An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in October 2007.

Sponsor

Jim Prentice  Conservative

Status

Not active, as of Feb. 21, 2007
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

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

This enactment repeals section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act and provides for a statutory review, within five years after the enactment receives royal assent, of the effects of the repeal by any parliamentary committee that may be designated or established for that purpose. It also contains a transitional provision with respect to aboriginal authorities.

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.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

February 7th, 2007 / 5:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-44. I would like to recognize and congratulate the parliamentary secretary, as my former colleague did, on the birth of his beautiful new daughter and to also thank him for the wonderful work he has done on the bill.

I am pleased to speak to the bill this afternoon. It is a subject that has been bantered around and has been studied in the status of women committee, of which I am the vice-chair. Representatives from aboriginal communities, groups and women have appeared before the committee and have said that it is high time this happen. I am very pleased to talk about why we feel this is so necessary. I also ask for support from all members.

The legislation proposes to grant residents of first nations, including aboriginal women, the same remedies and protections available to other Canadians. Nowhere is the requirement for this protection better illustrated than through the issue of matrimonial real property.

On reserve, matrimonial real property, or MRP, provides a compelling glimpse of what life can be like for residents of first nations communities. MRP refers to the assets that a married couple typically share, the family home for instance. In the event of a family breakdown, provincial law prevents the sale of MRP until both spouses agree on how the proceeds will be divided. This effectively prevents one spouse from acting unilaterally. Provincial family law, however, does not apply on reserve. In fact, on reserve no law prevents a spouse from being evicted from his or her family home. I am sad to say that this tragedy is played out dozens of times each year in communities all across Canada.

To further complicate matters, under the Indian Act, only a band council has the right to issue an occupancy permit, a document that stipulates who may live in a house located on a reserve. As my hon. colleagues have pointed out, actions taken pursuant to the Indian Act are exempt from the Canadian Human Rights Act.

As a result of this legal quagmire, hundreds, if not thousands, of aboriginal women find themselves out on the street with nowhere to turn. Their rights may have been violated, their families may be in ruins, but the law can do nothing for them.

In 2005 the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development studied MRP and heard from dozens of witnesses. I will cite a small excerpt from the testimony of Beverley Jacobs, president of the Native Women's Association of Canada. Ms. Jacobs said:

—many first nations women have no recourse at all when their rights are being violated in their communities. They have no recourse to challenge their band councils for discriminating against them and for forcing them out of their own communities. We demand basic human rights for our women and children.

The legislation before us today is all about human rights. A report published last year by the United Nations Committee on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights effectively chastized Canada for failing to adequately protect basic human rights. The committee's concluding remarks include this statement:

—the Committee urges the State party to repeal section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which prevents First Nations people from filing complaints of discrimination before a human rights commission or tribunal.

Today we have an opportunity to right these wrongs. The legislation is a crucial part of a larger strategy that will see first nations exercise greater control over and assume more responsibility for the well-being of their communities.

I urge my hon. colleagues to vote in favour of this very important bill. I congratulate the minister for putting it before Parliament.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

February 7th, 2007 / 5:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to speak in the House today. As this is the first day of my second year in office as a member of Parliament, I would like to thank the people of Kitchener—Conestoga for giving me the privilege of serving here in Ottawa on their behalf. I am continually humbled and honoured to be their servant.

I want to thank my wife, Betty, and my children, Gavin, Jenn, Benj, Shell, Arja-Lisa and Jamie. I also send a special thanks to my staff who work so diligently here in Ottawa and in my constituency office.

I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to congratulate my colleague, the parliamentary secretary, and his wife on the birth of their first child, Sarah. I think we all rejoice with them. As a father and a grandfather, I can tell them that they are in for some of the greatest joys that we can experience here on our earthly journey. I wish them all the best.

I would like to reflect as well on my work with the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development . Under his direction, our government has made some huge strides in improving the lives of Canadians and especially aboriginal people all across Canada.

As it relates to Bill C-44, I encourage my hon. colleagues to join me in supporting the bill. The legislation before us today proposes to accomplish a very worthy goal, that is, to recognize and safeguard the basic human rights of all Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, I was remiss when I started. I will be splitting my time with the member for Kildonan—St. Paul.

Bill C-44 would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act so that individuals, namely, residents of first nations communities, will enjoy access to the same legal protections and mechanisms that are available to all other Canadians.

While other members of the House have already explained the specific advantages of Bill C-44, I would like to take a different tack.

As a stand-alone piece of legislation, Bill C-44 has considerable merit. However, to appreciate the true value of Bill C-44, we must take a much broader view of the issues which are facing aboriginal peoples, particularly first nations women. I am convinced that the repeal of section 67 proposed in Bill C-44 would foster long term improvements in the quality of life that are experienced by these women.

Research shows that the well-being of aboriginal people is substantially inferior to that of the general Canadian population. No other group in Canadian society is more marginalized. More important, the circumstances of aboriginal women are too often different from those of other Canadian women and from those of aboriginal men.

For example, according to the 2001 census, registered Indian women had an average annual income of $8,766, which is $1,356 less than their male counterparts and $73,005 less than that of other Canadian women. In other words, aboriginal women earned almost half as much as non-aboriginal women and aboriginal women substantially lag behind non-aboriginal women on almost all socio-economic indicators.

More specifically, aboriginal women are more likely than non-aboriginal women to be impoverished, uneducated, have higher unemployment, be homeless, have higher rates of incarceration, be substantially more likely to head single parent families and more frequently to be victims of physical and sexual abuse.

Bill C-44 is an important first step toward addressing these issues. It would not change the situation overnight but we owe a duty to aboriginal people to start moving forward. The legislation is quite valuable as part of a larger strategy to support first nations communities in assuming greater control of and greater responsibility for their affairs.

It is in that light that I encourage my hon. colleagues to support Bill C-44.

As a Conservative, I believe that good government is small, non-intrusive government. However, I can appreciate the role that good governance structure plays in the exceptional quality of life that we all enjoy.

