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.

Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern DevelopmentPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

May 31st, 2007 / 10:40 a.m.
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Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I apologize for interrupting the parliamentary secretary. I do not mean to interrupt his speech. He will have an opportunity in just a moment to continue, but this has to do with another matter that occurred in the House earlier today at the beginning of the session.

I rise on a point of order concerning the government's use of Standing Order 56.1 to dispose of the committee stage of Bill C-44. This occurred earlier today.

I would like to refer specifically to a ruling by the Speaker on September 18, 2001, in which the Speaker said the following:

The expanded use of Standing Order 56.1 since 1997 causes the Chair serious concern. The government is provided with a range of options under Standing Orders 57 and 78 for the purpose of limiting debate. Standing Order 56.1 should be used for motions of a routine nature, such as arranging the business of the House. It was not intended to be used for the disposition of a bill at various stages, certainly not for bills that fall outside the range of those already contemplated in the standing order when “urgent or extraordinary occasions” arise. Standing Order 71 provides in such cases that a bill may be dealt with at more than one stage in a single day.

Mr. Speaker, that appeared in Hansard on September 18, 2001.

Therefore, in light of this ruling that is already provided, and referenced, I might say, in Marleau and Montpetit, acknowledging that the committee stage of a bill is a stage of consideration, the government can use Standing Order 78 to limit debate at this stage or at any other stage.

As indicated by the Speaker in the quotation that I referred to, Standing Order 56.1 “was not intended to be used for the disposition of a bill at various stages”.

I would therefore, Mr. Speaker, respectfully request that you look at the motion adopted by the use of Standing Order 56.1 this morning and rule explicitly that the motion is out of order in relation to Standing Order 56.1.

I would point out, Mr. Speaker, that the aboriginal affairs committee is meeting very shortly and that is why I have raised the matter at this time. Your ruling in a timely manner would be most welcome on this issue so that the standing committee can know where it stands.

Canada-Portugal Day ActRoutine Proceedings

May 31st, 2007 / 10:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, if you were to seek it, I hope you would find unanimous consent for the following motion: That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of the House, when the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development convenes a meeting, it shall not be adjourned or suspended until it completes the committee stage of Bill C-44, except pursuant to a motion by a parliamentary secretary and, provided the bill is adopted by the committee, agrees to report the bill to the House within two sitting days following the completion of the committee stage.

May 29th, 2007 / 12:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Thank you, Mr. Minister, for coming forward to discuss the main estimates with this committee today. I have to admit I think the committee is a little disappointed. When we first arranged to have you here for two hours, I believe all members were hoping to have Bill C-44 passed. Hopefully your presence will inspire some renewed invigoration of this file.

Minister, I want to say that in my constituency people are very impressed with the leadership you have shown on this file; leadership in going to places like Pikanjikum and seeing these issues first-hand and being willing to tackle these things first-hand when other members of Parliament, quite frankly, aren't willing to go there to do some of this dirty work.

Minister, water safety is an issue that is all too often taken for granted by average Canadians. In my area, however, having access to safe drinking water is unfortunately something that many of our first nations people on reserve have long been denied. The department's main estimates include a sizeable increase in funding for water safety initiatives.

Could you please outline for our committee, Minister, the direction you are taking to ensure safe water for first nations people living on reserve?

May 29th, 2007 / 12:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Prentice Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank my colleague for his question. With your indulgence, I shall answer in English.

The Inuit-Makivik legislation, Bill C-51, is at the House. The issue is whether there's going to be a clause-by-clause review by this committee, and if so, when it is going to happen—or whether it is, frankly, necessary.

There is a second bill, which relates to the province of Quebec, that has been working its way through the Senate: Bill S-6, which relates to the bijuralization, if you will. It's an extremely important bill. It's inexplicable why it has not happened to this point, but all of the modern self-government legislation that has been put in place over the last number of years was not put in place for Quebec first nations at the same time. We wish to rectify that.

