Evidence of meeting #34 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 lands.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

Colleagues, I call the meeting to order. This is the 34th meeting of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, and this is a continuation of the study of land use and sustainable economic development that we have been undertaking over the last number of months, as you know.

Today we have the privilege of a guest joining us who will bring an opening statement, and then we'll have questions as usual. We have James Cada, the director of operations, and Keith Sayers, the lands and resources manager, from the Mississauga First Nation. Thank you so much for coming.

We have a third person, Julie Pellerin. It's good to have you back. For a minute I thought I should know your name, and of course I should. Thank you so much for joining us again.

Folks, we'll begin by having your opening statement.

Do you have just one opening statement?

3:30 p.m.

James Cada Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

No, we have two. I will be doing one first. Keith will talk more about the loss of use regarding forestry. That's more his forte.

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

Perfect.

We'll turn it over to you, James, if you want to go first, and then we'll turn it over to Keith. Then we'll have questions for you.

Thanks so much.

3:30 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

Thank you for having us here. My name is James Cada and I'm the director of operations for Mississauga. I've been there for, I'd say, 20 out of the last 25 years. I've been involved in lands since 1992.

For the Mississauga First Nation, our biggest challenge has been, and still is, the implementation of our northern boundary settlement agreement and the application of our first nation land code. We entered into the FNLMA initiative in March 2003, as we felt we were the rightful managers of our lands and the FNLMA provided the legal structure for that management.

Mississauga First Nation has been dealing with land issues since 1850, and we've always striven to utilize the four processes we are currently involved with to augment each other. Right now we're into the implementation of the northern boundary settlement agreement, the first nations land management initiative, highway ILA agreement negotiations, and flooded claims negotiations.

In 1850 Mississauga was a signatory to the Robinson-Huron Treaty. The land cessation was defined as the land between the Mississauga River and Penebewabecong up to the first rapids. When our northern boundary was surveyed in 1882, there were no rapids, and the boundary was placed far to the south of what was intended.

In 1994 the northern boundary settlement agreement was finalized and included 40,000 acres of land, which included 23 inland lakes. Canada agreed to set apart these lands for the use and benefit of the Mississauga, pursuant to the Indian Act, provided the title of the land was satisfactorily approved through the ATR and the environmental condition of the land was satisfactory to Canada.

The legal survey commenced in June 1995 and was completed in February 1996. Ontario passed its order in council on May 5, 1999, to transfer the unencumbered lands to Canada, to set apart as a reserve. However, the order did not take effect until Canada formally accepted the lands under the Federal Real Property Act in April 2001, two years later. Canada finally passed the OIC and granted the land reserve status on March 25, 2010—15 years and eight months later.

In Ontario, is the delay caused by the ATR policy itself, or is the system responsible for implementing the policy?

A property transfer assessment that was completed for the settlement lands in March 1995 found that only two concerns had to be addressed: a study of a closed dump and rehabilitation of three abandoned mines. The work was completed by Ontario in 1996, and since a PTA had a shelf life of only two years, follow-up studies had to be completed in November 1999, March 2003, and April 2005. There were and are no outstanding environmental issues. I'm sure the money used could have been spent more prudently. I'm guessing it cost probably at least $150,000.

Canada had to create two easements in favour of Ontario Hydro and Union Gas. The first nation signed payment in lieu of tax agreements with both companies. Since the land was not formally transferred to reserve status, Hydro One had not included these easements in its calculations. Through negotiations directly with Hydro One, they agreed to pay the 50% payment in lieu of taxes in 2009, retroactive to May 2001, in the amount of $568,000, which represented a loss of half a million dollars to the first nation.

INAC offered little to no support, as payment in lieu of tax agreements were between first nations and Hydro One. Union Gas, however, acknowledged that the lands belonged to the first nation and, regardless, paid their payment in lieu of taxes. Theirs was roughly $39,000 annually.

