House of Commons Hansard #30 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was first.

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Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

December 4th, 2007 / 3 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I am always reluctant to rise on these points of order, but today we had a serious breach of parliamentary language in a question asked by the member for St. Paul's when she accused the Minister of Health in her language chosen of criminal behaviour indicating that he had stolen money from AIDS research.

I will not even get into how factually incorrect that is and simply focus on the fact that this kind of language accusing a member of criminal behaviour is entirely inappropriate, certainly excessive and undoubtedly unparliamentary. I will refer you to Marleau and Montpetit which directs that:

In dealing with unparliamentary language, the Speaker takes into account the tone, manner and intention of the Member speaking; the person to whom the words were directed; the degree of provocation; and, most importantly, whether or not the remarks created disorder in the Chamber.

In this case I think we have serious breaches on all counts. It was quite clearly unparliamentary language and I would ask, Mr. Speaker, that you ask the hon. member to apologize in a fulsome and appropriate manner for those very inappropriate comments.

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3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, I apologize for using the words that I used. I merely was repeating what people in the community are saying every day. I understand that a more parliamentary word would be “redirected”, but it still is feeling like the word I used.

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3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, that fell far short of a fulsome apology and withdrawal of the statements made and in view of the fact that the member was the minister and actually she herself was responsible for the cuts that she is criticizing. It is extreme unparliamentary language and I would ask for a fulsome withdrawal of her comments.

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3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe that I will fully apologize for the verb that I used. The intention of redirecting funds from one program to another as an intentional and discretionary movement by the minister, that is still the case. Those moneys are no longer in the community programs and therefore, I should have used the word “redirected”.

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3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, would this be a case of robbing St. Paul to pay St. Stephen?

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3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Whichever it may have been, the fact is the Chair was concerned when the language was used, but I point out that the reason I did not intervene immediately was because the member stated that the minister admitted this. So I was waiting to hear whether in fact the minister had made this admission and that is why I did not intervene at the time.

However, I appreciate the hon. member withdrawing the offensive words because I agree with the government House leader, they were out of order. It was a question of the framing of the question that left it in from my perspective at that moment, rather than forcing an immediate withdrawal and he can review the text himself and see that.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-30, An Act to establish the Specific Claims Tribunal and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

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3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Before question period, the hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue had the floor. He had nine minutes remaining for questions and comments on his speech.

I now give the floor to the hon. Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

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3:05 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon
B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about Bill C-30, the specific land claims tribunal act and I am pleased to see that the hon. member and his party are going to support this bill. I thank him for that support.

He raised some questions before question period about health care, comprehensive land claims, section 35 issues, revenue sharing, modern treaty making and so on. It is important that we separate out the specific claims process from those other issues. They are two quite separate issues. I know the hon. member knows that. I hope that as we go through this in committee we do not get tangled up in other issues, good issues that deserve a good debate, but I certainly hope that no one mistakes those other issues for the specific claims process that we are handling here today.

Speaking of land claims, could the hon. member bring the House up to date on the current state of the Nunavut land claims agreement? I know there is broad support for it in this House. It has gone through the House. It is supported by the Quebec assembly. It is in the Senate, but my understanding is there is only one Liberal senator who is stopping that bill. Could the member tell the House on this Nunavut land claim which should go through for the benefit of those people, whether he believes it has the support of the people in Quebec and in the region? I know he has an interest in this particular file.

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3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a simple answer for the minister: abolish the Senate. That would solve the problem. The bill is indeed being held up in the Senate. I invite my colleagues from the Liberal Party to speak to the senators responsible for this delay.

I know that next week, in the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, we will receive representatives of the Naskapi people from Kawawachikamach and representatives from the Makivik corporation. They want to find common ground.

I agree that this is an important bill that resolves a problem for the entire Nunavik coast. This is a major issue. We have used the fast track in order to pass this bill quickly because that is what the Makivik corporation and the Inuit communities in the far north have asked us to do.

