House of Commons Hansard #82 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was native.


Yukon First Nations Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Some hon. members


Yukon First Nations Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Yukon First Nations Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Call in the members.

During the ringing of the bells:

Yukon First Nations Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Pursuant to Standing Order 45(5)(a), I have been requested by the chief government whip to defer the division until a later time.

Accordingly, pursuant to Standing Order 45(6) the division of the question now before the House stands deferred until Monday at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment at which time the bells to call in the members will be sounded for not more than 15 minutes.

Yukon First Nations Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.


Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Pursuant to our rules the vote now has to take place on Monday. From our position while the bell was ringing we could not ask otherwise. However, now that we have officially reconvened I wonder if the Chair would seek to determine whether or not there is unanimous consent to have the vote at the ordinary time of adjournment on Tuesday if there is such consent.

Yukon First Nations Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Is there unanimous consent?

Yukon First Nations Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Some hon. members


Yukon First Nations Land Claimssettlement ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Laval West Québec


Michel Dupuy Liberalfor the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

moved that Bill C-33, an act to approve, give effect to and declare valid land claims agreements entered into between Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada, the Government of the Yukon Territory and certain First Nations in the Yukon Territory, to provide for approving, giving effect to and declaring valid other land claims agreements entered into after this act comes into force, and to make consequential amendments to other acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Yukon First Nations Land Claimssettlement ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick


Fernand Robichaud LiberalSecretary of State (Parliamentary Affairs)

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise to address the House on Bill C-33, the Yukon First Nations Land Claims Settlement Act.

The government's red book clearly stated our commitment to the resolution of outstanding land claims, a commitment we intend to meet whenever we can.

By settling land claims in a way that is responsible and equitable, the government will resolve former differences with the First Nations and ensure that old grievances between native and non-native people will gradually disappear.

Nowhere is the need to act more evident than in Yukon. The council for Yukon Indians land claim entitled"Together Today for our Children Tomorrow" was accepted by the Government of Canada in 1973. It was among the first of the land claims accepted by the government and its settlement is long overdue.

We have come close in the past. An agreement in principle was reached in 1984 but was not ratified by a sufficient number of Yukon First Nations to move the process forward toward negotiations of a final agreement.

Based on the 1988 agreement in principle the Council for Yukon Indians and the Governments of Canada and Yukon were able to negotiate the Yukon Indian final umbrella agreement. That agreement was signed by all three parties in May 1993 and is the basis for Bill C-33.

Hon. members should realize that the approach to resolving land claims in the Yukon clearly differs from what has been done elsewhere in Canada. This is due to the simple fact that the Yukon is different from all other regions.

It is unique in that, first of all, most aboriginal people do not live on reserves. As a result, programs and services are dispensed by the territorial government with which a close relationship exists.

Because of the unique situation in Yukon the negotiation of the final umbrella agreement was only the first part of the settlement process. It remained to conclude land claims agreements with each of the 14 Yukon First Nations; four such agreements have been reached and will be given effect through Bill C-33.

Also as part of the settlement process, certain Yukon First Nations will be negotiating transboundary agreements to resolve overlapping claims with aboriginal groups in the Northwest Territories and British Columbia.

Throughout the negotiations that have taken place over the past two decades, the effected interest groups and the public have been consulted extensively. The end result is that we have territory-wide support for the settlement agreements.

Numerous public hearings were held to discuss the contents of the final framework agreement. The Yukon Legislative Assembly also set up a special committee on land claims and self-government. Based on the favourable response it received during its visits to Yukon communities, the committee strongly recommended that the four agreements negotiated to date be approved.

Interest groups have also had direct input to the settlement process. A good example of this occurred during the selection of settlement lands by the four First Nations that have reached final agreement.

As part of this process, the Yukon Outfitters Association whose members will be affected by the designation of settlement lands was widely consulted and was able to negotiate compensation for provable losses under the final umbrella agreement.

First Nations are continuing to work with this association to minimize any commercial hardship that may result should the agreements come into force during the outfitting season.

We also sought the views and backing of groups representing the energy and mining industries. We consulted with all municipal governments, churches, chambers of commerce, recreational associations and other groups, and heard some very valid comments.

With your indulgence, Mr. Speaker, I would like to quote from several letters which the government received from Yukon organizations. The person signing each letter expressed firm support for the land claims settlement agreements and urged Parliament to move quickly to pass the enacting legislation.

The Anglican Bishop of Yukon, the Right Reverend R.C. Ferris, has written to the government on behalf of his diocese. Right Reverend Ferris asked that the settlement legislation be brought forward without delay and expressed the community's distress after so many years of struggle on the part of all parties to achieve an acceptable agreement. Settlement legislation is not yet a reality.

Mr. Dan McDiarmid, chairman of the Mayo District Renewable Resources Council, wrote to the minister in April stressing the importance of the land claims agreements to everyone in Yukon, requesting that the government introduce and approve settlement legislation at the earliest possible date.

The Yukon Chamber of Mines noted that the land claims settlement agreement had the support not only of Yukon natives, but also of many other territorial groups, and among others, of the mining industry.

Mr. Steven Powell, the president of the United Keno Hill Mines Limited, sent us the following message: "Thanks to this agreement, Canada will be able to close the door on a difficult chapter in the history of its relations with aboriginal peoples. Therefore, I urge you to press your colleagues in the Commons to debate the matter in a level-headed manner and to endorse these agreements".

The entire Yukon Legislative Assembly urged the government to act. On April 27, the assembly passed a resolution calling upon the minister to urge Parliament to enact the land claims settlement legislation. Furthermore, the resolution called upon the members: "-to act expeditiously to adopt the Yukon First Nations Land Claims Settlement Act which will safeguard the rights and interests of the Yukon's first nations and enable the territory to move into the 21st century".

