Evidence of meeting #10 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was c-3.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Dianne Corbiere  Representative, Indigenous Bar Association
Ellen Gabriel  President, Quebec Native Women Inc.
Chief Lucien Wabanonik  Grand Chief, Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador
Daniel Nolett  Director General, Abenakis Band Council of Odanak, Grand Council of the Waban-Aki Nation
Michèle Taina Audette  Representative, Marche Amun, Grand Council of the Waban-Aki Nation
David Nahwegahbow  Representative, Indigenous Bar Association
Paul Dionne  Lawyer, Grand Council of the Waban-Aki Nation
Angus Toulouse  Ontario Regional Chief, Chiefs of Ontario
Guy Lonechild  Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations
Chief Stewart Phillip  President, Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs
David Walkem  Chief, Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs
William K. Montour  Chief, Six Nations of the Grand River
Richard Powless  Advisor, Six Nations of the Grand River
R. Donald Maracle  Chief of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians
Sharon Venne  Treaty Researcher, As an Individual
Pamela Palmater  Chair, Ryerson University's Centre for the Study of Indigenous Governance, As an Individual

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

Do each of you want to comment briefly on that?

Mr. Russell, is that what you would prefer, that they comment now, or were you thinking of having them submit it?

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Absolutely, sir.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

Let's go ahead, then, with each of our witnesses here today, starting with Madame Audette.

Just about a minute and a half each, if we can.

4:15 p.m.

Representative, Marche Amun, Grand Council of the Waban-Aki Nation

Michèle Taina Audette

That's fine.

I will simply reiterate my support for what the Aboriginal Bar Association, the Quebec Aboriginal Women's Association and the Assembly of Chiefs said regarding the right to self-determination and self-government. I agree completely with this. However, you're asking me one thing. There is so much here. I could tell you that you have to stop forcing mothers to disclose the name of their child's father. I swear to you that there are many, many others. Your question constitutes an impasse. To my mind, this should have been taken out since 1985.

April 20th, 2010 / 4:15 p.m.

Paul Dionne Lawyer, Grand Council of the Waban-Aki Nation

I don't have any overall solution to propose to Mr. Russell, but there's a partial solution. In the framework of the McIvor decision, in order to correct the situation that Mr. Nolett explained, that is the third generation of women affected by Bill C-31 who were born before April 17, 1985, the Canadian Bar Association proposed last week that paragraph C.2 be added to the bill. It would read as follows:

that person is a child born after September 4, 1951 and before April 17, 1985 of a parent entitled to be registered under section 6(1)(c.1).

I think this would improve the bill considerably in that it would allow those third-generation children who were born before April 17, 1985, to get the 6(1) status and not the 6(2) status, which they are entitled to.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

Let's move on.

Grand Chief Wabanonik.

4:15 p.m.

Grand Chief, Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador

Grand Chief Lucien Wabanonik

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I'm not comfortable with the question and I don't agree with it. It's so difficult to answer that. If we say something, it could create other types of discrimination. That is what I'm afraid of. Only one question is being answered and that could be presented in the House for a single question. I have some serious concerns about that.

However, if I had to answer, Mr. Russell, I would say why not respect the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples? It says respect self-government for peoples and nations. In that sense, we could bring forth our own solutions to this issue. The government has to show some flexibility and openness.

Thank you.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

Ms. Gabriel and Ms. Corbiere, go ahead, each for a minute, please.

4:20 p.m.

President, Quebec Native Women Inc.

Ellen Gabriel

I'll do my best.

Thank you for asking the question. I think it's an important question. If there were no so-called economic benefits--and I use that term loosely because there are no benefits, really--to this, I don't think we'd be discussing this today. The Canadian Constitution recognizes the inherent rights of indigenous peoples. Why is it we always have to go to court to define what our inherent rights are? Why do we have to spend the time and energy and the money to go to a courtroom? We can talk about how archaic the Indian Act is and how we should get rid of it--and I've heard that from many generations--but no one's ever decided how we're going to get rid of the Indian Act. Let's get rid of it. We know it stinks.

We did a survey of our members, and 86% of the respondents said they wanted to get rid of the categorization. Seventy percent of our respondents said they wanted to go back to the creation of the Indian Act in 1876 to deal with this issue of status, and we're talking about treaty rights--

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

We'll have to leave it there, Ms. Gabriel. Thank you.

Ms. Corbiere or Mr. Nahwegahbow?

4:20 p.m.

Representative, Indigenous Bar Association

David Nahwegahbow

It's an interesting question, and we wish we could help you, but it's a slippery slope. I guess the best answer is to abide by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and let indigenous peoples make those decisions themselves. A leap of faith is going to be what's needed in this country. It will bring about transformational change, and that's what the committee ought to do.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

Thank you.

Mr. Lemay, you have the floor for seven minutes.

