An Act to amend the Indian Act in response to the Superior Court of Quebec decision in Descheneaux c. Canada (Procureur général)

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Indian Act to provide new entitlements to registration in the Indian Register in response to the decision in Descheneaux c. Canada (Procureur général) that was rendered by the Superior Court of Quebec on August 3, 2015, and to provide that the persons who become so entitled also have the right to have their name entered in a Band List maintained by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. This enactment requires the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs to initiate consultations on issues related to registration and band membership and to conduct reviews on sex-based inequities under the Indian Act, and to report to Parliament on those activities.

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

Dec. 4, 2017 Passed Motion respecting Senate amendments to Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Indian Act (elimination of sex-based inequities in registration)
Dec. 4, 2017 Failed Motion respecting Senate amendments to Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Indian Act (elimination of sex-based inequities in registration) (amendment)
June 21, 2017 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Indian Act (elimination of sex-based inequities in registration)
June 21, 2017 Failed Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Indian Act (elimination of sex-based inequities in registration) (report stage amendment)
June 21, 2017 Failed Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Indian Act (elimination of sex-based inequities in registration) (report stage amendment)
June 21, 2017 Failed Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Indian Act (elimination of sex-based inequities in registration) (report stage amendment)

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 15th, 2017 / 8:15 p.m.
See context

Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

Bardish Chagger LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Mr. Speaker, the member talks about respect for this place. The member says big words, but his actions do not demonstrate the same. It is unfortunate, because this week the member articulated such great words about our member and about being by-election buddies, something that our member would never do.

Today, just like every Thursday, the official opposition House leader asked me for the business for the rest of this week as well as next week. Perhaps the member would like to withdraw some of his comments. My answer, on the record, was that on Tuesday the House will debate Bill S-3, Indian registration, at report stage and third reading. To be in the House and mislead the Canadian public is a disgrace to democracy.

I encourage the member to perhaps correct the record, because his comments were not the truth.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 15th, 2017 / 8:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from Kitchener—Conestoga, a very thoughtful member of this chamber, for raising that.

As I said in my remarks, I mock the historical curiosities of duelling and witchcraft, but the Liberals have also been very selective with what else they have taken out. They are removing rarely used but specifically important sections with respect to the freedom of religion and clergypersons in the implementation of their faith, their job, and their role in the church. Why address that?

The member for Niagara Falls reminded us today that there was abuse and vandalism in a church in Ottawa, where charges were laid just today. The Liberals have also removed the action of intending to cause harm against Her Majesty, our head of state, the Queen, in the 65th year of her reign. We know that is rarely used, maybe never. Sometimes, the symbolism of what they are doing shows their motive, their lack of respect for religious freedom. They eliminated the ambassador for religious freedom in their first months as government. They are attacking provisions showing respect to clergy and to our head of state, while they are not even passing Bill S-3 in time, having to go to court begging for more time, yet they are dealing with witchcraft and duelling. It is a government that is lost and not respecting our democracy.

I am tired of the sunny ways. It is time for the Liberals to get serious and pay the respect to this place that is needed.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 15th, 2017 / 8:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to follow my colleague's remarks on Bill C-51 and join the debate today. I am going to be expressing my concerns with respect to the bill. Once again, I cannot resist dwelling on the lack of priority to our public policy of the government, specifically justice policies. The lack of ambition in some areas is striking.

The Liberals' use of time allocation motions is equally striking, and we have before us a bill that is much ado about nothing in many ways. It is an omnibus bill on which they are using closure. They are time-allocating, ending debate, on a very large justice bill that contains one very important area that is critical for us to discuss in this Parliament. It is also critical for us as parliamentarians to discuss the elements contained in this specific part of the bill outside of this chamber in our communities, in consultations with victims groups, with law enforcement, and with students, and that is the zero tolerance toward sexual assault in our society. There are clear rules on consent and that consent cannot be given when someone is intoxicated, an approach that most of us think would be common sense but has been confirmed in this legislation, but it has already been confirmed by our common law and the outrage that occasionally happens when some judges have not followed that approach to our common law.

