Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act

An Act to give effect to a land claims and self-government agreement among the Tlicho, the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Canada, to make related amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 38th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in November 2005.

Sponsor

Andy Scott  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment gives effect to the Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Agreement and the Tlicho Tax Treatment Agreement. It includes related amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and consequential amendments to a number of other Acts.

Elsewhere

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.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds ActGovernment Orders

November 21st, 2005 / 3:15 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Senate bill, Bill S-36, is entitled An Act to amend the Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act. This bill includes only a few clauses that are essentially of an administrative nature.

From the outset, the Bloc is quite sympathetic to this bill, but I would like to explain two important effects Bill S-36 will have.

First, Bill S-36 will authorize the government to compile and distribute data on international trade in diamonds. The adoption of this amendment, which would make the diamond trade more transparent and easier to control, is necessary for Canada to remain in compliance with its international obligations pursuant to the Kimberley process. I will say more on that later, but the Kimberley process is the action, past and present, taken by the international community to monitor the money earned from the mining of conflict diamonds.

Second, Bill S-36 will remove a formality associated with the Kimberley process as regards very small diamonds less than one millimetre in size. In number and in weight, the great majority of the diamonds dealt on the market are tiny. They are not used just to make jewellery, but have more of a utilitarian function. They are to be found, for example, in turntable needles, in watch-making or in certain industrial knives. Unlike large diamonds whose scarcity makes their price exorbitant, these diamonds are of no great value, and the administrative burden associated with the Kimberley process can be prohibitive. This proposed amendment will facilitate the diamond trade and is good news for the industry.

I might mention that Canada recently became the world's third largest diamond producer. In Quebec, even though no diamond mine is yet active, seven mining companies hold licences for such mines, mostly in Abitibi, Témiscamingue and in northwestern Quebec. Deposits of kimberlite, the ore in which diamonds are found, have been discovered in five sub-regions of Quebec.

As I said right from the start, the Bloc Québécois is not opposed to this new flexibility in principle, but it intends to ensure, in the course of review in committee, that it will not be introduced to the detriment of achievement of the objectives for which the act was passed, that is, the establishment of fairly tight control so as to prevent trade in what are and what must be called “conflict diamonds”. These amendments are the result of decisions made by countries adhering to the Kimberly process and are essential for Canada's continued compliance.

I want to take a few minutes to talk about the Kimberly process and conflict diamonds. I was associated with a study conducted by the Standing Committee on Industry, Natural Resources, Science and Technology. This study was the result of pressure by international NGOs that realized just how much conflict diamonds, as they are called, contribute to the development, maintenance and continuation of wars that should never have happened. However, these wars were fostered and fueled by these diamonds.

I want to quote Mr. Ian Smillie of Partnership Africa Canada, as he really puts things into context:

In 2000, the international diamond industry produced more than 120 million carats of rough diamonds with a market value of US$7.5 billion. At the end of the diamond chain this bounty was converted into 70 million pieces of jewelry worth close to US$58 billion. Of total world production, rebel armies in Sierra Leone, as well as in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), are estimated by De Beers to traffic in about 4 per cent. Other estimates place the number higher. Although not a significant proportion of the overall industry, four per cent of $7.5 billion—or whatever other estimate one might use—can buy a lot of weapons.

This is particularly true in countries in which merchants take part in this traffic in order to finance wars between developing countries.

The Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act ensures that Canada is in compliance with the Kimberley process, an international agreement which has established a process for certifying the origin of rough diamonds. This was to ensure that any diamonds traded by or transiting through signatory countries were not conflict diamonds.

The Kimberley process is basically designed to limit the trade in conflict diamonds, which are sold by armed factions to finance their wars.

Because the diamonds are small and highly valuable, they are easy to market and can be very profitable

In the 1980s, this trade was a veritable scourge, and a major component in the funding of wars that displaced about 10 million people in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, to name just a few.

At first, only a few NGOs were concerned about these conflicts and critical of the lucrative diamond trade that bankrolled them.

In 2000, the UN published a report on the funding of the war in Angola, confirming everything that the NGOs had been proclaiming for years: the diamond trade was being used to finance the war.

Also in 2000, the RUF, the Revolutionary United Front, an armed faction in Sierra Leone, stepped up its attacks on civilians, making Sierra Leone the country with the largest number of displaced persons in the world.

With these two events, the African conflicts and their link to the diamond trade left the back pages and made the headlines.

That is when the countries and the companies that produce diamonds began to get involved. The moment that diamonds become synonymous with war, rape and murder and not with dreams, wealth and eternal love, they lose their essential value.

Responding to the invitation of two NGO groups, Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada, 37 countries and the principal diamond merchants agreed to sit down together with the NGOs to find a solution to the problem.

The first meeting was held in May 2002 in the city of Kimberley, South Africa, hence the name, the Kimberley process

At the end of a series of meetings, they agreed that the best way to civilize the diamond trade was to put in place a system for certifying the origin of diamonds. Certification of the diamond's origin was the only way this group of individuals and businesses could find to ensure that diamonds from companies using them to fund wars were not getting into the legal diamond trade.

Under this system, all diamonds, without exception, exported from a country participating in the Kimberley process must be placed in a sealed container and accompanied by a government-issued certificate of authenticity called a Kimberley certificate. Note that I said all diamonds.

Importing countries that are participants in the Kimberley process may import only diamonds that are placed in a sealed container and accompanied by this certificate. They may trade in diamonds only with participating countries.

Today the Kimberley process has 45 participants—all to their credit—including the European Union and its 25 members, for a total of 69 countries. These countries account for 99% of the legal international trade in diamonds.To the NGOs which started this initiative and succeeded in transforming an awareness campaign into binding rules of international law, the Bloc Québécois says: well done. I hope Parliament will agree with me in congratulating them.

Without taking anything away from the other NGOs that have joined the movement and made it the success it is, the Bloc Québécois wishes to specifically salute the work, clear-sightedness and tenacity of the two NGOs which got this initiative under way, Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada.

That is a short summary of the Kimberley process, which might help our viewers.

From what I have read, there appears to be a need to amend the Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act and to pass Bill S-36.

From the outset, the Bloc Québécois has demonstrated keen support for the Kimberley process. In the fall of 2002, it lent immediate support to the bill on the export and import of rough diamonds, Bill C-14, which was intended to bring Canadian practice into compliance with the Kimberley process. The Bloc Québécois continues to support the Kimberley process and will support the initiatives to make it more efficient and effective.

Many of the amendments contained in Bill S-36 are the product of the discussions of the plenary session of Kimberley process participants held at the Lac-Leamy Hilton in Gatineau in 2004. Their adoption is necessary for Canada to remain in compliance with the Kimberley obligations. Most of the amendments in Bill S-36 are in fact designed to facilitate application of the process.

For these reasons, the Bloc Québécois supports Bill S-36 in principle and will vote in favour of it at second reading.

However, there are shortcomings in Bill S-36. Bill S-36 was introduced before Parliament could do a serious review of the current control mechanism. Events will no doubt help the process unfold, as the Bloc Québécois would have liked at the outset.

The Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act requires the government to carry out a complete review of the operation and effect of the act three years after its coming into force and submit a report to Parliament. Next January, the act will have been in effect for three years. The government will therefore submit a complete review of the act, its operation and its flaws. That is what we are expecting at least.

By then, Bill S-36 will probably have already been passed—and then again, maybe not, and that may be for the best—but, at any rate, the process has to go on because some of the provisions must be in force by January 1 for Canada to remain in compliance with the Kimberley process and be able to continue exporting diamonds. There is a problem, however.

The government is in a minority situation and can no longer allow itself to think that a majority of members in the House are at its command and will pass anything it proposes, even without being provided with appropriate information.

The Bloc Québécois expects the government to release its review of the Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act and to submit it to Parliament before Bill S-36 is considered in committee. We hope that will be done shortly.