One of the most candid and compelling letters the government has received came from Chief Robert Bruce, Jr., writing on

behalf of the Buntut Gwychin tribal council whose final agreement will be given effect by Bill C-33.

In his letter to the Prime Minister Chief Bruce stated: "The people of Yukon and the Government of Canada have worked very hard to reach the compromises and innovative concepts that are embodied in these agreements. It is very important to see these efforts translated into action now while enthusiasm and expectation are high".

Mr. Speaker, in light of all these comments, it would be inconceivable for the House to reject Bill C-33. Clearly, all sectors of Yukon society overwhelmingly support the land claims settlement act.

There is good reason for that support. The first four nations final agreements that will be given effect by Bill C-33 are good agreements. They will bring many social, economic and political benefits to the affected Yukon First Nations. They will also provide many substantial indirect benefits to non-aboriginal residents of the territory.

Yukoners are now calling on Parliament to do its work, to give this legislation speedy passage so that it can get on with the job of building a stronger, more prosperous future. I can see no other reasonable or responsible course of action.

Yukon First Nations Land Claimssettlement ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Order. Pursuant to Standing Order 38, it is my duty to inform the House that the questions to be raised this evening at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Vancouver Quadra-Rwanda; the hon. member for Verchères-Trade; the hon. member for Peace River-National Defence.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Saint-Jean.

Yukon First Nations Land Claimssettlement ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.


Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have something to ask you. My hon. colleague from Prince George-Bulkley Valley must catch a plane and, if you have no objection, I agreed to give him the floor immediately. I would like to come back and respond to the speech given by the hon. member on behalf of the minister. I would be very grateful if you told me whether I can use up to 40 minutes which are allotted to me for a reply.

Yukon First Nations Land Claimssettlement ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Certainly I am only too pleased to follow the agreement. I thank all members for that sense of co-operation in the House and I will recognize at this time the hon. member for Prince George-Bulkley Valley.

Yukon First Nations Land Claimssettlement ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.


Dick Harris Reform Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, my deepest appreciation to my colleagues from the Bloc. I really appreciate that.

We are debating Bill C-33 today. It is probably appropriate, and it would be the best possible direction to take on the bill, to draw some comparisons between Bill C-33 and Bill C-16.

I know the Yukon natives involved in the negotiation of Bill C-33 overwhelmingly support the bill. There is no doubt about that. It appears that they would be more than satisfied with this settlement. However I believe that we as parliamentarians, as duty bound by the people of the country, would be more than negligent, as have past parties in the House, if we did not address some of the problems contained within Bill C-33.

Certainly my colleagues and I in the Reform Party are most willing to entertain the concepts of aboriginal self-sufficiency and aboriginal self-determination, but only in situations and only under the clear focus that aboriginal people or the Yukon natives will come to a position of self-sufficiency within Canadian society.

Most unfortunately Bill C-33 does not address that focus. Bill C-33 like Bill C-16 calls for more bureaucracy, large settlement moneys, continued DIAND participation in programs, financial assistance and future negotiation for self-government. The bureaucracy possible within the agreement is very extensive.

We in the Reform Party greatly fear that as we proceed along the path to establishing land claims and aboriginal self-government the bureaucracy will create such an expensive and complex deterrent to the goal of self-sufficiency. It is necessary to address that.

I want to look at Bill C-33 for a moment and talk about the package itself. There are some 8,000 Yukon Indians in Yukon out of a total population of 32,000 people. They will be conveyed collectively ownership of some 16,000 square miles or 41,400 square kilometres of land, 10,000 square miles of which include all subsurface rights and the remaining 6,000 square miles of which include some subsurface rights.

In addition, the federal government will pay some $242.6 million in cash and the Yukon First Nations will receive rental revenues from surface leases, royalties and development of non-renewable resources. Yukon First Nations will also receive a preferential share in wildlife harvesting, exclusive harvesting over most of their settlement lands, and 70 per cent of their trap lines will be located in the larger traditional territories.

On top of all this, under the bill all existing government programs for natives and non-natives will continue to apply. How could we have a focus on arriving at a settlement for land

claims if coupled with that settlement are promises for continued future federal funding?

The object of settling land claims is to break the dependency of the native people upon the federal government. We want to give them the opportunity to become self-sufficient. As my hon. colleague talked about this morning, we cannot break that dependency cycle if we continue to give money and funding to a person or a group such as the Yukon natives. That dependency cycle has to be broken. The goal has to be self-sufficiency. To include in the agreement the same federal funding that exists now is no incentive to create self-sufficiency.

Another area of concern is that although Bill C-33 has come to the House for debate, and certainly we in the Reform Party welcome the debate, the other 10 land claim agreements spoken about in the bill and yet to be negotiated need only be approved by order in council. In other words, we will not be given the opportunity in the House to debate those land claim settlements. We are talking about thousands of square miles of land and hundreds of millions of dollars in funding. Surely the people paying the bill, the taxpayers of the country, have a right to be represented in the House by members who debate the good points and the bad points of the bill.

The bill guarantees that future land claims under Bill C-33 would be negotiated in the offices that we cannot get to. I believe Canadian taxpayers deserve more than that. We are trusted by them. We were elected and sent here by them to look after their affairs. This is certainly something of major concern to Canadians.

I want to talk about the constitutional entrenchment. By virtue of clause 6 of the bill the rights contained in the land claim agreements are recognized and affirmed under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. We are very uncertain as to what this means and we are relatively certain that the government is uncertain as to what this means. It may mean these rights are not amendable except by constitutional amendment or, at the very least, without the concurrence of the first nation involved.

