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.


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1 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Frankly, I think the point of order was quite clear. As the hon. member indicated, however, I will have to think about it. I will get back to the House with a specific, precise and hopefully clear opinion shortly. Meanwhile, I recognize the hon. member for Okanagan Center.

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1 p.m.


Werner Schmidt Reform Okanagan Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me this afternoon to enter into the debate on Bill C-34. It is a landmark piece of legislation that is being proposed to this House and I commend the minister for bringing forward legislation that deals with a very significant and serious matter that will affect all Canadians.

Regardless of whether we consider the advent of the Europeans into the territory we now know as Canada to have been fair and just, since then a lot of time has passed and the passing of time has brought tremendous change into this country and in the way we relate one to another.

Some of those changes have been cultural and today Canada is a multicultural country. The changes have been economic and today Canada is a developed nation. More significantly, the changes are irreversible. We cannot go back. We cannot go back because we must think about each of the 28 million people who

today call themselves Canadians, native or non-native, French or English, black or white.

Any original injustice when might was right set an immutable course which has brought us here where the dominion of some is now the dominion of many. To recognize this is to recognize that despite history the present rests on compromise. Compromise means that we can acknowledge with the deepest respect both the indigenous peoples who gave this land its spirit and the dreamers and builders who later came here and created Canada, as it is today.

In this House compromise comes to us in the form of Bill C-34 this afternoon; agreeing with which grants self-government to the First Nations in the Yukon territory.

Government is right to pursue such a compromise. Compromise under Bill C-34 affirms the right of the Yukon Indians to determine how they will live culturally and spiritually, and that is right.

Compromise under Bill C-34 means the Yukon First Nations people will determine how they will govern themselves and how they will determine their economic future, and that too is right.

We must ask ourselves questions. Does Bill C-34 further the common good for Canada and does it respect the equal nature of the rights and privileges of every citizen in this country? The question is twofold. Does it further the common goal of Canada, the common good for Canada? In any situation that requires compromise it must seem so. Government and natives are carving out a way to solve a disagreement that has carried on for many years. Many feel, and I am inclined to agree, that this agreement and others like it place doubt in the value of nationhood, citizenship and democracy.

Nationhood is the way we define who we are. We value nationhood because it gives us a strong identity and emphasizes that each of the citizens who make up that nation are members of that nation and are therefore equal.

Bill C-34 proposes to create a nation within a nation. Why? What of the nationhood that already exists? What of the equality of those citizens who live within this nation? Creating a nation, a first nation, within a nation does nothing to advance the equal status of First Nations people with other Canadians. Instead, establishing a first nation creates a bias based on ethnic origin, something which Canada and many others have worked very hard to eradicate from the political practices of mankind.

No matter in whose favour one pursues the bias, it remains a bias. It emphasizes what is different and makes it conspicuous rather than allowing our varied ethnic identities to form a tightly woven and colourful background that identifies us as Canadians. Is that good for Canada? How can it be?

This bias breaks the link that forms nationhood, the link of citizenship and the relationship between an individual and his or her country, the implication of freedom.

In Bill C-34 a new language has been created where words like nation and citizen have been redefined as they apply to native Canadians. By redefining these words we place doubt on the value of the original nation and the original citizen. This new language says this is my land and that is your land. It says this is my nation, the first nation, and that is your nation, the nation of Canada. It says in this nation I am a citizen of the first nation. In your nation you are a citizen of Canada.

The new language erects boundaries and cuts holes in a land where First Nations live. Like the main sail of a ship the holes work to weaken and cause a greater chance for larger tears and cease to protect from the winds of change. Once nationhood and citizenship are redefined, the very pillars of democracy begin to crumble and that is not good for Canada.

Does Bill C-34 respect the equal rights and privileges of every citizen in this country? In part I have answered that question in my previous remarks. Bill C-34 emphasizes an ethnic bias simply by acknowledging it. No other citizen in Canada receives rights or privileges on the basis of ethnic origin, although our colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois are seeking that very thing.

By setting this precedent in Bill C-34 I fear that we are fueling the fires of those who would separate, who can now argue that they like the First Nations people have the right to special status based on their ethnic origin.

It is further evidenced that special status does not accomplish what it intends. It does not strengthen, it serves to weaken. Some may argue that Bill C-34 gives First Nations people no more rights and privileges than any other Canadian. Why is it necessary to entrench these rights and privileges in legislation by naming them?

First Nations people are citizens of Canada and as such are given the same rights and privileges under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as any other Canadian-we heard this in this House just a few moments ago-except for one. By creating land claim agreements and subsequent self-government agreements we give to the First Nations people something that no other Canadian has a right to, namely the right to own property.

No other Canadian is allowed to realize that because it is not enshrined in the Constitution. By giving First Nations people ownership over their lands, we have now set a precedent which

would allow others to claim ownership for any number of other reasons, a certain one of which comes to mind readily.

