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 tribunal.

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

Noon

NDP

John Rafferty Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Does it mean that after that point you're not willing to talk any more about your best offer that you've now put on the table?

Noon

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

Anik Dupont

For most cases, we present the fullest offer we can make to them, so we leave ourselves very little room to manoeuvre. That's because we want to get to the settlement sooner rather than later with the first nation.

Noon

NDP

John Rafferty Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

So when that offer is on the table, if it's not acceptable, they can then go to the tribunal?

Noon

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

Anik Dupont

After the three years of negotiations, they can go to the tribunal.

Noon

NDP

John Rafferty Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

So there might still be some remedy then for them in that particular case?

Noon

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

October 4th, 2011 / noon

NDP

John Rafferty Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

The second question I have might be for Mr. McNeil.

Sometimes specific land claims have unintended consequences. One of them is that the cash that is received is often used for ATR lands attached to reserve lands. In other words, lands are purchased to increase the size of the reserve, or for investment, or for any other reason. I have some experience with that. I'm sure that Mr. Rickford has also had some concerns from municipalities in his riding. Keep in mind that municipalities are very large in northern Ontario. The town of Emo and the town of Fort Frances have both approached me to say that a strip mall has now been bought using this specific land claim money and they now no longer have that tax base. That's what I mean by unintended consequences. I have been told that the provincial government is responsible now for paying the municipality back for that lost tax revenue.

I wonder if any of you could shed some light on that for me. When I am approached by municipalities and they ask where their tax base is now, it's gone, particularly around the town of Emo, where farm land is being bought up and is disappearing, what is the answer for me to give?

Noon

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

Anik Dupont

As part of our negotiation process, we do extensive consultations, especially when there's a land component, or an ATR component, to that. Our teams often have town meetings. They go and brief, meet with the officials, the municipalities, the mayors. They have town meetings to make sure that information is totally made available throughout the process. Also it's not just the government that does that. We do it either with the first nation, or the first nation has discussions. So we do try to involve the municipalities to ensure that everybody is made aware. Any purchase of land is always done using a willing buyer or willing seller approach. So we don't displace--

Noon

NDP

John Rafferty Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

I'm not concerned about the willing buyer or willing seller part. As I say, municipalities are concerned that their tax base begins to erode. Also keep in mind that in northern Ontario, those tax bases are very fragile. It's not as if you have enough room to manoeuvre. All it takes is a collapsed culvert on a bridge and suddenly your budget is gone for the next five years as you try to repair that. They are understandably very concerned.

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

Mr. Rafferty, sorry to jump in. Your time is long gone, but we hope to get back to you if you can negotiate with--

12:05 p.m.

NDP

John Rafferty Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Can I just get one quick response?

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

No, you can't. We're already 30 seconds past your time.

Ms. Bennett, we'll give you the floor now since you missed earlier.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Is there a document or a road map of all of the land claims and the status of each of those land claims?

12:05 p.m.

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

Anik Dupont

All that information is available on our website. There's a public searchable database.

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Is it in a chart that is alphabetical or by region? Do you have to search for each one individually?