I have been following a bit of what has gone on in the Senate, but I admit that I do not understand why this bill is being delayed. The senators have to understand the importance of this bill. They should start thinking about the Inuit instead of thinking about playing politics with certain issues, this one in particular. The Naskapi community is ready to talk and so are the Inuit.

We have to find a solution quickly. The funds have already been made available by the Makivik corporation for implementing this bill that responded, responds, and, I hope, will respond for a long time to come to the needs of the Inuit community in Quebec's far north.

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3:10 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-30, the specific land claims tribunal act. This piece of legislation is long overdue. New Democrats have long called for an independent tribunal. I am very pleased to see this piece of legislation come forward, and of course we will be supporting it.

I want to provide a bit of context because I think this is important to Canadians who are listening to this debate.

A document prepared by the Library of Parliament on the specific claims process outlined the long, sad and sorry history of specific claims. It started with the year 1927. I am going to read from that document:

Assertions of outstanding commitments owed by Canada to First Nations groups remained largely unconsidered by government well into the 20th century. From 1927 to 1951, the Indian Act prohibited the use of band funds for claims against government. In 1947, the special Senate-Commons committee struck to examine the Indian Act and other Indian Affairs matters recommended, inter alia, the immediate establishment of a “Claims Commission” “to inquire into the terms of all Indian treaties … and to appraise and settle in a just and equitable manner any claims or grievances arising thereunder.”(1) The 1959-1961 joint committee on Indian Affairs also advocated an “Indian Claims Commission” “to hear the British Columbia and Oka land questions and other matters....

It goes on to say that in 1963 and 1965, the then Liberal government revived a draft legislative initiative which subsequently died on the order paper.

It also states that in 1982, the federal government issued “Outstanding Business: A Native Claims Policy--Specific Claims”. There were a couple of points that the document specifically talks about. It talked about non-fulfillment of a treaty or agreement, breach of an obligation under the Indian Act or another statute related to Indians, breach of an obligation in administration of Indian funds or other assets, and unlawful disposition of reserve lands.

In reserve related circumstances, it talked about failure to provide compensation for reserve lands damaged or taken by the government and clear cases of fraud in acquiring or dispossessing of reserve land by federal employee agents.

In the 2000-01 annual report submitted by the Indian Claims Commission, the ICC observed that the specific claims process remains painfully slow and in gridlock.

The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, in its 1996 paper recommended the establishment by federal statute of an independent aboriginal lands and treaties tribunal which would replace the ICC and, in the area of specific claims, review federal funding to claimants, monitor negotiations and issue binding orders.

We can see that there is truly a long, sad and sorry history when dealing with specific claims. As many of us know, there has been report after report after report.

A report issued by the other house, called, “Negotiation or Confrontation: It's Canada's Choice” contained a number of recommendations. I want to touch very briefly on two of them. When this bill is before committee we will need to consider some of the questions that were raised by the other house.

The report talks about the fact that the process has limited resources. A number of issues were discussed in terms of the current process and its limited resources. One would hope that this bill would address that. There was a constant turnover of staff that were involved in specific claims. There was a high volume and the very fact that there were insufficient resources meant that the backlog was ever increasing. The process has untrained researchers. In terms of the research, some of the witnesses who came before the committee said that they therefore continually repeat historical errors, fail to have effective management regimes and function inefficiently.

We also know that under the specific claims, and under comprehensive claims as well, but we are only dealing with specific claims on this matter, there was also a lack of sharing of information among the various parties at the table. Mr. Michael Coyle has written a paper on specific claims in Ontario solely but has made some recommendations about how research could be shared among the parties at the table so that different parties are not duplicating research.

In particular, because I am from British Columbia, I want to mention that in the report called “Negotiation or Confrontation: It's Canada's Choice”, some very key pieces of information about British Columbia were raised. In the report it says:

Witnesses from British Columbia were quick to point out that the majority of Specific Claims in the system are from BC. They said the uniqueness of British Columbia’s Specific Claims must be considered in any new strategies aimed at reducing the backlog of Specific Claims. Speaking for the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), Chief Debbie Abbott thought not only that the allocation of resources for resolving BC claims should reflect the number of Specific Claims submitted by First Nations in BC but that there should be an independent body established for BC claims only.