I anticipate that both of those bills will be before the House in the way that you anticipate, hopefully very quickly, so that we can deal with them and move forward. That's something that you and I and Monsieur Lemay and others will continue to work together on. I wish to see those two bills enacted as law as quickly as possible. I think we can achieve that.

With respect to Bill C-44, I must say this is a piece of legislation that gives to first nations citizens the protection of Canada's Human Rights Act. I don't think the parliamentary committee should study it endlessly. The operative clause of the bill is only nine words long. It says: “Section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act is repealed.”That would lift a barrier that prevents a first nation woman, for example, who's not satisfied with the quality of education her child is receiving from filing a complaint, a grievance, either against the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, whoever it happens to be, or against her own council, if she feels that's where the issue isn't being dealt with.

This is one of the elements of modern governance that clearly has to be available to first nations citizens as we move forward to self-government. I think it's wrong that first nations citizens in Canada do not have the right to file human rights grievances the way other Canadians do. I think it will advantage women and children significantly, and I ask for the committee's cooperation.

The committee has been studying this subject now for 16 weeks, and I think it's time the committee moved this bill back to the House of Commons. If at that time the opposition parties do not support the concept of Canada's first nation citizens having human rights protection, you'll be afforded an opportunity to stand up and cast a vote. But let's get this issue back to the House of Commons and move forward. This committee has much other important work to do.

May 29th, 2007 / 12:10 p.m.
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Bloc

Yvon Lévesque Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Minister, I would like to begin by acknowledging your support with regard to the Quebec Pavillon des Premières Nations. Unfortunately, you have not been quite as impressive in other areas. I do not know whether you recall the commitment made in 1977 by the department and the then prime minister to consult first nations before introducing any changes. On page 1 of your report, you refer to Bill C-44 and, on page 7, you mention the repeal of section 67.

This is what I want to discuss first. Everybody agrees that first nations ought to be subject to the same laws that govern other Canadians. However, when we impose obligations upon first nations, we must also give them the means to meet these obligations. For some time now, people have been voicing their concerns about primary education. The study on post-secondary education revealed a problem: young people are not finishing primary school because the primary school system is inadequate. There is not enough money to build schools and there is a shortage of teachers.

Even today, first nations people have to fight for schools and struggle to find qualified teachers. How can we possibly ask first nations leaders to take on the same responsibilities as their non-first nations counterparts?

Let us now turn our attention to Bill C-51, which deals with the Nunavik land claims. You tabled this bill in the House quite some time ago. The committee unanimously supported fast-tracking the bill, we were in favour of fast-tracking the bill because it represented a commitment by your government to the Inuit. It was a laudable commitment. Everybody supported it.

Given that this bill falls under the purview of your department, could you please explain why it has not even got to second reading in the House?

May 29th, 2007 / noon
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Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Minister, for being here, and also to everyone who's here to listen today.

I have a lot to cover in our second round with only five minutes. I'm just going to take your comment about the residential schools having gone so well as actually a compliment to the previous government, which I think pretty well settled it, and all you need to do is carry it through.

Because everyone else has asked questions on other areas, I'm going to focus more on economic development. As I look through some of the planned spending, I see a lot of decreases in the areas that have something to do with economic development: the clarity of title to lands and resources, economic development for aboriginal people, and economic development, northern land and resources, even community infrastructure. Those I see as all key parts of fostering good economic development in our communities, and I see a very big drop. I know you've transferred Aboriginal Business Canada from Industry Canada, which I don't necessarily agree with either, because the expertise was in Industry Canada, and I thought we were moving to a phase where economic development was economic development, not that just because it's aboriginal people it has to be under Indian Affairs.

So could you explain why there is such a drop in that? Aboriginal Business Canada is only $49.1 million on the next page; it doesn't account for all the different reductions in that.

