House of Commons Hansard #167 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-33.

Topics

The House resumed from December 7 consideration of the motion that Bill C-43, an act to amend certain Acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support Act, be read the third time and passed.

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support Act
Government Orders

10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of Bill C-43 is to make minor technical amendments and corrections to various statutes and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support Act.

The enactment would make technical corrections to the Access to Information Act, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Act, the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, the Public Service Staff Relations Act, the Yukon First Nations Self-Government Act, and a number of acts that come under the jurisdiction of the Departments of Canadian Heritage and Finance.

The government announced in December 1994 that it would streamline government agencies, boards and advisory bodies. Much of the so-called streamlining simply removed appointments from parliamentary scrutiny by what had been order-in-council appointments. Following the December 1994 announcement the board ceased operations on March 31, 1995.

This is the third time the repeal of the Fisheries Prices Support Act has been before parliament. It was first introduced in June 1996 as Bill C-49 but did not get beyond second reading prior to the call of the election. The repeal was reintroduced as part of Bill C-44 in June 1998. Once again Bill C-44 did not get beyond second reading and was not reintroduced prior to the last election. The repeal of the act has had a low priority for the government as have all matters relating to the fishery.

The Fisheries Prices Support Act was passed in 1994 establishing the Fisheries Prices Support Board which was responsible for investigating sharp declines in fish prices and, where appropriate, recommending price support. The board was empowered to purchase fish products, to sell or otherwise dispose of these products, and to make deficiency payments to producers. The intent of the act was to protect fishermen against sharp declines in prices and consequent loss of income due to causes beyond the control of fishermen or the fishing industry.

The board has not undertaken any significant price support activities since 1982 except for the purchase of fish as food aid for distribution by CIDA.

Bill C-43 can be considered a hybrid of the Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act. Bill C-43 contains a number of provisions omitted from the draft of the Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act, MSLA, Bill C-40. The miscellaneous statute law amendment program was initiated in 1975 to allow for minor, non-controversial amendments to federal statutes in an omnibus bill. A draft version of Bill C-40 was submitted to the standing committees on justice of the House and the Senate.

The MSLA process requires any item objected to by a Senate or House committee to be withdrawn from the bill. To be included, the proposed amendments must meet certain criteria. They must not be controversial, not involve the spending of public funds, not unfairly affect the rights of persons, not create a new offence, and not subject a new class of persons to any existing offence.

The procedure is designed to eliminate any potential controversial items ensuring quick passage of the bill. Bill C-43 contains items objected to in Bill C-40 and also contains new items regarding the repeal of the Fisheries Prices Support Act as well as items that did not make it into Bill C-40 on time.

While Bill C-43 contains minor technical changes similar to an MSLA bill it cannot be treated as an MSLA bill since a few of the amendments did not meet the criteria for an MSLA bill. Quick passage could not be granted and a committee hearing was deemed necessary.

Both the House and Senate committees objected to clauses in Bill C-40 that appear in Bill C-43 as clauses 2, 3 and 4 because they allowed the minister to enter into agreements with the government of any province or provinces in Atlantic Canada respecting the carrying out of any program or project of the agency. This is a change from cabinet authority to ministerial authority.

The Senate and House committees objected to a clause in Bill C-40 that appears as clause 21 in Bill C-43 because it would require royal recommendation. Clause 21 would repeal a section of the National Film Act that limits the National Film Board's ability to appoint staff with salaries of over $99,000 without seeking the approval of cabinet. The clause is viewed by the film board as an unnecessary administrative requirement. The original intent of the provision dates back to 1939. The change would not increase the film board's budget that is approved by parliament.

We in the official opposition support Bill C-43. However it is the first fisheries legislation the government has enacted since coming to office in 1993. It would repeal the defunct Fisheries Prices Support Act that has been little used since 1982 and whose board was shut down in 1995.

