Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement Act

An Act to give effect to the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement and the Labrador Inuit Tax Treatment Agreement

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 Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement and the Labrador Inuit Tax Treatment Agreement. It also includes consequential amendments to certain 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.

Extension of Sitting PeriodRoyal Assent

June 23rd, 2005 / 5:05 p.m.
See context

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

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

Rideau Hall

Ottawa

June 23, 2005

Mr. Speaker:

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 23rd day of June, 2005, at 4:10 p.m.

Yours sincerely,

Curtis Barlow

Deputy Secretary, Policy, Program and Protocol

The schedule indicates the bills assented to were Bill C-9, an act to establish the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec—Chapter 26; Bill C-56, an act to give effect to the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement and the Labrador Inuit Tax Treatment Agreement—Chapter 27; Bill C-58, an act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2006—Chapter 28; and Bill C-3, an act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act and the Oceans Act —Chapter 29.

Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement ActGovernment Orders

June 15th, 2005 / 4:30 p.m.
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The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

Pursuant to order made earlier today, Bill C-56, an act to give effect to the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement and the Labrador Inuit Tax Treatment Agreement, is deemed read a second time, deemed referred to a committee, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage, deemed read a third time and passed.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time, considered in committee, reported, concurred in, read the third time and passed)

Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement ActGovernment Orders

June 15th, 2005 / 4:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, it is a true honour for me to join the debate on Bill C-56 and to represent the views of the New Democratic Party caucus.

I would like to begin by saying I rise to enthusiastically support Bill C-56, known as the Labrador Inuit land claims and self-government act . I am deeply honoured to be able to participate in the consideration of the bill. I applaud the spirit of cooperation that exists in the House of Commons today and the goodwill expressed by all my colleagues from all parties. It serves as a testimony to the level of interest that we see and take in this issue and the genuine goodwill that we express to the Inuit people of Labrador today.

It is my belief that with today's debate, the House is taking a significant step toward our ultimate objective, and I honestly believe that is making self-government a reality for the Labrador Inuit.

Self-government for the Labrador Inuit is embedded in the provisions of a historic accord, the Labrador Inuit land claims agreement which is, I point out with great pride, the first modern day treaty in Atlantic Canada, a pact that truly marks the beginning of a new era in partnership between the Labrador Inuit and Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada.

The agreement is a product of extensive consultation, deliberation and negotiation. In that spirit the agreement represents the successful conclusion of 28 years of patient work by the Labrador Inuit and the Governments of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador. I can imagine the degree of commitment that has to be demonstrated by all of the parties to navigate and negotiate a complex agreement on a subject matter as critical as the inherent right to self-governance and to maintain that stream of thought for 28 years to a successful conclusion.

This is a lifetime worth of work for the principals engaged in this undertaking. It is the fulfillment of a dream, not only of the people but of the leadership who have dedicated their lives to this diligent study, collaboration and effort that began as long ago as 1977 with the filing of a statement of claim by the Labrador Inuit Association.

Negotiations may have been lengthy, but since the agreement was finalized on August 29, 2003, I am pleased to say that progress has really been swift as it moved toward official ratification on May 26, 2004, with 76% of Inuit electors voting in favour of the agreement. On December 6, 2004, the Newfoundland and Labrador house of assembly adopted the enabling legislation, the Labrador Inuit land claims agreement act.

On January 21, representatives of the Labrador Inuit, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Government of Canada affixed their signatures to the agreement, the final step toward ratification. The passage of Bill C-56 is for the House now to undertake. Again, it is my great honour to be a part of that historic agreement.

The pace may have seemed glacial in those early years, but in actual fact the timeframe since August 29, 2003, by the standards of legislation, is really quite speedy and it demonstrates the genuine goodwill of the people of Canada toward the interests of the Labrador Inuit.

A number of devoted men and women are responsible for this agreement and for bringing us to this threshold of such a remarkable accomplishment. I would like to recognize and pay tribute to all those who played a part in the development of the agreement: the negotiators for all sides, the Labrador Inuit and their wise leader, William Anderson III, the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador and representatives of the provincial and federal governments. In particular, it is only fair to take note of and to recognize the efforts of the current Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and his provincial counterpart, the hon. Tom Rideout. Genuine cooperation, painstaking work and unflagging patience have been the hallmarks of their efforts on all sides.

It is not an overstatement that the result of their work, Bill C-56, is truly historic. The legislation sanctions the landmark agreement signed between the Labrador Inuit and the Governments of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador, an accord that defines and provides certainty about the rights of the Labrador Inuit as they relate to their lands, resources and self-government.

An examination of the agreement reveals the care and the thoroughness with which negotiators had to go about their work. It is a testimony to their diligence that the complexities of this agreement did not cause the whole effort to collapse under its own weight. I have nothing but admiration for the people who had the fortitude, the intelligence and the enduring, endless patience to plough their way through the minute details necessary in such an historic nation to nation agreement.

