First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act

An Act to provide for real property taxation powers of first nations, to create a First Nations Tax Commission, First Nations Financial Management Board, First Nations Finance Authority and First Nations Statistical Institute and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in November 2003.


Bob Nault  Liberal


Not active, as of Sept. 24, 2003
(This bill did not become law.)


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActGovernment Orders

November 6th, 2003 / 6:20 p.m.
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Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, I also rise to speak to Bill C-19. You are aware that a few hours ago, about 3:30 p.m. or 3:45 p.m., we paid tribute to the Prime Minister. The hon. member for Calgary Centre pointed out that the Prime Minister had been very sensitive to the aboriginal issue.

Permit me to say that, if being sensitive to the aboriginal situation results in Bills C-6, C-7 and C-19, even though the Prime Minister has been here for 40 years, he has never understood the situation of the native peoples. He kept them in ignorance. He did not allow them to flourish. Once again, today, with his legacy, Bills C-6, C-7 and C-19, he is putting them firmly in a box. He is telling them what to do and preventing their development.

In addition, I am the public accounts critic and I respond to the Auditor General. Not a year goes by without a report that denounces and decries the way the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development is behaving toward the native peoples.

I can talk about some of these headings: overuse of medication, inadequate housing, the tons of forms that have to be filled in—

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActGovernment Orders

November 6th, 2003 / 6:10 p.m.
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Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to tell the hon. member who just spoke that I appreciated very much his remarks. We could tell that he was speaking from his heart and that he was deeply affected. I commend him for taking this position in the House.

Before addressing Bill C-19, I wish to formally thank in this House Chief John Martin of Gesgapegiag, as well as all the aboriginal nations of the Gaspé, Chaleur Bay and New Brunswick, for their support in a fight for the environment that is vital to our region, the fight against an incinerator in Belledune.

I had the opportunity to meet Chief John Martin on a few occasions. He is a man for whom I have a great appreciation. My wish is that this government finally recognize that the aboriginal nations exist, and not only virtually. I hope it will recognize that they exist in reality, that they have rights and these rights must be respected.

As my hon. colleague mentioned, what we see today with this government is a paternalistic tendency and a paternalistic system being maintained. In that system, there is no room for trust or for the self-determination of aboriginal people.

Where does this attitude come from? Where does this system come from? From the conquest in 1760. This system was imposed on aboriginal nations over the years. First, by the British government in 1760, and then by the federal government, starting in 1867. It has imposed a comprehensive paternalistic system on aboriginal nations.

At the time of the conquest and even before, the British wanted to wipe the aboriginal nations off the face of the earth. They tried to do the same thing with the Acadians, in New Brunswick. If we, Quebeckers, who were known as French Canadians from Quebec at the time, had not been as many as we were, they would probably have tried the same thing with us. Unfortunately for them, there were problems in their 13 colonies, and they were not able to try to do to us what they tried to do to the aboriginal nations.

What we are asking for the aboriginal nations is very simple: the right to govern themselves, to decide their future for themselves, to decide what kind of services they will provide for themselves and so on, as well as, and this is very important, the right to live, in dignity, in accordance with their customs and their needs.

It seems that, in this country, the right to be different does not exist. Look at Canada's fine principles, one by one, from the moment they were implemented. Among them is the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Considering what is happening with first nations, this principle does not apply. It remains simply a principle. There is nothing in practice to suggest that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is truly being complied with, that Canadian legislation that would allow the first nations to lead a better life is truly being implemented.

In fact, the opposite is true. Simply look at the first nations and all the problems they have. Earlier we were talking about the suicide rate among young aboriginals. Simply look at the dropout rate and the opportunities young aboriginals have to lead a normal, decent life.

I do not think Canada will provide them, at this time, with a system that will help them reach the objectives that would allow their people to lead a decent life. On the contrary, we are perpetuating a paternalistic tradition, a tradition of oppression, and a tradition of wiping out the first nations.

Simply look at what happened recently in the House, when we were talking about recognizing Quebec as a nation, and Quebeckers as a people. Look at the attitude of the government and the MPs opposite. Look at the attitude of the 35 MPs from Quebec, who said no to the Quebec nation and to the existence of a Quebec people.

Is this government going to make us believe that it intends to respect the first nations? Is this government going to make us believe that it will provide services to the first nations? Is this government going to tell us that we are going to improve their lot in life?

The conquest was 230 years ago. Obviously, since 1867, less time has passed. Since 1867, the aboriginals have been waiting to develop. Since 1867, they have been waiting for the right to live. Since 1867, aboriginal youth have been waiting for the right to exist, to live the way they want, to get an education, to integrate into their own society and maintain their language and culture.

One of the first things the federal government did was crush the Métis in western Canada. The first Prime Minister of Canada, John A. Macdonald, sent in the army to crush them and tell them that they did not have the right to exist. This mentality still exists today. Today, we no longer send in the army to crush the first nations, but we continue to send public servants who want to control them, manage them, tell them what to do and, ultimately, take away all their rights.

When they do obtain a right, it is intangible. Once again, that right is controlled. They are told, “You are incapable of managing your own affairs, of managing or providing services, so we, the white men from the federal government, will tell you what to do and we will control you and manage your affairs and tell you how you must live”.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActGovernment Orders

November 6th, 2003 / 6 p.m.
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Rick Laliberte Liberal Churchill River, SK

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to speak to this very critical issue at this time in our history as a country and at this time in our relationship with the aboriginal nations of this land.

First I would like to state that in its intentions Bill C-19, from my perspective, is inappropriate at this time because the relationship between the Crown and our government and the aboriginal nations is not set. We are approaching the end of the indigenous decade. It is coming to a close next year. Ten years were set aside by the United Nations to review indigenous issues throughout the world. Within that 10 years, our country has experienced a lot of reflection. A big part of that reflection was the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Within that reflection, I want to focus on that definition of first nations.

Bill C-19 proposes in the definition that in Canada “first nation” has the same meaning as “band” in the Indian Act. I would like to tell Canadians and this Parliament that the first nations of Canada are not band councils. The first nations of Canada are the original nations of Canada. There is terminology in the Cree language.

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Cree]

What I said in Cree was that if I speak in Cree and define myself as nehiyaw , I know who I am in my language. I belong to a group of people who come from the nehiyaw nation. That is the Cree nation as it is defined in the French language. The Dene Nation is another nation besides the Cree. The Mohawks are another nation. The Oneida, the Tuscarora, the Seneca, the Tlingit, the Haida and the Inuit are all nations. The Métis are a nation.

