Evidence of meeting #72 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 land.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Isadore Day  Ontario Regional Chief, Chiefs of Ontario
Luke Hunter  Research Director, Land Rights and Treaty Research, Nishnawbe Aski Nation
R. Donald Maracle  Chief, Band No. 38, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte
Ryan Lake  Legal Counsel, Missanabie Cree First Nation
Ava Hill  Chief, Six Nations of the Grand River
Chief Abram Benedict  Grand Chief, Mohawk Government, Mohawk Council of Akwesasne
Phillip White-Cree  Acting Manager, Aboriginal Rights and Research Office, Mohawk Council of Akwesasne
Stacey Laforme  Chief, Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation

8 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Our official start time is 8:00 a.m.

I like to be on time because it's important that everyone gets their allocated time so that we are fair, that everyone has an opportunity to be heard, and that members of Parliament are able to ask questions to ensure that our report is comprehensive. This will form the basis of what we will provide to the Government of Canada.

First of all, I'd like to recognize that we're on the traditional land of the Mohawk people.

This is our fourth visit. We started in Vancouver, went to Winnipeg, went to Quebec City yesterday, and are now in Belleville. In three weeks, we are heading up to Yellowknife. The committee is studying land claims, both comprehensive and specific.

It's important that we reflect on this at this time, as our Prime Minister has indicated that the relationship between Canada and our first nations, our first peoples, our indigenous peoples, is the most important. We are on a process of truth and finally reconciliation.

What will happen is that, although we cannot cut you a cheque, we can make recommendations to government.

8 a.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

8 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

That might have been a recommendation from some other delegations.

What we can do is provide a new summary of the situation, how things are now. I know that you've probably participated in similar committees and reviews, and what makes this different is that we have a government and a Prime Minister who sincerely wants to make a change.

We will prepare a report, and you can submit information in briefs until October 20, and that will be included in the report. Of course, the documents will be part of that more comprehensive storage of Library materials. The report will have a number of recommendations put forward by members of the committee, and we will submit it to the Government of Canada, who will then officially respond to our recommendations. It is part of a process of truth and reconciliation and strengthening our relationship with our first peoples.

We're thrilled to be here in Belleville and to hear from you. I hope that you had a safe journey and everything was good. We appreciate that you took the time to come out.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), we are studying specific claims and comprehensive land claim agreements, and I wish to welcome you.

The process is that you have 10 minutes to present. We have two presenters, so after both groups have presented, we'll open the floor to questions. There's a first round of seven minutes, and then it moves into five-minute rounds. I'd ask members to indicate who they're directing their questions to.

Good morning. Either group can begin. You can decide between the two of you who wants to start.

Go ahead.

8 a.m.

Chief Isadore Day Ontario Regional Chief, Chiefs of Ontario

Boozhoo, wachiyeh, sekoh, shekoli, and good morning.

First of all, I'd like to acknowledge the traditional territory of the Mohawk people, Tyendinaga.

I am presenting here as the Ontario regional chief. I'd like to acknowledge the leadership that is with us here today, as well as the standing committee and the various parties that make up your committee.

Today's presentation to the parliamentary standing committee comes at a critical time in our relationship with the crown at both the federal and provincial levels. In some respects, the current work being done with both Ontario and Canada has been 167 years in the making. The lands and waters in what is now known as the province of Ontario are comprised of lands from pre- and post-Confederation treaties. These lands provided resources for European settlers to farm, fish, mine, and trade with our people.

The rich resources of our lands allowed for the future economic growth of what would later become the province of Ontario and the country of Canada. However, our peoples have never shared in that wealth. Far too many generations of our peoples have suffered in poverty and despair. Today that despair and dysfunction, created by such unilateral acts of Parliament as the Indian Act and by unilateral federal policies, continues to undermine our land base under treaty, inherent, and aboriginal rights.

In 1973 federal policy divided indigenous legal claims into two broad categories—comprehensive, known as modern treaties, and specific, which make claims based on pre-existing treaties or agreements. Comprehensive claims deal with aboriginal rights. These claims are based on traditional use and occupancy of lands by first nations, Métis, and Inuit who did not sign treaties. Historically the crown dominion, what is now known as the nation-state of Canada, entered into a number of treaties with indigenous peoples. These historical treaties cover much of Ontario.

