Evidence of meeting #4 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 first.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Anik Dupont  Director General, Specific Claims Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
  • Kevin McNeil  Senior Counsel, Specific Claims Section, Department of Justice
  • Kathy Green  Director, Research and Policy Directorate, Specific Claims Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

11:55 a.m.

Director General, Specific Claims Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Anik Dupont

Do you mean to conclude negotiations or...?

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Clarke Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Yes.

11:55 a.m.

Director General, Specific Claims Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Anik Dupont

Well, in the course of the negotiations, once we've established that we have an understanding of what the claim looks like and how we're going to be compensating, and once we put a value to what the claim is, we come in to get a mandate to settle these claims.

Then, once an offer is made to the first nation and they make the decision whether or not to accept the claim, if they accept it we finalize. They may have a ratification vote, depending; there are thresholds for ratification. If the first nation votes in favour and they agree to the settlement and to the trust, we seek approval to ratify the agreement. Then we make payment to the first nation.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Clarke Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Do the first nations want to continue with negotiations past the three years?

11:55 a.m.

Director General, Specific Claims Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Anik Dupont

I guess from the first nations' point of view, it's getting used to the concept that we come in and this will take three years. It's been a difficult adaptation for everyone when it comes to the pace and how we need to focus more at the tables.

The first nations sometimes feel that, yes, they are being pushed and shoved through the process, but we have a lot of discussions with them, and they understand that the ultimate goal is for us to get them in front of a settlement sooner rather than later.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Clarke Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Okay.

I'm looking at pages 10 and 11 of the specific claims policy and process guide, and it's a very in-depth process. Step one is submission and step two is early review.

Step three is research and assessment:

In the event the First Nation does not receive a response as to whether its claim has been accepted for negotiation within the three-year time period, the First Nation has the option of either waiting for the results of the federal government’s assessment or filing the claim with the Tribunal for a determination on its validity and compensation.

Step four is negotiation and settlement:

Although the three-year time frame for negotiations begins on the date the Minister notifies the First Nation in writing that the claim has been accepted for negotiation, the negotiation process itself will not begin until the Minister has received evidence, such as a Band Council Resolution, stating that the First Nation is prepared to enter into negotiations on the basis set out in the notification of acceptance.

So the three-year timeframe starts when the minister gives approval.

11:55 a.m.

Director General, Specific Claims Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Clarke Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Can they negotiate with the first nations beyond 2011?

11:55 a.m.

Director General, Specific Claims Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Anik Dupont

Of course they can.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Clarke Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Thank you.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

Mr. Rafferty, for five minutes.

11:55 a.m.

NDP

John Rafferty Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I have a couple of quick questions here, and perhaps it will allow a little more time for....

Dr. Bennett is going last, correct, after me?

Noon

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

We're going to work her in.

Noon

NDP

John Rafferty Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

You're going to work her in. Okay.

There has been much talk recently, certainly a lot in the media, about how the land claims negotiations go. I don't know if this is the case in the specific land claims category, but we've seen the “take it or leave it” attitude talked about. Is that something, in terms of specific claims, that's talked about in this process at all now?

Noon

Director General, Specific Claims Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Anik Dupont

From what we've seen in the press, when they talk about “take it or leave it” offers on the table...I guess our negotiation process differs a bit from other negotiation processes in that we have worked with the first nation to arrive at what we believe could be the value, or how the claim will be valued. When we come back to the table with an offer, we explain to the first nation what our offer is. We try to make our best offer, what we consider to be a fair and equitable settlement of that claim.

Do we spend a lot of time back and forth with the first nation discussing what the amounts are? To a certain extent we do. We try to explain to them how we came to the amounts. But we always put our best offer forward. First nations could interpret that as us saying, “Well, it's a take it or leave it offer”, but we put forward to them what we believe is a fair and equitable settlement.