United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act

An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Sponsor

Romeo Saganash  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Second reading (Senate), as of Nov. 29, 2018

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-262.

Summary

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

This enactment requires the Government of Canada to take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

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 30, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-262, An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Feb. 7, 2018 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-262, An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Motions in AmendmentImpact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 5th, 2018 / 12:25 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask my Conservative colleague a question specifically in the context of the vote we had last week on Bill C-262. I know that the Conservatives did not vote for it, but the important fact is that the Liberals did.

My colleague, the member for Edmonton Strathcona, moved a series of amendments at report stage that seek to bring Bill C-69 in harmony with what the Liberals supported last week on Bill C-262. Does the member have a reasonable expectation that the Liberals would at least remain consistent and support those amendments from the member for Edmonton Strathcona, or are we going to see a flip-flop, where they say one thing and do something completely opposite?

Motions in AmendmentImpact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 5th, 2018 / 12:10 p.m.
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NDP

Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Mr. Speaker, one of the criticisms of this bill is that it does not include a legal requirement for free, prior, and informed consent.

I know that my colleague, the member for Edmonton Strathcona, tried to have that inserted at committee stage, and of course we find ourselves here today, once again trying to get the government to honour the passage of Bill C-262 that the House passed last week.

Will my hon. colleague be supporting my colleague's amendment on that issue today?

Motions in AmendmentImpact Assessment ActGovernment Orders

June 5th, 2018 / 11:55 a.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, last week the parliamentary secretary, and indeed the entire Liberal government, voted to support Bill C-262, which would make sure that all the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The member for Edmonton Strathcona has brought forward some report stage amendments to the bill, which seek to do just that.

In the context of Bill C-262 and the member's support for what that bill aims to do, will the Liberal government be consistent and, this week, vote in support of those amendments, which seek to do what the member voted for just last week?

Opposition Motion — United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous PeoplesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

June 4th, 2018 / 1:55 p.m.
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Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Madam Speaker, the Government of Canada believes indigenous people have the right to participate in decision-making in matters that affect their rights and that indigenous governments' laws and jurisdictions must be respected. That is why, as part of the Government of Canada's commitment to a renewed relationship with first nations, Inuit, and Métis nations, Canada will aim to secure free, prior, and informed consent when it proposes to take actions that impact the rights of indigenous peoples. This principle builds on, but goes beyond, the legal duty to consult.

While our government recently supported Bill C-262 as a good next step toward renewing Canada's relationship with indigenous peoples, a single legislative approach to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples cannot achieve our twofold goal of transformed indigenous-crown relations and improved standards of living in indigenous communities.

In order to fully adopt and implement the declaration and meet the promise of section 35 of our Constitution, more must be done. To that end, on February 14, the Prime Minister announced that the Government of Canada would ensure that a rights-based approach would be the foundation of all crown-indigenous relations. We are doing this by developing a full partnership with first nations, Inuit, and Métis people, a new recognition and implementation of indigenous rights framework. While the contents are being determined through engagement, it is anticipated that the framework will include legislative and policy changes needed to operationalize the recognition and implementation of the rights of indigenous peoples.

Opposition Motion — United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous PeoplesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

June 4th, 2018 / 12:30 p.m.
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Northumberland—Peterborough South Ontario

Liberal

Kim Rudd LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Madam Speaker, the sanctimony of the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley is quite something.

Before I begin my remarks today and speak to the motion by the hon. member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, I want to take a moment to congratulate him on the passage of his private member's bill in the House last week. Bill C-262 is a fitting tribute to, and a crowning achievement in, his lifetime of work promoting and defending the rights of indigenous peoples. It is a bill inspired in part by what he endured as a former student in the Indian residential school system, and by his determination to reconcile with those who had, as he says, put him away for 10 years. It is a bill that speaks to those without a voice, and it is a bill that reflects his own remarkable courage, perseverance, and selfless public service.

I know that the member opposite often says he was not alone in his pursuit of justice, but there is also no denying that his decades long journey exacted a heavy toll on him, not just in terms of his endless and exhausting hours of work, but in the personal sacrifices too, including precious time lost with loved ones. We are forever indebted to him for this, and all members on this side of the House are honoured to have supported his bill. In fact, our only regret about Bill C-262 is that it did not pass in the House unanimously. History will almost certainly question the bill's opponents harshly, but I will leave it to them to explain their position to Canadians.

Today, the hon. member opposite asked for our support again with a motion that builds on Bill C-262, a motion that among other things asks all members to reaffirm their support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and to advance a nation-to-nation approach that respects the right of indigenous peoples to self-determination. Our government is readily willing to do both, as we have many times before. We share much in common with the hon. member, more perhaps than he may even realize, but I will get to more of that later.

Where we differ is on the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline. Our government's decision to approve the $7.4-billion project, as well as our announcement last week to secure the existing pipeline and ensure that its expansion proceeds, has never, ever been about choosing sides or putting one province ahead of another, or one indigenous community before another. Instead, it has always been about Canada's interest. That includes the rights of all Canadians and the rights of indigenous peoples. It is our responsibility and within our jurisdiction to work in close partnerships with provinces and indigenous peoples, to consult and engage as the crown, and to act in the national interest to ensure the stability and growth of the Canadians economy, and to get our resources to market sustainably and competitively.