However, even under Bill S-36, Canada is content with the minimum obligations under the Kimberley process. That is what we find unfortunate.

Let me explain why this is unfortunate.

The Kimberley process sets forth a series of minimum obligations that participating countries have to adhere to and comply with.

First, exported diamonds must be placed in sealed, tamper-resistant containers. Then, the certificates of authenticity must contain certain information, such as the origin of the diamonds, the identity of the merchant, and the total weight of the lot in carats.

In the Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act, Canada decided to content itself with meeting the minimal obligations under the Kimberley process, although it would have been at liberty to go further. For example, with respect to the information required on the Kimberley certificate, Canada is content to require the total weight of the lot. However, we had been told that there could be major problems associated with this obligation alone. Let me explain. It so happens that 20 ten-carat diamonds are worth 30 times as much as 400 diamonds of 0.5 carats, even though both lots add up to 200 carats. Canada is content with asking what the total weight of the lot is.

At present, an importer can very easily buy a lot of small diamonds on the legal market, replace them with large stones bought cheap on the black market, then sell them again with no problem, since his Kimberley certificate does not contain the information that could be used to spot the swindle. This dishonest importer will be able to make an enormous profit, while at the same time laundering an entire lot of conflict diamonds.

This situation was described in committee when members heard from witnesses. Has this in fact happened? We cannot know. What we do know, however, is that in 2003 Canada imported rough diamonds valued at $730,820, from India. It exported nearly $200,000 worth of them to the same country.

The import value per carat was $162; the export value was $392. While this may simply be explained by the return of undesired gems of great value, or by exports unrelated to the imports, there might also be something fishy going on here. If the Canadian certificate contained certain optional information provided for in the process, such as the number of stones over two carats in size, this sort of stratagem would no longer be possible.

The Bloc Québécois is counting on the committee hearings to see if it might be possible to make the act more effective and whether all the parties might be interested in doing so.

The real weakness of a Kimberley process is the lack of resources dedicated to control in the poor countries and the lack of assistance the latter are being offered by the rich countries. I rarely say such a thing.

I just want to say, in the last minute remaining, that it is absolutely unacceptable that blood diamonds are being used to finance conflicts. We all agree on that. We must take the necessary precautions for the Kimberley process to be more than a semblance of assurance. It must guarantee assurance.

We are committed to the Kimberley process because we think that if we succeed in the conflict diamond issue, then we can learn from that success to promote fair globalization. Countries, companies and NGOs have been able to sit down, identify a problem and find solutions for developing countries to stop being cannon fodder and stop contributing to the wealth of companies that might come from Canada or other developed nations.

Export and Import of Rough Diamonds ActGovernment Orders

October 25th, 2005 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the context of the bill before us concerning the Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act, I would like to begin by noting that it is often said that diamonds are forever. As a result, diamonds become a symbol of eternal love. Indeed, all of the ladies in this House, our colleagues, surely enjoy receiving a diamond as a token of love, but most certainly not a diamond produced by the atrocities of war.

It is in this context that Bill S-36 proposes certain amendments of a basically administrative nature to the Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act.

Essentially, Bill S-36 will have two effects. First, it will authorize the government to compile and distribute data on international trade in diamonds. The adoption of this amendment, which would make the diamond trade more transparent and easier to control, is necessary for Canada to remain in compliance with its international obligations pursuant to the Kimberley process.

Second, it will remove a formality associated with the Kimberley process as regards very small diamonds less than one millimetre in size. In number and in weight, the great majority of the diamonds dealt on the market are tiny. They are not used just to make jewellery, but have more of a utilitarian function. They are to be found, for example, in turntable needles—less and less so, I am told—in watchmaking or in certain industrial knives.

Unlike large diamonds whose scarcity makes their price exorbitant, these diamonds are of no great value, and the administrative burden associated with the Kimberley process can be prohibitive. This proposed amendment will facilitate the diamond trade and is good news for the industry.

I might mention that Canada recently became the world’s third largest diamond producer. In Quebec, even though no diamond mine is yet active, seven mining companies hold licences on such mines, basically in Abitibi, Témiscamingue and the Northwest. Deposits of kimberlite, the ore in which diamonds are found, have been discovered in five sub-regions of Quebec.

The Bloc Québécois is not opposed to this new flexibility in principle, but it intends to ensure, in the course of review in committee, that it will not be introduced to the detriment of achievement of the objectives for which the act was passed, that is, the establishment of fairly tight control so as to prevent trade in conflict diamonds.

Allow me to quote Mr. Ian Smillie of Partnership Africa Canada who said:

In 2000, the international diamond industry produced more than 120 million carats of rough diamonds with a market value of US$7.5 billion. At the end of the diamond chain this bounty was converted into 70 million pieces of jewelry worth close to US$58 billion.

Of total world production, rebel armies in Sierra Leone, as well as in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), are estimated by De Beers to traffic in about 4 per cent. Other estimates place the number higher. Although not a significant proportion of the overall industry, four per cent of $7.5 billion—or whatever other estimate one might use—can buy a lot of weapons.

The Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act ensures that Canada is in compliance with the Kimberley process, an international agreement which has established a process for certifying the origin of rough diamonds. The Kimberley process is basically designed to limit the trade in conflict diamonds, which are sold by armed factions to finance their wars. Because they are small and highly valuable, the diamonds are easy to market and can be very profitable.

In the 1980s, this trade was a veritable scourge, and a major component in the funding of wars that displaced about 10 million people in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, to name just a few.

At first, only a few NGOs were concerned about these conflicts and were critical of the lucrative diamond trade that bankrolled them. In 2000, the UN published a report on the funding of the war in Angola, confirming everything that the NGOs had been proclaiming for years: the diamond trade was being used to finance the war.

Also in 2000, the RUF, the Revolutionary United Front, an armed faction in Sierra Leone, stepped up its attacks on civilians, making Sierra Leone the country with the largest number of displaced persons in the world.

With these two events, the African conflicts and their link to the diamond trade left the back pages and made the headlines.

That is when the countries and the companies that produce diamonds began to get involved. The moment that diamonds become synonymous with war, rape and murder and not with dreams, wealth and eternal love, they lose their core value.

Responding to the invitation of two NGO groups, Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada, 37 countries and the principal diamond merchants agreed to sit down together with the NGOs to find a solution to the problem. The first meeting was held in May 2002 in the city of Kimberley, South Africa: hence the name the Kimberley process.

At the end of a series of meetings, they agreed that the best way to civilize the diamond trade was to put in place a system for certifying the origin of diamonds. Under this system, all diamonds exported from a country participating in the Kimberley process must be placed in a sealed container and accompanied by a government-issued certificate of authenticity called a Kimberley certificate. Importing countries that are participants in the Kimberley process may import only diamonds that are accompanied by this certificate. They may trade in diamonds only with participating countries.

Today the Kimberley process has 45 participants, including the European Union and its 25 members, for a total of 69 countries. These countries account for 99% of the legal international trade in diamonds.

To the NGOs who started this initiative and succeeded in transforming an awareness campaign into binding rules of international law, the Bloc Québécois says: well done. Without taking anything away from the other NGOs who have joined the movement and made it the success that it is, the Bloc Québécois wishes to specifically salute the work, clear-sightedness and tenacity of the two NGOs who got this initiative under way, Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada.

It is necessary to proceed with amendments to the Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act. From the outset, the Bloc Québécois has demonstrated keen support for the Kimberley process. In the fall of 2002, it lent immediate support to the bill on the export and import of rough diamonds, Bill C-14, which was intended to bring Canadian practice into compliance with the Kimberley process.

The Bloc Québécois continues to support the Kimberley process and will support the initiatives to make it more efficient and effective. Many of the amendments contained in Bill S-36 are the product of the discussions of the plenary session of Kimberley process participants held at the Lac-Leamy Hilton in Gatineau in 2004. Their adoption is necessary for Canada to remain in compliance with the Kimberley obligations. Most of the amendments in Bill S-36 are in fact designed to facilitate application of the process.