These nations are recognized in our Constitution and they are also recognized under the purview of our treaties, the treaties of this country engaged with these nations, and these nations have to play a role in this present day context.

Let us talk about these institutions that are being created. If our government is willing to recognize and create four commissions and these four commissions make up a total of 51 seats, 51 members will be assigned to have certain powers and responsibilities in dealing with the tax commission, the financial management board, the finance authority and the statistical institute.

I would beg members to consider this. There are up to 52 and maybe even more aboriginal nations in this country. Why can we not represent and recognize each nation and each nation's representative? Why can we not have a Cree chief, a Dene chief, a Mohawk chief, all of the councils of nations, to help govern this country? Why take our squabbles to the Supreme Court for every wrong that has been done?

Parliament was created to debate and chart a course for all Canadians to journey into the future. That vision was embodied in one of the original treaties called a Two-Row Wampum, where in the original vessel of the original nations, they can keep their languages, they can keep their spiritual beliefs and they can keep their self-governance. If financial institutions are to be created, that is in the vessel, not to be created somewhere else.

We are embarking on this with this decade of indigenous review coming to a close next year. I call on my aboriginal brothers and sisters throughout this country to gather as nations.

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Cree]

The aboriginal nations have welcomed all the other nations and peoples of the world to live among us on this land in harmony. Let us chart that relationship so it lasts for another 1,000 years and another 1,000 years after that so our children can be proud of Canada. We are a river of nations. We all flow here but we must flow as one.

I sit here as an aboriginal person. I am Metis Cree. The first words that came out of my mouth were

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Cree].

That is the way I see the world. I cannot apologize for that. I was born here and that is who I am.

I bring the House a message. This House came from Britain. Under the British North American Act, the Crown looked at a governing structure for this country and negotiated the territory. There is no country without a territory because without a territory there is no country.

This nation was negotiated on peace and friendship with the original nations to create a country. We must respect the very foundation of that peace and friendship which is the very foundation of this country.

The preamble of Bill C-19 states:

Whereas the Government of Canada has adopted a policy...

No. The Government of Canada adopted that the Crown enter into a treaty to create a country. The preamble has to say treaty first. We just have to ask aboriginals who feel a relationship with this country and they will tell us that it is a treaty relationship. They are proud to have the blood of a nation flowing through them but we must create the country together.

We are one country. We cannot push our aboriginal nations out. We must respect the peace and friendship that is embodied in those treaties. The world is hard-pressed to find peace right now. If we drop the gift of peace that we have right now, we may be ruining it for the rest of the world. That gift of peace is a sacred gift that was given to our first nations. We must nurture it.

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Cree]

I call upon my people, the aboriginal nations of this land, to look at this country and to be proud of their nations.

Over the last 10 years I have mentioned a royal commission. That royal commission has given me a little ray of hope. It recommended that a third house of Parliament be created. We presently have the House of Commons and the Senate which is the upper chamber. There should be a third house.

That third house physically exists right next door and it is called the parliamentary library. It is a circular building, shaped like a teepee, much like the teepees at Fort Carleton where treaties were negotiated. The teepees were set outside and the British commissioners and the Crown sat inside the fort, which was square. As members will notice, the rooms in these buildings are square. If we look at the library we see it is round. We can create a circle and a symbol of unity with the circle.

This room is an adversarial room where we are designed to fight. A circle is a place of unity and consensus. The government must adopt the original symbols of governance that existed on this land.

The House of Commons originated in Britain as a vessel of Britain. It is time we matured as a country and looked at adopting two governing structures, the original governing structure that existed here many years ago and a new structure for the future that would create a country that would show the rest of the world how to live in peace. A colonial country with a colonial past can have a gift that is true and powerful, a gift called peace.

If we give these powers to financial institutions and take them away from first nations, then we are recognizing the power of money over the power of nations and the power of people.

I caution the people who are looking seriously at adopting Bill C-19 that this legislation will cause major problems at the outset for our first nations communities. They can purchase an abundance of riches but there is a long term commitment in the bill. The powers in Bill C-19 would allow a financial management board to invade the powers of first nations' councils and change their bylaws.

I do not want to see banks having powers to change bylaws of first nations and band councils without the government having a thorough relationship with the original nations based on peace and friendship, as defined in our treaties.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActGovernment Orders

November 6th, 2003 / 5:55 p.m.
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Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

And offensive, as my colleague has just said.

There is no provision for regional representation. There is no provision that the minister must even consult to make his appointments.

There is also the question of “double harmony”. How can we have the great diversity among first nations culturally, geographically and politically when, according to clause 27, a key purpose of the commission is to harmonize the tax system for first nations in Canada by promoting “a common approach”? How can we have diversity when in fact the overall goal is homogeneity and the levelling of all of these communities into one cookie cutter approach?

Not only must first nations local tax laws generally be the same, but those taxation laws must be integrated into the broader municipal and provincial tax framework. There is also the requirement that the needs of the first nation members must be reconciled with the interests of taxpayers. This is a most unusual requirement, which basically says, “You can do anything you want, but only if you do it our way”.

There is the further prescription that first nations must take into consideration what the taxpayers want the tax money to be used for, rather than giving priority to the needs, interests and wishes of the first nations members. This is still another reason why first nations oppose Bill C-19. There seems to be a more significant role for the ratepayers than there is for the members of the first nations.

I could go on all day with reasons given by first nations as to why they oppose this bill. Let me conclude with this one. Bill C-19 would give the financial management board the authority to assume third party management of the first nation in order to force it to remedy any situation it feels should be remedied. The manager sent in would have the power to amend or make taxation laws and to “assume control of service delivery of programs and services”.

There is no right of appeal, no time limit as to how long the imposed manager can stay, and no requirement to consult with the people of the first nation. Can anyone in this chamber imagine this? What Canadian would accept this kind of regime?

I join the vast majority of first nations people in opposing Bill C-19 and so do my colleagues in the New Democratic Party. I respectfully urge my colleagues in all parties in the House to do the same.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActGovernment Orders

November 6th, 2003 / 5:50 p.m.
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Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak tonight to the amendments to Bill C-19 at this stage of the proceedings.

The current fiscal relationship between first nations and the federal government is still much like that of a parent and child: that is the heritage of colonialism.

The development of a new fiscal relationship between first nations and Canada has been an ongoing subject of discussion. In 1983, the report of the House of Commons Special Committee on Indian Self-Government, the Penner report, agreed that this kind of fiscal relationship was not appropriate for governments relating to governments. It recommended the restructuring of fiscal relationships between Canada and first nations, as did the final report of the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the RCAP report.