The TMX pipeline is part of that. It is in Canada's national interest as a result of the most in-depth indigenous consultations ever done in this country on a project; as a result of a significant number of letters and submissions from the Canadian public; and also because of the thousands of good, well-paying jobs it will create, the better prices it will ensure for Canadian oil, and the increased government revenues at all levels that will follow. All the while, our government is making unprecedented investments to enhance environmental protection and support indigenous participation.

To understand all of this and how we have arrived at where we are today, it is helpful to look back at where we started. From the moment our government was sworn into office, we made it clear that there is no relationship more important to Canada than the one with indigenous peoples. We have heard the Prime Minister say that many times in the House and elsewhere. He wrote it in the mandate letters of every federal cabinet minister, and he made it a central pillar of our government's vision for this clean growth century, starting with the Speech from the Throne, which was delivered exactly two and a half years ago today.

I want to read an excerpt from the throne speech so that Canadians can appreciate how it has guided our every action over the past 30 months. It reads:

Because it is both the right thing to do and a certain path to economic growth, the Government will undertake to renew, nation-to-nation, the relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples, one based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.

It is because of that perspective that we fully endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and why we are acting on the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and why the Prime Minister appointed a working group of ministers last year to review all laws, policies, and operational practices related to indigenous peoples.

In short, our government's efforts are cut from the same cloth as the hon. member's Bill C-262, and they go even further in ensuring that the crown is meeting its constitutional obligations regarding aboriginal and treaty rights. We are adhering to international human rights standards, including the UN declaration. We are supporting the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action and we are doing all of these things in collaboration with indigenous peoples.

The result is that this past February the Prime Minister announced a historic new approach for renewing the relationships between Canada and first nations, Inuit, and Métis people, one that underscores that true reconciliation must start with the recognition and implementation of indigenous rights. Our government is doing this by developing a new recognition and implementation of rights framework, a framework that is being co-developed through national engagement to rebuild indigenous governments and nations and to support a path toward self-determination.

One of our government's earliest expressions of this new approach was the introduction of Bill C-69, which transforms the way Canada reviews major new resource projects by co-developing with indigenous partners a direct and permanent role in impact assessment and regulatory process from beginning to end, which brings me back to the Trans Mountain expansion project.

One of the first things our government did in coming to office was to launch a new interim approach to environmental assessments and regulatory reviews in Canada, an approach based on five guiding principles that included more meaningful consultation with indigenous peoples and explicit inclusion of indigenous knowledge. Then, to enable even more voices to be heard, the Minister of Natural Resources appointed a special ministerial panel to travel up and down the length of the proposed pipeline's route, holding additional hearings beyond the National Energy Board's own regulatory review.

We heard through our engagements with indigenous peoples and non-indigenous Canadians in Alberta and British Columbia and across Canada that the project is in the national interest, that the jobs and revenue are needed, and that the risks can be mitigated. However, we also heard that we needed to manage the risks of the project very closely, which is another reason why we launched our country's single largest investment to protect Canada's oceans, marine life, and coastal communities, a $1.5 billion investment that will strengthen the eyes and ears of our coastlines, the longest in the world.

It will enhance our response capabilities in the unlikely event of a spill and ensure that coastal and indigenous communities are at the forefront of development and implementation of the plan.

It is also why we invested in and co-developed an indigenous advisory monitoring committee for the TMX pipeline, the first committee of its kind in Canada to help oversee the safety of a major energy project through its entire life cycle. Indigenous participation in this advisory and monitoring committee includes representatives that both support and oppose the project. This partnership and diversity of views is essential to advance our shared goals of safety and protection of the environment. As a result of these efforts, indigenous voices will be at the forefront, their counsel sought, their knowledge valued, and their rights protected. It is the beginning of a new way of managing resources.

As Chief Ernie Crey of the Cheam First Nation has said of the advisory and monitoring committee: “Indigenous people won't be on the outside looking in. We'll be at the table and on site, to protect our land and our water.” He is right.

The Prime Minister has said that the true measure of any relationship is not whether we all agree, but how we move forward when we do not agree. That is where our focus is.

When our government approved the TMX pipeline, we knew there would be Canadians who would disagree vocally and sometimes vehemently. That is the nature of a healthy and fully functioning democracy. Major energy projects can be controversial. They can divide political parties, as we have witnessed with the Alberta and British Columbia provincial governments who share the same political stripe. These projects can also divide indigenous communities that hold aboriginal and treaty rights protected under our Constitution. Look at those who support and those who oppose this project. There are Canadians who feel so deeply about these things that they will protest in the street and get themselves arrested, as two members of Parliament already have. This right to protest is a cherished Canadian liberty. We live under the rule of law.