For these reasons, the Bloc Québécois supports Bill S-36 in principle and will vote in favour of it at second reading.

However, there are many shortcomings in Bill S-36.

Bill S-36 was introduced before Parliament could do a serious review of the current control mechanism. The Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act requires the government to carry out a complete review of the operation and effects of the act three years after its coming into force and submit a report to Parliament.

Next January, the act will have been in effect for three years. The government will therefore submit a complete review of it, its operation and weaknesses, by January. By that time, Bill S-36 will probably have already been passed, if that is the wish of the House of Commons. In fact, some of these provisions must be in effect before next January 1 in order for Canada to remain in compliance with the Kimberley process and be able to continue exporting diamonds.

This way of doing things, in which the government starts by introducing amendments to the act and only afterwards tells us about the weaknesses in it is not a normal way of proceeding. The government is in a minority situation and can no longer permit itself to think that a majority of the members of the House are at its command and will pass anything that it proposes, even without having the requisite information.

The Bloc Québécois expects the government to issue its review of the Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act and submit it to Parliament before Bill S-36 is considered in committee. However, even under Bill S-36, Canada is content with the minimum obligations under the Kimberley process. This process sets forth a series of minimum obligations that the participating countries must meet. Exported diamonds must be placed in sealed, tamper-resistant containers. The certificates of authenticity must contain certain information: the origin of the diamonds, the identity of the merchant, the total weight of the lot in carats, and so forth.

In regard to the Export and Import of Rough Diamonds Act, Canada decided to content itself with meeting the minimal obligations under the Kimberley process, even though it was free to go further. For example, in the information required on the Kimberley certificate, Canada is content to require the total weight of the lot. However, 20 ten-carat diamonds are worth 30 times as much as 400 diamonds of only 0.5 carats, even though both lots add up to 200 carats.

At present, an importer can very easily buy a lot of small diamonds on the legal market, replace them with large stones bought cheap on the black market, then sell them again with no problem, since his Kimberley certificate does not contain the information that could be used to spot the swindle. This dishonest importer will be able to make an enormous profit, while at the same time laundering an entire lot of conflict diamonds.

Has this in fact happened? We cannot know. What we do know, however, is that in 2003 Canada imported rough diamonds valued at $703,820, from India. It exported nearly $200,000 worth of them to the same country. The import value per carat was $162; the export value was $392. While this may simply be explained by the return of undesired gems of great value, or by exports unrelated to the imports, there might also be something fishy going on here.

If the Canadian certificate contained certain optional information provided for in the process, such as the number of stones over two carats in size, this sort of stratagem would no longer be possible.

The Bloc Québécois is counting on the committee hearings to see if it might be possible to make the act more effective.

The real weakness of a Kimberley process is the lack of resources dedicated to control in the poor countries and the lack of assistance the latter are being offered by the rich countries.

The participating countries have all had to pass legislation to bring their trade practices into line with the requirements of the process. Unfortunately, controls are lacking. The state apparatus is often disorganized, and civil servants who are underpaid, or not paid at all, are vulnerable to corruption. In conclusion, even the most perfect system on paper cannot function if it does not have the necessary resources.

For example, in 2003 the Congo was suspended from the Kimberley process because its civil servants had issued certificates representing two and a half times the country’s diamond production. Clearly, many of those diamonds were from neighbouring conflict-ridden countries, probably the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Congo was caught out, but how many other countries serve as transit routes for conflict diamonds from the Congo, Côte-d'Ivoire, Burundi or elsewhere? What is urgently required is a substantial increase in international aid to permit states to function as they should.

Furthermore, it is not by chance that wars are going on mainly in the poor countries. Where the population is living in the most abject poverty, the ground is fertile for the creation of armed factions and the onset of civil war. Even if Canada were to pass the best law in the world on the diamond trade, it would not stamp out the problem—not without a substantial boost to its international aid envelope.

In 1993, when the present Prime Minister became Minister of Finance, Canada was allocating 0.43% of its GNP to international aid, making it the sixth most generous donor in the OECD. When he left the Department of Finance in 2002, Canada was allocating only 0.23% of its GDP and had slipped to 17th out of a total of 29. At its current pace of increase, Canada will not achieve the UN target—which however it has accepted—of 0.7% of GNP for international aid until 2033.

The government can boast of its role in the Kimberley process, but not until it is a serious contributor to the war on world poverty can it say that it is playing a role in conflict pacification.

We must take inspiration from the Kimberley process to promote equitable globalization. In the commercial realm, the Kimberley process is a remarkable innovation. It introduces considerations other than commercial and economic ones into the trade rules. The NGO campaign has been such a success that it has become indecent to oppose it, to the point that the WTO had to amend its rules in January 2003, barely four weeks after the Kimberley process came into effect.

The amendments to the WTO rules allow member states to ban the import of conflict diamonds. Their rules do not, however, allow restrictions on the importing of products manufactured by children or by prisoners of conscience in labour camps or virtual slaves exploited in factories where basic labour rights do not exist, nor those produced with total lack of concern for environmental destruction.

For years now, the Bloc Québécois has been calling for the government to propose the inclusion of such humane, social and environmental considerations in trade agreements. For years now, the government has demurred, on the pretense that these non-trade considerations have no place in trade agreements.

Had that logic prevailed in connection with conflict diamonds, the Kimberley process would be illegal according to WTO rules. When will we see a Kimberley for child labour? For forced labour? For environmental destruction and the forced displacement of aboriginal nations?

The proposed amendments will, of course, be examined in committee. As I have said, we are favourably disposed to them but there is still much room for improvement.

February 11th, 2005 / 10 a.m.
See context

The Speaker

Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Rideau Hall

Ottawa

February 10, 2005

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable Marie Deschamps, Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, in her capacity as Deputy Governor General, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bill listed in the schedule to this letter on the 10th day of February, 2005, at 5:40 p.m.

Yours sincerely,

Barbara Uteck

Secretary to the Governor General

The schedule indicates that royal assent was given to Bill C-14, an act to give effect to a land claims and self-government agreement among the Tlicho, the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Canada, to make related amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts,

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

December 7th, 2004 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

The Speaker

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at the third reading stage of Bill C-14.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2004 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Jeremy Harrison Conservative Churchill River, SK

Madam Speaker, I have to take issue with the parliamentary secretary's characterization of my party's opposition to Bill C-14 as being in bad faith in some way. We put forward very constructive questions. We made our submissions in good faith. We have very real and very serious concerns with this and, to be quite frank, we have not received any answers to our questions.

I have stood in the House four times today asking about the reason for the inclusion, at the insistence of the federal government, of article 7.13.2. I still do not have an answer. I asked this question numerous times in committee as well. For the parliamentary secretary to stand up in her place and act like these submissions and these questions we are asking are in bad faith is completely beyond the pale.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2004 / 5:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, I have had the honour over the last four years of working for the Algonquin Nation in Quebec, a proud community that never signed any treaties with Canada and is still continuing their fight to get land deals worked out. In fact, one community I worked with started out with a 70,000 acre reserve. That reserve arbitrarily was moved down to 38,000 acres and then moved down to 9,000 acres.

That community is down to 4,000 acres today on the worst section of ground in a most beautiful agricultural region. That land will never come back to them. The damage this has done to that community has impacts on generation after generation.

I had the great pleasure of working with that community in trying to redress some of those historic grievances, so I am very pleased to hear the hon. member's words about the bill and the attempt to move forward with our first nation neighbours. Does the hon. member think that Bill C-14 might be a model for other first nation communities that have been left out and still need land deals settled? On top of that, how can we start to move these forward in a timely and just manner?

