First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act

An Act to establish a framework to enable First Nations control of elementary and secondary education and to provide for related funding and to make related amendments to the Indian Act and consequential amendments to other Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.

Sponsor

Bernard Valcourt  Conservative

Status

In committee (House), as of May 5, 2014
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

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

This enactment provides for the control by First Nations of their elementary and secondary education systems. It establishes a framework to enable First Nations to exercise that control by administering schools situated on their reserves, by delegating the power to administer schools to a First Nation Education Authority or by entering into a tuition or administration agreement. It also creates a right of access to elementary and secondary education to persons of school age who are ordinarily resident on a reserve, establishes the Joint Council of Education Professionals, sets out the roles and responsibilities of the main participants in First Nations education systems and provides for the necessary funding. Finally, the enactment makes related and consequential amendments to the Indian Act, the Mi’kmaq Education Act and the First Nations Jurisdiction over Education in British Columbia Act.

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.

Votes

May 5, 2014 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.
May 1, 2014 Passed That, in relation to Bill C-33, An Act to establish a framework to enable First Nations control of elementary and secondary education and to provide for related funding and to make related amendments to the Indian Act and consequential amendments to other Acts, not more than one further sitting day after the day on which this Order is adopted shall be allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the Bill; and that, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at second reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.

March 19th, 2019 / 10:15 a.m.
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George E. Lafond Strategic Development Advisor, As an Individual

Thank you very much, Peter.

Thank you very much, Delbert.

Good morning, Madam Chair and everybody.

Jessie, welcome to Ottawa. There's a lot of snow here.

I've been involved in public service for about 40 years. I came out of high school, went to university and became a high school teacher. I taught at Bedford Road Collegiate, in Saskatoon. One of my most recent assignments was to work with the University of Saskatchewan. I'm quite familiar with what the northern Ontario medical team is doing here.

All my life, my public service has been in the field of education in some way or another. When I was looking at issues in terms of how I would capstone my career, Delbert came to me and asked me if I could assist in his community because he was the chief on this education file. We were looking at ways to become more engaged in K to 12 and post-secondary. I thought this would be a capstone opportunity for me to get one project, because I was part of the national panel that went across Canada to take a look at first nations education.

We had Bill C-33 fail in the Harper government, where we would've had education out of the Indian Act and the opportunity for indigenous communities to have control over this. That failed, so I felt this was an opportunity for me to be part of a stand-alone band that had an opportunity to take on something very special and dear to all of us in the first nations community, which is the education of our children.

I had an opportunity to meet with Peter and his associates and saw that they wanted to have a true partnership where we had to work together. This agreement was signed. It's good to see our friend Don Rusnak, who is from Treaty No. 3 territory in Ontario, I believe. He came out and signed that partnership on behalf of the federal government. We're a year and a half into it. We have another year and a half.

What we're looking for.... You'll understand this if you understand how indigenous community schools are funded. We're not looking for funding per capita; we're looking for funding per success. We believe that in the next number of years we will show—and we will show you through your questions—that by doing it right and having the right capacity inside a school system we can have success.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Indigenous Peoples and Canada's Justice SystemGovernment Orders

February 14th, 2018 / 11 p.m.
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Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Chair, a few years ago, I toured the Kent maximum security prison, which was in my riding at the time, and I was struck by two things. I was expecting to see a bunch of old men, people who were serving out long life sentences. In fact, I found a bunch of very young men, and I was told by the people there trying to provide some training to those inmates that none of them had graduated from high school. Most of them, if they were lucky, had a grade 8 or grade 9 education.

I wonder if the member can talk about the importance of education across all demographics, but specifically for indigenous Canadians. Our previous government tried, with Bill C-33, to work out a system so that no matter where people lived in Canada, whether on reserve or off reserve, they could get the same level of education. That effort did not bear fruit. It fell through, but I wonder if she could talk about the importance of education in giving hope and opportunity to indigenous people and all Canadians.

Indigenous Peoples and Canada's Justice SystemGovernment Orders

February 14th, 2018 / 8:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member mentioned a number of statistics, very troubling and alarming statistics, and unfortunately, as he said, they are statistics we have heard before. I think he would agree with me that one statistic that crosses all cultures, all groups of people in Canada, is that the lower the level of education, the more likely people are to have interactions with the criminal justice system.