Canada misunderstands both pre- and post-Confederation treaties as achieving consent regarding the first nations lands. RCAP states that Canada should in no way rely on any indigenous “surrender” of land if there was no clear evidence that indigenous peoples consented to that surrender. Treaties were made in the context of what is now seen as the fiduciary relationship between Canada and first nations. Where there is cession of aboriginal title, the crown must account for any unfair or improper benefit derived from appropriating aboriginal title without free, prior, and informed consent, or without making sure that the treaty nations were fully informed.

Clear evidence of surrender on informed consent should become the legal and political principle going forward. This is a mutual fact-finding exercise. Similarly, clear evidence of consent should be the go-forward principle for any alienation of indigenous peoples from their lands and territories. In fact, one could argue that it may already be established in the rule of law in Canada if section 35 is indeed a full box that includes the commitments made in the Treaty of Niagara of 1764.

If a regime will impact aboriginal titles, then such a regime must be consented to. Canada and the courts' implementation of section 35 has neglected the important crown and indigenous nation principles of fairness and equality within the relationship. First nations reject the justification test, as it allows for further denial of the premise that our rights deserve proper protection and respect in Canadian law. Canada must reject the justification test and hold our relationship to a higher standard.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples commits nation-states to “take the appropriate measures, including legislative measures, to achieve the ends of this Declaration” in article 38. There are many ways that first nations would accept a new relationship with Canada in working together on creating the path forward towards a self-determined future. The political confederacy of Ontario submitted a presentation to the federal cabinet working group that is reviewing all laws, legislation, and policies that impact first nations. This document, entitled “Observing and Implementing the Sacred Obligations”, focuses on the fact that the treaty relationship between Canada and first nations strengthens our inherent rights as first peoples of this land.

The recipe for a new relationship with Canada includes the importance and significance that ceremony confirm the sovereign relationships; significant land base and resources to flourish; indigenous laws to regulate lands, resources, and relationships; adjusting Canadian federalism and constitutional-level discussions; observance of enforcement of treaties; and law and policy changes in adherence to UNDRIP, including all points above.

No amount of mandate letters or rhetoric about reconciliation or feel-good speeches at the UN will change the existing relationship. Restructuring of unilateral federal policies and the renewal of the nation-to-nation crown and first nation relationship, based on emerging realities around the nationhood goals of our member first nations and their respective territories and treaty affiliations, is the next step forward to true reconciliation.

After the Royal Proclamation of 1763, it was important to convene a treaty gathering of 120 or more tribes surrounding the Great Lakes in what was now considered to be British territory by the Europeans of the day. The 1764 Treaty of Niagara was an important historic gathering to comply with previous arranged indigenous protocols of peace and friendship.

We were informed of the royal proclamation in terms more generous than the common law rights that have been interpreted by the courts in the last 150 years. Your lawyers at the Department of Justice lead us to disbelieve that reconciliation is a true goal of your government by the manner that they interpret, observe, and negotiate treaty rights in Canada today. For example, the two row wampum informs us of the original understanding of “nation to nation”. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's recommendations to implement UNDRIP bring us back to the place in time when the Treaty of Niagara guaranteed a better relationship.

UNDRIP guarantees our right to use our traditional territories to build our own economies, in article 26, for example. In article 37, it promises that our treaty rights would be respected. Of course, a very important right is for our exclusive-use land base, now called Indian reserves.

Since there's been the now 140-year-old Indian Act, we have been treated as wards of the state. We are first nations. We are considered a second afterthought on government policy and priorities, and are treated as third-class citizens, some of whom live in fourth world conditions.

This is the state of the nation-to-nation relationship in 2017. We have children committing suicide due to poverty, despair, dysfunction, and abuse. We have a welfare-state system that renders far too many of our communities dependent upon funding that is inadequate and never shows up in time. The Specific Claims Tribunal leaves several gaps in the UNDRIP framework of rights recognition and mutual reconciliation of your laws, rights and title with our laws, and rights and title.