There are various provisions in Bill C-51 related to the important work on consent, on evidence in sexual assault trials. I would like to commend the MP for Sturgeon River—Parkland, our former interim leader of the Conservative Party, for her exceptional work on judicial training. I am highlighting that because it shows that, while the bill is well intentioned on this provision with respect to sexual assault consent and evidence at trial, our common law should actually take care of this. While it is good for Parliament to clearly weigh in and amend the code with respect to this, our judges are on the front lines and they should be approaching this with zero tolerance with respect to sexual assault cases in which the victim has been intoxicated, in some cases by the person who then perpetrated the attack.

All members here have no patience for that type of conduct in our society. I am certainly very proud that our government passed the Victims Bill of Rights and, for a time in Canada, put victims at the core of our justice system. That one part of this omnibus bill is important for us to talk about, even though the common law is addressing the issues that this bill purports to address.

The other aspects of this are unnecessary. With respect to the charter statement to be attached to all bills, there are already opinions given on the charter application, with respect to legislation, by justice lawyers as part of the legislative process. Other groups outside Parliament can weigh in with their thoughts with respect to the charter. However, there is no need for this sort of charter stamp to come with each bill, because Parliament is supreme. If the court determines down the road that there is a provision that needs clarification as a result of the charter, it is up to this Parliament then to provide that clarity.

As you know better than most, Mr. Speaker, because you are someone who is a champion of our parliamentary democracy, no Parliament is held to the laws of a previous Parliament. That provision with respect to charter opinions or the charter statements in the bill is unnecessary and is being done for political posturing.

Finally, the last part of this omnibus bill is the so-called removal or amending of no-longer relevant Criminal Code provisions or seldom-used Criminal Code provisions. Some would call this a clean-up part of the omnibus bill. Is that so pressing that we are here using closure on debate to ram this through?

I am not sure when the last time was that there was a duel in Canada. I know there is two sword lengths separating the government from the opposition, but I do not suspect they are planning on us calling for a duel.

As for witchcraft, these are provisions that are historical curiosities. What is outrageous is that the government, and I am glad the government House leader is here, has passed 19 bills in its time in this Parliament. Nineteen have achieved royal assent, yet the government is hitting around the 30th time that it has limited debate in this chamber on such a low record.

I tried to highlight this in a previous speech last week. It is startling, the hypocrisy of the government. The government House leader who is mildly heckling me now, her deputy was the one who would feign outrage in the previous Parliament if time allocation was used or if omnibus legislation was used. In fact, the member for Winnipeg North, who has now joined in her heckling, called it “an assault on democracy”. That is how he referred to omnibus legislation.

The last week in the House, all I have seen is omnibus legislation, shepherded by the MP for Winnipeg North. The hypocrisy is stunning. The government House leader is using closure more times than the government has passed bills. The denominator is not matching up to show that the government is actually being productive. It is limiting parliamentary debate and really getting nothing done. It is startling.

I will remind my friend from Winnipeg North, because he is so verbose in this place, that he just gives me a wealth of information to draw on. When it comes to time allocation, what did he say? In November 2012, he said:

...never before have I ever experienced a government that is so persistent in using time allocation, a form of closure, using it as frequently as this particular Government House Leader does.

His government House leader is using it far more than the Conservative House leader did. I hope that at least behind closed doors he is expressing to her the same amount of outrage and indignation that we used to hear regularly in the last Parliament. Between the assaults on democracy and the limitation of debate, it is stunning that he can stand in this place and speak without a smile. It really is startling.

I will use the remainder of the time I have to show why this is hurting public policy development in Canada. We have an omnibus bill that is full of removing critical parts of our Criminal Code, like witchcraft, yet the government is not passing Bill S-3, in response to the Descheneaux decision of the Quebec Superior Court. The Liberal government's indigenous affairs minister did not even call Mr. Descheneaux to the Parliament to consult on the bill. It had until July 3 to pass legislation with respect to that court.