As well, the move to restructure fiscal relationships for first nations has remained part of a broader movement toward aboriginal self-government.

All that leads us to Bill C-19, which has been presented under the banner of a new fiscal relationship.

Unfortunately, Bill C-19 falls far short of that mark. It leaves in place the current relationship and suggests that first nations should start meeting their own needs by taxation and selling bonds to raise money for critically needed infrastructure.

Bill C-19 cannot distract us from the real needs of the first nations people.

The institutions proposed by Bill C-19 are not the problem. The problem is that they are being established by legislation rather than by the inherent right of self-government of any first nation that wants to be involved, but it cannot be a substitute for real change in the fiscal relationship, for real political autonomy, for real self-government.

The NDP is vehemently opposed to Bill C-19 because the Assembly of First Nations is against Bill C-19. I cannot in fair conscience impose on the first nations people something they do not want, and neither can my colleagues.

The AFN states that proposed legislation violates the historic nation to nation relationship, infringes upon aboriginal and treaty rights, and is otherwise so flawed that it cannot be corrected by mere amendments.

Although the preamble to the bill says that it is not intended to define the nature of self-government, the majority of first nations criticizes it because it takes a strong municipal approach, a very narrow approach to the rights of first nations.

A majority of first nations sees Bill C-19 as being overly prescriptive. It dictates, it limits and it restricts. It insists that any taxation revenues must be directed strictly to certain purposes rather than letting first nations decide how they will use their tax money, just as any other governments do. This kind of restriction violates the principle of the inherent right to self-government.

The Chiefs of Ontario stated:

...all significant matters dealing with taxation and taxation revenue expenditure, particularly as they affect non-Indians, are beyond the independent capacity of individual First Nations.

Passage of the FNFSMA means that the inherent right does not include local revenue collection for local purposes.

That is a remarkably restrictive interpretation of the inherent right, and one that is prejudicial to all First Nations, whether or not they later participate actively in the mechanisms of the fiscal institutions.

Therefore, even though the bill is said to be totally voluntary, this is an example of where it will impact on all first nations whether they participate or do not participate.

A majority of first nations also is unhappy that the legislation does not make it clear what the financial administration laws of a first nation will be required to be in order to obtain approval. No explicit criteria or requirements are set out in the proposed legislation. The worry is that the system required will be just like those of surrounding municipalities.

First nations would go from being signatories to treaties to having the status of a small quasi-municipality. They argue there is no guarantee that the criteria to be applied will take into consideration the priorities of individual first nation governments.

First nations also point out that the proposed legislation provides that first nations must take into account the interests, concerns and protection of the non-native taxpayers. This provision and other related provisions in the bill have been criticized as a further limitation on the authority of first nations to enact local property tax laws based on their priorities and is a provision that is not even in the Indian Act.

There are so many pieces of this bill that are problematic that it is hard even to consider this as something the government wants to pass into law.

There is also a statutory requirement forbidding a first nation from running an operating deficit. Can members imagine imposing that requirement on all governments in Canada? Just imagine what that would mean. Maybe it would be a good thing, but why do we impose upon first nations people something that we do not impose on anyone else? How do we expect first nations to have economic success with these kinds of restrictions unique to them?

There is also the question of whether the institutions such as the taxation commission are really first nations institutions when the members of the boards are appointed by the ministers.

For example, subclause 18(5) stipulates that commissioners should include some first nation members “who are committed to the development of a system of first nations real property taxation”, but there is not even a requirement that the majority be first nations people. I find that astounding and incredibly insulting.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActGovernment Orders

November 6th, 2003 / 5:30 p.m.
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Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, I rise to address the House on third reading of Bill C-19, the first nations fiscal and statistical management act.

It has been suggested that the proposed first nations fiscal and statistical management act would have the effect of isolating first nations from the mainstream of Canadian society. Nothing could be further from the truth.

This initiative would help break a legacy of isolation and the economic marginalization, dependency and social ills that the Indian Act has bred. Bill C-19 is a first nations led initiative. It is led by first nations who seek a brighter future as full participants in the Canadian economy.

In part, this means building new relationships with Canadian and international bond underwriters, credit raters, potential investors, business partners, federal and provincial statistical agencies, neighbouring communities, accounting societies and so on.

In fact, consultation on the bill has already done much to open lines of communication where none existed. Let me highlight that Bill C-19 would help first nations build these new relationships by creating the legal and institutional framework by which first nations could work directly with many interests.

A few examples will help illustrate the importance of the bill. The members of the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association comprise the largest single real property taxpayer in Canada. In its letter of February 11, 2002, to the chairman of the Indian Taxation Advisory Board, CEPA expressed its view that the proposed legislation “will ensure consistent, fair and predictable approaches to valuation and taxation across Canada on first nations lands”.

The board went on to express its thanks “for the opportunity to assist in the development of this new institution through our discussions and input”.

Similarly, in an e-mail of May 16, 2003, to all its members, the executive of the Canadian Property Tax Association stated:

We strongly believe working with the (proposed) First Nations Tax Commission is a continuation of the good relationship we have developed in the past with the Indian Taxation Advisory Board.

Both CEPA and CPTA are important Canadian institutions with significant interest and expertise in the real property taxation field. They attest to the positive relationships that have been built with the Indian Taxation Advisory Board and other first nations proponents of Bill C-19 and express their support for the direction being taken.

Bill C-19 would help strengthen first nations real property tax system in order to support the sustained development of first nations communities. This is being done in a way that is harmonized with the varying real property tax systems which exist across the provinces.

This harmonization helps strengthen existing relationships and provides a foundation for building new ones. As expressed in his letter of November 27 to the Prime Minister, Mayor Colin Kinsley of the City of Prince George noted:

...this model will allow First Nations to partner with local governments on joint services initiatives, like sewer and water projects, thus benefiting all communities involved.

Likewise as expressed in his November 25 letter to the Prime Minister, Mr. Ron Jamieson, Senior Vice-President for Aboriginal Banking at the Bank of Montreal noted:

By providing the capital for infrastructure, through the issuance of First Nations Bonds...the (proposed) First Nations Finance Authority will assist in opening the door to economic development on-reserve. This will provide new opportunities for the traditional financial institutions to support these development initiatives.

Both Mayor Kinsley and Mr. Jamieson are speaking about respectful and cooperative arrangements with first nations. These arrangements would be based upon mutual economic interests. Bill C-19 would lay the legal and institutional framework to support such cooperative efforts.

