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

12:05 p.m.

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

Anik Dupont

The reporting centre allows you to do that. It's very flexible. You can press “print” and you'll get all the specific claims that are in our process right now. They give you the status, where it is, what the specific claim is. You can do it by province. It's quite versatile, and it allows people to have ready access as to where those claims are.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Does it show the “third year, do not cross” date?

12:05 p.m.

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

Anik Dupont

If it's a claim that has been filed with the minister, it will have that date. All the dates are identified as part of the report. So it will say to you that this claim was filed with the minister on such a date. It will say that this claim was accepted for negotiation on such a date. So you know that from that date there is the three-year timeframe.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

As I think were my colleagues, over the summer I was very concerned about the “take it or leave it” aspect in a process that's supposed to be based on negotiation, mediation, or whatever. The idea that “this is our last deal and otherwise you can take it to court”, which is of course a very expensive process, is worrying. I don't know that I'm reassured that “whatever is our last deal” is the way this thing was originally set up.

12:05 p.m.

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

Anik Dupont

We have no plans to terminate any negotiations. It is important that that be said. We are trying to manage the negotiation process to get ourselves to a settlement within three years. That is our approach. That's how we're organizing ourselves to do it, but we are not terminating any negotiations.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

But you are. When the clock runs out at three years, what happens?

12:05 p.m.

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

Anik Dupont

Each and every negotiation table is managed independently. We monitor the work and the progress at the table, and we do it with the first nation as well because we want to get to a settlement by such a time. All the work at the table is focused on achieving that settlement, so if we are getting close to the three years and we have all the information that allows us to put an offer on the table, we'll put an offer on the table. If we don't have all those components, we will continue the discussions.

In certain cases we have no choice. There might be other parties to the table so that it takes some time for us to get to a settlement, but we do not arbitrarily terminate negotiations after three years.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

At the three-year point, is there is some leeway by Canada to actually extend it?

12:05 p.m.

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

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

You can extend it if you want. So even when there is this arbitrary message that it's to be done in good faith, putting an unacceptable deal on the table a week before the three years is up should be avoided. Is that right?

12:05 p.m.

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

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

You are saying there is nothing automatic at the three years. There is no sort of “see you in court” at three years.

12:05 p.m.

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

Anik Dupont

The “automatic” is there, but it's not ours. At the three-year mark the first nations can leave the process and bring their claim to the tribunal and we can be still sitting at the table, so it's up to the first nation.

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Okay.

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

Thank you, Ms. Bennett.

Mr. Rickford, go ahead, please, for five minutes.