This would mean that these rights are beyond the reach of ordinary future parliamentary amendment. This adds the element of finality to them that does not sit well for changing future circumstances. The circumstances are changing all the time. In our Constitution we have the mechanism to make amendments, to be able to change our Constitution with the times. Bill C-33 in our opinion does not provide for changes to meet future circumstances which may appear. Quite frankly we think the government displays a tremendous amount of arrogance to lock in forever today's government policy. The constitutional entrenchment causes a lot of concern.

I spoke about the comparison between Bill C-33 and Bill C-16. I talked about the boards, the commissions and the councils. Bill C-33 would formally constitute five more government boards and two government councils referred to in the various land claim agreements. Presumably most, if not all, of the functions of these new bodies are presently performed by the facilities of the Yukon and federal governments. Is there a need for more regulatory bodies, support staff and bureaucracy on top of what is already in place?

Clause 9(4) constitutes still more boards, commissions and councils that may be referred in future land claim agreements. As I stated, the bureaucracy concerned in Bill C-16 is predominantly present in Bill C-33. This is not the way to get best value for our dollars.

The government has talked about downsizing government, downsizing departments and downsizing the way government runs so that it can be more cost effective. The government, the Reform Party and the Official Opposition have been talking about downsizing, becoming more efficient and more cost effective.

Bill C-33 goes exactly in the opposite direction. It calls for a larger bureaucracy, a larger government, more costs and less cost effectiveness. This is an area in which the government has done a flip-flop if it believes in downsizing. It has done a complete about turn.

I want to talk for a moment about the transfer of full ownership. The implementation of full ownership of the property has gone far beyond what any court in Canada has found to constitute aboriginal title. No court in Canada of which I am aware has decided that an aboriginal interest in land goes so far as to entitle aboriginal people to fee simple or full ownership. At best our courts have found the meaning of aboriginal rights and title to include those traditional activities carried on by native communities prior to colonial contact. These include hunting, fishing, et cetera.

These rights have been characterized by the courts as not, strictly speaking, being interest in land but all special rights unique to the native people. This represents a cloud on the crown's title. The courts have gone on to say that the cloud can be removed by the exercise of crown sovereignty through legislation that has a clear intention to remove the aboriginal interest.

There is a challenge to the aboriginal land claims presently in the court of B.C. It is a challenge to a ruling by Chief Justice McEachern in which his decision was that there was no valid legal basis for the land claim in question. The fact the government now proposes to bypass an undecided court ruling by means of Bill C-33, a ruling that is still under appeal, causes a lot of concern for us.

I said that the focus of land claims should be on the eventuality of self-sufficiency for the aboriginal people. No one can deny that every Canadian wants to see that come about. It will

not come about until the aboriginal peoples of the country are given an opportunity and the dependency cycle would be broken.

In other words, we have no problem with settling land claims with aboriginal people whatsoever. We have a problem with the inclusion in land claim settlements that government funding would continue exactly as always. This is an area of concern. I urge the government to do the right thing: to help aboriginal people become self-sufficient.

The government has the power to break the dependency cycle. That is what it should be doing. It is like when I was trying to teach my children the value of becoming independent and responsible for their own lives. What if I had continued giving them everything they wanted without asking them to take responsibility and to begin to understand what it means to strive and to work and the value of education to make themselves more independent? If I had not done that they would be still dependent on me and, quite frankly, at the age my sons are I am looking forward to the time when they will be independent of me. That is what I have been striving for. That is what the government has to do in connection with these land claims. They have to break the dependency cycle.

I strongly want to urge members of the House to focus on that. Let us not be swayed by the emotional part of this whole native issue. Let us focus on what should result out of this process. The aboriginal people should have the opportunity to become self-sufficient. Let us break the dependency cycle. Let us not make agreements or contracts that will drive a wedge further between Canadian society and the aboriginal people. Let us seek to tear down the barriers that exist and that does not mean continuing to fund native programs forever and ever.

Yukon First Nations Land Claimssettlement ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I see members seeking the floor. The House might keep in mind that the first three speakers on this legislation at this time have up to 40 minutes to speak without question or comments.

Yukon First Nations Land Claimssettlement ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.


Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, true to form, I will state forthwith the position of the Bloc Quebecois. Following discussions with appropriate authorities, the Bloc will support Bill C-33.

I take this opportunity, while the cameras are on me, to pay my respects to the people from the Yukon both at home and in the gallery. Their perseverance is rewarded today, after twenty some years of discussions, with agreements that will be given effect by Bill C-33.

As I said when I spoke to Bill C-34, perseverance is one of the characteristic traits of native culture. We often think in terms of future generations and these peoples must be commended for their perseverance. Year after year, decade after decade, they persevered in their pacific approach toward a potential agreement. Here it is today. I am pleased to greet and congratulate them.

A number of things were said in this place this morning as well as this afternoon. I may have given my speaking time up to my colleague from Prince George-Bulkley Valley but understandably, it does not mean that I agree with every single remark he made.

I heard someone say: "I gave my son a bicycle as a child; then, he asked for a motorcycle". To listen to the people across the way, you would think that native peoples, Indians and first nations are nothing but spoiled children. I want to make it quite clear that I do not agree with that opinion.