For example, for a number of years I had the privilege to serve my community as a trustee on the Waterloo County Board of Education. As the former chair of that board, I have witnessed first-hand how a number of accountable representative bodies collectively take responsibility for the quality of education within the public school system.

There are parent teacher councils, school boards and ministries of education, all of which enable taxpayers and parents to exert a significant level of control over what goes on in our public schools. Legislation has assigned each of these bodies particular powers and authorities.

In the off reserve communities various accountable bodies are responsible for many aspects of daily life, from drinking water and sewage treatment to land use and business licensing. Unfortunately, under the Indian Act these kinds of bodies do not exist on the on reserve first nations communities. Instead, we have a system of band councils, contribution agreements and a long list of programs.

As a result, no one has responsibility for specific issues, such as unsafe drinking water, inadequate housing or poor educational results for their students. With responsibility diffused in this way with no one accountable, there can be no recourse for individual residents of first nations communities. With no effective mechanisms to promote accountability, problems continue to fester. Consequently, to no one's surprise, vulnerable people and unfortunately, typically, women and children, suffer more than their share of consequences.

Canada's new government has begun to change this situation and to instill a sense of accountability into relations between Canada and first nations. Working closely with groups such as the Assembly of First Nations, Native Women's Association of Canada and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, the government is determined to establish strong legislative frameworks that promote accountability in community governance.

Bill C-44 is an essential foundation for this reform, as are efforts to take action on first nations schools, drinking water and matrimonial real property.

Today we have the opportunity and the means to move forward. This legislation is a very important element of a wider approach that will see first nations exercise greater control over and assume more responsibility for the well-being of their own communities.

I encourage my hon. colleagues to vote in favour of Bill C-44.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-44, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

February 7th, 2007 / 5 p.m.
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NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would agree that first nations women coast to coast to coast in this country have waited long enough to ensure that their human rights are respected and honoured in this country.

However, first nations women in this country, the Native Women's Association of Canada in particular, have gone on record as saying that they want to see their involvement in any legislation that is going to directly impact on them. I think it is absolutely reasonable that we would include people in the discussion, in identifying the problem and the solutions, when we are going to develop legislation that is going to directly impact on them in their communities, not only on them but on their children and their spouses.

I would agree with and I said earlier that we support the intent of the bill, but what we want to see is full consultation. When we are talking about issues around human rights, I urge that we have full consultation around Bill C-44 and the declaration on indigenous rights. There are many other things that we need to actually bring to the forefront if we want to talk about human rights in a meaningful way and sound like we have any credibility about it.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

February 7th, 2007 / 4:40 p.m.
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NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-44 today. The NDP will support the bill at second reading and refer it to committee. We do support the intent of the bill, but we do have some grave concerns around a number of aspects of the bill and that is specifically what I am going to be addressing this afternoon.

There are a number of issues that I will be talking about. I will be talking about lack of consultation, resources and process.

There have been many claims that there has been consultation over a number of years and yet, when it actually came to writing the content of the bill, there was no consultation on that particular part.

Part of what has been called consultation is consultation that went back to 1999, for example, in an overall review of the Canadian Human Rights Act and the old Bill C-7, the First Nations Governance Act. Those are some of the mechanisms that have been deemed as consultation.

I would argue that part of the problem that we have before the House right now is the fact that we have a government and previous governments as well that have not defined what consultation has meant. So we continue to bump up against this as a problem.

For first nations, Métis and Inuit people, whether it is this piece of legislation or other pieces of legislation that are developed, this directly impacts on their lives, on their ability to live in their communities, and in their ability to maintain a living. There was no consultation and sometimes the consultation is what I call lip service consultation. They will be called in and provide an opinion, and then the door is closed when the decision making is actually going to happen.

Consultation has been a problem that has been identified by the Auditor General. Supreme courts have ruled that there is a duty to consult, but the Auditor General has identified in one of her reports that there has been very little progress made on the part of the government in defining what consultation means. I would argue that if we are going to define what consultations means, we should actually include first nations, Métis and Inuit people as well.

In the discussion of the repeal of section 67 in Bill C-44 is the fact that every review of section 67 has called for an interpretive clause. Although there have been previous attempts to take a look at an interpretive clause, they have fallen short and actually failed.

In this case, I want to go back to the October 2005 report, “A Matter of Rights” by the Canadian Human Rights Commission which did call for the repeal of section 67 legislation. In the report it states:

--provisions to enable the development, in full consultation with First Nations, of an interpretative provision, which will take into consideration the special rights and interests of First Nations in order to guide the Commission and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal in the application of the Canadian Human Rights Act with regard to complaints against First Nations governments and related institutions.

There are two pieces in that. First, is the issue around full consultation which I have already talked about and the long foot dragging that has happened in defining consultation, but second, in the report it specifically called for an interpretive provision. This same report also called for a transitional period between 18 and 30 months to allow for that consultation and the enactment of the proposed interpretive provision.

The bill is dealing specifically with first nations on reserve. We have 633 reserves in Canada and part of the challenge when we are talking about consultation is how do we meaningfully include people. We have seen some of these challenges come up with matrimonial real property in how people are included from coast to coast in consultation.

How do we reach out to those rural and remote communities? How do we ensure there are sufficient resources to make sure that people who are different nations, who have different points of view and different cultural and traditional backgrounds, have a consultative mechanism that actually takes a look at those differences?

Further on in this report it talks about moving forward to repeal the legislation. New Democrats agree there is a need to do that, but many first nations women are concerned that moving too quickly will have unanticipated consequences, much like the aftereffects of Bill C-31. That bill reinstated a woman's status if she married a non-native person, but has had the unintended consequences of what some people are calling legislated extinction. Under subsection 6.1(b) of that particular piece of legislation, there is a provision where people who marry non-native people end up losing their status. I want to say a little more about that.