The Canadian Alliance would support a fisheries policy that protected the public fishery, fish stocks and fish habitat. We would support a policy that provided for a fishery with equal access for all, healthy sustainable stocks, and a habitat that ensured stocks for the future. The CA supports the strategic purchase of surplus fish products by CIDA for use as part of Canada's food aid programs. The continued existence of the Fisheries Prices Support Act with its defunct board has not contributed to nor has it been a necessary precondition for a healthy fishery.

Bill C-43 is a reminder that fishermen, fisheries legislation and fisheries policy have not been a priority for the government.

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support Act
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10:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support Act
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10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support Act
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10:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support Act
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10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support Act
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10:15 a.m.

An hon. member

On division.

An Act to Amend Certain Acts and Instruments and to Repeal the Fisheries Prices Support Act
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10:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act
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10:15 a.m.

Kenora—Rainy River
Ontario

Liberal

Bob Nault Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

moved the second reading of, and concurrence in, amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-33, an act respecting the water resources of Nunavut and the Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

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10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, I rise to address the House on Bill C-33, the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act.

Hon. members are familiar with the legislation. It is back before us today so we can consider an amendment moved by the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources and approved by the Senate. I am pleased to advise the House that the government will accept the amendment which does not alter the intent of the legislation or affect any of its provisions.

Bill C-33 remains an important bit of unfinished business for Canada. It is important for Inuit and for the future of Nunavut. I will give members a bit of the history. The agreement was signed in 1993. Yet here we are in 2002 still trying to get legislation for the bodies created under the land claims agreement. It is important that the bodies have a legislative base.

Today I will be asking hon. members to support the legislation as amended so it can proceed quickly to royal assent and proclamation. I will address the amendment in a few minutes. First, I will remind hon. members what the government is endeavouring to achieve with the legislation and why it deserves our support.

Bill C-33 would establish the legislative framework for two institutions of public government: the Nunavut Water Board which is responsible for licensing the use of water and the deposit of waste in Nunavut; and the Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal whose role is to resolve access disputes between landowners and those who want and need to use the land. As hon. members know, preliminary versions of both institutions were created in 1996 under the authority of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. The land claims agreement also requires Canada to establish in law the power, duties and functions of the institutions.

Bill C-33 would meet this requirement. The bill is one of empowerment. Nunavut residents would be guaranteed representation on both the Nunavut Water Board and the Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal, thereby bringing decision making closer to the people. Bill C-33 would help give the people of Nunavut, some 85% of whom are Inuit, opportunities to become economically self reliant and build relevant institutions of government.

I will talk a bit about what we are doing in Nunavut. It is very much parallel to what the government of Nunavut is doing. We talk about Nunavut becoming economically self reliant and becoming a government on its own. It is a long struggle which becomes harder if we do not have the resources, legislation and tools in place.

I see Bill C-33 as one of the tools that would help us move a bit further down the road that has been three years in the making since April 1, 1999. I am proud to say the people of Nunavut have risen to the challenge and made the last three years exciting. Great progress has been made. Because of the great challenges we face we have a lot further to go, but I can honestly say we have made changes in the last three years. If we keep working the way we have it is a good sign for the future. The last three years are a good example of the determination of the people of Nunavut to make things right.

By supporting Bill C-33 at second and third reading hon. members have shown they agree with the government on these matters. As I noted at the outset, the legislation requires our attention once again due to an amendment approved by the other place. Specifically, the other place has amended Bill C-33 to remove the non-derogation clause.

Inuit rights provided for within the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement are not only constitutionally protected under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Clause 3(1) of Bill C-33 says that in the event of any inconsistency between the bill and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement would prevail.

The intent of the non-derogation clause was neither to diminish nor enhance the constitutional protection given to the rights of Canada's aboriginal peoples. The government's goal was to signal that enactment of Bill C-33 would not abrogate or derogate from the protection provided by the Constitution Act, 1982 to aboriginal and treaty rights.

Non-derogation clauses are not uncommon in federal statutes. Their intent is always the same: to remind the reader that aboriginal peoples have protected rights under our constitution that must be taken into account when exercising legislative authority. It is for this reason that aboriginal people often request that such clauses be included in bills for their comfort.