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2004 / 4:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

John Cummins Conservative Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that it gives me a great deal of pleasure to address this bill today, but I am sorry I cannot. I am troubled by the bill. It is deeply perplexing. The bill in a sense is probably one of the first of over 600 bills which will be like this.

Before I embark on a critique of the bill and the problems that I see in it, I want to lay before the House the Conservative Party position on these issues because it is important. Our position on these bills is reasonable and shows an understanding of the problems that face native people in the country. If the positions we have taken were followed in the document we are debating today, there would be a glimmer of hope.

The Conservative Party of Canada believes that self-government must occur within the Constitution of Canada. That is an important point and one which I will address later in my speech.

We believe that the settlement of all outstanding comprehensive claims must be pursued on the basis of a clear framework that balances the rights of aboriginal claimants with those of Canada, and I might add with Canadians. The Supreme Court itself has stated that in any agreement reached with native people there has to be an understanding that others have acquired rights and there has to be a balance between the aboriginal right and the rights of other Canadians. I do not see that in the bill.

The Conservative Party believes that self-government agreements must be structured to ensure constitutional harmony so as not to impede the overall governance of Canada, which is another point that I will address more fully later.

To ensure fairness and equality, a Conservative government would ensure that the principles of the charter applied to aboriginal self-government, which is almost an impossibility as the House will see.

The Conservative Party believes in giving aboriginal governments the power to raise their own revenues. Aboriginal agreements reached with the federal government must represent a final agreement in the same manner as was achieved in Nisga'a. Let me correct that. Aboriginal agreements reached with the federal government must represent a final agreement, and I will stop there.

We are told the agreement is a culmination of two separate negotiations. The first was the negotiation of a comprehensive claim, which has been carried out pursuant to the 1986 comprehensive claims policy. In this respect, the agreement is similar to the Nisga'a agreement. Secondly, the negotiation of self-government arrangements are based upon the 1995 inherent right policy. In this respect, the agreement follows the Westbank agreement.

Before I go on with my comments, I want to bring to the attention of the House something that I think is critically wrong with the process that we are engaged in today. The bill and the agreement are being put before Parliament on an all or nothing basis. We are told that the government has received advice that Parliament lacks the capacity to amend the provisions of the agreement. It is for this reason that the legislation was introduced by way of a notice of ways and means motion on October 19.

To suggest that the agreement is beyond the capacity of Parliament to amend is a serious flaw in the process. Who negotiated the agreement? Who and what authority was given those negotiators? That is not clear. I am not aware of it. I do not know and I do not think there is a member in the House right now who could tell us who the individuals were that negotiated the agreement, what relationship they had with the area under discussion and what relationship they may or may not have had with the native bands involved prior to the negotiations. Who are they?

In my own riding, the Tsawwassen agreement will be coming forward for signing shortly. The negotiators are not familiar with my community. They regularly ignore the wishes of the local community, the Delta Council and others. They are just grey bureaucrats.

These grey and unseen bureaucrats have negotiated an agreement which in a sense is binding on all of us. Today we are either going to accept the total package or reject it. We have no right to say that we like a part of it, but ask people to go back to the table to some changes because this or that aspect of it may be unworkable. That is what we should be doing. We are here to represent the people of Canada, yet we do not have a say. Who gave the instructions and who detailed and told the negotiators what was on the table?

We are told that there are 39,000 square kilometres of land. That is half the size of New Brunswick. To put it in a way that people in British Columbia understand, that is 25% larger than Vancouver Island, and 3,000 people are involved. What were the instructions? Was the negotiator prepared to give away 60,000 square kilometres of land if the demand had been made? Nobody knows and in fact there are conflicting demands for the land.

That is a serious problem with the whole process. When these sorts of agreements come before the House, the House should debate them thoroughly, especially these first agreements, and establish guidelines that can give some direction to negotiators in these agreements and to negotiations that are ongoing. Instead, we are here to rubber stamp it, and we know that will happen. The government members will rubber stamp the bill and others, because they do not want to cause any kerfuffle, will agree with this as well. Many may do it thinking that this is the best way to go.

I do not. I oppose the legislation and I do so for a variety of reasons.

In the first instance, the bill lacks finality. In agreements signed in days gone by, the language was at the end of the bill: cede, release and surrender. In other words, the band which received its reserve lands and its governance, whatever way or nature that may have taken, signed off and said that it ceded, released and surrendered any further claims. That is not the way this bill goes. In fact, this is not the final draft.

If another band gets more, these folks can come back to the table and demand more. In other words, we are committing the Government of Canada, and Canadians, to continue this process for decades because there will be no end. There will always be that juggling to try to get a little more.

If anybody wonders how that works, just think back in British Columbia, for example, and the teachers' negotiations. Board A would come in and would be in negotiations. The smaller board would sit back, let the other guys go first and see what happened. Everybody would wait for the wealthy board to sign off, and it would become the benchmark. Everybody else then tried to reach it.

I guess that is collective bargaining rights, but does it really work? Does it deal with the marketplace in any way, shape or form? No. Yet that is what we face when the language is not final. All it means is that some day down the line, when somebody else comes up with a better deal, there will be a request to reopen the negotiations.

I mentioned in the beginning that there were two areas from which this agreement flowed, or two separate sets of negotiations, one being based on the 1995 inherent rights policy of the Liberal government.

This is a policy which has not really had the benefit of the scrutiny of Parliament. It is a policy which was created by the government but was not openly debated in this place. In fact, when the first bill that was negotiated on this came through this House last fall, the government tried to rush this thing through in one day. When it did return, there was not much in the way of discussion to really create an understanding of what was meant by this bill. That is the problem with everything that seems to be going on here.

What does this inherent right policy mean? How is it going to impact not only the governance in native lands but on other Canadians living in that particular area covered by the treaty?

Let us back up for a minute and put the notion of inherent right into perspective. Section 91 of the Constitution, if my memory serves me correct, lists the powers of the federal government. Section 92 lists all the powers of the provincial government.

The Constitution says quite clearly that there are no other powers available. The powers that are vested in the provincial government and in the federal government cover the spectrum of powers that are available. There is no room in the Constitution for other powers. Some may ask about municipal government, where does it fit in?

Municipal governments are a delegated form of government. Their authority flows from the provincial government. The provincial government gives municipalities certain powers which actually belong to it. It says these are local powers. These powers are better managed by local government than they are from Victoria, in the case of British Columbia, or from Edmonton, in the case of Alberta, to mention two of the finer provinces.

If the federal government takes all its powers from section 91, the province takes all its powers from section 92, and municipal governments derive their powers or operate with a delegated form of authority from the provincial government, where then does this inherent right power flow from?

When the government recognizes inherent right to self-government, it is saying that right flows from section 35 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In other words, the inherent right to self-government is not one which is delegated by either the federal or provincial government, but in fact it has equal footing. It flows from section 35 of the of the charter and that gives it the ability to trump federal or provincial law. It is as simple as that. This is not complex. This is simple stuff that is quite easy to understand for anyone who takes the time to think it through. How then does the charter apply? Government would tell us that the charter will apply. But how can it?

If the Tlicho government were operating because it has an inherent right, how then can we say that the charter would apply? That is an intrusion on the inherent authority of the Tlicho government. Therefore, it will likely be rejected in the courts.

The court will say, how on one hand can it be said that these folks have an inherent right to self-government and on the other hand say that they are constrained by the charter? It does not follow. It cannot be had both ways. We cannot say they have an inherent right and then at the same time turn around and say that their rights are constrained.

In fact, if we look at Bill C-14, it recognizes that very point. The bill says and contains this remarkable section relating to international matters. In article 2.2.9 of the agreement, it states:

Nothing in the Agreement shall be interpreted so as to limit or extend the authority of the Parties to negotiate and enter into international, national, interprovincial, and interterritorial agreements--

By implication this suggests that the Tlicho government has the authority to enter into international agreements.