I might note further that the development of the proposed first nations finance authority is itself a model of federal, provincial, industrial and first nations cooperation. The first nations institution is being developed with support from the very successful Municipal Finance Authority of B.C.

The MFA of B.C. was created by provincial statute about 30 years ago. It allows the more than 180 community governments in B.C. to organize their borrowing in a way that has earned them, collectively, an enviable triple A credit rating. No local government working in isolation could come close to earning such a strong credit rating.

Under this bond financing regime, each community can use up to 20% of its local real property tax base as collateral for borrowing. These bonds have finance the roads, water and sanitation systems, and public facilities required to support economic activity and improve the quality of life.

By contrast, first nations governments have no such access to bond or financial markets due to the existing legislative vacuum. They thus face extraordinary high transaction costs and crippling interest rates. A tax dollar generated on first nations land buys roughly 30% to 50% less in capital financing. It can also take four to six times longer for first nations to organize such borrowing transactions. This is often too long to hold the interest of private developers.

What does this mean to first nations governments? It means they are isolated. They are not positioned to work with private developers and business partners. It means they cannot compete. Why is this so? It is simply because first nations lack the legal and institutional framework of other governments, a barrier that Bill C-19 would remove. For example, it would give first nations the capacity to borrow much like local governments in B.C.

I would also like to highlight that this borrowing regime is not based on the use of federal loan guarantees or the use of federal transfer payments as collateral. Rather, first nations would use their own long term stable sources of revenue, like real property tax for collateral for such borrowing.

On one hand, concern has been expressed that in giving first nations access to tools used by municipalities, Bill C-19 would be turning first nations into municipalities. This is simply false and incorrect.

On the other hand, it has been argued that as Bill C-19 would give first nations the tools used by other governments, it must be creating a separate parallel society. This again is false and incorrect.

The facts are that Bill C-19 is first and foremost about giving first nations the tools available to other governments. It is not about municipalization and assimilation nor about creating a separate parallel society.

Bill C-19 is a unique piece of legislation created with and for first nations people. It in no way diminishes the constitutionally protected rights of aboriginal people. Rather, it helps first nations exercise these rights. It aims to create equality of opportunity for first nations people within the Canadian constitutional framework.

As a final example, I would note that Bill C-19 would also help equip first nations to work with the federal government in resolving important policy issues.

The proposed first nations statistical institute would assist first nations people in defining the issues that they collectively face and bring to bear the type of information and analysis needed to better address these problems. This institute would draw heavily upon the data held by Statistics Canada and federal departments and at the same time have influence over future data collected. Bill C-19 is directed at building this type of cooperative and respectful relationship.

Bill C-19 would create a legal framework by which first nations could work directly and more effectively with the private sector and other governments. In so doing, it would provide the tools to build a better quality of life through cooperative action and sustained regional growth.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActGovernment Orders

November 6th, 2003 / 5:25 p.m.
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Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Nothing is settled, as my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot said. Enough is enough, I say.

There is something else I do not understand. We considered Bills C-6, C-7 and C-19. No one wants them. How is it that my government colleagues and the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development do not understand this? None of the aboriginals want this. How can that be? Who can answer my question?

Bill C-19 was drafted for the well-being of the first nations, but even they are saying that it does not make sense, that it is demeaning and still places them under trusteeship. Why is the government and its minister insisting on shoving this down their throats? There is a limit. When is this going to end?

I will list the primary reasons people do not want Bill C-19. It is part of a long line of measures to modernize the Indian Act, with Bills C-6 and C-7 before it. As I mentioned earlier, there is a consensus among the first nations for first nations taxation reform.

There are, nonetheless, some good points in this bill. But it was created for rich first nations from western Canada and does not meet the glaring needs of most communities. The voluntary aspect of the bill raises many questions. If a first nation does not sign on, will it be able to receive subsidies from Ottawa for its development or does it have to sign on in order to be able to borrow from financial institutions? By the same token, Bill C-19 allows the federal government to free itself from its fiduciary responsibility to first nations.

Although the minister said that the bill does not affect section 35 of the Constitution, we had to fight to have a non-derogation clause included in each bill.

Bill C-19 is an attack on historical treaties and a threat to the inherent right to self-government provided for under section 35. The bill was drafted without consultation or consent, and based on a flawed process. Therein lies the problem. It was done without consultation or consent. And we are told this is for the well-being of first nations.

I will stop here because I am out of time, but rest assured, we will vote against this bill.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActGovernment Orders

November 6th, 2003 / 5:20 p.m.
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Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I must say that it is with great emotion that I rise to speak in this debate on the amendments to Bill C-19.

When I arrived here in 1993, my leader gave me the role of health critic. At that time, we were the official opposition. The health committee recommended doing a study of the health and welfare of the native peoples.

I was really shocked and I could hardly believe what was going on in some communities and among the native peoples of this vast country of Canada. One thing really astonished me, and that was what the chiefs of the first nations came to tell us in the committee. They warned the government and the committee that this was the last time they were going to be studied. Every time there was a change of government, everyone got very busy telling the native peoples they were going to help them, support them, and improve their quality of life.

At that time, I accepted the government's intentions in good faith. Of course, I was in the opposition. I also was one of the first to agree to the native peoples' demands and say that we should make things happen and not leave the report on the shelf to gather dust.

That was a warning. The first nations, and the women in particular, came to tell us that for hundreds of years people had always promised them the same thing. They had been parked on the reserves. Then, we acknowledged their existence, but dragged things out. They were made wards of the state and told that the state would take care of them. However, taking care of them did not mean just sending them cheques. First, why keep them as wards when they are acknowledged as the first nations and as a people? Why do we always want to make decisions for the native people when we recognize their autonomy? Why is there still this hand pulling the strings?

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActGovernment Orders

November 6th, 2003 / 5:10 p.m.
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Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, it should be noted that we are debating a group of amendments at report stage of Bill C-19, but 54 out of 56 amendments put forward by the NDP have been disallowed and will not have the benefit of debate. We will not have the opportunity to re-craft the bill with language more acceptable to first nations on whose behalf we speak today. We were hoping the minister would stay and listen to our arguments because he did not listen to first nations in crafting this legislation.

I can say categorically that first nations across this country oppose Bill C-19 just as they oppose the rest of the minister's suite of bills, Bill C-7, Bill C-6 and Bill C-19. They viewed it as the reincarnation of the 1969 white paper which is something with which the current Prime Minister is very familiar.

We are debating two amendments to a bill that we in the NDP fundamentally oppose and that is the least crucial point. First nations oppose the bill as well.

