Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act

An Act to promote gender equity in Indian registration by responding to the Court of Appeal for British Columbia decision in McIvor v. Canada (Registrar of Indian and Northern Affairs)

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.

Sponsor

Chuck Strahl  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

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

This enactment provides a new entitlement to Indian registration in response to the decision in McIvor v. Canada (Registrar of Indian and Northern Affairs) that was issued by the Court of Appeal for British Columbia on April 6, 2009.

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.

Motions in AmendmentGender Equity in Indian Registration ActGovernment Orders

May 25th, 2010 / 12:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer, AB

Madam Speaker, I thank the minister for his intervention and for coming to committee to explain just those facts.

Consultation is so important. To go back to some of the other comments, the exploratory process will expand those broader concerns that were brought forward during the engagement process in the McIvor decision last fall. It will be looking at that as well as all of the other types of issues. To get caught up in those kinds of concerns is something that had to be looked at in this particular bill. We had to ensure that it would proceed, and proceed carefully and effectively.

The comprehensive reform in respect of these matters cannot be resolved overnight or in isolation. It requires the gathering of information and identification of issues for further discussion. I have faith in the process and the generosity of spirit that our government has shown to assist all first nations people.

Motions in AmendmentGender Equity in Indian Registration ActGovernment Orders

May 25th, 2010 / 12:50 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Madam Speaker, I too would like to pay tribute to the women here today from the AMUN March and Ellen Gabriel, and to highlight the problems with Bill C-3. Today we are debating, at report stage, a couple of amendments to Bill C-3, one which we support and the second which we do not.

The member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue asked a very good question during this debate that the government could not answer. He asked why there are no Indian women's organizations in favour of Bill C-3, when of course the whole benefit of such a bill is aimed at first nations women. The government speaker who introduced the bill could not answer the question.

The government member who just spoke talked about working in partnership with aboriginal groups and that Bill C-3 furthered this collaborative process. How could the government have possibly worked with aboriginal groups and further the process when all the aboriginal groups that came before committee were against the bill as written? There were all sorts of major amendments needed that the aboriginal groups brought forward. How could the member have the nerve to get up and say that the government worked in partnership with aboriginal groups, and that Bill C-3 furthered this collaborative process? It is beyond imagination when so many witnesses spoke about the inadequacies in the bill, simple inadequacies that could have easily been rectified by the government had it done a comprehensive removal of discrimination against aboriginal women in the bill.

Another point the government has not explained or answered was why there was no money put in the budget to cover people who will be registered? Conservatives said people may register at different rates, but they are predicting 45,000 people will register. There are enormous costs to that. Imagine if children went to their parents and said they are going to university and the parents are paying. Without any outline of costs, it just does not make any sense at all in a good government planning process. Those costs should have been estimated and put into the budget.

At least two speakers from the government side have said that it was urgent to get the bill through quickly. The courts determined a July 5 deadline. The government has put up a number of speakers saying the same thing over and over again. We will see the test of how serious the government is about getting it through if the debate continues after question period. If it just puts speakers up now so the bill does not get finished before question period and then it changes to another bill, we will see how serious the government is when speaker after speaker has said how urgent it was to get this through quickly as per order of the courts.

Today we are debating two amendments. The first one is an administrative amendment which may broaden the scope slightly and we are totally supportive of that amendment.

However, the second amendment restores clause 9 and puts it back in. Based on what we heard at committee and the reasons brought forward through this debate by my colleagues, we definitely disagree with that.

A very important point was brought forward that this bill bringing justice forward for some aboriginal women would never have come here, as we have said at length, were it not for the funding cuts to the court challenges program. Now the government has ended that program. How are similar forms of justice going to be continued in Canada to make the system better not only for aboriginal women but for all Canadians who would have otherwise used the court challenges program?

What about the Law Reform Commission, which the Conservatives also closed? Aboriginal groups in my community were in the middle of processes under the Law Reform Commission which would have made the laws of Canada better. The government stopped funding the Law Reform Commission of Canada as well.

The minister suggested, and I am delighted that the minister is taking great interest in this bill and can hear this, that if clause 9 is not put back in, then people could indiscriminately sue first nations. There are over 640 of them in the country, I believe, and I am wondering why I have not received letters from a majority suggesting that it was important to put clause 9 back. In fact, I have not received one letter, but if the minister has some I would appreciate his passing them on to help convince me of the importance of this to first nations.