In fact, if that authority does not exist in that manner, the Government of Canada is required to consult with the Tlicho when international treaties are going to impact on them. That is clear from reading the agreement. If an international agreement is going to impact on the Tlicho people, then they have a right to be consulted and to have their concerns addressed. However, how far does it go? That is not clearly defined.

Will the Tlicho people have the right to veto an agreement because it somehow impinges on their right? I think the whole issue is very confusing. However, the very broad language that is contained in this treaty puts a remarkable restriction on power that is constitutionally reserved for the federal government.

This is one agreement in over 600 that we are going to enter into in this country. I look at the Tsawwassen Indian Band, in my own neighbourhood, located a mile or so north of the international boundary at Point Roberts. There are ongoing issues between the province of British Columbia and the state of Washington, or in essence between Canada and the United States. There are fisheries issues there.

If we were to go right along the coast then, any band that says it has an interest in fish on the west coast of Canada, any band from Alaska down to the border at Washington state, would have an interest in fish, sign an agreement, and demand the same right that the Tlicho First Nation has. How do we manage this? Every band has a right to veto. Every band has a right to be consulted on a matter which affects all Canadians.

The Magna Carta was signed in 1200. Essentially, the signing was to limit the authority of the lords. It has grown from that point to the point where we are sitting here in this House of Commons, as members of Parliament, representing the people of Canada. The Government of Canada is supposed to be the authority over the lands of Canada and sharing that responsibility with a province.

This agreement sets up one group of Canadians and says that this group will have the final say on a lot of legislation that will be introduced in this place.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2004 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Lynne Yelich Conservative Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-14, the Tlicho treaty. The bill is important to Canadians for many reasons but particularly for the precedent it sets for other groups seeking land claim settlements and/or the power to self-govern.

It is necessary and right to be fair in such negotiating agreements, but it is also necessary to be accountable and to be practical. That is the only one way to ensure that the rights of all Canadians are respected and considered.

Bill C-14 would fix in law the Tlicho land claims and self-government agreement made more than a year ago between the federal government, the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Tlicho First Nation.

Ownership of land between Great Slave Lake and Great Bear Lake, about 39,000 square kilometres, would be transferred to the Tlicho First Nation and participatory regulatory authority would be given for an even larger area. This land agreement is combined with provisions for self-government.

To be clear, under Bill C-14 the Indian Act would no longer apply to Tlicho citizens and Tlicho lands would not be considered reserve lands. Tlicho citizens would have continued access to all federal programs for status and non-status Indians and Métis, and the Criminal Code would continue to apply.

It seems the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would apply to the Tlicho government. However, even though the Tlicho constitution is intended to be consistent with the charter, it is in law the paramount authority.

The agreement does state that the citizens or persons to whom Tlicho laws apply will have rights and freedoms “no less than those set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms”.

I have a number of concerns about this agreement. For example, the preamble to the annotated agreement states:

Whereas the Parties have negotiated this Agreement in order to define and provide certainty in respect of rights of the Tlicho relating to land, resources and self-government...

This agreement provides neither definition nor certainty to a number of issues. It contains a clause to reopen negotiations if another Northwest Territories aboriginal group negotiates terms that are attractive to the Tlicho in a future agreement. It fails to do its most basic job: achieve a final settlement.

Looking to the future, there are literally hundreds of other native groups that could seek similar agreements. If none of these arrangements are finalized, it puts Canada in a position of confusion and uncertainty.

This is also an issue of particular concern and interest in my home province of Saskatchewan where natives make up an ever increasing portion of its population. By not limiting the authority of the Tlicho to enter into “international, national, interprovincial and inter-territorial agreements”, it appears the agreement recognizes the right of the Tlicho to enter into international agreements.

In addition, it puts the onus on the Government of Canada to consult with the Tlicho First Nation before Canada enters into an international agreement that “may affect a right of the Tlicho government, the Tlicho First Nation or a Tlicho citizen”. I am concerned about this very broad, vague language and how it constrains power constitutionally reserved for the federal government. By allowing this, the Canadian government would, in essence, be compromising its own sovereignty.

In a country where we already have a bloated administration, I do not believe additional levels of government are necessary or desirable. Yet that seems to be what is created in this agreement.

There is jurisdictional confusion in that the agreement describes three different hierarchies to determine which legislation is paramount in the event of conflict: federal legislation, territorial legislation, Tlicho laws or the agreement.

We must also consider that it is not clear that Tlicho citizens will have the benefits of protection under Canada's Charter of Rights in the event of conflict with the Tlicho constitution. This is the kind of clarification that I would have like to have seen come out of committee discussion so that we could avoid the future intervention of the courts, which will likely come about if this bill passes and the agreement comes into effect.

Self-government is a serious issue and it must be considered in a thoughtful way. When a country is divided into essentially sovereign groups, it affects not only the group in question but all Canadians.

I would like to quote from an author who wrote First Nations? Second Thoughts . Mr. Flanagan wrote that he holds certain core beliefs, including the following:

Society is a spontaneous order that emerges from the choices of individual human beings. The indispensable role of government is to make and enforce rules of conduct that allow society to function.... When government sorts people into categories with different legal rights, especially when those categories are based on immutable characteristics such as race and sex, it interferes with the social processes based on free association.

The Tlicho agreement does in fact divide people by race, even within the population it affects.

The agreement creates a category of citizens called Tlicho citizens who are the only people who may be elected as chiefs. Further, 50% of the elected councillors must be Tlicho citizens.

This racially based governance goes against fundamental Canadian values and would likely not withstand a Charter of Rights challenge, that is if the charter was not negated by Tlicho law. Again, the uncertainty is tremendous and I cannot in good conscience allow myself to support the bill.

Any other outstanding claims for land and self-government must be pursued on the basis of a clear framework which balances the rights of aboriginal claimants with those of this country. Such a framework does not exist in the context of the Tlicho agreement.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2004 / 4:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague for his work on the committee as vice-chair and as one who is very much involved with it.

I was interested in the fact that he raised the issue of having to deal with different groups within the water boundaries of our country on a sort of country-to-country basis, setting these people up as individual nations. If Bill C-14 passes, does he anticipate that we will have delegations to these different nations? Will we have ambassadors there? How will we actually manage the intergovernmental affairs vis-à-vis these individual groups as compared to the provinces and territories that we have now?

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2004 / 4:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Jeremy Harrison Conservative Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak at third reading of Bill C-14, the Tlicho treaty. Bill C-14 ratifies the Tlicho agreement signed on August 25, 2003, between the Tlicho people and the Governments of the Northwest Territories, Canada and the Tlicho.

The bill would give the Tlicho First Nation ownership of 39,000 square kilometres between Great Slave Lake and Great Bear Lake, located in the Northwest Territories.

The bill is unique in that it gives effect to both a comprehensive land claims settlement and a self-government agreement.

The agreement is precedent setting in both respects and will guide future claims settlements and self-government provisions across the north. This agreement is a culmination of two separate negotiations.

First, the negotiation of the comprehensive claim has been carried out pursuant to the 1986 comprehensive claims policy, and in this respect the agreement is similar to the Nisga'a agreement.

Second, the negotiation of the self-government arrangements are based upon the 1995 inherent rights policy, and in this respect the agreement follows the path of the Westbank treaty.

It should also be noted that the bill gives force of law to the tripartite agreement of August 25, 2003, and accords the agreement paramountcy over the act itself. In other words, the approval of the act will bring into law the very complex provisions set out in the 208 page settlement agreement and the shorter tax agreement and will in essence incorporate the 208 page agreement into the Constitution of Canada through section 35.

In general terms, the agreement gives the 3,500 Tlicho people claims to subsurface resources, law-making authority, and the power to tax, levy royalties and manage resources on the 39,000 square kilometres of land laid out in the agreement. The Tlicho lands are bounded in the north by the Sahtu agreement, on the east by Nunavut, and on the south and to the west by the future Akaitcho and Deh Cho territories.

