House of Commons Hansard #116 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was recall.


The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-36, an act respecting the Split Lake Cree First Nation and the settlement of matters arising from an agreement relating to the flooding of land, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Split Lake Cree First Nation Flooded Land ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.

York Centre Ontario


Art Eggleton Liberalfor the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

moved that the bill be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to.)

Split Lake Cree First Nation Flooded Land ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

When shall the bill be read the third time? By leave, now?

Split Lake Cree First Nation Flooded Land ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.

Some hon. members


Split Lake Cree First Nation Flooded Land ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.

York Centre Ontario


Art Eggleton Liberalfor the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Split Lake Cree First Nation Flooded Land ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.

Vancouver South B.C.


Herb Dhaliwal LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I rise to address the House on third reading of Bill C-36, the Split Lake Cree First Nation Settlement Agreement Act.

I begin by thanking hon. members on behalf of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development for supporting the bill at second reading and in committee. I would also like to thank the negotiators and all the people who participated in the negotiations.

This is neither a complex nor a controversial piece of legislation. It has been developed through extensive consultations with all parties that will be affected by it and is supported by them.

Bill C-36 is concise and direct. Despite its brevity it is important. For the Government of Canada the proclamation of Bill C-36 will mean a release from any other further claims by the Split Lake Cree First Nation under the northern flood agreement.

More important, it will mean that we are fulfilling our commitments to this First Nation. It will allow us to begin to build a new partnership with this First Nation, a partnership based on trust, respect and understanding for the people of the Split Lake Cree communities.

Bill C-36 means they can now realize the full benefits of the northern flood settlement agreement. Most elements of the agreement are already being implemented and, as a result, the Split Lake Cree are building a better and more secure future for themselves.

To fully appreciate Bill C-36 we must first acknowledge that the people of the Split Lake, Cross Lake, Nelson House, Norway House and York Factory First Nations in northern Manitoba paid a high price for the northern flood agreement. The flooding of 4,800 hectares of reserve lands by the Churchill River diversion projects of Manitoba Hydro deprived many families and communities of access to their traditional hunting, gathering, harvesting and fishing areas. It occurred with little consideration to the needs or rights of these people.

A quarter of a century later the Government of Canada cannot turn back the clocks. However we can and must respect the commitments that have been made to the First Nations concerned. One way we will do that is by seeking parliamentary approval and royal assent for Bill C-36.

As hon. members are aware, the governments of Canada and Manitoba, as well as Manitoba Hydro, have attempted through the northern flood agreement of 1977 to provide compensation to these nations. In addition to cash compensation the agreement contained provisions for land management, resource development, community infrastructure, navigation and so on. It also provided for the appointment of an arbitrator to deal with the claims arising under the agreement.

Unfortunately the northern flood agreement is vague or silent on many key issues. As a result it has been very difficult to implement. It has led to frustration and excessive costs for the parties involved as it encourages arbitration rather than co-operation.

The two governments and Manitoba Hydro have therefore been pursuing settlement agreements with individual bands based on a common set of principles and objectives.

Bill C-36 arises from such an agreement with the Split Lake Cree First Nation, the first and only band specific settlement agreement negotiated to date. The Split Lake Cree agreement was reached in June 1992. It fulfilled all outstanding obligations of the Government of Canada to the First Nation pursuant to the northern flood agreement.

As I mentioned a moment ago, the agreement is already being implemented with no significant problems. It is providing additional financial compensation to the Split Lake Cree. As well, it is providing for the transfer of certain lands to the First Nation, the creation of two new reserves, and increased socioeconomic opportunities for the Split Lake Cree.

The government made a commitment in the agreement to entrench several of its provisions in legislation. This is what we are endeavouring to achieve with Bill C-36.

Specifically Bill C-36 implements four provisions of the agreement, all of which stand to benefit both the First Nation and the government. First it will remove any administrative responsibility the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development might have for moneys paid under the Split Lake agreement. By stipulating that these are not Indian moneys under the Indian Act, this in turn will give the First Nation far greater control over the funds which will be managed on its behalf by a trustee.

Bill C-36 will also ensure that provincial crown lands provided in fee simple title as a result of the settlement agreement will not become special reserves under sections 35 and 36 of the Indian Act.

The First Nation will thus control the use and management of these lands without interference from the government and without the restrictions of the Indian Act. From the government's perspective this clause means the department will not have responsibility for these lands.

Bill C-36 will also address the costly and cumbersome dispute resolution process set out in the northern flood agreement. Individual band members can continue to make certain claims against Manitoba Hydro, but the simplified adjudication process set in the Split Lake Cree settlement agreement will take precedence over the process included in the northern flood agreement.

Finally, Bill C-36 ensures that the Government of Canada can utilize the Manitoba Arbitration Act when matters are in dispute under the northern flood agreement with regard to the Split Lake Cree First Nation. Currently Canada is the only party to the agreement that does not have access to these arbitration mechanisms.