I have in my hand a letter dated October 31, 2003 from the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations. He is prepared to admit and concede and put on the record that he too opposes Bill C-19 on behalf of first nations across the country. I will read it because it is important. To hear the minister and the parliamentary secretary tell it, the Assembly of First Nations wants the bill but we and a few first nations are somehow blocking it.

I would like to read from this recent letter from the legitimately elected leadership of first nations. He said simply:

As many of you know, an AFN Special Assembly was held in October at Squamish First Nation.

I was there, as was the member for Saint-Hyacinthe--Bagot. During that meeting, a resolution was put forward concerning the AFN's position on Bill C-6, Bill C-7 and Bill C-19. The resolution which the chief endorsed called for the rejection of Bill C-7, the rejection of Bill C-6, but proposed to support Bill C-19. I quote:

The resolution failed to receive support from the Chiefs.

In other words, the chiefs voted down support for Bill C-19. I want to be perfectly accurate here because this is critically important. The letter continues on:

We must, as an organization, remember that unity is often best measured.... And while we do not support Bill C-6, Bill C-7, and Bill C-19, the AFN's view respects and gives dignity to those First Nations who disagree.

Fair enough. It is as clear as the writing on the page that the Assembly of First Nations oppose it. Therefore it is the height of colonial style arrogance for the Minister of Indian Affairs, in the last days of his being the Minister of Indian Affairs, to shove the bill down the throats of aboriginal people. We have seen this consistent pattern with Bill C-7, Bill C-6 and now with Bill C-19.

Will those members never learn? Will they never listen to first nations people across this country who have said categorically and unanimously that they oppose this suite of legislation? They are offended and insulted by the manner in which it has been rammed down their throats without consultation. They reject it and we in the House of Commons should reject it as well.

I have been denied the right to move 54 significant amendments which were drafted not by me and my researchers, but were drafted by people in the Assembly of First Nations. Leadership in the aboriginal community fed us material. They provided us with changes that they found acceptable. We are not even going to get to debate those amendments.

I regret that this will probably be the last time I will have a chance to share my thoughts with the House on this very flawed bill. In the few minutes that I have, I want to pay tribute to the courageous leaders in first nations communities who have dedicated months and months, actually years now, standing up for their rights and opposing the strategy of the Liberal government.

I have to begin with Chief Roberta Jamieson of the Six Nations of the Grand River. She has tirelessly led a campaign to coerce the government into respecting aboriginal and treaty rights and to bypass this flawed package. Also, the vice-chief for Ontario for the Assembly of First Nations, Charles Fox, representing all of the first nations in Ontario, is vehemently opposed to this bill. The vice-chief for the Assembly of First Nations for Quebec, Ghislain Picard, is vehemently opposed to this legislation and has said so categorically in print and verbally.

The vice-chief of the Assembly of First Nations for Manitoba, Grand Chief Francis Flett, is opposed. The grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Dennis Whitebird, is opposed. The grand chief for the Southern Chiefs Organization, Margaret Swan, is opposed. Stewart Phillip, the grand chief of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs is opposed. Stan Beardy from the Nishnawbe Aski nation in northern Ontario is also opposed. Leon Jourdain represents the treaty 3 people in the minister's own riding, the 54 first nations in the minister's own riding. They are unanimously opposed. They do not want it.

What is so difficult to understand? Where do the Liberals get off being so arrogant in thinking that without consultation, without cooperation and without the participation of first nations they are going to fundamentally change the way the first nations are supposed to govern themselves? It is the very antithesis of self-governance to impose government structures on a free, independent and sovereign people. It makes me mad just thinking about it.

I attended the Assembly of First Nations national assembly in October and the Squamish first nation of British Columbia and I saw the debate. There are, legitimately, first nations leaders from British Columbia who support Bill C-19 which is fair enough. However there is nothing stopping them from moving forward with the issues we find in this bill without national legislation because of the 633 first nations, the majority of which are overwhelmingly opposed.

I also would be remiss if I did not mention the courageous battle and the energetic, enthusiastic actions of my colleague, mon frère autochtone, my brother in aboriginal issues, the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.

Both of us had the honour of being recognized by the Assembly of First Nations for the positions we have taken on this bill. Both of us were given spiritual names, which is an honour that I will never forget and an honour that I will value all of my life. I could not have been more proud if I had received the Order of Canada when we were brought before the Assembly of First Nations and thanked.

We were told it is a rare thing when non-aboriginal people actually get it for a second, actually understand the issue of sovereignty and self-governance and the inherent rights of a people to be independent and sovereign. My colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot has no problem with that concept. I learned that concept more recently perhaps. We were both very honoured and very proud to work hand in hand with the people in the Assembly of First Nations.

I also want to recognize some of the elders, the clan mothers of the Oneida, the Cayuga, the Mohawk and Six Nations who came out night after night to represent the interests of their people. They reminded us that frankly the eurocentric view of the government does not honour and respect tradition, culture and heritage. The clan mothers reminded us that we must think seven generations back and seven generations forward before we introduce this kind of change. My thanks go to them. They have my never-ending respect for the work they have done in their representations.

We should defeat this bill in its entirety. We should go back to the drawing board. We should work with respect and cooperation to craft self-governance legislation, as the emancipation of aboriginal people is the civil rights challenge of our time.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management ActGovernment Orders

November 6th, 2003 / 5 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Canadian Alliance Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to take part in the debate on Bill C-19.

I wish to thank the member for Perth—Middlesex for his work in the aboriginal affairs committee. Having been a former member of the committee, I do have a few things to say. My riding of Dauphin—Swan River has 13 bands and a significant population base of aboriginal Canadians.

It was mentioned earlier that it is so unfortunate that on a day when we pay tribute to the Prime Minister, his biggest failure in 40 years of public life is on the aboriginal affairs file. I know that he always had good intentions in terms of helping the aboriginal community, but unfortunately, the process is fatally flawed. I could say the same thing about our current minister. I am sure the minister is well intentioned to help people, but the problem is that the system does not work.

Having been a former critic for the PC Party going back almost two years, Bill C-19 was already on the Internet. Members of the committee and members of the aboriginal community did not know anything about it. It is a good example of the flawed communication process. We cannot force or expect people to do things unless they sit down at the table and discuss issues.

Bill C-7 is about governance. The change of governance for the aboriginal community which supposedly was to work toward self-government just did not work out. It was well-intentioned. The topic made sense, but the process was flawed.

The aboriginal community opposed Bill C-7, even though there are many good things in it. It is about setting up governance vehicles and making people accountable.

