House of Commons Hansard #39 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was first.

Topics

Westbank First Nation Self-Government Act
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence O'Brien Labrador, NL

Absolutely, Madam Speaker. This model is making sure that non-members on reserve or non-members in any claim area, whether it is for Inuit, first nations like the Westbank or the Métis or any claim that Canada entertains, first and foremost have mechanisms put in place to protect the rights of all non-members on any particular reserve. In this case, the department and the Government of Canada have made sure that those mechanisms have been duly noted and are formal. If there are any disputes between members and non-members, there are mechanisms to take care of it. I think that is the way to go.

Westbank First Nation Self-Government Act
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3:20 p.m.

Sarnia—Lambton
Ontario

Liberal

Roger Gallaway Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I too stand to speak in support of Bill C-11. The first thing I will note is that I have been here much of the day and have heard many of the speeches, and I think we must be careful to acknowledge that this is in fact what I would characterize as a pilot project. We ought not to engage in hyperbole to say that this is the answer, because the answer is very complex and the situation in many first nations across the country is radically different from what it might be in the Westbank region.

Having said that, let me say that Bill C-11 would give effect to the Westbank First Nations self-government agreement. This agreement is the first stand-alone self-government agreement negotiated under the government's inherent right policy, and this is a process which has come to the House after some 14 years of discussion on the ground.

This is a policy that attempts to reach decisions on a local basis because it is local decisions which best reflect what people want and what people need. As a result, this agreement would lead to improvements in many areas for the first nations people of Westbank, certainly including housing and certainly including employment.

In this place many of us will know of the history of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. From a historical perspective, we know about what were called Indian agents who were there to supervise bands, who were there in fact to superimpose the view of the Indian affairs department on first nations people. This agreement does away with that. In fact, this agreement is 180 degrees in the other direction.

Crucial to the ratification by members of the Westbank First Nation was a comprehensive negotiation process, which has resulted in this agreement and for which many of the speakers here today have indicated there is real support. We have to emphasize that this was negotiation. In fact, the negotiation started out in certain quarters, I am told, where there were many people who were hostile to the agreement, some of whom have come on side. Like it is with any other agreement, there are always those who at this time will remain opposed to this agreement, but what is certain is that it was a real negotiation process.

We have a word that we toss around in this place, but I am trying to avoid it. That word is consultation. I am trying to avoid it because I must say that I have arrived at the point where I no longer know what consultation means. In fact, it is my belief that consultation has no meaning whatsoever. We have a lot of consultants running around consulting through consultations and what it all means in the end I do not know. But this is about negotiations, about real people sitting down and having a framework for negotiating, and over a period of time in fact coming to an agreement.

This negotiation process has ended positively. It has clarified the relationships between the provincial government and the federal government and the first nations with respect to laws, and it has set up public advisory and accountability to members provisions.

As I said earlier, the negotiations between the Westbank peoples and the Government of Canada began in 1990 and continued through the tenure of two band councils and, as we would say here, through the tenure of two governments.

Westbank brought people together from many communities, many lifestyles and many occupations to try to come to some common understanding of where they were going.

It is interesting to note that there was an advisory council set up to represent the 7,500 or 8,000 people who live on the reserve but who are not aboriginal people. In cooperation with this council, Westbank is in the process of developing a law to formalize the advisory council as a permanent institution under the legal regime of Westbank.

This first nation also worked hard to achieve strong and cooperative partnerships with neighbouring communities. Memoranda of understanding have been signed with both the Regional District of Okanagan and the City of Kelowna. Westbank has also met with the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, a treaty negotiation advisory committee, organized labour groups and homeowners' associations. What is clear is that there were a lot of discussions that this was not the imposition of a “deal” on attractive land. Westbank went out into the surrounding areas to contiguous communities and contiguous landowners and had discussions so that there was a level of comfort.

That does not mean there is complete agreement. It does not mean that everybody is happy, but there is clear understanding as to where this is going. In fact, I have been told that there were more than 400 information sessions and discussion sessions which were held to talk about the details of the agreement and what it would mean, not only for the aboriginal people, the Westbank First Nation, but for the 7,500 or 8,000 non-aboriginal people on Westbank lands and for the neighbouring communities, the contiguous communities.

Information was distributed in many ways, through the media, through local radio and discussion sessions, and through meetings such as those that are often held by groups such as a chamber of commerce. They allowed people to ask questions, receive answers and put forward their ideas.