Our previous government tried. Bill C-33 was our effort in the previous Parliament to try to improve first nations education, recognizing the difficulty of education in first nations communities, given the history of residential schools. We are talking about the criminal justice system, but I want to get the member's thoughts on the importance of a quality education for first nations and indigenous students, one that is the same as for non-indigenous students, as well as how we can work together to get there so that more indigenous students have a good education, have better options, and are able to make the choices many of us take for granted in non-indigenous communities.

November 28th, 2016 / 4:50 p.m.
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NDP

Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I want to continue on first nations education. The estimates request an allocation of $244 million in grants and contributions for additional investment in first nations elementary and secondary education. This is interesting, as in budget 2016, investments for K to 12 education were $800 million, less than what was promised during the campaign. If you look at the numbers from previous years, previous government numbers, the Liberals would be delivering less over the next three years than the Conservatives' plan to invest in Bill C-33, and you remember that debate we had in the House.

Why is this K to 12 education money only being voted on and allocated well after the school year has started? They'll have to spend the money from now until April. Is that correct?

November 3rd, 2016 / 9:40 a.m.
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Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Hope, BC

Thank you.

Mr. Nolan, it's good to see you again. I recall you more from your role with PDAC.

I wanted to pick up on some of the comments you made. In the previous government, I was the parliamentary secretary for aboriginal affairs, and I'd say the best day of my time in that role and in government was the day we announced Bill C-33, the first nations control of first nations education act and the $1.9 billion to transform that. The worst day was when it all fell apart due to a variety of factors, including infighting at the AFN.

I was at a Indian Resource Council meeting in Calgary where they talked about how communities are no longer looking for, I think the term was, “pick and shovel work”. They want to be partners, they want to be engineers, and they want to be fully engaged, in this case with oil and gas, but I think we've heard certainly from mining companies that this is consistent in that sector, as well.

I don't have much time, but perhaps you can give a recommendation. If you could recommend an action that government could take or that this committee could recommend to government, how can we help first nations communities get to that level of partnership with the mining sector? You have one minute probably to answer that.

Indian Affairs and Northern Development--Main Estimates, 2015-2016Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2015 / 11:10 p.m.
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Conservative

John Barlow Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Chair, I also wanted to touch on the first nations control of first nations education act. Last year, our government introduced Bill C-33. This bill would have established a framework for first nations education. It would have created minimum standards for educators on reserve, ensured that students spent a minimum number of days in classes and ensured that first nations schools on reserve offered diplomas recognized by universities off reserve. Moreover, it would have provided a nearly $2 billion increase for first nations education funding. Some $500 million of that would have been specifically earmarked for education infrastructure. This was critical.

Could the parliamentary secretary explain to our government what has been achieved on this front in the time since Bill C-33 was put on hold?

Indian Affairs and Northern Development--Main Estimates, 2015-2016Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2015 / 10:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Bernard Valcourt Conservative Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Chair, we have been very clear that funding would not replace reform. Since the decision by AFN and the Assembly of Chiefs to reject and ask the government to abandon Bill C-33, we are working with stakeholders in the region to try to find a way to reform this non-system to ensure that at the end of the day the first nations' children can enjoy a good education system that produces good outcomes and results. We are talking with several stakeholders and trying to find a way to ensure that those objectives are met.

Indian Affairs and Northern Development--Main Estimates, 2015-2016Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2015 / 10:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Bernard Valcourt Conservative Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Chair, that $1.25 billion over three years, increasing annually at the rate of 4.5%, is statutory funding that would follow Bill C-33, which is still before the House. If, for example, tomorrow morning we had a special meeting of the chiefs and assembly, and they decided to support Bill C-33, the money would be there.

Indian Affairs and Northern Development--Main Estimates, 2015-2016Business of SupplyGovernment Orders

May 13th, 2015 / 10:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Bernard Valcourt Conservative Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Chair, the money attached to the implementation of Bill C-33, just like Bill C-33, is on hold. The $200 million, which is not reflected in the estimates, because it is an economic action plan 2015 measure, will have to be accessed through supplementary estimates.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

April 27th, 2015 / 2:40 p.m.
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NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain NDP Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are failing another generation of aboriginal children with their latest budget.