I think we must bear in mind the social contract they have concluded with us, white people, people with our own laws, procedures and parliamentary democracy. We must also bear in mind that we settled on their land. Let us not forget that these nations have been established in the Yukon Territory for 10,000 years. They were here long before us. Yet, we have enjoyed the use of that land. Regarding the financial compensation provided for in this agreement today, I do not think it is really a matter of giving them everything they want and them more or less rubbing us of these $240 million. It is more a matter of recognizing the fact that for generations, for decades, in fact since the Europeans set foot on this continent, we have enjoyed the use of this land and are now granting appropriate compensation.

As far as I am concerned, the native peoples are no spoiled children. They are people perfectly capable of negotiating. They are very good at it too, as I have seen for myself on many occasions. Having been a negotiator myself for 20 years, I must admit that while being pacifists, they are formidable negotiators.

We must also understand that with an agreement such as the one before the House today and with this enacting legislation, the objectives of the two parties have not been fully met. At best, they agreed on a common denominator, this agreement before us which to my mind is the end result of discussions between persons who took care to ensure that they had all they needed in the way of services from legal or consulting firms.

Far be it for me to think that the first nations are merely being treated like children who have grown up and are finally being allowed to fly on their own. Basically, I believe that this is a good agreement for the people of the Yukon and I also think it is good for the Parliament of Canada. These are very important considerations.

Mention is often made of ending the guardianship. I believe we need to discuss how to go about doing this. Some people may argue that the agreement and legislation before us do not end the guardianship and naturally, I disagree with them. I think this agreement enables the first nations of the Yukon to take charge of their own destiny, much like Bill C-34 adopted on second reading speaks about self-government. Certain powers are being given to these nations and the logical follow-up to

Bill C-33 would be to give them the land base over which to exercise these rights.

Therefore, I feel that this agreement is one way to end the state of guardianship and as everyone knows, particularly those who took part in the negotiations on the native side, no set pattern of self-government or land base has yet been decided on.

It is clear from this agreement that the land in question is splintered. The government did not take one piece of the Northwest Territories or one piece of the Yukon and say "Here, this is yours now", as it did with other agreements or with the Sahtu Tribal Council. In those cases, a homogenous parcel of land was turned over and the people were told that they could exercise certain powers within that territory, based on agreements that were reached.

As I said, the government has not taken a general or uniform approach. What we have here is a splintered agreement between the government and four first nations of the Yukon. They have finalized agreements with the federal government and made decisions about the land involved. Ten other agreements are slated to follow.

When I hear that these ten other agreements will be negotiated behind closed doors, I have to disagree with that way of seeing things. On reading the text of the four agreements before us, we see that they are virtually identical.

So of course, subsequent agreements are likely to be carbon copies of these four ones. I think we should take the time to look at the contents of this agreement which the legislation enacts. Exactly what provisions are being enacted today?

The agreement involves a total area of 41,439 square kilometres which, as I said earlier, cover a broad area. If one first nation was able to prove to federal negotiators that its traditional lands were located in area X and the government agreed, then these lands are included in the final agreement with that first nation.

We have here before us today an final umbrella agreement which covers all land claims for a total area of 41,439 square kilometres which the federal negotiators have agreed to make available to 14 first nations. Four have already availed themselves of this right and have negotiated final land claims agreements with the federal government.

Regarding the government's economic proposal, as I mentioned earlier, this is not simply a matter of extending charity. For decades, even centuries, from the moment the Europeans arrived on this continent, we have benefitted from these lands.

Today, we give back to them a number of settlement lands with compensation in the order of $242 million over 15 years. In my opinion, that does not necessarily keep these people under trusteeship because, as we will see later, they will have capabilities. They will have at their disposal financial structures that will administer this money and free them from this dependence in which we have kept them for too long.

We also see that the lands given back will be divided into Class A and Class B lands. It may be important to explain the difference between the two classes.

On Class A lands, people will have not only surface rights but also subsurface rights, including mining, minerals and oil. That is not to be sneezed at either. Not only are we liberating them by compensating them for what we took from them before, but we also give them the right to administer surface and subsurface resources on some settlement lands. It is another step toward the goal of freeing them from this trusteeship.

The agreement contains interesting clauses which I must point out.

Earlier I referred in passing to the final umbrella agreement but I would like to come back to it. We have before us today four final agreements for the four Yukon nations who negotiated and reached a settlement with the government. All future agreements will always have to refer to the final umbrella agreement covering all 14 final agreements, one for each nation. It may be important to point this out.

Regulatory agreements-this is important-will be guaranteed under Section 35 of the 1982 Constitution Act. Unlike Bill C-34, where Section 35 does not apply to modern-day treaties, these agreements on the land base will be protected under Section 35 of the 1982 Constitution Act.

The agreement also outlines some interesting options I would like to point out. Among other things, people will have some time to decide whether or not they want continued protection under the Indian Act, particularly with respect to Indian reserves. In other words, there are two options. The people will have the option of preserving the Indian reserve concept for a while. The other option will be that of settlement lands, meaning that they will move away from the Indian Act and the reserve concept and exercise their full autonomy on settlement lands, which are different from Indian reserves.

This whole agreement, of course, required a lot of mapping and surveying work. Today, I would like to dispel a rumour that circulated in the Yukon. I am mentioning it at this time because people in the Yukon are now watching us. The Bloc Quebecois has never considered for one second blocking the introduction and first reading of a bill because maps had not been translated. We admittedly consulted the party, but we never thought of

blocking an agreement that took decades to negotiate just because maps had not been translated.

The document before us is printed in English and in French. As far as we know, we told the minister we would appreciate it if he could have the maps translated as soon as possible. But in the meantime, we will not tell people who have been waiting for so long that we will not even let the bill pass first reading. That was out of the question.