Continuing to have a cap on the compensation award in a specific claims process is not in the spirit of reconciliation. Returning of land is our ultimate goal, and the specific claims process should, as a priority, have the authority to return those lands to first nation communities. Within the process, itself, the amount of money for claims research is only a fraction of what should be made available to first nations. Overall, the SCP system does not provide the right of effective redress when our lands have been unlawfully taken from us, as per UNDRIP article 28. Canada should be facilitating changes in the very near future, or this government will fail to meet the expectations of first nations, given the nice words and commitments of the Trudeau government.

How do we restart the relationship? The solutions are there. The 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples is still the benchmark that has all the solutions, which boil down to self-government and a sufficient land base for economic self-sufficiency.

The Ontario 2007 Ipperwash report practically repeats many of the same RCAP recommendations on settling land claims. Let me quote from the final report:

...the single biggest source of frustration, distrust, and ill-feeling among Aboriginal people in Ontario is our failure to deal in a just and expeditious way with breaches of treaty and other legal obligations to First Nations. If the governments of Ontario and Canada want to avoid future confrontations like Ipperwash or Caledonia, they will have to deal with land and treaty claims effectively and fairly.... Unfortunately, the land and treaty claims processes developed and applied by the federal and provincial governments since the mid-1970s have been largely ineffective, painfully slow, and unfair. They also lack accountability and transparency.

While Canada claims progress on the resolution of specific claims, there's been a simultaneous and sustained effort to curtail research capacity at the first nation level. At one time, in the 1980s and 1990s, first nation PTOs administered research funding to support local capacity to carry out research to resolve specific claims.

Successive governments, beginning with the program review process in the 1990s, have significantly reduced the amount of available funding to PTOs. By some estimates, available funding has diminished by up to 75% of the levels they were funded at during the 1990s. Restoring community-based funding, administered through PTOs to assist those communities without the capacity to administer themselves, is a fundamental requirement in seeking justice for past grievances.

In renewing the fiscal relationship, it will also enable indigenous people to have fair and ongoing access to their lands, territories, and resources to support their traditional economies, and to share in the wealth generated from those lands and resources as part of the broader Canadian economy.

A fair fiscal relationship with indigenous nations can be achieved through a number of mechanisms, such as new tax arrangements, new approaches to calculating fiscal transfers, and negotiating resource revenue sharing agreements.

Once we gain a sufficient land base, and once we gain back control of our communities through self-governance and self-sustaining economies, then we will finally become equals. Only then will we secure our rightful place in Canada.

I am open to questions. Thank you.

8:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Thank you very much.

Mr. Hunter.

8:15 a.m.

Luke Hunter Research Director, Land Rights and Treaty Research, Nishnawbe Aski Nation

Good morning. I'd like to acknowledge the Tyendinaga territory, and the surrounding first nations.

My name is Luke Hunter. I am the research director of land, rights, and treaty research of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation. I am going to be specifically talking about specific claims and the process.

The Nishnawbe Aski Nation represents 49 first nations in Treaty No. 9 and Treaty No. 5 in northern Ontario. The combined treaty territory covers two-thirds of the province of Ontario, more than 700,000 square kilometres. It's one of the largest treaty areas in Ontario.

Working with the treaty first nations for more than 30 years, the land claims research unit has been very active in research and filing the specific claims, including several significant and successful treaty land entitlement, TLE, claims. None of these claims have been taken to a specific claims tribunal, though some matters have been taken to court. The work of the claims unit has clarified a codified history of our treaty territories, the Treaty No. 9 and Treaty No. 5 first nations in Ontario, enriching and empowering the resources for our communities.

The fact the standing committee is reviewing the specific claims policy and the legislation is very positive. NAN welcomes the opportunity to share some initial points and considerations with the committee.

As a matter of context, there is a high-level dialogue on specific claims policy going on between the federal government and the Assembly of First Nations, AFN. The eventual report of the standing committee helped shape this process in a substantive way. We are cautiously optimistic the bilateral discussions will address many of the significant problems with the specific claims policy, in particular, those problems that were aggravated in the last few years.