Once again this is not to say that the events leading to the signing of this agreement on October 3 of last year were smooth. These things are never smooth. Sometimes the discussion was heated. I will say that sometimes people disagreed, because it is clear that not everyone was or is in favour of the agreement. What is certain is that in terms of these public meetings where discussions took place, everyone had an opportunity to speak, and not only to speak but to be heard. Those people who wished to appear and speak were allowed to, whether they were band members or from neighbouring communities.

What is clear is that this is an open process and it is a democratic process in that sense. It encouraged many of those who either voted against the agreement or were in fact from a neighbouring community and were in opposition to the agreement to accept the outcome in an open way.

I think that is because this is a cooperative community in Westbank. Westbank allows people to speak. People can disagree but they understand that they can still reach some form of consensus or agreement. Westbank has been described, for members from that part of the world, as one of the most progressive first nations in Canada.

It is through this process that the Westbank First Nation has shown us that there are many forms of democracy and that this process can in fact be democratic in that it allows wide and open participation. Everyone who wants to is allowed to have their say, and not only to have their say but to be heard and to have some possibility of impacting the outcome of this agreement. It is my belief that such a process can only be good for governance structure, particularly around first nations, because I think that first nations government structures, as is often referred to in this country, have had a long history that is often characterized as tortuous.

The self-government agreement also calls for a Westbank constitution which was ratified by members at the same time as the agreement. Constitutions are the cornerstones of a legal regime. In this case, it will determine the community's governance for everything from the election of officials, budgets and how laws are made, and it sets out a set of core, or in this case, community principles.

I believe that the constitution that has been worked out in the case of Westbank is significant because it was developed locally and it has local application. The constitution, as constitutions must, reflects the wishes of the people rather than having it imposed by a bunch of consultants, lawyers, or worse yet, by a bunch of people from the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

This constitution is a product of the Westbank First Nation's approach. It is a group of community people who worked for almost a decade to draft the core laws. Community meetings were held to discuss issues. They worked through problems and they put forward ideas. It is not complete.

I understand that the issue of matrimonial property has not been resolved at this point, but the fact is that they have a mechanism in place. They have enough goodwill that they are going to arrive at a point where the business or issue of matrimonial property will be worked out.

It is also important to understand that those who live on the reserve but are not aboriginal also shared their views. They got involved. When an agreement was reached and a draft constitution was ready, it was distributed, and once again, everyone was able to have his or her say, to be heard and to impact the outcome.

This form of agreement building or deal making has strengthened their constitutional outcome and will ultimately improve the way they are governed because people are, and this is not a very profound observation, more likely to respect and obey the laws, and participate in organizations that they intimately know because they were there and were part of the creation of both these laws and institutions. People in this case have a distinct sense of ownership.

A constitution formulated locally in this way will only lead, I would think, to improved governance of this first nation and will in turn lead to a better local municipal structure. It has important impacts, if this is a success, on other first nations.

Through their constitution the Westbank First Nation people have shown that what seemed like impossible, or maybe I can characterize it as difficult issues, could be overcome. I think this is a case of a community demonstrating that an agreement can be tailored and should be tailored to fit local circumstances, that agreements that are national in scope and that are imposed locally often, or perhaps one could say usually, fail because they do not fit local circumstances. In the end, the rights, and more importantly, the interests of everyone who is local can be respected because they were part of it.

The negotiators from the federal side recognized the potential, and I would like to think the value of this pilot project, of the Westbank approach. And that in fact the agreement that was reached was fair and had widespread public support in that part of the world.

In conclusion, I would like to say that there is widespread local support. There are people, still today, in that part of the world who are opposed to it, but what is clear is, even from the members who represent abutting ridings or who represent a riding where this property is, there is agreement.

The agreement has been built on foundations of discussion and consensus that have been driven locally, not by Ottawa. We are told that it meets the needs of the first nation's people there, but equally important, it meets the needs of this 7,500 or 8,000 non-first nation people who live on this first nation's property. It also meets the needs of members in abutting contiguous communities.

As I said in the beginning, I like to think of it as a pilot project. It is a first time agreement under the policy framework which was laid out more than 14 years ago. An agreement of this nature, where it is driven locally, has buy-in and cross-community agreement, will lead to a good local governance, to a strong local community, and of course, to what I think all Canadians want, wherever they are, which is a good local economy where there is economic opportunity, where there are jobs, and where there is local harmony among all the communities.