I cannot imagine the federal government saying to first nations people that are not legally status Indians, that, “Oh, yes, you are a status Indian, we have to give you”—I think the example the minister used was—“a house” or whatever, virtually breaking the law and giving out benefits they are not entitled to. No court would ever pass that. As it was the federal government that made the mistake, of course first nations would then sue the federal government if such a situation were ever to occur.

I have not received a groundswell of support from first nations people saying that it is very important to include clause 9 to protect them, and I am certainly not convinced at this time.

The purpose of committee work in Parliament is to study bills in depth, to bring forward witnesses whose expertise is in those areas, to give committee and parliamentarians enlightenment on how they should proceed, and to take advice from those committees. Hopefully, that is how the committee system works and how it should work. It should edify legislation-making in Canada.

I am going to comment on two things we heard at committee with respect to this particular bill, and perhaps the lack of listening to those two things by Parliament. The first thing we heard, and of course we have heard it over and over again during the debate on Bill C-3 and also through the debate on the amendments, is that the bill is not comprehensive, that there are all sorts of first nations women who are still discriminated against.

The second thing we heard is that we should remove clause 9. Once again, the committee has reacted to what it heard and removed clause 9. Unless we ignore everything we heard at committee, we cannot just proceed with Bill C-3 as it is, because it does not at all reflect, and it is amazing, the overwhelming, preponderance of witnesses who came forward to say it was inadequate. It could simply be altered to include, so that no aboriginal women are discriminated against.

I appreciate that the minister has put forward a consultation process, but on the particular items of removing discrimination, as the witnesses said, this is not rocket science, either there is discrimination or there is not. There is no need for an investigation, discussion, collaboration or hearings. The discrimination against aboriginal women could just be removed.

One of the Conservative speakers recently said that this bill is precise, compact and focused. That is the problem. It is focused on a few of the aboriginal women who have been discriminated against, but it is not focused on all the other women, as was stated in committee.

The government could easily rectify that situation by making a couple of technical changes so that aboriginal women are not discriminated against. Then it could go on with its collaboration hearings to deal with a number of the other issues that the minister has rightfully brought forward, relating to membership, the costs that will have to be provided to first nations, et cetera.

I am surprised the bill came forward with such limited clauses related to removing discrimination, if indeed all the collaboration that we heard about occurred before this bill was brought in. Quite often we have had witnesses before our committee who were disappointed that there was not enough consultation with first nations. Obviously the consultation would have raised these problems and it could have been put into the bill before it came to committee.

The government could have moved amendments after the bill came to committee, when it was seen that a majority of people wanted amendments to remove discrimination completely against all aboriginal women.

We do not agree with putting clause 9 back. That is the position of our party on these amendments.

Motions in AmendmentGender Equity in Indian Registration ActGovernment Orders

May 25th, 2010 / 1 p.m.
See context

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Madam Speaker, the hon. member for Yukon said that we should remove the obvious discrimination. When the Liberals had power for 13 years, they did not do a thing to remove any obvious, non-obvious, or any discrimination, so it is a bit rich to say that now we have to do something more fulsome. For 13 years there was no move to fix any of this.

This is admittedly only part of the entire answer. I agree with the hon. member that there are other big issues, but I would point out to him that, for example, when I met with representatives of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians, they gave me what they called their citizenship act. They said it was a complete discussion of all the greater issues that need to be dealt with. When I asked them if that was the position of the Assembly of First Nations, they said no, it was the position of the Saskatchewan first nations under treaty. When I asked about Alberta, they said that was different. They said it was different for Manitoba as well.

The Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs Secretariat tells me that it is different for them.

In Yukon, where the hon. member is from, they say that they have self-government and they want to control their own membership. That is important to them. They do not want us to pass a law telling them what to do.

With this bill we are trying to address in part, and I realize it is only in part, the obvious discrimination that exists right now. The court has identified this and has said to do a surgical strike and fix the obvious discrimination.

Does the hon. member not think we should move ahead with this and then do the exploratory talks so we can get the consensus on the other difficult issues?

