House of Commons Hansard #58 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was first.

Topics

Marine Liability Act
Government Orders

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have learned over the years from the World Wildlife Fund and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with respect to land examples, with some exceptions for necessary protection of lands because they are unique and very fragile, if we look at an area and say we are simply going to conserve something, in the end that area will not be conserved, it will in fact be destroyed.

We have to have, as the member correctly alluded to, the yin and the yang of this, which is sustainable development and conservation. Historically, some have thought that it cannot happen, but we have found that it must happen. We have to balance the ability of putting conservation first. With a mind for conservation, we can have sustainable development. We just have to be aware that what we are doing is not going to create and adopt practices that will damage the very biodiversity that is essential for the life of our species. We human beings are part of the web of life. We are all part of one wheel of life. If we damage one part of that wheel, then we are all affected as a result.

Marine Liability Act
Government Orders

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I have a number of items I would like to comment on peripheral to the bill. It gives us a chance to address issues that our constituents have and some are exactly in the legislative wording of the bill. I will concentrate most of the time on issues related to my riding in Yukon and to my role as critic for northern affairs, so issues covering the whole of the Arctic.

I want to emphasize on a more global scale the point the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca made on the book Sea Sick. If we were to add the prevention of pollution in the bill, it would just accelerate the problem that is in that book, a very critical problem in the world, one that is affected by increased carbon dioxide in the seas thereby damaging sea life. This bill goes to prevent, in a number of ways, issues related to oil spills.

Basically, the book makes the point that global warming is bad. However, in addition, the oxygen that we all breathe comes from phytoplankton in the seas and a small degree in pH change could eliminate that. Essentially, the oxygen on earth and the carbon dioxide would dissolve into the oceans.

As the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca said, there is even much more potent global warming from methane. It is not only coming out of the permafrost as it melts but in huge chunks of frozen methane on the sea bottoms in most parts of the world, including off his riding on the west coast of B.C., off the coast of Japan and of course, in the Arctic. This is a huge concern and Parliament had to bring this to the attention of Canadians this impending crisis, caused by carbon dioxide dissolving in the oceans, to life on earth.

I also want to reiterate the point he made about bilge cleaning and oil spills, that we do not need a wreck of a ship to cause tremendous damage, particularly in the very sensitive eco-environment in the Arctic. It is more sensitive, harder to replenish than the oceans in the rest of the world because of the cold temperatures, et cetera. As ships go up there they either dump waste, which I will talk about later, or they clean bilges or they get other species into the waters. There can be a devastating introduction of new species and extinction of the existing species that have been so essential to life in those areas for thousands of years.

The bill is good in regard to increasing protection for the seas of the world, the lifeblood of many societies, especially in the Arctic, but we have to continue to work in this area on all these other considerations we are going to talk about. I will be talking about proposed future amendments related to that type of protection.

I want to talk about a technicality in the bill and I would like to compliment the Department of Transport. When the bill first came up in a previous government, there was a serious problem in that it applied the rules related to large ocean-going cruise ships, to small canoes, rafting, outdoor adventure and recreation type businesses. Of course, those businesses, for whatever reason, did not get their message across in the first iteration of the bill, but they certainly did afterward because this could put many of them out of business. The rules just did not fit. They did not make any sense. It could make it prohibitively expensive.

There is an inherent risk that people accept in adventure tourism. There is a need to staff people with qualifications. For some companies that only do one or two trips a year, some of the provisions did not make any sense. Insurance provisions could have made it totally uneconomic to even have an operation.

I certainly compliment the Department of Transport for dealing with the wilderness tourism industry and the Tourism Industry Association of Canada and coming up with amendments to this bill that would not totally wipe out the adventure tourism industry that primarily involves canoes, kayaks and rafts. That is a tremendous improvement to this bill.

I want to talk for a minute about oil spills. This bill contains a great provision in that it amends the Marine Liability Act to implement the International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage. Liberal members from B.C. talked about how dramatic oil spill damage can be. Of course, this added liability is very important and it is a good section of the bill.

