House of Commons Hansard #48 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was indian.

Topics

Motions in Amendment
Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary for Official Languages

Madam Speaker, as the only elected Métis woman in the House of Commons, I am very proud to say today that I fully support Bill C-3, the gender equity in Indian registration act. I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak at report stage of this proposed legislation.

To appreciate the logic behind Bill C-3, one must first understand the problem it will fix.

Last year, the Court of Appeal for British Colombia issued a decision in McIvor v. Canada. The ruling required the Government of Canada to amend certain registration provisions of the Indian Act that it identified as unconstitutional, as they violated the equality provision of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The court suspended the effect of its declaration until April 6, 2010, and has since extended that deadline to July 5. If no solution is in place at that time, paragraphs 6(1)(a) and 6(1)(c) of the Indian Act, dealing with entitlement to registration, will, for all intents and purposes, cease to exist in the province of British Columbia. This legislative gap would prevent the registration of individuals associated with British Columbia bands.

Bill C-3 would amend the Indian Act to eliminate the language that gives rise to the gender discrimination identified in section 6. Let me explain how the proposed amendments would affect the rules that determine entitlement to Indian status here in Canada.

Essentially, Sharon McIvor, the plaintiff in the original case, alleged that the 1985 amendments to the registration provisions of the Indian Act, still known today as Bill C-31, constitute gender discrimination as defined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Ms. McIvor, an Indian woman, married and had a son with a non-Indian man. Her son went on to marry and have children with a non-Indian woman. Under the Indian Act, however, those children, Ms. McIvor's grandchildren, are not eligible to become status Indians.

Part of the problem stems from a series of amendments to the Indian Act that were introduced in Bill C-31 and enacted back in 1985. These amendments tried to end the discrimination experienced by specific groups. In its decision, the Court of Appeal for British Columbia stated that Bill C-31 “represents a bona fide attempt to eliminate discrimination on the basis of sex”.

However, the approach adopted in Bill C-31 inadvertently introduced a new level of complexity. Allow me to cite two specific examples.

The first involves something known as the double mother rule under the pre-1985 legislation. The rule applied to the legitimate children of an Indian man and non-Indian woman. If the male son of that union married a non-Indian woman, their children lost status at age 21.

The second example involves the case of an Indian woman who marries a non-Indian man. Prior to 1985, the woman lost her status, and the children of that marriage could not register at all.

Bill C-31 addressed these situations in two ways. Subsection 6(1) enabled Indian women who lost status through marriage to regain it, while subsection 6(2) enabled the children of these women to register.

While this approach eliminated gender-based discrimination in the first generation, it created issues for people in subsequent generations. At least part of the reason for this is that the amendments stipulated that if someone who was registered under subsection 6(2) was a parent with a non-Indian spouse, their children would not be eligible for registration.

To appreciate how this approach leads to gender-based discrimination, we must return to the decision of the Court of Appeal for British Columbia in comparing the situation of Sharon McIvor to that of her brother. The brother's children would maintain Indian status under subsection 6(1) of the amended Indian Act. However, Ms. McIvor's son acquired status under subsection 6(2), and when Ms. McIvor's son became a parent with a non-Indian woman, their children were not entitled to registration. This shows that the consequences of two successive generations involving marriage to a non-Indian differ, in that one started from a male line and another from a female line.

The Court of Appeal for British Columbia took issue with the fact that Bill C-31, in eliminating the double mother rule, granted lifetime status to the grandchildren of two successive generations of mixed marriage in the male line, but did not grant the same entitlement in the female line.

The legislation now before us proposes to change the provision used to confer Indian status on the children of women such as Ms. McIvor's. Instead of through subsection 6(2), these children would acquire status through subsection 6(1). This would eliminate the gender-based discrimination identified by the court, and I cannot imagine why anyone would not want to see this pass.

It is also important to recognize that Bill C-3 makes no attempt to address other issues related to registration as an Indian. The bill offers a solution to the issues identified by the Court of Appeal for British Columbia, and does so in a narrow fashion to respect the deadline established by the court. All of us in this House can appreciate the need to act quickly to respond to the court's ruling and to provide new entitlement to registration in a timely manner.

I am convinced this is a wise approach. As parliamentarians, we face a tight deadline, as the court directed us to act prior to July 5, 2010.