The numbers vary but it is significant that well over half of the specific claims before the current process are from British Columbia. The chiefs from British Columbia have come out in support of this piece of legislation, but they have raised a number of questions, which I am sure the committee will have an opportunity to address.

In a letter that they sent out dated November 23, they indicated that there are a couple of issues they would like addressed, and they talk about the $150 million cap on the value of claims that can be referred to the tribunal for validation and settlement. They say in their letter:

--the $150 million figure for “value” will be calculated based on principles consistent with those set out by the Ontario court recently in its judgment in the Whitefish case.

More resources will be dedicated to the research, negotiation and settlement of B.C. specific claims which compromise nearly half the claims in the system and 62% of the claims in the Department of Justice backlog.

Provincial statutes of limitations do not apply to specific claims.

Water rights, pre-confederation claims and all unilateral undertakings of the Crown must be included in the definition of “specific claims”.

There should be no conflict of interest on claims that have access to the ICC. This means appointments to that committee need to be jointly agreed upon by First Nations and Canada.

There should be no conflict of interest in claims that do not have access to the tribunal, ie. those valued at over $150 million. This means there needs to be a legislated process to deal with those claims and that their resolution not be at Canada's discretion.

Certainly, we know that part of the problems with the current process is that the government ends up being both judge and jury on the specific claims process.

In a recent court decision in British Columbia, in the Tsilhqot'in Nation v. British Columbia, the piece that is relevant to this current piece of legislation is around the process of reconciliation. The justice in the decision said:

Throughout the course of the trial and over the long months of preparing this judgment, my consistent hope has been that, whatever the outcome, it would ultimately lead to an early and honourable reconciliation with Tsilhqot’in people. After a trial of this scope and duration, it would be tragic if reconciliation with Tsilhqot’in people were postponed through seemingly endless appeals. The time to reach an honourable resolution and reconciliation is with us today.

Further on down, the justice stated:

Unfortunately, the initial reluctance of governments to acknowledge the full impact of s. 35(1) has placed the question of reconciliation in the courtroom--one of our most adversarial settings. Courts struggle with the meaning of reconciliation when Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal litigants seek a determination regarding the existence and implications of Aboriginal rights.

Lloyd Barber, speaking as Commissioner of the Indian Claims Commission, is quoted on this issue in the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples: Looking Forward, Looking Back:

It is clear that most Indian claims are not simple issues of contractual dispute to be resolved through conventional methods of arbitration and adjudication. They are the most visible part of the much, much more complex question of the relationship between the original inhabitants of this land and the powerful cultures which moved in upon them.

I think those issues around reconciliation and the relationship between the first peoples of this country and various governments of various political stripes since 1927 speaks to the fact that this is an important piece of legislation and one would hope that during this process, it does lay some framework for future pieces of legislation.

In particular, Bill C-30 was drafted with the support of first nations. The Assembly of First Nations and others worked very closely with the Conservative government to come up with Bill C-30, and that in itself is an important statement, and one would hope would set the tone for future pieces of legislation.

I think the sad and unfortunate part is that the government missed an opportunity to look at Bill C-21 in the same light, particularly in view of the fact that the majority of the committee had called on the Conservative government to use it as an opportunity to look at the repeal of section 67 using a consultative process that clearly the government sees as valuable because it had used it with Bill C-30.

I will conclude by saying that certainly in British Columbia and the rest of Canada the specific claims have been a thorn in people's sides for a number of years because of the untimely and some would argue disrespectful process in terms of how claims have been moved through the system and resolved.

I welcome the opportunity to support this piece of legislation. I look forward to it coming to committee and hearing about how it can be implemented in a timely fashion. I look forward to more detail around the political accord because of course some of the mechanics of the bill are happening outside of the legislative process.