I want to talk for a minute about what is not addressed yet in Canada over and above this and that is oil spills in the Arctic. In the Arctic there is at present no technology to deal with oil spills. The Beaufort project studies in the 1970s were funded by the federal government and industry also contributed. They did a lot of research in this area. There are some extensive volumes of information on this. However, the bottom line is they did not come up with a solution. Within a few days of an oil spill occurring under ice, the damage is irreparable. There is no way of collecting it. There certainly needs to be research in this area.

The government is very enthusiastic about the fact that perhaps a third of the world's remaining natural gas reserves and a quarter of oil reserves, something of that magnitude, are in the northern oceans. Yet, a government agency could not issue a permit right now. I know that the government thinks that should be developed, but it could not even issue a permit right now because it has no answer to the environmental damage that would occur due to an oil spill.

Statistics make it very clear, I think American statistics, that with the number of projects and developments that take place in the seas, such an oil spill is very likely or at least has a significant probability of occurring. Obviously, we need that protection. As I said earlier, any type of chemical or species damage in the very sensitive Arctic environments could cause long-lasting irreparable damage to the oceans, the life in the oceans and, of course, to the indigenous people who have used the ocean life for thousands of years.

We need to get on with it very quickly. There should be encouragement from all parties to do the research and invest more in research, likely in collaboration with oil companies, on mechanisms for cleaning up the inevitable hydrocarbon spills in the oceans of the Arctic.

The record so far on increasing specific research projects in the north is not good. In the last budget, for instance, the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences has been cancelled. The three main granting councils in Canada have lost money and researchers, and I believe a letter from 2,000 scientists in the country decried that. The Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences funds things like Eureka, the closest post to the North Pole.

If we are interested in sovereignty, obviously we want scientists in the north. Why would we be cutting and closing our most northern establishment in Canada? It is a backward step related to sovereignty, but more importantly it is a backward step related to Arctic science. It is great that we are increasing facilities in the north, but it is not great if they are going to be empty facilities without any scientists there. I want to really enforce that particular point.

I also want to pick up on an excellent point made by the member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe on enforcement. There have been a number of bills to increase enforcement provisions. This is just another one in the order. We must increase our enforcement ability. That is generally accepted and I am sure this bill will pass in Parliament. However, the problem identified over and over again is that the will of the government to provide the enforcement and the resources to actually enforce these things is lacking. A good example is on the inspections related to listeriosis. The government set up a system where there would be fewer inspections on the floor, moving the inspectors off the floor of the meat plants.

Another example was a proposed bill that I think has been hoisted because it was kind of inconceivable, but it was a bill to reduce inspections of grain. This would not only jeopardize human life but would jeopardize Canada's reputation around the world by reducing the inward inspections of Canadian grain.

A third example was in Bill C-3. We just recently extended Canada's ability to enforce the Arctic waters. I think it was unanimously passed. That was great. We extended Pierre Trudeau's bill from 100 miles to 200 miles because of the Law of the Sea change. So it was an administrative change.

Therefore, we increased the area where Canada could apply enforcement by a huge amount, the size of Saskatchewan, yet there was not one penny more allowed for enforcement to cover that area. I think our critic, the member for Eglinton—Lawrence, made that point very eloquently in debate. It is like saying the Toronto police force added another city the size of Toronto to be enforced, but no police officers are added. What is the use of having a law with no enforcement capabilities?

When questioned on that, it was suggested that we have one propeller plane for the Pacific Ocean, one propeller plane for the Arctic Ocean, and one propeller plane for the Atlantic Ocean. I know one of the northern scientist experts, a professor, was kind of laughing at that. I really do not think that is sufficient monitoring enforcement.

Another answer was that we have increased the environmental inspectors, but remember that we are extending the area of enforcement from 100 miles to 200 miles, so we start at 100 miles out to sea and go out 200 miles out to sea in the Arctic. We asked where the inspectors were being placed and the answer was Yellowknife. If we look at a map of Canada, we can see how many hundreds and hundreds of miles Yellowknife is from the ocean, and then we would have to go 100 miles out before the bill even came into effect.

We have a bill here that increases enforcement. I would just encourage the government to make sure that we are all in favour of the items in here and that it supports the spirit of bill in making sure that it can be enforced.

I want to talk about some amendments that I propose for the future. The reason I have not brought them forward yet is that these are amendments related to this type of bill and a number of other bills.