I want to quote from a press release issued by Quebec Native Women Inc. It states:

If passed into law, Bill C-44 would change the ways in which decisions are made in Aboriginal communities. Human rights protection is an issue that deserves immediate attention, but a solution must be developed that takes into consideration the unique reality of Aboriginal people. Moreover, our customs and traditions must be taken into account, as well as our Aboriginal and treaty rights. “The creation of a structure that respects individual and collective rights of Aboriginal people should also originate from a process that reflects these same principles”, stated QNW president, Ellen Gabriel.

Ellen Gabriel is a well respected woman from Quebec. She has expressed some other concerns about how this particular piece of legislation can also be compared to the unintended consequences in Bill C-31. The press release went on to say:

The experience of Bill C-31 has shown us that well-intended legislation can have serious consequences for our people in the future. In addition, Aboriginal people can no longer accept the unilateral imposition of non-Aboriginal laws, which may be incompatible with our cultural values. Furthermore, research regarding the effects of the legislation should be undertaken before it is passed into law, not five years after when the problems created may be irreversible or are simply ignored. After all, we have understood for some time now the negative impact of Bill C-31, but nothing has been done about it.

It is really interesting to have a Conservative government introduce a piece of legislation that is talking about human rights. Yet, the Conservative government had an opportunity to support the United Nations declaration for indigenous rights. The Conservatives worked hard to ensure that Canadians were not supporting that, the Canadian government was not supporting that declaration. That has signalled to first nations, Métis and Inuit communities that this particular government is not taking human rights seriously in their communities.

Recently, Monday as a matter of fact, we had National Chief Phil Fontaine talk about filing a complaint at the Canadian Human Rights Commission regarding the appalling situation concerning child welfare in this country. Then my colleague from Timmins—James Bay today asked a question about Kachechewan, a community where the children do not even have access to a primary school. Surely schooling is a fundamental human right in this country.

There have been many opportunities for the government to demonstrate its commitment to human rights for first nations, Métis and Inuit people across this country and it has failed to do that. It is a bit hypocritical, I would suggest, to argue that the government's foremost piece of legislation will deal with human rights for first nations people in this country.

Mary Eberts from the Native Women's Association participated in the Department of Justice review on section 67 in the year 2000. She made a number of recommendations around section 67. I want to talk about a couple of those because people have put forward some proposed solutions for how we might deal with section 67. These are solutions that have come from first nations communities. Surely, those are the people who should be actively involved in putting forward those solutions. She said:

To protect traditional Aboriginal rights from the impact of a CHRA without section 67, include in the Act a provision similar to s. 25 of the Charter: the guarantee in this Act of certain rights shall not be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from any Aboriginal, treaty or other right that pertains to Aboriginal peoples in Canada.

She went on to say:

However, it should be recognized that some of Canada's most prominent foes of the rights of Aboriginal women have argued that the right to discriminate against and exclude women is part of the traditional heritage of Aboriginal people.

I might add that there are many people who do not agree with this opinion. This is not a universal point of view.

She states:

This argument is made, for example, by the Sawridge band in its case against Bill C-31, and in its intervention to oppose John Corbière's attack on s. 77 of the Indian Act. Accordingly, any provision drafted pursuant to recommendation 2 should include a safeguard, or rider, to the same effect as ss. 35(4) of the Constitution Act, 1982, that aboriginal and treaty rights are extended equally to men and women.

The [Canadian Human Rights Act] should apply to Band Councils, to their membership codes, and to the actions of the federal Government pursuant to the Indian Act. The Act should also include a standard provision that would make the [Canadian Human Rights Act] applicable to self-government agreements unless and until the measures to protect human rights were put in place pursuant to the agreement.

She also mentions:

--procedural rights, which could be enforced against procedural unfairness in dealing with claims for reinstatement under Bill C-31, and in the ways First Nations deal with reinstatees.

The [Canadian Human Rights Commission] needs to be provided with the funding to make it fully effective as an instrument of human rights enforcement. In the case of Aboriginal people, such funding would allow the Commission to take account of the facts that Aboriginal people live in isolated and remote areas; may not have access to sophisticated communications means; may have literacy and language issues in dealing with the Commission; do not have ready access to legal advice because of their isolation and poverty; live in small communities where reprisals for complaints may be a continuing problem or in urban centres where they may be homeless or transient; and are dealing with organizations...with a record of poor communication, so that access to required documentation may be difficult to obtain.

Ms. Eberts made a number of concrete recommendations that successive governments have failed to implement. The report was written back in 2000, I believe. I also have another section that I want to read for members, around the old Bill C-31, the old bill that reinstated women and has had this unintended consequence. She stated:

The shrinking of the status Indian community as a result of the application of the discriminatory provisions will enable the federal government to shed its responsibilities toward Aboriginal people, since it now recognizes obligations only to those who have status under the Indian Act. Bill C-31 also restricts the life choices of young Aboriginal people whose parents are C-31 reinstatees: to ensure that their children can be registered, they will have to partner with a status Indian. Policies restricting access of Bill C-31 reinstatees to their Bands or Band reserves may make it difficult to make such social connections; in any event, forcing them erects a kind of race segregation that resembles apartheid.

I am sure that nobody in this House wants to see unintended consequences from a piece of legislation that has not had that full consultation with first nations communities. The reason we support getting Bill C-44 to committee is that there must be that opportunity to hear from people who are going to be directly affected by the impact of this bill. It is essential that those voices are heard not only in examining this bill, but in identifying the resources required, in identifying the processes to make sure that we are hearing from people, and in identifying any potential amendments that might be necessary to make sure this bill reflects the needs of people in their communities.

I mentioned funding and resources. There are a couple of other things where we could talk about what might actually address some of the issues around human rights complaints. A number of first nations and reports have identified the fact that first nations are quite capable of developing human rights standards that could be equal to those of the Canadian Human Rights Act, if not better. The other issue is that there is a potential to have an ombudsperson who could work with communities that are identifying some human rights issues in their communities.

One of the things we know, of course, is that there is a financial cost to this, but I would argue that there is a financial cost to not doing it as well. We often do not examine those financial costs of not doing things. In this case, what we know is that if this bill goes ahead as it is, without any additional resources assigned to it, the Canadian Human Rights Commission could face increasing backlogs around dealing with some of these issues.