Could you also talk little bit about your relationship with organizations that represent aboriginal people in Canada? We're hearing a lot through our Bill C-44 witnesses that they're not getting an opportunity to really work with you on priority issues. I see a drop in cooperative relationships too, that the funding has gone down in that, so I don't know if that explains part of it. I have a group called the Land Claim Agreement Coalition who have come together--all the different land claims organizations have come together, and it's a rare thing for them to be able to come together and work together--and they haven't been able to get cooperation on the government side to really implement land claims organizations.

I know I don't have that much time. I'll leave the rest with you.

May 29th, 2007 / 11:05 a.m.
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Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would be pleased to do so.

I'd like to say good morning to you and to the members of the committee. Thank you very much. I look forward to our dialogue here today.

I thank you for the opportunity to discuss the main estimates of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development with you and your colleagues this morning. I'm grateful for the attention this committee has given to my department's agenda over the past year—I guess to our collective agenda. I appreciate your consideration of these important issues, including post-secondary education and housing, as well as legislative initiatives such as Bill C-34 and Bill C-44, which are now before the committee.

I know we all share the same objective, which is to say improving the quality of life for aboriginal people and northerners.

You heard from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada's accounting officer, Deputy Minister Michael Wernick, a short time ago regarding the department's supplementary estimates. I would like to speak today in the context of this year's main estimates, the next step in the financial planning cycle, and we are determined to move forward to make a real and positive difference in the lives of aboriginal people and northerners.

The current 2007-08 main estimates include $6.3 billion for our department. This represents a net increase of $36 million from 2006-07.

One point I would like to emphasize, particularly for Monsieur Lemay, is that the main estimates are of course simply the first step in the fiscal cycle, the starting point. They do not include resources that will be allocated through supplementary estimates.

Mr. Chairman, funded by the main and supplementary estimates, we are determined to move forward in clearly defined ways through approaches and initiatives that will effect real change in aboriginal communities and furthermore will give aboriginal people the tools and organizational structures they need to take charge of their own future.

I have felt, from the time I became the minister, that we need to effect structural reforms, in particular to protect women and children and to ensure that women are in a position to move forward and advocate on behalf of their children.

First, we need to effect structural reform to protect women, children and families. Whether the reform is legislative, as is the case with the repealed section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, or a change in policies and programs, we must ensure that aboriginal women, children and families have the same rights and have access to the same quality of services as all other Canadians.

Our continued work to address the issue of matrimonial real property and our recent partnership with the Province of Alberta and Alberta first nations to implement a new approach to child and family services are recent examples of new and innovative thinking, new approaches to the existing challenges in first nation communities. I'm confident that, working in partnership with the provinces, territories, and aboriginal groups, we can build on successes such as these.

Second, we have to consolidate economic development tools to obtain the maximum efficiency from our programs and services, and so that we can enable first nations to take charge of their own economic development. That is why the Aboriginal Business Canada program and the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board were unified under my department in December 2006. This is an important initiative, and there will be more said about it in the future. It is one of the important structural changes that needed to be made to ensure that the department has the tools to deal with economic development, which I think we all would agree is a significant part of the way forward.

Furthermore, under the aboriginal workplace partnership initiatives, we have formalized partnerships with local governments, influential businesses, and trade unions to promote the employment of an aboriginal labour force. I'm especially proud of the agreements that have been signed in the past several months, agreements such as those with Siemens Canada Limited in Saskatoon, the City of Edmonton, the Calgary Health Region, the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union, and the Nova Scotia Trucking Human Resource Sector Council. All of these agreements will bolster the number of employment opportunities available to aboriginal people.

To give you another example, this government allocated $300 million in budget 2007 for the establishment of the first nations market housing fund. This fund will enable first nation families and individuals to purchase, build, and renovate on-reserve housing that meets their specific needs and tastes. I think everyone in the room is familiar with the fact that a key aspect of this is the leverage that is available from the $300 million, leverage that would be in the nature of four or five to one. So it's not simply $300 million; it accesses private mortgage capital in excess of $1.5 billion, which will be available over time for first nations housing.