The problem is that there are a number of items related to shipping, shipping pollution, dumping, oil spills, and the structure of boats that are capable of going through the Arctic spread through a whole bunch of acts. It is very hard to figure out the appropriate place for the amendments that I am going to talk about.

I am putting them on the table now, just to forewarn people. I am hoping that the experts in the federal bureaucracy may have an interdepartmental committee to sit down and decide whether these things that are scattered through a number of bills, probably more than half a dozen bills, should actually be in one bill, how the deficiencies should be dealt with, or whether they should be in more than one bill. Therefore, I am putting on the record some ideas for amendments. These could be looked at in the future if the experts in the various departments and the stakeholders think they are necessary.

Organizations like the Canadian Bar Association, the National Maritime Law Section, the Canadian Maritime Law Association, Wilderness Tourism Association of the Yukon, International Ship-Owners Alliance of Canada, Canadian Shipowners Association, Tourism Industry Association of Canada had input in the bill. If they think these types of amendments are important and are needed, they can provide feedback to me and government officials. Environmental associations can also so the same thing.

As an example of one problem, under the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act, ships can dump grey water into the Arctic Ocean. I have spoken twice on the sensitivity of that ocean to detrimental substances. In fact, a couple of summers ago the government specifically mentioned that the navy, on individual occasions, would apply for permits to dump grey water.

These are the types of things at which we need to look. Are they necessary or can they be avoided in order to help protect that environment, especially with today's increasingly effective technology to protect the environment by building containments within ships.

The first amendment is for ships travelling Canadian Arctic waters. They would have to adhere to a zero tolerance policy with regard to the dumping of waste in these waters. Personally I think that is feasible. I have had no feedback saying it is not because of the modern technology available to us. It may cost cruise lines and military vessels, but it should be investigated.

The second amendment is the dumping of waste in Arctic waters would be subject to a first offence penalty. This amendment relates to the fact that there were some limited enforcement mechanisms in some bills. Dumping of waste in Arctic waters would be subject to a first offence financial penalty regime, depending on the nature of the waste dumped, extent of the quality of the waste dumped and the estimated damage on the pristine Arctic water ecosystem, plus cleanup costs.

The third amendment is repeat offences would result in more severe financial penalties, including the clean up of environmental damage cost and/or incarceration.

The fourth amendment is it would be incumbent upon shippers entering Canadian waters to provide proof of insurance liability to offset pollution mishap, cleanups or dumping violations. We heard earlier about the tremendous cost of the Exxon Valdez spill, which was far more than what was specifically provided for. The member for Newton—North Delta made that point, but what if that had been under ice? It would have been substantially worse.

The next amendment is ocean going tankers would need to carry a minimum $1 billion per load liability policy. Smaller barges and vessels carrying cargo that could result in toxic or oil spills would need to carry a minimum of $250 million liability policy.

The next amendment is other freighter vessels and container ships would need to carry a minimum of $500 million per load liability.

The second last amendment is cruise lines would need to carry a $350 million liability policy.

The last amendment is all vessels travelling in Canadian waters would be subject to Canadian Coast Guard, Canadian armed forces and Canadian Environmental Service boarding and inspection for potential environmental spills, dumping or violation of shipping standards in Arctic waters.

I put that out for the government officials and stakeholders to provide feedback and to start discussion on improving our protection of the pristine and very vulnerable Arctic ecosystems.

Marine Liability Act
Government Orders

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Yukon for raising some very important issues in the context of this legislation. There are several, but I will pick up on one of the latter issues, and that is all of that which is resident under the permafrost is under the ice.

My colleague from Yukon has mentioned on several occasions, with respect to this bill and Bill C-3, that it is important to protect the environment and the interests of the aboriginal communities there. I note people in the audience are following this debate attentively. They picked up on that issue as well.

My colleague from Yukon knows very well that one of the issues we attempted to raise with Bill C-7 was that vessels would potentially go through the Northwest Passage. He made reference to the fact that potentially a great number of scientists and geophysicists would look at the latent, vast deposits of petroleum resident in that part of Canada.