However, we also know that many band councils are not equipped to deal with the volume of Canadian human rights complaints that could come in. They do not have the resources. They often do not have the capacity. Then there are the challenges with travel, communications strategies and all of those kinds of things. If this bill is to move forward, it is essential that resources are provided to communities.

Mary Eberts and others have actually called for an ombudsperson. This person should be able to interact with communities that often have different language capabilities and that have perhaps some educational awareness issues around what could be included in appropriate mechanisms to deal with section 67.

The Native Women's Association of Canada has also recommended that the Canadian Human Rights Commission establish staff and tribunal panels composed of aboriginal people who not only have a background in human rights but also have a background in traditional dispute resolution mechanisms. That would also make sense.

We are seeing in other fields that there is a call in the criminal justice system for some restorative justice processes. Under the Canadian Human Rights Act, it would seem reasonable that we have some sort of commission or tribunal that could work with communities around their own traditional methods of dealing with complaints.

The other issue that I do not think we have touched on is the fact that the Canadian Human Rights Commission should have a special monitoring function with respect to Canada's compliance with international human rights obligations. I know that unfortunately Canada has been cited on a number of different occasions around violations of human rights in this country, particularly women's rights.

We have seen things like the cuts to legal aid that have impacted on first nations women being able to access legal aid when they have a court case to deal with. There are other issues like that which would seem to make it important to give the Canadian Human Rights Commission the ability to oversee the implementation of Canada's international obligations.

I talked about the short transitional period. The Canadian Human Rights Commission, when it made its recommendations, and we would support it, said that there should be at least an 18 to 30 month period of transition to allow the consultation and the development of the interpretive clause, which would make sure we were meeting the needs of first nations communities.

There are a number of other things that I would like to address, but I know I will run out of time so I will close with a couple of specific points.

I mentioned earlier that this is an opportunity for the Government of Canada to fulfill other obligations around human rights. I want to touch again on the United Nations declaration for indigenous rights. This is a statement of principle that has become a flagship for first nations, Métis and Inuit peoples from coast to coast to coast. Canada could signal its absolute commitment to human rights by supporting that declaration. There will be another opportunity, because it will likely come up again over the next few months.

It would be a statement that would say to first nations, Métis and Inuit peoples across this country that Canada takes human rights seriously and is committed to human rights. If we want to demonstrate that we are prepared to work with first nations, Métis and Inuit peoples across this country on human rights, that we are prepared to engage in discussions on a nation to nation basis and talk about some of the situations on the reserves in this country, this would be one way to show that we are prepared to not only talk the talk but walk the walk. That in itself would go a long way to telling people in this country that Canada truly does have a commitment to human rights.

In conclusion, the NDP will support this bill going to committee for a fuller review, where we would look forward to the kinds of consultation that could have this bill reflect the needs in communities across this country.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

February 7th, 2007 / 4:10 p.m.
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Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Churchill has given me the perfect introduction.

First, I would like to point out that the fundamental debate in the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development will focus on the issue of individual rights vs. collective rights.

I would also like to point out that today, February 7, is the anniversary of a historic moment. I do not know if the Speaker and the members are aware of this, but exactly five years ago today,Quebec Premier Bernard Landry signed the Peace of the Braves, an agreement enabling the James Bay Cree to achieve the development they are currently enjoying. I wanted to point out the anniversary of this event that was so important to the development of relations between Quebec and first nations in the province.

The federal government should use the Peace of the Braves as a model for important agreements with first nations in the rest of Canada. One of these documents and one of these important matters is the one we will begin examining today, Bill C-44.

Why did I say earlier that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is important? It is important because the Canadian Human Rights Act is a fundamental law.

We lawyers know that, generally, the rights of individuals take precedence over collective rights. Before this bill was introduced, there was one exception, namely, section 67, which stated that the Canadian Human Rights Act did not apply to first nations peoples.

Complaints can be filed. I think it is important to underscore from the beginning that complaints can be filed if an individual feels he or she has been discriminated against based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex—including pregnancy and birth—sexual orientation, marital or family status, mental or physical disability—including existing or past addiction to alcohol or drugs—and conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted.

Why did I bother to articulate such a list? Because Bill C-44 will have a considerable impact on first nations peoples, who should be directly concerned about the application of this bill.

I think we must not be too hasty to pass this bill quickly, without first understanding all the consequences it will have on first nations peoples.

The Bloc Québécois, for which I am the critic for Indian Affairs and Northern Development, agrees that this bill should be studied in committee, where we must examine the impact this bill will have—because it will have an impact.

I looked at the documents sent to us for consultation. The bill itself is very short; it has only three clause. I think the impact of the bill will be considerable, given that previous governments have already tried in the past to repeal this famous section 67, which has been around since 1977.

It is not complicated. Since 1977, aboriginals have been excluded from the application of important legislation. In 1999 and 2002, there were attempts to adopt legislation to abolish section 67. In 1999, an independent review tribunal conducted a thorough study.

As I am sure you will understand, there is no way the Bloc Québécois will support a study to study the study that studied previous studies of the application of section 67.

As someone I know—me—would say, we will move on to more serious things as soon as the House consents to let the committee study this bill. I am saying this not only to first nations, but also to the government. They will have to have done their homework before appearing before us, before the committee that will study Bill C-44.

Why am I saying this? Because the Assembly of First Nations sent its recommendations to committee members. I have a question for the government. I began asking the parliamentary secretary earlier, but he dodged the question. Maybe it was the interpretation or maybe my question came at him too fast for him to understand it, but now I will make it very clear: How will the government interpret the clause or introduce a clause to interpret section 67?

The government has to be able to answer that. If individual rights prevail, if the government intends to give individual rights precedence over collective rights, the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development will have to undergo some major anti-aging treatment in administering the budgets allocated to it because it will find itself before the courts on what will likely be almost a daily basis. Imagine if, all of a sudden, tomorrow morning, individual rights were to take precedence. Let us say I am a person living on a reserve who does not have running water and is therefore deprived of adequate housing, so I take the government to court. That is how it will be for a very long time with a lot of issues.