We passed our northern boundary lands act on June 26, 2010, to add the northern boundary lands to our individual agreement on first nations land management. We were disappointed by the position taken by the lands and ATR unit to exclude the easements for Hydro One and Union Gas from that act and from transfer to the first nation's management. The response was that Hydro One and Union Gas easements had been excluded because they are interests in federal land that predate the setting apart of the northern boundary lands as a reserve, and therefore are not reserve interests, which cannot be transferred to the first nation pursuant to the FNLMA. As you know, these interests were not granted under the Indian Act. They were granted under the Federal Real Property and Federal Immovables Act, and the reserve was created subject to them. These interests do not form part of the reserve and therefore cannot be subject to the land code.

We had argued that the hydro easement clearly states that Her Majesty agrees that it will register this agreement in the reserve land register pursuant to section 21 of the Indian Act, which therefore would be an interest in Indian land. We didn't receive a response on that matter. We were contemplating invoking the dispute resolution mechanism but realized that this would delay the amendment to the individual agreement on first nations land management by years. Given the value of the annual payments, we figured we would like Canada to continue to mismanage the easements on our behalf. I say “mismanagement” for many reasons. How can third parties have interests in federal lands without an agreement? The easements should have been in place when Canada accepted the lands from Ontario back in 2000. And why does it take the department seven years to fully execute and implement an easement that it drafted?

Hydro One paid the rent for the first 10-year period, 1994-2004, but has not paid rent since. So as part of what we thought would be our new management's responsibility, formerly Canada's responsibility, we had an appraisal carried out for the easement lands. Hydro One also required their own appraisal as part of a 10-year renewal period. These were completed and reviewed in August 2001. Since there was a difference in the appraisals of greater than 10%, a third appraisal must be completed within 90 days, as per the agreement. However, because of the position the department had taken, Mississauga was no longer involved in that process. To date, no appraisal has been initiated. Instead, AANDC recently conducted a review of the old specific claims files by the DOJ legal counsel who worked on the settlement agreement. This review is meant to assist in explaining and clarifying the contradictory language contained in the easements and the 10-year renewal dates. Unfortunately, the review of the files has not provided clarifying information. Why would they not ask the DOJ, which signed off on the easements and then sent them up to Privy Council as part of the OIC, to grant the lands reserve status? The renewal date is either 2004, 10 years after 1994, or 2011, 10 years after the first appraisal of 2001.

As for Union Gas, it is paying its annual rent, but there is no record of the initial $800 payment. The cheque has been stale-dated, and it was my understanding that this payment was required to validate the agreement. The annual payments are now being held in Revenue's suspense account and cannot be released because they say there is no mechanism to authorize the release. However, we question how they were able to release the first 10 years of the hydro rental payments.

The IA amendment was signed off on March 14, 2012, and we were proceeding to officially notify Ontario that we were registering their rights-of-way within the northern boundary settlement lands. We received from AANDC a notice that rights-of-way are not grants from Canada but rights reserved by Ontario at the time of transfer, and that therefore Canada had no responsibility for these rights-of-way and nothing to transfer to the first nation. So who is responsible for the management of the terms and conditions of this easement? Canada should have registered the rights-of-way under the Indian Act, as there are terms and conditions attached to each of the easements, with certain rights and obligations on Canada and Ontario. I do not believe that public policy and rational land management are served when easements like this are not registered publicly on the land.

In consultation with Ontario, we will be proceeding to register 16 rights-of-way and terminate five of them. Two of the rights-of-way are public and the others are private. As per the settlement agreement, if all of the lots benefiting from any of the rights-of-way are purchased by Mississauga, that right-of-way shall be deemed to be legally terminated. Ontario has agreed to ensure that these are terminated administratively. As part of the settlement agreement, Canada is required to add the properties to reserve. These are the private properties that were a must buy within the settlement agreement that Mississauga purchased at a total cost of $2.4 million. These 35 properties consisted of dwellings and cottages that are still under Ontario's administration and control.

