Evidence of meeting #40 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was investment.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

John Gailus  Partner, Devlin Gailus Barristers and Solicitors
André Le Dressay  Director, Fiscal Realities Economists Ltd.
Christopher Devlin  Partner, Devlin Gailus Barristers and Solicitors

5 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain NDP Manicouagan, QC

Your first and last names are francophone.

In your remarks, you talked about the city of Sept-Îles as an example of success. I may be wrong, but it seems that you have been on site. I am wondering if it was brought to your attention that the suicide rate on the Uashat-Maliotenam reserve—which is very close to the city of Sept-Îles—is the highest in the province, and even in Canada. In addition, over half of the adults are dependent on welfare, and there are social problems beyond belief, including addiction to hard drugs among young people. That addiction begins around the age of 9 or 10.

Is that part of your analysis of success in terms of the economy and the socio-cultural and economic development?

You may go ahead.

5 p.m.

Director, Fiscal Realities Economists Ltd.

Dr. André Le Dressay

Our study was done in 1998, and it was to do with the development of a Sobeys, which was the main tenant of a shopping mall, and the development associated with that. As you know, that particular community borders the municipality of Sept-Îles quite closely. It provided an opportunity to evaluate how long it would take to build a similar development like that in Sept-Îles versus the first nation community, Uashat.

With respect to the socio-economic indicators, our study was principally focused on the cost of completing that development.

5 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain NDP Manicouagan, QC

Thank you.

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Thank you very much for that clarification.

I'm going to take the chair's prerogative. I have a question here, and it has to do with pre-reserve designations. There are certain provinces where there's an ability for pre-reserve designations that allow for first nations to begin doing some development on what might become reserve land after the ATR process is complete.

I'm wondering if any of you have done any analysis as to whether this is a process that actually speeds support of economic development in cases where the ATR process sometimes drags out. And has there, in fact, been any analysis by any of you on the different jurisdictions that allow for third-party interests on ATR, as opposed to those that require those to be cleared up before the addition to the reserve can be completed?

Do you have any suggestions as to whether we should make a recommendation regarding either the pre-reserve designation and the ability for development on it before the process is complete or regarding the acceptance of third-party interests in the process of the ATRs?

5 p.m.

Partner, Devlin Gailus Barristers and Solicitors

John Gailus

I think I can field that.

I had that scribbled down. I think some of the prairie provinces allow for that. They were lands that were subject to treaty land entitlement settlements.

In my view, certainly if you can be doing the processes in parallel rather than sequentially, it's going to be a way quicker process. We've heard about the designation process and how lengthy it can be given that there's often a requirement for two votes rather than one, given the double majority requirements. It would make sense to have your vote prior to the land gaining reserve status and to have essentially two orders in council going forward together.

I can tell you from experience that.... Let's back up. On third-party interests pre-reserve that then get converted into Indian Act interests post-reserve, you have two orders in council going forward in concert. You look at one that's 11 and the next one's 12 in terms of the orders in council issued.

In my view, I think a great recommendation for those lands would be that, while you're dealing with your third parties over here, whether you're granting them federal interests.... Certainly I've had experience with one of the additions to reserve I did that was subject to a specific claim. It had third-party interest, and we had to negotiate FRPA leases, as they were then called, over those lands. It's FRPFIA leases now. In fact, the addition to reserve was subject to those interests. We didn't actually convert them into Indian Act interests. They're actually just federal leases on those lands. I think that would be a recommendation this committee could make, certainly for areas that have been identified as having economic potential and where there's an opportunity to allow for that process to play out.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

You bring up the issue of the double majority. I wonder if you have any suggestions as it relates to that, if you feel it's necessary or if there's any suggestion to lower the threshold in the cases of the ATRs and the hindrances that might develop as a result of not getting those two votes completed.

5:05 p.m.

Partner, Devlin Gailus Barristers and Solicitors

John Gailus

I see two problems with the designation process, and one of them is the double majority requirement. It's one of those unintended consequences that comes from the Corbiere case, which dealt with the elections on reserves. Subsequent to Corbiere, the designation requirements were updated, in that off-reserve members were allowed to participate and were counted in that double majority.

One of the problems, and we see this in elections as well, is that you might get 30% of the members, or 40%. I'm sure that certainly for section 74 nations—those who conduct their elections under the Indian Act—the department could provide you with those figures.

By not participating—so the individuals get the mail package and don't bother participating—they're essentially counted as a “no” vote, and then there is the requirement of a second vote. Clearly we need the designation process still in place. I think that's something you can trace back to the royal proclamation, and probably even before that. So we're not going to get rid of that.

We should look at, though, whether or not 50% plus one is the right threshold in terms of determining what your quorum is. To use corporate law principles, what is your quorum for a vote?

The second problem is that when you get to your second vote—this is the result of a case called Hill, I believe it was—where, in terms of calling a second vote, the court indicated it has to be the minister or the deputy minister who signs off on that. So it's a strange situation where you have a regional official in Vancouver, let's say, where we do most of our practising, signing off the notice for the first referendum, but then a need to go through all the bureaucracy to get either the minister or the DM to call a second vote.

It strikes me—well, first I was surprised when INAC didn't appeal that—that it would be an easy legislative fix to clarify that the same person who called the first vote could call the second vote.

That's a really frustrating thing that I've had to deal with on a couple of occasions.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

We appreciate that. Obviously you've been on the ground and understand those issues. Thanks for highlighting them.

Colleagues, looking around the table, I can see we've exhausted the speaking list.

To our witnesses, thanks so much for coming. I'm certain we'll hear from you again, as some of my colleagues have mentioned. I suspect that as the years pass there will be times when we'll need your expertise again. We certainly appreciate your taking the time to testify before us today. Thanks so much.

Colleagues, there are just a couple of things I want to do by way of committee business.

I circulated a document that is just a clipping from the guidelines between the press and members of Parliament. There were some questions, as it happened, in the ethics committee with regard to a member of the press. You'll see in paragraph two that there are some general discussions in terms of the close-up of documents, shots of documents, or allowing the press to have access to documents at the table, which is not permitted.

Therefore, we look to committee members to help uphold that requirement and that agreement between the press and members of Parliament. I had been unaware of it, and when I sat at ethics committee I was made aware of it. I thought it would be important that other colleagues knew that as well.

The second thing, colleagues, is that we don't expect to sit on Thursday, as we expect that we'll probably still be in votes. We've made the witnesses aware of that. We didn't want them to come all the way out here only to be turned away. I just wanted to make you aware of that as well.

Thank you so much.

Again, to our witnesses, thanks so much.

The meeting is adjourned.