Is this the way we ensure that all Canadians are treated equally and fairly under the Constitution?-no. Does this respect the equal nature of the rights and privileges of every citizen in this country?-no. Is this the way democracy is meant to function?-no.

Democracy says we all shall have a voice and that no one voice should be louder or stronger than any other. Democracy is meant to serve all, not a chosen few. Bill C-34 is a far cry from the agreements of long ago which placed First Nations people on reserves with limited lands and limited responsibilities and capabilities.

In our minds such legislation should speak with more dignity and find a way to bring together two sides in what has been a long and venerable argument. For the sake of both sides it is important that we use the same democratic principles that form the foundation of any legislation in this country. If we do not, that legislation is weak from the start and vulnerable to failure.

We owe it to native and to non-native Canadians to make Bill C-34 and any self-government legislation or land claims agreement sound, for if we are going to go forward we must do just that. The right legislation will respect all of us and will acknowledge the very thing that makes us the same.

We all want a home where we are free to explore our personal identities and spirituality and culture, but it has never been right to pursue this at the cost of others. There will be a cost if in our haste to find a compromise we pass legislation that has the potential to create more division.

In a strong, confident and democratic environment distinctions are valuable and positive, but in a fragmented one they become razor sharp, manipulated to cut here and there, to sever. The differences of Canada have great potential to hurt us if we continually uphold them at the cost of what is true, that we are all first and foremost citizens of Canada.

I believe Bill C-34 is guilty of this. I believe that Bill C-34 forgets that while it seeks to solve the past discrepancies faced by native Canadians, it affects all Canadians. Bill C-34, which provides self-government, Yukon self-government, must seek to reaffirm the citizenship of everyone, our nationhood, our confidence in democracy.

Bill C-34 must bring an end to the beliefs that put greater importance on who was here first or how we came to be here rather than where we are now. All Canadians seek a place of belonging unfettered by intellectual and physical boundaries. All Canadians seek citizenship in its truest form in a place where we uphold that all people are created equal.

Let us not jeopardize this by passing weak legislation that forgets our nationhood, our citizenship and democracy. Let us affirm this again and again above all else because this place exists, this country exists, and that place is Canada.

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1:15 p.m.


Len Taylor NDP The Battlefords—Meadow Lake, SK

Mr. Speaker, not wishing to delay the discussion at all, I will be very brief in my question.

While listening to the hon. member's comments I could not help but think about the treatment of aboriginal people over the years since the settlers and the immigrants arrived on the shores of North America. The member is committed to the words he has chosen to use, the words of equality and citizenship, very important words for a minority but very difficult words for the majority.

Could he tell us when in Canadian history these words spoken by non-aboriginal people came to have such strength? I think about the days when the treaties were being signed and the community leaders were being asked to participate in an economy that was being built in Canada. The chiefs and the community leaders at the time when aboriginal peoples' lands were being removed from them were saying to the people they were negotiating with that they were prepared to work in equal partnerships with the immigrants and the settlers, that they were prepared to share the resources of the land, that they were prepared to share what they had for 6,000 to 10,000 years with those new to their shores.

Within a very brief period of time or 100 and some years in the country most of the sharing the aboriginal people engaged in has disappeared and the Reform Party and others are now saying that we are all equal and all live as citizens in one country, a country that was created to suit the needs of the immigrants and the settlers.

Could the member tell me at what point in our history the words changed from those being spoken by the chiefs and community leaders to those now being spoken by immigrant representatives?

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1:15 p.m.


Werner Schmidt Reform Okanagan Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question.

We have to be very careful how we deal with a subject that far reaching which affects virtually every Canadian as I indicated in my remarks: Indian, non-Indian, native, aboriginal or whomever.

The concept of democracy, the concept of freedom, the concept of equality and the concept of being a citizen of a nation are very fundamental. I in no way want to suggest to the member or to anyone listening to the debate this afternoon that everything was always right in the past. Indeed it was not. There were many times in the history of Canada where we treated one another very poorly, where we did not treat one another equally,

where we did not give the kinds of rights we should have given and where we did indeed deny people certain rights because of their ethnic or other backgrounds.

That does not make me proud. The fact remains that we are at a point in history today where we can rectify some of those things, but let us not rectify them in such a way that would create new inequalities and would deny the very things we want to rectify. Let us create strong legislation. In no way do I disparage the direction in which the legislation is headed or the spirit that I think is intended in it. That is not my concern.

My concern is that we create a Canada where Canadians of whatever description, no matter where they live in the country, no matter whether they came here as immigrants or were born here, are Canadian citizens, are equal and do not have particular rights because of a particular ethnicity, language, religion or anything else. That to me is key. If the legislation can be improved to reflect that, I am completely in favour of it.

I am suggesting there are unanswered questions in the legislation. It does not give the kind of equality I stand for and the freedom I want to promote.

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1:20 p.m.

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario


Ron Irwin LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I want to follow up on that question of the NDP member because I do not think it was answered.