The Indian Act no longer applies to Tlicho citizens and Tlicho lands are no longer to be considered reserve lands. In terms of governance, the agreement creates four local governments consisting of a chief and council. The agreement provides that the chief must be Tlicho and further that 50% of the community council must be Tlicho citizens.

The Tlicho government consists of a grand chief elected at large by Tlicho citizens, the chief from each of the community governments and one councillor from each of the community governments. The Tlicho government has the power to enact laws in relation to things such as the use of Tlicho language and culture, traditional medicine, resources, and businesses and occupations on Tlicho land as well as taxation and enforcement powers.

When I first spoke on Bill C-14 during second reading, I pointed out a number of areas that I had concerns with. These concerns centred around a few specific issues, namely, the absence of finality in the agreement, problems with sections relating to the interrelationship of Canadian and international sovereignty and provisions of the agreement, and jurisdictional confusion within the agreement.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, I serve on the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. Indeed, I serve as the vice-chair. I sincerely had hoped that once we had Bill C-14 at the committee perhaps some of the concerns enunciated during second reading debate could be alleviated. Unfortunately, they were not.

Regarding concerns about the absence of finality in the agreement, I pointed to article 27.6.1 of the agreement. The article reads, under the heading “Agreements for Equivalent Benefits”, as follows:

Where government provides, in legislation or in or under a land claims agreement or a self-government agreement, tax powers or exemptions to another aboriginal group in the Northwest Territories that are of greater benefit to that group than those provided to the Tlicho First Nation or the Tlicho Government...at the request of the Tlicho Government, will negotiate and make best efforts to reach an agreement with the Tlicho Government to provide equivalent benefits for the Tlicho First Nation....

In other words, this agreement can be reopened if greater benefits are conferred upon another group in later negotiations or if the Supreme Court or other court of competent jurisdiction discovers new tax benefit rights for particular groups of first nations in the Northwest Territories.

The second area that my party and I expressed our concerns about during second reading debate and in committee is with regard to the issues of jurisdictional confusion within the agreement and between the agreement and powers granted the federal government by the Constitution Act in 1982.

Without getting into great detail on the subject, I will refer hon. members to the second reading debate in which members of my party very eloquently and clearly laid out their concerns on this issue.

Broadly speaking, the agreement addresses inter-jurisdictional issues in three different areas and lays out potentially problematic hierarchies of authority. The general intent of the legislative scheme is that the powers of the Tlicho government are to be concurrent with those of the Government of Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories.

The problem is that there are multiple definitions of how to determine paramountcy in the event of conflict. The one area that I believe should be highlighted in this area is the hierarchy of authority as laid out in articles 7.7.2 through to 7.7.4.

These sections provide for the following hierarchy of authority: one, federal legislation of general application; two, territorial legislation implementing Canadian international agreements; three, Tlicho laws; four, territorial legislation of general application; and five, specific federal legislation relating to the Tlicho.

In other words, Tlicho laws prevail over territorial laws and over federal laws relating to the Tlicho, specific federal laws. Hence, after the passage of Bill C-14, the House will no longer have the constitutional jurisdiction to pass laws of specific application relating to the 39,000 square kilometre area described in the agreement.

A third area that I have very specific concerns with, and about which I worked hard in committee to extract answers from the government and the INAC bureaucracy, is with regard to article 7.13.2 of the agreement. This provision reads as follows:

Prior to consenting to be bound by an international treaty that may affect a right of the Tlicho Government, the Tlicho First Nation or a Tlicho Citizen, flowing from the Agreement, the Government of Canada shall provide an opportunity for the Tlicho Government to make its views known with respect to the international treaty either separately or through a forum.

At this point, I would like to make clear that I intend to split my time with the hon. member for Blackstrap.

As the Hansard record of the Bill C-14 committee hearing will bear witness to, I pressed very hard to get some answers as to what this provision would mean in practice and what the rationale was for including it in the agreement in the first place. I have further pressed on this today in the chamber during debate. I have asked the minister. Again we have had no answer to this question.

As to what the provision would mean in practice, I have some very serious concerns. The government itself does not seem to know what the provision means. My fear is that when it comes time for this section to be judicially interpreted, and that time will come, given the jurisprudential direction of the Canadian courts on these issues we will find ourselves in a situation whereby our nation's ability to enter into international treaties and agreements will be compromised; that we will in fact have given a de facto veto over our international sovereignty on certain issues to the Tlicho government.

To be blunt, this is a ridiculous state of affairs. The impression I have is that the government and bureaucracy have not fully thought through the implications of this section.

Even more strange, we discovered during questioning in committee that this section was included not at the insistence of the Tlicho negotiators but at the direction of the Department of Foreign Affairs. Why was it included? We did not get a straight answer.

Today we came into possession of the cabinet framework document governing this negotiation, from back in 1995, a document that was accepted by cabinet in 1995 and which made it very clear that there was not to be any abdication of Canadian international sovereignty in the process of negotiating these agreements. That does not seem to have been followed with this treaty.

For these reasons I have enumerated, I will not be supporting this agreement. My party has also made clear the reasons that our party will not be supporting this agreement. I thank hon. members for their time and their attention.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2004 / 4:10 p.m.
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Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, we all understand that there are problems throughout Canadian society. The specific question here is that objections are being made to Bill C-14 because it is said that jurisdiction is being transferred in circumstances which are inappropriate. As the hon. member who preceded me said, we have legal opinions that say this is in accordance with the charter of Canada. We strongly believe that by transferring jurisdictions appropriately we enable people to get on with their lives. We enable people to exercise control over their own lives and become full members of society.

It would be helpful for us on this side of the House if the members opposite could tell us clearly what areas of jurisdiction being transferred they think are improper. Then we can properly answer the objections they have.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2004 / 4 p.m.
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Conservative

Nina Grewal Conservative Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise, on behalf of the constituents of Fleetwood—Port Kells, to participate in the third reading debate on Bill C-14, the Tlicho lands claims and self-government act.

The proposed bill gives effect to the Tlicho land claims, the self-government agreement and the Tlicho tax treatment agreement. It amends the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and makes consequential amendments to a number of other acts. It ratifies the Tlicho agreement signed August 25, 2003, between the Tlicho and the Governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories that arose out of 12 years of negotiations.

The Tlicho, formerly the Dogrib First Nation, is one of the five tribes of the Dene people and has about 3,000 members. Band members ratified the treaty with a vote in June 2003. Of the eligible Tlicho voters, 83% supported the agreement. The agreement was approved in spring 2003 by the executive council of the government of the Northwest Territories. In August 2003 it was signed by former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Grand Chief Joe Rabesca.

Bill C-14 would give the Tlicho First Nation ownership of approximately 39,000 square kilometres of land between Great Slave Lake and Great Bear Lake, an area almost the size of Switzerland. The band would have the rights to both the surface and mineral resources of this land. The Tlicho would receive 2% of revenues from three existing diamond mines, but the entire royalties from any future mining or oil and gas activity within the newly created region would go to the band. In addition to resource management, the band would be given power over areas such as traditional medicine, language and culture.

The Northwest Territories, the federal government and the Tlicho will co-deliver systems for education, health and other social services for the first 10 years the agreement is in effect. Criminal law still falls under federal domain. Once the Tlicho government has been established, it will succeed the Dogrib Treaty 11 Council, the four local band councils and municipal governments.

Four community governments will be made up of a chief and a council of between 4 and 12 councillors. The chief of a community government and at least half of the council must be Tlicho. Non-Tlicho citizens may fill no more than half of the council seats. The chiefs and some of the councillors will form the government to oversee the area.

