Evidence of meeting #105 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was c-262.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Chief Robert Bertrand  National Chief, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples
Todd Russell  President, NunatuKavut Community Council
Geoff Plant  Partner, Gall Legge Grant Zwack LLP, As an Individual
Chief Abel Bosum  Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)
Delbert Wapass  Thunderchild First Nation
Paul Joffe  Legal Counsel, Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)
Sehoneh Masty  Representative, Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)
Grand Chief Mandy Gull  Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)
Paul John Murdoch  Chief Negotiator, Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)

5 p.m.

Liberal

Gary Anandasangaree Liberal Scarborough—Rouge Park, ON

My final question is directed to Sehoneh Masty. She, I believe, is a member of your youth council. One thing we as a committee haven't really done properly is to hear from young people.

I would like to give her the opportunity to express to the committee what she feels about the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and how that will shape her future.

5 p.m.

Sehoneh Masty Representative, Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)

I don't know what to say.

This is really my first time coming to one of these things. I came with my mom because I wanted to learn more about indigenous rights and indigenous law because this fall I'll be going to college and taking justice studies. I'm trying to learn more about it before I start.

5 p.m.

Liberal

Gary Anandasangaree Liberal Scarborough—Rouge Park, ON

Deputy grand chief, maybe I can direct this to you. Can you give us your perspective on how this will reshape the future of young people, particularly in indigenous communities?

5 p.m.

Deputy Grand Chief Mandy Gull Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)

Good afternoon.

I'm a proud mommy. I brought my daughter to work with me today, just like our MP, Romeo Saganash, did. I think this is something historical, and you have to open it up to the youth. You have to give them the opportunity to see that they can sit at the table the way leadership does, because they are following in our path.

I'm unique because I'm the second generation after the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. Being a summer student, learning, and becoming a leader myself, seeing what our agreements have done for our Cree Nation, seeing that we have been, in a sense, a living model for what UNDRIP could achieve in Canada, I think that's been very significant.

I'm really glad she was given the opportunity to express herself. This is something of interest to her. I hope other youth see that when you're invited to something like this, you're given the opportunity to speak also.

5 p.m.

Liberal

Gary Anandasangaree Liberal Scarborough—Rouge Park, ON

I apologize, because from where I sit, I couldn't actually see you.

5 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Thank you.

The questioning now moves to MP Kevin Waugh.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Thank you.

Welcome to all.

Welcome back, Mr. Joffe. It wasn't that long ago that you were sitting just one over.

You all touched on free, prior, and informed consent, and two of the groups in front of me have had long negotiations. Some go on for months and years.

So let's face it; let's talk about the oil and gas, if we can, Mr. Wapass, because you come from my province. You've had a tenacious relationship, if I can say that, with Husky Energy, just next door to you, if you don't mind my saying that. I think I'm correct on that.

So here we have Kinder Morgan. You talk about moving gas and oil, and we talk about this every day in the House of Commons. How will this bill improve getting oil and gas to where it should, through B.C., when right now we have a number of agencies in British Columbia supporting it, we have a handful not supporting it, and we're deadlocked?

5 p.m.

Thunderchild First Nation

Chief Delbert Wapass

Well, that's not why I supported you when you were in my riding.

5 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

5 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Thank you very much for that. I've probably lost your support now.

5 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

5 p.m.

Thunderchild First Nation

Chief Delbert Wapass

It's good to see you. You still have your radio voice.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

TV too.

5 p.m.

Thunderchild First Nation

Chief Delbert Wapass

Yes, your TV voice too.

I'm trying to get away from answering the question, as you can see.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Yes. I know.

5 p.m.

Thunderchild First Nation

Chief Delbert Wapass

As I said earlier, it goes back to those first nations and respecting them. As much as we have a socio-economic situation within our respective communities, we have to acknowledge and respect the reality, the situation, and the leadership mandated by their people for the position they have taken. I haven't been privy to the types of discussion and dialogue that have taken place between Kinder Morgan and Grand Chief Stewart Phillip's constituents to say what the problem is. I can see, though, that in different instances within our respective area, we've been affected as well. I could put our own self-interests forward on oil and gas and say that we need the pipeline. At the same time, though, I have to respect the position our brothers and sisters in B.C. are taking and why they're taking it. I have to try to understand why it is, as much as it does affect us.