The hon. member talked about equality and citizenry. The people we are talking about had been there for 10,000 years. They were citizens. They had their own laws. They had a religion which we took away. They had customs which we took away. They had a system in place.

When the non-aboriginals came to the area, as has been expressed by others in the House, they came with a certain amount of avarice in their hearts. They wanted to take the land, the mines and the lumber, and they did.

Now we have a situation where we have the wealth and they have the poverty. That is the situation. We have before us 21 years of negotiations drawing aboriginal people back into the process honourably with a lot of transparent and open negotiation, bringing them back to sharing resources with us, which was the original intent.

Where specifically does the hon. member think the legislation falls short?

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1:20 p.m.


Werner Schmidt Reform Okanagan Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, in part I believe the shortfall comes in the new language that has been created. Somehow we now have two kinds of nations; we have two kinds of citizens. If we think the relationship will be changed simply by writing new words it is false. Nation means something to me that is somehow separate from other nations. It creates a difference. I do not think it is possible to have two kinds of nations within a nation, and that is what has been created.

We have used the terms nations and First Nations. We have used the term nation. We have citizens. That is where the confusion lies. If that could be clarified so that a citizen of a first nation is like a resident of Alberta or a resident of British Columbia, if that is what is meant, why would we use a new kind of language? This is confusing. It needs to be clarified. It needs to be recognized that they are equal people who share the same kind of rights and privileges the rest of us share; nothing special or nothing denigrating.

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1:20 p.m.


Bill Gilmour Reform Comox—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, in introducing the bill the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has urged the House and pressed for "the speedy passage of this important piece of historic legislation". I simply cannot understand why the government is attempting to ram the legislation through the House in the same manner as the Conservatives did in 1993 with similar legislation regarding the Nunavut deal, Bill C-132.

The minister has stated it has taken 20 years to formulate the legislation and the last few months to draft the agreements. Again I cannot understand the logic of rushing through legislation in a matter of days when it has taken us years to get this far. It begs the question: Is there another or what is the real government agenda? When this agreement which took 20 years to evolve is now being pushed through the House, we have to ask what is the rush.

Bill C-34 represents only four agreements of a possible fourteen. These future agreements will be negotiated behind closed doors if the bill passes. No doubt we can expect more Yukon bills to be pushed through the House.

Where is the new style of government the Liberals promised in the red book? For example, section 52 allows the other land claim agreements to be ratified by cabinet rather than by Parliament. Again it means it will be behind closed doors, not in the House as we are doing today. It means Parliament will no longer be involved. Again where will it be? It will be behind closed doors. So much for the open government promised by the Liberals. I expect they have to read their red book with rose coloured glasses so that only the parts they can deliver show through.

Another area I would like to touch on is the issue of constitutional recognition. In section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, there is provision on native rights stating that existing treaty and aboriginal rights are recognized and affirmed. Yet there is no definition of native rights other than to say they are defined as rights in present and future land claim agreements.

The fact that these extremely vague rights are supposedly affirmed by the Constitution brings into question how readily and easily these rights can be changed. How could these rights be constitutionally entrenched when they are so vague that they can easily be altered at the whim of each new government or

cabinet? The definition of constitutional entrenchment is loose, to say the very least.

I would also like to point out that there are many problems in the definition of a native citizen as established in the bill. The bill sets out that the definition of native citizens is determined by the constitution of First Nations. In so doing the agreement provides for a completely separate level of citizenship distinct from that of non-native Canadians.

It appears the government is setting up a two-tier system with two levels of citizens and two nations. At a time when the rest of the world is striving toward equality as evidenced by what we saw in South Africa, the government is trying to establish a two-class system based on race.

It appears the Prime Minister has forgotten his days as Indian affairs minister. His so-called progressive report of 1969 proposed that Indian citizens should become equal citizens of the provinces and of the country. Now his government is proposing to relegate natives to a separate status from those of other Canadians.

As Indian affairs minister the Prime Minister wrote a report which argued for "the fundamental right of Indian people to full and equal participation in the cultural, social, economic and political life of Canada. To argue against this right is to argue for discrimination, isolation and separation. No Canadian should be excluded from participation in community life and none should expect to withdraw and enjoy the benefits that flow from those who participate". That was considered to be progressive in 1969. Compared to the implications of this agreement, I would say it still remains progressive, with the current proposed legislation regressive.

This agreement does not guarantee full and equal participation in Canada. Far from it. It sets up an entirely separate regime. The Prime Minister talked about ending the legal distinction between natives and other Canadians with a movement toward equality of all Canadians. Now his party affirms ethnic and racial distinctions. This is a step backwards. Our native people should be equals in every respect as should all Canadians. Racial distinctions are no longer justified or tolerated in today's society. It is clearly the wrong way to go.

The treatment of our native people to this point has been unequal in many respects. They have been subject to inequalities based on race. To remedy the situation by legislating more equality does not make good sense.