4:20 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I thank our witnesses for appearing here. The three draft amendments that will be tabled by the Bloc Québécois concern clause 6(1)(c.1)(iv) of the Indian Act. If you consult the brief presented in French and English by the Canadian Bar Association—and incidentally, I wish to congratulate them—you'll see that there are exactly the same three amendments. I would like to hear your views on these.

In the first amendment, we move that clause 6(1)(c.1)(iv) of the Indian Act be amended. It would read as follows:

New status under clause 6(2) would be possible for any person satisfying all the following criteria: his or her grandmother lost Indian status by marrying a non-Indian; one of his or her parents is currently a Status or has the right to be a Status Indian under clause 6(2) of the Indian Act; he or she was born on or after September 4, 1951.

I would ask you to familiarize yourself with this. In a few minutes, I will propose that we postpone clause-by-clause consideration to next Tuesday. So you will have until next Thursday or Friday to send us your comments. I know that's short notice, but I think that's what the government wants.

In the second amendment, we simply propose deleting clause 9 of Bill C-3. I invite you to read it.

The third amendment seeks to add clause (c.2) to paragraph 6(1). It would read as follows:

This person is a child born after September 4, 1951 and before April 17, 1985, to a parent who has the right to be a Status Indian under subsection 6(1)(c.1).

Those who know me know I have very great respect for first nations. We're going to try to eliminate discrimination. We think that this would be possible with these three amendments. With regard to the right to consult, study, etc., I think that that's not the purpose of this bill. We have to stick to it. I think that my colleagues on this side of the table are going to want to try to eliminate discrimination. It's possible that this bill go further, but my colleagues opposite would have to remember Bill C-21, which abolished section 67 of the Indian Act. There was a brief section, but after it passed, there were nine. And yet, it was done. I'm not asking you to give me an answer immediately. If you can do so, so much the better.

Mr. Chairman, with your permission, I'd like to finish with a point of order. I would like to ask that this committee postpone clause-by-clause consideration of this bill until Tuesday, April 27, and that draft amendments be tabled at the latest on Friday, April 23, at 4 p.m.

I think that we found a way to eliminate discrimination, but it won't be easy.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

Okay. You have the question, witnesses.

On the point of order, Mr. Lemay, it's really not a point of order; it's a question of the schedule of the committee. Just leave that with me for a few minutes and I'll come back to it.

Did you want to leave the question with the witnesses and allow them to respond?

We'll go on to the next question, which will be from Madam Crowder.

4:25 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

If they're ready, I'd like them to answer if possible. Otherwise, we can postpone this.

I'd like the point of order to be debated and put to a vote before 6:30 p.m.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

We'll do our best to do that. As you know, Monsieur Lemay, there is nothing pressing immediately at the end of this meeting. My thought was to take the time to hear from the witnesses today. We'll allow the meeting to continue past 6:30, if necessary, until we finish hearing the witnesses we have slated for today. We can come back to this item of committee business at the end. I will commit to doing that.

4:25 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Point of order, Mr. Chairman. You know as well as I do, given your long experience, that anyone around the table could ask for the committee to adjourn at 6:30 p.m. That could not be debated and would have to be put to a vote. I would like us to discuss this immediately afterwards. This would be done before we hear other witnesses and would allow us to adjust our schedules before next week.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

I'll ask the question, then. In fact, on the timing of the meeting, I'll just point out that really, the meeting adjourns at the discretion of the committee. The times we have on our agenda are indeed a guideline, but we don't adjourn the meeting without the consent of the committee. You're right about the adjournment motion, but of course that can be defeated if a majority of the committee members choose not to do that.

I'll simply ask, is there consensus from the committee members that we in fact move the meeting we originally planned for the second hour of this Thursday afternoon, which was for clause-by-clause? Monsieur Lemay is proposing that we move that discussion to Tuesday of next week, which would be April 27, at the regular meeting time of 3:30 to 5:30.

Is there consensus to do this?

Mr. Duncan.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

I would like to suggest that before we get a bunch of amendments tabled by the opposition, we have an opportunity outside of committee, in a more informal setting, to go over informally with the department questions and answers with respect to any possible amendments. Then there can be an open discussion, at least, before they're tabled. I think it would be productive. I make that offer. We had actually already made the offer, but that was for tomorrow, and I understand that the Bloc can't make that date. But if we could do it before Friday, it would sure be helpful.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

You're saying to do it outside of the committee meeting.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

I am saying to do it outside of the regular committee, with all our rules.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

The department is available, then, for that kind of consultation.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

On that basis, we have no objection to moving the clause-by-clause to Tuesday.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

It'll probably end up there anyway, to be honest with you.

Is there consensus, then, that we'll plan, for next Tuesday, a full meeting on clause-by-clause consideration?

Similarly, Mr. Lemay, on your second point, any proposed amendments should be provided to the clerk by this Friday, April 24.

4:30 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

It's the 23rd.