Westbank First Nation Self-Government Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ted White North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, the last 40 minutes or so in this House has had the appearance of the government filibustering its own bill.

I would like to ask the member who just spoke, did he write his own speech, and if not, who did? Is there a filibuster going on here to hold the bill up because nobody else in the whole place is putting up speakers except the government side who are even asking themselves questions? Maybe the member could answer those questions.

Westbank First Nation Self-Government Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Gallaway Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, first, I have been on record in many newspapers saying that I never deliver, never would and never have, canned speeches.

Westbank First Nation Self-Government Act
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3:40 p.m.

An hon. member

Until today.

Westbank First Nation Self-Government Act
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3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Gallaway Sarnia—Lambton, ON

They can heckle all they want, but I do not, and that was not a canned speech.

Second, he is asking me a question of the government. I do not speak for the government. He might want to pose that question in question period tomorrow, but I do not speak on behalf of the government.

Westbank First Nation Self-Government Act
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3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Rick Laliberte Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the hon. member. I think he could speak with quite distinct experience from his own constituency in his community. Within the provisions of the Westbank self-government act, there are opportunities for additions to reserves and the willingness that the first nations of Westbank would ascertain their property under the definition of Indian lands under the Indian Act.

There is a history within the Chippewas of Sarnia of an example that land set aside for the Chippewas of Sarnia was put under the War Measures Act as opposed to the Indian Act and the end result was that they lost that land.

I think there is very huge hesitancy and uncertainty within the Westbank first nation, and also other nations throughout Canada. They want to preserve a lot of this land under reserve definition because of this specific experience. Maybe the hon. member can share the history of the Chippewas of Sarnia and their land deals.

Westbank First Nation Self-Government Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Gallaway Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, part of the premise of the question is incorrect because there have never been any lands taken from the reserve properties of the Chippewas of Sarnia under the War Measures Act.

In fact, there was property taken from the Stony Point reserve, which lies some 50 miles roughly north of the City of Sarnia on Lake Huron. That property was taken under the War Measures Act in or about 1940. The people of the Stony Point reserve were displaced under certain provisions that are some 64 years old now and were moved to another reserve in the neighbourhood, if I can put it in that sense, and I do not intend to be flippant about it. They were moved to another reserve that was also on Lake Huron. That has been a flashpoint in that community because it was imposed historically under the guise of the exigencies of the second world war.

Even today there are problems because of the complexities of land around reserves. In fact, because the property was held under the War Measures Act by, I believe, the Department of National Defence, the end result is that it has yet to be deemed to be band lands or aboriginal lands, notwithstanding the fact that about nine years ago it was agreed that this should be the case.

These things are very complex. That is why I think in a case such as this where there is local autonomy away from the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, it does not mean that it is perfect, and it does not mean that all is well and good, but at least the decision making is going to be made locally.

The Sarnia reserve which was surveyed in 1818 has a history of, over the years, selling off lands on occasion to the abutting petrochemical business which came in a large measure to Sarnia during the second world war. That, I know, is a matter of regret. I know that the Chippewas or the Aamjiwnaang of Sarnia are attempting to acquire surplus lands which was sold to companies such as Imperial Oil a number of years ago and return them to band status.

The great asset in terms of the Sarnia reserve is that it has an industrial park that has done very well because it is managed by the local band. The end result is that there is a lot of employment created on the reserve, both for first nations and off-reserve people.

Westbank First Nation Self-Government Act
Government Orders

April 22nd, 2004 / 3:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John M. Cummins Delta—South Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government wants to prolong the debate. I would like to ask a real question. I understand my friend opposite is a lawyer when he is not in the House, so I think this question should have particular appeal to him.

The agreement declares that the Westbank government has an inherent aboriginal right under section 35 of the Constitution. If the Westbank government operates on the basis of an aboriginal right, my contention is that its action will be shielded by section 25 from charter challenge. Would the member care to comment on that?

Westbank First Nation Self-Government Act
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3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Gallaway Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend for that very good question. I have heard a lot of people in the House today, on both sides I believe, talking about how the Charter of Rights and the Constitution will apply on this property, under the auspices of this.

I also heard the member from Okanagan read section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982 which defines what the Constitution is and says that the Constitution is in fact the supreme law of Canada, although I do not have it in front of me.