As I indicated a moment ago, five First Nations were affected by the Churchill River diversion projects and are therefore eligible to receive benefits under the northern flood agreement. However Bill C-36 applies to only one of those First Nations, the Split Lake Cree, since it is the only First Nation that has signed a band specific settlement agreement. I am hopeful that negotiations with the remaining First Nations will be successfully concluded in the future.

It is important hon. members understand that Bill C-36 does not give force to the Split Lake Cree Settlement Agreement, as the agreement is already being implemented. It does not place a new burden on the government but simply ensures that we live up to our commitment as set out in the agreement. The passage of Bill C-36 will have a significant impact on the members who make up the Split Lake Cree First Nation.

The goal of the minister responsible for this challenging portfolio is to make a difference in aboriginal and northern communities and to give families and individuals both the hope and the tools for a brighter and better future.

I urge hon. members to join me in pursuing that goal. Bill C-36 is an important element of the legislative agenda of the government for aboriginal people. It deserves the support of the House so that it can be referred to the other chamber at the earliest possible date.

Split Lake Cree First Nation Flooded Land ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.


André Caron Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to address the House to support, on behalf of the Official Opposition, Bill C-36, an Act respecting the Split Lake Cree First Nation and the settlement of matters arising from an agreement relating to the flooding of land in Manitoba.

I would like to start by putting the bill into context, because what happened in northern Manitoba in connection with the construction of a hydro-electric project on lands traditionally held by aboriginal communities has had a major impact on these communities. It is also an object lesson for our governments and people in the south, who failed to give these issues the consideration they deserved.

The events took place in the seventies in northern Manitoba and involved a Manitoba Hydro hydro-electric project.

I may add that in a number of other areas in Canada, and especially in Quebec at the time, there were plans to develop hydro-electric power on several rivers in the north. The people of Quebec will remember that at the time, an agreement was negotiated with the Cree in connection with the James Bay hydro-electric development project. I will come back to this later on in my speech.

The purpose of the project that concerns us today, was to develop hydro-electric power on the Churchill and Nelson Rivers. It was an enormous project. It involved diverting about 85 per cent of the waters of the Churchill River to the Nelson River. It included the construction of dikes, dams, channels and hydro-electric power stations. This altered the rate of flow in the affected waterways, immense reservoirs were built, and lake water levels changed.

The communities that lived on these lands traditionally lived along the waterways that provided means of transportation, their livelihood and food in the form of fish, so their whole environment was disrupted. In my region in the twenties, we had a similar development that affected the Lac-Saint-Jean when hydro-electric dams were built to form a reservoir for the Île Maligne power station.

The shores of the Lake Saint-Jean were flooded. A few years ago, a local filmmaker, who I believe worked for the National Film Board, produced a documentary called La tragédie du Lac Saint-Jean . What we are about to discuss this morning in connection with the development of hydro-electric power in northern Manitoba is similar to this situation. I think some tragic events took place, and I think that is something we should not forget.

The territory involved in the hydro-electric development project in northern Manitoba is immense, covering more than 250,000, and perhaps as much as 300,000, square kilometres. Manitoba Hydro invested a total of nearly $3 billion in this project. Nearly 18 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity are produced, with sales estimated at between $5 million and $6 million annually. This enormous project will probably be of great benefit to Manitoba. Hydro-electric power is a source of wealth, and it is one of the cleanest sources of electric power, but although it has been of great benefit to Manitoba, the project has been a tragedy for the five First Nations living on the shores of the Nelson River.

These are the Cross Lake, the Nelson House, the Norway House, the York Factory and the Split Lake First Nations. The bill before the House this morning is specific to the Split Lake nation. Altogether, about 10,000 Cree status Indian living on these five reserves were affected. The hydro-electric development project flooded about 11,800 acres of land on the reserves or more than 10 per cent of their territory. The lands that were flooded were those that had been traditionally and continuously occupied, being, as I said earlier, those located along the waterways which served as a means of communication with the outside world.

Before the development of hydroelectricity, the traditional way of life of native people was what they had known from time immemorial. It was similar to the way they lived at the beginning of the century. They relied on federal assistance as they should, since they were entitled to it under the treaties they had signed, but mainly they relied on hunting, fishing and trapping for their livelihood.

And then, progress came from the south and disrupted everything. As you can imagine, with the start of huge projects and the arrival of southern workers living in camps and coming into contact with people on the reserves, the native way of life was bound to change. But the biggest change was the disruption of the ecosystem brought about by the dams. There was a change in the ecosystem of the Churchill and Nelson rivers as well as of neighbouring lakes and lakes which are merely wider parts of the river.

The water regime changed. In some places, the water flow dropped dramatically, while in others it rose sharply to the point of submerging banks.

Obviously, it has had an impact on the local plant and animal life. Hunting, fishing and trapping activities have been disrupted. Trapping often depends on water levels. Animals, such as beavers, live in streams and when you change the ecosystem, you disrupt their way of life and they must move or modify their habits. Thus traditional trapping, hunting and fishing grounds have been greatly altered.