Motions in AmendmentGender Equity in Indian Registration ActGovernment Orders

May 25th, 2010 / 1 p.m.
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Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Madam Speaker, the minister has just made our point. We are discussing a report stage amendment, basically one amendment to put back clause 9. There was no support from first nations to make the amendment the government is proposing and the minister did not even come up with any when he had a chance to speak to it just now.

I agree with him about doing a surgical strike. We should do a surgical strike and simply remove the couple of items that continue discrimination in the Indian Act against aboriginal women, and then carry on with this collaborative process about all these points related to membership that are being brought forward to the minister.

Hopefully during that time he will also come up with a better estimation of the costs of removing this discrimination, because it will be the Government of Canada's responsibility. Obviously there are more costs when there are more status Indians approved. Certainly this should not be going on in isolation to estimates, and estimates for the first nations as well because, as the minister mentioned, there are costs to the first nations and to their memberships.

Motions in AmendmentGender Equity in Indian Registration ActGovernment Orders

May 25th, 2010 / 1:05 p.m.
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Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague and the minister. I am a bit shocked at how they are passing the buck.

In 1985, amendments were made to a law that had been passed and implemented several years earlier. Unfortunately, aboriginal people did not like those amendments, because the discrimination against aboriginal women continued. Ms. McIvor went to court and took her case as far as the B.C. Court of Appeal. With Bill C-3, the government is trying to perpetuate systematic discrimination that will not be addressed, despite the McIvor decision.

I do not believe in the exploratory process the government wants to put in place to perhaps resolve this issue one day, if possible. Does my colleague really believe that exploratory talks can accomplish something if Bill C-3 should unfortunately be passed?

Motions in AmendmentGender Equity in Indian Registration ActGovernment Orders

May 25th, 2010 / 1:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Madam Speaker, as I tried to outline in my speech, I agree with the collaborative process but I also agree that there are very complicated items related to membership and who can determine membership.

In self-government and land claims, first nations can determine their own membership, which is a whole different area than whether or not one is a status Indian. The very simple and obvious clauses related to who is a status Indian that discriminate against women should simply be removed. That is not an item of debate. It is just a technical item in law. They should be removed. I also do agree with the minister regarding having a collaborative process to deal with all the other issues not related to the discrimination--

Motions in AmendmentGender Equity in Indian Registration ActGovernment Orders

May 25th, 2010 / 1:05 p.m.
See context

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-3, the Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act, and explain why I am encouraging all members to join me in supporting it and the amendments we have before us today.

I believe all of us in the House stand opposed to discrimination based on gender. Obviously, the Court of Appeal in British Columbia has identified some specific clauses in the Indian Act that are discriminatory under the charter of rights. If we do not fix those clauses before the July deadline, there would be a period of limbo where the courts have said that the Indian Act would not apply, but we do not have a new act to bring it into line. Children born after that date would not be able to be registered, which would be a shame. Admittedly, there are many other issues to be dealt with. We have to deal with issues that came up during our consultation process.

It is important for people to understand that these changes are not being made in a vacuum. These changes are not being made willy-nilly. This is being done after extensive consultation. There was, if not a white paper, certainly a discussion paper that was circulated based on the Court of Appeal ruling. That ruling was quite specific about the changes in the clauses that were contrary to the charter of rights. The court was very specific about what we should do about that and said that we needed to move quickly. The court gave us a year to do that, in order to fix the gap that would occur in the legislation if we did not do that.

There were broad consultations. Consultations were done with national organizations. They were done at the regional levels. They were done on the Internet. People could make proposals, identify other issues, identify steps to move forward and so on.

While everyone wants to fix the problem of gender inequality, it became clear over the last year during that consultative period that there is no consensus in first nation country on how far we should go or what the next steps should be or all the other issues. Those issues include everything from membership, who can vote, who can run for office, who determines citizenship on a first nation, how treaty first nations are dealt with, how self-governing first nations are dealt with, whether people under the Indian Act are different, separate. On and on the questions went. It became clear that there is no consensus on just fixing it, as I hear sometimes from the opposition. It is not as easy as fixing it if we are serious about consultation.