Every child in Canada, regardless of where they live or where they come from, deserves a high-quality education. However, instead of being part of the solution, the Conservatives would rather be part of the problem, by blaming aboriginal communities for their own failure with Bill C-33.

Why does the Prime Minister refuse to honour his pledge to invest $1.9 billion to address the underfunding of aboriginal education?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

April 22nd, 2015 / 2:35 p.m.
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NDP

Niki Ashton NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, this is a budget that is failing another generation of first nations, Métis and Inuit children with inadequate funding for basic services like child welfare, education and health.

We should all know that no matter where children live in Canada, they should have access to quality education, but the Conservatives are more focused on blaming indigenous communities for their own failure with Bill C-33.

Why is the Prime Minister not honouring his pledge to invest $1.9 billion to bridge the education gap that first nations in Canada tragically face?

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ActPrivate Members' Business

March 12th, 2015 / 6:20 p.m.
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Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Mark Strahl ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak to the proposed private member's bill put forward by the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, which seeks to ensure that all Canadian laws are consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, also known as UNDRIP.

As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, I have had the pleasure of interacting with aboriginal leaders across our country. This has given me a deep and real appreciation of aboriginal rights and interests and the current issues aboriginal Canadians are facing today.

It must be said at the outset that our government is dedicated to protecting aboriginal rights in Canada. Indeed, Canada already boasts a unique and robust legal framework through which aboriginal rights are protected. It is against this backdrop that I have no choice but to reject Bill C-641 and to urge all members in the House to do so as well.

More than just lip service, we have enshrined the rights of aboriginal peoples in our Constitution, one of the only countries in the world to do so. As my hon. colleagues will know, aboriginal and treaty rights are recognized and affirmed in section 35 of the Constitution Act and reaffirmed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Moreover, our government has also issued a statement of support for the principles of the very document at the core of this bill, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which are consistent with our own commitment to continue working in partnership with aboriginal peoples to improve the well-being of aboriginal Canadians.

However, we have also been clear from the outset that while we support the general principles behind the declaration, there are several portions of the document with which our government has grave concerns, and we have articulated those concerns clearly to Canadians and to the international community, particularly as they relate to the concept of free, prior, and informed consent found in Article 19 of the declaration, which reads as follows:

States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.

While we continue to support the principles of UNDRIP, the problem is that the member from the New Democratic Party is asking the House to take an aspirational, non-legally binding document and enshrine it in Canadian law. Beyond practical concerns, which I will get to momentarily, this proposal is simply impossible to support in view of Canada's existing legal and constitutional framework. Our government is working to achieve the ends of UNDRIP, honouring aboriginal rights, within the structure of Canada's unique constitutional framework. The fact of the matter is that we have made more strides in this than any government in Canadian history.

I remind the House that in July 2013, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples released a report following his visit to Canada. In it, he said, “Canada’s relationship with the indigenous peoples within its borders is governed by a well-developed legal framework...that in many respects are protective of indigenous peoples’ rights”.

I could spend the rest of my remarks highlighting our accomplishments as they relate to the protection of aboriginal rights and interests, and there are many—the number of treaties our government has passed, legislation with respect to human rights, and the protection of women on reserve—but for the benefit of the House, I would like to spend the remainder of my time today explaining why the passage of this bill should be opposed.

At its core, the legislation seeks to ensure that the contents of UNDRIP are enshrined in Canadian law. As mentioned earlier, our government has significant concerns with certain aspects of UNDRIP, particularly Article 19. As I am sure you can imagine, Mr. Speaker, our government has several fundamental issues with both the principle and the wording of this clause.

To begin with, aboriginal rights in Canada, entrenched in section 35 of the Constitution and further defined by the Supreme Court of Canada, identify a duty to consult for government and industry. The passage of this bill would effectively replace this duty to consult with a duty to seek free, prior, and informed consent. This means, despite what the member has said, that this would provide first nations with a veto over any sort of legislation or development that concerns them. This would have a significant impact on legislative initiatives as well as on Canada's economy.