I think the question that is being asked is on section 35, and whether in fact it gets them sideways out of this. It is tough to discuss the specific sections when they are not in front of me. However, that is what I would call the first nations clause in the Constitution. There will be a lot of arguments because there are many who think that the Charter of Rights is in fact the Constitution. That is a preposterous claim that is often made in this place by many people.

Westbank First Nation Self-Government Act
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3:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John M. Cummins Delta—South Richmond, BC

I asked a question, answer it.

Westbank First Nation Self-Government Act
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3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Gallaway Sarnia—Lambton, ON

I am getting to it. The question, as I understand it, is whether the Constitution will apply to it, or if this section 35, which I believe is what the member referred to, in fact will walk them out of it. These are all questions about which the legal profession loves to hear. These are all questions that create an industry, but I will say this. The matter to which the questioner refers has never been before the court to my knowledge, and I do not say that is correct.

What I am saying is that all provisions of the Constitution apply on this land, and if the member thinks that one particular part of one constitutional document, that is to say, one clause of one constitutional document will override everything else, then I am afraid he is wrong.

Westbank First Nation Self-Government Act
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3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Rick Laliberte Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is truly an honour to speak in favour of Bill C-11. In large part we have heard the debate take place and opposition members not rising. The bill is worthy of being discussed. We need dialogue on the Westbank situation not only in this chamber but throughout Canada.

This region of the country, as I mentioned in previous debates, is unsettled territories. These are treaty lands that the entire country has negotiated for the territory to become a country as a Canadian crown, or what we call crown lands. However, in this region the treaty process has not been complete. The treaty process would need partnership between the province, the federal government and the first nations themselves. We hope that process will come to its conclusion in the very near future.

My colleague who spoke previously mentioned that this was a self-government deal that was needed now so the community could have the law-making powers on education and culture, finances, land use policies, land lease policies and on resource development within their lands.

This self-government deal is an opportunity for Canada to look into other opportunities. There are many other arrangements, as we experienced yesterday with Bill C-31 and the Tlicho in Treaty No. 11. This is another self-government agreement within the treaty boundaries of an existing treaty. However, this is a self-government deal without a treaty. It is an historical point in our country to reach out to these first nations that wish to seek a better administrative structure and a better decision making structure away from the Indian Act.

I welcome any opposition to speak against this. This is the time and place to debate it, not collapse the debate. Let us hear it out. Let us find out what the opposition is.

This also is an opportunity to look at statements that have been made by some individuals who were opposed to the bill. They talked about taxpayers' rights and representation. I believe the country should have citizens' rights.

Many of our young people may not be deemed or labelled taxpayers. What rights do they have? Is it the level of taxes people pay that measures how much influence they have? I dare say that is a totally wrong definition of democracy and not what the world should be looking at. Democracy should be based on the rights of citizens. We are all Canadians. All Canadians should have a right in the House of Commons, not only the tax paying public. This is an opportunity for us to have this type of a debate in the House.

I also think it is an opportunity for young people who may not be taxpayers because they are unemployed. They may be people in hard times. They may not be contributing toward taxes because they have been unable to afford property and then pay property taxes.

There is a whole different realm and reality in Canada that should be taken into context as a true nation.

When the debate comes as a taxpayers' federation dialogue or mantra or lobby, that is the wrong perspective of democracy. Democracy should be based on equal citizens no matter where we are. The original nations presided on this land way before any crown or any other European country discovered the new land called North American or Turtle Island, as it is perceived in our stories.

The whole story of the self-government deal in the Westbank First Nation is an historical time to reflect on Canada's history and its future. It has been deemed that there were two founding nations of France and England which came to terms to create a country. I say the treaties that came into being created this country.

There were original treaties with the French nation. There were original treaties with the English nation. They knew that to ascertain this territory, they had to make agreements, sacred accords with the original nations. They were the keepers of this land. They were the true owners of this land.

I dare say the definition of ownership because, in large part, it is our belief that this land was a responsibility for us, not a right. To exercise that responsibility, here is a self-government model where these people will be electing their leaders. There will be 7,000 or 8,000 non-members of the Westbank First Nation living among them.

There will be laws and provisions to help guide them in their decisions for the future. The House should be making provisions for the first nations or the original nations to be part of the decision making of Parliament. That is why I speak about a third house of Parliament where the real first nations, the original nations of this land, not the band councils as defined by purview of the Indian Act. would sit. I am speaking of the Okanagan Nation, the Cree Nation, the Mohawk Nation, the Wyandot Nation, the Haida Nation. All these nations are missing today in 2004. They are not being respected or properly recognized.