The agreement creates two categories of land, the Labrador Inuit settlement area; and Labrador Inuit lands. The settlement area consists of more than 72,000 square kilometres of land and some 49,000 square kilometres of ocean, extending to the limits of Canada's territorial sea. The settlement area includes Labrador Inuit lands and five Inuit communities: Nain, Hopedale, Makkovik, Postville and Rigolet.

In the northern part of the settlement area, approximately 9,600 square kilometres of land will be set aside for the establishment of the Torngat Mountains National Parks Reserve.

Within the settlement area, Inuit will own 15,800 square kilometres of land known as the Labrador Inuit lands. It is in this area where the Labrador Inuit will exercise the most rights and enjoy the most benefits. These rights and benefits cover a wide range of essential matters such as surface and subsurface resources, water use and management, ocean management, economic development, national parks and protected areas, land use planning, environmental assessment, wildlife, plants and fisheries, harvesting, archeology and place names. These are meaningful significant areas of jurisdiction that the Labrador Inuit will have the right to self-determination and control of these aspects of their lives and their livelihoods.

I again recognize and pay tribute to how difficult it must have been for the negotiators to convince an unwilling Government of Canada and an unwilling provincial government, at times, to acknowledge the inherent right to self-determination of a people and the inherent right to self-governance and the inherent right to their land, their resources, surface and subsurface, in minute detail. It is an astronomical feat. I do not know if the people at home watching this can appreciate the hurdles. This makes putting a man on the moon seem like a small achievement. I know how difficult our bureaucracies can be.

In addition to this comprehensive resolution over land claims and resource rights, the Government of Canada also agrees, by this legislation, to pay the Labrador Inuit $140 million over a period of 15 years. Unfortunately, the flip side of that coin is the Inuit will have to repay their negotiation loans of some $50 million during that same 15 year period. With every ray of sun, there is a cloud, I suppose.

Although the agreement is detailed and far-reaching in a number of respects on lands and resources, on capital transfers, on environmental protection, I am most enthusiastic about the agreement's provisions concerning self-government.

As a forward thinking community, the Labrador Inuit created a constitution several years ago. This constitution, which comes into effect with the agreement, establishes two levels of government, the regional Nunatsiavut government and five Inuit community governments.

All governments will be democratically elected and accountable to Inuit electors. The Nunatsiavut government may make laws to govern Inuit residents of Labrador Inuit lands and the five Inuit communities on such matters as education, health, income support, child and family services, meaningful aspects of the day to day life of the people who will now be the proud beneficiaries as the agreement unfolds.

The regional government will also have jurisdiction over its internal affairs, including traditional language and culture and the management of Inuit rights and benefits under the agreement. The Nunatsiavut government may also choose to establish a justice system for the administration of local laws. This is not simply smoke and mirrors. This is significant, meaningful, self-administration, self-determination and self-governance.

In all the research that we have seen, all the empirical evidence shows that the economic development and financial success of first nations and Inuit communities around the world is directly proportional to the degree of self-determination afforded to those individuals and those communities. In other words, it is a necessary prerequisite for a healthy, successful and sustainable economic community to have control of their own self-determination and their own destiny.

Five Inuit community governments will replace current municipal governments. The community governments may enact bylaws respecting local or municipal matters within their local jurisdictions. It is interesting to note, and I think this is an example of a modern day agreement, that both Inuit and non-Inuit residents alike in these communities will be able to vote and serve as councillors. That is in the best spirit of reality, generosity and a willingness to make this new community work.

I believe it is important to point out to anyone listening that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms will continue to apply to all Inuit governments and to matters under their jurisdiction and control, and federal and provincial laws will continue to apply to all Inuit.

Just to be abundantly clear for anyone who may be uncertain about what aboriginal or Inuit self-government looks like, they do not need to have any fears about this. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms has primacy, equity and equality exist and the federal and provincial laws will continue to apply. The Labrador Inuit will have the jurisdiction and control for those specific areas of their lives that are so important in the interests of self-determination and self-control.

The Labrador Inuit will also remain eligible for federal and provincial programs and services, like all Canadians. They are still Canadian citizens. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Canada and the Nunatsiavut government will negotiate a fiscal financing agreement every five years to provide funding to the Nunatsiavut government, enabling this regional government to provide agreed upon programs and services to Inuit and, where appropriate, to other residents.

Meanwhile, the Labrador Inuit will contribute to the costs of their own governance, programs and services. The first fiscal financing agreement has been negotiated and will take effect when the agreement comes into force. We hope that is within the very immediate future.

These self-government provisions will make a genuine difference in the daily lives of the Labrador Inuit by helping them to build a solid foundation for future economic growth and prosperity. Indeed, the profound benefits of self-government for aboriginal peoples are no longer in question. The link connecting aboriginal self-government and economic self-determination is far too obvious for anyone to doubt.

Self-government promotes open, transparent and accountable community decision making for aboriginal peoples. Responsible local governments lead to certainty about land ownership and management. It creates a stable environment for development and for investors. This certainty helps to attract investors and business partners and it fosters economic growth.

Investors seek stability and certainty. This agreement would give the certainty that people can invest in confidence. Outsiders can invest in confidence, in cooperation and with permission of the Labrador Inuit. Rising prosperity and optimism encourages self-reliance and leads to improvements in housing, employment and quality of life. It enables aboriginal communities to break down barriers and participate more fully in our nation's economy.