In the strongest terms, our government rejects this notion. Unlike the NDP, our government believes that it was elected to serve the interests of all Canadians and that we should develop and pass legislation and initiatives that are in the public interest of and would benefit all Canadians.

Despite efforts from the opposition, our government will continue to act to fulfill the honour of the Crown and our constitutional obligations. However, it would be irresponsible to give any one group in Canada a veto over these decisions. Moreover, article 19 is not even clear in its implementation. While it would demand that our government seek consent from aboriginal Canadians through their own “representative institutions”, it provides no direction on who that is in reference to.

We know from the circumstances surrounding Bill C-33, the first nations control of first nations education act, last year that the Assembly of First Nations, or any other aboriginal representative organization for that matter, cannot claim to speak on behalf of or in the interests of all first nations peoples. It is clear that many first nations chiefs believe they have the sole authority to make decisions, be consulted and provide consent on behalf of their band of first nations. The logical conclusion, therefore, is that what is being proposed here is to provide a de facto veto over government legislation to each one of the 633 first nations chiefs in the country, not to mention the fact that Inuit and Métis leaders would presumably be required to provide their consent as well.

It is difficult enough to find agreement on what exactly it means to fulfill the duty to consult, and I have difficulty imagining what it would take to reach agreement on which parties would have the right to provide their consent. I submit that it would be nearly impossible. Not only is it unclear who needs to provide the consent, it is unclear what they would need to provide consent on. According to the language in the bill, aboriginal Canadians would have a veto over any piece of legislation brought forward by a Canadian government. To be clear, through this initiative, the NDP wants to provide that veto to all first nations across the country on any law or bill that this government wants to implement.

We can look at examples of where there is broad agreement where change should be made even from first nations. I think of the Indian Act as a prime example. Everyone agrees that this is patriarchal legislation that is holding first nations back from achieving their full potential, but no one agrees on how or the process by which we should reform and repeal this act. As a result, nearly 140 years later we are still stuck with it.

Unfortunately, it is not just the New Democrats who support this idea of a veto. At their 2014 biannual convention, the Liberal Party adopted a resolution that urged a next Liberal government to implement UNDRIP. Furthermore, former Liberal leader Bob Rae was recently quoted as saying that it would require consent, not just consultation, for mining projects in the Ring of Fire to proceed.

In the lead-up to the next election, the contrast has never been clearer. Our government supports jobs, growth and long-term prosperity, while the opposition parties support policies that have the potential to cripple our economy. While we acknowledge and uphold aboriginal rights, our government understands, unlike the Liberals and the NDP, that these rights must be balanced against the rights of other Canadians.

As long as the Conservative Party is in power, our government will continue to govern in the interests of all Canadians, and we will reject giving a veto to any group as is proposed by Bill C-641. It is for these reasons our government cannot support this bill.

Digital Privacy ActGovernment Orders

October 20th, 2014 / 5:10 p.m.
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NDP

Hélène LeBlanc NDP LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to support the motion to refer Bill S-4 to a committee before second reading.

Bill S-4 amends the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. I will talk a little more about that, but first I want to take a moment to talk about the motion itself, which aims to send the bill to committee before second reading. This is somewhat strange; this is the first time the current government has done this in recent memory.

It is rather interesting and makes me wonder. Why this measure right now? Why did the government decide to do this, when there were other bills? Is it because the government has its doubts about Bill S-4 and wants to send it to committee, we hope, to solve the problems in the bill? That is what I am wondering.

Although we requested that some highly contested bills be sent to committee before second reading, such as Bill C-23 on election reform, Bill C-33 on first nations education and Bill C-3 on transporting oil along our coasts, the government refused. I have to wonder why it refused to do so and why it is now making the rather unusual—or at least uncommon, in recent history—move to send Bill S-4, a bill that comes not from the government, but from the Senate, to committee before second reading.