The Mississauga First Nation council passed a band council resolution on August 9, 2000, requesting that the trust transfer the properties to Canada to be added to the reserve. The ESA follow-ups to these properties were completed in May 2003, 2005, and most recently in 2011. There are no environmental concerns that will impede the process.

On April 17, 2003, we requested that INAC appoint an agent for the transfer and offer of purchase for private properties. In November 2003, Ontario was prepared to transfer all provincial crown interests in those properties by ministerial order. In December 2003, we were given the final draft offers of purchase, which were accepted, and as of today they are still in the department for final approval.

On average, we are losing about $85,000 annually for either rental or leases of those properties, and to date that total runs about $935,000. Further, there are two small hydroelectric generation sites in the land claim area. The land for these sites is to be transferred to Canada, along with the water power leases, in the years 2037 and 2043 respectively, unless the first nation can reach an agreement with the respective owners. We are presently in negotiations with them.

However, our issue is that Ontario collects a gross revenue charge of 12% for these properties— 9% for water and 3% for land—and we are only receiving the water rental portion. We have asked that this be rectified, as the land portion is approximately $350,000 to date. Of course we get no support from the department.

Our concern is that the settlement agreement says the total amount of all land rentals, royalties, energy charges, capacity charges, or any other payments received in respect of the lands or water power during this period shall be paid to Canada for the use and benefit of Mississauga.

On a good front, we are negotiating a new easement with Union Gas under our land code, and it should be completed, including a vote, within the next three months—a six-month turnaround time. We have made the same offer to hydro.

The benefit we see with the First Nations Lands Management Act will be the effective, efficient, and economic management of our lands. However, we need all the lands to be entered in the FNLM process, and the implementation of the ATR process is holding us back.

Thank you.

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

Thank you very much.

Mr. Sayers, we'll turn to you now for your opening statement.

3:40 p.m.

Keith Sayers Lands and Resources Manager, Mississauga First Nation

Thank you for inviting us here to share information with you. My main function is to manage the lands prudently and wisely for the benefit of our members of Mississauga First Nation.

As we know, in 1994 Mississauga First Nation, Ontario, and Canada signed an agreement on a land claim involving a dispute on the survey of the northern boundary. This agreement provided Mississauga First Nation with new opportunities in the natural resources sector. This new land fits in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence forest region, which has some of the most tolerant hardwoods within the north shore region. We were hoping to capitalize on the forestry's economic opportunities.

Prior to the 1994 land settlement agreement, Mississauga First Nations's land base was 1,977 hectares of land; about 1,100 hectares were productive forest lands. Under our existing land base, much of that was depleted due to various circumstances.

Along with that, we have 220 hectares of non-forest land, meaning rock and water. We have protected lands of 136 hectares, which we had to exclude from the annual level cut in our forest management plan. With that, we had a non-productive forest area equivalent to 515 hectares, which was just primary swamp, so there weren't really a whole lot of forestry opportunities on the present land base.

After 1994 the land settlement area increased our land base by an additional 16,000 hectares. Of that, we had approximately 2,400 hectares of fresh water containing both warm water fish species and some deep cold water lake species of fish as well that would promote hunting and fishing.

In addition to that, we had about 2,400 hectares of non-forest land, 350 of non-productive forest land, and on top of that we had about 12,000 hectares of productive forest land, and that's where we were hoping to capitalize on our economic opportunities in the forestry.

With this, we had to establish a 10-year forest benchmark, so in the initial phase from 1994 to 2004 we developed a forest management plan. Again, with the time lags we had to wait out the process to implement our plans because the new reserved lands were not under our control at that time.

We had to spend more dollars updating our forest management plan to bring it to its current state.

We're still waiting to implement our forest management plan, and we lost other opportunities in that section as well in terms of non-timber forest products.

So the timeframes that had an adverse affect on our plans stemmed from 1994. The settlement was agreed to in March 2010, when the order in council was signed giving our new lands official Indian reserve status. In June 2010 we passed a land law under our land code, hoping to add our lands to our land code. As we heard from Jim, in March 2012 the individual agreement was signed by the minister making our lands officially part of our land quota, which we can now implement.

