Evidence of meeting #53 for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was first.

A recording is available from Parliament.

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Michael Wernick  Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
  • Michael Nadler  Director General, Policy and Planning, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Bruce Stanton

Let's go to other questions from the Liberal Party.

Mr. Russell.

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Labrador, NL

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

We're glad to have you with us, Deputy Minister, Mr. Nadler, and Ms. MacGowan.

I want to follow up on a couple of questions I asked the minister relative to Labrador on the Innu Nation claim itself, but there are significant overlap issues. The minister indicated he'd had meetings with the former premier, the premier, and the leadership and negotiators of the Innu Nation. Can you give us a bit more detail on where we are with that? Do we have any sense of a timeframe? These negotiations bear significantly on the potential for the Lower Churchill hydro development at Muskrat Falls.

As well, I was very interested in your response to my question about the Nunatukavut Community Council, formerly the Labrador Métis Nation. They had submitted supplementary information in concert with the department, and the department had undertaken to look at this new information in an expeditious fashion and get back to the NCC. Of course, I believe there are some agreements around other processes that may occur if there is no agreement.

You indicated that the injunction that has now been laid with the court in Newfoundland regarding the EA process may have some impact upon the department's process itself regarding the claim.

10:15 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

No, I hope that wasn't the impression--

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Labrador, NL

Could you clarify those issues?

10:15 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

We're at the table with the Innu and we're at the table with the Métis group, the NCC. I'll have to get back to you specifically on where the negotiators are at this point. I'm aware that the Métis group is in court trying to block the entire environmental assessment process around the project, and I'm sure that's where they're spending their time and energy.

Both the former premier and the current premier have said they won't go ahead with the project until they resolve the issues of the Labrador Innu. The province, in my understanding, has resolved essentially all the issues within provincial jurisdiction. That leaves the ball in our court to deal with the classic land claim issue. We are at the table and we hope to make progress, because it's a necessary condition for the project going forward, and both governments would like to see the project go forward, as I understand the Innu do, although I'm not going to speak for them.

It's a little bit of which thread you want to pull at. We are aiming to negotiate an agreement in principle on the claim within this calendar year. Whether that is going to be feasible or not will depend on the negotiating table.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Labrador, NL

Again, on the Nunatukavut claim, there is additional information that has been submitted in concert with the department, the historic claims and research branch. Can you tell me at what stage that process is? It was submitted, as I understand it, nearly a year ago, or close to a year ago. The department was supposed to get back in an expeditious fashion to respond to that new research, if it was in fact going to negotiate the claim out or if there would be other processes that would follow.

Where is the department in terms of its assessment of that information and getting the response back to NCC?

10:15 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

I don't have very current information for you, Mr. Russell. We'll have to get back to you through the clerk, if that's possible. I know that we have the material. It's under review by the lawyers and others. I know that it overlaps significantly with the Innu claim, and that is going to be an issue down the road. If you settle with the Innu, they'll have to do an overlap arrangement with the Métis; if you settle with the Métis, they'll have to do an overlap arrangement with the Innu.

I'm not aware of where we are at the table in terms of responding to the Métis group, but I will provide that information as soon as I can get it.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Labrador, NL

Okay.

Just very quickly, on the whole issue of first nations policing services, does that impact upon the Department of Indian Affairs at all? Do you guys have any mandate around those particular services? It is becoming a huge issue, with a potential 19% cut in first nations policing services. It is something that is so vital to the safety and security of first nations citizens, and not only first nations citizens but others. I'm just wondering what involvement INAC has in that.

10:15 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

It has none. It's delivered by the Department of Public Safety, so it's speculation about another department's program. I really shouldn't go there.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Labrador, NL

Okay.

How much more time do I have?

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Bruce Stanton

You have 15 seconds.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Labrador, NL

That's enough for two questions.

Thank you.

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Bruce Stanton

Thank you, Mr. Russell.

We'll go back to Mr. Rickford.

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and my thanks to the witnesses.

You worked through a number of different files. We'll take this opportunity to talk about a few things.

Could you tell me a little bit about the state of Bill C-3 implementation? I want to get a firmer sense of how many applications will be received, some of the activities on your website, and a description of the team you have put together that's dedicated to this Bill C-3 process.

March 10th, 2011 / 10:20 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

The minister referred to the bill. It's a significant accomplishment. It's also going to be a significant piece of work to implement it. We have some resources in place for the registration process, and we've set up a dedicated unit to deal with Bill C-3 claims, some of which are going to be fairly straightforward and some of which are going to be complex because of family history, genealogy, and documentation.

The latest numbers I have show that a little less than 4,000 people sent in some kind of application or request, even before the bill got royal assent. We will handle them. We're not going to send them back.