Infrastructures such as wharfs and camps which had been used from time immemorial were lost. We often reflect on what the impact has been in the summer, but during the winter, people used to snowshoe across frozen lakes and rivers. Dams have changed the water flow and water level in streams. When you open the gates, the water level goes down and people can no longer walk on the ice as they have always done. Thus, even in the winter, their way of life has been greatly disrupted.

The most dramatic changes can be seen in the local native peoples' way of life. To start with, they have suffered a loss of income. Those who used to live from hunting, fishing and trapping have seen their income drop. The cost of living went up. Workers came in from the south, bringing along new products and introducing new habits among natives. All this meant an increase in the cost of living. Goods went up in price because people could not rely as much on hunting, fishing and trapping for their livelihood. They were forced to buy food, but at higher prices because everything had to be shipped from the south.

There was also a transformation of their mental and physical environment, in other words, their quality of life suffered. For generations they had lived next to a given river, they had particular activities, they recognized the landscape. Oral tradition had given rocks or places particular significance. When the land was flooded, a lot of significant landmarks were lost. Just think of our feelings when, by chance, we go through the village or the street where we grew up 40, 50 or 60 years ago. We know

it is the same place, we recognize a few things, but we realize that the environment has changed.

For the native peoples of the North affected by the harnessing of the Churchill and Nelson rivers, the environment changed suddenly. They no longer recognized their rivers, their lakes. They could no longer find the places where their people used to gather and live as a community. A part of their culture had been flooded at the same time as the river banks and the lake shores.

Yet, these people had rights. At that time we were not talking about rights entrenched in the Constitution, because this happened in the early 1970s in Manitoba. But these people had treaty rights, under Treaty No. 5, signed and negotiated with the federal government by their ancestors. Since they had rights over this land, it was to be expected that they would be entitled to compensation for losses incurred and that measures would be taken to help ensure decent living conditions on their ancestral land.

Of course it may have been less trouble for some people if these people had migrated south. Many wonder why one would want to live on ancestral land, when economic activity is difficult and everything is so expensive in these remote, northern areas; transportation costs in particular are astronomical. So, it would make things much easier if everybody just moved down south. But that is not what our country is about. That is not how we operate in Quebec and in Canada. Quebec and Canada are areas, land that was developed over the years by our fathers and forefathers, land on which we want to continue to live.

I can understand that aboriginal peoples of the north, be it Northern Quebec or Northern Manitoba, want to live in dignity on their own land. The issue of regional development was debated extensively in my region, the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region. People want to continue to develop this land. They want to live on this land. They want their children to find work there and the community as a whole to prosper.

These are requests often made to governments. People ask: "Give us the means to live on this land of ours". I can understand full well the situation of native peoples from Northern Manitoba who have seen their land altered, but wish to continue living in dignity on that land.

An agreement was to be concluded between interested parties. These interested parties are the five native peoples, Manitoba Hydro, as the financial backer of this project, the Province of Manitoba, which owns the Crown lands, and the government of Canada, as trustee for the natives affected, under the Indian Act.

It all started, as I said earlier, in the early 1970s. In 1968, Manitoba Hydro received a licence from the provincial government to develop the northern territory covered by the Churchill and Nelson Rivers.

In 1972, Manitoba Hydro decided to go ahead. There was, of course, a debate among the population at that time. The Natives argued that they had rights. Some people more sensitive to environmental considerations also took part in the debate. There was a good discussion.

The licence was granted in 1968 and Manitoba Hydro decided to go ahead in 1972. In 1974, the Department of Indian Affairs got involved, some four or five years after the project was initiated. The Department of Indian Affairs assumed its responsibilities and ruled that, under Sections 28 and 35 of the Indian Act, the project could not be carried out without the agreement of the bands concerned.

The federal government, which had a responsibility in this regard, finally notified everyone involved that the agreement of Native peoples had to be secured.

In 1975, negotiations began between the federal government, the province, Manitoba Hydro and the five nations represented by the Northern Flood Committee. This committee had represented Native people since 1974. Representatives from each nation had formed a committee to negotiate with Manitoba Hydro, the Province of Manitoba and the federal government.

Negotiations took place and, in 1977, the Manitoba Flood Agreement was signed. In other words, an agreement was reached in 1977 and the First Nations concerned agreed that the project could go forth. At that time, compensation was provided for flooded lands, for lost community infrastructure and for the loss of hunting and fishing rights. Steps were to be taken to ensure fair treatment for the Native people affected. That was the agreement.

Unfortunately, as the representative of the Minister of Indian Affairs said before me, this agreement was vague on certain points. Some matters were not settled and too many issues were poorly resolved or negotiated, so that the agreement could not be implemented.

The most contentious points that were put on the back burner concerned adding lands to the reserves to replace the flooded lands or giving the first nations concerned other lands in return for the flooded lands.