However, if the government were to decide that collective rights take precedence for first nations, how would it explain to the general population that collective rights take precedence for first nations only?

Would that not leave the door wide open for citizens in the rest of Canada to take the government to court claiming it is not complying with its own law?

What I mean to say, after that little digression, is that even the government will have to do its homework and appear before the committee with real, practical solutions.

When I look at what the Canadian Human Rights Act covers, I do not know how the government is going to deal with the issue of marital status. People are currently discussing land-related rights on reserves, the rights of aboriginal women who do not enjoy equal rights. Are these individual rights? If so, the government is going to have to get its act together and allocate money accordingly. And will that put an end to first nations governance as we know it? These are important issues.

For once, I think that the government wants to go ahead with a bill that will drastically change how things are done in aboriginal communities in Canada, in Quebec and even in the far north. This afternoon, I am not certain whether the minister or the first nations have considered all the impacts of this legislation.

I can assure you that, starting this evening, I am going to read the reports that have already been tabled. Those on the committee who know me know that I will. I am going to read them so that the same reports cannot be tabled a second time as if they were new, but especially so that I can say that, from now on, things have to be done differently.

I look at the bill and I see that it does not explain what sort of review will be conducted under clause 2 of Bill C-44. For the time being, we do not know how the government will act. I do not have the answers today, but I would like to have them before I get to the committee. If we leave it to the parliamentary committee to determine how exactly this work will be done, the committee could be left with little time to consider the impacts of abolishing section 67.

I respectfully submit that this is important legislation, even though it has only two clauses. Despite its brevity, it would put an end to a temporary situation that has gone on for 30 years. That is quite powerful. If this bill is adopted by the House of Commons, everyone will have to realize that life will never be the same for the first nations or the minister. The question that I am asking myself but cannot answer is whether the government anticipated that things would never be the same. And is that what the government wants? This is important.

We will support this bill, so it can be examined in committee. We feel it is important to learn not only what first nations peoples want, but more importantly, whether they are ready to deal with the repeal of section 67 and to be subject to the act. Beginning immediately and as soon as the bill is passed, how will they be ready to deal with the act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act?

I feel this is important, with respect to aboriginal women and governance.

In my opinion—based on what I have read and my interpretation thus far—by repealing section 67 with this bill, the government wants to have an impact on first nations governance. I would remind the government that a bill was introduced in 2002, but it never passed. The government must be prepared, with its consultations of first nations peoples, to face the music.

I would now like to speak to first nations peoples directly. In my opinion, first nations peoples should agree to be subject to this act. I think it is important to say that the status quo is no longer viable. First nations peoples, first nations children and first nations women tell us that enough is enough and we must move forward. I do not necessarily believe that we have to move very, very quickly, before we have the chance to study all the implications of such a bill, but I think we should go ahead with this bill and that everyone must be prepared to deal with the ramifications.

Today, on February 7, I am not sure that the government or the first nations peoples are prepared to deal with this change, which is not just a legal change, but a change that necessarily requires a change in mentality. People have to get it in their heads that effective immediately, human rights must be respected within the first nations, the same way they are in other segments of the population of Canada and of Quebec.

In my opinion, and in the opinion of the Bloc Québécois, this legislation is important and will redefine relations between the government and the first nations. In my opinion, if this legislation is passed, the situation and development of the first nations will open major debates on the respect of individual rights versus collective rights within the first nations.

In closing, we are going to be faced with the extremely significant challenge of reconciling individual rights with collective rights within the first nations. At this stage this challenge seems very exciting and extremely important and I think that the first nations are ready for it.

I hope the government is ready as well. I would like this bill to be considered in committee quickly. I say quickly, but I mean with fresh eyes, with a view to the future and without constant reference to what was done in the past. Mistakes were made by both levels of government and by the first nations. Starting today, we have to look forward to see how we can make this important bill see the light of day. That is what we are going to do. I hope we have interesting debates in committee.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

February 7th, 2007 / 4:10 p.m.
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Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, you will see that I can ask a question in under 10 seconds.

In the member's opinion, when we study Bill C-44, should we focus on individual rights or collective rights?

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

February 7th, 2007 / 3:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Tina Keeper Liberal Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, this is a critical and important debate looking at the human rights of first nations citizens in our country. The Canadian Human Rights Act is not only based on principles upheld in this country but on international human rights principles and practices for which we are leaders on the world stage. As Canadians we are very proud.

Today I am also proud to contribute to the debate at second reading of Bill C-44, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act. The intention of the bill is to effectively repeal section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which reads as follows:

Nothing in this Act affects any provision of the Indian Act or any provision made under or pursuant to that Act.

The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development stated:

Since its inception, section 67 has been the subject of numerous calls for repeal, including calls from the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the Canadian Human Rights Commission, as well as from Canada's national Aboriginal organizations. Today, this Government is moving forward to finally repeal section 67 to ensure that all Aboriginal people have the same access to human rights protections as all other Canadians.

The member for Provencher, when he was minister of justice, stated:

The repeal of section 67 represents an important step in furthering and enhancing the individual human rights protection enjoyed by all Canadians.

The departmental backgrounder states:

Section 67 was part of the Canadian Human Rights Act when the Act was introduced in 1977. At the time, discussions were underway with Aboriginal groups about possible reforms to the Indian Act. Section 67 was originally adopted as a temporary measure because it was recognized that the application of the Canadian Human Rights Act to all matters falling under the Indian Act could have resulted in certain provisions of the Indian Act being found discriminatory before the discussions with Aboriginal groups about reforming the Indian Act had concluded. Since its inception, however, section 67 has been the subject of numerous calls for repeal--

As was stated by my colleague and by the member opposite, the intention of this bill, to address the issue of human rights for first nations in Canada, is indeed something which I am also in agreement with, but I have serious concerns with the process indicated in Bill C-44. Given that Churchill riding has a high first nations population, I want to ensure that my constituents have a voice in this critical debate.