Unlike the record after the claims tribunal legislation, specific claims policy must be developed jointly through the discussions between first nations and Canada. That is the only way to succeed.

Considering the specific claims policy should be guided by some shared principles and values. In particular, article 27 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, also known as UNDRIP, provides in part that states like Canada shall establish, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, a fair, independent, impartial, open, and transparent process to recognize and adjudicate the rights of indigenous people pertaining to their lands, territories, and resources.

Article 28 provides that indigenous peoples have the right to redress, including just, fair, and equitable compensation for confiscated or damaged lands and resources.

We can also jointly rely on the principles respecting the Government of Canada's relationship with indigenous people recently released by the Department of Justice. Principle 3 states that the honour of the crown guides the conduct of the crown in all of its dealings with indigenous people.

There have been numerous studies on specific claims policies over the decades. In general, we endorse the conclusions of the two more recent reviews. One is the AFN expert panel report that was done in 2015, and second is the Auditor General's report six of last year. We trust the committee will rely on the past studies to form its conclusions and expedite the final report.

Without repeating the detailed reviews of the past, we would like to take this opportunity to raise some issues and concerns of particular interest to NAN without being comprehensive, given the time we have today.

The first issue is funding. Even though “Justice At Last”, the specific claims action plan of the previous government was supposed to address the backlog of claims, the government drastically reduced funding for first nation claims and research units.

Funding for the NAN unit was reduced without notice by as much as 60%. There was absolutely no justification for the radical attack on the claims process. The inevitable result has been more delay in the preparation and filing of claims to the greater prejudice to first nations.

At minimum, funding should be reinstated to the previous levels. Going forward, funding should be secured, taking into account considerations such as the number of potential claims identified as well as inflation. First nations costs for the tribunal process should be covered, including any judicial review applications to the Federal Court. Funding should also take into account the special costs of doing business in the far north, in our area. Most of our work is done with our remote communities.

One possibility is to flow funding through the specific claims tribunal in order to address the perceived conflict of interest position of the federal government. A related issue is the arbitrary cap placed on the loan funding for negotiations once a claim is validated. Funding levels are not sufficient for communities to exercise due diligence in terms of legal advice, experts, and community meetings. Negotiation funding should be based on actual costs, and should be determined jointly by the federal government and the affected first nations. Also, at least some of the funding should be on a grant basis, to avoid the problem of final settlements being undermined by the process of debt.

A long-standing problem with the specific claim policy and legislation is the relatively narrow scope of eligible claims. For example, even though the policy is supposed to deal with treaty infractions or violations, it excludes any program issues such as education. This is nonsensical, as both Treaty No. 5 and Treaty No. 9 contain clear and strong education provisions. Another example is the narrow scope of the exclusion of claims based on treaty rights related to activities of an ongoing variable nature, such as harvesting rights. This is noted in page 5 of the specific claims policy process guide. This exclusion is arbitrary and unfair. The harvesting provisions of both NAN treaties are critical and important.

The harvesting rights were often affected negatively by developments and resource use authorized by the federal government in the past. Also, the federal policy does not deal adequately or at all with emerging doctrine and the honour of the crown. As noted above, 10 relationship principles have been published by the Department of Justice, including overriding recognition of the honour of the crown.

In general terms, we understand, in the focus of the specific claims, the process regarding lawful obligations and their breach. However, the focus should be broadened to include relationship and equity issues, even where there is no clear technical breach of law. This is what I referred to as moving beyond the lawful obligation.

The equity-based approach is consistent with the honour of the crown and the overarching objective of moving forward with reconciliation. NAN has also put emphasis on the federal government's finality in relation to claims settlement. Complete and final releases are no doubt appropriate in certain situations; however, there should be some flexibility built into the policy. For example, we believe in the absolute finality in some of the cases, such as treaty entitlement claims, but we believe the formula in the treaty should be open-ended.

The other note I want to make a point on with regard to the current policy is that Canada tends to use technical defences, even though it is not supposed to. Under the policy, it's supposed to refrain from using the statute of limitations, but to reduce its liability, when it approves, or for negotiations, the letter will say that it's using the 1951 Indian Act amendments to undermine its liability.