The agreement would affirm and strengthen racial inequalities by establishing a two-tier system, by setting up another level of citizens separate from other Canadians. How could the government justify the obvious unequal treatment which the bill will create? We simply cannot allow the legislation to pass in its present form.

The fight for discrimination has gone on for centuries. In the 18th century William Wilberforce, as an MP in the British House of Commons, fought to free the slaves. On another front we have witnessed our American neighbours struggle through the civil rights movement. We have all witnessed the downfall of the two-tiered system in South Africa.

Systems based on racial inequalities are wrong and history has shown that they do not and cannot stand up to the test of time. Why is the government trying to set up these same barriers in Bill C-34 by establishing two levels of citizenship?

This agreement sets up two separate and distinct societies within the boundaries of Canada. In addition, this system sets up a bureaucratic nightmare in the territory of Yukon. At present Yukon has two levels of government, federal and territorial.

This agreement opens the way for another possible four levels of government with ten more to follow when the ten native bands are dealt with. This means Yukon could be subject to many varying law-making bodies.

Curiously, according to the present Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would apply to native self-government. Yet the justice minister of the same government has suggested that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms will not apply. Who are we to believe? There is no requirement in this agreement that laws will be subject to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

When the Charlottetown accord was drafted, it included 20 provisions for native people. An amendment to the Canadian charter was proposed that would apply to laws made by Canadian people. This clause said that the charter should not diminish any rights or freedoms relating to the exercise or protection of the languages, cultures and traditions of native people.

There was another clause in the Charlottetown accord that clarified that the equality of native men and women would apply to all respects of native rights, including the right to self-government. I question that any such rights will extend to native women in this agreement. Will the rights of native women, the rights which native women demanded to have protected in the October 26 referendum be protected in this agreement? It certainly does not appear so.

The minister of Indian affairs claims that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms will apply to natives. If this is so, why did the previous government find it necessary to include such provisions if the charter already applies? The answer is that if the charter is not included in this bill then it does not apply. As it

is not mentioned, I suggest it does not apply to native self-government.

Let me recount some history for hon. members. In 1982 the Assembly of First Nations when appearing before the parliamentary committee on aboriginal affairs said that: "As Indian people we cannot afford to have individual rights override collective rights. The Canadian charter of rights is in conflict with our philosophy and our culture".

In 1992 the Assembly of First Nations published a report which rejected the charter of rights. This report recommended: "that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms shall not override First Nations' law". Does this philosophy still stand? Is it the intent of Bill C-34? Will the Canadian charter of rights apply to native people? If not, this concerns me and will be of great concern to many Canadians.

Perhaps members will remember that many women's groups, particularly the Native Women's Association of Canada insisted that native self-government without the protection of the charter would be dangerous for native women, stating that violence against women on reserves was widespread.

The 1989 Ontario Native Women's Association report stated that while one in every ten Canadian women have experienced some form of abuse, eight out of ten native women have been abused or assaulted or can expect to be abused or assaulted.

Section 28 of the charter guarantees protection of sexual equality. Yet all native councils would be shielded from charter protection of guaranteed sexual equality. There is nothing in this agreement to guarantee that the rights of sexual equality will be protected. This concerns me as I am sure it concerns many native women.

Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms may not be perfect but it is one way in which the individual rights of each and every Canadian are protected. To deny any citizen of Canada, in particular native women, protection under the charter is not only negligent but deeply unjust.

In addition, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies to federal and provincial levels of government. However there is nothing in the charter that would make it apply to native self-government. The democratic rights section of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives all Canadians the right to elect people to the federal government or legislative assemblies or to run for office. There is no provision in this bill to protect the democratic rights of native citizens as this level of government is not covered in the charter.

There is no guarantee under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that native people have the right to vote for native governments, run for native office or to limit the terms of native government. These are concerns that were raised only two years ago.

There is nothing in this agreement which addresses these concerns and until this aspect is included in Bill C-34 it should not be passed.

In conclusion, this bill goes well beyond giving natives the right to govern their own affairs in a manner similar to what is presently being done by municipal governments. With its all encompassing law-making powers it sets up a separate nation within the nation of Canada, a nation subject to laws and powers and outside the protection of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

We are already experiencing separatist threats that originated from treating one group of Canadians differently from another. If Bill C-34 goes through in its present form we are setting the stage for even more discontent. There is room for only one nation in Canada, a nation where all Canadians are treated equally and respected by all.

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1:35 p.m.

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario


Ron Irwin LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

I have a question for the hon. member.

He used words like "ramming, listening and a new style of government" which I suppose means more consultation and more listening. It is my information that the CYI, the leadership headed up by Mrs. Judy Gingell, were here for a week and a half up to second reading trying to arrange meetings with the Reform Party without success. There were no meetings until after second reading.

In this broad consultation and this ramming and secret agendas that the hon. member has talked about, has he talked to any of the First Nations of the Yukon personally?

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1:35 p.m.


Bill Gilmour Reform Comox—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister just makes my point. We did not get the information until Thursday morning and the bill was due to be responded to on Friday. We had absolutely no lead time.

