House of Commons Hansard #151 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was legislation.

Topics

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to present a petition from constituents of the Kamloops area who believe that our tax system is grossly unfair for a whole number of reasons which they outline in their petition.

They are simply asking the federal government to consider a major overhaul of our taxation system.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Assad Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I would like to table a petition signed by some 125 people. These people oppose Bill C-68, the Firearms Act.

They ask Parliament to repeal Bill C-68 and to reassign the officials appointed to enforce this law to other duties permitting a real fight against crime and violence.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

November 6th, 1998 / 12:05 p.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-49, an act providing for the ratification and the bringing into effect of the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management, be read the second time and referred to a committee; and of the amendment.

First Nations Land Management Act
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

The Speaker

If I recall correctly, the hon. member for Souris—Moose Mountain had about five minutes left. The hon. member has the floor.

First Nations Land Management Act
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Reform

Roy H. Bailey Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, this is the first time I have delivered a speech in three different segments. I can assure the House that the best part will be the last five minutes.

There are some fundamental questions in relation to this bill, and the bills that no doubt will be coming down the line, that Canadians, all Canadians, wherever they live, deserve answers for from the government.

We have before us, delivered to us about two years ago, the largest, most costly royal commission report ever presented to the House. It totalled some $58 million. It deals specifically with what we are discussing today.

Canadians want to know if we have changed the meaning of rule of law. Canadians need to have a debate on that issue. That debate should take place in the House by their elected representatives.

From time to time we hear the term self-government. If we ask a municipal official, he will tell us what self-government means. If we ask a town, a village or a city official, they will tell us. However, there are 30 million or more Canadians out there who simply do not have an explanation of what the term self-government means as we are using it in the context of this House. It is incumbent upon members of parliament, it is incumbent upon government members, to say that we need to have a debate in the House so that all Canadians, not just our native friends, but all Canadians understand what we mean by self-government. I have asked at least seven different sources and I have never received a definitive answer.

I wonder if any members opposite could provide this House with a definitive answer today as to what is meant by self-government as it relates to the royal commission report which we have before us. I owe that to my constituents. Members from Manitoba owe it to their constituents. Everybody needs to know.

We have introduced a bill. There is a vote being held today in northern B.C. Obviously there are going to be more. I am facing five or six land claims in Saskatchewan and nobody can tell us what the government means by self-government. We have to know before we can intelligently pass more legislation, or even this legislation.

The bill before us does not answer the questions of the grassroots people. It does not give them the authority from the bottom up. It does not give them the right to control. It is not a democratic process. For that reason, and for the reasons of people across Canada, I cannot vote for the bill. Nor can I continue to have the term self-government being used in all of its various contexts in the House without having a clear cut definition.

It is incumbent upon the government to be honest with the House and with people across Canada and tell us what is meant by self-government as it applies to the treaties or any other legislation that comes before the House. If that cannot be done, the government should not expect Canadians to support its actions.

First Nations Land Management Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Wentworth—Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague's remarks with great interest because we are all very concerned about what exactly these self-government treaties involve.

This has been a topic at the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development for some time. While there appears to be nothing that will be a constitutional problem in the treaties we are talking about, nevertheless it would be a reassurance for all Canadians to hear the interpretation of the term self-government from expert witnesses from the Department of Justice.

I am pleased to inform the member opposite that the committee has discussed just that strategy for a witness program when this bill goes to committee. I suggest to him that perhaps he should agree with the bill in principle and reserve his final judgment on his concern about what is actually meant by self-government and whether it is indeed in the interests of all Canadians, as I believe it is, and wait to see what the expert witnesses from the Department of Justice say at the committee. He could then make his decision when the bill comes back for third reading.

First Nations Land Management Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Reform

Roy H. Bailey Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his comments. That is exactly what I am talking about. It is not just to inform the House, it is to inform the entire nation of Canada.

Clearly we should not rely only on constitutional interpretation. We have to be in touch with all Canadians because it will indeed affect not just those people to whom some type of government is granted, it will also affect the rest of the people living in Canada.

There are six Indian groups, six reserves, in my constituency. I want to be as honest and fair with them as I possibly can. But at the same time I have to be honest and fair with the rest of my constituents.

I look forward to committee stage, but I can tell the hon. member that I have great fears about the constitutionality of this if what I read in the royal commission report will in fact establish sovereign states. Approximately 150 to 300 little islands would be created within Canada, which simply could not survive under the totality of rule of law in Canada.

First Nations Land Management Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's intervention on this subject. I am curious to know whether he has actually talked with grassroots natives in his area on this issue and whether they are in favour of what is happening in the federal government or whether they are opposed to it.

I am speaking specifically of the grassroots people as opposed to the people who are presumably in charge in the different reserves.

First Nations Land Management Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Reform

Roy H. Bailey Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, this is what I hear from my friends in Saskatchewan, and not just within my constituency. If we are to get to the bottom line I will repeat what they are saying. They want the same rights as members of parliament. They want to know where their tax dollar is going, how their government is spending their money. They want audited financial statements. They want budgets. They want everything we have always enjoyed.

If we are not prepared to give them the same benefits we have had and have nourished for well over 500 years, I am afraid the term self-government is somewhat meaningless. I thank the hon. member and encourage members to take a look at the basic principles so all people in Canada can enjoy the benefits of open and transparent democracy. That is what we must have.

First Nations Land Management Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Wentworth—Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I share with my colleague a concern about the terminology with respect to self-government and sovereignty. We do not want small nations within a nation. This is a debate that constantly appears in the committee of which I am a member.

When the bill gets to committee and is debated, does the member find there is nothing to the term sovereignty, that it is really not sovereignty we are talking about in these treaties but a form of municipal government?

If we find that kind of reassurance from justice department officials and other witnesses who come before the committee, would the member be willing to take that message back to his community to reassure the people who are genuinely concerned?

First Nations Land Management Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Reform

Roy H. Bailey Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I certainly will take the message back. If self-government means a form of municipal government such as my town's government or the governments of the smaller cities in my constituency that are subject to provincial and federal legislation, I am all for it. I can speak on behalf of all of my constituents who are also for that. If any other meaning were to be applied to the term to create sovereignty, I would be opposed to it.

I will go out with that message. I will make a press release tomorrow if he can assure me that is the case.

First Nations Land Management Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member mentioned that all of his constituents felt it would be acceptable for self-government to be defined in terms of a municipal government being responsible to the provincial government. I am under the impression that he has some first nations people within his riding. I would seriously question that all of them feel that way.

My understanding is that virtually every first nation in Canada desires to move toward self-government so they will not have to respond totally in the context of a provincial government. First nations people want control over their own lands. They want to make their own laws. There are some limitations with regard to criminal offences, but as a developing governing nation the first nations deserve the same opportunities Canadians have had since the beginning of recognized government. I would like to see it move ahead in that way.

I am curious to know whether the member has any first nations people in his riding and if he can truly attest to the fact that all his constituents would like to see self-government as a municipal government doing what the provincial government says it should do.