I must point out today that the Bloc Quebecois did in fact agree to the introduction and first reading of this bill. The agreement also contains many interesting things such as the special management areas.

You know that we whites and the natives agree on certain territories. There are boundaries and limits on these territories. This applies very well in a city or municipality, but in the wide open spaces of the Yukon, it is obviously hard to apply, especially for everything that has to do with wildlife, flora, fauna, the natural environment.

I give the Porcupine caribou herd as an example. It is very difficult to ask the caribou herd in the Northwest Territories in the spring not to go to the Yukon in the fall and not to go to Alaska because of the U.S. border. We understand that there will be specialized management areas. What is interesting about it is that it again highlights the traditional aspect of native peoples. Some areas will be specialized to concentrate on the local flora and fauna.

Another interesting point is the great emphasis put on land use. I was just telling you that it is a fragmented agreement; eventually 14 nations will have territories that are not necessarily contiguous. In some areas, native self-government will not apply and the Yukon first nations will not have a land base.

However, the agreement provides a process to ensure compatibility in decision making so as to avoid grey areas where the local authorities could make laws or regulations that would impinge on their neighbours. A process has been put in place for that and it is worth mentioning.

This process takes the Yukon Indians' cultural values into very serious consideration. It is very interesting because for once it lends weight to sustainable development, a concept of great importance to me. Our consumer society has too long overlooked the concept of sustainable development. We build and develop rapidly, often at the expense of the environment, and then we find that the environment has been destroyed. The economy enjoyed a boom and then declined when the resources on the surface and underground were completely used up. So sustainable development is a cornerstone of land use. We note that very great importance is given to sustainable development. We must be glad that this concept of sustainable development is in this agreement.

There will also be a development activities commission. This in a way is what I have always called a happy marriage of the traditional and of modern economic development. All the economic activities that developers want to propose on the lands covered by the agreement or on the reserves will have to be submitted to a development activities review board. Of course, we can see that sustainable development will be a key, as I said earlier, but the traditional methods and culture of these peoples will be taken into account. The agreement provides that developers will have to reduce the environmental impact of their projects so that this happy blend of the traditional and modern economic development is an everyday reality.

I think that another very important commission for them is the Fish and Wildlife Management Board. In the agreement, the federal government agreed to set up a joint fund to restore and rebuild everything that has to do with wildlife, fish and flora. We know that unfortunate developments in some areas depleted the resources on the surface or underground. The Fish and Wildlife Management Board will seek to restore the resources which have characterized the Yukon for centuries.

A great deal of attention should also be paid to their heritage. That is something which is not often talked about and I am pleased to address this subject, as I did in my speech on Bill C-34. All issues related to language will be extremely important on those lands.

I must, once again, draw an analogy between the Quebec people, a French-speaking minority in the vast country that is Canada, and the aboriginal nations who are also linguistic minorities. So I am happy for them that attention was paid to their languages and traditions. As far as I am concerned, their rich traditions often add to my own culture.

I have noticed among other things that legends are very important to them. What could be nicer than a legend told in a traditional language spoken by the ancestors? That is provided for in the agreement. It is not the federal negotiators, I am sure, who insisted on inserting these provisions in the agreement as such. I think these people felt their culture was very important and saw to it that it was protected, just as we Quebecers want to preserve our culture. I think we ought to congratulate them for their similar views on this issue.

These people are not hegemonic because it is not a part of their culture. When the Europeans arrived, they did not object to sharing their huge territory. This attitude is reflected in the agreement: there will be quite reasonable access for all the

people who want to go to the Yukon. Obviously, we will not need a visa or a passport to travel to the Yukon.

By the way, I have been invited to go fishing for 25-pound trout in the Yukon-

Yukon First Nations Land Claimssettlement ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

An hon. member

Invite us.

Yukon First Nations Land Claimssettlement ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.


Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

-I will be pleased to accept the invitation and I will not need a passport or visa to go there. I intend to go and see for myself whether this is really true, because people who go fishing often like to brag about the fish they caught, and when they do not have a photograph, they often say the fish was that long. I intend to find out whether what they said about fish weighing 25 pounds is true, and I promise to get back to the House on this and tell you whether there was some truth in all this.

Oral traditions are also a very important part of their heritage. Nowadays, we have the tendency to say: I'm buying a house. Now, I would like to see what the last contract, the contract with the previous owner, looked like". They, however, have an oral tradition. We used to have that in our society as well, a long time ago, but today, that has been lost as a result of our whole legal perspective. But to them, oral traditions are very important.

They often have agreements without having a contract as such. As far as their heritage is concerned, they reserve the right to emphasize such agreements, and I think they are right. There will be a water management board, because the waters of the Yukon are very special. There is very little pollution in the Yukon, and some people would like to take advantage of this. For instance, our American friends might want to import water. This is something we are hearing more and more in some parts of the United States where the water table is going down. People often talk about diverting certain waterways to try and get more water.

The agreement states that as far as domestic needs are concerned, there is no problem. However, to handle specific needs, the people in the Yukon decided to set up a water management board. To me that is not a bureaucracy, because one-third of the board will consist of members appointed among aboriginal people, which is one way for aboriginal people to control their own affairs.

We see this as a way to stop having all the decisions made by Ottawa and then transmitted to regional headquarters and from there to the Indians or aboriginal peoples or First Nations. And now, the government says the will boards will be created.

You want boards to protect your waterways and your environment, so the government will ensure that most of the people on those boards will be local people who are knowledgeable about the area.