The program is expected to help finance the development of approximately 25,000 new housing units over the next 10 years, but the First Nations Housing Market Fund will not only encourage housing development, it will also help first nations people living on reserve to obtain bank loans, build equity and generate wealth through home ownership.

Third, there is a desperate need to address the existing approach to the resolution of aboriginal land claims. I'm happy to point out that there have been some marked recent successes. The Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement, for instance, was signed in December of last year, resolving this country's last major Inuit land claim, Bill C-51.

Bill C-51, which ratifies this agreement, has recently been introduced in the House, and last year three treaties were also initialled in the province of British Columbia. These were the first to be initiated under the B.C. treaty process. However, much more needs to be done.

I know all of the members here today are eager to discuss these plans and to address the current untenable situation presented by the specific claims process. Although I'm not in a position to elaborate at this time, I'm pleased to note that we have committed to and intend to announce a new approach to the resolution of this long-standing national issue.

Fourth, we have to work to enable the participation of aboriginal people in major resource development opportunities. The close proximity of our first nations communities to resource development presents opportunities, allows people to participate in these projects in a meaningful manner, and to share in the social and economic benefits that are generated by these initiatives.

I know we've all seen examples of this sort of success in the past. I observed that in the context of Voisey's Bay, for example, close to 50% of the workforce at that facility are first nation citizens. If you go to the diamond mines in the Northwest Territories in the Tlicho area, you'll find that, as I recall, in excess of 30% of the people working at those facilities are first nation citizens.

So we are making progress.

This government recently passed regulations under the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act that will enable the Fort McKay First Nation, in partnership with Shell Canada, to develop a multi-billion dollar oil sands mine in northern Alberta. This is the first initiative of its kind. The project will attract investors from around the world and create hundreds of meaningful, well-paying jobs for community residents.

And we have also dedicated $500 million to the Mackenzie Valley Socio-Economic Impact Fund. Committed in budget 2006, this fund will assist those communities whose development is affected by the proposed Mackenzie gas project, should the project proceed.

Fifth, my colleagues, we continue to work forward addressing the residential schools matter. I'm pleased to report to the committee that the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement has received final court approval, and now former students and their families must choose whether to stay in the agreement or remove themselves from it. All parties to this historic agreement have agreed to a fair resolution of this sad legacy and chapter in the history of our country.

Our new government recognizes the importance of achieving a fair and lasting resolution of the Indian residential schools legacy and of moving forward in partnership with aboriginal communities across Canada. You will be aware that in my early months as minister, I brought the closure, along with Minister Oda, to the negotiations surrounding the Indian residential school settlement. That's also why we supported the motion for the House of Commons to apologize for the legacy of the Indian residential school agreement. The apology took place a month or so ago.

We are moving forward with the implementation of the agreement at this point, potentially as early as September of this year, once the opt-out period is finished. In particular, we look forward to the important work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which is an element of this historic agreement and which will provide a complete historic record of the unfortunate legacy of which we speak.

Not only is this department responsible for first nation, Inuit, and northern issues, I'm also the federal interlocutor for Métis and non-status Indians. My official work with Métis and non-status Indians and urban aboriginal people is to assist them in realizing their full economic and social potential. In this capacity, we recently announced a refocused urban aboriginal strategy in Edmonton, concentrating on job training and entrepreneurship for the nearly 50% of aboriginal people who live in cities and towns across the country.

The approach to the urban aboriginal strategy is based upon a focus on the larger metropolitan centres--12 in number, as I recall. The strategy unites federal, provincial, and municipal governments as well as aboriginal communities and organizations and invests $68.5 million over five years to improve life and employment skills, to promote entrepreneurship, and to provide support to aboriginal women, children, and families.