So in that timeframe we lost many opportunities in the forest sector by missing employment opportunities related to harvesting the wood and to value added. We missed opportunities with sawmills and other small contracts that were presented to us. We couldn't make ends meet because of the timelines.

Since that time, Mississauga First Nation has lost $10.5 million in stumpage revenues in the Ontario system in relation to direct jobs and spinoffs.

We lost about $850,000 in land lease opportunities, whether it was through recreational or other types of business entities that wished to lease land from Mississauga First Nation and help stimulate the local economy.

Most recently, we could not make a move on a renewable energy sector because of the same issues; we could not access the lands to implement these projects. In addition to all that stuff, we had hunting and fishing opportunities that some of our members wanted to engage in, and non-timber forest products, but, again, we could not issue any kind of permit forms or leases to these individuals to capitalize on the new lands.

I feel the real losers in this whole process are the many elders who participated in 1994 as the negotiating team, who were present from day one to 1994, and who are no longer here with us. They will not see the full benefit of the new lands and how we can try to prosper and move on to the next seven generations whose futures will have something to look forward to.

In short, the ATR process has to be more effective in order for first nations to become more efficient in economic opportunities. If the Mississauga First Nation had experienced a speedy process, our current economic concerns would be very minimal.

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

Thank you, gentlemen. We appreciate your opening statements. We're going to turn it over to my colleagues now for the fall-out questions.

We'll turn to Ms. Crowder first for seven minutes.

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and I want to thank Mr. Sayers and Mr. Cada for coming before the committee.

I have a number of questions. Just so I'm clear, in 1994 you had a land claims agreement signed, and in March 2010 an order in council was signed, and then in March 2012 the land code was signed. Have I got that—

3:50 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

No, the amendment to the land code was done in 2009.

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Okay. So the state now is that the additions to reserve haven't happened.

3:50 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

The ATR happened on March 25.

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Of this year, 2012?

3:50 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

No, they happened in 2010.

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

So the additions to reserve are all completed now?

3:50 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

For the 40,000 acres of reserve lands. The Little Chiblow lands still haven't even been processed or accepted by Canada.

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

They haven't even been accepted. So how many processes are still outstanding?

3:50 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

The only process now that is outstanding is the Little Chiblow lands being added to reserve status, which requires the government to finalize the offer of purchase. The lands then are transferred. Ontario is simply waiting to get rid of their crown interests, so it's basically waiting for Canada to accept.

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

So it's in Canada's hands.

What's the unemployment rate for your nation?

3:50 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

It's roughly, I would say, over 40%. That was just a rough figure that somebody threw together.

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

How many of your nation live off reserve? Do you know?

3:50 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

The majority, probably about 700, live off reserve.

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

I haven't added up all of the numbers in terms of lost revenue, because you've had a couple of different streams here. Part of the lost revenue you talked about was the stumpage revenue at $10.5 million, and that included spinoffs, and that's using the Province of Ontario's figures. Is that correct?

3:50 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Plus there are land lease losses. Do you have a ballpark overall of what your projected estimate of lost revenue is for everything, for leases on property, for the easements, and for lost stumpage? Do you have any kind of sense of what your nation could have earned since 1994 if this process had been expedited?

3:50 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

Just based on Keith's number, we're probably looking at anywhere from $10 million to $12 million.

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

So for the 700-plus people who are living off reserve, it would have been an opportunity to come home. That's one of the things that would have happened, I would presume.

3:50 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

Keith talked about some of the other opportunities that went amiss. We did a couple of small sawmill studies about how we'd utilize the hardwoods. We haven't even taken it to the extreme of looking at the loss of jobs and so on. But the biggest problem, and why people are leaving the community, is employment. If we could provide them with stable employment, I'm sure we'd have a lot coming back home.

3:55 p.m.