Clarifying jurisdictions, establishing elected, effective, accountable governments and creating a climate for economic growth and self-reliance, Bill C-56 would set the stage for all of these goals, helping the Labrador Inuit to continue their vital integration into Canadian economic life, hopefully, while still protecting their unique, cultural traditions.

In this fundamental respect, Bill C-56 represents a sensible response to the changing and challenging conditions of modern life and I hope enables a proud and ancient people to flourish.

In fact, through three key Inuit economic, political and health organizations, the Labrador Inuit have been hard at work for a number of years addressing the pressing social needs, forging partnerships with local governments and organizations, and striving to develop the physical infrastructure required to generate and sustain that economic growth.

The Labrador Inuit Development Corporation, an agency that strives to improve local living conditions by creating employment opportunities and promoting training and skills development, has successfully established several joint ventures. The corporation owns and operates two anorthite quarries near Nain and a stone processing plant near Hopedale.

In addition to these natural resources projects, the development corporation has reached an impact and benefits agreement with the Voisey's Bay Nickel Company. Through the agreement, Inuit are recruited and trained for work on the Voisey's Bay project and businesses with significant Inuit content are given special consideration as potential suppliers.

What is more, the Nunatsiavut government receives 5% of the provincial revenues generated by the subsurface resources in the Voisey's Bay area. These revenues, as it should be, go directly into a post-secondary support program that enables approximately 100 Labrador Inuit to pursue advanced studies, surely an idea we should celebrate.

The Labrador Inuit Association, the political arm of the local Inuit population, provides a wide range of training, investment and purchasing programs designed to increase aboriginal participation in the Canadian economy. This agency also participates in a number of environmental initiatives, such as fish population studies and forest preservation activities.

The Labrador Inuit Health Commission delivers programs targeted to community health needs and addresses concerns, such as drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness. The Labrador Inuit Association meanwhile supports an alcohol free social club, conferences on fetal alcohol disorder and the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Given those activities and those accomplishments, the Labrador Inuit are clearly prepared to take the next fundamental step toward true independence and self-governance to safeguard their lands and culture and to wield the levers of economic power.

I believe the legislation before us today will enable them to accomplish that. I am urging my colleagues to fulfill their role in this historic achievement by lending their prompt and unqualified support to Bill C-56.

Let me conclude my remarks by quoting some of the comments at the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development on June 9 when the Labrador Inuit Association made presentations to us, particularly comments from Mr. William Andersen III, the president of the Labrador Inuit Association.

I will be brief but I thought it was powerful testimony, and for those Canadians who may be watching this historic event, they should hear the voice of Mr. Andersen who said:

I'm also someone whose life was changed by factors I could not control at an early age. In 1956 when I was eight, my family was relocated from our home in Nutuk without our consent. So I've seen a lot of change and I understand why this bill is so important to our people.

The Inuit of Labrador continue to live a traditional lifestyle. We camp, live on the land, hunt and gather food and most importantly, maintain an active connection with our Inuit heritage and language. At the same time, we're building on our traditions to create economic development and social programs for the future. The approval of the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement will address concerns that are vital to us now and in the long term.

Nunasiavut is the Labrador Inuit name for our homeland and in English it means “our beautiful land”.

I was moved by the presentation of the president of the Labrador Inuit Association, as were my colleagues in all parties. As a representative from the province of Manitoba and as a representative of the New Democratic Party caucus, I want to throw our enthusiastic support and best wishes to the Labrador Inuit for the successful passage of Bill C-56 and the historic agreement that would give them the right to self-determination and self-governance.

Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement ActGovernment Orders

June 15th, 2005 / 4 p.m.
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Bloc

Bernard Cleary Bloc Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me as a member of Parliament for the Bloc Québécois responsible for issues related to the first nations and the Inuit, Innu of Mashteuiatsh, the Lac-Saint-Jean reserve in Nitassinan, the ancestral land of the Innu of Pekuakami, to speak to Bill C-56, an act to give effect to the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement and the Labrador Inuit Tax Treatment Agreement.

Allow me first to congratulate the chair of the committee, the member for Nunavut, for the tremendous work she did on this and other matters, as well as all the opposition members who fought tooth and nail to ensure that this bill was referred to the House of Commons as soon as possible.

The Bloc Québécois is very honoured to give its full support to this bill to give effect to the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement and the Labrador Inuit Tax Treatment Agreement. There are three main reasons why we take this position.

First, the Bloc Québécois fully supports the idea of a right to self-government for aboriginal peoples, and this agreement realizes their right to govern themselves. They will have the pleasure of making their own choices, acting on them and developing, as they see fit, the future of their people, and most of all, of their children. If only for this reason, we should support the principle underlying this entire agreement.

Second, a majority of the Inuit—76%— voted in favour of this agreement, with a turnout of 86.5% in the May 26, 2004 referendum. It would be ill-advised for sovereigntists to oppose this.