Another point left in limbo was the employment of reserve members on building sites. One would have thought that with the building sites open in those regions, an adequate and rigorous policy would be in place to allow members of the First Nations concerned to work on hydro-electric projects if they wished to do so. The agreement was vague on this point.

There was the whole issue of environmental monitoring. Land was flooded, so the plant and animal life were disrupted and we realize that there were surely environmental problems. The agreement contained no strict, specific measures for proper environmental monitoring. Of course, we are looking at it today from the vantage point of the 1990s and, in the 1970s, people may have been less sensitive. Today, when we think of all the environmental studies and precautions that an organization must take if it wants to proceed with hydro-electric development in the north, we realize that nothing was done in Manitoba in the 1970s or whatever was done was inadequate.

In my region, there was a hydro-electric development project on the Ashuapmushuan River. I say "was" because that project seems to have been abandoned for now. For seven or eight years, Hydro-Québec has been conducting studies, making public submissions, setting up review committees and boards to hear what the public thinks. Today we find it quite right and proper to protect the environment. That was not the case in northern Manitoba in the 1970s.

The agreement between the native peoples and Manitoba Hydro left this whole issue unresolved.

Another important thing is that the agreement did not provide for a body to implement it. You might think that the committee of First Nations on the flooding of land in northern Manitoba would have dealt with this issue, but the agreement did not provide for any spending or an adequate amount to cover the costs. There should have been an auxiliary agreement to specify this, but no such agreement was ever concluded.

So in 1977, we had what I would call a bungled agreement that was very inadequate. The result was predictable. Implementing the agreement was a tragic failure for the Native people concerned. From 1982 to 1993, the Native people filed 174 applications for arbitration under the agreement. That is a huge number. It means that the Native people concerned had to fight inch by inch, make representations and file complaints with an arbitrator to enforce an agreement that they had signed in good faith. Of course, they are in a pitiful situation.

It is clear that for the Native people concerned, the project had very harmful consequences, as the Department of Indian Affairs has admitted. For example, in terms of the environment, the Department of Indian Affairs has admitted that some deterioration of commercial and recreational areas can be observed. I have spoken about it at length from the beginning. The department has also been able to observe an increase in mercury contamination. Those are waterways, and the presence of mercury in water is very harmful to fish and to those who eat that fish.

It was noticed that the drinking water in some communities was contaminated, this in an area where water is found everywhere. In northern Manitoba, there are lakes, rivers and streams on much of the land, but some of the water used by Aboriginal people was contaminated. A reduction in the quantity and the quality of fish was noticed. The Department of Indian Affairs recognized that game and fish became scarce.

In 1992, the Auditor General examined the issue. I must admit that, since I come from Quebec, I did not have a very good grasp of the issue, but the problem has been discussed for years in Manitoba. In 1992, the Auditor General found that the Department of Indian Affairs, which had signed the agreement on behalf of Canada, had not done its duty regarding the environmental aspects of this project. The Auditor General told us that the department had not conducted an adequate preliminary environmental assessment, that it did not have a plan to monitor the environmental impact of the hydroelectric project, and that it did not present a report to the bands concerned on the implementation of the recommendations made in 1975 regarding the environment.

The Native peoples concerned had told the Department of Indian Affairs that the project had serious consequences. Recommendations had been made in 1975, but the department did not implement them. Aside from these environmental considerations, the agreement also included provisions on major concerns of Native peoples, but these were not implemented.

Canada did not fulfill its commitment to transfer some land to the reserves, in exchange for the land that was flooded. Seventeen years later, in 1993-94, only one per cent of the promised land had been transferred.

Also, community development was never really promoted. Some initiatives were taken, as the parliamentary secretary said earlier, but little was done for community and economic development in those regions.

In 1980, a plan was developed to promote employment, health, transportation, housing and education. That plan was not implemented and, in spite of that, no monitoring process was devised to ensure its implementation.

Consequently, 20 years later we find ourselves with an enormous mess on our hands. Of course Hydro Manitoba is pleased: it generates electric power. The province is also pleased because it promoted its own economic development. The federal government was not seen to be particularly pleased, but then, during his speech earlier, the parliamentary secretary did express satisfaction that the bill before the House this morning

will free the Department of Indian Affairs from some of its duties.

The fact remains that some people benefitted from all this, some people benefitted from this development, but so far it has not been the Natives living on these territories. Why? Because the proposed agreement was ill-conceived and there was no agency to implement it. This agency, as I mentioned earlier, should have been the committee that negotiated on behalf of the aboriginal peoples, that is the Northern Flood Committee, but since the agreement did not provide for its funding, we are without such an agency.

Moreover, in 1983, the judge presiding over some of these matters stated that if someone had wanted to strip the committee of all its duties, he would not have acted any differently. The best way to go about it was to provide no funding at all. We must realize that this committee was supposed to implement the agreement over a vast territory. This would have entailed permanent staff, management, transportation costs, legal costs for representation in court. In any case, it would have cost a lot of money. The agreement did not provide funding for this committee. I think it should have, but it did not.

