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.

June 19th, 2007 / 11:10 a.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative Colin Mayes

The chair would like to make a statement about the motion, as the chair feels that the motion is out of order. I'd like to give the reasons that follow.

The committee is at the pleasure of the House. The purpose of the committee is to review and suggest amendments to bills through debate based on relevant information supported by witness testimony. The action recommended by this motion does not relate to the substance of the bill, and the motion also recommends department expenditures, which is ultra vires to the committee's mandate.

Second, the motion does not specifically mention Bill C-44, so it is questionable if it is relevant to the legislative process.

Third, the chair also believes that the House is the appropriate body to debate the essence of bills. The committee is to debate the substance of bills. This motion, in my opinion, crosses the line and alters the integrity of the bill. The purpose of the bill is to amend section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, not to define the duty to consult. The motion is addressing the principle of the duty to consult, yet that question is very abstract and, the chair determines, too vague to resolve.

For these reasons, the chair determines the motion is out of order.

Do you wish to challenge the chair?

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 18th, 2007 / 5:25 p.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the member's comments. I certainly like working with her on the aboriginal affairs committee. I know that she has a desire to see the lot of aboriginal people in Canada improved, as we all do.

However, I do take exception to some of the statements that she made to the effect that some of us do not want aboriginal people to become educated or to succeed. I need to say that one of the reasons that I requested to serve on the aboriginal affairs committee was from exactly that kind of motivation: to see the lives of aboriginal peoples improve. I would ask her not to imply in comments about being insensitive or something that simply because we approach the topic from a different perspective we do not have a concern equal to that of members opposite.

Our government has implemented a lot of key measures in the past year to improve the lives of aboriginal people. There has been $308 million for post-secondary education and $105 million for the aboriginal skills and employment partnerships. We have Bill C-44 and also the recent announcement that deals with specific land claims and a process to speed up that entire system.

I have two questions. Should the government fund 100% of post-secondary education for aboriginal students and other Canadians? If it did, how much of a budget would it require to fund that kind of request?

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 18th, 2007 / 5 p.m.
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Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have much to say on this matter. It is true that Bill C-44, which we are currently studying in committee, contains only nine operative words. Those nine words, however, will have serious repercussions on first nations people. Once the Canadian Human Rights Act applies in a community, this means that, immediately, anywhere in Canada, legal action can be taken against a band council or against the department any time there is no water, no hospital nearby or if people are not receiving the same level of care as anywhere else in Canada.

Earlier, in my response to another colleague, I said that real consultation is absolutely essential. The government must go to first nations communities to hear how first nations people want to repeal this retrograde legislation. Everyone wants to repeal it. We must find the mechanisms to ensure that this is done in full respect of the wishes of first nations people.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 18th, 2007 / 4 p.m.
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Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in my presentation, the amount of $300 million is something that I believe can be more efficiently allocated. I think that efficiencies are the most important part of making this allocation work better for first nations people. I know that some of those recommendations are in the report and hopefully possibly will advance this outcome.

In relation to human rights violations that might be occurring in Canada, I think that as a government that is one of the reasons why we are bringing forward Bill C-44. We are not going to stop because there might be a flood of complaints. We do not think that is going to be the case, but that is no reason to put off such important efforts.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 18th, 2007 / 3:40 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, it is a pleasure to rise today on this important topic before the House. The member who has called this concurrence debate is a member of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development and is a passionate advocate for aboriginal people throughout Canada and, of course, students.

This was an important study that was the first that I took part in as a member of Parliament and, as such, was not only a study on education but was very much an education for me.

We received many submissions and it was an extensive study. We also, in my opinion, found important information about the process for which aboriginal students across Canada are learning.

If there is one thing that everyone can agree on, it is that the path for individuals to succeed, for communities to escape poverty, for societies to flourish and for economies to prosper lies through education, education and more education.

Despite heroic efforts by thousands of students, parents, teachers and educators and many green shoots of progress, we all must admit there has not been enough of that progress. Too few aboriginal children finish high school. Too many schools lack the labs and libraries or the access to extra support services that make a difference. They have little measurement, no real system and no education act, just schools, lots of funding, agreements and people trying to make it work by throwing money at a system that may not work in the short term but suffices for the here and now.