For example, the 2008 U.S. geological survey found that 13% of all the untapped, undiscovered petroleum deposits were resident in Canada's Nordic lands under the ice sheets. Further, it found that 30% of the natural gas deposits worldwide were resident off the shore of Yukon and northwest of Nunavut. Indeed, 20% of all liquefied natural gas products were resident in that same place. When we have an environmental accident, where vessels that are not prepared to assume their responsibility travel through these waters, the potential for environmental disaster is huge.

My colleague from Yukon mentioned a moment ago that all such vessels travelling in this area ought to carry a liability of some $2 billion. The bill does not go that far. Could the member elaborate on the relationship between the liability that must be carried by these commercial operators and the environmental requirements of not only the north but all of Canada?

Marine Liability Act
Government Orders

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I thank our critic for shepherding the bill through this Parliament and through the last Parliament.

We need to have a degree of liability that is economically affordable, but the economic costs of environmental damage to society and the environment are massive and huge. Sometimes they are not taken into account in simple economic evaluations. He mentioned the Northwest Passage. While there are several points about the Northwest Passage, he talked about the economics. There would be a huge savings for ships that would go through the passage. Therefore, they could afford this extra liability insurance.

Additionally, cruise ships are very important to my riding. On one hand, I would not want to put them out of business. On the other hand, it has to be in the cost of the package, and technology would allow it, that the environment is protected. The Canadian government can help by having many more navigational aids and ensuring those cruise ships are safe. This would reduce the possibility of an accident, such as the one that occurred in Antarctica.

Marine Liability Act
Government Orders

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to deprive my colleague from Yukon of the opportunity to elaborate on some of the principles he presented for the consideration of the House, so I take it upon myself, and I hope members do not think I am too self-indulgent in this, to re-raise some of those issues in order to afford him the opportunity to elaborate on issues of great importance to Canadians and, in particular, to those aboriginal Canadians who inhabit and maintain our interests in the north.

My colleague talked about cruise ships as well, which is an emerging business along our northern shores. Cruise ship operators constantly worry about the costs that they would have to bear if they offloaded their effluents beyond the 12 mile limit, or close to about 20 kilometres, especially in the way it is determined in their calculation.

My colleague is an expert in these areas. Could he elaborate of just how precise and how important that connection between environmental safety and commercial development is to Canadians everywhere?

Marine Liability Act
Government Orders

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, my colleague makes a good point. The cruise ship industry will be happy if I put on the record the fact that the industry thinks the regulations and fees put on them by Alaska have almost closed down the industry. All the tourists we get off cruise ships in Yukon come from Alaska. That has a huge effect on our tourism industry. We cannot over-regulate to the extent that we put them out of business, which in turn results in tourists not coming to our area.

However, that does not mean we cannot protect the environment. We could provide research for these companies with respect to grey water on their ships as an example. With respect to making cuts in research, research officers in the northern research council are going to be eliminated, and this is absurd.

If we are putting this onus on cruise ships, we could improve the services we provide for them. The north is a very dangerous area, and it is not only the ice that presents a danger. Under the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act of 1970, cruise ships need to be of a certain structure to go in the north. Ice packs move around unpredictably. Part of the Northwest Passage is very dangerous because there are shallow areas and submerged rocks. These need to be charted and the ships need to have navigational aids.

We need to provide better search and rescue services. Companies that go there want to know their passengers will be safe and help will be there for them in an emergency.

These are types of things the Canadian government could invest in to offset the cost to cruise ships and commercial boats. This will result in a win-win situation for everybody.

Marine Liability Act
Government Orders

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Yukon feels himself connected to the British Columbia coast and to all of the activities that come from there. He has gone into the commercial ventures. Here today are members from the port authorities of the Lower Mainland, Vancouver, et cetera. He raised an economic development issue that also involves transport that radiates out of that Lower Mainland hub.

Because he spends a lot of time there, could he give us an indication of the nexus between the activity of the port of Vancouver and all the transportation issues that relate as well to Yukon and the north? He actually lives that radiation.

Marine Liability Act
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, the short answer is that we definitely depend on cruise ship passengers coming from the west coast, primarily Vancouver. That is important for us.

West coast port issues are very important for all of western Canada.