A solution had to be found, so, 1986, the committee which had overseen the negotiations for the agreement and managed to survive, proposed a new round of comprehensive negotiations to settle all outstanding claims and to put an end to all these disputes. This was in 1986, six years after the Agreement was signed.

Three years later, in 1989, a new round of negotiations started. This is a very slow process. Admittedly, aboriginal people are patient but when they ask for negotiations and these negotiations only start three years later, somebody somewhere is not making all the efforts needed to solve the problem.

In July 1990, another settlement agreement was signed on outstanding land claims and obligations. Among other things, it was decided to transfer at least 834 square kilometres of Crown lands to the Indians concerned. Thus, a settlement agreement was signed that was going to be used as a kind of framework agreement for the negotiations embarked upon by the Aboriginal peoples, since each one of them is in a unique situation. All of them are not located along the same river. Their physical and economic conditions differ. Of course, each and every one of them wants negotiations that meet its own particular needs.

But the agreement signed in 1990 was supposed to be a framework agreement. In 1992, the Split Lake First Nation, the one mentioned in the bill before us this morning, apparently accepted a special agreement that stemmed from the proposed agreement. As for the four other nations, negotiations are still going on. At the present time, they negotiate on an individual basis with the authorities to reach agreements. There are separate negotiations for each of the four nations. Was the intention to divide and conquer? If so, this was certainly successful.

The agreement signed by the Split Lake Cree Nation provides particularly for some rule on the water level, meaning that the aboriginal people will be consulted and will have their say on water levels and flows. The agreement specifies which lands will have to be transferred by the Crown to the province of Manitoba for the reserves and for the native populations. The agreement provides for a partnership for resource management and planning for the use of traditional lands. The agreement provides for adequate environmental monitoring with a very active participation by the Cree. The agreement provides for the payment of certain amounts per capita and pensions to the elders. This is part of the compensation owed to the aboriginal peoples for the losses they incurred due to the hydro development project.

The agreement also specifies that the right of native populations to have access to regular government programs is not diminished because of the fact that they have received money under this agreement. If we take away their right to have access to regular government programs because of the money they have received, they will be as poor as they were before.

It is also expected that measures will be taken to ensure that members of the native community affected can find jobs at Manitoba Hydro and that business opportunities are created to help these populations revitalize the local economy.

The agreement also provides for an adequate arbitration mechanism. This is essential because nothing guarantees that this agreement will always be implemented to everyone's satisfaction. So there is a need for an arbitration mechanism.

There is also the possibility of opening a trust account to make money available to the native people so that they can manage this own development. for development purposes. All these measures may require fiscal commitments of $15 million from the federal government and of $4 to $5 million from the province of Manitoba and Manitoba Hydro, as well as guarantees of some $21 million from Manitoba Hydro. This means that money will be made available to the Cree to stimulate economic development in the area.

Now, you may ask, since an agreement has been reached, why do we have to study a bill on this agreement? The bill is designed to facilitate the settlement of matters arising from the Split Lake agreement.

Thanks to this bill, the aboriginal population of Split Lake will be able to receive directly the money owed to them. It will not have to go through the federal government. My party has frequently asked this government for amendments to the current legislation that many people would welcome. At present, money made available to Indian or Native nations must go through the Indian affairs department, which is responsible for the manage-

ment of that money. With this bill, the Split Lake population will get administrative control over the funds made available to them.

This bill also exempts from reserve land status certain federal lands to be transferred. That will give the Split Lake population better control over those territories. That also means less responsibility for the department.

Native peoples will get better control, but, as a result, the department will have to assume lesser responsibilities as their trustee. What matters is that these peoples take charge of their own lives and that the trusteeship of the Indian affairs department gradually diminish.

The bill provides that the agreement takes precedence over the 1977 agreement. That agreement was bungled and ill-conceived. Therefore, the agreement the Crees signed in 1992 will have precedence over the clauses of the previous agreement that are not as clear.

There is also a dispute settlement mechanism under the Manitoba legislation. This means that people can be more easily summoned and that procedural rules are clearer and more restrictive for all parties.

Mr. Speaker, you can see from my speech that I have realized that there has been a hydroelectric development. The population has suffered because of that and should receive some kind of compensation. The Split Lake agreement signed in 1992 provides the population concerned with the means to look after its own development and the bill submitted to us will help that. That is the reason why the Bloc Quebecois supports this bill in third reading.

However, some issues were raised when we heard witnesses at the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs. The Bloc Quebecois members sitting on this committee intend to suggest that the committee ask the minister that some of our recommendations be implemented in order that agreements with the other four nations now negotiating be reached.

We will ask that the committee negotiating that issue for Aboriginal people gets adequate funding to ensure proper service to the communities involved in future negotiations. We will ask that the federal government authorize anticipated payments or non-interest-bearing loans so that funds be given to people negotiating in order that they have immediate access to all the monies required for their economic recovery. And when other nations settle, the anticipated payments will be deducted from amounts due.