I hope that the details around the accord will be put forward in detail with appropriate resources. For example, on appointments to the tribunal, I understand there is a process in place, but the NDP has called on the importance of making sure that first nations are represented in that process.

I look forward to the speedy passage of the bill and the New Democrats will certainly be supporting it.

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3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is the critic for aboriginal affairs for her party. I wonder if she could comment specifically on consultation.

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3:20 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think Bill C-30 is not the norm unfortunately in terms of a consultative process. What we have seen under Bill C-21 is the repeal of section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. We heard 20 out of 21 witnesses come before the committee talking about the importance of consultation and any kind of respectful relationship.

We would anticipate that if a piece of legislation is going to have a direct impact on over 600 communities across the country that we would look for an appropriate consultation process. On matrimonial real property, there was a report commissioned by the Conservative government and recommendation 18 in the report laid out a number of steps and a consultation process, a very respectful consultation process.

I would argue again that if this government or any other government were to take consultation seriously, first of all they would develop a consultation process in conjunction with first nations. We cannot develop a consultation process that does not actually include people who are going to be affected in that process.

Therefore, I would encourage the government to look at recommendation 18 of the “Matrimonial Real Property Issues on Reserves” report by Wendy Grant-John.

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3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to this particular bill today. I know thousands of people are watching and some of them may not understand what bill we are dealing with, so I just want to make it clear.

Land claims with first nations is a major issue across this country. This bill would allow modern treaties to be made with first nations, so that they could have their proper place in this nation. The bill is largely based on the royal proclamation from the 18th century which basically said that all the land in Canada belongs to aboriginal people unless treaties or specific deals are made for certain lands.

Governments have dealt with first nations for a long time in making treaties. These treaties ensure that first nations have their rights respected. They also ensure that first nations have land, opportunities, and the required resources. There have been some remarkable claims over the years, but many claims still need to be settled. Some of them may involve hundreds of millions of dollars. However, that is not what the bill before us deals with.

Bill C-30 deals with specific small claims where a treaty is already in place, but there is a problem with it. The government might have abrogated its responsibility. It might not have fulfilled some duty on a particular piece of land. It might owe some money to a particular first nation, or it reneged on something it said it would give to aboriginal people.

A dispute might arise because the government did not provide what it said it would provide or there is a disagreement of some kind between what the treaty said first nations would receive and what they would not receive. The bill deals with all these little annoyances.

To make it clear for the public, we are not talking about the huge amount of unsettled land claims that are still going on across the country. We are not talking about major claims involving first nations that do not have a treaty. However, the government should be putting the majority of its effort into getting these claims settled. Once they are dealt with, the government should not just leave it at that.

As the Auditor General has quite clearly pointed out that there are a number of cases where a treaty has been signed but the government has not acted in the spirit of the treaty. The three territories in the north are looking for strong action by the government. Signing a treaty is not the end of a relationship. It is really just the beginning. As the critic for the north, I can certainly say that people in the north want these treaties followed. They want the government to act and fulfill the objectives of these treaties.

Bill C-30 deals with little annoyances such as the government not fulfilling conditions of a treaty or a first nation disagreeing with the government over the conditions of a treaty. These small claims would be dealt with by this particular bill.

Our critic from Winnipeg South Centre said that the bill is definitely a step in the right direction. We are certainly supportive of improving the process. However, this legislation does need to be studied extensively in committee. Some concerns have already been voiced.

The legislative tribunal is not a new approach or a new idea. It was proposed by the Liberal leader in his leadership platform. He is an honest person. I am sure he does not care which party puts forward any of his ideas for the betterment of Canadians as long as the ideas get through the process. He will be very excited if this bill gets through because he has definitely wanted a tribunal process that would deal with specific claims.

Calls for an independent tribunal go as far back as 1947. In 1996, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommended an independent lands and treaties tribunal. Over the next decade, attempts were made to reform the specific claims process but were unsuccessful.

All are agreed that the current process needs to be improved. All are in agreement that the number of claims is too high.