I will now return to where I began in my remarks. I opened by commending the hon. member opposite for the passage of his bill, Bill C-262, and I suggested that he shares more common ground with our government than he may realize. There is a very good reason for believing that. It is because of something he said in February when he appeared before the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs to discuss his private member's bill. At that time, the member for Pontiac asked the hon. member opposite if he could articulate any distinction between free, prior, and informed consent, and a veto. I will quote the hon member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou at length because, as a lawyer, he displayed his great grasp of the law. The hon. member said:

I think the distinction is an important one and we need to understand that in this country. The right to free, prior, and informed consent, like all human rights, not just the human rights of indigenous peoples, is a relative right. You need to balance that right with the rights and interests of others, which veto does not do. Veto is an absolute thing, and I don't think our court system, constitutional or otherwise, would ever take that kind of view. That's not how our Canadian legal system works and that's not how the international law system works either.

The member's explanation is one of the best I have every heard. It is also consistent with one of the most frequently cited interpretations of what free, prior, and informed consent means, as developed by the former UN Special Rapporteur, James Anaya. Mr. Anaya said that consent “should not be regarded as according indigenous peoples a general 'veto power' over decisions that my affect them”. Instead, the overarching objective of free, prior, and informed consent is that all parties work together in good faith to make every effort toward mutually acceptable arrangements, thereby allowing indigenous people to “genuinely influence the decision-making process.”

This is the approach our government took in reaching its decision to approve the Trans Mountain expansion pipeline.

The member opposite is correct in noting that there are indigenous communities that oppose the project, including six indigenous groups that are exercising their rights in court. There are also 43 rights-bearing indigenous communities along the length of the proposed expansion route who have signed mutual benefit agreements that will create real opportunities in those communities, 32 of which have submitted letters of support. These signified partnership agreements reached between the company and communities go beyond the government's consultation and beyond the 157 conditions of the project that must be in place before operation.

In addition, the Minister of Finance has noted that since we announced our decision to purchase the existing Trans Mountain pipeline and proceed with its expansion, many investors have already expressed interest in the project, including indigenous groups.

Overriding the consent of those indigenous peoples who support the project or the majority of Canadians who are also in favour of its proceeding is not the solution here, but the contrary. It would go against the intent and spirit of the hon. member's motion.

The goal of free, prior, and informed consent is to ensure a holistic approach to interests through transparent processes aimed at building consensus.

It is the same goal at the heart of our current legislation to modernize Canada's environmental assessments and regulatory reviews. It highlights the importance of everyone in this House to support developing a recognition and implementation of indigenous rights framework that makes enshrining the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples real and meaningful, and that will fully support indigenous peoples in their path to self-determination.

How we manage and develop our national resources speaks to who we are as Canadians and the values that define us. Decisions like these are not always easy, popular, or indeed straightforward. I know the member opposite understands that as well as anyone. He has dedicated his life to advancing reconciliation through inclusive and sustainable resource development. We share similar visions; we have the same goals.

While I cannot support the member's motion as it is worded today, I believe we are all well begun with better rules to build a better Canada, one that our children can inherit with pride and build with confidence.

Opposition Motion — United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous PeoplesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

June 4th, 2018 / 12:10 p.m.
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NDP

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

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for that important question. I worked on this bill for over two years. When this new government promised to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a promise it made both during and after the election campaign, I hoped it would be easy to come to an agreement on the declaration and on my bill. After all, Bill C-262 simply implements that promise and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action 43 and 44. I thought it was a no-brainer, but I was wrong. I think it is deplorable that we have had to work so hard to get to this point. Now that—

Opposition Motion — United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous PeoplesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

June 4th, 2018 / 12:10 p.m.
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NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, my colleague brought forward Bill C-262, which was passed by the majority in this place. My colleague's bill would now require that the government reflect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in all federal government legislation. I would welcome my colleague's comments on this.

On two occasions, I have brought forward amendments for the government to include in new legislation coming forward, including Bill C-57, which would amend the Sustainable Development Act; and Bill C-69, which would transform our entire major project review process. The Liberal government turned down more than a dozen proposals to include the UNDRIP in that legislation. I wonder if the member could also speak to this.

The government seems to want to give the illusion that it supports all the TRC calls to action. It is giving the illusion that it now supports the UNDRIP, but in its actions, it does not seem to be delivering on that promise, also as pointed out recently by the Auditor General of Canada.

Opposition Motion — United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous PeoplesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

June 4th, 2018 / noon
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NDP

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

moved:

That the House: (a) re-affirm its support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), including article 32(2), which guarantees “free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources”; and (b) acknowledge that advancing Constitutional Reconciliation through a nation-to-nation approach means respecting the right to self-determination of Indigenous Peoples and the will of their representative institutions, like the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs which has said with respect to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline that “No means no – the project does not have the consent it requires”, which is a principled position conducive to achieving the ends of the UNDRIP.

Madam Speaker, I know it is always hard to pronounce the name of that part of my riding. I would like to begin by saying that I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the very impressive member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

First of all, I think it is worth reminding the House that we passed Bill C-262 some time ago. It was a historic moment when the House adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. That is why I think it is important to start with that reminder.

My motion reaffirms the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including article 32.2. I worked on UNDRIP negotiations for 23 years. For all those years, I was a participant and a negotiator working on the texts we have agreed to as part of the declaration. We need to understand something about the whole conversation around this in Canada today. People who talk about reconciliation cannot just say whatever they please. They have to recognize Canada's constitutional context. Anyone who talks about reconciliation in Canada has to talk about it with that context in mind.