Lands and Resources Manager, Mississauga First Nation

Keith Sayers

To add to that, we have some individuals who want to come back home because they know what is available to us once we have our plans in place and everything fits with our long-term planning goals of creating those economic opportunities. Again, we do have some individuals going to universities and colleges, with the intent of coming home to work for the community, once we can get all our plans in place and things are running smoothly.

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

As you rightly pointed out, the delays are costing you money, because you have to redo plans. You were talking about your forestry management plan. You've had to redo it because you weren't able to move forward on it. So it's not only the lost opportunities for people in employment and generating revenue for the nation; it's also a cost to you in terms of having to redo work that's already been done. Is that correct?

3:55 p.m.

Lands and Resources Manager, Mississauga First Nation

Keith Sayers

Yes, and we're going to face the same situation again, because our forestry management plan should probably be reviewed again, to update it and make sure the economics are appropriate based on today's forest industry and the direction that's going in. In addition to that, we have to update our land-use plant. Again, those are all costs that will be borne by the first nation in implementing all our planning and other strategies to create economic opportunities.

3:55 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

Right now, I do believe we're up to five buildings that have to be demolished, torn down, due to the inability to provide a long-term lease or rental agreement to individuals, not only first nations members but to the mainstream. We've always complied with the request of the department not to quote any long-term interests on those private properties until the lands are transferred and so on. Because we're tied to that commitment, we're losing out. The losses are continually mounting because of the maintenance. If you don't have people living in those units, those losses are going to continue to grow. Basically, if this continues, we'll have no other option but to seek damages for that delay.

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Do I have time?

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

One minute.

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

If you were to make two or three recommendations to us as to how things need to be improved, what would they be?

3:55 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

For me, it's the management or implementation of the ATR. Here in Ontario, I know for a fact that the lands unit is not fully staffed. I'm also aware of personal issues with management. There's a structure in place there that basically says, here's a work plan, or here's our business plan, and this is what we're going to get off the table. It seems as if they're doing more negotiating than implementing.

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Implementation of land claims agreements is a criticism across the country. People sign agreements, but the implementation process drags on forever. Is there an adequate dispute resolution process, in your view?

3:55 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

Under the ATR, no. I think the only dispute resolution—because we signed a settlement agreement—is to take it to court. The court's bottom line is going to be, “Here, you've got to go and do this under your ATR policy.” So you're back in the same boat.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

Thanks, Mr. Cada.

Mr. Rickford for seven minutes.

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you to the witnesses.

I thank my colleague who has brought forward a discussion I'd like to develop a little further with respect to additions to reserves. There is another subject that perhaps I'll get to later.

First of all, I want you folks to understand that you're exactly the kinds of witnesses we want to hear from at this committee—the perspective of the economic development people who have spoken to things like FNLM, first nations land management, and the board itself. Other witnesses, specifically from communities, have added their positive and critical impressions and experiences with respect to a number of activities and exercises that are involved in first nations land management, or, in a broader sense, land-use planning.

Keith, land management, as you rightly pointed out, represents significant economic benefits to a community. In your case, your concern is loss of opportunity, just as one example.

It benefits us all when we have a frank discussion about these matters, because these are long-standing structural challenges of a decade or two that we must overcome. The important work the committee is doing here is to break some of this down.

I just want to ask a couple of questions.

You've identified that each parcel of land may have unique considerations to be resolved before adding to the reserve. What do you think is a reasonable timeframe?

This isn't an easy question because we've heard from the chief of Kitigan Zibi, for example, who said that some of the smallest parcels of land represent some of the biggest challenges to actually go through that process. Then others, without explanation, tend not to take as long, but represent larger pieces of land.

Generally speaking, James, can you comment on that?

4 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

In all honesty, I can't speak for the department. I've seen a number of issues, or, to me, excuses on delays, such as changes in the formatting of OICs, orders in council, and so on and so forth.