I think the indigenous decade is coming to a close. Canada has an opportunity to pay respect to this, as my region did in Treaty No. 6 and Treaty No. 10. They celebrate their treaty every year when a day is set aside as treaty day. Canadians should be celebrating the existence of the treaty in our country, like we celebrate Canada Day. The country was created by a peace and friendship treaty.

Today we have a very renowned visitor, the Dalai Lama, within the realms of the House. He has been spreading the word of peace and friendship throughout the world. I think he celebrates and feels the peace and friendship on which Canada was founded. I think he feels at home here because we have the peace and friendship initiatives of our nations. They want to live among us. There is no need to fight. There is no need for opposition. There is a need for consensus and a need to find ways to live among one another.

I always coin it as a river of nations. We are here from all corners of the world, as well as the original nations. We have to find ways to live together as one nation, as one country. This is an opportunity where the people of the Westbank First Nation can be given the self-government tools and means to make their own decisions on issues such as finances, culture, education, social well-being and the future of their children, and to find a place within the community of Kelowna, within the province of British Columbia and within this nation of Canada.

Let them speak for themselves. Let them express themselves on the world view, with the gifts that they have as an Okanagan nation. Let them express themselves in their language, in the way they have been brought up. There are harsh realities within that parched, semi-desert region. However, there is also the beautiful aspect of orchards, the river and the sacred responsibility to life that will continue in the future. All this comes into play.

This is a time for Canada to debate this, to share this world view of our country. I welcome the opportunity to speak on this. I commend the leaders of the Westbank who have brought this forward. I commend the democratic process that they have chosen. It is not perfect. There is no perfect democracy that we can find as an example in this world right now. We are trying to push democracy in other regions of the world, the war conflict countries of this world. Maybe through the self-government practices of the original nations of Canada, they will start practising the original governance models.

As we live in Ottawa, there is the Algonquin nation to the south, from where the hon. Speaker comes. The original six nations of the Iroquois confederacy live within the Great Lakes. We should let the original governance structures be practised. Let them be celebrated. Let them make their mistakes. If mistakes are made, they will correct them. However, these models of governance may some day transform the House into a new governance model.

Maybe some day the Westbank experience will bring forth an enlightenment to the legislature in British Columbia to change its governing structure within British Columbia. Maybe their governance structure or governance model might supercede what the Kelowna mayor and council are practising right now under the municipal governments of Kelowna.

Those governments may have the perfect opportunity of a well-described democratic community governance. Maybe Kelowna will adopt these models of governance. Maybe the model of governance by the central Okanagan regional district that surrounds the communities is imperfect. Maybe the people of the Westbank First Nation will be practising a governance model that will improve all our lives.

We all must have faith that these people will make their decisions appropriately for their people and that they will incorporate their decisions with the people who will live among them. This self-government agreement is certainly a vehicle that they wanted and one for which they have strived. We must allow them that.

This is a democratic country. They have democratically spoken with their voices. I believe the true nature of the original making of this country, a peace and friendship country under treaty, was through our sharing and teachings of the two row wampum, where the vessel of the original peoples was bound together with the vessel of the newcomers.

This self-government model is their vessel. We must allow them this journey of life, this river of life, with the vessels in unison with the municipal, provincial and federal governments. We may eventually have three orders of government that will parallel what we call our three orders of government: federal, provincial and municipal. Maybe they will have a national, tribal or first nation community band level government.

This is an opportunity for them to practise and show us their ways but without example how can we judge? Let them show us by example.

I challenge the members of the House, if there are any conflicts or arguments they have on the self-government deal, to please express them in the House and allow other Canadians to digest a different perspective.

Here is an opportunity to allow a first nation, which has duly negotiated through the proper processes under the government's policy of self-government, under the auspices of section 35 of the Constitution, the inherent right to self-government, the opportunity in a modern context to govern themselves in the ways they wish.

At the same time, those ways of governance are not in any way to be judged lesser or greater but maybe a sharing of those forms of governance might transform our country into a better and greater place where more people of the world, as they discover our bountiful gifts, our resources and water, may also discover Canada has bountiful gifts of knowledge and that knowledge is carried by the original nations.

Those original nations have a great responsibility and great respect that this can be carried and nurtured by them, not to be given away to somebody in their caring, that they can find their way under an Indian agent away from the Indian Act, that they can bring that responsibility home.