Procedure is not one of my strong suits, but there are experts here who can clear this up for us. I find it rather interesting that when we send a bill to committee before second reading, as this motion would do, the scope of the proposed amendments can be much broader. In other words, we could make more extensive amendments since the study in committee is not restricted by the principle of the bill, which has not yet been approved by the House. That is interesting. We can hope that Bill S-4 will be amended and that we will end up with a more polished product, if I can call it that, so that it will be more acceptable as we go into second reading.

Bill S-4 makes a pretty significant change to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. I took a look at this act, which received royal assent in April 2000. As members know, 14 years is an eternity in the digital world. A lot of things have happened in the past 14 years. This act was the result of an extensive consultation with a wide range of experts at all levels.

This work was accomplished through broad consultation in 2000. It is clear that since 2006, with this government, consultations are restricted to very specific groups. It is interesting to see that in 2000, there was a broad consultation that culminated with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. Here is what that legislation does:

An Act to support and promote electronic commerce by protecting personal information that is collected, used or disclosed in certain circumstances, by providing for the use of electronic means to communicate or record information or transactions and by amending the Canada Evidence Act, the Statutory Instruments Act and the Statute Revision Act.

That is the legislation that is being amended now. Another interesting part of this law is schedule 1. Certain principles were set out in the legislation about to be amended, and they are particularly interesting because they were set out in the National Standard of Canada entitled Model Code for the Protection of Personal Information. The 10 principles are as follows: accountability; identifying purposes; consent; limiting collection; limiting use, disclosure, and retention; accuracy; safeguards; openness; individual access; and challenging compliance.

I went to the trouble of reading those principles. I found them very interesting and I urge all members to read them. Like it or not, as members, we receive personal and confidential information in our riding offices. That is why we too have a responsibility to respect these principles of personal information and electronic document protection.

Right now, we are talking about a motion to refer Bill S-4 to committee before second reading. I mentioned that this has not happened often in recent parliamentary history. In the time I have left, I would like to take a quick look at what Bill S-4 will change.

This bill will make major changes to to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, which I just mentioned, by allowing personal information to be shared without the knowledge of the person concerned or without their consent under some circumstances. To me, that is a questionable way of protecting personal information. Companies would be allowed to share personal information under certain conditions.

As I read the bill, I really thought that there needed to be a better explanation of these conditions and some examples. For example, in a business transaction, when should personal information be shared without clients' consent?

Some aspects of the bill are positive, such as requiring organizations to take various measures when a data breach occurs. Even the current government has some transparency problems in this regard. The third aspect seeks to create offences in relation to the contravention of certain obligations respecting breaches of security safeguards. The fourth aspect would allow the the Privacy Commissioner, in certain circumstances, to enter into a compliance agreement with an organization.

Those are the four main aspects of Bill S-4 that raise concerns. Other aspects of the bill are positive and constitute a step in the right direction. That is why I support the motion to send Bill S-4 to committee to resolve the problems it contains that could result in a breach of privacy.

October 6th, 2014 / 5:55 p.m.
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National Chief, Assembly of First Nations

Chief Ghislain Picard

To us, it's obviously tied to our position with regard to Bill C-33, first nations control of first nations education. That's been really what I would call the dialogue of the deaf since the spring, in the sense that there has been no communication whatsoever except our expressing our interest to engage government based on terms that we could also define as first nations.

Time Allocation MotionPrivilegeRoutine Proceedings

September 15th, 2014 / 3:35 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on this question of privilege about closure.

I am rising at my first opportunity on this question of privilege, given that between the Speech from the Throne in October and when we adjourned June 20, there had been 21 occasions on which closure of debate occurred, and I maintain that the exercise of my rights and the rights of my colleagues in this place have been obstructed, undermined and impeded by the unprecedented use of time allocations in the second session of the 41st Parliament.

Mr. Speaker, in presenting this fairly legal argument to you, I propose to leave out page numbers and citations because I have prepared a written version of this for your office and I hope that will be acceptable to you, that I skip page numbers in this presentation. Hansard may not have the numbers of the debates, but I hope there is enough context so people can find them.

I belive this excessive use of what is often called “guillotine measures” is a violation of the rights of all members of Parliament, but I would like to stress that there is a disproportionate impact on members such as me who are within either smaller parties, that is less than 12 members, or who sit actually as independents, because in the roster of recognizing people in their speaker slot, quite often those of us in the smaller parties or independents simply never get to speak to the bills at all.