I do not think we are getting a new bureaucracy as much as more effective management, because these will be local people who know their area, and we hope this will help to dismantle the Department of Indian Affairs and the Indian Act as soon as possible, and what the people of the Yukon proposed is a step in the right direction. As I said earlier, there are provisions on fish and wildlife on class A lands where they will have exclusive harvesting privileges. The agreement maintains 70 per cent of the trap lines, which was very important for them because this is one of their traditional activities.

Forestry is also an interesting area, and here I would like to draw an analogy, using forestry as an example. Aboriginal people often say that they see the world as a big forest. In a forest, there are many kinds of trees, like pine and maple, and they often say that the way they see the forest is more or less the way they see society. I wanted to draw this analogy, because to them, the forest is a vital resource, and the fact that this resource is also included in the agreement means that these people will have better control over their forest resources. I mentioned economic development, and the hon. member on the government side also raised the matter of transboundary agreements. These people will be able to take a part in transboundary agreements. For instance, as I said before, we have the Porcupine caribou herd, and these herds do not necessarily stay within certain borders. Since for aboriginal people, the caribou is part and parcel of their traditions, it is important for them to participate in discussions on transboundary agreements and the Porcupine caribou herd.

Incidentally, we must conclude agreements with the Americans because the caribou herds that migrate through the Yukon Territory spend part of the year in Alaska, and the Americans are thinking very seriously about developing Alaska's oil and mineral resources. That is why it is important for First Nations in the Yukon to be able to participate in transboundary agreements. An example that comes immediately to mind is the caribou herds.

In concluding, I would like to say once again that I want to congratulate the First Nations of Yukon on signing the agreement. And I want to say to them that the Bloc Quebecois supports Bill C-33. And as I said earlier, these people stood their ground, they were painstaking and stubborn and probably very hard on the federal negotiators who, I am sure, returned the compliment, and in spite of all that, there was no hostility. And as I said when we considered Bill C-34, and I say it again now, with respect to Bill C-33, there are aboriginal peoples that

would be well advised to follow the example of the people of the Yukon and the First Nations of the Yukon and persevere in their land claims and their demands for self-government, but peacefully, which can be very difficult when it comes time to negotiate.

However, taking up arms in a modern society, whether we are talking about aboriginal people or white people, is hardly if at all acceptable, and these people have demonstrated in what will become another historic turning point, that thanks to their perseverance and their ability to negotiate, they concluded an agreement that was satisfactory to all concerned, an agreement that was welcomed by many people in the Yukon, including the territorial government and mining companies involved in mining exploration in the Yukon.

Once again, these people have demonstrated that co-operation exists in the Yukon. They made that clear, and I think we have cause to welcome Bill C-33.

In concluding, I want to say to the people of the Yukon that they can count on the support of the Bloc Quebecois for the passage of Bill C-33.

Yukon First Nations Land Claimssettlement ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.


Bill Gilmour Reform Comox—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, at the outset let me say that the Reform Party believes in the self-reliance of natives in the Yukon. The difficulties that we have with this bill are on the generosity aspect.

To begin with, I am concerned with the general direction of this bill because it sets a precedent and, along with other bills such as the Nunavut deal that was brought in by the Conservatives, C-16, the Sahtu, these are overly generous settlements to small numbers of people.

If you look at the Canadian map, you start to see the jigsaw puzzle that is put together, individual bits and pieces. However, if put all together it is very clear that the area in Canada north of 60 is very quickly being set aside in land claims. There is little regard for the implications on non-native Canadians because these agreements have implications for both native and non-native Canadians. We have to look at it from that aspect.

It appears that this government may be sleepwalking toward a disaster with this overly generous land settlement plan. The generosity of this agreement is somewhat ridiculous because it has no basis in fact and no basis in law.

We do not state that there should not be a settlement. That is not the point. We are saying that the size of this settlement is clearly overly generous. In fact we could say that this settlement is far too liberal. It is the kind of agreement that will drive a wedge between native and non-native Canadians.

To give some statistics, this agreement gives 17,275 square kilometres or 6,670 square miles to these four Yukon native groups. Out of this area, 12,000 square kilometres or nearly 5,000 square miles includes the mining and mineral rights. That is 6,670 square miles for 2,457 individuals or each individual getting about 3 square miles of land.

This settlement deals with only four of the bands out of 14. There are still 10 more claims to be negotiated. If these groups are to realize similar agreements then I have to ask this government where the land will come from. Certainly to grant similar agreements to the 10 remaining groups will cover the entire Yukon Territory and possibly more.

I will go back to my jigsaw puzzle because it is starting to appear that each piece is falling into place, only the whole northern top end of Canada is being taken up.

What about the land rights of non-native Canadians here? When will this government look at the developments that are going on in the rest of the world? The policy that we are talking about here today is based on race. The rest of the world is going toward equality. We see it all over the world. I have to question why this bill and the self-government bill are going against that when the rest of the world is going for, the equality of all its citizens.

What about the non-native Canadians who spent their lives in the Yukon? Where do they fit in? That is unclear. What will happen if some of these people are in an area where the land claims go through the area? What if they are displaced? Will they be compensated? Have they been consulted?

On the consultation process the government has said, yes, it has consulted with the people. However, my understanding is that it is a fairly broad consultation on very fuzzy ideas like: Are you in favour of native self-government? Yes. Are you in favour of settling the land claims? Yes.

The detail of these settlements has not been made public to my understanding. What will happen to the current landholders? If you own a house, a ranch, a trapline or whatever and it is covered by a land claim, whose law do you answer to? Is it the Canadian law? Is it native law? Is it a combination of both? I can see a nightmare of bureaucracy running through this whole situation.