These lands have been studied to death in regard to title and environment. There have been three studies on them. There are no impediments. The only impediment is to get the offers signed, the lands transferred to Canada, and the order in council completed. There is nothing else that's impeding that process.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

There are some administrative or bureaucratic issues, in this case at the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. You feel we should be able to be more responsive. There are some complexities.

I'm going to move on to my question about third-party encumbrances. I understand that at least in one instance there was a nearby first nation that had some kind of dispute. Sometimes it's where the timelines get extended as you resolve these situations.

Could you speak to any specific third-party encumbrances and/or any lingering disagreements, if you will, with nearby communities, be they municipalities or a first nation, and what your experience was in that regard?

4 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

For us, we've had basically no encumbrances. In the land claim consultation process there was a lot of uproar and so on, but I think a lot of that was dealt with through amendments or through the negotiations. We provided assurances for a lot of the hunters, the cottagers, and so on. We continued to do that as custodians, to allow that access, when the lands were still under federal status.

To me, there are no impediments. Union Gas and hydro, and Ontario, with its private right-of-ways and whatnot, are the only ones there. We've had no problems with them at all.

Right now, as I said, Union Gas is prepared to enter into an agreement under the land code and easement agreement. The turnaround time would probably be six months. That includes one month to allow for a vote.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

They're a business moving at the speed—

4 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

They always have been cooperative. Hydro One is interested. I think basically they're going to get tired of the issues they're dealing with, with the department, because their timelines continue to drag on.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

James, I can appreciate that.

This time goes by so quickly, so I'm having to go over some stuff here more rapidly than I want to.

I know that in September 2000, the department released a final report, “Impact Evaluation of Contributions to Indian Bands for Land Management on Reserve”. It's kind of a long title. I'm not sure if you're familiar with the report. But importantly, this final report recommended that the department “work towards national ATR legislation that incorporates process and approval improvements to streamline the process and increase efficiency”.

Perhaps you would like to take this last minute or two to expound on that recommendation, based on a very experienced community in this regard.

4:05 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

If there's legislation and there are timelines that go with that legislation, I would be all for it. We've discussed doing timelines in the settlement agreement. We've always gotten resistance—no, they can't commit to that.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

It's a critical element, James.

I know that my time is set to expire, if you could answer briefly.

4:05 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

That basically is it, in a nutshell. We've asked for a commitment. We were looking at that in the two other negotiations we're into. We want some type of commitment from the department that, yes, these are the timelines they can live up to, because we realize that for our lands, there is no encumbrance.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

I appreciate, then, that this would be a fully integrated discussion between other levels of government implicated in this process, and perhaps even private sector stakeholders, such as Hydro One and Union Gas. Would that streamline it and make it more efficient? It would be consistent, I would think.

4:05 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

Yes, it would. Because I can tell you, I know two corporations that are not happy with the process or with what they're being fed now by the department.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

It sounds as if there are too many processes.

My time is up, but thank you, James. I appreciate it.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

Thank you, Mr. Rickford.

Ms. Bennett, we'll turn to you now for seven minutes.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

As the parliamentary secretary stated, you're very experienced in managing land.

I was just wondering if you've had time to look at the budget implementation act and the changes in division 46 of the act to the First Nations Land Management Act and the number of pages there that would affect first nations land management.

4:05 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

Unfortunately, no, we haven't. Usually a lot of that we leave to, I would say, our colleagues, the Lands Advisory Board, to advise us on those issues. We are aware of the new funding increases we received, and we're more than grateful for that, because we knew the dollars we were getting weren't enough.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

With respect to that need for “free, prior, and informed consent” on laws affecting first nations in Canada, according to the rights of indigenous peoples, it seems that there are quite significant changes in this budget act. I don't know whether the advisers were asked.

It seems that land surveys are no longer required. The verb has been changed: the “Surveyor General may prepare”. It seems that legal descriptions have been changed, and it seems that no longer are the environmental management agreements necessary. I was just wondering how much consultation had been done on these rather significant changes to the First Nations Land Management Act before the bill was tabled.

