Evidence of meeting #87 for Canadian Heritage in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was charlottetown.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Diane Griffin  Senator, Prince Edward Island, ISG

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

I can give you my iPad.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Perhaps we will let you give the iPad to the clerk, please.

Now we have Mr. Vandal from the Liberals for seven minutes, please.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

I'm wondering if there's an opportunity for them to respond to Mr. Nantel's suggestions before I start my time.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

I thought maybe when we get to his amendment we can discuss it then.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

That's okay.

My question was going to be largely around the consultation process.

First of all, I thank both of you for the work you've done on this bill. I'm very supportive in principle.

In her preamble, the senator addressed that we are in an era of reconciliation. We know that Senator Sinclair tabled his truth and reconciliation document with a call to action that said, “Reconcile Aboriginal and Crown constitutional and legal orders to ensure that Aboriginal peoples are full partners in Confederation”. I was heartened to hear that the Mi'kmaq were consulted, and I think that's wonderful.

Senator and then MP Easter, are you satisfied that what we've done now is enough in this era of reconciliation? If you could both comment on that, I would appreciate it.

5:25 p.m.

Senator, Prince Edward Island, ISG

Diane Griffin

In my discussion with the Mi'kmaq Confederacy, this was the statement they had given me. I wanted it in writing so we'd all be on the same wavelength for the future and we'd have it for both houses. They were satisfied with that.

However, let me suggest that if it's the feeling of the committee and the House of Commons that you want to go further, that's up to you. Based on my discussion with the chiefs and the executive director of the Mi'kmaq Confederacy of Prince Edward Island, they were satisfied, but they made the point in the statement that they're looking at bigger fish to fry in that they want to be recognized on a nation-to-nation basis in the future.

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

On a go forward basis....

5:25 p.m.

Senator, Prince Edward Island, ISG

Diane Griffin

On a go forward basis, that's a good term. I think the fact that we asked and that they were able to give us a statement....

What's interesting, though, is that when consultation occurred, when the province passed its motion in the legislature, it did not consult in that case. That was the first thing I asked. Had there been any consultation by the province before it passed its unanimous motion in the legislature, and there had not. We were coming back to address that issue in terms of making sure, first of all, that the Mi'kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. was aware that we had such a bill.

Secondly, what was their reaction to it? Did they support it, did they not support, or did they have anything else they wanted to say? In addition to saying that they supported it, they had given me the other wording to read into the record, which I did when we were in the Senate. Also, I believe Mr. Easter did that when he made his comments in the House of Commons during second reading.

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

I'm assuming Senator Murray Sinclair was supportive of this bill in the Senate.

5:25 p.m.

Senator, Prince Edward Island, ISG

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

He was. Okay.

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Mr. Easter, do you have any comments?

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

I think Senator Griffin made most of the points. The statement by the Mi'kmaq Confederacy was made in both houses.

I don't see an amendment to this particular bill being necessary, but that's from where I sit. I think if it were, the clerk would have to tell me the process. What would happen if you made that kind of an amendment to this bill at this time? Would it have to go back to the Senate and be debated again there?

I actually think the birthplace of Confederation bill relates to a historic moment in time, which was a watershed moment. As Dr. Ed MacDonald said, when you do that, that in itself can be used as an educational tool for people about what happened during those times. I think we've made the point that there was no indigenous community present.

The other point I would make to my colleague Mr. Nantel is that I really think reconciliation is much bigger and much broader than the birthplace of Confederation bill. Where I come from is that I believe that the statements made in both houses relative to the debate on this bill, with the approval of the Mi'kmaq community, should at this stage be adequate to pass the bill on that basis. I see reconciliation of the indigenous community as a whole as a much bigger issue that is, in fact, ongoing and seen as a major priority by the current Prime Minister.

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

Thank you.

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Thank you.

Is that it? You have a minute.

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

I have nothing more.

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Thank you very much, Mr. Vandal.

We will go through the bill clause by clause and go to the amendment by Mr. Nantel when we get to it, because his amendment is following the second clause. Let us begin and then when we get to the second clause, we will read it.

Before I go to that, I want to thank Mr. Easter and Senator Griffin for all the work they did in bringing this forward. I think this is going to be a very important bill. As you know, we all support it, but I think we want to discuss what Pierre is talking about.

I shall begin. Pursuant to Standing Order 75(1), consideration of clause 1, the short title, and the preamble are postponed.

(Clause 2 agreed to)

I will now read the amendment by Mr. Nantel. The first amendment will become a new clause. It reads:

This place known as “Prince Edward Island” is recognized as traditional and unceded territory, known as Epekwitk, of the Mi’kmaq First Nation.

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

It's an interesting statement, but it doesn't seem to have anything to do with the bill in question.

The subject of the bill in question is Charlottetown and an historical event that took place there. It's not about Prince Edward Island per se. For that reason I don't see that it actually has a place in the bill as drafted. I think it's beyond the scope of the bill to have a declaration like that.

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Mr. Casey.

November 27th, 2017 / 5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I share Mr. Van Loan's view. The first thing I would say is that I enter this discussion very delicately. I do not for one second debate the truth of the statement that is sought to be incorporated into the bill. It's something that is repeated at virtually every single public gathering, and something that's taken as a given. However, because it's true does it belong in the legislation?

I don't think there has been a discussion here, at the Senate, or on the floor of the House of Commons as to what the ramifications, if any, would be to the inclusion of those words in the bill. For example, this is essentially a declaratory piece of legislation. Will the inclusion of the recognition of the traditional Mi'kmaq territory in this bill but not in others attach a particular significance to this or lessen the significance of other bills where it isn't mentioned?

The fact that the first nations communities have been consulted, and this isn't something that was sought, I think is significant. I think there are the process issues raised by Mr. Easter. If an amendment this substantive in the body of the bill is brought forward at this stage, does that bounce it back to the Senate and make this debate much broader? When this is, I think, by all counts, Mr. Van Loan included, an uncontroversial statement of the obvious, does the inclusion of a declaration of the traditional Mi'kmaq territory in the bill change that character?

For all of those reasons, while again I do not for one second dispute the truth of the statement, the necessity or appropriateness of including it in a declaratory piece of legislation like this is something with which I do take issue.

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Thank you.

Is there any other person wishing to discuss this?

Mr. Van Loan.

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Again, I should make it clear that my comments have nothing to do with the merits or substance of the particular statement, but rather its inclusion in this bill. It seems to be a non-sequitur in the context of what this bill is supposed to be about, and what it's supposed to achieve.

I don't have a particular problem with the statement, and I've also heard it said countless times. I just don't see how it relates to the birthplace of Confederation and the Confederation Conference that took place in 1864.

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

Thank you.

Mr. Vandal.

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

I feel like I'm at a disadvantage because I don't know the entirety of Mr. Nantel's amendments. Is that all that he has put on?

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Hedy Fry

He has another amendment, but we have to deal with this one first.