For instance, one of the things the Supreme Court states in its rulings is that reconciliation is necessary, but that it is also vital to recognize that our consent, the consent of the indigenous peoples, Canada's first peoples, is equally necessary.

That is what reconciliation is all about. We must always come back to that principle. In a 2004 decision, the Supreme Court wrote that the principle of reconciliation rests on the government's duty to recognize the pre-existing sovereignty of indigenous peoples, since it is in some way more honourable than Crown sovereignty.

The pre-existing sovereignty of indigenous peoples has an overriding right over the crown's assumed sovereignty. These are not my words. They are the words of the Supreme Court. The “assumed Crown sovereignty” is what the Supreme Court used.

When discussing the sovereignty of the crown, or whatever we wish, there are a lot of issues, one of them being where we stand today. Where we stand today is pretty significant, I would suggest, because we have an issue before us. We praise people who say yes but ignore those who have the same right to say no. People have said that. There are communities across the country that have said no, and they have the right to say no.

That is our point. I could go on and on speaking about all of these issues, but all of this is about the right to self-determination, and they have said so. Let us keep it to that and respect that right to say yes, of course, but to say no also.

Federal Sustainable Development ActGovernment Orders

June 1st, 2018 / 12:30 p.m.
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NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-57, which amends the Federal Sustainability Act. This is a very important issue, which I will get to in a little bit.

I want to start by saying that it is unfortunate and disgusting that we are once again under a gag order as we debate issues that are so very important not only to us as a society, but also to the future of our planet. Once again, the government is limiting the amount of time we have for debate. It is preventing parliamentarians from debating and improving this bill, to ensure that we have a strong plan for sustainable development. the Liberals are once again breaking a clear promise they made during the election campaign. They are limiting debate times, imposing a gag order on members of Parliament, and not giving us enough time to have a serious debate. Today is Friday, and this is the fifth time this week alone that the Liberals have moved a time allocation motion. For those who are not familiar with the jargon, a time allocation motion means that the government is imposing a gag order a limiting the amount of time for debate.

I think that topics like sustainable development, the United Nations goals, and global warming should be taken seriously by the Liberal government. It should give us enough time to have a thorough, honest debate on this bill, so that we can address all of the details.

It is so important that I am personally convinced, and many of my colleagues here share my opinion, that the environmental issues, the protection of biodiversity, and the fight against climate change are truly the challenge of our generation.

Our children and grandchildren will judge us on our ability to deal with these challenges, our ability to ensure that we maintain a healthy environment, and our ability to prevent global temperatures from increasing by more than 2%, since that could have catastrophic consequences. I do not say that lightly. It has been scientifically proven that the earth's temperature is rising. It has also been proven that the actions of human societies, including our production and consumption activities, are mainly responsible for global warming. Our actions and our decisions are causing global warming and there are many consequences to that, including what is known as extreme weather. In some places, it is much hotter than it used to be, while in others it is much colder. On average, it is much hotter, and there has been an increase in the number and intensity of so-called natural disasters. That means there have been more floods, droughts, forest fires, and hurricanes, and those hurricanes are stronger and cause more damage. We have already seen this sort of thing in Canada. It has been documented and there are reports on the subject. Extreme weather and natural disasters are costing us more and more.

We often hear about cost, about putting a price on pollution and the cost of making greener, more environmentally responsible choices. However, I want to make it clear that there is also a cost to doing nothing and sitting on our hands while disasters break out all around us. This is not just a financial or economic issue, it is a human issue.

I would remind everyone here that former U.S. vice-president Al Gore won a Nobel Peace Prize for his environmental advocacy and actions. Why did the Nobel committee decide to award a Nobel Peace Peace to someone who works on environmental and sustainable development issues? There does not seem to be a link, but in fact, there is one. In addition to extreme weather, we are now going to start seeing climate migrants. Mr. Gore was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize because it is a well-known fact that drastically higher temperatures in certain regions, deforestation, and lack of access to water will cause population displacement around the globe and turn millions of people into climate migrants.

Environmental migration can lead to conflict, even armed conflict. That is why the folks at the Nobel committee decided to recognize Al Gore on his work a number of years ago and issued a statement saying that preventing global warming might get us just a bit closer to world peace.

Global warming also has an impact on our ecosystems here. One of our colleagues from northern Canada, the author of Bill C-262, noted that Quebec's far north now has species of birds and insects that it did not have before and that can trigger dangerous changes in the balance of certain ecosystems. Even in Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, where there are not that many ecosystems, we were forced to cut down dozens of trees because of the ash borer, an insect that did not previously exist back home. Climate change has caused the ash borer to migrate north and now it is attacking the trees.

I was talking to a winemaker in the riding of Berthier—Maskinongé recently. He says climate change could affect wine production in Quebec because of a vine-destroying insect called phylloxera native to France and Europe. Phylloxera cannot survive our winters, but that could change as our winters warm and we get periods of milder weather. It may begin to attack our vines. Periods of milder weather have other significant impacts, too. For example, if there is a major thaw in January, the vines think spring has come and start to bud, then they freeze and die for the rest of the season.