We had extensive consultations and it became clear that we needed a process that engaged people at a more serious level on the other bigger issues of the day. It is not a matter of simply throwing in an all-encompassing amendment, the amendment that came forward in committee, which was ruled by the chairman to be outside the scope of the bill, overruled by the majority on the committee, and came back to the House. The Speaker himself had to rule on it that yes indeed it was an inappropriate amendment. However, that is committee life and that is life in a minority Parliament. The reality is that the House agrees that we are dealing with the issue of discrimination against aboriginal women in this case, and what we can do about it based on the Court of Appeal decision.

We have taken a measured approach in dealing with this. We have expanded it slightly in order to make it equal among family members. We have not only followed the spirit, but we have followed the ruling that came down from the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court refused to hear any appeals to that ruling. In other words that was the ruling and we had to deal with it. We cannot go to the Supreme Court on this. We have to deal with it and we have to do it quickly.

We came up with the suggestion of not only fixing the gender inequality identified by the court, but also in freely acknowledging and recognizing there are other issues, that we need another exploratory process. We have been working hand in hand with the national aboriginal organizations and other interested bodies to determine what they would like it to look like, how extensive they want the consultation and exploratory talks to be.

I mentioned last week what came back to us is that we need more representation at the regional level. That makes some sense, because there are regional differences. We do not want to chat only with the national organizations when there are regional differences that need to be addressed in these exploratory talks.

We have also struck an expert panel to discuss what the costs will be. Everybody is taking a guess at how many people will sign up, how many people will want to move back to reserve if they currently live off reserve and how many people will be affected by this. We have an expert panel of not only demographic experts but also experts who have been through the Bill C-31 experience and people who can make sure the costs and implications will all be part of the mix.

We could speculate and pull numbers out of the air, but it would be much better to have an expert panel with first nation representation on it to give us ideas of what the implications are and what their experiences are. When I was in Atlantic Canada about a month ago, first nation representatives mentioned that they had certain experiences on Bill C-31. I said that was exactly what we needed to hear. I told them to tell us exactly what the implications are, because we want to know. I do not want to sit here in the rarefied air in Ottawa and say that I have all the answers.

It is clear that we have to work with first nations. When we work with first nations, it means that we work hand in hand. We explore the next steps. We do not come down by fiat. Those days are long gone. We work in partnership with first nations and aboriginal people to find out the next steps and where they would like to go.

That is exactly what we are doing. The exploratory talks are being developed hand in hand with first nations people who tell us what they think should be involved, what issues should be on the table, how they would like to proceed, how much could be done electronically through the web, how much could be done in face-to-face meetings and so on.

We want to be complete. We want to be open to the ideas that first nations will be presenting to us. Even the process itself needs to be developed by working hand in hand with first nations so that they do not come back later and ask who dreamt up this consultation process. We want them to be satisfied. That is why there is a genuine effort to make sure that the exploratory talks are worked on closely. They are being worked on as we speak in order to make sure that they are as complete as possible.

I point out the problem with rolling the dice and throwing them on the table because that is exactly what I felt happened in committee in the study of this bill. A proposed amendment came forward. It was ultimately ruled by the Speaker of the House to be outside the gamut of this bill. It should not have been brought, but they have the numbers to force it through in committee. It would have more than doubled the number of status first nations people in this country.

It would have eliminated the Métis completely. The Métis would have been toast if that amendment had gone through. It would have doubled the number with no idea of the costs and implications on membership, voting, who can run for office and how they would handle more than a doubling of the number of status first nations in this country.

To me, it is irresponsible to throw that amendment on the table without any consultation with first nations. First nations have never asked me for that amendment. I have never been given that amendment in the exploratory talks we had previously or in the discussion paper. It has never been given to me by any national organization at all. We need to work closely and hand in hand with first nations groups so that we do not surprise them in committee with an amendment.

What we have is a measured approach on the bill itself, which addresses the needs of the court. We were ordered to do so by the court and we are happy to comply. We also have a measured approach on a process that engages first nations meaningfully at regional, local and national levels so that we get the best information and advice on how to move forward.

If we do that today, if we pass the bill, fix the gap, address the court case and then work with honour with first nations to get to the next steps, we will have done a good thing for first nations and for relationships between us going forward.