4:05 p.m.

Julie Pellerin Manager, Support Services, First Nations Lands Management Resource Centre

The way the Lands Advisory Board works on these amendments...and these amendments are always improvements to the framework agreement—the framework agreement is the underlying document. The act is amended after the framework agreement is amended. The first nations that are in operation are actually the ones that help develop the amendments and the improvements. The reason the changes were made to the land description report was that we had noticed that land description reports were being held up, and they affected the first nation's ability to vote on their land code. The reason for that is if there is an uncertainty as to the status of the land, then the land description report cannot be completed until the research has been done to clearly identify if it is reserve land.

So the changes to the framework agreement will assist in developing administrative lines that will be able to set aside land where the title is uncertain in order to facilitate the first nation being able to go to a vote. The new funding and the new memorandum of understanding are based on a 24-month timeline, which is actually very doable. But in order to be able to do that, NRCan and Canada have to be able to complete a land description report in a timely fashion.

The environmental management agreement.... That's not to say that there is no environmental management or environmental assessment under a land code, but what we've noticed is that the first nation has not been able to implement any because the environmental management agreement requires Canada to come to the table, and we have not been able to get Environment Canada to agree to an environmental management agreement for any of our 37 first nations that have land codes. This is exactly what self-government first nations are able to do. They implement their own environmental management laws, their own environmental assessment agreements, and they're based on good practice and on the notion of trying to match them up with other jurisdictional laws, so that they're consistent, so the minimum standard will be there.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

I guess what I'm really asking the chair and the parliamentary secretary is whether or not we could have a technical briefing on the changes that are in the budget implementation act before we're asked to vote on that—maybe including the advisory board.

In my question on the order paper, the part for your band or first nation, Mississauga No. 8—is that correct?

4:10 p.m.

Voices

Yes.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

It did have that you put in that request—this is on the ATRs and the number across the country—May 28, 1994 and completed March 25, 2010. Then there's another one that says “NA” that they don't have any information on, which they say is active.

Do you think you could help the department get this a little bit more complete in terms of what they've put on the order paper with respect to your band?

4:10 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

We would have to see that order paper.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

“NA” apparently means they don't have any information.

4:10 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

Who doesn't? The department doesn't?

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Well, “NA” means not available, and it would require additional time to conduct archival research to obtain the proposal date.

4:10 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

Again, maybe the—

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

I was just going to say that maybe we could table this here with this committee, in terms of all of the ATRs that are outstanding across the country, and maybe that would allow first nations to verify what's here.

4:10 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

Excuse me, maybe it was just the terminology you used, but we had thorough consultation and input in regard to a recall of amendment 5, and basically that sounds like everything you're talking about. Mississauga First Nation is actually now probably ready to proceed to step three under the old environmental management planning process. Because we don't have a lot of environmental issues, we're moving forward, and hopefully that will get signed off and then we can actually, probably, have laws. I think we were looking at a timeline, at least in regard to waste management, by the end of this calendar year.

So yes, I think there were...just by the terminology used. But we were consulted and we did provide a lot of input.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

Thank you, Ms. Bennett.

We'll turn to Mr. Payne for seven minutes.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Chair, could we ask the department for a technical briefing on the changes to the Land Management Act? It is a bit surprising that that would be put in this document before this study has even been completed.

Also, I will give the clerk the questions I had on the order paper so they can be circulated to all members of the committee.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

At committee business, I think we can discuss if it's something that we as a committee want to do—to have a technical briefing here. That would be something totally workable.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Whichever, yes.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

If it's something you want to set up with the parliamentary secretary, I'm certain he can do that as well. We can discuss that at future business, for sure.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Thank you.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

We will turn to Mr. Payne now.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Medicine Hat, AB

Thank you, Chair.

Thank you, James, Keith, and Julie for coming today.