I wanted to share those details with the House, but I will now turn to a situation happening a long way from home. This morning on Radio-Canada, I had a chance to listen to an interview with documentary filmmaker Matthieu Rytz, who directed a documentary called Anote's Ark. Anote is the leader of a small nation, a unique population living on Kiribati, an atoll in the middle of the Pacific.

Like many other Pacific atolls, their island is only about a metre above sea level, and sea level is already rising. If we do not meet our Paris Agreement targets and slow down global warming, the glaciers at the North and South poles will melt, causing the sea level to rise everywhere. For the people of Kiribati, it is almost too late already.

There are other countries where we hope to avert disasters. I am thinking in particular of Bangladesh, which is already below sea level, but which may have more resources to protect its coastline. The Netherlands and Holland already have an entire infrastructure for that, but the people of Kiribati do not. It is most unfortunate.

The documentary is called Anote's Ark because all these people plan on leaving. They are looking for somewhere else to live. They may move to Fiji, for example. They are already in negotiations to relocate to other countries. It is so tragic. Their entire way of life will disappear. It could also lead to complications and tension.

The climate migrants I mentioned earlier are a clear and typical example of the fact that this phenomenon will grow. If they are moved to another country, will a state be created within the host country, or will they simply be assimilated into the existing population? These are serious issues. What can we do to prevent this cultural diversity from disappearing? Biological diversity is important, but so is cultural diversity. We see the type of problems that this will cause.

Before I go into the specifics of the bill, I want to point out that the Liberal government promised to put an end to oil subsidies. After two and a half years in power, it has done absolutely nothing about this. On the contrary, I believe it has just handed out the largest oil subsidy in Canada's history by writing a $4.5-billion cheque to a U.S. company to purchase a 65-year-old pipeline that is leaking, by the way.

However, Canada pledged to participate in an accountability process adopted by the G7 and G20 to track each country's progress in reducing and gradually phasing out oil subsidies. We have received an invitation. We have already been invited to pair up with Argentina to examine each other's actions and decisions to see if we are serious and making progress. What is absolutely incomprehensible is quite simply that the Liberal government did not even respond to Argentina's invitation. Argentina is still waiting for Canada to say that it wants to partner up. As they say in Argentina, it takes two to tango, but Canada is refusing to get on the dance floor.

More specifically, we have a government that, once again, is saying one thing but doing the opposite. The oil subsidies are a blatant example. It is sad. I would like to quote a report from the environment commissioner that clearly states that this government is not going in the right direction and that it will likely fall well short of meeting the weak targets it has set, where it even set any, that is. That is another problem. It is unfortunate that, despite the Liberals' campaign promises, they set exactly the same greenhouse gas reduction targets as the previous government and kept the very same game plan, and yet it seems Canada will not even meet those targets.

I would like to quote the environment commissioner's report directly. It reads:

On the basis of current federal [and] provincial...policies and actions, Canada is not expected to meet its 2020 target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Meeting Canada’s 2030 target will require substantial effort and actions beyond those currently planned or in place.

It seems pretty clear to me that we are going to miss the boat. We are going to miss the boat on what is probably the greatest challenge of this Parliament, this government, at a time when it should be leading the way and making tough decisions. It is not only the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development who is saying so. The United Nations and the OECD share the same concerns and have said that Canada will not reach its targets for 2020 or 2030. There is nothing to be proud of or to brag about here. Giving great speeches in Germany, in New York, and at the UN is all well and good, but if the government is not willing to walk the talk, there is no point. It is nothing but hot air, nothing but words, as Dalida would have said.

As for the Federal Sustainable Development Act specifically and the fact that Canada has officially committed to achieving the United Nations' 17 sustainable development goals, once again, a report released in April by the Commissioner on Environment and Sustainable Development sounded the alarm that we are not on track to achieve them. One of the federal government's major commitments to the UN is likely to remain mere empty rhetoric if Ottawa does not take meaningful action to honour those commitments.

At a news conference in April, Julie Gelfand said that it is always worrisome when a government says that it will do something and does not do it. In one of her three annual reports, she noted that Canada is not on track to meet the 17 sustainable development goals it has promised to implement on two separate occasions since 2015. The Prime Minister himself reiterated this promise when he appeared before the UN General Assembly in September 2017.

However, five departments responsible for implementing these goals by 2030 still have no targets and no system for monitoring progress. This is absolutely ridiculous. Ms. Gelfand also noted that there is no framework for coordinating these efforts at Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Global Affairs Canada, Status of Women Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, and Environment and Climate Change Canada. It is unreal.

We are not on track to meet the goals and will not fulfill our international commitments, and the departments are so inept that they cannot establish targets or tracking systems themselves. Furthermore, one of these departments is the Department of the Environment. What a terrible message. What a joke. This is why the government's credibility on the environment leaves a lot to be desired, in spite of all their fine words.

Bill C-57 makes a few small changes, but it is still not enough. We are missing the boat. I will come back to this if I have any time left, but this bill is basically a copy of Bill C-474, which was introduced by Liberal Party member John Godfrey and passed in 2008. The overall framework of the bill before us is extremely weak. What I am about to say may seem a bit technical, but rather than give the government an incentive to achieve a series of sustainable development targets based on certain principles, Bill C-57 merely sets out a legal framework for developing a strategy.