I want to go on record as stating that this is a great time to start this debate. There are some important issues relating to stability in those ports, to the rule of law, to labour setups. We need to ensure we have the best available ports for the world on our west coast so other ports do not get that business.

Marine Liability Act
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is the House ready for the question?

Marine Liability Act
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Marine Liability Act
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

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

Marine Liability Act
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Marine Liability Act
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

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

The House resumed from May 11 consideration of the motion that Bill C-8, An Act respecting family homes situated on First Nation reserves and matrimonial interests or rights in or to structures and lands situated on those reserves, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-8 concerning matrimonial real property on first nation reserves. This is the second time the government has brought the bill forward. Its previous iteration died on the order paper in 2008 when the Prime Minister broke his own policy and called an early election. It certainly undermines the government's position on this and other bills when it claims the importance of its legislative agenda only to pull the plug on Parliament.

This is not to suggest that the issue of matrimonial law and family law in particular on first nations communities is not important, far from it. There is a significant gap in the law and it is important that the gap be filled. It is fair to say that there is broad agreement by the department, by all parties in the House, by first nations governments, by women's equality groups and by members of the family law and first nations bar that something must be done. We can all agree that work has to take place to put a legal framework in place to protect the interests of women, of families and of children when there is a breakdown in a domestic relationship involving matrimonial real property on first nations reserve land.

Where our party differs from the government is on the approach to this complicated question. This is unfortunate. We saw only last week in the case of the Cree-Naskapi act amendments what difference a cooperative and inclusive approach can make. In that case the Cree nation whose interests were directly involved were able to work with government on a bill that received immediate support. It was a matter of intensive negotiation involving those most affected every step of the way.

I realize that reforming matrimonial property law in all first nations reserves is a question that is different and it is unique. It is unique in the sheer number of first nations involved that make the need for consultation and cooperation that much more important.

The minister claims that first nations groups were involved in a comprehensive consultation on this bill, but that is not what I am hearing on the ground. The minister may think he consulted, but the people he should have consulted tell me otherwise. It is incumbent upon government to be inclusive and transparent in its dealings with aboriginal peoples. It has to act in a way which is consistent with the honour of the Crown. The process leading up to Bill C-8 fails this test.

Since Bill C-8 was introduced for a second time at first reading, I have had meetings and other communications with numerous stakeholders. These include first nations women's organizations, first nations governments, regional and national assemblies of first nations, and individuals. The sheer number of representations made to me on this bill far exceeds the number I have dealt with on any other piece of legislation. Not only is the number of contacts striking, so is the virtual unanimity of what they are telling me.

Anyone who has been involved in aboriginal policy for as long as I have can say that we do not often hear many first nations leaders singing the same tune. The diversity of opinions can be stark. The differences of opinion can be animated. But on the question of Bill C-8, I have heard absolutely no one from first nations communities in any capacity speak in favour of the substance or the approach of the bill.

The Native Women's Association of Canada is opposed. Like others, including myself, while we recognize the need for a change to the legal framework, there has to be a recognition of broader issues associated with family law in first nations. There are issues of access to justice, violence prevention and the balancing of individual rights and the collective rights of first nations peoples which are left unaddressed. In fact, NWAC has argued that Bill C-8, far from protecting the rights of women, diminishes them.

The Assembly of First Nations has passed policy resolutions supporting a reconciliation of first nations, provincial and federal jurisdictions over matrimonial real property; a reconciliation, not an imposition.

The AFN also supports a broader approach, including both legislative and non-legislative approaches to family law issues. The AFN Women's Council has also rejected the government's matrimonial real property approach, both in this bill and in its former incarnation.

The government defends this bill by invoking the language of rights. I cannot say that I accept that argument, not from a government which continues to drag its heels on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In fact, it is an embarrassment to Canada on the international stage that the Conservative government has so actively opposed that important international document.

Article 3 of the declaration states:

Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

Article 5 states:

Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions...

Article 20 states:

Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and develop their political, economic and social systems or institutions...

Not only is the approach in Bill C-8 inconsistent with international consensus on the rights of indigenous peoples, it is inconsistent with what Canada heard during the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. The royal commission recommended that:

Aboriginal nations or organizations consult with federal, provincial and territorial governments on areas of family law with a view to (a) making possible legislative amendments to resolve anomalies in the application of family law to Aboriginal people and to fill current gaps...