Motions in AmendmentGender Equity in Indian Registration ActGovernment Orders

May 25th, 2010 / 1:15 p.m.
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Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, you will understand that I cannot agree with the minister because, on the pretext that the court asks one thing of it, the government does only that one thing. What I find revolting is that discrimination will not be eliminated. We know it exists. We know it will continue to exist with Bill C-3 if it is unfortunately passed, and we are told that there will be a consultative, exploratory process and so forth. We know, as does the minister, what the problem is. There is discrimination and it will continue to occur.

We are told that if the bill were adopted with the amendments presented in committee, there possibly may be no more Métis. It is true that there would no longer be any Métis because they would be considered Indians. The problem for the minister is that if Bill C-3 is not adopted by this House, what would the government's position be?

Motions in AmendmentGender Equity in Indian Registration ActGovernment Orders

May 25th, 2010 / 1:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Chuck Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, BC

Madam Speaker, to address the first part of the member's question, he says that he is revolted, and I think that is the word in English, by the obvious discrimination in the fact that it has not been addressed. He is so revolted that there has never been private members' business come forward from the member in all the years he has been here to address this. He is so revolted that the Bloc has never used an opposition day motion to address this issue. I have been the minister now for three years and never has the Bloc come to me ahead of this court case to ever say to me or my predecessor that it is time to deal with this revolting discrimination.

I wish the Bloc members would see that this is a step forward, not only to address the court case, which is what we are doing here, while fully admitting that there are other issues. We could agree other issues need to be worked on. That is why by working with first nations, local, regional and national, we can address it through an exploratory process that gets to all those questions and gets answers for them so we can all move forward, working hand in hand with first nations instead of acting by fiat here—

Motions in AmendmentGender Equity in Indian Registration ActGovernment Orders

May 25th, 2010 / 1:20 p.m.
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NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development this. I appreciate that he has reminded the House of the constitutional duty to consult, consider and incorporate the input of first nations when a law or policy is being passed which would impact them.

My question for the minister is twofold.

First, we have heard testimony in the House today, and I have heard from my colleagues who participated in the committee, that not a single first nations women's organization supports the bill. I guess the obvious question would have to be on whose input did the minister rely to bring forward these changes to the Indian Act.

Second, he mentions the need to consult. We have been doing that for a century. We have been consulting probably for two decades on aboriginal safe drinking water. In fact, as the minister mentioned, he will have an expert panel. There was an expert panel on aboriginal safe drinking water to address the serious problem. First nations peoples do not have the legal protections to safe drinking water. The government promised legislation in the last budget. When will that legislation be forthcoming?

Motions in AmendmentGender Equity in Indian Registration ActGovernment Orders

May 25th, 2010 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Chuck Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, BC

Madam Speaker, this is a good debate and I hope we come to a good conclusion.

First, on the water legislation, I hope to have that water legislation before the House very shortly. We have again the Atlantic Policy Congress and many of the Yukon first nations have suggested that they would like to be pilot projects even for that legislation. I think we will have that before the House fairly quickly.

We need this because first nations, like everyone else in Canada, deserve to have water quality legislated, not just under policy. We have a policy right now but they deserve that legislation so they get clean drinking water like anyone else in the country. We need to have that and I agree with the hon. member it needs to be done quickly.

The other question was on whose information was this bill brought forward. Over the many months that we did consultation on the bill, what was clear was the inability of first nations organizations to say that the bill was good. I asked them if they wanted me to bring it in or not. What they said was the issues were too broad. They said that we needed another process, that we needed something bigger than the bill in order to address it. They said that the bill was okay but that we needed a bigger way to address the bigger issues because it simply was inadequate to address everything. That is why the exploratory process is so necessary.

Motions in AmendmentGender Equity in Indian Registration ActGovernment Orders

May 25th, 2010 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak today at report stage of Bill C-3, the gender equity in Indian registration act.

As my fellow members are well aware, Bill C-3 proposes to amend the Indian Act and to eliminate a significant and long-standing case of gender discrimination. To appreciate the logic behind the proposed legislation, however, we must understand the problem that Bill C-3 aims to fix.

Last year, the court of appeal for British Columbia issued a decision in McIvor v. Canada, which is now known commonly as the McIvor decision. The ruling required the Government of Canada to amend certain registration provisions of the Indian Act that the court identified as unconstitutional as they were inconsistent with the equality provision of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The court initially suspended the effect of the declaration until April 6, later granting a short extension until July 5 of this year. In other words, if no solution is in place in just a little over a month, paragraphs 6(1)(a) and 6(1)(c) of the Indian Act dealing with an individual's entitlement to registration for Indian status, for all intents and purposes, will cease to exist in the province of British Columbia. This would create uncertainty and, most important, this legislative gap would prevent the registration of individuals associated with bands in that province.