Unfortunately, unless the stakeholders are there, the people who this bill is going to affect, they are not going to buy into it. No more than if the federal government decided that all of a sudden it would dictate how municipalities should operate. People at the grassroots level would not take it sitting down because they want input.

In fact, that is one of the weaknesses of the government as we have heard in this House. Cooperative federalism in terms of relationships between the provinces and this place can certainly be improved. We know there can be huge improvements in terms of the relationship between the federal government and the aboriginal community. It is a terrible relationship which is so unfortunate. We go from a national chief to a national chief. It is poor planning and in no way does it deal with people.

We spend a great deal of money on this file, over $7 billion, and yet people still live in third world conditions. It just does not make any sense. Aboriginal communities and aboriginal people of this land are living in third world conditions.

In a rich country like this where everyone in the world wants to come to Canada because of the opportunities here, our first nations communities are living in squalor in many places. I have 13 reserves and many of them do not have running water. They have probably 10 to 12 people living in one house. It is just pathetic how the majority of people live.

Unfortunately, because of the lack of accountability, there is no accounting for how the money is spent. Again, I blame the federal government.

The Indian Act seems to have the attitude that father knows best. It is just as the Bloc member said. They are just like modern Indian agents; they decide how the money is spent and to whom they should give the money. I guess the band councils learned from their masters at this level about rampant spending and not having to account to anyone. It is very frustrating. It is frustrating for the people who live on reserves. They do not know what to do.

I have many contacts with the people who are on reservations in my riding. I forward them on to the minister and I am not even sure what happens, even on the issue of third party debt. There are millions and millions of dollars of third party debt incurred by what I say is the federal government but the minister said it is not his debt, that it is the bands' debt. Unfortunately someone gets hurt and it is usually the third party. There is no fairness in this.

The biggest irony is that this country believes in democracy and human rights. We travel all over the world promoting democracy, transparency and accountability. I met with Mr. Roy of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development which was established in 1988.

We do this yet at home we do not look at what we are doing in our own backyard. One would think that in 2003 as rational people in this place we would try to figure out a solution. After a contribution of 40 years to the country by the Prime Minister, surely it is time to sit down and work this out so that the aboriginal communities, the first nations of our land, have an opportunity to grow and to create wealth like other Canadians. Otherwise we are not going to go anywhere.

We have heard about the self-government initiative. It is not going to happen. It is not going to work as long as the Indian Act is in place. The Indian Act is a millstone around the first people's necks. The only way to have true autonomy and self-sufficiency is to let people manage their own affairs.

We are a country of regions. We are a country of first nations, distinct francophones and distinct anglophones. The strength of the country is that we have many differences and many regions. They can all learn to work together, not only the east, the west and the centre but also the north.

The government has a lot to learn. I will close by saying it is so unfortunate on the day we have been praising the Prime Minister for his contribution to the country that a file in which he has great interest is a total failure.

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November 6th, 2003 / 4:45 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Maurice Vellacott Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate right off the top that I could not agree more with my colleague who made a remark about how we could possibly make the case that the First Nations Statistical Institute should be part of Bill C-19, because it does not have a direct connect to other ones.

I do not know why we have omnibus bills, where we have things quite unrelated and not necessarily integral to one another. It diminishes this place some and is disrespectful. I wish we would have bills that we could consider individually and on their own merits as opposed to mixing apples and oranges and things that are somewhat unrelated. That is a problem.

Why we have the First Nations Statistical Institute as part of Bill C-19 is quite beyond me. It does not even reflect good management on the part of the department or on the part of the minister himself.

I will make my remarks around three different headings. Some of the motions under consideration are supportable.

My first point is the government needs to consult first nations communities in the making of appointments. We have come to accept that in respect to other pieces of legislation and bills, yet for some reason under Bill C-19 that appropriate kind of consultation would not take place.

Therefore, we have two good motions in respect to that. Motion No. 4 requires the minister to consult interested first nations prior to the appointment of a chairperson to the financial management board. In its present form the bill allows the minister to make a recommendation to the cabinet without any such consultation, and that is a mistake. It is disrespectful of first nations peoples, those who have so much at stake in the bill before us. That is a flaw and a misstep on the part of the government. Hopefully in future bills it will learn and rectify such a thing so the proper consultation takes place with the interested first nations persons, as suggested in Motion No. 4.

Another motion directs that when making other appointments to the board, the government should do the same thing: consult interested first nations before making recommendations to cabinet. Again, it makes my point around the general theme that the government needs to be consulting first nations communities in the making of their appointments.

Second, the government needs to make a point of building more transparency into the bill. As things presently stand concerning the board's making of rules of conduct for its meetings, nothing requires those rules to be published. We think that should be done.

Motion No. 7 would require these rules to be published in the First Nations Gazette . At present, no such publication is required. It should be there on the surface for all to see, a public document in the nature of the First Nations Gazette . It is a commendable amendment by the member. Therefore, Motion No. 7 is certainly supportable from the Canadian Alliance's point of view.

Motion 34 would require that the authority's annual report be tabled in the House of Commons. At present, the bill makes no such requirement. Again, we could have a little more transparency. I appeal to the parliamentary secretary and others who are listening. That makes simple sense and it could be enacted rather easily, and maybe even at this late hour. There could be some heeding in respect to Motion 34.

In addition to my first two points that the government needs to consult first nations communities in the making of appointments and needs to build more transparency into the bill by way of the having rules for conduct of meetings being published in the First Nations Gazette , a public document for all to see, an annual report should be tabled in the House of Commons. Presently, things do not read that way.

My third point is the government, from the Canadian Alliance perspective, needs to be clear on the rights and responsibilities of member first nations.

Motion No. 23 is also an important amendment. The bill in its present form would force a band to remain a member unless all other members agreed to allow its membership to cease. The amendment specifies that as long as the first nation has paid off its debt to the authority it can cease to be a member of its own volition and does not need the permission of the other members.

We debated that in committee and had some discussions around that. Why should one band have a veto power and hold another band hostage after it has paid off its debt to the authority? We have a problem with that.

We simply say that Motion No. 23 is supportable. If the first nation has paid off its debt to the authority, it should be able to cease to be a member of its own volition and not need the permission of other members. Why should one band have veto power to keep another band hostage, keep it bound, keep it constrained indefinitely and not allow it out of the particular institution?

Motion No. 24 reinforces the point that the government needs to be clearer on the rights and the responsibilities of member first nations. I would hope the minister and others who have listened attentively today would be supportive of Motion No. 24, which clarifies the obligations of the borrowing member first nation.