Unfortunately, some Inuit representatives cannot accept this explanation for the non-derogation clause in Bill C-33. The issue of the non-derogation clause has become somewhat of a debate among lawyers vying for their legal opinions to be heard. The magnitude of the debate has been blown out of proportion.

The courts have not yet made any interpretations regarding non-derogation clauses. Some groups do not share the government's interpretation that such clauses are a signal of constitutional protection because statutes are subject to protection under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 whether or not such clauses are included. For that reason when Bill C-33 was before the standing committee some witnesses expressed strong opposition to the clause.

The obvious solution was to remove the non-derogation clause from the bill. While our goal was simply to flag aboriginal rights which are already enshrined in the constitution, we acknowledge that if some Inuit people found no comfort in the clause and it made them uncomfortable, there was no reason to leave it in the bill. That being said, hon. members should be aware that removal of the clause in no way impacts the application of Bill C-33 or the protection of aboriginal rights. In short, neither the bill nor the Inuit will suffer because of the amendment.

It is time to move forward with the legislation. There has been a lot of debate on the issue. It has been divisive for some people in the territory. The debate is becoming larger than the bill itself. I have spoken a bit about what is happening in the territory. There are so many things going on at the same time that we want to move forward. I do not want the groups that are trying to move forward and deal with the challenges to be held back because they have no legislation with which to do their work.

There have been exhaustive consultations. We hope they have resulted in a bill that would further implement the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, protect the Arctic environment and create certainty for the resource industry and others who may wish to invest in Nunavut.

Hon. members have heard me talk as much as I can about the natural resources available in the territory. We hope we will be able to draw investors in the future. We are doing so today because of the territory's promising natural resources such as diamonds and precious metals.

We hope to use those resources to move forward and become contributors to Canadian society. It will also benefit us in the form of jobs and training. We want our communities to become industry based instead of government based as it is in so many communities.

We hope our young people will go back to school to pursue careers that will help them take advantage of all the natural resources available in the new territory.

The mining industries have stated that it is difficult for them to invest in our territory unless there is absolute certainty and they know the playing field. I have had a couple of people tell me that they really wished Bill C-33 would go through because it would create a more certain field for them as far as an investor is concerned.

As I referenced earlier, the bill is a key part of the government's commitment to the Inuit of Nunavut through the implementation of the Nunavut Land Claims Settlement Act. With that in mind, I urge hon. members to join me in voting in favour of Bill C-33 as amended.

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10:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to follow on the comments of my colleague, the member for Nunavut.

This is my first opportunity as a critic for this portfolio to add some comments to the record on an issue of great importance to the Nunavut people, an issue that has been long standing before the House. Now at third reading we have the opportunity to perhaps move forward.

The amendment that has been brought forward is one which will give closure potentially to the legislation. The times we live in are exciting times for all of us but they are especially exciting for the people of Nunavut. The opportunities that this legislation may open to them are opportunities that many other groups within our society have had for a much longer period of time, opportunities to exercise governance and leadership within their own jurisdiction with a recognized authority and a recognized structure of that authority that has not been there in the past.

The bill addresses the water resources and the surface rights tribunal aspects of the Nunavut agreement itself. What we are talking about today is the amendment which has come back to the House from the Senate. The amendment proposes to delete subclause 3(3) on page 4 of the bill which reads:

For greater certainty, nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from the protection provided for existing aboriginal or treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada by the recognition and affirmation of those rights in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

The use of derogation clauses has been open to debate by members of the legal community in other contexts for some time. The reality of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement is that it has in itself answered the larger questions about who owns the land and who owns the resources of the eastern Arctic.

What is necessary at this point is to give greater consistency or assuredness to the people of Nunavut and to the people of Canada about the resource management regime that will exist in Nunavut. Water management and surface rights are key aspects of that management regime.