Third, the agreement is a fine example of self-government and will go down alongside the Nisga'a agreement, the Tlicho agreement, and soon that of the Quebec Cree.

More generally, the Bloc Québécois is concerned about aboriginal claims for self-government. It acknowledges the aboriginal peoples as distinct peoples with a right to their own cultures, languages, customs and traditions, as well as the right to direct the development of their own identity.

Bill C-56 is now at the second reading needed to implement the tripartite agreement signed by the Inuit, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Government of Canada.

The Inuit are an aboriginal people numbering some 5,300 individuals. Most of them live in coastal communities in northern Labrador.

I would like to salute the president of the Labrador Inuit Association, Mr. William Anderson III, whom I have met with on several occasions. I hope that this bill now before the House of Commons is passed and, after a number of years, becomes the real social vision of their people.

The traditional lands of the Labrador Inuit are called “Nunatsiavut” and extend into the Torngat Mountains region as well.

This is the third agreement with Inuit nations, satisfying the aspirations of a first nation to self-government, while at the same time settling its land claim.

As was pointed out earlier, it was a matter of completing the circle of all the agreements that have been made for Inuit peoples. It is therefore, in my view, an enormous step forward in the development of these peoples. We can be sure that they will succeed, thanks to this agreement, in developing their communities, as they so richly deserve.

It is now up to the people who negotiated these agreements to follow this matter and ensure that it achieves its full potential.

The Government of Nunatsiavut will own a piece of land 72,520 square kilometres in size that stretches to the outer limits of Canada's territorial waters.

The Government of Canada will transfer $140 million to the Labrador Inuit under the terms of the agreement, as well as $156 million to implement it.

In particular, the agreement gives the Labrador Inuit property rights over resources, particularly carving stone and quarry material, as well as 25% of the revenues from subsurface resources so that they can take advantage of them and thereby ensure long-term funding for their people.

This part of the negotiations is an impressive result for the negotiators because they will succeed in providing sufficient funding for their agreement and their government.

Under the agreement, the Labrador Inuit will also have many other benefits, including the ability to manage their own health system, on condition that their standards are similar to those in other communities in Labrador; their own education, in order to protect their language and traditions; and their day-to-day administration, resources, economic development, etc.

The Labrador Inuit must also be consulted when development projects affect their land.

In all cases, the Canadian charter continues to apply to Inuit land and government.

The agreement also provides that the interests of current landowners are not affected by the new provisions. There is still free access to the land, with the exception of new roads or access routes where the Nunatsiavut government could impose transit fees.

In short, the agreement enables the Inuit to manage their own development. It also gives them more powers to protect their way of life, stimulate economic growth, and enhance the well-being of their communities.

In view of the nature of the bill giving effect to the Labrador Inuit land claims and the Labrador Inuit tax treatment agreement, it seems to us that the role of Parliament is to debate and accept or reject this bill. There is no need for us to amend this bill. It was duly endorsed by the three parties who negotiated it. To amend it would be to patronize it, and that we refuse to support.

We would point out that the Bloc Québécois endorsed the essence of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. They set out aboriginal self-government as a level of government with jurisdiction over matters of good government and public well-being. In addition, the report as a whole was based on recognition of native peoples as autonomous nations occupying a unique place in Canada.

Before concluding, I would like to congratulate once again all the people who had to work hard to bring this agreement about. It puts an end to the negotiations of the Inuit of Canada as a whole. This is a historic day to remember.

In closing, I invite everyone applying this agreement to be careful. As I have said again and again, an agreement is like a hunting rifle: if it is left at home it serves no purpose. It has to be used well and worked with. So, too, this agreement.

Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement ActGovernment Orders

June 15th, 2005 / 3:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Madam Speaker, I rise today to voice my support for Bill C-56 as a Labradorian, a Métis and a Canadian.

In this my maiden speech, I will take the opportunity to thank the people of Labrador for their tremendous support throughout the last weeks and months. By their support they have given me the privilege and honour to be in this House and to speak to Bill C-56, the Labrador Inuit land claims agreement act.

I will begin by extending congratulations and thanks to the negotiators on all sides for their dedicated efforts. In particular, I would like to acknowledge the steadfast determination, patience and perseverance of the Labrador Inuit. These qualities are evident in the agreement that is now before us.

On January 22, 2005, history was made with the signing of the Labrador Inuit land claims agreement. This tripartite agreement of the Labrador Inuit Association, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Government of Canada represents a major milestone. It is the first agreement between the Labrador Inuit and the Crown and it is the first treaty in Atlantic Canada to include land claims and self-government. I trust that it will not be the last but that it paves the way for similar treaties in Atlantic Canada and particularly in Labrador for the Innu and the Métis.

At the signing ceremony, the president of the Labrador Inuit Association, William Andersen III, described the significance of the agreement this way:

The Agreement...provides for certainty and rights and creates clarity for the future. It will allow us to build on the partnerships we have begun, to work toward sustainable development, economic growth and social justice.

I believe that Mr. Andersen's simple and direct statement perfectly encapsulates the spirit and content of this historic agreement.

In expressing my support for this bill, I would like to remember the late Lawrence O'Brien, a former colleague, a friend and an hon. member of this House.