Bill C-3 represents a progressive step by a country committed to the ideals of justice and equality. I strongly encourage my hon. colleagues to support it, and I want to mention, as a woman who has seen this time and time again, that it is high time that we provide aboriginal women with the same rights as male aboriginals in today's society. This is long overdue. It is the right thing to do. I cannot understand why other members of the House do not understand how right this is to complete, and why they are continually objecting to our making right, once and for all, what was so wrong.

I implore members of the House to vote for the bill. It is the right thing to do, not only for aboriginal people, but also for aboriginal women in particular, who, for far too long, have suffered and not been given the same rights as their male counterparts.

Motions in Amendment
Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, I would have liked my colleague to have heard all the debate and also attended the meetings of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. However, I know that she is very busy.

I will tell her why we will vote against Bill C-3. Not only does it fail to end discrimination but it will maintain systemic discrimination—systemic, meaning part of the system—and ensure that 100,000 aboriginal people, for the most part women, will not be entitled to Indian status. That is the problem: they are women, and because they are women this is not a serious matter, and registering them is not a requirement. That is what we are fighting for. What is fairly surprising is that even Ms. McIvor, who began this debate, is telling us to not vote for this bill because it will not solve the problem.

I would like to know why the member's government, which had the opportunity to end this discrimination, which had the chance to abolish this discrimination, did not do so when it introduced Bill C-3?

Motions in Amendment
Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member from the opposition for his question. One thing bothers me. I have a lot of concerns when I hear these questions coming from a Bloc member. The Bloc does not have any aboriginal women in its caucus. What is more, it talks about women and children and protecting Canadian and Quebec women and children, but it was the Bloc members who voted against our very important bill on the trafficking of our women and children. Most of those women and children are aboriginal and the Bloc members vote against protecting our children, our young people and our aboriginal women. It is rich to hear such questions. It is not—

Motions in Amendment
Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Motions in Amendment
Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Order.

The hon. member for Edmonton—Strathcona.

Motions in Amendment
Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, I have two questions for the hon. member. First, I have heard from some first nations that they are very concerned that the government is referencing the consultations that are required with them under the Constitution as “exploratory” talks and as being with 100 or so people and organizations, when in fact the constitutional obligations are to consult with all first nations peoples and their governments.

My second question for the hon. member is this. We have heard in the House today that all of the first nations women's organizations who intervened opposed the bill, and yet the hon. member is asking how we could possibly oppose a bill that is coming forward on which first nations peoples have been consulted. I guess the obvious question that arises is why is the government not listening to what the first nations women are saying, since the bill affects only them?

Finally, first nations governments are obviously going to incur major costs from this. They cannot provide housing as it is to their members. How are they going to meet these needs unless we budget—

Motions in Amendment
Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

The hon. parliamentary secretary has one minute to answer the question.

Motions in Amendment
Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Madam Speaker, I appreciate what the hon. member said about people appearing at committee, but what we have to remember is that the engagement sessions or consultation process that has taken place by INAC officials and members of Parliament and others is not confined only to this place. I have consulted with aboriginal women in my own community, who may not be witnesses in committee but who do in fact have an opinion. Their opinion is in support of the Conservative government's bill. They want to see this changed as quickly as possible.

I side with them today in making sure that happens for their children.

Motions in Amendment
Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, it is my honour today to stand up for Bill C-3.

I first want to thank the chair of the committee for getting the bill to us. I know there was a difficult time in committee. The chair, the member for Simcoe North, did an excellent job. I know the committee brought many amendments forward that the chair overruled, and the committee members then overruled him. However, fortunately the chair overruled them. So the chair was right, and I appreciate the hard work that the chair is doing on the committee.

I have been here all morning. I am not fortunate enough to be on the committee, but I heard a number of questions and I would like to take the time left to answer them.

I was here studying the main estimates for my own committee meeting this afternoons at the Standing Committee on Finance. I am looking forward to talking with the witnesses from the finance department and CRA on their estimates. The question is why is Bill C-3 not financed in the main estimates?

For those in the House who should know, the staff began to work on the main estimates back in the fall of 2009. They go through a number of processes before they get to the main book that we have now.