Mr. Chairman, you and your colleagues are quite aware that the north is an important part of my mandate. Canada's New Government is committed to working with Canada's three northern territories to develop the north's natural resources, and create jobs and prosperity for northerners and indeed for all Canadians.

The north holds a significant percentage of Canada's energy resources. They present an immense opportunity for exploration and development--investment for generations to come. Resource-based projects in the north include diamond mines, oil and gas exploration, and other mining activity. They've contributed to increased economic growth in the north over the past number of years.

This economic growth, besides being the means of improving quality of life for northerners, also serves to bolster Canadian sovereignty in the north, raising the profile of Canada. As an Arctic nation, we must do what we can to ensure that the current boom in the north continues, to the benefit of northerners and other Canadians alike.

The International Polar Year, 2007-08, was also launched on March 1. This will be another enabler of growth and development in the north. We expect that the research by Canadian and international scientists, funded through the International Polar Year program, will lead to new knowledge, environmental, health, and economic benefits to Canadians in the north and across our nation.

The two key themes for International Polar Year science—climate change impacts and adaptation, and the health and well-being of northern communities—will be important to many nations, given the global effects of climate change.

In closing, I feel it is essential to note that while funding is a crucial element in the success of our programs and initiatives, it is not the only significant factor. I have said before that continuing to fund existing programs without considering their validity or efficiency is not good enough. We must continue to consider whether the means by which we currently deliver services is truly producing the best results for aboriginal peoples and northerners. The funding provided in the main estimates is essential to maintain and advance programs to improve the quality of life for aboriginal people and northerners.

I welcome any questions or comments you may have.

Colleagues, I welcome any questions or comments you may have. It is a pleasure to be here. I know that we have a reservoir of knowledge at this table concerning aboriginal and northern issues, and I look forward to an opportunity to discuss this.

Thank you.

May 28th, 2007 / 6:35 p.m.
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NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am fully prepared to stay here until the job is done. Of course what we are talking about with Bill C-44 is actually the repeal of section 67, which allows people to file complaints against the Indian Act. First nations on reserve already have access to the Canadian Human Rights Act. In fact, the Assembly of First Nations has filed a complaint under the Canadian Human Rights Act about the serious underfunding of 22% for child services.

I still am looking for an answer about how much money actually ends up in first nations communities and in the hands of the people who live in those communities. We have seen this over and over, and again, from the government's own documents such as the government's cost driver report, which talks about the fact that “after nine years of a 2 percent cap the time has come to fund First Nations basic services costs so that population and price growth are covered in the new and subsequent years”. The report goes on to talk about the very serious needs around improved comparability. When will the--

May 28th, 2007 / 6:30 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 would like to thank the member for her question because in fact this is one of the very reasons why I got involved in politics. For the first time in my life I was able to join a party that was interested in actually reforming the very system that prevents the money needed by first nations people, aboriginal people, in order to improve their lives, from reaching them.

It is our party that actually sees this system as the very barrier this member talks about. Thankfully, our government has been able to begin to chip away at a system that has suppressed first nations people for a very long time, going back over 100 years as we look back to the Indian Act, a document that was prepared from pre-Confederation documents. Of course everyone realizes it is an antiquated piece of legislation that only suppresses the very people it espouses to help. This reform is something that our government is very interested in pursuing.

Some have suggested that more money is necessary to fix these problems. I would argue that although more money may need to be invested at some point, it is actually the system itself that needs to be fixed. Before we can invest more dollars, we need to ensure that the money is actually going to make a difference in the lives of the people it is meant to help.

One of the things that we are doing as a government is bringing forward Bill C-44, an important piece of legislation. The bill actually begins to target this system and actually will extend human rights to first nations people.

Most people in Canada do not realize that the Canadian Human Rights Act does not apply on first nations reserves. This is a shameful fact about our history. Canada, one of the best countries in the world to live in, has not extended human rights to first nations people. We have an excellent record on human rights, yet we have not extended these benefits to first nations people.