There are not only native land claims. There are numerous more land claims that have to be settled. This precedent setting legislation that we are looking at is exceedingly dangerous in that each band will look at this as an agreement and say: "We want at least as much if not more". We are on the tracks heading to an area where we are going to have some huge disagreements.

Some of the areas that I have talked about before like the Nunavut deal that covered the eastern Arctic, the Inuvialuit deal that was the western Arctic, the Gwich'in agreement in the Mackenzie River delta, are all parts of this puzzle that are

falling into place. Again it appears that this government's goal is to blanket the Canadian north with these settlement agreements.

Let us go back in time because Canada is a nation of immigrants. We are all immigrants whether we arrived here first, second, third or just recently landed. Every one of us including natives has come to this country from somewhere else. Some of us have come for economic reasons. Some have come to join loved ones and some of us have had the good fortune to be born here.

Many immigrants have come here because they were persecuted somewhere else and Canada has opened its doors. What are we offering? We are offering equality for everyone. That is where we should be going today with these settlements. The first people in this country should not have any more rights or any fewer rights than other Canadians.

Moreover I do not think that the government is really aware of the extent of this settlement. According to the final umbrella agreement, $242.6 million in cash compensation will be divided among the 14 native groups to be paid over 15 years. That results in about $30,000 per individual. Thirty thousand dollars is a nice lump sum when one's house is paid for and the government is still continuing to pay the other bills.

How is this money going to be divided? When I talked earlier on the self-government bill, it became clear that the charter does not apply. We have huge sums of money and huge tracts of land that are going to be looked at and overseen by groups of people.

One of the biggest concerns that people had with the old Indian affairs act was that a native on a reserve did not own the land. He could not go to the bank and say: "I own this chunk of land". It is going to be the same thing as I understand it with these deals.

What about an individual native owning the land that he is on. This is where we start to get self-esteem. If it is owned by the band, if it is owned by an umbrella group, again we run into difficulties because it is not covered in the charter.

Does this government know the potential of the mining rights that are given in this deal? I made some phone calls to some mining people to find out and they are unclear where it is going. They do not know the potential of the mining claims in the Yukon. Because of uncertainty, a lot of the claims have been basically set back. Exploration has been set back.

The government does not know the value of what it is deeding away. Included in these four agreements is the option to acquire up to 25 per cent of the royalties held by the Yukon government, its agencies or corporations in future non-renewable resource development and hydro projects in the traditional territories.

Again, can the government tell the Canadian people what the values of these royalties are? I rather doubt it. We do not know what kind of money we are talking about here. One of the agreements, the Champagne agreement, provides for economic development agreements within the federal government to provide technical and financial assistance for economic development purposes.

How much assistance are we talking about? Does this mean unlimited loans? What are the guidelines? Again, where is the equality here? There should be the same rights and privileges for natives as for non-natives in the area.

I question if this government had any idea of the actual proportion of transfer payments involved. In fact, I wonder if anyone knows. I fail to see how this government can justify the royalties to this House and to the Canadian people. We know it is going to be asked by the Canadian people to justify it.

In addition the federal government will continue to support all the present and future programs. Again how are we getting to self-sufficiency? Getting the land, getting the money, yet the programs continue to be ongoing. This does not bode well for getting self-sufficiency of individual natives.

The minister states that these agreements give aboriginal beneficiaries the means to become self-reliant, to regain a measure of control over their lives. My colleagues and I are in complete support of such an end. We recognize the need for all Canadians to become self-reliant and to gain control over their lives.

We would support such an agreement that would actually fulfil such a goal that is beneficial to natives and non-natives alike. However, this agreement moves in a very different direction. The granting of all this money, all the land or continuing to provide the same programs and benefits will nurture dependency and in no way fosters any measure of independence. Rather it would seem that by giving out these huge sums of money and land this agreement removes the incentive.

The agreement takes away the motivation for these people to gain their own self-respect and self-worth as individuals. This agreement does not allow the natives to make their own way and to succeed on their own. It is the old Indian act again.

There is no indication anywhere in this agreement of any intention to phase out financial assistance and government native programs if the terms of the agreement prove it successful.

For all the money that this agreement deals with there is no justification to state why this money is being awarded. What is the rationale? It concerns me that this agreement sets a very bad

precedent for fiscal responsibility in future government negotiations for many, many more land claim deals and agreements with natives.

There are many concerns about the management of both the funds and land base, concerns raised by natives themselves because settlement dollars and land title are not vested in the individuals. They are vested in the organizations as I said earlier.

This huge conveyance is far too generous and the entire deal should be re-examined to bring the agreement into reality. I stress again it is the size of this agreement that we are concerned with.

What are the rights of the non-natives in this agreement? That needs to be spelled out. Some of these agreements are providing for exclusive harvesting rights in the parks and in the territories. Where do the non-natives come into this? What are their rights?

Natives are granted guaranteed participation in commercial fresh water salmon fishery and sports fishing, adventure travel, forestry, outfitting and campsite operations in the traditional territories. Does this mean that they have exclusive rights? That is unclear. Once again the rights are given out on the basis of race. When the world is moving toward equality of all its citizens this government seems to want to move away from that direction and go on to a basis of creating two nations with the nation of Canada.

I am particularly concerned about the backlash from non-native Canadians. This government with this agreement is going to drive a wedge between these two peoples. What was supposed to be a program to assist natives in B.C. in the aboriginal fisheries strategy is a good example. It is native fishermen and non-native fishermen. Twenty-five per cent of the fishery is native. They worked together for generations and did just fine until the aboriginal fisheries strategy came in. It drove a wedge between those two groups of people who got along for years and years. This is the same type of thinking I see in this agreement.