However, it will not last. We need deeper renovation. We must do better. It is essential for all students across Canada and especially aboriginal students. We cannot wait.

Thankfully, we have seen a process begin in British Columbia. First nations people have led the way by forging a unique three-way partnership with the two levels of government. This partnership marries old ideas of first nations people along with new models of clear accountability for results in interconnection to the provincial standards for students and teachers.

Parliament passed this law to support the partnership last December. It is something that all members of the House were very proud of. We are moving swiftly, not just to implement it in B.C., but to offer similar partnerships in other parts of the country.

We have also learned from successes in Nova Scotia and the James Bay coast of Quebec. We have forged solid working relationships with experts in provincial ministries and universities.

We are still not sitting in a way that is urgent to press forward on these problems but we will in fact move forward and invest more than $50 million in important new school projects and extend the SchoolNet program that supports these schools with the Internet connections that they need to become the schools that everyone expects in this modern age.

This fall we will be doing a lot more as well. We cannot let this story end with an improvement in high schools. We also know that it is crucial to build bridges from these secondary schools to the labour markets and how important these further skills can be, whether that means university, college or accreditation for trades.

That is why our budget presented in March made an investment of an extra $105 million over the next five years. It is more than double the size of the aboriginal skills and partnership initiative which will fund skills training for thousands of aboriginal people.

That is why we sign partnership deals, bringing together first nations with private sector firms like EnCana and Siemens. We have renovated and extended for another five years the urban aboriginal strategy with a tighter focus on employment.

I have visited many communities throughout the north, including the community of Thompson. I know we have the member of Parliament from the Thompson area here today. I witnessed some of the work that was done with the aboriginal strategy in that fine city in which I was born and I can say that it has worked for the citizens of that community.

The one thing we learned in our study was that it is essential for post-secondary students to actually graduate. Perhaps the most important point that I personally learned as part of that study is that first nations students on reserve, in fact all aboriginal students throughout Canada, when graduating at the high school level are just as likely to proceed to post-secondary education and achieve success as other students in different demographics in Canada. This is an important fact that was learned by myself and other members of the committee during that important study.

As a government, we feel that we must focus much of our energy on improving the standards of secondary education throughout first nations communities. Unfortunately, there is a patchwork of systems in place that governs education. I know British Columbia has moved forward with an important initiative but many other provinces in Canada have yet to embrace these models. This is something that we as a government must do.

I want to highlight some of the other things we learned in the study since today we have been called upon to have this debate. One of the areas that I particularly focused on was the area of funding provided to first nations communities and how that funding is then further allocated. There is debate in relation to the amount, which is roughly $300 million. Some have argued that there should be more and some have argued that this amount needs to be more efficiently utilized. Of course, I believe there could be new efficiencies brought about to improve the outcome of that $300 million.

That is an area that I believe needs more work. There is really no general accountability on that $300 million. In fact, it is invested directly into the bands' general operating funds. If there were a new system that allowed for these communities to specifically allocate those funds to universities, I think new efficiencies could be found.

Of course, if an individual on reserve wanted to complain about the fact that there is not necessarily assurance in the way that $300 million is spent, they currently cannot do so within the Canadian context but, thankfully, we are bringing an important bill before the House, Bill C-44. I know the member for Churchill is not interested in this topic.

Bill C-44 extends the Canadian Human Rights Act to first nations people on reserve and that is important.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

June 15th, 2007 / 11:45 a.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 am very proud to further highlight from earlier this week the fact that the Prime Minister announced a new process which will extend $250 million a year to settle specific claims.

Further to that, right now we have the opportunity to extend human rights to first nations people with Bill C-44. The only thing standing between first nations people and human rights on reserve is the Liberal Party, the Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

June 14th, 2007 / 3:10 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 will be happy to address that in the affirmative in a moment but there is more that we should know about in terms of the business we are doing.

We will continue today with Bill C-42, the quarantine act, Bill C-58, the railway transportation bill and Bill C-21, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act (non-registration of firearms that are neither prohibited nor restricted).

Tonight we have the emergency debate pursuant to Standing Order 52 that the Speaker has determined should proceed.

