms. McIvor. She said:
—the 1985 act was--failed remedial legislation. Bill C-3 is a set-up for yet another instance of failed remedial legislation, for disappointment to aboriginal women and their descendants, who have been waiting for a long, long time for Parliament to do the right thing. That must be dealt with immediately.
Earlier this year the Liberal Party tried to end the cycle and address all the remaining residual discrimination in the Indian Act's provisions concerning entitlement to status. When Bill C-3 came before the aboriginal affairs committee, we introduced amendments that would have granted descendants of status Indian women born prior to April 17, 1985, full status under the Indian Act, exactly what had also been given to the descendants of status Indian men.
These amendments, although passed by committee through the unanimous support of the opposition parties, were ruled inadmissible by the Speaker after Bill C-3 was returned to the House.
We need a comprehensive legislative remedy. The amendments were ruled out of order as being beyond the scope of Bill C-3, which reads “provides a new entitlement to Indian registration in response to the decision in McIvor v. Canada”.
Again, I want to emphasize what others have said about the need for a comprehensive remedy.
Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould said in April at committee:
With respect to discrimination in any form, I do not agree with it whatsoever. I believe that it would be the position of any reasonable person, as you say, to eradicate discrimination wherever and whenever possible in today's age.
Jeannette Corbiere Lavell, president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, said again this year that if all discrimination was eliminated:
—then I would think that as aboriginal women, as an aboriginal women's organization, maybe part of our work would be done. We could move on to other things. But that would be really good to see if it took place in the very near while.
One last quote, although I have many comments, is by Betty Ann Lavellée, national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. In April of this year she said:
—I want to see any and all forms of discrimination end once and for all, so that our children are not having this same discussion 25 or 35 years from now.
It is unfortunate that the government chose to write Bill C-3 in a way that responds solely to the narrow reading of the B.C. Court of Appeal in the McIvor case without providing the option to Parliament to address further residual discrimination through the legislation.
This regrettable choice has forced all stakeholders and opposition parties to make an extremely difficult choice regarding Bill C-3. How can we say no to equality for some when saying no means equality for none? What we can do, and we have tried, is to improve the bill, but as I will try and explain, the government has made this impossible.
I would like to remind the House that the B.C. Court of Appeal was only able to rule on the gender discrimination in the Indian Act experienced by Sharon McIvor and her son. That was the case before the court, not the full gamut of gender discrimination under the act.
While the court acknowledged that other types of discrimination most likely existed, its decision in the McIvor case could not apply a remedy to those issues as well. Therefore, the court ruled narrowly in favour of McIvor and left it to those of us in Parliament to craft a more fulsome response. Let me repeat, it was the government that then decided what this response would look like.
The government could have chosen to provide a legislative remedy to the McIvor situation, while also leaving the door open for Parliament to expand the legislation through amendments in order to get rid of the residual discrimination. If it had conducted a fulsome consultation with aboriginal leadership, aboriginal women, women's groups and communities, it would have heard a resounding desire to end the discrimination once and for all. That is certainly what we heard at committee. Instead, Bill C-3 was introduced without any real consultation and in a matter that meant all amendments would be out of order.
This is how Bill C-3 came to be, a bill that takes one more step in the long and arduous battle for full equality for aboriginal women, a bill that would extend status to approximately 45,000 aboriginal women and their descendants, but a bill that will leave the fight for full equality once again yet to another generation. Very soon we will be voting on Bill C-3, but at some point, as parliamentarians must decide when we are going to right this wrong.
We are now faced with Sharon McIvor taking her case off to the UN. Sharon announced that she would file a complaint against Canada at the United Nations. She has contended that Canada continues to discriminate against aboriginal women and their descendants in the determination of eligibility for registration as an Indian.
As she said, in taking this case forward:
I contested this discrimination under the charter. It took 20 years in Canadian courts, and I achieved only partial success. Now I will seek full justice for Aboriginal women under international human rights law. Canada needs to be held to account for its intransigence in refusing to completely eliminate sex discrimination from the Indian Act and for decades of delay.
She went on to say:
Because neither Canadian courts nor Parliament have yet granted an adequate and effective remedy for the sex discrimination which has been a hallmark of the Indian Act for more than a hundred years, I will take my case to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
I would contend that it is unfortunate and, perhaps some might describe, shameful that this case has yet to go to the UN human rights committee. It will undoubtedly result in a further rebuke to Canada in the international arena, something our country and the government does not need.
As I said at the beginning, I am supporting the bill. I am doing it with reluctance, not with much enthusiasm. I look forward to seeing it move through Parliament.
Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act
November 22nd, 2010 / 5:10 p.m.
Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC
Mr. Speaker, in short, the answer is no. No, because there is a section in the Indian Act, section 6, that has unfortunately been there far too long. As long as section 6 is in place, there will always be some people who are not equal, and discrimination will persist.
Obviously, the easy solution would be to abolish section 6 right now. Then, anyone could declare that they are an aboriginal. We cannot go from one extreme to another, and I absolutely agree about that. However, we could work on getting there. Unfortunately, the governments have done nothing. I do not want to get too political here, but I have to mention, with all due respect to my Liberal colleague, that the aboriginals had to go to court. It seems as though it is always necessary to go to court to have a right recognized, or to prove that a situation is discriminatory even when it is very clear that it is. It is, and unfortunately it will continue to be, even after Bill C-3 is passed.
I agree that we should pass Bill C-3 and I agree with my colleague, but this government should find a way to abolish section 6 of the Indian Act as quickly as possible. To do so, it will have to find the means and, with all due respect, have the political will to put aboriginals on equal footing with the government for the implementation of the bill.