That means that, once again, a framework will be created, consultations will be held, and everyone will talk about big ideas for this strategy. In the meantime, however, the concept of setting targets and figuring out how to meet them has fallen by the wayside even though those steps are key if we want to take this seriously and make things happen. Instead, they are building castles in the air, ignoring the targets, and pretending what they are doing will be good enough. We think this is a missed opportunity that could have been used to achieve so much more.

Initially, the bill introduced and passed in 2008 proposed establishing an independent commissioner position to act as an environmental auditor general, which we currently do not have. There is no one who is entirely independent to oversee, as an auditor general does, what the government is doing on the environment. Regrettably, instead of creating that position, the bill aims simply to create a sustainable development office at Environment and Climate Change Canada, but without any real plan. Thus, the person responsible for monitoring progress on achieving the objectives will be part of the same organization that should already be tracking it anyway. I would not put a fox in charge of the henhouse. This is laughable.

Basically, we see a few steps in the right direction, but we think it is unfortunate that the Liberals did not act on all the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, despite what the minister said earlier today.

Export and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 31st, 2018 / 8:50 p.m.
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NDP

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

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the presentation made by my hon. colleague, a former colleague on the indigenous affairs committee.

She quoted article 19 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in our debate on Bill C-262 when talking about the situation in Akwesasne.

It was quite interesting in this context, because article 19 talks about consultation and co-operation “in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions”.

First of all, whom does the member consider the representative institution in Akwesasne? Second, I find it curious that members cite indigenous issues and indigenous people in situations that serve their arguments but not in the situation where the House was debating a vote to support indigenous peoples and their fundamental human rights in this place.

Indigenous AffairsOral Questions

May 31st, 2018 / 2:35 p.m.
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NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals spent so much money on a pipeline, they cannot afford new talking points.

Yesterday was an historic day for Canada, because we voted 206 to 79 to pass Bill C-262, enshrining the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into Canadian law. We must thank my friend, the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, for a lifetime of dedication fighting for the rights of aboriginal people.

Now it is time for the Liberal government to put action behind its words and its vote. Will it respect UNDRIP and commit not to put a shovel into the ground on their new pipeline until after all the aboriginal rights and title cases have been resolved?

Report StageExport and Import Permits ActGovernment Orders

May 30th, 2018 / 8:10 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to be joining the debate on Bill C-57, although I must agree with my Conservative colleagues that it is unfortunate to be doing it under the yoke of time allocation.

It is a strategy that the federal government seems to be employing quite a bit this week. I was having an exchange with the member for Perth—Wellington earlier today about this resembling a student who has missed the due date for his homework and has suddenly realized it is coming up and he had better rush things. We have been wasting time over February, March, April, and May, and now we are almost into June. If we look at the parliamentary calendar, we see that time is suddenly short, so the Liberals are feeling the need to engage in these draconian tactics to limit the ability of members to be here on behalf of their constituents. Every single one of these seats represents a unique geographic area of Canada, and the people of Canada deserve to have their voices and concerns raised in this House by the members who represent them.

That said, let us now turn to the bill before us, Bill C-57.

I want to compliment my friend and colleague, the member for the riding of Edmonton Strathcona. She has decades of experience in the field of environmental sustainability. When she speaks to our caucus or delivers speeches in this House or at committee, people listen, because they realize this member has the experience and the knowledge. Very rarely have I seen people contradict her, because they know that she is usually right. She has the experience to back it up.

I want to walk the House through a bit of the history of how we got to Bill C-57. We would have to go back to the spring of 2016, when the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development reviewed the current act. There is a mandate in the act that it has to be reviewed every certain number of years. I believe it is every three years. That is just to make sure that it is staying up to date with the changing nature of Canada, to see if we are meeting our goals or if anything needs to be tweaked, and to see if the government has been doing a good job in following the existing act. That is why it is important.

As a part of this review, the committee, as committees usually do, brought forth witnesses to testify with respect to the current act and present some recommendations for ideas for reform. Witnesses at the committee found the current act lacking in two important ways. First, unlike the definition of “sustainable development”, it focuses on environmental decision-making and ignores the social and economic pillars of sustainable development; second, the purpose is about transparency and accountability for environmental decision-making, rather than about advancing sustainable development. The committee agreed with those significant shortcomings and recommended that the act be amended to require the development of an effective federal strategy that will inspire, in equal measure, environmental, social, and economic advancement toward a better future, something I think that all members in this House can very much agree to.

The unfortunate thing with the bill before us, Bill C-57, is that it only partially addresses these deficiencies and recommendations. It is important to note that the updated law should reflect the broader UN sustainable development goals, which have been endorsed by Canada.

I want to list some key things that came about after that study, because when Bill C-57 made it to the committee, the Liberal government did not even listen to its own members of Parliament on that committee. It did not even listen to the recommendations that had come from the environment committee. That is a real shame, because suddenly we have Liberals recommending something, only to see their government completely ignore it. That action shows that the government is not committed to delivering on its commitments under the broad UN sustainable development goal to ensure the whole of government ensures that its laws and policies reflect environmental, social, and economic needs.