However, this government House leader puts froward omnibus bills full of witchcraft and other historical curiosities, a motion on Paris that was meaningless, and other motions, but it is not getting its own work done. If it wants to do an omnibus bill on justice, how about addressing the Jordan decision. Victims have seen accused murderers and accused sexual assault criminals being released as a result of judicial delays. That is the reform we need to see to justice. We have been asking, for a year and a half, for the minister to appoint judges. We have been pushing to get delays down.

The government is allowing accused criminals to be released because of its inaction, and its so-called justice omnibus bill is addressing duelling and witchcraft but not the Jordan decision. That speaks to the priorities of the Liberal government, a lot of talk on victims while it is not funding a registry for dangerous sexual offenders, while it is not addressing the Jordan decision. It talks about nation-to-nation dialogue with our first nations, yet does not even call Mr. Descheneaux to help pass important legislation.

I hope that, when we all go back to our ridings in the summer, the government House leader and her deputy reflect on the decline of our parliamentary democracy under their watch and that we come back in the fall to a full apology from them.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

June 15th, 2017 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Bardish Chagger Liberal Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the House will debate Bill C-49, on transportation modernization, at second reading.

On Monday we will debate our changes to the Standing Orders. Following that debate, we will resume second reading debate on Bill C-51.

Tuesday the House will debate Bill S-3, on Indian registration, at report stage and third reading.

Following that debate, we hope to make progress on the following bills: Bill S-2, the bill respecting motor vehicle recalls, at second reading; Bill C-17, respecting the environmental assessment process in Yukon, at second reading; Bill C-25, on encouraging gender parity on the boards of federally regulated organizations; Bill C-36, the bill to give Statistics Canada greater independence; Bill C-48, the bill to impose a moratorium on oil tankers off the B.C. coast; and Bill C-34, the bill to reinstate sensible conditions for public service employment.

June 15th, 2017 / 10:25 a.m.
See context

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

That concludes our business on Bill S-3.

I would ask members to be patient. We have a small amount of committee business to take care of.

I want to thank all the participants. We are going to move into committee business, so I'll ask you to leave the room, please.

[Proceedings continue in camera]

June 15th, 2017 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

NDP

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

Madam Chair, we've discussed on many occasions during deliberations of this committee the need to refer to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

As a matter of fact, many of the witnesses who came before us during consideration of Bill S-3 mentioned the need to recognize that this needs to be done on a proper basis from a proper framework. Many of them referred to their right to self-determination when discussing membership, registration, and other issues.

The new government has committed to implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, so it is only fitting that we include the UN declaration in that paragraph when the minister initiates the consultations with first nations and other groups. We need to refer not only to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as the bill suggests, and if applicable, the Canadian Human Rights Act. The important and fundamental dimension we need to include in that paragraph is the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

In fact, I would argue, Madam Chair, that if you're going to undertake the process that's provided for under Bill S-3 as phase two, what we're trying to achieve here—if you carefully read the description of what's proposed to be initiated by the minister—is exactly article 9 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Article 9 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples stipulates:

Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right to belong to an indigenous community or nation, in accordance with the traditions and customs of the community or nation concerned. No discrimination of any kind may arise from the exercise of such a right.

It is already a fundamental right that has been recognized by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It's already a human right that's provided for under that international human rights document.

In that sense, it would be only appropriate if we could include in the enumeration in clause 11, paragraph 2, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. That is what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has asked us to do as a country, as the framework for reconciliation in this country. That is what this new government has committed to do. All I'm proposing here is to assist in achieving that goal.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

June 15th, 2017 / 10 a.m.
See context

Executive Director, Indian Registration and Integrated Program Management, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Nathalie Nepton

Yes, the 54 individuals are specifically for the purpose of applications that will be received under Bill S-3.

June 15th, 2017 / 10 a.m.
See context

NDP

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

I have difficulty understanding, then, why so many applications take years. There are some applications that do not receive an acknowledgement of receipt for about seven or eight months.

How do you explain that? How can you reassure this committee that with those 54 people in place—is that specifically for Bill S-3?