Perhaps we will also ask the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to seriously consider reviewing the amounts the Split Lake nation settled for in the agreement reached if other communities should obtain much higher amounts through negotiations. We must say that the Split Lake people are taking a risk under the circumstances. They are the first to sign and the others could get much more. Canada, the province of Manitoba and Hydro Manitoba will benefit from the fact that people in Split Lake want to take that risk, but I think they should not have to put up with negative consequences in the future because they were the first to accept.

We will also ask the committee to recommend that the Department of Indian Affairs ensure the continued use of environmental impact studies, and we want the federal government to see to it that the parties act in good faith during current negotiations with the four other nations.

I am not accusing anyone, but I have the impression that in this process, especially in the case of the agreement signed in 1977, some people wanted to take advantage of the situation, and that the parties were acting in strict good faith.

Since my time is running out, I will start my concluding remarks.

The agreement before the House today is not a comprehensive agreement like those concluded in 1975 at James Bay, in 1984 on the Mackenzie, in 1990 in Yukon and in 1992 in Nunavut. This agreement concerns only one of the nations, but the philosophy is the same. In other words, faced with the fact that Aboriginal peoples were making claims and had rights in Canada, Canada and Quebec realized that it was necessary to have agreements in good faith involving aboriginal peoples and the various governments concerned.

In concluding, I may recall that the first agreement in this country was the agreement signed in Quebec with the James Bay Cree in 1975, while a side agreement was signed in 1978 with the Naskapi of Northeastern Quebec. It was the first significant and comprehensive agreement signed in Canada and was ratified in 1977 by an Act of Parliament.

Hon. members will recall that, at the time, the federal government's objective was to extinguish the aboriginal rights of all Indians who signed agreements. The Crees who signed the James Bay agreement relinquished their aboriginal rights to the lands concerned. These lands represented an immense territory of more than one million square kilometres, about 69 per cent of the territory of Quebec. This agreement was implemented.

I think Quebec can be proud of the fact that the agreement signed in the seventies by the Bourassa government was implemented by subsequent governments, including the Parti Quebecois government headed by Mr. Lévesque. These agreements were entered into in good faith by the Crees and the Neskapis, the federal government, the province of Quebec and Hydro-Quebec. As far as I know, the parties concerned, have seen to it that the agreement is respected. I think it has been, to the satisfaction of all parties. Substantial amounts of money were

made available to the James Bay Cree; their territorial rights are clear; they managed to organize a Native police force; there were propoer environmental assessments. As far as health and education are concerned, Cree communities have been able to set up all the services they need and are in charge of running their own affairs.

In closing, I can say that my party intends to support Bill C-36. An injustice has been done to the Aboriginal peoples in Northern Manitoba, and I think it is the duty of the federal government to redress it. If Bill C-36 before the House today can be helpful in this respect, it will be a pleasure for us to support this bill.

Split Lake Cree First Nation Flooded Land ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

It being eleven o'clock, pursuant to Standing Order 30(5), the House will now proceed to Statements by Members as provided under Standing Order 31.

The EconomyStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Andy Mitchell Liberal Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Mr. Speaker, on numerous occasions during the past few weeks members of the Reform Party have included in their statements the amount the debt increases during the one minute they speak. Fair enough. Emphasizing the seriousness of our economic difficulties is important.

But members of the opposite party fail to tell the complete story and ignore some of the important disbursements the government will make. In the next minute, $38,000 will be paid to seniors, $28,000 will be transferred to the provinces to pay for medical services, $15,000 will be disbursed to low income Canadians through the child tax and GST credits and $29,000 of tax expenditures will be incurred to support retirement savings plans.

Unlike some members of the Reform Party we in the government are cognizant of our social responsibilities to individual Canadians. We intend to ensure that people do not die for lack of medical care, do not go hungry for lack of food and do not suffer from exposure for lack of housing.

As Liberals we intend to live up to all of our responsibilities.

Communications Security EstablishmentStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Maurice Dumas Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has refused to create an external control mechanism to monitor the questionable activities of the Communications Security Establishment. In so doing, he is going against the traditional position of the Liberal Party of Canada.

In fact, the Liberal members on the special committee reviewing the CSIS Act in 1990 recommended that the CSE be subject to outside control. We also remember that the former Liberal Solicitor General, Robert Kaplan, believed as well that informal administrative controls are no longer sufficient. A democratic, independent external control mechanism is required for the activities of the CSE. The Bloc Quebecois believes that the government must make a parliamentary committee responsible for monitoring the CSE's activities.

Young Offenders ActStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Margaret Bridgman Reform Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, in 1992 in my riding of Surrey North a 16-year old boy named Jesse Cadman was murdered by Isaac Deas who at the time was a juvenile and on a court imposed curfew.

Since that tragedy Jesse's father Chuck has become very active in trying to change the Young Offender's Act. I have received over 1,000 letters from my riding expressing support for Chuck and his group CRY, or Crime, Responsibility and Youth.