I find it rather curious that the native bands were here a week ahead of that time and yet the Reform Party was not advised of the agenda of the government.

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1:35 p.m.


Gérard Asselin Bloc Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me a chance to comment and to question the member who just spoke.

As the Minister of Indian Affairs said, after 21 years of consultation, after 21 years of thinking and talks between the government and native organizations, especially in the Yukon, it is time to act.

I must congratulate the government on reaching a conclusion in its present term for good relations between the government and native communities. I believe that the First Nations, the native people, including those in the Yukon, want and demand their full autonomy so that they can take on more responsibility themselves. Unfortunately, Canadians often say that natives live

at the expense of whites. I think that the native community in the Yukon is very advanced because today it is ready to become more independent and to take over some of its responsibilities and autonomy.

Also, I think that the self-government which the natives demand will enable them to develop their resources properly and keep their customs.

In my riding, Charlevoix in Quebec, I have two native communities, inhabited by Montagnais, and as the member for Charlevoix, I must defend these communities as I defend all my constituents. Besides, my oldest child is a Montagnais boy whom we adopted. He will be twelve on July 10 and I consider him as much as the two children we had later.

I think that the native community in the Yukon is calling for more dialogue between their communities and the government because they want to share their ideas. In closing, I want to commend the native community of the Yukon for claiming its rights and being heard by the government. I also congratulate it on taking charge of its economic development.

Does the Reform Party member who preceded me think it possible that the Yukon natives are more advanced than the Reform Party?

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1:40 p.m.


Bill Gilmour Reform Comox—Alberni, BC

When speaking of evolution I guess we could go back a long way. However it is very clear and I pointed it out in my speech that equality and the evolution of equality can only go one direction. We have to be equal, all of us, whether we are from Quebec, from Yukon, from other parts of Canada.

That was the key point to my speech and if that is part of evolution that is exactly what I would like to see evolve in the bill because the bill does not speak to it now and it should not be passed in its present form.

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1:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

A while ago, I promised as Speaker to render a decision on the issue of the word "separatist" raised by the hon. member for Gaspé. The word "separatist" is found on page 148 of the 6th edition of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules & Forms . It is considered parliamentary. I quote: Since 1958, it has been ruled parliamentary to use the following expressions-'' and the wordseparatist'' is among them, as I said.

Nearly 30 years ago, in 1964, Speaker McNaughton said: "These questions are, of course, not easy to answer. I would say that the word used was rude; but in my opinion it was not unparliamentary". He was talking about the word "separatist". Later, Speaker Sauvé said this about "separatist" and "McCarthyism" on December 9, 1980: "Whether one approves of the connotations or not, the words "McCarthyism" and "separatism" have become part of the political vocabulary and therefore their applicability is a matter of interpretation and debate in which the Chair has no role".

I fully realize that hon. members will say that the usages of international law were not the same as those in Parliament. For now, it seems that such is the rule in our legislature.

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1:40 p.m.


Yvan Bernier Bloc Gaspé, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to make it clear that I do not question your ruling on this subject. I think it was good for the whole House that this issue was raised. I note that the debate has been going on longer than we think. You mentioned 1958. The Speaker at that time said it was "rude".

The last thing I would like to say for our listeners and hon. members is that if he wants to use the word "separatist", it has an emotional connotation; if he wants to speak objectively, the recognized term in international law is "sovereigntist".

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1:45 p.m.


Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking the hon. minister for being present during the debate on this bill. It is good that the sponsor of a bill is present, particularly during a debate in which contentious issues are involved. I want to thank him for being here.

I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this debate on Bill C-34 which is the Yukon self-government bill. As do many of my colleagues, I have a particular interest in this proposed legislation. During my life and my career I have had an opportunity to work directly with native people in a number of different areas.

As a labour foreman on a hydro electric project in the territories, as an ombudsman for the Alberta region of the department of Indian affairs under Harold Cardinal and as a business consultant I have seen the problems of these people firsthand and I have spoken with them. I have lived some of the problems that they experience. I have experienced directly the discrimination that they have experienced, particularly the discrimination that has been levelled at them through the interpretation and the enactment of the Indian act along with the changes that have occurred to that act from time to time over the years.

Therefore what I say today, I speak at least in part from my experience and empathy for the plight of these people. The Dog Rib Indians of the territories I found were some of the hardest working and capable individuals I have ever worked with. They were more than willing to work under adverse conditions of weather and isolation when the jobs were available. However,

the opportunity to work was not always there. When this occurs, these willing and capable people go unemployed.

I was appointed ombudsman for the province of Alberta under the direction of Harold Cardinal who was a regional director general for the department of Indian affairs for a period of time. Mr. Cardinal was a prominent leader in Canada and president of the Alberta Indian Association for a number of years.