Unfortunately, I think that's all I'm going to say. I have more points, but I will provide the summary of my notes to the committee.

Thank you.

8:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Thank you.

We'll have an opportunity to explore more through the questions the MPs have.

MP Will Amos is next.

8:25 a.m.

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

Thanks to both of you for strong presentations with lots of details. Speaking for myself, I really appreciate the passion and knowledge you're bringing to us. A number of us are not as familiar as you are with the specific claims process, but we are rapidly becoming so.

I'd like to first address a question to Mr. Hunter in regard to the submission that you made in relation to the AFN specific claims process in 2015. I found that to be edifying as well.

In order to ensure we have the maximum evidence before our committee, are there any distinctions between what you're saying now and what was previously articulated through that AFN process? Would that document be useful to our committee in our own deliberations?

8:25 a.m.

Research Director, Land Rights and Treaty Research, Nishnawbe Aski Nation

Luke Hunter

Yes, all the submissions we made would be helpful. A lot of the issues I'm raising here are consistent.

8:25 a.m.

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

If you would be so kind, please send a link to that to the clerk. I think that, procedurally, it has to come from your side, but that kind of extra evidence could only be helpful.

8:25 a.m.

Research Director, Land Rights and Treaty Research, Nishnawbe Aski Nation

8:25 a.m.

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

I want to continue on in relation to a comment that I found really illustrative, and I want to invite you to go further in that area. In that 2015 submission, you comment on “scorched earth” procedural tactics. You went into this theme just a moment ago, how the federal government in the past has, in your opinion, taken advantage of technical defences and used dilatory approaches to the specific claims, and how oftentimes they have just skipped going to a tribunal and gone to court instead.

I wonder if you could go into specific detail around what kinds of tough legal practices you have seen and maybe paint the picture for us.

8:25 a.m.

Research Director, Land Rights and Treaty Research, Nishnawbe Aski Nation

Luke Hunter

Generally, when a first nation files a court proceeding, the defendant will usually use all the defences available. For example, the affidavits will aggressively attack your evidence. Certainly that's their prerogative. Also, in some cases, the crown will appeal the decisions even though there's clear evidence that the court has found that the facts of law are true. The classic example is the sixties scoop litigation that lasted for eight to 10 years. There have been five or eight appeals by the federal government. At the end, they said that they were no longer going to fight, and they're into a settlement now. Again, you see that a lot.

First nations don't have the funding to fight them. We don't have unlimited resources to keep going to court because of those tactics available to the defendant. Certainly we want a negotiated process where it's fair and there's a level playing field.

8:30 a.m.

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

I'd like to direct my next question to Chief Day, particularly in relation to quantum, the amount that can be received through a specific claims process. You said that a limitation wasn't in the spirit of reconciliation. Focusing on solutions—and I'm not in any way critical of that point—what would be an appropriate approach to dealing with quantum? I also appreciate that there were also comments around it not being just about the money. It's about a broader relationship and using a process to achieve better relationships.

On the money side, what specifically could be done to improve it?

8:30 a.m.

Ontario Regional Chief, Chiefs of Ontario

Chief Isadore Day

I'm going to couch my answer based on the situation we had in the early 2000s. For about 90 years, our community, the Serpent River First Nation, where I was the chief for 10 years, was faced with an encroachment of development. First it was forestry, then it was a sulphuric acid plant on 99 acres of land. It was in a very strategic location where there was a port, Aird Bay, where ships came in for timber in the early 1900s. In the 1940s, to facilitate the uranium mining industry, they built a sulphuric acid plant.

The issue for us was the value that was lost in the land. It became part of the claim process. Earlier on in the submission of our claim the federal government said this claim is worth under $3 million, so there's only so much we're going to be able to do with your claim. To us, the loss of use, the impact on the environment, the emotional health impacts that resulted from the sulphuric acid, we deemed a much greater cost that should have been awarded. We're still going through that process right now in our community. Clearly, it's an unjust situation, but we view the land as where we would co-exist, live, and hunt and fish, but there's nothing but a clear, open space there now.