I believe it is critical that we do everything in our power to remove the barriers that stand in the way of people achieving their potential and being able to participate in the economic benefits of a vibrant Canadian economy. It is an economy that has been made somewhat less vibrant because of the mistakes of the government, but nonetheless it has been a vibrant economy at times in the past and we hope the Nunavut people will be able to fully participate in it in the future.

In terms of the economic growth potential and the self-sufficiency that we hope to see achieved in Nunavut, the passage of the bill with the proposed amendments would assist in creating a greater opportunity for full equality and full participation of the people of Nunavut in the Canadian economy.

The bill would provide greater assurances and certainty to industry. Industry is critical to achieving the full participation of the people of Nunavut in our economy. It will provide the job opportunities that will give the Nunavut people the abilities, which most Canadians now enjoy, to sustain themselves and their families.

We will support the amendment that has been proposed in this case because we want to see those goals achieved for the people of Nunavut.

I want to dwell a bit on the non-derogation clause because I think it is important to understand. I am told that in the past non-derogation clauses have been included at the request of aboriginal and Inuit leaders who wanted to make sure that it was clear within the legislation that there would be no infringement on the rights of those peoples. The non-derogation clause has also been included in other legislation.

We have been told by the government in this case and in these other cases that non-derogation clauses are not meant to assign rights nor are they intended to diminish rights but are simply declaratory clauses. In other words, they would give credence or recognition to the need for other documents to be supported and recognized that would give such rights. The other document in this case would be the constitution.

It is interesting when one reads the clause and one looks at the comments that were made by some of the witnesses at the committee. Hon. Paul Okalik, the premier of Nunavut, has said that he does not want this clause. He does not feel it needs to be there. I will quote from his comments before committee:

The first item I would like to address is the so-called “non-derogation clause” of the current legislation. Having looked at the text, I find this clause very offensive. I feel that it is an attempt to provide a new term that I would like to introduce to you today: It is what I would call an “Inuit-giver” clause. It has the potential of undermining a modern treaty that we negotiated in good faith with the federal government.

The premier seems to think that the intent of this clause is not declaratory. He reads much more into it than the government has said it intended to be there. I can understand the government's willingness to support the Senate amendment, given the fact it is certainly far from being requested by Inuit leaders. It is actually a request of Inuit leaders that it not be part of this piece of legislation.

The goal of the Canadian Alliance is to make sure that there is equality of opportunity for all Canadians. Now that this agreement and the larger agreement from which it stems have gone forward, we want to do everything in our power to ensure that the people of Nunavut and the people of all Canada's groups have that opportunity for equality. They need to know that their government will be accountable to them and that it will operate in a transparent manner. They need to know that their government will be chosen by them as people who should have the right of equality to vote in elections for example. Right now numerous Indian bands do not exercise such governance. Many of the country's aboriginal peoples are not able to vote in elections.

These are changes we will fight to achieve in this country. We want to see the equality of opportunity and the equality in terms of franchise and individual rights a reality. We do not want to see it sacrificed.

Transparency, accountability, equality of opportunity are worthy goals. These are the goals the Canadian Alliance has stood for and will continue to stand for. Because of that, we will support the amendment as proposed and we will support this legislation.

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10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak today on the Senate amendment to Bill C-33. I shall not speak very long. As hon. members are aware, my party's critic, the member for Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, is quite knowledgeable on this matter. I shall limit myself to a few remarks on the government's motion.

It must be said immediately that we are in favour of Bill C-33. I need not remind hon. members that the Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act, which we have recently supported, provides more self-sufficiency to the communities. We believe it is a step in the right direction and we supported it unconditionally.

Overall, Bill C-33 represents the implementation of certain elements of the Nunavut land claims agreement concluded between the Inuit of Nunavut and Her Majesty in right of Canada. The bill before the House at this time therefore brings to completion the last aspects of this historic agreement. Let us keep in mind that this bill was passed by the House of Commons last November and has stagnated with the Senate every since.

We realize what the workload of our colleagues in the other place is, but is it acceptable for this bill to stagnate, to remain dormant, if I may use that term, for six months in the other place, just so that this legislation, which will empower the communities, can be implemented?