At present the bill states that the band must pay off its loan to the authority before making payments to any other creditors. The amendment would change this. It would require the band to first pay off creditors, other than the authorities, if those debts were incurred earlier than debts to the authority were incurred. That makes sense.

If a first nation has incurred a debt at some point earlier and then comes into the authority, why does that other debt repayment not have first call? Why would the first payment go to the authority and the others would get second dibs on whatever money would be owed to them?

Again, Motions Nos. 23 and 24 would allow the proper flexibility on the rights and responsibilities of member first nations. They are certainly ones that the Canadian Alliance supports. I would say to the minister and the parliamentary secretary that these are reasonable, sane and are not that difficult to implement. I cannot see that they would even cause a great problem for the department. Maybe there is a way they can segue them in, even in respect of those bigger amendments.

In total, Motions Nos. 4, 5, 7, 34, 23 and 24 are very supportable by the Canadian Alliance and we would like to see those adopted as part of Bill C-19.

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November 6th, 2003 / 4:30 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Canadian Alliance Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise today and speak on Bill C-19, a very interesting first nations omnibus bill that deals with the creation of three financial institutions and a separate statistical institute.

Listening to some of the debate today has led me to a thought process which I would like to share before I get into my prepared notes. It deals with the tensions that currently exist between what I would say is the one size fits all approach of the Indian Act, which has been the historical way that the affairs of first nations in Canada have been dealt with for a long period of time, versus the whole trend of now moving toward an opting in or a situation where first nations either singly or as a group propose and become advocates for various other forms of management, administration and governance, all of the critical things that we think of in terms of legislation.

I believe that it is a fiction under this new scenario for us to think that a majority decision made by an organization like the Assembly of First Nations, for example, is binding on anyone. Membership of the 633 bands in Canada in the Assembly of First Nations is automatic, just because of the way it is created, the way it is funded and the way it operates.

So I think it is natural that these tensions now exist. They are going to continue to exist, but hopefully it will be a creative tension. I think we see some signs that it will be. For example, we are set to give unanimous consent in the House tomorrow, I believe, to the Westbank First Nations Self-Government Agreement, which was signed in Westbank, British Columbia, on October 3. I think it signals something very constructive for the House.

At the same time, all of that tension leads me to the conclusion, and it should be no surprise to anyone, that Bill C-19 would have its strong opponents and strong proponents. A significant contributor to all of this is that it is omnibus legislation. I do not think the government needed to do that. I do not think the minister needed to do that. I think it was a mistake. The politics of this bill could be so much simpler and so much more productive. I do not quite understand why it was done this way.

The thrust of the legislation is to empower subscribing bands across the country to join together to advance their economic situation. Before I get into the specifics of the bill, I think it is important that we frame the discussion from the standpoint of what we have in Canada as a consequence of the Constitution, the reserve system of land ownership and the Indian Act. It is the very worst of all circumstances for tens of thousands of aboriginal people who are growing up in a cycle of poverty and abuse that in many circumstances is as bad as anything we can find in the third world, and in the worst circumstances in the third world.

It is essential that Canada as a modern country think outside the box so we do not perpetuate that which has been going on for too long in too many places. Economic advancement cannot occur without social advancement and the reverse is also true.

The current system and the current apparatus of government caters to the defenders of the status quo, who benefit from the asymmetrical system we currently have. It is a system that on some reserves has allowed elected chiefs and councillors to use federal money to reward themselves and their friends through jobs, through pay and through perks, to consolidate their status to influence elections, to intimidate members of their community, and to perpetuate themselves in office. This is the basic premise that the government needs to operate on in order to fix the worst of what is happening.

The government must operate from the standpoint that democracy, transparency and accountability are not negotiable. The sad truth is that I have been a witness in this place for 10 years to this government continuing to allow these things to occur. These are my first concerns whenever I am faced with reviewing legislation. Is democracy being served? Is transparency being served? Is accountability being served?

My first important observation when it comes to Bill C-19 is that it applies only to those bands that subscribe to it. My reading of ideas emanating from some of the most progressive bands in the country is that this is an essential direction in which we have to go, and I certainly concur.

The reason I concur is that when I look at the way the courts interpret transactions on reserve, the first consideration is always given to the Indian Act, which becomes the lowest common denominator and a very huge barrier to progress unless there is specific legislation in place that overrides the Indian Act for that specific band.

For example, a specific piece of legislation applies to the Sechelt band in British Columbia. It is so overwhelmingly different from the Indian Act that it is inappropriate and incorrect to call the Sechelt land base a reserve. The Sechelt band achieved fee simple ownership of their lands in 1985, lands that formerly were reserved for them and held by the Crown.

Like it is for so many other attempts at progress by first nations, the approach taken by the Department of Indian Affairs since 1985, which to me flies in the face of the great successes achieved by the Sechelt, has been to tell any other band seeking any similar treatment of their land base that there were to be no more Sechelts. One might ask why.

There is quite a bit more that I could say, but I am running out of time. I will conclude by saying that one part of this four-suite institution set-up, the first nations statistical institute, absolutely in its entirety has nothing to do with the other three. We could do without it. It is the most divisive part of the bill and should be hived off. It should never have resided in the legislation. It is a total duplication of what Statistics Canada is already carrying out. We would all be better off if we were not in the position of having to support this legislation as it stands.

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November 6th, 2003 / 4:30 p.m.
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Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am taking advantage of the fact that the minister is here right now. I would like to ask him whether he is so arrogant as to think that he was the one who appointed Phil Fontaine to head the Assembly of First Nations.

He will not answer, naturally, because this was a blunder yesterday. He is so steeped in this power to decide the future of first nations, decide for them, decide what is good for them, decide their style of governance, decide that $10 million is enough, even when the value of claims may exceed $18 million.

There is a double standard with respect to first nations. In non-aboriginal society, one may claim any amount before the courts, but not in the first nations. The limit is set at $10 million. This is how it is with every bill, including Bill C-19. We will oppose this bill with all our might.

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November 6th, 2003 / 4:20 p.m.
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Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for allowing me to speak to the amendments to Bill C-19 proposed by my colleagues in the New Democratic Party.

I was very disappointed to see that, of all of the proposed amendments, you have only selected two for debate. It seemed to me that while we were examining this bill—and a controversial one it is—we would have been able to revisit the debate on some of the truly problematic elements.