Since 1973, almost 1,300 claims have been submitted to Canada and, to date, 513 of these have been concluded, which leaves 784 outstanding. The minister has said that the number was as high as 900.

Therefore, it is incumbent upon us as parliamentarians to do the right thing and come up with a process that can deal with this huge backlog that is not dealing with the claims fast enough.

We have already heard from some who feel they were not consulted but they will have their opportunity to put their concerns before the committee.

We have also heard a concern about the cap on claims and whether the dedicated funding of $250 million annually will be enough. I certainly had that thought when I first viewed the bill. I am assuming that the government, in good faith, will do a supplementary estimate and increase the money if claims are not settled by the judges in excess of that amount. If anyone in the government says that they will not, then a bill that is not too controversial will become quite controversial because there is no use having judges making decisions and Parliament not giving the money to implement those decisions.

There has been some concern that first nations do not have a say in the appointment of judges to the tribunal. The plan first put forward by the Liberal leader called for first nations to have input. In many cases, this process will rely on a provincial buy-in because of its stewardship over most crown lands. It is very important that we work very closely with provincial and, in some cases, territorial governments to ensure the buy-in is a part of the process so that all the parties in respect of a claim can be involved and have it dealt with.

I started out by explaining how the land claims problem in Canada is small. This also does not deal with the minor claims of first nations that signed modern treaties. Many of those treaties already have a dispute mechanism in them. Once again, this only deals with the offences against some of the existing treaties and has nothing to do with the huge land claims backlog and what is called comprehensive claims. Comprehensive means that it deals with creating an entire new claim and if self-government is attached it is a new government.

When the bill goes to committee we will need to listen to witnesses from first nations to ensure the bill would accomplish what I think all parties in the House have gone on record as saying they want it to accomplish. The bill is too important to call witnesses and leave the questions to the government.

Any person who has an interest in this bill and who wants to appear before the committee, they should please contact me or our aboriginal affairs critic, the member for Winnipeg South Centre who spoke earlier.

This bill has been decades in the making. I commend the government for working on the bill and, in particular, for developing the bill with the grand chief of the Assembly of First Nations. A previous speaker made it clear that this was a landmark change for the Conservatives and an excellent way to develop a bill that will get the support of all parties in the House.

As I have done a number of times, I must compliment grand chief, Phil Fontaine, on being a great leader. He has brought much to his people in his term as grand chief, including the historic residential schools settlement that he made with the government. This is another great step forward to deal with hundreds of specific claims in a fair and faster way.

After all the kudos to the government, though, I must now mention all the problems it has in all other areas in dealing with aboriginal people. Aboriginal peoples want their issues concerning their basic human rights to be seriously addressed by the government, including addressing the poverty gap and the infrastructure problems first nations face on reserve today. Without real action there is fear that nothing will be done.

It is unfortunate to say this, and the government may not want to hear it, but since coming to power, listening to the voices of aboriginal Canadians has not been a priority of the government. Last week marked the two year anniversary of the Kelowna accord. The government has ignored the voices calling for the implementation of the agreement, and that is by all members of Parliament, with the exception of government members.

The government has ignored aboriginal leaders, provincial and territorial leaders and others who were involved in the 18 month process that led to the agreement. It made a unilateral decision to cancel the agreement and yet it still held up at the United Nations as an example of how it was working in partnership with aboriginal organizations.

Let me make the point that the Kelowna accord was not an agreement between the Liberal government and aboriginal peoples. It was an agreement between Canada and the aboriginal peoples of this country, as well as with the premiers and territorial leaders. To go back on a good faith agreement like that was very disappointing for many Canadians.

It is a sad state of affairs when aboriginal people are living in such poor conditions, whether it is drinking water, death in child birth, education levels, health levels or life expectancy. A $5 billion bottom up agreement was signed, sealed and delivered by the first nations people, with lots of money in the government coffers, and it is a shame that such an agreement would be cancelled.