Chuck's latest initiative is a lawsuit against the father of Isaac Deas and the crown for failing to enforce the court imposed curfew. Had that curfew been enforced, Jesse would be alive today.

I support Chuck Cadman in assigning responsibility to parents who seemingly have not made reasonable effort to exercise parental control. I support his effort to hold the crown accountable to those who are under its supervision in the community. I ask the Minister of Justice to make himself accountable to the Canadian public and heed the concerns of citizens like Chuck Cadman.

National Sleep Awareness WeekStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Mary Clancy Liberal Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to remind the House that the week of October 23 to 29, 1994 has been designated National Sleep Awareness Week.

Thousands of Canadians suffer from sleep/wake disorders. Sleep-Wake Disorders Canada meets the needs of people who have various sleep/wake disorders, from insomnia to diseases such as narcolepsy, excessive drowsiness and sleep apnea, where the person stops breathing several times during the night.

Sleep/Wake Disorders Canada is a national voluntary health organization devoted to helping people who suffer from sleep/wake disorders through the development of educational packages and the establishment of self-help groups in local communities across the country.

When we turn our clocks back at the end of this week, let us think of the difficulties some of our citizens have with various sleeping disorders and remember the efforts of Sleep/Wake Disorders Canada which sponsors National Sleep Awareness Week.

Information TechnologyStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Andrew Telegdi Liberal Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Waterloo area is a breeding ground for information technology entrepreneurs. There are currently 125 export oriented IT companies with a workforce of 5,500 in the Waterloo area. The current revenues are $600 million annually. They project that by the year 2000 they could have a workforce of 25,000 to 30,000. These are highly paid, knowledge based, export oriented jobs.

Yesterday I had the pleasure to host in Ottawa 14 CEOs representing IT companies. They met with officials of the industry department and ministers of the government. Their message to government was clear: they are not looking for handouts or subsidies.

They stated that it was easier for them to sell their IT products to the Untied States government than to the Canadian government. They asked that in cases in which their product was superior and priced better than the U.S. products that the Canadian government buy Canadian made IT products.

The logic of their plea to us is inescapable and our procurement practices should reflect this.

Court Challenges ProgramStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Beryl Gaffney Liberal Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, this week the minister of heritage and the government reinstated at a modest cost the court challenges program. For those who are new to the House, the elimination of this program in 1992 was an example of the previous government's failure to protect the rights of disadvantaged Canadians.

This program funds equality seeking groups and individuals who seek to use the charter to establish their legal and constitutional rights and yet who do not have the financial resources to challenge on their own.

By bringing injustices to court for judgment, the rights of all Canadians are defined and enforced.

The Liberals, true to their red book word, have lived up to their promise.

EthicsStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Maud Debien Bloc Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, we wonder if the Liberals have not lost their red book somewhere between two phony consultations and three unkept commitments. But let us return to it anyway, to remind ourselves of their election promises.

Speaking of the importance of restoring public trust, the Liberals told us: "This erosion of confidence seems to have many causes: some have to do with the behaviour of certain elected politicians, others with an arrogant style of political leadership".

So on the first opportunity, the Liberal government and the Prime Minister gloss over an unpardonable indiscretion by a Cabinet minister. The Prime Minister casually rebuffs the Official Opposition which asks him to enforce the most basic rules of ethics. What has become of the Liberal promises? What has become of their principles?

Liberal GovernmentStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Dick Harris Reform Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, our country is drowning in deficit and haemorrhaging in debt. Yet day after day the Liberals jump to their feet to proudly announce that Canada is the best country in the world to live in.

When one compares Canada with other countries in the world, there is no contest. Even if things were two or three times as bad in Canada it would still be the best country in the world to live in.

I would like to suggest a different test for the Liberals to ponder. Compare how Canada is now with all these problems and how it could be were it not for 25 years of irresponsible Tory and Liberal governments. That is the real test.

By the way, as of this morning our national debt stands at $536,017,269,801.89. Shame on that irresponsible government.

Dennis SweetingStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


John O'Reilly Liberal Victoria—Haliburton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Mr. Dennis Sweeting, a constituent of mine who was recently appointed a member of the Order of Canada for his outstanding contribution to the performing arts.

Mr. Sweeting who lives in Sunderland, Ontario has had and continues to have a busy and active life. He has been a professional actor since 1938. He is the founding director of the Kawartha Summer Theatre and he is the former president of the Association of Canadian Television and Radio Artists. He served on the municipal council of the town of Lindsay as reeve and was elected by his peers as warden of the county of Victoria.

Mr. Sweeting is a well known and respected citizen in the riding of Victoria-Haliburton and encourages the youth of our country to pursue their dreams as actors and playwrights.

I congratulate Dennis Sweeting on his appointment. He is truly an outstanding Canadian who has devoted his life to improving the world around him.

Elmer MacdonaldStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today and congratulate a constituent who has been recently named to the Atlantic Agriculture Hall of Fame. For more than 20 years the hall of fame has honoured people who have contributed greatly to our society. This year's recipient is Elmer MacDonald of Hunter River, Prince Edward Island.