June 15th, 2017 / 10 a.m.
See context

Executive Director, Indian Registration and Integrated Program Management, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Nathalie Nepton

In regard to the processing of new applications that would be coming in under Bill S-3, there has been money set aside to establish a unit, and we're currently staffing it. The unit will be composed of 54 individuals to do intake and to assess applications, so if the bill receives royal assent, we will be starting to process applications that are already in the queue.

Generally speaking, service standards, depending on if it is a complete application, can range based on complexity. These would obviously be a few months, so the average service standard is from six months to eight months, depending on the situation.

June 15th, 2017 / 9:35 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Gary Anandasangaree Liberal Scarborough—Rouge Park, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Mr. Saganash, every time I come to this committee, one of the things I look forward to is the comments from my good friend. I appreciate what you said, and I agree with it. I think human rights are not something you defer.

The difficulty we have here as legislators is we have a system of government where we have checks and balances, so to your first point with respect to the Senate: we have an executive, a legislative body, and the courts. We're at a point where the courts have said the legislation under the Indian Act needs to be changed. As a result, our executive branch came up with legislation that was subsequently amended by the Senate, and it is before us as the elected part of this bicameral system.

I think it's up to us to ensure that we respond to the court decision and ultimately it'll go back to the Senate for final approval if this is deemed to be adopted. The challenge we have is we've seldom been in this position in Canada whereby the elected body sets out a piece of legislation and sends it off with the possibility of an impasse. I think the learned people in the Senate will understand that they are charged with being the body of sober second thought, but ultimately as elected members of Parliament, the House of Commons has a greater role in ensuring the will of the people is expressed through the legislation we pass.

I am mindful of where the Senate stands on this. At the same time, given the broader context, I feel that senators on the whole will understand that once the House of Commons decides, they have their opinions and their amendments have been given due consideration, it's been debated in the House, and discussed at committee, ultimately if it's the will of our House to pass Bill S-3 as amended, then the Senate will need to give it due consideration.

With respect to the issue of are we addressing all sex-based inequities, I believe the Descheneaux decision requires the government to canvas the available or known areas of sex discrimination currently under the Indian Act. I am advised that the amendment being deleted will address that. What we are trying to deal with, with regard to deleting the Senate amendment “6(1)(a) all the way”, is not to broaden the scope of discrimination in other areas, which is something we shouldn't do, but we need to do in order to (a) consult and (b) ensure that we have a workable framework that doesn't put enormous strain on many of the communities.

I know we heard from a couple of witnesses who indicated that the membership—and they're absolutely right—has a right to define their membership, who is and who is not a member of their community, and it ought to be their absolute right. For us to find that balance between the Indian Act definition and the definition within the communities, I think we need to consult.

Therefore, this is really a deferral. This is delaying what I believe is inevitable, what we all believe should happen, but it should happen with a great deal of consultation, with the framework. It is quite unusual for any piece of legislation to have quite a stringent timeline for the government to consult and be able to come back and report within one year.

I think, as legislators, it is our responsibility to make sure that consultation is deep and gives us the road map to ensure that proposed paragraph “6(1)(a) all the way”, comes to fruition in the near future.

June 15th, 2017 / 9:30 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

I totally respect where the member is coming from when it comes to human rights. I don't think anyone in this committee would disagree with his position in that respect.

The difficulty we have is this timeline. I know everyone says we can get an extension, but we did that once, and we're right back where we were at the end of the first extension. If we get another five-month extension, we're going to be in exactly the same place we're in today. There's not enough time to properly deal with some of the issues that the Indigenous Bar Association and Senator Sinclair....

We're bringing about significant legislative change, and we have a duty to consult all indigenous peoples on the changes that are going to have such a huge impact on many of their communities. We just finished discussing an amendment on DNA. We, around this table, can think that we have all the answers to solve it, but we also know that there are certain complexities that need to be dealt with, and those complexities are derived within what the Mohawks had to say. They said they don't care what Bill S-3 says, and that they're the ones who are going to decide who's a member of their community, not the government.