I believe, if there's a way forward, we shouldn't be talking from the wallet. We should be trying to figure out how we can best protect the lands, the resources, Mother Earth, our oceans, our waters, and so on and so forth. They are paramount for all of us.

We went through the Husky oil spill. The way Husky treated Thunderchild First Nation was classic. They were a class act. They worked with us on what we wanted, what our elders wanted, and what our communities wanted to see in fixing the problem. They did not renege. They did not talk from a dollar perspective. They were there supporting us. To this day, they are still supporting us. It was never industry, or the provincial government, or Canada coming to dictate to us what it should be and how it should be. It was, “Thunderchild, how do you want to see it? That's what we're going to do.” And that's how it was done.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Thank you for that. I think we needed to hear that.

Mr. Plant, you're in B.C. Holy God, what's going on there?

5:05 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

The whole world has stopped in B.C.

You've dealt with this. You're a lawyer. You're in policy. You've had everyone in this country look at you and ask what's going on, so I want you to talk about FPIC, the negotiations, and the right to choose.

I just talked about 33 groups that are directly affected by Kinder Morgan. They want it, and you have a handful who don't. How do you work around this?

5:05 p.m.

Partner, Gall Legge Grant Zwack LLP, As an Individual

Geoff Plant

The first thing I have to say is that while there has been a great deal of progress on the ground in some communities in relationship-building between Kinder Morgan and first nations, obviously it's not complete.

The whole project of how to encourage and incent constructive relationship-building between, say, the corporate sector and first nations is a hugely important project. There are some leaders in that, there are some laggards, and there are some caught in the middle of very complex and difficult projects.

What FPIC is about, what UNDRIP is about, is at a higher level. It's about governments, including indigenous governments, creating processes that will lead to greater confidence in decision-making and greater respect for indigenous rights. I would say that what you are seeing on the ground in British Columbia in large measure is a result of—you can choose your qualifier—an imperfect process, a flawed process, and a not yet successful process, clearly. Maybe what we need to do is look at what hasn't worked there and use that to inform the conversation about how to do things better.

On behalf of the 4.3 million people of British Columbia, I wish I could give you a unanimous answer, but the province as a whole is deeply divided on this project. The indigenous aspect of it is a hugely important part, but frankly not the only part.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

A champion would be Grand Chief Bosum.

It took you years and maybe decades to get that agreement with James Bay hydro. Is that something we can build on here now when we look at where Bill C-262 is going, at where you were some 40 years ago, and at where everybody wants to be in terms of that agreement you had with them and still have today?

When we talk around the table here, industry is on eggshells, right? We've heard from some, but maybe you can talk about your journey, the one that you opened up for your people, and there's the hope that it's going to continue.

5:10 p.m.

Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)

Grand Chief Abel Bosum

I'll answer in two parts. First, I'll just explain that the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement has provisions dealing with assessment, with how to assess projects in our territory, and they apply to all industries, whether it be Hydro-Québec or mining, forestry, and so forth. It is through that process of collaboration that we arrive at a conclusion, right?

Paul John here is on that committee. Maybe he can explain a little more about how it works.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

I think we're running out of time, though.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

I think that will have to be for another time, because we now go to MP Romeo Saganash.

May 1st, 2018 / 5:10 p.m.

NDP

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

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you to all our guests this afternoon.

[Member speaks in Cree]

Thank you to Mr. Plant as well.

I'll come to a very specific question about the costs you mentioned.

Let me start with you, Grand Chief Bosum. I know that the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement is the first modern treaty in this country and that it has contributed a lot to the development and recognition of indigenous peoples in this country with the agreements that followed along the way.

Do you consider the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement an instrument of reconciliation? Do you believe that the concept of free, prior and informed consent is embodied in the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement? I'm talking about all four elements: “free”, “prior”, “informed”, and “consent”. Do you believe that they are already embodied in the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement?

In listening to many of the testimonies here, I see the trend that recognition of indigenous peoples in this country is good for the environment and good for the economy. I wonder if you could elaborate on how beneficial it was for the Cree in northern Quebec, but also for other non-Crees in the region and beyond. I'd like you to elaborate on all of those things. I know that's a lot in one question, but as a former negotiator I'm sure you can handle that.