Thankfully, right now our committee has the opportunity to bring forward this important and historic piece of legislation. I would sure like the member to endorse extending human rights protections to first nations people. I know the member wants to head home as soon as possible to her summer estate. That is why she has put off extending the Canadian Human Rights Act to first nations people on reserve until some time in the fall. I challenge her to change her mind and actually endorse extending human rights to first nations people.

Document for Committee ChairsPrivilege

May 28th, 2007 / 11:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member for Halton wants to continue to heckle, perhaps he can add to the debate after I am done instead of just shouting out his nonsense.

The reality is that this is a similar document that all parties produce to help train their individual members. I note that this internal document, as I say, is not a government document. It is something that was produced by the Conservative Party to assist our chairs.

Since the NDP members are so concerned about this, perhaps they could reveal to us their playbook or explain their tactics when they were delaying and continue to delay Bill C-45, the Fisheries Act; or Bill C-44, the amendments to the Human Rights Act; or their earlier extensive delay in filibustering Bill C-24, the softwood lumber act. In all of those things they employed tactics to delay passage of government legislation.

What about a chapter from their playbook dealing with moving concurrence motions to obstruct government legislation from following the due process and the procedure that we have become accustomed to in passing through the chamber? Instead, they resort, almost daily, to moving concurrence motions to delay that legislation.

I have remarked that the further training of our chairs, our committee members and, indeed, all of our caucus is to ensure that we are well aware of any procedural tools that we might have as a government, recognizing that we are a minority government and that we are outnumbered, not only in the chamber but at each and every standing committee. When we are confronted, as we have been by the opposition parties, which have become increasingly obstructionist, with a lot of legislation, we need to ensure we use every possible tool at our disposal to get our legislation passed through the committees, passed through the chamber and ultimately passed through a Liberal dominated Senate to become law in order that we can keep the promises that we made to the Canadian people in the last election campaign.

I have been noting that the people of Canada did not elect a coalition government of opposition parties. They elected a minority Conservative government and we have been trying to govern as such.

It is certainly my contention that this is an internal party document and that all parties have similar types of documents. It is beyond the pale that we would start out this final week with this bogus question of privilege.

Bill C-44Points of OrderOral Questions

May 18th, 2007 / 12:10 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, if I said that, I misspoke. Of course the provision in the statute is as the member said, one that right now denies to first nations on reserve the protection of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

The purpose of Bill C-44 is to give them the rights that that act provides to every other Canadian. It was not under the charter. It is indeed the Canadian Human Rights Act that we are trying to restore their rights under Bill C-44.

When I was referring to the efforts by the opposition to delay that legislation over the summer, it was not with regard to the charter. It was with regard to denying first nations people the human rights code protection.

Bill C-44Points of OrderOral Questions

May 18th, 2007 / 12:10 p.m.
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NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the House the government House leader was talking about Bill C-44 and he indicated that the bill was going to actually provide access to human rights under the Canadian charter of human rights.

I hope the government House leader would correct the record by indicating that Bill C-44 is actually a repeal of section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

May 18th, 2007 / 11:40 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 assure the member opposite that this government and our Minister of Indian Affairs have been in discussions with National Chief Phil Fontaine since we took office.

However, I also need to point out that unlike the previous government, which simply wanted to throw dollars at problems, we believe there is a systemic issue here, a system that needs reform. It is something that we have begun and that we are going to continue to do, such as we are doing, for instance, with Bill C-44, which the Liberal Party is not supporting. This extends human rights to first nations people on reserve. We would like to see that happen.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

May 17th, 2007 / 3:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

I would not do that.

Tomorrow is an allotted day.

Next week is constituent consultation week, when the House will be adjourned to allow members to return to their ridings and meet with constituents to share with them the activities of Parliament since the last constituency break.

For the interest of members, I will quickly review our plan for the context of our overall legislative agenda.