The preamble of Bill C-14 refers to the Tlicho as being “an aboriginal people of Canada that has used and occupied lands in and adjacent to the Northwest Territories from time immemorial”. The agreement is stated to be a land claims agreement within the meaning of section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Bill C-14 states that in the event of conflict between the agreement or this act and other legislation, the regulations made under this act will prevail. Under the agreement, Tlicho laws will not displace federal or territorial laws but will be concurrent.

Clause 7 of the bill directs the Canadian government to meet the financial obligations of the agreement, which gives the band $152 million over 15 years. The government will make a one time only payment of $5 million to an economic development fund established by the Tlicho government, the strategic economic development investment fund. The band will also receive a share of the government's annual resource royalties from the Mackenzie Valley, which are expected to average about $3.5 million.

Bill C-14 also would give effect to the Tlicho tax treatment agreement. Under the bill, it is not considered a treaty or land claim agreement within the meaning of section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. It is an agreement dealing with the tax treatment of the Tlicho government, Tlicho capital trusts and Tlicho corporations. The Tlicho government would given tax collection powers and those taxes would be used to support Tlicho programs and services. The Tlicho government would be tax exempt in its government activities.

The proposed bill gives the Wekeezhii Renewable Resources Board the legal capacity, rights, powers and privileges of a person. The purpose of this board is to perform the functions of wildlife and habitat management as set out in the agreement. It will be made up of an odd number of people, not more than nine, including representatives from other aboriginal groups whose wildlife harvesting occurs in Wekeezhii, the Tlicho resource management area. The agreement gives the Tlicho full hunting and trapping rights.

The bill makes significant amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resources Management Act to reflect the new status given the Tlicho through this agreement. Tlicho rights related to resource management are given the same footing as those of other first nations that already have resource management boards under this Act.

Bill C-14 also makes consequential amendments to other legislation: Access to Information Act, Canada Land Surveys Act, Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, Northwest Territories Act, Payment in Lieu of Taxes Act and the Privacy Act. The Payment in Lieu of Taxes Act would be amended to include the Tlicho government under the definition of “taxing authority”.

It should be noted that although the agreement states that Tlicho citizens are no longer subject to the Indian Act, it is not stated in Bill C-14.

Bill C-14 is unique in that it ratifies both land claims and self-government agreements. This agreement will serve to set precedent for all future such agreements for as many as 600 first nations. Unfortunately, however, as I outlined during debate on this legislation at second reading, the bill seriously flawed.

The agreement lacks the basis requirement for all treaties or agreements: that of finality. It contains a clause that could reopen negotiations should future aboriginal settlements be reached in the Northwest Territories. In short, this agreement fails to achieve a final settlement. Also the agreement recognizes the right of the Tlicho under certain circumstances to enter into international agreements and to force the Government of Canada to consult with the Tlicho before entering into certain international treaties.

This is an encroachment of the federal government's ability to make decisions for the country, and it will affect Canada's international autonomy. Specifically, the agreement requires the Government of Canada to consult with the Tlicho before entering into any international agreement that may affect the right of the Tlicho Government, the Tlicho First Nation or a Tlicho citizen. This is broad language and a remarkable restriction on a power constitutionally reserved for the federal government.

The agreement would effectively create a third order of government which authority would be paramount to that of the federal and the territorial governments in certain matters. The jurisdictional confusion created by this new level of government is compounded by the fact that the wording of the agreement is not clear as to which legislation, federal, territorial, Tlicho or the charter, is paramount in the event of conflict with the Tlicho Constitution.

Self-government must occur within the context of the Constitution of Canada. To ensure fairness and equality, the principles of the charter must apply to aboriginal self-government.

Time is wasting. The slowness at which negotiations have been undertaken to further define aboriginal rights to land and resources is a disgrace.

Canada is one of the richest countries in the world. Yet our aboriginal people live in third world conditions. The plight of first nations is a painful embarrassment to Canada. The life expectancy of registered Indians is seven to eight years shorter than the national average. Suicide rates are twice the national average. Aboriginal peoples have an average income 75% less than the national average. Unemployment rates are 10 times the national average. School drop-out rates are higher and educational attainment is lower than that of any other ethnic group.

First nation reserves are rife with violence, physical and sexual abuse and suicide. Unhealthy living conditions and over-crowded housing with insufficient heating and inadequate water supplies are all too often a fact of life. First nation people are caught in a cycle of dependency and poverty.

The federal government annually spends some $7 billion on aboriginal peoples, yet their living conditions fail to improve. This is completely unacceptable. For those first nations currently lacking settlement of aboriginal title, there is the hope that an agreement may bring greater prosperity. The government should undertake measures to improve the employment and health situation of aboriginal people and to speed up negotiations on aboriginal land claims.

B.C. has over 68,000 status Indians representing 17% of all status Indians living in Canada. While there are no precise figures on the exact percentage of land in dispute, one report by the Fraser Institute suggests that 95% of the land mass in British Columbia may be in dispute. British Columbia's first nations deserve a timely resolution to their comprehensive land claims.

The Conservative Party supports a settlement for the Tlicho land claim and negotiations for a self-government agreement, but this agreement is poorly drafted and deeply flawed. Our concern is the future governance of Canada and the precedent that is being set.

It is an extraordinarily generous settlement. There are 632 first nations at the negotiating table. Are they all after the same bundle of powers? If they are, we will have a very different version of Canada than most Canadian citizens currently understand. While I am for the uplift of the first nations people and a speedy settlement of their claims, the agreement reached must be fair.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2004 / 3:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Lloyd St. Amand Liberal Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my fellow committee members who worked so diligently in reviewing Bill C-14, the Tlicho land claims and self-government act. Their thoroughness throughout the process has given this very important bill the careful consideration that it merits.

Not only would this landmark bill enact the first agreement to combine land claims and self-government in the Northwest Territories, but it would also give the Tlicho access to the tools needed to build prosperous and sustainable communities. Enacting this legislation would benefit not only the Tlicho but also the people of Canada. After all, strong, self-reliant first nations, Inuit, Métis, and northerners, have much to contribute to Canada, both economically and culturally.

Under Bill C-14 and the agreement that the bill would enshrine, the Tlicho would gain control of a vast area of land, 39,000 square kilometres in size. The legislation would ensure that the Tlicho play a significant role in the management of land, water and other resources within their territory. The Tlicho would also receive a payment of approximately $152 million over the next 14 years.

While the bill would grant the Tlicho substantial land, money and power, it would also give them the significant responsibilities of self-government and would put them firmly in control of their economy, their culture and their communities. I believe the Tlicho have demonstrated most amply that they are ready for momentous responsibilities and know how to manage their affairs conscientiously and profitably. As was mentioned earlier, this is one of the more prosperous and successful aboriginal communities in the north. They already operate their own schools, senior's residence and day care centre. They have negotiated successful agreements with a number of public and private sector organizations. They deliver social services through an agreement with the Government of the Northwest Territories.

Under the terms of Bill C-14, the Tlicho would be represented by two elected governments. The Tlicho government would gain greater control over social services and schools and would be able to enact laws in areas such as aboriginal language and aboriginal culture. They would also be guaranteed representation on land, water and renewable resource boards.

The Tlicho community governments in each of the four Tlicho communities, Wati, Gameti, Wekweeti and Behchoko, would oversee activities such as business licensing, roads and zoning.

In addition, for the first time, non-Tlicho citizens residing in Tlicho communities would be able run for office, vote in community elections and work to safeguard their own interests. However only Tlicho citizens would be able to run for and vote for chief. This level of self-government ensures that key decisions will be made by the people most familiar with and most affected by local issues. It also ensures that Tlicho governments will be established and maintained within the democratic and constitutional framework of Canada. It will respect Canadian law and recognize that the Tlicho, like all Canadians, are subject to federal laws and subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Tlicho have prepared to implement this agreement for many years, for it has been signed after more than a decade of negotiations among the Tlicho and the Governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories.