Mr. O'Brien, the first Labrador native to be elected member of Parliament, had a vision for his homeland that he worked tirelessly to realize. He understood that finalizing this agreement, and all that it represented, would be a significant step toward fulfilling his vision and would bring significant benefits to the Inuit and to all Labrador. Mr. O'Brien said:

Labrador has enormous geography, enormous potential and an enormous role to play in this country.

Mr. O'Brien believed fervently in Labrador's great potential and was committed to ensuring it was realized. While I and many members of this House are greatly saddened by Mr. O'Brien's passing, we are also filled with gratitude for his many contributions to Labrador and Canada.

Of particular interest to Mr. O'Brien was the creation of a national park in the Torngat Mountains of northern Labrador. I am pleased to say that the agreement before us today goes a long way to fulfilling that dream.

The Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve of Canada will be created as a result of the agreement and this act. The park reserve includes approximately 9,600 square kilometres of pristine wilderness that will be enjoyed for generations to come. It will protect an area of spectacular Arctic wilderness, including mountains, fjords, river valleys and rugged coastal landscapes. It is home to a variety of wildlife, including the world's largest caribou herd, as well as other smaller, distinct herds.

Mr. O'Brien would be proud to realize that his dream, and the dream of so many other Labradorians, was coming true in such an historic fashion.

The land and resource rights the Labrador Inuit will have in these areas will enable them to exercise greater control of their future and direct social and economic development. The provisions of Bill C-56 will help the Labrador Inuit overcome the lingering effects of past injustices.

Bill C-56 could not be more timely, because the Labrador Inuit are prepared to exercise faithfully and effectively the responsibilities that come with self-government. The Labrador Inuit maintain a profitable development corporation and a health commission along with a successful housing association and various cultural and educational programs.

The Labrador Inuit have drafted and approved a constitution that defines the roles and responsibilities of the Nunatsiavut government. It will ensure that the Nunatsiavut government and the Inuit community governments are accountable, both politically and financially, to their constituents.

Last year, the agreement at the heart of Bill C-56 earned the overwhelming support of Labrador Inuit voters, another important step toward self-government. The benefits of land claim and self-government agreements are numerous. The time has come for the Labrador Inuit to realize those benefits.

Bill C-56, in clarifying issues related to the ownership and management of land and natural resources, will also establish the type of stable environment readily sought by investors. The bill will preserve the traditional land- and sea-based economy upon which Inuit have depended for thousands of years. With respect for land and culture at the core of all investment decisions, a new era of economic and social development can begin.

I have read and heard at first hand some of the compelling and incredible stories of the people of northern Labrador. I have come across the words “together we are stronger”, a powerful phrase which embraces the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Bill C-56 brings together the Nunatsiavut government, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Government of Canada, but I will note something that I personally believe in: this will also bring together the many people of Labrador. Those words ring true not only in the context of Bill C-56, but they ring true for the people of Labrador: “together we are stronger” and together we can realize the great potential that we have in Labrador and that each of us contributes to the other. I say those words from the heart, not only from the lips.

Also, I urge the House to join with me in supporting this historic piece of legislation, in supporting the Labrador Inuit land claims agreement and the tools that it will provide to enable the Labrador Inuit to govern themselves and their lands. Let us realize the tremendous opportunity before us to move together and create a future for Labrador that will enable all of us to build on past successes and gain greater control of the future.

I thank all members of all parties for their cooperation in getting this bill through in the interests of those most affected, the Inuit of Labrador.

Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement ActGovernment Orders

June 15th, 2005 / 3:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, I proudly rise today to voice my support for Bill C-56, the Labrador Inuit land claims agreement act, and to encourage my hon. colleagues to join with me in enacting this important legislation.

I am also pleased to be splitting my time with the member for Labrador.

The enactment of Bill C-56 and the tripartite land claims agreement that it gives effect to will not only foster greater economic and social development in Labrador Inuit communities, but also enable Canada to build on the significant progress we have made in resolving aboriginal issues.

The Labrador Inuit participate in dozens of joint ventures in a range of economic sectors. They have a strong role in their community schools and deliver social services through an agreement with the government of Newfoundland and Labrador. They have negotiated an impacts and benefits agreement with Voisey's Bay Nickel Company.

The Labrador Inuit land claims agreement that will be given effect through Bill C-56 provides the Labrador Inuit with a wide range of rights and benefits related to land, resources and self-government. This is a tripartite agreement with the Government of Canada and the government of Newfoundland.

Canada's contributions include a capital transfer of $140 million and an implementation fund of $156 million. The Inuit will also have access to a percentage of any new commercial fishing licences issued in the marine area adjacent to the Labrador Inuit settlement area, thereby providing them with an opportunity to increase their already successful participation in the commercial fishing industry.

Most important, we cannot be a dollar figure placed on the pride and joy given to the people who have been given an opportunity to get control over their own lives, a chance to give back for their own people their dignity and hope for a better future and to reach their potential that I know is there.