It was under his leadership that what is known in the Indian communities today as the red paper was developed as a direct result of the white paper of the Prime Minister when he was a department of Indian affairs minister. It wanted to assimilate the Indian people into Canadian society and wanted to eliminate their reserve lands.

Grand Chief Norman Yellowbird, a friend and associate of mine, delivered that red paper developed by the Indian Association of Alberta to the Prime Minister, Mr. Trudeau, at the time.

I have had a close look at some of the problems and some of the challenges faced by Indian people and I have heard directly from them their concerns and their viewpoints on these problems.

As a consultant I have received many complaints from band members accusing their band leaders of corruption and expending funds improperly. Those same complaints have been brought to my attention since I have become a member of Parliament. The department of Indian affairs seldom, if ever, looks into those complaints. It has not looked into them before and the feedback I am getting from some of my aboriginal associates indicates that they are not being looked into today.

Instead, the department apparently chooses to ignore the concerns of the aboriginal people at the grassroots level and proceed with negotiation self-government arguments with some of the same council leaders who have been accused of fraudulent and suspect practices. I am not suggesting for a moment that involves the leaders who were involved in this agreement.

I point out the trials and tribulations faced by many Indian people at the grassroots level that have come to my attention through my experience with them.

I, like many Canadians, want to see Canada's aboriginal peoples given every reasonable opportunity to become economically and politically independent. I want to see their dignity restored by ending the cycle of dependency that has become so customary within aboriginal communities.

It is no secret that the aboriginal population is among the most disadvantaged of all Canadians. Life expectancy is about eight years shorter than average. Death by suicide is about two and a half times more common and the unemployment rates are several times the Canadian average.

I do not believe that Bill C-34, Yukon self-government, is the answer to the numerous problems plaguing aboriginal peoples and particularly if that is to become the model for the other settlements, claims and requests for self-government that are being made by so many of the bands across the country. I am not confident that the aboriginal people will not be subjected by a new form of government under their council leaders to an autocratic form of government that will deny them the rights they now receive under the protection of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I believe a gradual and progressive approach must be taken to ease the dependency of the aboriginal people and to provide them with the opportunity to fully understand the terms and implications of self-government.

During the Charlottetown accord I spoke to many of my aboriginal friends and I asked them what they thought about that. Of course they disagreed and they voted against the Charlottetown accord because they did not feel that they were included. They did not understand many of the provisions. There was not the dialogue that I think is necessary when we get into these kinds of negotiations. It must be suitable and understood by the grassroots people.

I would recommend and support a movement toward autonomy which could be initiated with self-determination that institutes possession and control of their land. I agree with that. I do not support or accept Bill C-34 to establish self-government for the Yukon First Nation.

The concept of self-government is too vague in this document and there are no real specifics that provide a definitive meaning to this term. I cannot support self-government until the term is clearly and emphatically defined so the aboriginal people understand, so Canadians understand and so there are no misconceptions about the type of agreement the federal government is entering into.

Right now there are too many questions unanswered, too many terms undefined and too many t s not crossed and too many i s not dotted.

What does self-government mean? Self-government is a phrase whose history predates its application to aboriginal governments in Canada. The British used the term when they arrived at the conclusion that one of their colonies was ready for autonomy. Aboriginal self-government has been the subject of many definitions in Canada. We have heard it from many politicians in the past. Some have defined it as being more or less municipal government covering the relative autonomous

administration of programs and services that find their roots in the authority of the federal and provincial governments.

Alternately, self-government has been envisioned by many aboriginal people as a creature of aboriginal authority, of the legitimate authority of distinct aboriginal peoples to make their laws, to sign their institutions and govern themselves as they see fit.

One aboriginal author writes: "The right to self-government goes much beyond entitlement to practice our own culture, traditional customs, religion and languages or the right to determine the development of our own identity. It includes constitutionally protected powers over our lives, our lands and our resources, as well as the right to determine the nature of our ongoing relationship with the federal and provincial governments in Canada".

Not only is there divergent views of what self-government means between the federal government and the aboriginal people, the comments of Howard Adams, an aboriginal person and university professor of native studies, lead me to believe that this term may vary between the aboriginal leaders themselves and what he calls the rank and file aboriginal people.

This is not unlike the Canadian situation in which the people of Canada have one definition of democracy and the government has another. I think we all know and have witnessed what happens when those in power allow their views to supersede the views of their constituents.

In an article published in the Native Studies Review in 1992 Mr. Adams says, referring to the Charlottetown referendum: "The negotiations on the constitution were not relevant or meaningful to the rank and file of aboriginal people. For these people it was an unknown and an unheard of matter because the negotiations involved only a few elite leaders and their organizations".

As one of my colleagues has mentioned many of the aboriginal women's groups from across the country have expressed concern about the protection that might have been lost under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms had the constitutional accord been passed.

Mr. Adams states that from his experience in speaking at remote Metis and Indian communities he learned: "These distant people had absolutely no knowledge about the Constitution and the negotiations. Consequently they had no concern or involvement whatsoever".