The fact is that it is very premature to have the proposed law before us in the main estimates. I would expect that when the bill passes, there will be some financial implications. These are dealt with in either the supplementary estimates (A), (B) or (C). That is why we have supplementary estimates in this place, so that when things change, when the government makes a decision, when this Parliament makes a decision, they are able to add those costs through the supplementary estimates process.

That is why each and every one of us should pay attention to the supplementary estimates. Then we will know where we are spending taxpayers' money. In this case, I think this is an excellent project for us to be spending money on in the upcoming estimates.

Another question that needs to be asked is, if there is legislative vacuum in British Columbia because of delays in passing the bill, what will be the consequences and how may individuals will be affected? That is a good question, and I am not sure how many on the opposition benches asked this question. However, the answer is that we need this bill passed by July 5 to address the court's ruling. Without it, no one living in the province of British Columbia or anyone affiliated with first nations in that province would be a registered status Indian. Based on our analysis over the last few years, there will be 2,500 to 3,000 people newly registered status Indians per year in British Columbia.

Therefore, it would be silly for us not to move ahead and meet the court's deadline, because of the change required by the court's ruling in British Columbia.

Motions in Amendment
Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Order. The hon. member will have seven minutes when this debate resumes.

Argentina
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to congratulate Argentina on the 200th anniversary of the May revolution. The bicentennial marks the establishment of the primera junta, the first national government of Argentina, and the beginning of the Argentine War of Independence.

The events in Buenos Aires resonated across the Latin world, helping spark the Spanish-American wars of independence, which resulted in the creation of newly independent countries stretching from Mexico to Chile. This year's bicentennial coincides with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations between Argentina and Canada.

Exciting cultural festivities are scheduled throughout the week. Mayor Larry O'Brien has proclaimed May 25th Argentina Day in the city of Ottawa.

Be sure to listen carefully to the Peace Tower carillon, which will play a selection of Argentine tangos and milongas to mark this occasion. Please join me—

Argentina
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Order. The hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.

Paralympic Athletes
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Madam Speaker, I wish to draw attention today to the accomplished Arly Fogarty, the 27-year-old Canadian Paralympic ski team athlete living in my riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.

Arly was part of the 16-member Canadian para-alpine ski team, which competed in the Vancouver Paralympics this year. This was Arly's second Paralympics following her debut in Turin in 2006. Arly was named the 2005 para-alpine female athlete of the year. She also scored her first World Cup podium, a bronze, in Austria in 2008.

Throughout the games we were impressed by the prowess of all the Canadian athletes. We saw some truly remarkable performances by each and every one of them, including Arly.

I want to congratulate Arly on her accomplishments and wish her much success in the years to come.

Estelle Larivière
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Yvon Lévesque Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate Estelle Larivière, from Matagami, in my riding, who has won the 2010 Hommage bénévolat-Québec award for the Nord-du-Québec region.

Ms. Larivière started volunteering in Matagami when she arrived in the region in 1961. Since then, she has helped many people in various ways: by collecting used clothing and furniture, cooking dinner for bereaved families, and helping children with their homework after school. She has not stopped volunteering since she started 49 years ago, and she is still very active with a local recycling organization.

Ms. Larivière is among the 2.3 million volunteers in Quebec who generously give their time to help their fellow citizens. It is important to acknowledge the remarkable contributions these people have made in their respective communities, and we cannot do that enough.

On behalf of myself and the Bloc Québécois, congratulations to Ms. Larivière. She not only has our respect; she has our admiration, too.

Non-profit Collective
Statements By Members

May 25th, 2010 / 2 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Madam Speaker, the Collectivité ingénieuse de la Péninsule acadienne in Paquetville, New Brunswick, celebrated its 10th anniversary last week. On May 17, 2000, Industry Canada told the non-profit collective that out of 129 submissions its submission had been chosen as New Brunswick's pilot project.

Since then, CIPA has participated in the economic development of the Acadian peninsula and of New Brunswick as a whole. It is proof that investing in our rural communities pays off and is the key to a viable and diversified economy.

CIPA has recently launched two innovative projects. The first is ParCelles, a community-based support and empowerment tool for victims of violence. The second is VillageSanté, which aims to strengthen the ability of Canadian and francophone communities to promote health.

Congratulations to the employees and long live CIPA.