Evidence of meeting #6 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 métis.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

We know that health outcomes are related to secure personal cultural identity. We have very good evidence that when people's land claims and governance are sorted out, those things improve. So even around the Manitoba study on diabetes, how could the Government of Canada help with this? Is there a separate Métis diabetes strategy? What would be the remedy, now that we have this evidence showing that diabetes is far worse among Métis than any other population in Canada?

11:40 a.m.

President, Métis National Council

Clément Chartier

Basically, it will take more than the federal government; we need to find provincial governments as well. I think what we have proposed to the Prime Minister and Minister Aglukkaq would be a step in the right direction for the seven jurisdictions to get together to discuss this issue and examine how we can go forward.

The provinces get substantial transfer payments each year to provide health care and other services to citizens within the province. If we could be more astute about how we can transfer some of those dollars directly to Métis health care, that certainly would be a big help. But we would have to do some considerable research to come up with an answer like that.

Certainly I think there is enough money out there. We just need to have some of it redirected; but we need to have federal-provincial-Métis nation cooperation and collaboration on how we can best do that.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

Thank you very much.

Mr. Rickford is next for seven-plus minutes.

October 18th, 2011 / 11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to the witnesses.

Clément, I appreciate your mentioning northwestern Ontario as an important part of the Métis Nation.

I also want to thank you, John, for sending me this book. I tried to start it the past few nights and realized it was a page-turner and something I shouldn't be reading late at night. I tried to get to a bit of it before we met, but I only received it a couple of days ago. I appreciate that.

Marc, you raised an interesting point, as did Clém, in your speech about land issues. I just want to put out at the forefront here that one of the things the committee is drawing closer to looking at is land-use modernization and sustainable economic development.

Unfortunately, I'm not, as you can well understand, in a position to discuss litigation, but I want to make it clear to you--and certainly, Marc, with regard to your point--that I think the land issue is on the table to the extent that it's resolved, and I see this potential study as something that is going to take some time. So I hope we'll be back and able to address that to a certain extent. Now probably isn't the time. I note that you do have a 1.3 million-acre land base in Alberta. Perhaps we'll visit that at that time.

But what we were thinking about was this constellation, if you will, of legal instruments and, certainly with respect to the Métis Nation, policy instruments that build on sustainable economic development.

I think what we've heard from you today will compel us to take a more serious look at a component that includes policy instruments. I'm going to talk a little bit about that here.

Clém, flowing from the 2008 Métis Nation protocol, I note there were some exchanges between you and the Prime Minister about things like the funding from the Clarence Campeau development fund, which came from the federal government, and the Metis Economic Development Organization. I suspect these are part and parcel of the important work you did, as you said, with Minister Strahl when he was the minister responsible for Indian Affairs. That was the title at that time, and of course, there was Minister Duncan.

I'm going to stop there and just get you to expound on those two organizations or funds. Talk a little bit about the substantive dimensions of economic development and, notably, how you have done very well in labour force participation in financial institutions.

I'll let you go with that, Clém.

11:45 a.m.

President, Métis National Council

Clément Chartier

I'm just going to answer briefly, and I'll have either John or Marc speak to the funds.

I just want to say in terms of land, to make this clear, that we are excluded from every process the federal government has, and so--

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

I understand that. I just can't discuss it. Unlike my colleagues, I'm part of the government. It's not a topic that--

11:45 a.m.

President, Métis National Council

Clément Chartier

No, I know. I just want to make others aware that it's something we want to work at.

In terms of the funds, I believe it's the result of our Métis economic development and symposium process and of the engagement and the relationship we've developed with the federal government.

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

Would you characterize that as largely positive? It appears that it has given rise to some good initiatives.

11:45 a.m.

President, Métis National Council

Clément Chartier

I believe the protocol is good and the Prime Minister has endorsed it specifically, and I believe it is well....

But, Marc, could you elaborate?

11:45 a.m.

Bilateral Coordinator, Métis National Council

Marc LeClair

It has provided a framework for us. If you look at the area of economic development, when we get with provinces, we're always trying to encourage them to do something. So through the federal leadership, whether it's through the MRED program, a resource development program, or the syndicated loan fund, we've been able to create these institutions that are much needed. At the same time, by bringing everybody together, we got the Province of Ontario to put $30 million into economic development for the Ontario Métis. We'd like to do the same thing in B.C.

We're gamers. We like to engage, and we like to get the provinces involved. We make no bones about it. We bring them all together and try to redirect the resources that we pay in taxes to our institutions, just as you are directing the till of the federal government, right? You move it around. We like to come here and say that we're an investment that Canada needs to make.

As Clém said, there are 400,000 of us. We are the biggest indigenous nation in North America. There's no single indigenous nation with a larger population than ours.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

If I could just interrupt you there. It sounds to me like we some great leadership on behalf of your organization and this current government on these key initiatives, but that we have some inconsistencies perhaps amongst the provinces. I think my colleague earlier was hedging towards fleshing out some of those issues, and I take note of that.

Clém, in your speech you said that this has given rise to some “practical and meaningful results and builds on the success of our...labour market financial institutions....” Can you just characterize very briefly what those results have been in practical terms? I would appreciate knowing the size of the nation, and that sort of thing. Let's drill down just a little bit here.

11:50 a.m.

President, Métis National Council

Clément Chartier

In terms of specifics, there's the Métis Entrepreneurship Fund, which is something we brought forward to the federal government in engaging our three Métis capital corporations in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. We're lacking them still in B.C. and Ontario. But in Ontario, of course, as Mark mentioned, the government did set aside a fund for economic development. So they're moving in that direction.

The Métis Entrepreneurship Fund makes syndicated small business loans in excess of $250,000, which was our previous cap.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

The loan equity capital.

11:50 a.m.

President, Métis National Council

Clément Chartier

Yes, so we can go up to $1 million now, which is very significant. That fund is owned and operated by our Métis capital corporations. Initially the federal government has invested $3 million and we're looking at the potential of $14 million over five years—again subject to demand and, of course, performance. That's very significant and something new for us.

The MREDs that Marc mentioned--

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

Do the organizations themselves do the performance evaluations?