We have heard from the parliamentary secretary that the issues and concerns surrounding section 67 have been around for the past 30 years and since its inception it has been the subject of numerous calls for repeal. First nations and aboriginal groups have also made statements and have positions on this issue as well.

As a whole, first nations have voiced their commitment to human rights. They have long-standing traditions, cultures and laws, respecting human rights, both individual and collective. Indeed they have been here for thousands of years.

When the Canadian Human Rights Act became law, the unique circumstances and perspectives of first nations were recognized in the exemption of the Indian Act bands through section 67. It was never intended to be long term but it was expected that the government would engage the first nations and respectfully and appropriately reflect first nations interests and perspectives relating to human rights. That the Government of Canada intends to forcefully move ahead to repeal the section without due regard to the first nations position as voiced is a deep concern.

There was also a recommendation for a consultation process in the October 2005 special report by the Canadian Human Rights Commission entitled “A Matter of Rights”. It recommended the repeal of section 67. It recommended that:

The repeal legislation [must] include provisions to enable the development and enactment, in full consultation with First Nations, of an interpretative provision, which will take into consideration the rights and interests of First Nations.

If we are considering human rights, then it must be in that spirit that Canada work alongside first nations. How critical is this? How necessary is it for the government to fully consult with first nations on this legislation and how it relates to their future and their well-being?

We have heard over and over again in this House about the dire living conditions of first nations. The government must also fully appreciate the potential impacts on aboriginal and treaty rights that this bill may have. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples stated that aboriginal peoples must have the room to exercise their autonomy and structure the solutions.

We are talking about a position by first nations, recommendations, and consultation between first nations and government, and more specifically, the drafting and approval of an interpretative provision on section 67. The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, which represents 33 first nations in my riding, has recommended that any proposed interpretative provisions not become merely guidelines or policy but a legislative provision, legally binding, and also that this process be first nations specific.

We have heard from other members today about the concerns on collective rights that first nations have continually maintained and to achieve a sustainable solution for all first nations citizens. I have mentioned many of these elements in previous speeches, but unfortunately, I have to repeat myself.

In May 2005 an agreement was signed by the Assembly of First Nations and the then Liberal government, the First Nations-Federal Crown Political Accord on the Recognition and Implementation of First Nations Governments. It laid a framework for a collaborative federal policy development process that would guarantee first nations participation. Bill C-44 was not a result of this collaborative process as guaranteed by this accord.

While the bill actually has a transition provision, it does not explicitly contain any terms for a delay period in order to establish issues relating to implementation. Bill C-44 does provide a six month period of immunity for first nations from complaints as outlined in clause 3 of the bill.

Most first nations lack the resources to manage the new exposure to liability they would face if Bill C-44 was adopted or to undertake ameliorative measures to minimize potential risks. A six month immunity period will not change this situation. It will only defer the inevitable flood of complaints that will follow after a six month delay period when our communities are facing chronic housing shortages and limited access to and services for disabled people. First nations require the financial resources to minimize or eliminate potential exposure to the risk of complaints. We must first ensure that first nations are provided with adequate resource mechanisms and institutions to fulfill their new responsibilities and risks.

I agree with the intent of this bill, but I have serious concerns about the process and the lack of consultation with first nations and aboriginal groups such as the Native Women's Association of Canada. That association has voiced concerns as well about the lack of consultation in this process.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

February 7th, 2007 / 3:55 p.m.
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Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the speech given by my colleague, who, I would like to underscore before the House, is doing terrific work on the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. I have a very specific question for her. She knows from committee that I ask very specific questions.

Does she believe that this bill will focus on individual rights rather than group rights, when we talk about eliminating section 67 and replacing it with Bill C-44?

What position will she take on this bill once it goes to committee? A very serious matter concerning the rights of individuals in relation to group rights will then have to be debated.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

February 7th, 2007 / 3:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, let me begin by saying that those of us on this side of the House will not take a back seat to anyone on human rights. I am very proud to be part of a group and a community that has championed human rights, a party that has enshrined in Canadian society the right to freedom of religion, freedom of thought, freedom of expression and freedom of the press, to name but a few.

However, I listened to my colleague opposite, and before I get into the substance of the bill, I want to remind him that while his Conservative government has indeed introduced legislation to right a legislative wrong, it has to do more. We cannot talk about addressing human rights issues without addressing the human rights needs of individuals, such as housing, drinking water and education.

As we know, the Kelowna accord addressed many of these human rights needs of first nations. The actual negotiation for Kelowna took place over 18 months between 2004 and 2005. It focused on building a more promising future for aboriginals. It set aside more than $5 billion over that period to close the gaps in the needs that we expect all Canadians to have: the human rights needs of a safe place to live, a bed to sleep in, education, housing and economic opportunities.

In my view, it is a profound breach of faith that the minority Conservative government decided to break a promise made by the previous government, a solemn promise made to the leaders of the nation's five most prominent aboriginal groups.

If we are going to strengthen democracy, we cannot ignore the human rights needs of our first nations people that go beyond the legislative need to file a human rights complaint.

I will acknowledge that there has been a hole in the Human Rights Act, a hole that needed to be and should have been filled by previous governments.

When I speak of section 67 of the Human Rights Act, I acknowledge that it was designed to be in place for only a temporary period of time. That temporary period of time, we have heard, has been 30 years. It is time that steps are taken to extend to aboriginal peoples on reserve what those of us not on reserve take for granted, that is, the ability to file a human rights complaint when we feel that our rights are being abused.

However, while I support the intent of the legislation, and I want to underline the fact that I support it, I do have some concerns.

The first concern I want to raise has been raised by one of my colleagues in questioning. In keeping with its pattern of operation, the Conservative government has yet again failed to recognize and acknowledge that the time period in which the federal government would dictate policy to aboriginal people is behind it. It is no more.