I have trouble understanding why, after six months, the only recommendation the other place can come up with is to take seven lines out of the bill. Worse yet, the proposed amendment does not even concern the body of the bill, but rather the preliminary definitions and the mechanisms for application of this legislative measure.

I could go on and on about the role of the senators and the legislative process, but I will spare the House this needless suffering, which would be boring to them as well. The amendment to Bill C-33 proposed by the Senate consists in deleting from application of this new legislation a fundamental provision relating to the negotiations that in fact led to the conclusion of the and claims agreement between the government and the Inuit of Nunavut.

In the treaty providing the framework for the agreement, which was ratified and implemented on July 9, 1993 by the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, care was taken to specify the scope of the agreement and the fact that it did not take precedence over prior legislation.

Clause 3(3) of Bill C-33 is consistent with the spirit of the 1993 legislation. However, the Senate is trying to remove this important aspect, the product of years' of negotiations leading to the accord and now, all of a sudden, for no apparent reason, the Senate wants to strike them from the treaty implementation act, which is the final stage of this effort that has lasted so many years.

We find this situation unusual, and rather embarrassing for an institution such as the Senate, which has had to deal with serious credibility issues. Not only do senators want to undo twenty years of work, but their changes do not even appear to make any sense.

It is unfortunate that the House is required to waste precious time pondering an issue that is as useless as the Senate itself, rather than spending this time to further the cause of first nations.

The Bloc Quebecois has made good relations with aboriginal peoples a cornerstone of our political program and campaign platform. Like the government of Quebec, we firmly believe, and reiterate this today, that there must be harmonious relations with first nations, as demonstrated by the recent nation to nation agreements that have been concluded with the Cree and the Inuit.

We are determined to work together with the government to respond promptly to the governance wishes of the Inuit from Nunavut. However, the Bloc Quebecois is strongly opposed to the motion presented by the Senate, and we will be voting against the motion.

In closing, I would invite my colleagues from the other parties to consider this carefully and to carefully weigh the pros and cons of such an amendment. To finish, I would like to add that it is unfortunate that this bill was held up in the Senate for six months only to come up with this provision, when we could have accelerated the pace and the process to provide more governance and more autonomy to communities.

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10:45 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased on behalf of my caucus to participate in this debate on Bill C-33 and, in particular, the amendment being proposed by the Government of Canada.

At the outset I will reiterate the position of our party on the bill and echo the words of my colleague, the aboriginal affairs critic, the member for Winnipeg Centre, who has worked long and hard with other members in the House on advancing the bill and pushing for an expeditious resolution of this matter.

As my colleague has noted on numerous occasions, the bill is long overdue. It is well noted in the House that in fact there were several predecessors to this bill, specifically Bill C-51 in the 35th parliament in 1996, and then again in the 36th parliament, Bill C-62. Both those bills died on the order paper despite the fact that there has been a long recognized need for legislation in this area and despite the fact that the people of Nunavut have called persistently for action from the government.

It is clear, and I am sure the member for Nunavut acknowledges, realizes and lives with this on a day to day basis, that the people of Nunavut have waited patiently for a very long time to see a bill finally come through all stages in the House of Commons. Obviously we are committed to and interested in seeing this process come to an end and seeing the action taken that is so desperately needed.

Clearly the whole issue of Nunavut land claims settlement in the areas of land use, water and environmental assessment boards is paramount and critical. It is in fact scandalous that nothing has happened since June 1993. Of course we want to see the bill move through the House and action taken. However, we are concerned today with the announcement from the government that in fact a very important clause in Bill C-33 is recommended for deletion to the House of Commons.

I have listened carefully to the debate and have tried to understand the rationale for the deletion of this clause and have yet to appreciate any significant rationale for this initiative. I listened to the member for the Alliance suggesting that in fact this is in the best interests of the people of Nunavut and that this deletion of the non-derogation clause is according to their wishes and intent.