On Friday we will call Bill C-33, the income tax bill and Bill C-6, the aeronautics bill.

Next week is got the job done week when the House has completed the nation's business for this spring's session. During the got the job done week we will continue and hopefully complete the business from this week, as well as some new legislation and legislation that will be out of committee or the Senate.

The list of bills that are currently on the order paper, in addition to those I have identified for this week that I would like to see completed by the House before the summer recess are: Senate amendments to Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Public Service Employment Act.

There are also the following bills: Bill C-32, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (impaired driving) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts; Bill C-44, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and Bill C-53, An Act to implement the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID Convention).

Another bill includes Bill C-54, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (accountability with respect to loans).

By the end of next week, Canadians expect that the Senate will have completed its consideration of budget Bill C-52 without any amendments so that they can relax for the summer with the knowledge that $4.3 billion in the 2006-07 year end measures will be in play.

If there are amendments, we will have to be here in the House to respond and protect measures that might otherwise be lost, such as a $1.5 billion for the Canada ecotrust for clean air and climate change; $600 million for patient wait times guarantees; $400 million for the Canada infoway; $100 million for the CANARIE project to maintain the research broadband network linking Canadian universities and research hospitals; $200 million for protection of endangered spaces; and much more.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

June 14th, 2007 / 2:40 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 find it bizarre hearing this logic from the member opposite. We have before the House of Commons Bill C-44 which actually extends human rights to first nations people in Canada. This is something that has been historically unjust.

We have the opportunity today to move forward and extend human rights to first nations people. I would ask that the opposition parties come on board with the government and bring human rights to first nations.

June 14th, 2007 / 11:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Chairman, I certainly don't want to second-guess my colleague's motives, but I have a number of problems with the motion that's before us.

First is the sheer size of the motion; it is much longer than Bill C-44. To expect us to engage this motion with any degree of vigour and come up with a reasonable solution within a two-hour period is rather unrealistic.

There are a couple of comments, words, or phrases used here that I think are problematic. For example, under number 1, it refers to “a degree of consensus”, and I think that gets to the heart of what we talked about with a number of our witnesses. Virtually every witness who appeared before us admitted that getting a consensus on this would be a pretty tall order. There are really no degrees of consensus; either we have it or we don't.

She refers to a non-derogation clause. When the Canadian Human Rights Commission appeared before us, they did not support including that.

There is no addressing of the timeline or costs of the steps that she proposes. What would the timeline be? What would the cost be?

There are too many unanswered questions for me to give any degree of support to this, so I'd definitely be voting against it.

June 14th, 2007 / 11:25 a.m.
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Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

Well, I'm not sure that I'm in question period yet, but I will try to give you an answer.

As we've discussed, and as I have chatted with some of the members opposite on ways we can move forward with this important legislation, I think this committee is the master of its own destiny and we will be able to find solutions to rectify any situations that are perceived to be preventing Bill C-44 from proceeding. In that sense, there is no question that we can have those discussions, and we will do so over the next few hours and days—hopefully, preceding summer.

But getting back to the motion, it flies in the face of our being able to do that, as it calls for a different process to begin. Just trying to take this debate back to the motion, I would suggest that we as a committee have to vote against this motion and continue our work to bring forward a repeal of section 67.

June 14th, 2007 / 11:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

I didn't speak to the motion in my last submission, but I will speak to the motion right now. Again, I think one could predict at least where I'm going to start.

In Madam Crowder's motion she compares matrimonial property study to the fact that there was a process that was set up. You're indicating that's somewhat of a precedent. I feel that the types of consultations and discussions that have occurred in the last 30 years—and it can't be denied that over the last 30 years there have been a lot of attempts to do what we're doing today—are quite dissimilar from the current initiative of the minister and Ms. Grant-John on matrimonial real property.

I think there is no direct comparison of consultation, but we must remember the fact that what we're doing here through our repeal of section 67 is to bring the opportunity for individuals, for people who currently don't have a voice, to express their human rights cases. It puts a challenge on me as a legislator, and I know on everybody on this side, to further delay that.

I think we've been given a number of submissions from many of the leaders within the aboriginal communities—first nations specifically, but others as well. I believe we have received considerable information to be able to actually do the work we're currently doing.

