Evidence of meeting #140 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 funding.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Seamus O'Regan  Minister of Indigenous Services
Yves Robillard  Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, Lib.
Jean-François Tremblay  Deputy Minister, Department of Indigenous Services Canada
Paul Thoppil  Chief Finances, Results and Delivery Officer, Department of Indigenous Services Canada
Alex Lakroni  Chief Finances, Results and Delivery Officer, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Diane Lafleur  Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I'm going to do a little bit of a history. We all know that it is very rare for the Prime Minister to stand up in the House and make a significant statement. Of course, we look at the residential school apology. About a year ago we had the Prime Minister stand up in the House on February 14, and he was pleased to announce that the government would develop, in full partnership with first nations, Inuit and Métis, a new framework that will include new ways to recognize and implement indigenous rights. Going forward, this will guide all the government's interactions. He also at that time said that they were going to have this framework introduced in 2018.

We then learned just a few days ago from Mr. Wernick that there was a very serious policy difference between the former justice minister and other ministers, including you. In Mr. Wernick's testimony, he also said there was a decision not to proceed with the rights and recognition framework. We also heard yesterday in testimony—

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Point of order, Chair.

Once again, I'm hoping this is going to lead to a question, but I don't see the relevance here of once again dredging through what's happened between the attorney general over the last few days, with the minister here to answer questions in relation to the supplementary estimates.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Sorry, but the minister talked about the whole framework in terms of rights and recognition and how they were going to go forward as a government. I am talking about the Prime Minister's statement, and it is absolutely relevant to her complete purpose and role. I am focused on that particular aspect. I am not focused on SNC or the director of prosecutions. I am focused on what is very directly her role, and that is what the Prime Minister committed to, which was the new rights and recognition framework.

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

I just urge MPs to try to stick to the estimates. I think that some concern was related to the Clerk of the Privy Council and other things that seemed to be delving into matters that weren't directly relatable.

We'll go back to you, Ms. McLeod.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Chair, this was directly regarding his comments about the rights and recognition framework. They are not comments about anything else, and I would suggest that it's very important to the role.

We did finally learn, of course, that although there was a meeting, SNC was the priority for the Prime Minister to talk about, although they ultimately did get to this issue—

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Once again, I have a point of order. Is she just here to grandstand and talk about SNC-Lavalin, or is she here to actually address the minister, who has taken her time to come down here and speak to this committee about the supplementary estimates?

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Chair, I have my first question for the minister right this minute.

February 28th, 2019 / 10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

You're ready to place your question.

Thank you.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

This is important, I think, for this committee to understand, because we had the Prime Minister make a commitment. We've had you make a commitment. What is the serious policy difference? Can you share it with this committee?

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal Toronto—St. Paul's, ON

I'm very pleased to be allowed the opportunity to explain that I believe that the policy goals of everyone in our government are to accelerate the progress to self-determination. What the Prime Minister spoke about last year was the kinds of really serious changes that we would have to make on behalf of Canada in order to reach that goal of accelerating the progress to self-determination. We, at the various tables we are at, know that the previous comprehensive claims policy was not working—cede and surrender, having to do that on loans, all of this. That is now all out the window. We are now working with our partners to get written down what would be a new approach to comprehensive claims—

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

So, is it—

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal Toronto—St. Paul's, ON

—what is the approach to the inherent right policy, and then how we put in place—

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Patience, because the minister is in the midst of responding. I think I was very generous. Please go on.

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal Toronto—St. Paul's, ON

And so what—

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Chair, this is my time. I just want to ask her another question.

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal Toronto—St. Paul's, ON

Cathy, I would just like to explain that what the Prime Minister described was an ability to change both the policies and the legislation where necessary, so we are now being able to put in legislation on language. We hope to put in—

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Chair—

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal Toronto—St. Paul's, ON

—language on child and family services. We are moving on—

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

I would like to know—

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal Toronto—St. Paul's, ON

—both the legislation and the policy changes that will help us do our job in the recognition and implementation of indigenous rights in Canada.

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

It appears that the commitment was made by the Prime Minister on February 14, which was very specific, about a framework around rights and recognition that would be tabled, and then there was a decision not to proceed. I think we could characterize that as a significant promise that really has resulted in chaos.

I will go on to my next point.

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal Toronto—St. Paul's, ON

You have to actually understand that this is a partnership. We have to take the time to get it right, and our partners set the pace for the kind of work we do together.

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Thank you.

Go ahead.

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

I acknowledge that you have done lots of work with the MNC, the AFN and ITK. We also know, though, that about 60% of indigenous peoples live off reserve, and we have other organizations, like the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. I notice that you signed an MOU with them, an MOA. Unlike groups like the AFN, which have, I believe, close to $90 million plus to do some of the work they do, there is nothing flowing in terms of the work to implement the MOU with the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. There were no dollars attached to the work they were going to need to do around that issue.

Whether it's the Daniels decision—and we don't know what's happening with that—or whether it's the 60% who, quite frankly, need some support, they are the poor cousins to your department.

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal Toronto—St. Paul's, ON

We were very proud to sign the accord with the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, and very happy to support their conference a year or so ago on the post-Daniels reality of Métis identity and how we go forward that way. We look forward to working with them in partnership, and to making sure they have the support they need with work plans.

We will need their help, and you are quite right that the next big challenge will be recognizing and implementing the rights of first nations, Inuit and Métis people who live in urban centres. That is something we feel very strongly about.

David Newhouse has research coming out of Trent, which will be very interesting in terms of how, in urban centres, there could be some governance or some organization that would be able to set priorities and identify the needs, interests and priorities of the people living in urban centres, in the same way as we do with the tables of people in communities.