I am concerned that this is still true today. I am concerned that the aboriginal people, those at the grassroots, do not understand nor are they aware of the agreements their band leaders are negotiating on their behalf. There has been no indication that this has occurred in this particular agreement.

The details of what self-government will mean to them or the powers they may be subjected to have not been explained and therefore they have not had the opportunity to decide if self- government is what they want. This is referring back to the constitutional discussions.

Mr. Adams also believes that during the constitutional talks the leaders involved did not really understand what was transpiring: "It was continuous confusion and vagueness due to lack of clarity in terminology and concepts such as self-government".

Again, how can we be sure that the council leaders were fully aware of what they were signing and particularly the long term consequences?

An October 25, 1991 article in the Vancouver Sun reports: ``Canada's aboriginal people are front and centre in the debate over the Constitution. Their demands for constitutional recognition, self-government and land claims played a major role in blocking changes that would have allowed Quebec to sign the Constitution''.

Mr. Adams states that the negotiations were nothing more than staged media events that provided an opportunity for the previous government to improve its so-called human rights concerns for aboriginal people and to help take the focus off the threat of Quebec's cession.

Further, he believes for the self-government negotiations to have produced an authentic agreement there should have been greater participation by the masses in which the indigenous ideas and perspectives would have emerged.

Nothing in Bill C-34 leads me to believe that the government is any further ahead in defining the term self-government, that the agreement is a genuine reflection of what aboriginal people want and that the motives for entering the agreement are strictly legitimate.

According to an article on March 29, 1994 in the Globe and Mail the federal government has spent more than $50 million on self-government negotiations with native groups over the past seven years, yet it has produced only one agreement: ``About 400 native communities have entered self-government talks but most have abandoned the process because it is long, bureaucratic, limited and legalistic''. This according to the Globe and Mail was the finding of a federal audit.

The audit apparently described a host of weaknesses in the federal policy for negotiating self-government deals at the community level and concluded that the process is long, cumbersome and expensive.

Federal payments to native groups for the negotiations have jumped by 500 per cent since the process began in the 1986-87 fiscal year. The department of Indian affairs has given $30 million to aboriginal groups for the talks and has spent a further $20 million on internal operating costs. The department has spent $50 million creating a cottage industry around these negotiations in which lawyers and political leaders are the only

ones who have benefited while the deplorable living conditions of the individual aboriginal person have not changed as a result of the expenditure of these funds.

Yukon First Nations Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member still has time in his speech. We will take up the speech and the questions and comments after Question Period.

It being 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 30(5), the House will now proceed to Statements by Members pursuant to Standing Order 31.

D-DayStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Anna Terrana Liberal Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the presence of the right hon. Prime Minister in Normandy for the D-Day ceremony has given Canada and Canadians a reason to reflect on the good deeds our people have accomplished in the world.

As a child living in Italy during the second world war, I was subjected to bombing in a big industrial city and to the absence of my father who had to go to war.

The landing of Canadian troops in Sicily in 1943 is still remembered with great affection by all Sicilians and those Sicilians who immigrated to Canada and live in Vancouver celebrated with me and the military in 1983.

The arrival of the Allies in Italy meant the end of a cruel, senseless war and a return to democracy and freedom to a whole continent and ultimately to the world.

I would like to thank our Prime Minister and our country for remembering with us and for being present at such an important event.

Quebec Federation Of Senior CitizensStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, since Tuesday, the city of Trois-Rivières has been the host of some 2,500 people from all parts of Quebec, who are attending the convention of the Quebec Federation of Senior Citizens.

The year 1994 also marks the 25th anniversary of the council of senior citizens from the Mauricie region.

The theme of the convention, "The necessary social involvement of seniors", recognizes not only their past contribution but also their current role and dynamism, in particular through their numerous volunteer activities.

It is not by cutting services to seniors, by closing departmental offices in our regions and by replacing staff with answering machines that this government will provide an adequate response to the needs of these people.

I am proud to salute all convention participants and assure them that the Bloc Quebecois supports their demands, keeping in mind that, above all, the government should show them the greatest respect.

The Late Tom GoodeStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


John Cummins Reform Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to recognize Tom Goode. Tom Goode, who served as Delta's mayor for six years and an MP in Pierre Trudeau's Liberal government died last weekend of cancer at the age of 60.

Tom Goode was a fine man, a good friend, a Liberal whose circle of friends and admirers extended far beyond any partisan bounds.

Tom was optimistic about his ability to beat this dreaded disease. As evidence of this, just a few weeks ago he had accepted the position of chair on the Delta North Liberal Party policy committee.

Tom started his political career as a school trustee and was elected as the Liberal MP for Burnaby-Richmond-Delta in 1968. In 1973 he was elected Delta's mayor.

As a politician and a person, Tom was respected for his honesty and integrity. He was a charming man, a delight to be with. He will be missed.

North American Waterfowl Management PlanStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Ian Murray Liberal Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform all members of the House and all Canadians that the signing of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan update took place this morning.