I know in an ideal world we'd like to blow up the Indian Act and let all indigenous peoples make that determination, and I think it's the goal of all of us here to see that happen sooner than later. Until then, we have a duty to consult with all indigenous communities, and that's going to take time. Another five-month extension—or three months, or whatever it is they would give us—is not enough time to resolve this. In the meantime, if we do find ourselves back here in five months in the same situation, those 35,000 people who could have already been starting the registration process are still going to be stuck waiting to start that registration process.

As MP Anandasangaree had communicated, I do truly believe that our ministers, Minister Wilson-Raybould and Minister Carolyn Bennett, do want to see this resolved once and for all, and to get it done right, not just rush into it and get it done under what Senator McPhedran has proposed here in “6(1)(a) all the way”. There are flaws in that amendment, so there's no sense in my mind of passing something we know has flaws when we should be taking the opportunity to get it done right.

I totally respect where you're coming from, but I just think the two-phase process will enable us to get this done right once and for all. Do we wish that Bill C-3 could have done it back in 2010? Sure, but it didn't. So now we're stuck here again at this table, trying to make this determination. Let's get this done right, take the time necessary to do it, and put this behind us once and for all.

Thank you.

June 15th, 2017 / 9:25 a.m.
See context

NDP

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

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I would like to start off by saying that this is perhaps the most disappointing proposal of all, in this clause-by-clause exercise that we're doing today. I think my learned friend will appreciate the fact that, for me, being asked to delay the entitlement of human rights in this country called Canada will always be unacceptable, always. I cannot bear the thought that I will be voting for something that delays the application of human rights in Canada. Let me start off by saying that.

Second, I think we need to be mindful that there may be consequences to doing what my friend is proposing. We're going back to the House. We'll eventually vote on this bill, without the amendment that was proposed by Senator McPhedran. What will be the reaction of the Senate?

That is a point of concern for me, especially when we talk about the people who are affected by all of this. I don't want to be eventually facing a standoff between the Senate and the Parliament of Canada, because the Senate approved these amendments and they sent us a bill in its entirety, as we have it before us, in its present form.

They may, at some point, consider our changes and say “No. We need 6(1)(a) all the way in the legislation, to do justice, not just to the people who are directly affected by the Descheneaux case, but also to all of the other people who have suffered discrimination because of the Indian Act.” This is what we are also facing as legislators who have a duty to uphold the rule of law. That includes human rights, and I'm sure my learned friend can relate to that. He's a human rights expert. I think that's one aspect that we need to be mindful of.

I want to ask a question to him about one of the other aspects. In Bill S-3, with the deletions that you're proposing, does it fix all of the human rights violations and discriminations in the Indian Act? I don't think so.

A lot of the witnesses who appeared before this committee don't think so. I hear you when you say that the Indigenous Bar Association was one of the only organizations that expressed concern with that clause, but the rest of the witnesses, the majority of the witnesses accepted that amendment from the Senate, and part of our duty as well is to consider what's being proposed to us as a committee.

I very much enjoy the company in this committee on both sides. I think we've been doing incredible work since we started, and we need to continue on that path.

It's not the fault of the people who have suffered discrimination in this country because of the Indian Act. It's not those people's fault if we are at this point today, but there's a sense of urgency.

I'm considering this in a larger perspective than that. I understand your sense of urgency with the July 3 deadline that's coming up, but the parties are also before Judge Masse on June 19, including the Descheneaux family, asking for an extension. I think it's because they also feel we need to do this right.

It's not just what was asked for by the court in the Descheneaux case, but also to address the other discrimination based on sex. That's part of our duty as parliamentarians. It's important that we consider all those aspects before approving this amendment as you propose it.

