Evidence of meeting #47 for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was first.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Daniel Watson  Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy and Strategic Direction, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
  • Christine Aubin  Counsel, Operations and Programs Section, Legal Services Unit, Department of Justice
  • Patrick Brazeau  National Chief, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples
  • Daniel Ricard  Director General, Litigation Management and Resolution Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
  • Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Bonnie Charron

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Have you examined the department's information where they say there are inequities?

11:25 a.m.

Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy and Strategic Direction, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Daniel Watson

The second part of that is, would the department's information be used as part of that complaint process? The answer is—

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

No, actually that's the question. The question is this. Have you looked at the department's own data currently that already acknowledges there are inequities and examined the impact on the department, or the potential impact on band councils, when we already know there are existing inequities?

11:25 a.m.

Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy and Strategic Direction, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Daniel Watson

The easiest way to answer that is to say we have all sorts of information and data. We're already in a number of litigation processes, and I'll have my colleague Daniel Ricard maybe speak to some of the litigation. We know that information is discovered all the time in all sorts of different legal processes, sometimes to the tune of hundreds of thousands of pages. So yes, it will be used.

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Maybe I'm not being really clear then. We already know the department acknowledges that there are some challenges. In this case they're saying there's a $64 million gap in what first nations children on reserve can access.

We know there are these inequities. Has the department examined department-identified cases where there are existing inequities, and have they examined what the potential impact is on the department? If I handed this over to every reserve that has an on-reserve school in the country and said, “I suggest you file a human rights complaint because the department is saying there's a $64 million inequity”, has the department examined all those inequities that the department itself has identified and determined what the impact would be on the department if every nation in Canada filed a human rights complaint?

11:25 a.m.

Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy and Strategic Direction, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Daniel Watson

Let me start a little further back. There will be complaints. People will use our information. Some of the conclusions that the department has come to they will use to advance the complaints they are making. Obviously it's not our place to stand in the position of the tribunal and come to some sort of definitive conclusion on that, but the very fact that we've—

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

The question is this. Has the department looked at this?

11:25 a.m.

Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy and Strategic Direction, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Daniel Watson

I'm not sure exactly which document we've done, but are you suggesting that—

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Well, any one of a number of documents. The Auditor General herself has clearly identified inequities in the system, for example. So my question is this. Has the department actually examined specific cases where inequities have been identified to determine what the impact would be? It's not whether people could use data in the future. Have you looked at what's already on the books?

11:25 a.m.

Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy and Strategic Direction, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Daniel Watson

To the extent that you're talking about one of our documents, yes, we looked at it and we're aware of it, in that a document like that sounds like one we would have created.

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Can we have the analysis then? Can the committee have the analysis that you've done on any documents where inequities have already been identified?

11:25 a.m.

Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy and Strategic Direction, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Daniel Watson

Again, it would be the question of a subject of a complaint that would come forward that would be specific to facts and circumstances and dealt with through the process of dealing with those things. It's not our place to prejudge what the outcome of that might be. It is our job to figure out programs and to design them in a way that respects not only the law but also the policy objectives that the department has and that Parliament approves. That's our role. Obviously, as we're developing those things, we see challenges from time to time. We work towards fixing those challenges. To go from there to trying to figure out how to play a role that is more along the lines of the role of a tribunal or a court is obviously different.

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

That wasn't the question. I wanted to know if you had done an analysis.

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Colin Mayes

We are on to the—

First of all, I'd like to welcome National Chief Patrick Brazeau to the committee.

I'm just going to finish the first round of questioning, and then we'll move on and ask you for your opening statement.

From the government side, Mr. Bruinooge.

April 26th, 2007 / 11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Winnipeg South, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to everyone who's come before the committee today.

If I were to start my line of questioning, it would be mostly in relation to the consultation that has occurred over the last, well, 30 years now. In terms of the Canadian Human Rights Act being introduced, it dates back to 1977. Perhaps you could talk a bit about the process, where this exemption has been debated through the years.

I know there was some debate in 1985, as well as in 1992, and extensive debate in the year 2000. I'm not sure if there's anyone amongst you today who was a part of that departmental process. Perhaps you could talk a bit about the different types of submissions that have been made throughout the 30 years we've been considering this very act.