My question, Mr. Speaker, bears directly on what your predecessor said in this place on April 27, 2010. He said, “...the fundamental right of the House of Commons to hold the government to account for its actions is an indisputable privilege and in fact an obligation”.

In the autumn of 2011, in a ruling concerning the member for Mount Royal, Mr. Speaker, you yourself said that to constitute a prima facie case in regard to matters of obstruction, interference, molestation or intimidation, you need to “...assess whether or not the member's ability to fulfill his parliamentary [activities] has been undermined”. At that moment in the same Debates, you had the occasion to reflect on “...the Chair's primordial concern for the preservation of the privileges of all members,...” and you added, “As your Speaker, one of my principal responsibilities is to ensure that the rights and privileges of members are safeguarded, and this is a responsibility I take very seriously”.

I now have occasion to turn to other words that will guide us in this matter. From the Supreme Court of Canada in the Vaid decision, in the words of Mr. Justice Binnie, speaking for the court, he outlined the scope of parliamentary responsibility and parliamentary privilege for the management of employees and said, “Parliamentary privilege is defined by the degree of autonomy necessary to perform Parliament’s constitutional function”. He went on to say at paragraph 41 of that Supreme Court of Canada judgment:

Similarly, Maingot defines privilege in part as “the necessary immunity that the law provides for Members of Parliament, and for Members of the legislatures of each of the ten provinces and two territories, in order for these legislators to do their legislative work”.

I would repeat and emphasize that, because although the Vaid decision was on a different fact set, Mr. Justice Binnie spoke to our core responsibility as parliamentarians when he said that we must be able, as legislators, to do our legislative work.

Mr. Justice Binnie continued in the Vaid decision to say:

To the question “necessary in relation to what?”, therefore, the answer is necessary to protect legislators in the discharge of their legislative and deliberative functions, and the legislative assembly’s work in holding the government to account for the conduct of the country’s business. To the same effect, see R. Marleau and C. Montpetit...where privilege is defined as “the rights and immunities that are deemed necessary for the House of Commons, as an institution, and its Members, as representatives of the electorate, to fulfill their functions”.

Mr. Justice Binnie went on to find further references in support of these principles from Bourinot's Parliamentary Procedure and Practice in the Dominion of Canada.

These are fundamental points. The purpose of us being here as parliamentarians is to hold the government to account. It is obvious that no legislative assembly would be able to discharge its duties with efficiency or to assure its independence and dignity unless it had adequate powers to protect itself, its members, and its officials in the exercise of these functions.

Finally, Mr. Justice Binnie—again, for the court—said at paragraph 62, on the subject of parliamentary functions in ruling that some employees would be covered by privilege, that coverage existed only if a connection were established between the category of employees and the exercise by the House of its functions as a legislative and deliberative body, including its role in holding the government to account.

As I said earlier, this approach was supported by your immediate predecessor. In a December 10, 2009 ruling, the Speaker of the House, the Hon. Peter Milliken, said that one of his principle duties was to safeguard the rights and privileges of members, and of the House, including the fundamental right of the House of Commons to hold the government to account for its actions, which is an indisputable privilege, and in fact an obligation.

It is therefore a fundamental principle of Westminster parliamentary democracy that the most important role of members of Parliament, and in fact a constitutional right and responsibility for us as members, is to hold the government to account.

The events in this House that we witnessed before we adjourned on June 20, 2014, clearly demonstrate that the House and its members have been deprived of fulfilling constitutional rights, our privilege, and our obligation to hold the government to account, because of the imposition of intemperate and unrestrained guillotine measures in reference to a number of bills. Over 21 times, closure has been used.

It is only in the interest of time that I am going to read out the numbers of the bills and not their full description. Bill C-2, Bill C-4, Bill C-6, Bill C-7, Bill C-13, Bill C-18, Bill C-20, Bill C-22, Bill C-23, Bill C-24, Bill C-25, Bill C-27, Bill C-31, Bill C-32, Bill C-33, and Bill C-36 were all instances where closure of debate was used.

