Evidence of meeting #32 for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was fnpo.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Clarence T. Jules  Chief Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, First Nations Tax Commission

4:10 p.m.

Chief Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, First Nations Tax Commission

Clarence T. Jules

You have to realize that with the FNLMA, it's still Indian reserve lands. The title to those lands are still vested in Her Majesty, so they don't move us away from the Indian Act. I'm not here to buttress and to continue to hold up the Indian Act. I want to find ways and means to get away from that, so that's one component.

It also still relies on the Indian Lands Registry, which is a deed system. In one leasehold interest in my community, we have a lease that's in excess of 500 pages—that's a book. When a lawyer comes in and begins to look at a lease or a deed system, it goes back maybe 45 years, whereas a Torrens system is one page, and you can go to the bank with it.

April 3rd, 2012 / 4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

What would be the acceptable threshold for a community to decide to do this? Because some of the concerns that we've heard and the recent documentary on CBC Radio.... I remember Gary Merasty describing that if there's reserve land that then falls out of the ownership of a community member, it's like a paper-punch going through it—the checkerboard that everybody's worried about. It can become a very lacy-looking piece of property that eventually is no longer owned by the community.

4:10 p.m.

Chief Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, First Nations Tax Commission

Clarence T. Jules

It's like Canada, or the provinces. Do we say that Ontario is lacy? Do we say that Ottawa, because it has a lot of different tenures, is lacy? I don't think so.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

What would happen, then, if the future leadership wanted to get out of fee simple?

4:10 p.m.

Chief Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, First Nations Tax Commission

Clarence T. Jules

Then they'd have to—like they do right now—buy the interest.

I'm not proposing that we move to what happened under the Dawes Act in the United States. I've studied that extensively. The whole notion behind the Dawes Act, after the western expansion by the United States, was to open up lands and take them away from the Indians. So most of the land was taken away, and given to individual settlers. Some land went to individual tribal members. I'm not proposing to do that.

The title will always be vested in the collective interest of the community. It will always have jurisdiction over those lands, no matter who would have interest in those lands. The vote is going to be the same as Quebec's right to secede from Canada.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Fifty plus one.

4:10 p.m.

Chief Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, First Nations Tax Commission

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

I think we say a clear majority in the present—

4:10 p.m.

Chief Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, First Nations Tax Commission

Clarence T. Jules

It's going to be a clear majority.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

I think the debate is not fifty plus one. That's an unclear majority for a lot of people.

As for the budget and explorations in terms of the future possibility of an act, who would do those consultations?

4:10 p.m.

Chief Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, First Nations Tax Commission

Clarence T. Jules

It would be the proponent first nations and the federal government.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

So consultants? What resources are needed to be able to carry that—?

4:10 p.m.

Chief Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, First Nations Tax Commission

Clarence T. Jules

In order to get to the stage we're at right now, it's taken a long time. This didn't just happen yesterday or on March 28. What we started to do, first, was to make a decision that this is something that we needed to do. This came about because of the work I've done over the years. I was an adviser for two different Auditors General, looking at developed housing on reserves and finding out that most of the homes built on a reserve are disposable—lasting on average seven years. How do you deal with that? There are housing backlogs, repairs that need to be done, all of those things, and it all led to the conclusion that we have to do this.

I dealt with Sheila...not Sheila—what's her name?

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Was it Sheila Fraser?

4:15 p.m.

Chief Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer, First Nations Tax Commission

Clarence T. Jules

No, it wasn't Sheila. There was Sheila Fraser, but it was the lady from London.

She was parliamentary secretary. It was Sue Barnes.

Sue was pursuing the matrimonial real property, and I was saying to her, as well as to Bob Nault and Ron Irwin—I was having these kinds of discussions back in those days—that if you build matrimonial real property on the Indian Act, you're building it on sand, because you just aren't going to have the certainty of land tenure if you're going to do it simply on the Indian Act.

The people who are impacted are women and children, so out of all of that we started to look at a series of studies. One of them was to determine whether this could be done under the constitution, because people were saying it couldn't be done.

So, yes, it can be done under the constitution. What are the economic benefits of doing this? A number of studies led to the conclusion that this is possible and that these are the economic benefits. Then we worked with the finance standing committee over a period of a number of years. Massimo was one of the individuals I was dealing with within the Liberal Party. I also met with Mr. Martin, Michael Ignatieff, Bob, and the whole range of people. The finance standing committee said we should explore this, and that led to an agreement.

They visited Kamloops and visited with the proponent communities, which led to that being included in the recommendations from the finance standing committee. The next steps are to begin to actually draft the legislation and to introduce it into the House.