As he requested, this is currently strengthening the economy week, where a number of financial bills moved forward. The budget bill was sent to committee and, hopefully, it will be reported back tomorrow, or soon, so we can deal with it at third reading when the House returns after the break.

Bill C-40, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act, was read a third time and sent to the Senate. Bill C-53, an act to implement the convention on the settlement of investment disputes, Bill C-33, the sales tax bill and Bill C-47, the Olympics symbol bill were all sent to committee and we all would like to see those back in the House for report stage and third reading.

In an earlier week, Bill C-36, the bill that makes changes to the Canada pension plan and the Old Age Security Act, was made into law after receiving royal assent.

Strengthening accountability through democratic reform week was a success with the consideration of Bill C-43, Senate consultation. We had three new democratic reform bills introduced that week: Bill C-55, to expand voting opportunities; Bill C-56, an act to amend the Constitution Act, democratic representation; and Bill C-54, a bill that would bring accountability with respect to loans. We hope to continue debate on that particular bill later today.

Bill C-16, fixed dates for elections, was given royal assent and is now law, which I think is the cause of the commotion now in all the committees where Liberals are using procedural tactics. Now they feel they can do it with a free hand.

Two other democratic reform bills are in the Senate, Bill C-31, voter integrity, and Bill S-4, Senate tenure. I really would like to have the term limits bill from the Senate for an upcoming democratic reform week if the opposition House leader can persuade his colleagues in the Senate to finally deal with that bill after 352 days. We may get 352 seconds in a filibuster, but they have had 352 days so far. They have been stalling for a year.

During the consultation week, I will be interested in hearing what our constituents think of the plight of Bill S-4 and the irony of those unaccountable senators delaying it.

We dedicated a good deal of our time focusing on making our streets and communities safer by cracking down on crime. Now that we have had the help of the NDP, we restored the meaningful aspects that the Liberals gutted in committee to Bill C-10, the bill to introduce mandatory penalties for violent and gun crimes. We are continuing to debate that bill today at third reading.

Bill C-48, the bill dealing with the United Nations convention on corruption, was adopted at all stages.

Bill C-26, the bill to amend the Criminal Code with respect to interest rates, was given royal assent.

Bill C-22, the age of protection, was given final reading and sent to the Senate, although it did spend close to, if not in excess of, 200 days in committee where the Liberals were obstructing and delaying its passage.

We made progress on Bill C-27, the dangerous offenders legislation. We would like to see that back in the House.

Bill C-9, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conditional sentence of imprisonment) and a host of other justice bills are working their way through the system.

Members can advise their constituents that when we return, we will be reviving two themes, back by popular demand. Beginning May 28, we will begin again with strengthening accountability through democratic reform with: Bill C-54, political loans; Bill C-55, additional opportunities for voting; and Bill C-56, democratic representation.

Up next is a second go-round on strengthening the economy week with Bill C-52, the budget implementation bill, which will be called as soon as it is reported back from committee.

In the near future, we will have the improvement of aboriginal people quality of life week with Bill C-44. This bill will grant first nations residing on Indian reserves access to the Canadian charter of human rights. They have been denied this right for 30 years. Unfortunately, Bill C-44 is being delayed by the opposition. This is another bill being delayed by the opposition in committee.

After Bill C-44, I intend to debate Bill C-51. The agreement establishes the use and ownership of land and resources and will foster economic development. This bill illustrates Canada's commitment to the North and to settling land claims.

I wish all members a productive constituent consultation week and look forward to more progress on the government's legislative agenda when the House returns on May 28.

May 17th, 2007 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

I want to come back to a presentation the Canadian Bar Association made. In it they talked about the effect of Bill C-44 on the Indian Act and presented a case that has been cited by Justice Muldoon of the Federal Court of Canada, that without any kind of coherent approach, the repeal of section 67 without looking at broader impacts could actually result in the piecemeal destruction of the Indian Act.

I wonder whether you've thought about that at all and whether you have any comments on it.