In light of the fact that we're in a minority government, there is no guarantee that we're going to be here forever. We have that opportunity now to be able to do something historic. Therefore, unfortunately, your motion would cast some doubt on what we would be doing as a committee. You don't specifically reference Bill C-44. Likely, you did that for the reason I just mentioned—that you didn't necessarily want to influence the discussion of the bill. Nonetheless, this motion is still in our discourse right now. It will influence what we're doing. Naturally, as a member of the government side, I can't support it.

June 14th, 2007 / 11:20 a.m.
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NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

My challenge with this, Mr. Chair, is that there are a couple of issues. One is that there is no assurance that we will actually be sitting next week. If we are not sitting next week, then if my motion—which would encourage the government to move forward with consultation—were passed by the committee, then consultation could start fairly soon and take place over the summer, instead of there being no action whatsoever taken over the summer.

My motion, specifically, does not reference Bill C-44. It references a consultation process around the repeal of section 67, so it could proceed whatever the discussions are around the bill. In fact, it would be a good-faith gesture on the government's part if they would agree to consultation while we sorted out what other proposed amendments should be in the bill.

June 13th, 2007 / 9:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, of course the member raises the issue of human rights and hopefully we will be able to soon pass Bill C-44, which would extend human rights to first nations people on reserve.

She also raises the point of throwing money at a broken system. This is something that our government has taken major issue with, because we feel the systems are broken. Investing money in broken systems is not the right approach for delivering to people on the streets of first nations communities.

This is one of the reasons why Canada's new government is moving forward for first nations people, thankfully, and bringing about system change to the Indian Specific Claims Commission as well as system change to the Canadian Human Rights Act, which would extend human rights to first nations people. Hopefully the member will help us in fixing the system.

June 13th, 2007 / 9:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Tina Keeper Liberal Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to follow up on my question posed to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development on May 18. Similar to other responses I have received from the government, the answer I was given that day was empty, unsatisfying and entirely rhetorical.

However, providing adequate responses is not the only thing the Conservative government seems to be struggling with lately. In recent weeks it has grown increasingly evident that the government continues to struggle with maintaining strong partners within the Canadian federation.

It began by abandoning the historic Kelowna accord and ignoring first nations health, education and poverty issues, which has led to a deterioration of the government's relationship with first nations communities. We have seen the true colours of members opposite in their style of government as they have turned their backs on first nations and now they have turned their backs on Atlantic Canada and other provinces. Rather than working together in a collaborative fashion, we are witnessing a divisive and appalling approach to government. I encourage those sitting on the government side of the House to consult with Canada's first nations, Métis and Inuit on what true consultation actually means.

I would like to point out that the member referred to the Kelowna accord as a “quasi-plan”. The member opposite used that term when he responded to my question on May 18. It reflects that party's inability to understand the issues facing first nations.

The Kelowna accord was the result of 18 months of aboriginal round tables, including all aboriginal groups in Canada. This was not to satisfy a legal obligation on consultation, which we know the Conservatives know nothing about, but was a good faith process.

If the Conservatives could deviate from their slogans for a moment, maybe they could hear what first nations are saying on such issues as matrimonial real property, Bill C-44, the anti-poverty campaign and even the human rights complaint they have been forced to file against the government on first nations child welfare. First nations want change but not in the paternalistic manner of decades past in the days of the Indian agent.

In my question to the minister I cited Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine when he commented on the Kelowna accord. He said, “for the very first time, we had...a plan...based on reason, thoughtful consideration”. He said, “That deal was set aside, dismissed”.

Under the previous Liberal government, the Kelowna accord was built on a foundation of respect, accountability and shared responsibility. It outlined five year targets in the areas of education, health, housing, infrastructure and water.

What will it take for the government to take all issues relating to first nations, Inuit and the Métis nation in Canada seriously? Why does the Conservative government treat our partners within our federation with such disdain? When will it work with aboriginal leaders on all issues to improve the quality of life for first nations?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

June 12th, 2007 / 2:55 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

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's question. If the Bloc members say they are in favour of human rights, they should support Bill C-44 dealing with the rights of women and children. We still have not heard from the hon. member on this matter.