[Witness speaks in his native language]
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for inviting us to appear before your committee today. We apologize that we were not able to appear before you last week. The timing was just too tight.
We do acknowledge that the Stoney Nakoda Nations have been directly involved in the consultations that Indian Oil and Gas Canada has been carrying out over the past two years with the Indian Resource Council. Mr. Snow, who is with us here today, has been our representative, and Chief Poucette, my fellow chief, is on the board of the IRC.
Those discussions, however, dealt only with the general principles behind the bill, not the details. We did not see the actual text of Bill C-5 until it was tabled in the House of Commons in February. We then immediately instructed our legal counsel to review Bill C-5 and to advise us in regard to it.
Our legal counsel then wrote to the committee on February 19, 2009. We would ask that this letter, our response to the minister—a clause-by-clause overview of the bill—be accepted as the submission of the Stoney Nakoda Nations.
We suggest that the committee request from the minister the correspondence and materials from the Indian Resource Council, and its joint technical committee, with respect to the issues that were identified and the specific amendments that were requested by the IRC at that time. Once this is reviewed, it will be clear that the issues we are raising are unresolved issues from the IRC process, not new issues, as has been suggested.
We are not proposing amendments designed to derail or to force a restarting of the process. We believe our proposed amendments to Bill C-5 are the conclusion of the consultation process started by the IOGC and the Indian Resource Council, not the beginning of a new process.
We were also disappointed to see that in the backgrounder and the speaking notes that accompanied Bill C-5, there was no mention whatsoever of the many lawsuits that have been brought by the major oil- and gas-producing first nations. We also have difficulty, from time to time, in obtaining information from Indian Oil and Gas Canada. But they should have advised you of the eight, at least, such lawsuits brought against the Government of Canada . The Supreme Court of Canada, two weeks ago, ruled in regard to only one small part of two of these lawsuits. The oil and gas royalty issues are still being litigated by the Stoney Nations and other first nations.
The amendments we are proposing would have the effect of facilitating resolutions of these issues, one way or another. And our proposed amendments would also conceivably save the Canadian taxpayer from having to pay out more money for royalty moneys that the IOGC has failed to collect .
Thank you for your time. Chief Poucette would now like to say a few words.
Ish nish. Thank you.