We do not impose any more without consulting. Why the government would choose to operate in this way is beyond me. There has been no consultation. There has been no forewarning. There has been no discussion with first nations. There has simply been a decision made to do it and say that it is time to impose it. That is not the way to do business with first nations.

Previous reports that examined the effect of repealing section 67 of the Human Rights Act have made it clear that a transition and implementation period is necessary in order to effectively acclimatize first nations for the legislation. The Human Rights Commission, which we all know of and is well regarded, recommended that the transition and implementation period be a minimum of 18 months and up to 30 months. Other groups have also recommended an implementation and transition period of 30 months.

Did the government consider this when it drafted its recommendations? Did it consider what the Human Rights Commission had to say? Did it ask first nations how long they thought they needed before being adequately prepared? It appears not. It seems that they plucked a number out of the air and said that first nations have six months to prepare.

We know that most first nations do not have the resources or capacity to cope with the potential exposure to liability or to undertake measures to reduce risk. We know that in the bill the government has neglected to mention any resources that will be allocated to capacity building. There must be a capacity both to respond to and to prevent human rights violations.

Also, as it relates to the repeal of section 67, the government has chosen to ignore the matter, and again it has been raised here today, of an interpretive clause. By so doing, the government has once again said that it knows best. It has ignored the advice of the Human Rights Commission and the will of first nations, which both say that an interpretive clause is a necessary inclusion in any legislation dealing with section 67.

The purpose of the clause would be to assist the Human Rights Commission in adjudicating claims against first nations governments, agencies and institutions. In previous submissions on the repeal of the section, the Assembly of First Nations has strongly advocated for the inclusion of such a clause. It does so to ensure that their concern in maintaining an appropriate balance, which again we heard raised earlier today, a balance between collective rights and individual rights, is maintained, and consequently the tradition of collectivity carries on for future governments. Again the government has chosen to bypass this. Before Bill C-44 is finalized, there must be an accommodation for an interpretation clause.

Yet another concern as it relates to the repeal of section 67 is the impact it will have on aboriginal and treaty rights. The constitutional analysis and effect related to the repeal is unknown and needs to be examined before moving forward with the bill. We have heard that will happen in five years. It seems to me that this is putting the cart before the horse. Usually in all other areas when we implement legislation, we need to know what the impact will be, and then we move forward. We seem to be doing it backwards this time.

Another concern is the issue of jurisdiction and who is best able to deal with the issues of human rights complaints on reserves. In its report on section 67, again the Human Rights Commission suggests the possibility of the enactment of a first nations human rights commission and tribunal. Its idea, which I believe the Assembly of First Nations has endorsed enthusiastically, is nowhere to be seen in the legislation. The establishment of such a commission and tribunal would go a long way to addressing the concerns.

From the outset, I say on behalf of my party that we support the intent of the legislation. Our support for the purpose of the legislation, the extension of rights, is consistent with the Liberal Party's activities over the years from Confederation to today. However, I do have to note the irony that the same government that rushes to introduce the legislation is also responsible for successfully lobbying for the abandonment of the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples.

I agree that the same rights need to be extended across this country to every person. The fact that the legislation will extend the ability to file human rights claims is long overdue, but I repeat that there are concerns that need to be addressed. There are matters of consultation. There are matters of implementation. There are matters of capacity. There are matters of an interpretive clause. There is the matter of the analysis on the impact on treaty and aboriginal rights. Also, there is the whole issue of operation.

I look forward to seeing this piece of legislation go to committee. There is much work to be done in committee before it can be brought back to the House for a successful conclusion.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

February 7th, 2007 / 3:40 p.m.
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NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, if passed into law, Bill C-44 would change the way that decisions are made in the aboriginal community. Human rights protection is very important, but the point I was trying to make with my last question is that even though we keep hearing about 30 years, it will take time to take this on issue and gain the trust of this community. I will repeat my point that I do not believe the minister gave enough time to establish that relationship of trust as needed.

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February 7th, 2007 / 3:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the parliamentary secretary's comments. I would like to point out to him—this is rather bizarre—that the current government is using pressure from the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to justify coming back with this bill, in order to eliminate a section that, I feel, completely discriminates against first nations peoples. I will come back to this in a moment.

First off, following that small comment, I wanted to ask the parliamentary secretary if he heard the statements made by the Assembly of First Nations of Canada. Furthermore, what does he intend to do or recommend to the committee concerning the famous interpretation clause that first nations peoples would like to see before Bill C-44 is enacted, if it passes?

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

February 7th, 2007 / 3:20 p.m.
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Winnipeg South Manitoba

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my support for Bill C-44, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act. Today my hon. colleagues have an opportunity to make Canada a more impartial and egalitarian society. The legislation now before us strives to end an unjust situation created when the Human Rights Act first came into effect 30 years ago.

Bill C-44 proposes to repeal section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act and thereby provide individuals, namely residents of first nation communities, with the same protection against discrimination long enjoyed by other Canadians. To understand the importance of repealing section 67, allow me to provide some context.

When the Canadian Human Rights Act was enacted in 1977, it was properly seen as a significant and progressive accomplishment for our country. The act furthered Canada's reputation as a respectful, democratic nation, dedicated to protecting the rights of its citizens. Observers from around the globe applauded Canada and our comprehensive approach to human rights protection. The Canadian Human Rights Act defines discrimination clearly and institutes a readily accessible investigative process that is open to public scrutiny.

The act not only prohibits discrimination based on 11 specific grounds, but also it provides the legal resource and recourse to citizens who feel that the federal government or institutions operating under federal jurisdiction have violated their rights. Under the act, it is forbidden to discriminate based on age, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, mental or physical disability or pardoned conviction.

To investigate and adjudicate alleged acts of discrimination, the act establishes two bodies: the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Over the past three decades, the Canadian Human Rights Act has served to strengthen democracy in our country.

Unfortunately, not all Canadians enjoy equal access to the legal instruments provided by the Canadian Human Rights Act. Section 67 states:

Nothing in this Act affects any provision of the Indian Act or any provision made under or pursuant to that Act.