I would ask people to note the language that aboriginal nations consult with government, not that government imposes top-heavy legislation of its own. It is troubling that despite being rejected by the very people whom it purports to protect, the government forged ahead with the bill anyway.

Not only that, Bill C-8 also flies in the face of what the government's own ministerial representative recommended. Many of Wendy Grant-John's recommendations were ignored, including those concerning certificates of possession and the registration of spousal interests, the enforceability of first nations dispute resolutions and a statutory review of the legislation after three years.

Legislation on its own, without looking at the broader picture and without taking a holistic approach, may well do more harm than good. Imposing federal legislation is not a positive approach in the new era of relations with aboriginal peoples that should have been opened up with last year's historic residential schools apology. Things have to be done differently.

There may well be a place for federal legislation but only in a way that respects and encourages appropriate and holistic first nations law and non-legislative approaches to family law issues, domestic violence and matrimonial law.

Another issue which has to be addressed as part of a broader solution is that of on-reserve housing. The questions of matrimonial real property, domestic violence and access to recourse on the breakdown of a domestic partnership are intimately tied to the availability of housing on first nations land. That is true both for short-term housing solutions such as family shelters or safe houses and long-term housing, making an adequate number of homes of adequate quality for the needs of first nations populations.

The minister says that Bill C-8 would allow for first nations solutions. However, first nations have not been given the time or resources that would allow them to develop and implement their own family law and other support structures consistent with the diversity of first nations cultures.

The government's approach is one size fits all. It has not worked in the past and it will not work in the present or in the future. Canada learned that lesson the hard way through the residential schools experience.

There are legitimate questions about the verification process and the ratification rules set down which first nations would have to abide by in order to have their own law recognized.

To first nations people, this hearkens back to the days of the Indian agent, when they had an overseer, someone who would say what was right or what was wrong, what was appropriate or inappropriate in first nations communities. It flies in the face of the inherent right to self-government and the nation to nation relationship. It is a colonialist approach, an assimilationist approach, a paternalistic approach, and believe me, I use those words deliberately.

I ask, what about the first nations cultures, traditions and legal customs which are based on matrilineal descent? Many first nations have their own matrilineal or other customary law concerning marriage and families passed down through the generations. There are cultures with matrilineal descent, others which place special emphasis on extended families or family relationships which go beyond the western emphasis on the nuclear family. These aspects of first nations culture, in many cases, form customary law.

Similarly in Canada, outside Quebec which has its own unique civil code, we have customary laws too. They are no less laws because they stem from custom. They stem from an old English custom with an old English name. That customary law is called the common law. These first nations laws can be used to fill the legal gap, which Bill C-8 attempts to do so clumsily. First nations need the time and resources to do so, time and resources which the government, in Bill C-8, fails to give.

All parties need the time for full and transparent consultation. First nations need the time to develop and plan their own solutions, solutions which respect and promote their own cultural values, customary law and particular social and economic circumstances.

Government can and should be a partner in that process with the first nations. Government can and should provide the necessary support, including assisting first nations and first nations women and families to address access to law, law enforcement and enforcement of orders.

Government must act more concertedly to address the broader social and economic issues that are intimately tied up with family law on first nations reserves, including violence prevention, health care, addictions and housing. None of these social ills is unique to first nations. Unfortunately, that is far from being the case.

Government must give first nations communities and their governments just that additional window of time to develop solutions which can be built from the ground up, instead of being imposed from the top down.

A better approach would be to work productively and transparently with first nations; work with first nations governments to develop their own laws and the administrative support for their operation; work with first nations governments and citizens on the full spectrum of approaches, legislative and non-legislative, to family law. Where federal legislation is required, first nations should be brought to the table to help in the drafting of a bill that can obtain a much broader consensus. The government should engage in that intensive consultation that is required.

To that end, I would like to give the government the time it needs to work cooperatively with first nations on the complicated issue of matrimonial real property. That is why I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:

“Bill C-8, An Act respecting family homes situated on First Nation reserves and matrimonial interests or rights in or to structures and lands situated on those reserves, be not now read a second time but that it be read a second time this day six months hence”.