Mr. MacDonald reflects the excellent calibre of farmers Prince Edward Island produces. He started out nearly 50 years ago as a small dairy producer and today is the owner and operator of his own dairy processing company, Health Milk Company, employing 40 people.

Mr. MacDonald attributes his success not to any large corporate management but to his family and his staff which have co-operatively built his small dairy operation into a thriving island business. Mr. MacDonald's accomplishment is an example of how family farms contribute to the success of society as a whole.

Mr. MacDonald is an island farmer who has brought prosperity to his family, his workers and his community. I congratulate him on receiving this honour.

Social Security ReformStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Stan Keyes Liberal Hamilton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, just the other night I conducted a town hall meeting in my riding of Hamilton West to gain some input on the social security review from my constituents.

I would like to thank everyone who attended the town hall that evening including my hon. colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources Development.

Several valuable messages emerged from that town hall meeting. Those who spoke agreed that the status quo is not acceptable. The Hamilton District Labour Council implored us not to rush the process. We were told not to place the burden of cost cutting on the backs of the poor and disadvantaged. Students at McMaster University asked us to work toward a more progressive tax system.

I encourage all my colleagues in the House to conduct consultations in their own ridings on the social security review.

Manpower TrainingStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères, QC

Yesterday, Mr. Speaker, yet another voice joined in the chorus in support of the transfer of manpower training powers from Ottawa to the provinces.

Indeed, Mr. Thomas D'Aquino, chairman of the Business Council on National Issues, stated yesterday that such decentralization would be ideal; it would be good for the Canadian economy as well as for the work force as a whole.

The consensus that has been taking shape in Quebec these past five years, and that I referred to yesterday, now extends beyond these boundaries. After more than five years of debate, five years of explanation and frustration, Quebec's message is finally being heard in other parts of Canada, or so it seems.

The last group of people to convince, the slowest, most sclerotic one, which has been refusing to listen for five years now, is the federal government.

JusticeStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Val Meredith Reform Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, on October 22, 2,000 people gathered in south Surrey to remember 16-year old Pamela Cameron. Pamela fell victim to a cold blooded murderer on October 4 who pulled her off a busy street at four o'clock in the afternoon. However, Pamela is only one of many victims. Pamela's parents, her boyfriend, relatives, friends and schoolmates grieve her death. The communities of Surrey, White Rock and Milton, Ontario share their loss.

Many other victims never even met Pamela. These are our children whose parents now feel compelled to drive them to and from school, teenagers who cannot leave their homes unescorted,

and children who cannot play outside unless an adult keeps an eye on them.

The death of Pamela Cameron claimed only one life but it has impacted on thousands. We will never be able to legislate the end of all murders but we have the ability to prevent many.

Now is the time to pass the necessary legislation. Rhetoric and promises are not acceptable. Canadians are demanding action now.

Liberal GovernmentStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, this being Friday I think it is the time to have a little good news to cheer us up for the weekend.

The statistics at the end of September indicate that the unemployment rate is down in Canada to 10.1 per cent. Three hundred and twenty-seven thousand jobs were created since this government was sworn into office. Sixty-six thousand more people are working this month than last month. The help wanted index was up by 14 per cent.

It is important to note that Angus Reid polls show the popularity of the Liberals at 57 per cent, confidence in the Prime Minister at 71 per cent, the popularity of the Liberal Party of Canada at 51 per cent in British Columbia, 48 per cent in Alberta, 61 per cent in Manitoba, and 68 per cent in Ontario.

International TradeStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the former U.S. negotiator Carla Hill said last week that the North American free trade agreement should be expanded to include other Latin American countries such as Chile.

We agree. Protectionist walls around the globe must fall. Protectionist self-interest can be best served by the tremendous benefit that trade can generate.

The new GATT agreement will stimulate global trade by an additional $755 billion U.S. over the next eight years. The global net income will increase by an additional $500 billion by the year 2005.

For every $1 billion in trade at least 10,000 Canadian jobs are created. United we stand.

Congratulations to both sides of the House for endorsing Canada's commitment to implement the World Trade Organization legislation. We expect our major trading partners to fulfil their commitment in time for January 1, 1995.

Child CareStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Vic Althouse NDP Mackenzie, SK

Mr. Speaker, last summer the 11 ministers of agriculture agreed to a set of rural initiatives which was to include a rural child care action plan. The department of human resources has apparently allocated something like $720 million to provide some 150,000 child care spaces and so far there is no indication of how much of that will go to rural areas.

I would appreciate it if the government and the minister in charge would give more consideration to the existing rural child care models. They are experimental.

Langruth, Manitoba has an active plan. This community of some 500 souls has provided a model of child care which goes beyond day care. It is working and needs special financing. It does not cost more than the other type but it needs recognition that the requirements are-

Child CareStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Calgary Southeast.