June 15th, 2017 / 9:25 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Gary Anandasangaree Liberal Scarborough—Rouge Park, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Without getting into the history of the Descheneaux decision, I'll just put it on the record that the new government was formed in October 2015. At the time, our government reviewed the Descheneaux decision. After considerable thought, it was decided that the right thing to do would be not to appeal the Quebec decision, and to set up a framework where we could address the concerns in the decision. It was in the spirit of ensuring that we expand and give justice to those 35,000 individuals who have been disenfranchised under the current legislation.

Late last year, we brought forward Bill S-3 through the Senate. It came to us, and we discussed it and sent it back to the Senate. Now, close to the deadline, we are here.

I agree with my friend that this is not optimal. This is not the way we should be legislating, but given that this is in the spirit of doing the right thing, and with a very serious commitment to following through, I think it is important that, as legislators, we deal with this in order to ensure that those people who are disenfranchised, close to two years after an actual court decision, be addressed swiftly.

June 15th, 2017 / 9:15 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Gary Anandasangaree Liberal Scarborough—Rouge Park, ON

Madam Chair, thank you.

As tabled at this committee, I am moving to delete proposed subparagraphs (a.1) and (a.2) from Bill S-3, essentially lines 5 to 16 on page 2.

I cannot describe to you how troubling this piece of legislation is overall, and to me personally. Bill S-3 sets out to amend a deeply racist act, the Indian Act, a foundational document that essentially legalizes oppression of our first nations people.

Amending a deeply flawed piece of legislation, one that is centred on racism, is highly problematic. We are, however, at this juncture because of a court decision and the timeline set by the court for the government to respond to amendments to the Indian Act in order to address the issue of sex-based discrimination. We must therefore act as a government to address this issue.

At the outset I want to acknowledge the work of so many people who have fought on this issue for decades. I want to thank them for the many calls and emails and the conversations I've had in the last two weeks. I particularly want to thank the Senate for the considerable work they have undertaken in making changes to Bill S-3. I especially want to thank Senator McPhedran for her work on this issue as well as her lifetime of work in advancing rights.

I was in the House two nights ago where my friend and colleague, the member for Winnipeg Centre, spoke quite passionately about this issue and in support of the Senate amendments we're now deleting.

I think we all have received the correspondence from Senator Sinclair that outlines some of his concerns.

Based on all of this I think there is broad consensus on two points. First, the federal government should not be defining who is and who is not an “Indian”. Second, in the interim the federal government needs to ensure that the definition is void of discrimination. That's the consensus that I see among all the parties.

The long-term goal of Canadians, and I think for this government, ought to be to develop a nation-to-nation relationship ensuring that each nation has the absolute right to define its own peoples and to eliminate the Indian Act altogether.

In the interim, we need to ensure that we eliminate discrimination of all forms under the Indian Act.

The issue at hand was triggered by the court decision in Descheneaux. As Senator Sinclair has pointed out, we have a court-imposed deadline of July 3. While the parties seek to extend the timeline, we as legislators have a responsibility to ensure that we make our best efforts to meet the deadline, especially since we have been given an extension of five months.

Consequently, the framework, with the proposed deletion in this bill, will ensure that we can move forward in the near term, meet the set court deadlines, and enfranchise up to 35,000 people.

Madam Chair, I want to be absolutely clear. We are committed to addressing the broader issue raised by proposed paragraph “6(1)(a) all the way”. Unfortunately, the current language in the Senate amendment seeks to address a wide range of registration issues beyond sex-based inequities. These issues are beyond the scope of this bill, and there is insufficient information on how the lack of meaningful consultation would impact first nations' communities or individuals.

We are committed to co-designing a process with first nations to achieve comprehensive reform rather than a piecemeal approach, which has failed time and time again. We will launch a process on broader reform within six months of passing the bill, and we will report to Parliament within 12 months of that launch. These timelines are now in the bill itself.

Experts like the Indigenous Bar Association, whom we have heard from, have made it clear that the wording of proposed paragraph 6(1)(a) is ambiguous, contradicts other sections of the act, and could have wide-ranging, unintended consequences.

We need to address broad-based reform of the registration provisions in the Indian Act, but we need to do so with the benefit of meaningful consultations with those who are impacted, both the communities and individuals, and with the understanding of what the intended and potentially unintended consequences could be.