I want to drill down on that, because the member for Edmonton Strathcona really was faced with a Herculean task. Many of my colleagues who sit on committees know this. Since the NDP has just one spot on a 10-member committee, that one member does not have the luxury of teamwork with other MPs. The work often falls upon us, so when it comes to the amending stage of a bill, the clause-by-clause part of a bill, it is a pretty big task.

I can remember doing that last year at the justice committee when I was the justice critic for our party, especially when it came to Bill C-46. That was a gargantuan justice bill, and my staff and I were pretty busy on that.

Going back to the matter at hand, Bill C-57, almost all of the amendments by the member for Edmonton Strathcona at committee were based on three things: recommendations from the Commissioner of the Environment, recommendations from expert witness testimony at the committee, and recommendations from the committee itself.

She had three very good arguments behind her recommendations. What did the Liberal-dominated committee do? It voted down those amendments, flying in the face of the evidence. The government likes to pride itself on evidence-based decision-making. I have yet to hear a coherent answer from the government side as to why the Liberals did that to the amendments of the hon. member for Edmonton Strathcona, when they knew she has years of experience and that her amendments were based on solid evidence. We have still not received any good reasons on that.

The House voted today, historically I might add, for Bill C-262, which was moved by my hon. colleague, the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou. It was a historic moment for the House of Commons, because that private member's bill passed third reading and commits the federal government to ensuring that all laws are in compliance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

One of the amendments by the hon. member for Edmonton Strathcona was to ensure that Bill C-57 actually included a reference to UNDRIP. However, that was voted down. Then the Liberals decided they would vote in favour of the bill that is now going to mandate adherence to UNDRIP. Canadians should try to work their way through the reasoning behind that. I am still having some problems doing it.

That said, UNDRIP has passed this House. It is going to the other place now. I wish senators well. I certainly hope they will look at the hard work we did here in the House of Commons that recognize that in 2018, we are at a place in this great country where we can no longer afford to play the role of a colonizer. We have to make sure that first nations in Canada are the full and equal partners they very much deserve to be. It is only when we make sure that all of our federal laws recognize that implicitly that we will be able to move beyond our past—never forgetting it, but moving beyond it—to a place where most people would like us to be.

I know that my time on this bill is short, so I just want to end with this. The day that the Minister of Environment moved time allocation on this bill was Tuesday, the very day the Liberal government announced it was purchasing the Kinder Morgan pipeline for $4.5 billion. That is just the price tag for the existing infrastructure. There is no word on the cost of expanding the pipeline. I just think that when the environment minister is moving to shut down debate on a bill that seeks to bring federal departments in compliance with sustainable development goals and yet buys a pipeline, which is infrastructure that rightly belongs in the 20th century, it makes a mockery of the government's real commitment to addressing climate change.

I would dearly like to know what federal department is going to be in control of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, and how it can possibly justify its sustainable development when it is going to be operating something that makes a mockery of our climate change commitments.

This being 2018, with all of the evidence of climate change all around us, we certainly need this country to be taking a firm and strong direction in addressing climate change. I think everyone who looks to future generations knows that we owe them that at this moment in time.

I will conclude there. I have appreciated this opportunity to speak to Bill C-57. I welcome questions and comments from my colleagues and friends.

Aboriginal Cultural Property Repatriation ActPrivate Members' Business

May 30th, 2018 / 5:35 p.m.
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NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am divided right now talking about this important bill. I want to thank the member for Cumberland—Colchester for bringing it forward. This bill would create a national strategy on aboriginal cultural property repatriation.

I appreciate the intent of the bill, and I will be supporting it. However, I am also very concerned about the weakness of the language in the bill. It says things such as “to promote and support the return” and “encourage owners”, which would leave this bill as an option for people.

There is an important conversation that needs to happen in this country about what it means to be looking at reconciliation and the history of Canada. We know that the protection of cultural property touches many aspects of policy development, and this raises the risk that inconsistencies may happen and even that contradictory actions may potentially be taken if there is no coordinating mechanism. That is one of the biggest concerns I have. There is nothing here that is actually going to deal with this very important issue.

I had a wise person in my riding once tell me that for him, one of the best things about being indigenous was that the history of the culture was that they did not leave much behind. There were things like totem poles, but the actual impact on the environment was very balanced and limited.

I know that in indigenous communities across the country, their cultures are alive and active, and some communities are working very hard to bring back culture in their communities.

The history of this country is such that the human rights of indigenous people have been violated and often continue to be violated. Cultural heritage has been disturbed, stolen, excavated, exchanged, and taken under duress, and this is important when we talk about this bill. It is important to recognize that indigenous people were studied and bodies were exhumed and moved out of their territories and Canada without free, prior, and informed consent. That is the important thing we are speaking of today, as we saw with the passing of Bill C-262. In this day and age of reconciliation, it must be a key part of the conversation. How are we looking at what it means for indigenous communities to have free, prior, and informed consent? How are we are looking at the history of Canada and what has happened, and how are we making things change?

The University of Winnipeg, for example, currently has the remains of 145 indigenous people stored on its campus. It is concerning that the remnants of the first people of this country are left in places where they are not taken care of in a proper way.