The first nations people, aboriginal people and Inuit would love for the government to respect their human rights and not be one of the only countries in the United Nations to block them. A perfect example is that there is a bill that would allow aboriginal people to have the same access to human rights as others and yet almost all the aboriginal groups who came to committee said that there were no consultations and listed the six or seven things that needed to be fixed.

The government has had almost a year to fix those things, such as putting in a non-derogation clause, the interpretation clause, the time needed to implement the bill and the funds needed to train first nations. All those things were common among all witnesses. They said these things could have been done and the bill could have been passed. Hopefully, that type of process will occur.

First nations, Métis and Inuit have been virtually shut out of two budgets and two fiscal updates. As an example, budget 2007 had $6 billion in new funding for Canadians and, of that, $70 million were for aboriginals. In the government's other fiscal documents, the funding provided for housing, for example, had been previously booked. It was not new money.

The government ignored calls to sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. On water, the government's own advisory committee warned against proceeding with legislation to establish drinking water standards for first nations communities without the necessary capital and infrastructure funding and yet there has been no action on this report. The current government must not ignore the voices of those who go against its refrain. When it comes to first nations issues, money is not the issue.

We saw the message regarding the child welfare crisis. The government may want to silence these voices but it should not. We are stronger as a nation when we are empowering the most vulnerable and not limiting them. The government is worse off without these voices.

On the land claim issues, the government has shown some political will to move forward and that is just on a small number of specific land claims, as I outlined at the beginning of my speech, and it did so in partnership with the Assembly of First Nations. I highly congratulate the government for that cooperation on this one particular item. Had it done so on the human rights legislation, we could have had that through long ago, but some are already saying that they were not allowed to speak.

We are definitely in support of the legislation, to a great extent because Phil Fontaine and the Assembly of First Nations want to be integrally involved in developing the legislation. We know their concerns and ideas have been taken into account, as they were when they negotiated the residential school claims with our government.

The thing that has to be looked at in committee to make sure we have it right is the cap of $150 million on any particular claim. There probably will not be very many. Most claims are granted much less than that granted. However, there could easily be some. If a judge were to think that a claim had been put in for $120 million and his analysis suggested that in fact the claimant deserved much more, would the government not provide it? How would that exactly work in those particular situations?

I should mention the tribunal. I am not sure if the word comes from the Roman tribunes, but with the letters t-r-i and the fact that there are six judges involved, people might think that, on a particular case, six judges are involved. However, that is not the case. Only one judge and one tribunal are involved in a particular case.

A treaty done on the prairies in 1800 said that there were several square miles of land and $120 million were promised but not provided, then the judge would hear all the details. He will be making a decision. It is a non-appealable decision, other than going through the courts. The people who are looking at the bill should ensure they are comfortable with that type of process.

As I said earlier, because only one person is making a non-appealable decision, we need to ensure it is the appropriate person, and the first nations wanted some input into that selection.

If one claim can be $150 million, is $250 million a year enough? If one is $150 million and there are 784 outstanding, will that be enough in a specific year? Once again, I am assuming that if the claims go forward as quickly as the government would like and it goes over the $250 million, that it would, on good faith, put money into the supplementary estimates to increase that.

In the context of 784 or more claims outstanding, we must remember that we have been doing an average of 20 cases a year and it has taken 13 years so obviously the process was not fixed.

As our aboriginal critic, the member for Winnipeg South Centre, who is doing an excellent job, said. We will be supporting this improvement to the system because in the old system the government was in a dispute with someone. There were two parties in the dispute and the judge in that dispute was the government, so there was the judge and the defendant, which is hardly fair.

We commend the government for working closely with the Assembly of First Nations to develop the bill. Wee look forward to having input in committee so that we can fine-tune it and make sure it works as all parties would like it to work to improve the lives of aboriginal people.

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3:45 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, it appears that all opposition parties are supportive of the bill in principle. Aboriginal communities have been waiting for this treaty process to be expedited. We have a chance here in the House to do just that.

I suggest, rather than spending any more time debating it, that we call the question and send the bill to committee, especially since all opposition parties have stated vocally today that they are in favour of the bill.