As you know, we are talking about land use and sustainable development. Your testimony here today is extremely important in that we hear your version of what is going on. Being that you were a signatory to the first nations land management regime with your operational land code—I believe you said you had that in 2009—can you tell us how the entry into the FNLM has been an important step forward for the Mississauga First Nation’s economic situation?

I'm not sure who wants to respond to that, but any or all would be fine.

4:15 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

I would say the biggest thing for us is that we see a future, a future that we control, and one that is based on our timelines, as we move along. Decisions are going to be made by the community. Unfortunately, in all honesty, we are actually legally into it for, what, three months? We haven't had time to really enjoy it all, but we do realize which direction we are heading in.

I think we explained earlier about the losses. Well, some of those losses—the forest can be redone, but there are some others that have been lost, because if you haven't cut it, it's probably dead and gone by now after 10 years.

4:15 p.m.

Lands and Resources Manager, Mississauga First Nation

Keith Sayers

Yes. Back in 1994, the forest industry was doing fairly well across the country. We had some of the best wood there to take advantage of, but we could not get a permit because it was not part of the first nation's land or it wasn't deemed in-reserve. We could not get a permit from Indian Affairs to start looking, so we had to move on other areas.

Again, it was unfortunate we lost these opportunities. We were gearing up, in terms of the whole lands management aspect. We went as far as negotiating with the Province of Ontario to establish, I believe it was, the first first nations conservation officer program in the province of Ontario. Because of the timeframes and the lack of financial resources, that program was dissolved.

Again, I am a member of Mississauga First Nation. I was working in that capacity in the late 1990s, but I did leave because other areas were starting to move. To come back again and see a similar process still occurring where nothing can move—it does get frustrating. We lose a lot of our technical people, because what was an opportunity is still on hold. These other opportunities do surface, and they tend to move on, because that’s where the opportunities are.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Medicine Hat, AB

I certainly appreciate the frustration.

Sorry, Julie, go ahead.

4:15 p.m.

Manager, Support Services, First Nations Lands Management Resource Centre

Julie Pellerin

I want to add to that. I have been working with Mississauga for I don't know how many years now. What's interesting with Mississauga is that when they were going through the land description report process, they discovered they had only 0.16 acres. So when they say they have had only a few months now of really trying to benefit from economic development, their land code was implemented on 0.16 acres, a vacant little piece of grassland, basically. For them, their opportunities are upcoming now, with the addition of lands added to the individual agreement. Not only have they faced delays in processing the additions to reserve, but also in processing the individual agreement once the OIC was signed.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Medicine Hat, AB

Just in terms of the big picture, could you mention one or two of the bigger opportunities you see for Mississauga as a result of this?

4:15 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

I think one is the forestry side of things. I think the other aspect is going to be the land leasing. We're well aware of what's going on across the country with other first nations. That seems to be the way to go. With 23 inland lakes, the possibilities are there and are endless. Again, we are going to do it in a sustainable way and make sure that all planning procedures are there and in place.

The other issue would be the forestry and to move on forestry, but as Keith said, the sector is really suffering big time now, and it's not something you're going to get rich quick on.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Medicine Hat, AB

Thanks, James.

I have another question before we run out of time here. What kinds of economic development opportunities does the FNLM provide your first nation that you would not have had under the Indian Act land management regime?

4:20 p.m.

Director of Operations, Mississauga First Nation

James Cada

Here's a perfect example. Because it was under the Indian Act, we lost out on the opportunity for a solar farm, 50 acres of land, probably around $120,000 annually. We couldn't do anything because we couldn't move on it. We were waiting for this process, for the lands to be...one was the additions to reserve, and then getting the amendment signed. I have to acknowledge that the amendment only took a year and a half. It was supposed to be only...was it a six-week or a six-month turnaround? Compared to the ATR, it was commendable, but again our problem was that it was the ATR people who basically caused us the delays or the grief. They were ones who had the input. They were the ones who were part of the settlement agreement.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Medicine Hat, AB

Keith or Julie, do you have any other comments?

4:20 p.m.