This is what the Westbank First Nation is all about. It is an exercise of its right to govern itself. It is an exercise of international respect of an original nation within the boundaries of a country to exercise, in its language and its world view, a way of governance that may some day influence our system of governance, as imperfect as this House is and as imperfect as the provincial houses are.

Maybe allowing these first nations to govern themselves under these structures, under their laws and their ways, is a way for Canada to mature into the truly beautiful nation that was envisioned between the original founders, the crown and the French nation that came in. It is a river of nations and a nation of rivers.

This is their opportunity and we must allow them. I beg all my members to support the bill and give these people a proud place in this corner of Canada in a beautiful part of British Columbia. Allow them to exercise their way of governance as they have negotiated. Allow them to make the changes that they will make into the future and allow them to seek assurances and certainty through the treaty-making process that they are continuing to strive for, that the treaty process will take precedence very soon. I hope it takes formality and finalization in all of British Columbia.

The nation must rest assured that we can live among each other and that it is no longer a battle of us and them. Let us come together as one nation.

I will conclude my speech by saying that this is one time that I can beg for the support of all the members. Allow the Westbank First Nation to seek its way of governance by passing the bill into law.

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4 p.m.

Yukon
Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I want to take this time to commend the aboriginal members of our caucus. It is tremendous to have three aboriginal members to give us different perspectives on items that people would not otherwise think of, coming from different backgrounds, and perhaps open our eyes on some of these new concepts.

In particular, I would like to congratulate the member who just spoke. I know his time in the House is coming to an end. He has been a tremendous asset for our party in many of the behind-door meetings I have had. He has been a champion of aboriginal initiatives and has fought hard behind closed doors to get some very interesting and creative ideas forward.

I would like to ask him to comment on three concerns that were raised this morning. As this is a permanent record, I am sure that everyone wants to make sure the record is accurate both for the concerns that were raised, which were good, and the answers to those concerns. I wonder if the member could talk about the concept of the third order of government.

Someone suggested that this would create a third order of government, which it would not, technically or constitutionally. What it would do, operationally, is allow people to govern their own snow shoveling, culture, land, water and sewage services, and those types of things. I would like him to speak to the comment that was made earlier that we should not be creating a third level of government, which of course I do not agree with.

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4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Rick Laliberte Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, as far as I know, there are three levels of government in Canada: federal, provincial and municipal. When the treaty-making process took place and the British crown, after ascertaining its rights to enter into treaty because of the treaties it already had with France, entered into these treaties, those differences were settled. However I think the British crown was remiss in that it did not respect the nations, the tribes and the communities, the bands.

Putting it into perspective, the original nations had their levels of government as well, their levels of confederacies among nations. They had land use agreements and transportation through the river systems agreements among the different regions of the country. Those nations were involved and they had agreements. They had Wampum belts. There is oral history and significant history that documents all of this.

With respect to the third order of government, which is the substance of the debate, we already have a third order of government and it is the municipal level. The federal government transfers powers to the provinces which in turn transfers powers to the municipalities. Within the band councils, under the Indian Act, powers were transferred directly from the federal government.

There are 630 Indian bands across the country. What about their tribes and their nations? That is what I am bringing forward to this House. What about the tribes and nations as governing bodies? Why are they not recognized in modern day Canada?

The Okanagan nation is a nation in and of itself. Westbank is a part of the Okanagan nation but Canada does not recognize the Okanagan nation. These nations have to practise in their own ways. Through that practice and that recognition there will be a greater magic taking place in this country. There will be greater responsibility because some of those gifts of governance, some of those gifts of wisdom and intellectual property have to be protected by the nations themselves, not as the generic term of first nations.

The Okanagan have their own language and their own inherent rights and properties. They carry their own medicine and their own knowledge of the land and animals that are within their region. There is traditional knowledge but it is based on each a nation and it is locked in their language.

The Dene cannot carry the knowledge of the Okanagan. The Okanagan do not carry the knowledge of the Mohawk. The Mohawk do not carry the knowledge of the Cree. We should allow these nations to come and celebrate their knowledge. We should allow them to express themselves in their way. Canada would be a greater nation by sharing this openness, this generosity, these Canadian principles and values. Why can we not share this openness? Why are we shy? Why are we unsure of opening our arms and allowing us to come together as one nation?

That as why I deem our country as a river of nations. No matter where we are, we should be proud of our ancestors. The strength of our ancestors will make our nation strong. We must be one nation. We must flow as one like the river.