Even though we have been granted a brief extension on the implementation of the court's decision in McIvor v. Canada, we must continue to work toward resolving the issue now. This extension should not be perceived as an opportunity to delay the process of Bill C-3 as this bill would rectify a long-standing case of gender discrimination. I want to emphasize that Bill C-3 offers a solution to the specific issues identified by the court by amending the Indian Act to eliminate the language that gives rise to the gender discrimination identified in section 6.

The impact of this bill would be important. We expect 45,000 people to be newly entitled to register as status Indians as a result of Bill C-3. In anticipation of the influx of requests, the Indian registration program has developed an implementation strategy to effectively deal with the new applications for registration under the Indian Act in accordance with the proposed amendments.

The Government of Canada is also carefully examining the program and financial impacts associated with the implementation of the bill. An internal financial impact working group has been established to examine all the costs associated with the implementation of the proposed legislation.

The legislation now before us proposes to change the provision used to confer Indian status on the children of women such as Ms. McIvor. Instead of subsection 6(2), these children would acquire status through subsection 6(1). This would eliminate the gender-based discrimination identified by the court.

As I mentioned earlier, it is important to recognize that Bill C-3 offers a solution to the specific issues identified by the court of appeal for British Columbia and does so in a tightly-focused fashion in order to respect the looming deadline. We can all appreciate the need to act quickly to respond to the court's ruling and provide new entitlement to registration in a timely manner.

I am convinced that this is a wise approach. As parliamentarians, we know the importance being placed on us by the British Columbia Court of Appeal to provide a legislative solution to a recognized case of gender discrimination. As a compact piece of legislation, it is my hope that Bill C-3 can make swift progress through Parliament.

The proposed legislation has much to recommend. It proposes a timely and direct response to the ruling of British Columbia Court of Appeal. In addition, it would eliminate a cause of gender discrimination. In essence, Bill C-3 represents a progressive step by a country committed to the ideals of justice and equality.

I urge all members to join me in support of Bill C-3.

Motions in AmendmentGender Equity in Indian Registration ActGovernment Orders

May 25th, 2010 / 1:25 p.m.
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Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Madam Speaker, as the minister indicated earlier, as part of the overall process with respect to Bill C-3 the Department of Indian Affairs had a consultative process with some first nations individuals and organizations. It is really important that we understand they are looking for something much broader. That consultative process will continue once we pass this bill.

It is important to recognize that we will be able to work with first nations on this issue of discrimination and other larger issues particularly around registration.

Motions in AmendmentGender Equity in Indian Registration ActGovernment Orders

May 25th, 2010 / 1:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Bruce Stanton Conservative Simcoe North, ON

Madam Speaker, the member will recall that we heard testimony from the Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Clause 9 brings greater certainty and that is why we have chosen to amend and restore it in today's amendments. In a question the parliamentary secretary indicated that if clause 9 were not in place in the bill, it would cause a certain amount of litigation and a greater lack of certainty around the legislation. In response to the question the commissioner said:

In my view--and of course I've been a member of the bar for over 30 years--if a legal issue can be referred or dealt with or clarified in an act of Parliament, that's far better than asking the Sharon McIvors of the world to go forward to make the law.

This was a direct reference to the whole issue we are talking about today.

Does the member recall those discussions and could I have his opinion on that?

Motions in AmendmentGender Equity in Indian Registration ActGovernment Orders

May 25th, 2010 / 1:30 p.m.
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Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Madam Speaker, as a member of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, we heard testimony from the commissioner on clause 9 of the bill. As I understood it, this was an extremely important piece that needed to be included in the bill. If we do not include it, this item will be open to litigation by who knows how many people and this will put some first nations people in a position where they may be sued, thereby causing great harm to first nations treaties already in place and to the Government of Canada.

It is important that we understand this would have a major effect not only on the Government of Canada but on first nations people themselves and the registrations that they have, which might be challenged in a court and open to some very heavy financial penalties.