Under the agreement the Inuit will own approximately 15,000 square kilometres of land and have a 25% ownership and interest in the subsurface. In these lands the Inuit will have the ability to make laws in relation to the wide range of subjects, including education, harvesting by Inuit, land management, environmental assessment and protected areas. Rules respecting the priority of Inuit laws and federal and provincial law are clearly set out throughout the agreement.

In the Labrador Inuit settlement area, an area of more than 72,000 square kilometres of land and 49 square kilometres of ocean, the Inuit will also have a wide range of rights and benefits related to harvesting, co-management, environmental assessment, land use planning, archeology and water use and management, to name a few. The Inuit will have a say in developments that occur in this area, as well as the right to impacts and benefits agreements for large scale development.

Bill C-56, through a consequential amendment to the Canada National Parks Act, would create the Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve of Canada in northern Labrador. This area of untouched beauty includes some of Canada's spectacular fjords, mountains and arctic wilderness. It is home caribou, polar bears and many types of birds, including the people there.

The creation of a national park in his beloved Labrador was a dream of our colleague, the late Lawrence O'Brien. Mr. O'Brien was an untiring advocate of Labrador. I am sure he would be well pleased to see his dream become a reality, as he was a very proud Labradorian, always.

The land claims agreement is accompanied by additional agreements. A fiscal financing agreement sets out the funding arrangement to support Inuit delivery of programs and services in the areas of health, post-secondary education, municipal services and economic development.

Recognizing that true self-government means contributing financially, the Inuit will over time contribute to their own costs of governance.

A detailed implementation plan sets out each party's obligations as they relate to the implementation of the agreement. All parties will be responsible for their own costs of implementing the agreement. The Labrador Inuit will repay negotiation loans of approximately $50 million over a 15 year period.

In addition to the land claims agreement, Bill C-56 would also give effect to the Labrador Inuit tax treatment agreement. This tripartite agreement provides for the tax treatment of the Nunatsiavut government. Of perhaps greater significance, though, the legislation now before us would enable the Labrador Inuit to establish a self-government regime that reflects the particular realities of northern Labrador.

The regional Nunatsiavut government, elected by Inuit, will have jurisdiction over Inuit and Labrador Inuit lands in such areas as lands and resources and social and cultural issues. All residents, Inuit and non-Inuit alike, will have the right to elect representatives to these municipal-type governments.

Bill C-56 would provide certainty with respect to lands and resources of northern and central Labrador. Federal and provincial legislation continue to apply to Inuit. They will continue to be able to avail themselves of the protections provided under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canada will retain its ability to act internationally, while also recognizing that there may be instances where Inuit need to be consulted about possible impacts on rights under the agreement.

Inuit self-government promotes greater openness, transparency and accountability. It attracts investors and fosters economic growth. It encourages self-reliance and leads to improvements in housing, employment and quality of life. It builds capacity and ensures a sustainable and stable economy. It enables Inuit communities to participate more fully in the national economy.

The Labrador Inuit have worked diligently to prepare themselves for the additional responsibilities that they will acquire under Bill C-56. They drafted and ratified a constitution that defines the roles and responsibilities of both new levels of government, and protects the democratic rights and freedoms of all those living on Labrador Inuit lands and in Inuit communities. The Inuit constitution will help ensure that Nunatsiavut is politically and financially accountable to its constituents, and I have every confidence in its capabilities.

On May 26, 2004, 86.5% of the eligible Inuit voters turned out to cast their votes. An overwhelming 76.5% of all eligible voters voted in favour of the Labrador Inuit land claims agreement. On December 6, 2004, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador introduced, passed and gave royal assent to the Labrador Inuit land claims agreement act, with all party support.

Now the aspirations of the Labrador Inuit are in our hands. I encourage the members of the House to follow the example set by the Labrador Inuit and indeed by the members of the provincial house of assembly, to show their support for this legislation and to enact the first agreement to combine land claims and self-government in Atlantic Canada. Acknowledge the great progress already made by Labrador Inuit and give them the power to extend that progress for the benefit of all Labradorians and indeed for all Canadians.

As a fellow Inuk I am very proud to stand here today to lend support to this last land claims agreement for Inuit in Canada. I want to congratulate the president of Labrador Inuit Association, William Anderson, who is here today with a large delegation from Labrador.

[Member spoke in Inuktitut]

[English]

By supporting Bill C-56, we can send a clear signal to all aboriginal people in our country that we as a country are serious about working with them to support their vision of a better vision of a better future for their families and their communities, and that we are committed to establishing a new relationship with them based on mutual respect and recognition.

Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement ActGovernment Orders

June 15th, 2005 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among all parties and I believe that you would find unanimous consent in the House to dispose of Bill C-56, the Labrador Inuit land claims agreement act, now in the following manner.

That each party would have one twenty minute speaking period on the bill, following which the bill would be deemed to have been read a second time, referred to and reported from a committee without amendment, concurred in at the report stage and read a third time and passed.

Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement ActGovernment Orders

June 15th, 2005 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Liberalfor the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

moved that Bill C-56, An Act to give effect to the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement and the Labrador Inuit Tax Treatment Agreement, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Business of the HouseOral Question Period

June 9th, 2005 / 3 p.m.
See context

Hamilton East—Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon we will continue with the opposition motion. I wish to designate Tuesday, June 14 as an allotted day, which means that the main estimates shall be dealt with that day.