This sentence simply and effectively denies some Canadians access to the remedies granted in the act. Section 67 shields the Indian Act and any decisions made or actions taken under the Act from application of the Canadian Human Rights Act. In effect, section 67 puts into question our claim to be a fair and egalitarian society.

When the Canadian Human Rights Act was debated in the House and reviewed in committee, the presence of section 67 elicited many objections. The exemption it granted, though, was accepted at the time as a temporary measure, one that would be rescinded once reforms to the Indian Act were completed. In fact, however, the kind of extensive reform of the Indian Act that was anticipated, and so greatly needed, in the 1970s has still not come. Later, more focused attempts to repeal section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, in the form of both government sponsored legislation and a private member's bill, died on the order paper.

Today the exemption remains in place, creating a twisted irony of sorts: legislation designed to promote equality effectively sanctions discrimination. Under section 67, thousands of Canadians cannot fully avail themselves of the legal instruments that combat discrimination. What is particularly disturbing is that section 67 affects many of Canada's most vulnerable citizens, residents of first nation communities.

Among other matters, the Indian Act stipulates how first nation communities are governed, how Indian status is defined and how reserve lands are administered. Under section 67, potentially discriminatory decisions made by agencies mandated by the Indian Act, such as band councils and school boards as well as the federal government itself, are exempted from the Canadian Human Rights Act. These decisions often touch on crucial aspects of day to day life, such as education, housing, registration and the use and occupation of reserve lands. We must take immediate action to remove this fundamental inequality.

Most Canadians recognize that huge gaps exist in the quality of life experienced by aboriginal and non-aboriginal people in our country. The government is determined to close these gaps and make tangible, sustainable progress on the full range of aboriginal issues. To do so, I believe we must address root causes, and there is no doubt that inadequate legal frameworks exacerbate many key problems. I am pleased to report that a collaborative effort is underway to design and implement appropriate legal frameworks.

Prior to our last adjournment, members of the House accorded speedy passage to Bill C-34. The legislation grants first nations in British Columbia greater control of on reserve education and encourages improved education outcomes through appropriate partnerships among first nations and with provincial educational bodies.

A series of consultations is underway to recommend legislative options to resolve the difficult issue of on reserve matrimonial real property, something that our minister has championed since the day he took office. Another consultative process that is ongoing is aimed at improving the quality of drinking water. This has been proposed through legislative options, which can lead to putting appropriate standards into law.

I am convinced that the repeal of section 67 is an important building block in a renewed legislative framework that can enable aboriginal peoples to participate fully in the prosperity of our country.

Bill C-44 has three main components.

The first repeals section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, something that has been in place for some 30-odd years now.

The second commits Parliament to conduct, within five years, a review of the effects of this repeal, and this is important to consider.

The third component provides six months to prepare for the application of the repeal to first nations. In essence, for the first six months following royal assent, the exemption granted to first nations under section 67 would remain in place. While some parties have called for a longer delay period, in my view, after 30 years access to these important rights protections cannot and should not be delayed any further.

For first nations, adapting and responding to the Canadian Human Rights Act regime is a process that will evolve over the years, just as it has for institutions to which the act currently applies.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission has already established an aboriginal program to give specific attention to the unique needs and circumstances of aboriginal communities as they relate to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Employment Equity Act.

The six month delay will provide for a focused period during which the Canadian Human Rights Commission will inform first nations about the Canadian Human Rights Act and begin to work with them to develop culturally appropriate community redress mechanisms, if they so wish. The Government of Canada, though, would be subject to the act once Bill C-44 received royal assent as there would be no six month delay.

The simplicity of the legislation before us belies the valuable impact it will have on the residents of first nation communities. Bill C-44 would give full legal protection to the rights of thousands of Canadians for the very first time. It would enable them to challenge and adjudicate potential cases of discrimination that may exist currently on reserves.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission fully supports Bill C-44 and has declared itself ready and able to help first nations deal with the repeal of section 67. Its work with first nations will not simply end after the six month delay period. The Canadian Human Rights Act authorizes the commission to establish guidelines on how to interpret particular types or groups of complaints.

I fully expect that the commission will work closely with first nations to explore and develop appropriate interpretive policies, guidelines and regulations, helping first nations build the capacity to address the new avenues provided for the protection of their citizens, avenues that have long been available for the rest of Canadians. I know all first nations families would be interested in seeing this come to pass.

As I noted previously, another mechanism to ensure that Bill C-44 does not cause any group undue hardship in including itself, we have included this in the legislation. A parliamentary standing committee must conduct a thorough and open review of the impact that this repeal will have on first nations after five years have passed. The committee must also submit a full and public report to the House of Commons.

The Canadian Human Rights Act has become a cornerstone of Canada's democracy and today we have the opportunity to ensure that it applies to all Canadians, first nation Canadians, so all citizens can be treated with equal respect and dignity before the law.

I urge the members of the House to support Bill C-44.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

February 7th, 2007 / 3:20 p.m.
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Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

moved that Bill C-44, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

February 1st, 2007 / 3:05 p.m.
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York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the fine words of welcome from the opposition House leader.

Today, of course, we will be continuing with the opposition motion. Tomorrow we will continue debate on the report stage amendments to Bill C-31, the election integrity act amendments with which we are all familiar.

For Monday and Tuesday, we are intending to call Bill C-26 on payday loans, which is at third reading, Bill C-32 on impaired driving, Bill C-11, the transport act, and Bill C-33, the technical income tax bill.

On Wednesday we hope to begin debate on the third reading stage of Bill C-31, followed by Bill C-44 relating to human rights.

Thursday, February 8 shall be an allotted day. Next Friday we would like to begin debate on the anti-terrorism motion that would extend the application of certain sections of the Anti-Terrorism Act that are due to expire.

Finally, as members know, democratic reform is a priority for Canada's new government, and given that the Liberal leader has publicly expressed his support for term limits for senators, could the official opposition inform the House as to when it can expect the unelected, unaccountable Liberal senators who are delaying and obstructing that bill to give us a chance to consider it here in the House of Commons?