My understanding of the situation is that in fact the people of Nunavut would like to see some form of a non-derogation clause in the bill. Perhaps the wording of this one before us today poses some difficulties, but I think it would still be concluded that it is better than nothing. My colleague from Winnipeg Centre indicated that this issue was discussed thoroughly at committee stage and he was pleased to see that there was at least something in the bill around non-derogation.

I think it is particularly important that we understand the historical basis for such a clause and appreciate the reasons for the need to include a provision like this in a bill of this nature, especially today when we are on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the charter of rights and freedoms entrenched in our constitution in section 35, part of the Constitution Act. It is a very important development in the history of Canada which actually recognized that aboriginal rights are part of our history and must be entrenched in the constitution and that those inherent rights cannot be signed away by any document. It was felt that a bill of this nature should surely include a non-derogation clause. It has become standard practice in legislation dealing with aboriginal and treaty rights.

To quote from the speech of my colleague from Winnipeg Centre, he noted for the House that:

In anything dealing with aboriginal rights, a non-derogation clause has become standard practice, in that nothing in this newly signed agreement will derogate or in any way diminish rights that are inherent within the charter of rights and freedoms or the constitution. The inherent rights that aboriginal people enjoy cannot be signed away by any document.

That is the spirit behind this amendment.

It was noted at committee that the wording of the particular clause dealing with non-derogation was problematic. I think the leadership of Nunavut did indicate problems with that non-derogation clause. There was an attempt to change it to be more acceptable and responsive to the wishes of the people of Nunavut and in fact it was recommended that the clause should actually be rephrased to state:

Nothing in the bill should derogate from any existing aboriginal or treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada under the Constitution Act, 1982.

That proposed amendment was in keeping with the wishes of the delegations from Nunavut. It was simple and straightforward but unfortunately did not succeed at committee stage. We are left with the non-derogation clause as outlined in Bill C-33 which is now being proposed for deletion. That represents a concern for us and does temper our support for Bill C-33.

I want to register those concerns and to indicate that we will be listening closely throughout the remainder of the debate for a better understanding of why such an amendment is being proposed. It would seem to us that anything we can do as a House of Commons to recognize the long struggle of aboriginal peoples to pursue the fundamental notion of their inalienable rights being entrenched in the constitution and to encapsulate the spirit of that constitutional provision is absolutely vital and must be pursued.

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10:50 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to the amendment to Bill C-33. I first looked at this bill when it was C-62, Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act and again now when it is C-33, the same title, Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act.

This bill is long overdue. It has been on the books since 1992-93. It is high time that we actually pass it through parliament. Ten years is long enough for any piece of legislation to be passed in this place.

There are some important questions to be raised regarding the deletion of the non-derogation clause. In conversation with the Inuit Tapirisat and the people in Nunavut they raised a number of questions about the bill. None the least of which was the long standing concern that the people of Nunavut had over the requirement for ministerial approval of applications. Certainly the intent, and a noble intent, is to have more control or more power vested in the jurisdiction and the people of Nunavut.

There was a problem with the authority of the governor in council to make regulations in areas that the Inuit felt should be the authority of the water board or the surface rights board, especially the water board. The legislation did not expressly recognize Inuit water rights. The bill states that is subject to Nunavut rights in the Nunavut Act and the rights invested in the crown. Possibly there should have been another amendment looking at water rights specific to the Nunavut area.

Another concern raised was that the $20 million liability factor. It should have probably been higher. However, all those issues and the non-derogation clause aside, this legislation is long overdue. It should have been passed long ago.

It has the support from the member for Nunavut and the premier of Nunavut. It is not up to us as parliamentarians to hold this particular piece of legislation up whether or not we agree with the amendment. The amendment has been passed in the House. It will be my intent to support the amendment in the House. It is incumbent upon all members in the House to look at this piece of legislation carefully to make sure that it is pushed forward and to absolutely make sure that it is passed because it does give more rights to the people who live in Nunavut. That is extremely important.

Maybe at some point in the future we should come back and look at this again but let us get the legislation through. Let us pass it. It is a good piece of legislation. It is timely and it is long overdue.

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10:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?