Tomorrow we will begin report stage of Bill C-43, which is the first budget bill. This bill will be our priority until it is disposed of. When Bill C-48, the second budget bill, is reported from committee, it, too, shall be given our top priority.

There are discussions among the parties concerning the early disposal of Bill C-2, the child protection legislation; Bill C-53, the bill respecting proceeds of crime; and possibly Bill C-56, the Labrador-Inuit legislation.

The other pieces of legislation that we can anticipate debating in the next week are: Bill C-26, the border services bill; Bill S-18, the census legislation; Bill C-25, RADARSAT; Bill C-52, the Fisheries Act amendment; Bill C-28, the Food and Drugs Act amendments; Bill C-37, the do not call legislation; Bill C-44, the transport legislation; and Bill C-47, the Air Canada bill.

Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement ActRoutine Proceedings

June 6th, 2005 / 3:30 p.m.
See context

Western Arctic Northwest Territories

Liberal

Ethel Blondin-Andrew Liberalfor the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-56, an act to give effect to the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement and the Labrador Inuit Tax Treatment Agreement.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Patent ActGovernment Orders

May 5th, 2005 / 1:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to speak today to Bill C-29, an important bill for which the country can be proud. However, with due honesty and respect for the operations of the House, we must take responsibility for the bill's delay. It has taken over 550 days to actually do something for the world.

I want to revisit some of the history and impress upon the House that once the bill is passed we have an obligation to ensure that it actually has results. The changes in the legislation may not produce the desired response.

I would first like to start by thanking the Stephen Lewis Foundation and Stephen Lewis, as well as the NGOs, Doctors Without Borders, the HIV-AIDS Legal Network and a number of different organizations that worked diligently for years to get this to the forefront of Canadian public policy.

Unfortunately, the legislation has been fraught with a number of different delays that are literally causing suffering and preventing us from being part of a solution.

We need to recognize that in Africa, as one example, 6,000 people die from HIV-AIDS per day and 11,000 contract HIV-AIDS daily. When we first had the opportunity to address the bill it was back on November 6, 2003. The WTO made a decision in 2003 that gave generic companies a brief patent for a specific area that would allow them to produce life-saving medications for tuberculosis, malaria, HIV-AIDS and other types of diseases that affect populations in third world and developing nations to be able to access newer drugs before patent protection expires.

It is important to point out that the bill would not even be necessary if the pharmaceutical industry would do more, take less profit and produce the drugs right now to get them out to those organizations and groups. What we are providing is the opportunity for the generic companies to fill that gap but that has created many complications.

The bill was first tabled as Bill C-56 in the dying days of the Chrétien government on November 6, 2003. It was not passed because of serious concerns by NGOs and health communities. It was really different in terms of its format at that particular time. A lot of people who came forward back then said that if we were going to be serious about this and pass legislation that it would have to be done properly.

What is really unfortunate is that almost two years later we are still faced with problems in the bill that we are dealing with today.

On February 12, 2004 the bill was reintroduced as Bill C-9. None of the changes and concerns noted by politicians, NGOs and health care advocates were changed in over three months since it was first introduced. When the bill died as Bill C-56 and came back as Bill C-9 there were three months in between where there was lobbying, negotiations and submissions but not a single word was changed in the bill. We were very disappointed to see that. We had been telling the government of the day that it had to make these amendments for the bill to actually work. Amendments included everything from delisting certain specific drugs and delisting countries so there would be a proper process.

This has been backed up by the WTO ruling that allows for that but the government has an ingrained philosophy for patent protection that is not necessary and has thus delayed and complicated the legislation. Hence we are still here today.

Bill C-9 was given royal assent on May 14, 2004 after the government finally made many of the changes required to make the bill workable. The only unfinished work was the regulations.

All parties in the committee worked very diligently together. There was a difference of opinion and heated arguments. I submitted over 100 amendments. We heard many different witnesses and had a bridging of differences by all political parties to at least come to a bill that would be moved at that point in time. There was a lot of pressure to get that done quickly.

On December 8, 2004, Bill C-29 was introduced in the House and was passed by the House of Commons on February 10, 2005, a little over a year from when Bill C-9 was introduced. I guess we are still seeing the problems that are delaying the bill, continuing to plague its final implementation. It relates specifically to regulations.

A lot of times I guess it is the technical elements that many Canadians do not understand. We are moving a lot of legislation, the mechanisms that really give it teeth and character, to regulations which are often outside the general workable parliamentary systems. When we move things to regulations parliamentarians give up the rule setting that often affects the effectiveness of a bill, the purpose of it and very much the character of it. That is what has happened to this particular bill.

Bill C-29 contains an amendment that would allow Senate committee members to sit on the committee that would decide the membership of the committee who would decide when pharmaceutical products would be eligible for export. There is an advisory panel that was created. As a New Democrat I cannot agree with the Senate. At the time I did not agree with it participating in the bill but it is being added. We are not going to object to it here but that is what happened. It went to the Senate. It was left out but it has put itself on it now as part of a regulatory body that will decide what drugs could be eligible.