In the meantime, this bill will recognize the rights of up to 35,000 people we know are being discriminated against—and incidentally, it's been almost two years since the initial ruling—and provide legislated procedural protection for situations of unknown or unstated paternity.

We need to pass this bill to provide justice to tens of thousands of people now, and move forward with broader registration reform to address other historical registration issues the right way, and once and for all.

Finally, I know that those who have fought for this for a very long time are rightfully skeptical of the government. The government says, “Trust us. We will do the right thing.” They have heard this time and again. Notwithstanding the past, I am convinced our government will do the right thing, Madam Chair.

In fact, Minister Bennett and Minister Wilson-Raybould have advocated for “(6)(1)(a) all the way” in the past. They are personally committed to ensuring that, in the near term, the government consults in a way that comes up with a proper framework for everyone involved. Together, we will ensure that our government moves swiftly toward addressing these issues.

I look forward to the conversation here, keeping in mind that we are all in a very difficult situation in trying to define the rights of people who have an inherent right and whose membership and identity are something neither I nor anyone in this committee, nor in the House, can actually in any way restrict or enfranchise.

June 15th, 2017 / 8:50 a.m.
See context

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Welcome, everybody.

We are here today on the unceded territory of the Algonquin people. We are convening to go clause by clause through Bill S-3.

I'd like to start the business of the meeting by indicating that, pursuant to order of reference of Tuesday, June 13, 2017, the committee begins its consideration of Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Indian Act (elimination of sex-based inequities in registration). We are here today to proceed with consideration of the bill.

We have with us department officials who are here to speak to any technical questions we have or potential impacts the amendments may have. They will not have an opening statement.

I'd like to provide members of the committee with a few comments on how committees proceed with clause-by-clause consideration of a bill. As the name indicates, this is an examination of all the clauses in the order in which they appear in the bill. I will call each clause successively, and each clause is subject to debate and a vote.

If there are amendments to the clause in question, I will recognize the member proposing it, who may explain it. The amendment will then be open for debate. When no further members wish to intervene, the amendment will be voted on. Amendments will be considered in the order in which they appear in the package each member has received from the clerk. If there are amendments that are consequential to each other, they will be voted on together.

In addition to having to be properly drafted in a legal sense, amendments must also be procedurally admissible. The chair may be called upon to rule amendments inadmissible if they go against the principle of the bill or beyond the scope of the bill, both of which were adopted by the House when it agreed to the bill at second reading, or if they offend the financial prerogative of the crown.

If you wish to eliminate a clause of the bill altogether, the proper course is to vote against the clause when it comes time to look at that clause, not to propose an amendment to delete it.

Since this is the first exercise for many new members, the chair will go slowly to allow all members to follow the proceedings properly.

If, during the process, the committee decides not to vote on a clause, that clause can be put aside by the committee so that we revisit it later in the process.

As indicated earlier, the committee will go through the package of amendments in the order in which they appear and vote on them one at a time unless some are consequential and dealt with together.

Amendments have been given a number in the top right corner to indicate which party submitted them. There is no need for a seconder to move an amendment. Once moved, you will need unanimous consent to withdraw it.

During debate on an amendment, members are permitted to move subamendments. I would prefer that you didn't. These subamendments do not require the approval of the mover of the amendment. Only one subamendment may be considered at a time, and that subamendment cannot be amended. When a subamendment is moved to an amendment, it is voted on first. Then another subamendment may be moved, or the committee may consider the main amendment and vote on it.

Once every clause has been voted on, the committee will vote on the title and the bill itself, and an order to reprint the bill will be required, so that the House has a proper copy for use at report stage.

Finally, the committee will have to order the chair to report the bill to the House. That report contains only the text of any adopted amendments, as well as any indication of any deleted clauses.

Thank you for your attention, everyone.

This is a committee that has worked on other very difficult issues, and I'm fairly certain will get through this in an efficient and co-operative manner.

Shall we begin?

(On clause 1)