First, as we begin, I would like to point out that, contrary to what the hon. parliamentary secretary said a few moments ago, there is no unanimity on this bill, none at all. There are positive things, but there are so many negative ones. It was the minister's responsibility to convince the first nations that the positive elements could outweigh the negative ones in this bill, or else show some openness to substantive amendments. In fact, there are many problems in this bill. It has missed its mark.

A few weeks ago, I attended the special chiefs assembly, held by the Assembly of First Nations in Vancouver. This bill was the subject of a heated debate. Some of the first nations supported the bill because it might mean an improvement. Others, the vast majority in fact, rejected the bill. The results of the vote were clear. If my memory serves me, 103 first nations chiefs were opposed and 59 were in favour. When there is more opposition to a bill than support for it, it is because the minister did not do his job in several respects.

First, he tried to convince some first nations, the most developed ones, that this bill might have merit. He forgot about the others. He forgot that most of the 638 first nations in Canada are experiencing real problems on a daily basis, problems such as poverty, multiple addictions, the lack of management and development resources, and access to drinking water. These problems are major ones. Young aboriginals are also experiencing social problems.

Ten years ago, when the Liberals talked about improving the status of first nations, something should have been done. However, instead of talking about it, instead of proposing concrete measures, they chose to engage in petty politics, to try to convince some at the expense of others; in short, to divide and conquer. Now, the vast majority of the 638 first nations in Canada do not want this bill to pass.

They do not want it primarily because this bill is part of a trilogy. There was Bill C-6 on specific claims resolution. Then, there was Bill C-7. No one knows what happened to this bill or where it is. I hope it stays lost. Then there was Bill C-19. The minister himself appeared before the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources to tell us that this was a complete package.

When he did present us with Bill C-7, it was the most odious bill possible for the first nations. He claimed to be replacing the odious Indian Act, which has been in place for 130 years. In the end, all that was accomplished was to retain the Indian Act, which treated the first nations like children, while adding on some elements of colonialism. This was not a good start to any demonstration of the virtues of the trilogy.

Then he turned up with Bill C-6. Yesterday, convinced of his inability to sell us on its validity, he imposed it on us. He is imposing upon the first nations the amendments proposed by the Senate on specific claims, which are now subject to a $10 million ceiling, whereas they average out at $18 million, judging from the situation in Saskatchewan in recent years.

He is using time allocation to shove this bill down our throats, once again thwarting the legitimate aspirations and ignoring the legitimate objections of the first nations. Here we are faced with Bill C-19, which is an attempt to push through something that no one will buy.

Why not focus the same amount of energy, courage, perseverance and political savvy on moving real things ahead? In the case of the first nations, this means speeding up negotiations on self-government. Enough of the apartheid mentality, enough of colonialism, let them speed up negotiations on self-government. That is the only way to ensure that the first nations can develop in keeping with what they are, what they want, and what they aspire to. Is that clear enough?

In order for a nation to develop, it must possess one main tool: government. The first nations have been calling for that government for ages. Their entitlement to it is recognized not just nationally but internationally. Even the United Nations have said that the first nations constituted nations. As nations, they therefore have the capacity to determine their own futures, to put in place their own government, to determine their own policies, their own way of doing things in accordance with their culture, their language and their traditions.

There still exists this paternalistic, colonial, condescending reflex. We thought this reflex had disappeared years ago with the elimination of apartheid in South Africa. We thought that was a thing of the past. Here we are with a bill that would still have us control the first nations.

The minister, in his quest to exercise control, is so driven that he forgets some things and says whatever comes to mind. On Tuesday, in response to questions I had asked him, he said, “We appointed the present national chief to the commission that exists today”. They appointed the head of the taxation commission. The minister thinks he has such extraordinary powers that he told us, here in this House, just check Hansard, “The national chief himself was appointed by the government”. He said that Phil Fontaine was appointed by the government. It takes a narrow-minded, power-hungry megalomaniac to think like that.

He is so power-hungry that in Bills C-6, C-7, and C-19, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development is vested with all the discretionary power. He can appoint the members of commissions or institutions, he can reject or accept first nations specific claims. He can also say to first nations, “You have decided one thing, I will decide another”. He is so self-important he thinks this power is fully and completely his. He says, “I myself appointed the national chief of first nations”. Who does this minister take himself for? He has been in politics for 14 years, and it is time that he left.

This man wreaks havoc. He has become a megalomaniac. Everyone knows that the chief of the first nations is elected by the chiefs of the 638 first nations. He is elected by his peers. Neither the government nor the minister has anything to do with it. He must be really full of himself.

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November 6th, 2003 / 4:20 p.m.
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Miramichi New Brunswick


Charles Hubbard LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, for the information of all, Bill C-19 deals with the first nations fiscal and statistical management act. It is a bill that would set up four commissions.

I know the hon. member was moving her motions but I took great exception to some of the points she made in her presentation. I would like to point out to the hon. members that we have more than 600 first nations across the country. I know in a democracy or in any given society, it is never possible to get unanimous consent from all people.

However I would like to point out that in terms of this particular piece of legislation we have had first nations communities and leaders working toward this legislation for more than 10 years. As members of the committee, we certainly heard from many of them who came to us, appealing to us to pass this legislation.

This is an optional piece of legislation. It is not mandated that all first nations have to work under this so-called piece of legislation. However it does provide the first nations communities, which want to develop their economy and improve the lot of their people, the opportunity to participate in the economy of all Canadians, whereby they can use their fiscal powers to develop a management system of dealing with finances, to be able to bring wealth to their people and offer their people an opportunity to participate in the economy of the country.

I am disappointed that some people in the House would like us to see all first nations people live under the Indian Act of 1876. The Prime Minister today in his remarks expressed his great concern for the lives, the welfare and the future that might be available to first nations people, As the parliamentary secretary to our minister, I want to assure the House that he has worked hard in bringing this legislation to the House because he has a vision of what might happen.

With it, I would hope that all of us can join together to support those first nation communities and leaders who want to see a better society developed for their people.

The motions we are dealing with, in terms of those the hon. member has brought to the House, deal with a very basic concept of how corporate society works. With it, we assume that the chiefs, the council, those who may have important decisions legislated by this particular legislation, will have the same protection in law that all people in Canada have in terms of working in good faith for the corporation and the society which they represent.

I would hope all members can support this legislation and can overlook the particular motion that I see as being outside the general concepts from which all Canadians can benefit in terms of taking responsibility, and with it, we can move on to get the legislation passed and to offer to those people across Canada, especially those in British Columbia and some in Nova Scotia, who are developing an economy for their people, who are offering their people an opportunity to participate in this great society that Canada has, and to get away from the old concepts that the House had back in the 1870s.