In the riding I represent, North Island—Powell River, whenever remains are found, there is a working process with the indigenous community to make sure that those remains are treated respectfully. When we look at this bill, we have to be looking at that as well.

It makes me think of a community in my riding, the Klahoose First Nation, which is currently undertaking to find ancestors across the world. Recently, an ancestor was located in a Lower Mainland institution. The community came together and worked very hard. They wrote:

When it came time to transfer the ancestor from a cardboard box to the cedar box prepared by the Klahoose Nation we were guided into a private room. This is an incredibly spiritual and honourable undertaking: a precious moment as we handle the remains, bless them, brush and cradle them with cedar and tobacco, and then pray for peace to surround them on the journey to their final resting place.

However, when they walked into the room, what they saw was a cardboard box, which was home to their ancestor for more than 50 years. It had a single word written on it: “skull”.

One of the things this bill does not really look at is how to move forward in a respectful way to make sure that the remains of loved ones are returned home to their communities and that when that process happens, it is in the most thoughtful way possible.

The sad reality is that the history of Canada is steeped in colonialism. In the region I represent, many communities participate in the potlatch system to this day. The potlatch system was a way of redistributing wealth. It was a way of making sure that people were looked after. It was a very sacred process, and it was one of governance. That is really important. It was not a celebration. It was a way of governing. It was a way of making sure that there was fairness and that no one was left behind. People were respected for their generosity.

We know that in 1885, when the ceremony was made illegal, authorities took items away, including totem poles, regalia, and sacred family items. It is hard to explain the impact on the communities. These were the ways they governed themselves. These were the ways they dealt with conflict. These were the ways they acknowledged when people were moving from one phase of life to another. Therefore, it had a huge impact having all of those things gone.

I want to talk about the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre in my riding, which has done a lot of work repatriating artifacts to their community. One of its main objectives is “to recover from other institutions and individuals, artifacts and records of cultural, artistic and historical value to the Kwakwaka’wakw people.” This cultural centre has activities for schools to educate young people about the history of the area. It has a carving and education centre where they continue to train people in methods that have been passed down from generation to generation. It works hard on language preservation. There is also archival footage in the lower gallery theatre, where people can see some of the recordings that were taken so long ago.

In 1975, the hereditary and elected chiefs founded the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre so they could begin negotiating the return of their potlatch artifacts and regalia. In 1979, the society had things finally returned home and several months later, opened the doors and allowed the community to come in and engage with those things. It also encouraged the public to come and learn more about their history. It is important that they continue to do that work and find things all over the world that are from their cultural territory.

There are challenges trying to get those things back. The capacity of many indigenous communities to store and care for objects is extremely limited. Some museums work very hard with communities to make sure that they have access to these items.

Recently, a community in my riding, Homalco, took elders and young people to the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, where they saw masks from the late 1800s that are now stored there. They also saw baskets and other pieces of regalia. It was a really meaningful moment for those young people to see how long their history was, to see what the masks looked like, and to interact with the elders to learn the stories of the things that have been passed down. It is good to see those relationships happening, but there is so much more that can be done.

Professor Jack Lohman, chief executive officer of the Royal British Columbia Museum, said the following:

My last issue concerns the slow progress being made toward reconciliation. Our museum displays are still riddled with stereotypical display information, displays of indigenous life emphasizing and privileging white history over indigenous history. Repatriation is inadequately funded. Our museum culture is still predominantly white.

I understand the intention of this bill, and I appreciate it. It is important work. I think it is time in this country of Canada that we start to focus more on the impact than the intention, that we talk with indigenous communities and make sure we recognize the vibrancy in those communities, the history, and what it means when a person has things from their ancestors, their parents' parents' parents, and loved ones sitting in a box somewhere far away and there is no pressure to have those things returned. What does it mean to communities when they get those things back home? This is something we have to look at.

I look forward to supporting this bill. I wish I saw a little more emphasis on money. I understand that in a private member's bill, we cannot talk about money, but I want to make sure that this plan actually has a discussion about that. I saw nothing in there that said there would be a plan that comes forward from this national strategy that would include some of the heavy financial commitments that would have to be made to do this and do this right.

Natural ResourcesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

May 30th, 2018 / 4:15 p.m.
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NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for her speech about our committee's report, which we tabled a couple of years ago.

Just moments ago in the House, we passed a private member's bill, Bill C-262, from the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou. Everybody in the House voted for it except the Conservatives, who voted against it. It is unfortunate. That bill talked about making sure that the laws of Canada match up with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

In our committee, we have heard a lot about indigenous peoples, first nations, and their ability to take part in the natural resource extraction sector. We have heard that the mining sector has been very good at involving those communities, and the oil industry less so. Here we have a pipeline, Kinder Morgan. Some communities have signed agreements with Kinder Morgan, but the majority of first nations communities have come out against it. We have a government here that says it will listen to those people.

Could the member comment on that initiative, the reconciliation we are facing as a country, and how we have to include that in our extraction of resources for the future?

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

May 30th, 2018 / 3:45 p.m.
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Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

Pursuant to order made on Tuesday, May 29, 2018, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill C-262 under private members' business.