This agreement has already been ratified by the territorial legislature in Yellowknife and by the Tlicho. Furthermore, a comprehensive implementation plan is ready and the Tlicho have already drafted and ratified a constitution.

Prior to finalizing the agreement, the Tlicho people took it upon themselves to negotiate overlap agreements with their aboriginal neighbours. These agreements have not only helped to clarify the boundaries of traditional lands, but have also improved relationships among aboriginal peoples in Canada's north.

Through the lengthy consultative process, the Tlicho have shown us the power of democracy in action. I believe such an open and fair process can only bode well for the self-government structure that the Tlicho will put into place and inspire other aboriginal groups to similar achievements.

Surely the fact that the Tlicho are one of the most progressive aboriginal groups in Canada is linked to their consultative and collaborative abilities, their careful consideration of every voice, their willingness to accept dissent but still achieve consensus.

Today the Tlicho operate numerous joint ventures in a range of economic sectors. They have developed a run of the river hydroelectric generating facility and built and maintain their own airport. The Snare Cascades generating plant was made possible by an agreement between the Tlicho and the territorial power utility.

The Tlicho have also signed a number of mutually beneficial agreements with private sector firms in the mining sector. For example, more than five years ago an impact benefit agreement was negotiated with BHP Billiton, owners of the Ekati diamond mine.

A second agreement was subsequently negotiated with owners of the Diavik mine. A partnership between a Tlicho owned firm and SNC Lavalin recently received a prestigious engineering award for work at the Diavik mine site.

The importance of mining in the Northwest Territories should not be underestimated. The mutually beneficial partnerships negotiated among aboriginal and non-aboriginal companies have delivered a wealth of economic and social benefits, including job and training opportunities for Tlicho people and contracts for aboriginal firms.

Indeed, aboriginal employment in the mining sector has risen swiftly. Today numerous aboriginal businesses operate in the sector and generate $500 million in annual revenues.

Revenues from partnerships with diamond mining companies have been invested in Tlicho communities, in youth groups, in sports programs, in beautification projects and in physical infrastructure. Money has also been used to support traditional activities in which Tlicho people of all ages fish and hunt together and renew their laudable age old connection to the land that now provides new opportunities.

The impact that the Tlicho's economic activity has had on Canadian prosperity is significant. Stable, self-reliant aboriginal communities are able to participate fully in the national economy. Now the Tlicho want to strike a new deal with the people of Canada, a deal that will put them more firmly in control of their destiny. In the words of Tlicho chief negotiator John B. Zoe, it “recognizes our ability...to pass on those rights to future generations”.

The legislation before us today carries the principled and worthy aspirations of a people and provides a road map for other first nations, Inuit, Métis and northerners to follow. I hope I can count on the support of my hon. colleagues to help us move the legislation through to the Senate for final approval and give the Tlicho people the tools they need to build the future that they deserve and desire.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2004 / 3:35 p.m.
See context

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, that is a very timely question. We know that economic development and social progress is being held back by the stubborn refusal to conclude land claims.

There was a pivotal study on the subject of economic development in first nations by Stephen Cornell, from Harvard University, who studied first nations and their degree of development all over North America. He found, without any fear of contradiction, that there was an inexorable link between the level of economic development and the level of self-governance and self-determination of a first nation.

In other words, the only successful models of economic development are those communities that have achieved a certain amount of self-governance and self-determination, and virtually open-ended. This is not simply access to resources. This is the socio and cultural mindset that comes with being a free people, free to conduct their own affairs and self-determination. That is when progress blossoms.

Signing the Tlicho agreement 82 years to the day after the political forebearers had signed Treaty 11, former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien captured the emotion and the meaning of the moment with the following words. He said, “This is the glory of Canada where we can be what we are and at the same time be part of a greater Canada”.

In my view, as we pass Bill C-14 today, we are strengthening Confederation. We are not giving anything away. We are building a stronger country with the partnership of the Tlicho First Nation.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2004 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I will use these last five minutes to summarize the views of the NDP caucus with regard to Bill C-14 and, in our view, to celebrate the emancipation of the Tlicho people as they, by this bill, come out from under the Indian Act which we believe resulted in nothing more than 130 years of social tragedy across the country.

Before question period I was pointing out that the Tlicho, under this agreement, will now hold complete surface and subsurface resource rights, full hunting and trapping rights, and control over renewable and non-renewable resource harvesting. This, more than anything else, is the worthy aspect of this document.

Finally the very people who prospered for thousands of years on their traditional territory will have the direction and control over the resources on that traditional territory. It was a misguided century that denied them that right. It is our opportunity by this action to remedy that historic injustice that denied them access to their own land, resources and renewable and non-renewable resources.

Let me say as well that democracy is alive and well in the Tlicho First Nation. There is no democratic deficit in the Tlicho First Nation as we might find here in Ottawa at times. The agreement in principle between the Tlicho and the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Canada was reached in the year 2000 and was later approved by 80% of the 1,843 Tlicho voters in June 2003. In that referendum they wanted to be so abundantly sure that it was a democratic vote that any uncast ballots were counted as no votes. Even with that extra-superdemocracy, they still achieved 80% of the 1,843 eligible votes who voted yes on the agreement in principle. I thought that was noteworthy.

In the last few moments that I have I would like to talk about what I think are perhaps the most innovative aspects of the agreement. They are the provisions for Tlicho self-government and the right to strike and enforce laws through a traditional Dene justice system.

The former prime minister who signed the document on behalf of the Government of Canada stressed that the agreement will serve as a model for other indigenous communities and other countries. We approve of that, provided it is not viewed as a template or a cookie cutter approach. We believe all first nations have the right to negotiate their own terms and conditions. He added, “It defines rights and shows the world how diversity creates strength and how partnerships build success and is a model for implementing self-government”. That is a quote from the Right Hon. Jean Chrétien.

Among the 700 people witnessing the signing of the agreement was Tlicho elder Mary Ann Jermemick'ca, who travelled from Wha Ti mostly by canoe. Her quote upon witnessing the signing of this historic agreement was:

We were always told what to do and what we couldn't do. We could have somebody doing mining...right next to our house and we have nothing to say about it. Now at least we have some say about what's going on in our community and our land.

This agreement recognizes the Tlicho authority and self-governing ability to collect taxes, to levy resource royalties, to regulate aspects of their lives, from fishing to family law, to the licensing of native healers However, contrary to the misconceptions perpetrated by those who I believe were raising mischief associated with this bill, federal and territorial governments continue to maintain health, education, housing and social assistance programs at the same level as elsewhere in the Northwest Territories. Also, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms remains in full force and effect and cannot be superseded.

Perhaps the most notable facet of the Tlicho agreement is not what it is, but rather, what it is not. It is not a conventional treaty. Largely 19th century artifacts, these treaties from the European and Euro-Canadian point of view often signalled an end to hostilities or were put in place for a specific European purpose, not for the well-being of the other party of the treaty, which is the aboriginal and first nations people.

The Tlicho Dene have lived from time immemorial in the region of the Northwest Territories that came to be bisected by two such treaties, treaty 8 in 1899, and treaty 11 in 1921, which split the Tlicho territory arbitrarily, denying them access to traditional territories and control of their own region.

The reason these treaties were struck was largely the direct result of events. In the case of treaty 8, it was the 1898 gold rush. This treaty was hurriedly forced into effect to look after the interests of people who wanted access to the gold fields, not the well-being of the first nations communities that they interrupted. Treaty 11, which came along in 1921, followed the oil strike at Norman Wells, Northwest Territories in 1920.

In a very hurried way the government had to quickly throw a treaty together to essentially make peace with the indigenous people in that area, so that it could access and harvest the very resources that sat under the feet of the original peoples. These traditional treaties were marred and tainted, as it were, as being very one-sided and self-serving.