I will be very surprised if this government can provide all of the answers here. Hopefully when it is addressed in committee a number of these issues will be brought forth and will be addressed rather than rubber-stamped.

There is tremendous concern on the part of all Canadians who are not opposed to this settlement in principle but they do not like the generous deals. This agreement has to be re-examined in committee, it has to be re-examined here, the whole thinking process has to be looked at again.

Yukon First Nations Land Claimssettlement ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.


Allan Kerpan Reform Moose Jaw—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, one thing that I have noticed as I sat through the debate today is that the bill uses the term First Nations throughout. It describes these 14 bands not necessarily as bands but as First Nations. Similarly the members of these First Nations are described as citizens of First Nations.

Although the term First Nation has been loosely bandied about lately and is in common practice, to my knowledge this is the first time that it has been formally referred to in federal legislation. It gives rise to a number of questions that I have and I would ask the hon. member's opinion of some of these questions.

First, are native people in Yukon now to have two kinds of citizenship extended to them under what we perceive as Canadian law? If that is the case, would that not be conflicting allegiances? This is a problem that I have had as I have sat through this debate today and listened very carefully.

I would ask the hon. member if he would like to comment. I would like to hear his comments on those types of allegiance, and the conflict that might arise should that be the case.

Yukon First Nations Land Claimssettlement ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.


Bill Gilmour Reform Comox—Alberni, BC

I thank the member for his question. It brings very much to the fore the tying together of these two bills, native self-government and the land deal.

The member is absolutely right. We appear to be setting two different nations within a nation with these two pieces of legislation. The bills tie together, they are intertwined. I fully believe, as I have said a number of times, that we are going the wrong direction. We are only one nation. We cannot be people from Quebec, people from the Yukon, people from other parts of Canada; we are all Canadians.

The push to pass this legislation, in my mind, is going away from the direction of equality toward a self-government that cannot be defined. We have asked the government on a number of occasions to please define their view of what is self-government. Is it a municipality? Is it provincial, is it federal; what is the umbrella approach? We cannot get those answers.

Until we can get those answers, until Canadians can sit down and see what they are looking at, what we are voting on, it is so vague, so loose, it can be manipulated by virtually any party that is part of the agreement.

It is paramount that we should be going toward equality. We should be going toward a fair settlement that puts all of us on an equal basis.

Yukon First Nations Land Claimssettlement ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.


Karen Kraft Sloan Liberal York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am intrigued by the questioning about First Nations. We are indeed talking about First Nations. These were the first people on this continent. They are not one nation, they are many nations, and I think it is only right that people have the opportunity to name themselves.

I was in northern Sweden and you are probably familiar with the term Laplander. Laplanders did not name themselves Laplanders, they call themselves Sami which means the people.

There is a bit of confusion here around this issue. This is not just a trendy little name that has been bandied about; this is a name that the indigenous people of North America have chosen for themselves, First Nations, and we use it out of respect.

When we talk about treating people equally, and that is absolutely the point here, we have to understand the historical roots of discrimination, the barriers to discrimination, the systemic aspects of discrimination. These are not conquered people. These people had treaties, agreements with our government and rightfully they are seeking what is theirs.

Yukon First Nations Land Claimssettlement ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.


Bill Gilmour Reform Comox—Alberni, BC

I thank the member for her question. We have a differing point of view which often happens in the House.

I will not be using the term First Nation because to me it implies a second nation and a third nation. There is only one one nation of Canada. That to me is equality. It is all of us together. It is not a slight on our native peoples. If there is a First Nation, what is the second, what is the third and what are the different rights? There are no different rights. We are all equal.

Yukon First Nations Land Claimssettlement ActGovernment Orders

June 9th, 1994 / 5:35 p.m.


Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have heard bandied about the idea that Yukon people are very familiar with self-government, what it means and what its implications are, and that the Canadian people are also familiar with them.

I wonder if the member could comment on how general is this knowledge and how informed people really are about the settlement agreements that we are talking about.

Yukon First Nations Land Claimssettlement ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.


Bill Gilmour Reform Comox—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, my understanding, as I touched on in my speech, that the general knowledge in depth of this agreement is not high.

The concept of self-government, the concept of a land claim deal, that is fine. People are well aware of that. But the depth of what is in this bill and its generosity is not general knowledge.

Yukon First Nations Land Claimssettlement ActGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.


Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, about a month ago I rose to speak on Bill C-16, the Sahtu land claim.

At that time I told the House we were setting a very dangerous precedent and we are following along the same footsteps today. Bill C-33 gives two square miles of deeded land per person in this land claim. Just to put this into perspective, my family has a farm in northwestern Alberta. We have two square miles of land that we farm and it has supported a family of six people. If we were to work this out, two square miles per person comes to twelve sections of land per person.

Let us put this into perspective for a moment. When my family came to Canada in 1869 from England they got 205 acres. We are talking about 12,000 acres here. This is a lot of land. I think it sets a very dangerous precedent.

In the Peace River riding I have six land claims that have not been settled that we want to move forward. It seems to me that every land claim that is settled we start to build and build on it at a time when Canada has a major debt and deficit.

I wonder if the government has given some thought to the implications of how this is going to play out in all the land claims settlements throughout the country. Thirty-five thousand dollars roughly per person in this particular land claim settlement using the model again of a family of six represents $200,000 plus twelve square miles of land.

I have to ask the question, where do we go from here? We have a lot of land claims in the province of British Columbia that are coming up. Are we going to be borrowing more money from places like Japan and the United States to pay out on land claims? We have to think very carefully of the cost of what we are doing here and the precedent we are setting.