The North American Waterfowl Management Plan, originally signed in 1986, is designed to protect 3.6 million hectares of wetland and upland habitat in Canada. With the signing of this update, Canada has extended its commitment to this conservation program to the year 1999.

Without this form of conservation, wildlife depending on these habitats for survival would continue to decrease in numbers. However, since the implementation of the plan, populations of several species of waterfowl, such as the gadwalls and blue winged teals, have begun to increase.

In the spirit of Environment Week, let us keep in mind that protecting the environment is an ongoing commitment, and that the signing of this plan strengthens the government's commitment in this regard.

Stoney Creek Battle Field MonumentStatements By Members

June 9th, 1994 / 1:55 p.m.


Tony Valeri Liberal Lincoln, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to share with my colleagues the news that I had the pleasure last weekend of participating in the reopening of the Stoney Creek Battle Field Monument. I would like to extend my sincerest congratulations to the Preserve the Monument Committee and to the community of Stoney Creek for having undertaken this project.

The monument is located on the very site where the Battle of Stoney Creek took place on June 6, 1813. It is particularly fitting that this week, while we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of D-Day, we pause and reflect on the sacrifices made by the Loyalist soldiers in the war of 1812. Some paid the ultimate price but in doing so they helped to ensure that Canada would be born strong and free.

The Stoney Creek Battlefield Monument is a lasting reminder that those who came before us believed that what we now know as Canada was worth dying for. That is their legacy.

The monument is Stoney Creek's legacy to them and it stands as an important symbol that they did not die in vain nor will those sacrifices be forgotten.

National Transportation WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Joe Fontana Liberal London East, ON

Mr. Speaker, as other members before me have done this week I wish to pay tribute to those involved in the transportation industry in Canada.

The transportation industry is a major contributor to the nation's economy, whatever region of the country you come from. Employment, jobs, salaries, wages and export sales are among the direct benefits.

Transportation serves a variety of functions. It extends Canadian sovereignty over an immense country, it provides links between regions and markets, and connects small remote communities to larger centres.

In the final analysis, transportation today is about moving people and goods efficiently and reliably. The theme of National Transportation Week, as announced by the Minister of Transport, is "Inter-modalism: The perfect fit". This theme and the week's activities complement the regulatory and policy initiatives government and industry are taking to promote smoothly interlocking transportation services.

The government believes that modern, improved, intermodal transportation systems will contribute to the long term economic growth by enabling Canadians to receive supplies and deliver goods to markets quickly and at a competitive cost.

Human DevelopmentStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Philippe Paré Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Wednesday, the United Nations Development Program published the global report on human development. The Liberals bragged in this House that Canada ranked first for human development, but they forgot to mention Canada's mediocre record in some important areas.

Canadians should be reminded that, according to the report, Canada comes in ninth place with respect to sexual equality, that it has one of the highest unemployment rates, that it treats its native population poorly, that it is one of the most wasteful users of natural resources among OECD countries, and that it shows little concern for the environment.

Instead of trying to score easy political points, the Liberals should analyze the report and look for viable solutions to Canada's major problems.

Main EstimatesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to comment on the debate held on the proposed spending outlined in the 1994-95 main estimates.

Since 1969 Parliament's annual review of the main estimates has resulted in a pathetic total reduction of only one-millionth of one per cent of the proposed expenditures that governments have submitted to Parliament for its approval.

I would hope that my colleagues would reconsider their traditional practice of rubber stamping the government's main estimates. Yesterday the House authorized the government to spend $160.3 billion and will add another $39.7 billion to the national debt, without even considering modest spending reductions.

You would think that when this country is over $500 billion in debt that the government would welcome every opportunity and suggestion to cut its expenditures.

The ConstitutionStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


John Harvard Liberal Winnipeg—St. James, MB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians spoke clearly last fall that they were fed up with the uncertainty over Canada's Constitution created by the previous

government. They voted for a government that promised to focus on issues that were more vital to them; jobs and economic growth.

Yet on Tuesday of this week the constitutional issue was back in the House, thanks to the leader of the Reform Party. It is a touch of irony that the party that promised to make deficit reduction its top priority and swore not to talk about the Constitution, should be the perpetrator of such a divisive debate.

This apparent contradiction may be one reason why the Reform Party's popularity has dropped right across the country, especially in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

The opposition has tried to derail the nation's business by setting a constitutional trap. We will not be fooled. We will stick to our plan. Canadians can be sure that we do not intend to fall off the track.


Right To Self-DeterminationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Ted McWhinney Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, after my June 7 speech on national unity, the hon. member for Laurier-Sainte-Marie asked me a question on sovereignty and the right to self-determination.

Present-day international law recognizes the right to self-determination only for peoples. Nothing requires self-determination to occur through the break-up of an existing multinational state. This right can be exercised by staying within a pluralistic federal state like ours. In a political and non-legal sense, both Quebec francophones and Native Canadians can qualify as nations.