In many of the instances I just read out, and in the written argument I have presented, closure of debate occurred at second reading, again at report stage, and again at third reading. The limitation of debate was extreme.

A close examination of the guillotine measures imposed by the government demonstrate that the citizens of Canada have been unable to have their elected representatives adequately debate the various and complex issues central to these bills in order to hold the government to account. Members of Parliament have been deprived and prevented from adequately debating these measures, through 21 separate motions for time allocation in this session alone. It undermines our ability to perform our parliamentary duties.

In particular, I want to again highlight the effect that the guillotine motions have on my ability as a representative of a smaller party, the Green Party. We do not have 12 seats in the House as yet, and as a result we are in the last roster to be recognized once all other parties have spoken numerous times. Quite often, there is not an opportunity for members in my position, nor for independent members of Parliament, to be able to properly represent our constituents.

Again, I should not have to repeat this. Certainly you, Mr. Speaker, are aware that in protecting our rights, as you must as Speaker, that in this place we are all equals, regardless of how large our parties are. As voters in Canada are all equal, so too do I, as a member of Parliament, have an equal right and responsibility to represent the concerns of my constituents in this place, which are equal to any other member in this place.

As speaking time that is allotted to members of small parties and independents is placed late in the debates, we quite often are not able to address these measures in the House. This would be fair if we always reached the point in the debate where independents were recognized, but that does not happen with closure of debates. My constituents are deprived of their right to have their concerns adequately voiced in the House.

Political parties are not even referenced in our constitution, and I regard the excessive power of political parties over processes in this place, in general, to deprive constituents of equal representation in the House of Commons. However, under the circumstances, the additional closure on debate particularly disadvantages those constituents whose members of Parliament are not with one of the larger parties.

Mr. Speaker, in the autumn of 2011, in your ruling considering the member for Mount Royal and his question of privilege, you said that one of your responsibilities that you take very seriously is to ensure that the rights and privileges of members are safeguarded. The principal right of the House and its members, and their privilege, is to hold the government to account. In fact, it is an obligation, according to your immediate predecessor.

In order to hold the government to account, we require the ability and the freedom to speak in the House without being trammelled and without measures that undermine the member's ability to fulfill his or her parliamentary function. As a British joint committee report pointed out, without this protection, members would be handicapped in performing their parliamentary duty, and the authority of Parliament itself in confronting the executive and as a forum for expressing the anxieties of citizens would be correspondingly diminished.

To hold the government to account is the raison d'être of Parliament. It is not only a right and privilege of members and of this House, but a duty of Parliament and its members to hold the government to account for the conduct of the nation's business. Holding the government to account is the essence of why we are here. It is a constitutional function. In the words of the marketers, it is “job one”.

Our constitutional duty requires us to exercise our right and privilege, to study legislation, and to hold the government to account by means of raising a question of privilege. This privilege has been denied to us because of the consistent and immoderate use of the guillotine in regard to 21 instances of time allocation, in this session alone.

This use of time allocation, as you know, Mr. Speaker, is unprecedented in the history of Canada, and infringes on your duty as Speaker to protect our rights and privileges as members. As you have said many times, that is your responsibility and you take it very seriously. However, these closure motions undermine your role and your duty to protect us. Therefore, it diminishes the role of Speaker, as honoured from time immemorial.

In fact, you expressed it, Mr. Speaker, in debates in the autumn of 2011, at page 4396, when you had occasion to reflect on “the Chair's primordial concern for the preservation of the privileges of all members..”, and when you added, “As your Speaker, one of my principal responsibilities is to ensure that the rights and privileges of members are safeguarded, and this is a responsibility I take very seriously”.

Denying the members' rights and privileges to hold the government to account is an unacceptable and unparliamentary diminishment of both the raison d'être of Parliament and of the Speaker's function and role in protecting the privileges of all members of this House.

In conclusion, I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that the intemperate and unrestrained use of time allocation by this government constitutes a prima facie breach of privilege of all members of this House, especially those who are independents or, such as myself, representatives of one of the parties with fewer than 12 members.

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate your consideration in this matter. I hope you will find in favour of this question of privilege, that this is a prima facie breach of the privileges and rights of all members.