This is where we get into a grey area and makes us very concerned about whether it is going to be effective or not. We could have certain drugs that may not be allowed to be vetted through this process, drugs that different countries could use to treat different diseases. There are often new drugs that have complex and different types of compounds that are brought together, maybe two or three drugs brought together, that are very effective in treating HIV or AIDS, for example. They are cutting edge drugs. They could be very effective. Their availability may not get listed but those drugs really could affect real positive change for people who are suffering right now.

I have to reiterate that it is because the expected profit margin in those drugs is so high the countries cannot purchase them. Government organizations cannot afford to distribute them. It is not all of the pharmaceutical industry. There are plenty pharmaceutical companies that are donating to certain programs but it is not enough. Once again, we are only having to do this because there is a wide gap regarding what they are willing to supply at low cost and hence we are asking the generic industry to fill the void for a small profit.

In March the government found a technical error that jeopardized the entire feasibility of the bill. It is amazing to look back after a year and a half to realize we have not seen the progress we really wanted. Once again it is really interesting to note that it has been approximately 550 days since this idea came to this place and it has been marred at the expense, I believe, of the Canadian reputation to participate in drug relief. It was interesting and really captured by the title of Jean Chrétien's aid to Africa bill but what people need to understand is that there are many nations outside of Africa that could also participate in the program. That is why we are hopeful it can work. There are other nations and I would give the good example of East Timor. We had to fight to get it on the list. The country has suffered recently in the last decade because of genocide. It has had a lot of turmoil politically. It has had a lot of difficulty with regard to malaria and tuberculosis. It was left off the list.

This is once again where we disagree. The WTO ruling that originally created the ability for this to take place and for Canada to get involved did not call for a have to be list so we created lists that have caused some problems. But just so people understand, it is not just Africa that could benefit from the relief program but actually other developing nations that would find benefits if it works.

In summary, I just want to say that as New Democrats we very much support this. We want to make sure the government understands that there is an onus for us to steer this in Parliament. The fact of the matter is that it has taken so long to get to this point in time and place and it gives me some concern that if the bill does not work that we are going to wash our hands of it. That is a real concern because if we cannot actually have a bill that is practical and that works, then what was the point of all this?

I do not want to be part of a bad public relations exercise for the world. I want to be part of changing it. I think that we have the technology and the capability to have the generic industries fill a very important gap and avoid a lot of suffering. I know the previous speaker was very eloquent in talking about the fact that in Africa a good example is that it is losing its whole institutional learning infrastructure because so many teachers are sick and there is no one to train new ones as replacements.

When we talk with Stephen Lewis about what is happening there, we learn that it is literally children taking care of children. They are losing the parenting ability that they once had to tutelage them through difficult times in life, to be there for them and to ensure they can provide for their families. They are losing this institutional knowledge of how to even operate as a society because the professionals and all the people who make up everything from law and order, education and public safety related to infrastructure are being infected with HIV-AIDS and are passing away. They cannot bring people in quick enough or train them quick enough to fill the gap. It is a spiral. It creates conditions for greater disease and greater conflict. It also provides a festering of the disease that could be eliminated.

We need to understand that these drugs that we are talking about can provide the stability necessary so people can live in decency and live longer lives. They can then create the centre of gravity that is necessary for their countries to rebound from this terrible disease of HIV-AIDS. There are other disease such as malaria and tuberculosis that are affecting other developing nations. We can cure these diseases right now if people have access to medications.

There are terrific non-governmental organizations out there which are a great conduit. They have already built up their credibility in terms of the local communities to assist people with their medications. They have built up their credibility internationally to exercise the necessary procedures and the procurement of funds, be they donations from people, companies or governments. On that note I wish we would fulfill our obligations.

We have all of that right now. What is missing is the sense of stability that the drugs can create. This is something I hope the bill, if passed, will do. If we do not, we will be seen as very irresponsible. At the end of the day if the government has a bill that does not work, then we will have misled the world for the past two years. We have then provided a false sense of hope.

There is an obligation on the members of this House to watch very diligently what is happening. We should not just put it to regulations or send it to a committee that might report back once every three years as I believe is in the legislation. If the legislation does not work, if the generic industries cannot get the deals they need and if the government agencies and the NGOs cannot get the programs underway, then we must revisit this as a priority.

What we have done is created a whole set of expectations. I do not want to be a part of a country that cannot fulfill those expectations.

Canadian HeritageOral Question Period

October 14th, 2004 / 2:45 p.m.
See context

Jeanne-Le Ber Québec

Liberal

Liza Frulla LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, talking about misleading the House, yesterday opponents were saying that the minister never talked about policies but only made a partisan speech.

The minister said, talking about the CRTC, “They have also developed policies to ensure that we have a strong and vibrant broadcasting system that is competitive with any system in the world. The government and the CRTC have developed policies like Bill C-56 and simultaneous substitutions” and “have greatly benefited our industry”. That was what the speech was all about: defending our culture, the CRTC and broadcasting.