For us, I think it would be important to suggest to the committee that for the people living there, more consideration needs to be given to the true value of that land, not just based on the budget that the specific claims process has with regard to awarding those claims. Much greater fairness needs to be weighed in on valuation.

8:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Thank you.

The questioning now goes to MP Cathy McLeod.

8:30 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you to the witnesses for joining us here.

I have to follow up on a brief comment by Mr. Amos, though I did have another line of questioning. He talked about the legal fight that often ensues and what the crown does. Of course, it brings to mind that this morning we heard about the current government spending $110,000 to fight a $6,000 orthodontic case for a child they didn't want to provide dental care for. In the last year or so, have you seen any changes in that legal approach to what's happening with the specific claims tribunal, because certainly in other areas of government we continue to see that very adversarial approach.

Chief Day, would you have anything to say?

8:35 a.m.

Ontario Regional Chief, Chiefs of Ontario

Chief Isadore Day

I think we're seeing a lot of commitments coming out of the federal government. I believe that the deployment of the 10 principles that would guide the bureaucracy and other agencies and departments as to how to deal with our issues is helpful, but it remains to be seen. We're still early in the process, and we would encourage the federal government to be more transparent with the process itself.

On the flip side, it doesn't look so good for the federal government that the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, on the child welfare decision, is indicative of the actions of the federal government right now. I think that's a glaring piece of evidence that suggests that the federal government has a long way to go.

8:35 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Thank you.

My next area is that everyone is aware of the planned split of indigenous affairs into two focuses, which I think potentially has some opportunities and perhaps it could also get bogged down in bureaucracy.

There are three questions there. First, were you consulted before that decision was made? Second, are you part of the discussion now in what it should look like? Third, were you going to provide advice to Minister Bennett in particular, because that's going to be very important moving forward with specific and comprehensive claims?

What advice would you provide to her in how that department should be set up in a way that will be effective and that we're not just bogging down into more bureaucracy?

8:35 a.m.

Ontario Regional Chief, Chiefs of Ontario

Chief Isadore Day

I will answer that quickly, and I'll offer the rest of the time to my friend and colleague next to me. We just sat with Minister Bennett in Ottawa in the last couple of days and we had this discussion.

It's very important to recognize that the years of colonialism and institutional oppression that the Indian Act has created has built a bureaucratic empire that has pretty much overpowered our people. In the nation-to-nation relationship going forward, it will be important for this current government to recognize that it is not going to be able to do everything quickly and that there are processes we need to follow.

We are suggesting strongly that enabling legislation be put in place to give statutory certainty that this change will occur and that any successive governments will be held to account under a law designed to dismantle the Indian Act as it pertains to the split in politics and administration of the current department.

8:35 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Were you consulted before that decision was made?

September 29th, 2017 / 8:35 a.m.

Ontario Regional Chief, Chiefs of Ontario

Chief Isadore Day

We were not. It's frustrating that the minister said with a bit of a discrete smile that when we met before we weren't advised. She didn't indicate to us if she knew or not. It's really a dark curtain approach to some of these fundamental changes. The federal government must do much better in working with us on a transparent, nation-to-nation level.

8:35 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Thank you.

Mr. Hunter.

8:35 a.m.

Research Director, Land Rights and Treaty Research, Nishnawbe Aski Nation

Luke Hunter

If there is consultation, I will agree with the regional chief. We were never consulted. As for the split, there are two thoughts on that. One thought is that, yes, it would help in dealing with grievances. When you split the programming, it may provide some leeway in how you perceive it. I talked about the conflict of interest. You can't have the crown adjudicate your grievances. I think that's the critical point in the claims process. The process acts as a judge and jury and predetermines the consultation and the liability. I think from that perspective it is probably a good thing.

When you look at the other side, the treaty partnership side, some will say you can't split some of the relationships. For example, health and education are treaty rights. If you have two ministries and you want to address the treaty relationship on health and education, you can't approach two ministers. Who do you see? I think that's the critical point for some first nations. Even the leadership, if you go to deal with a treaty issue, you're going to have to deal with two ministers, and I think that's where you're going to have a conflict.

8:40 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Thank you.