House of Commons Hansard #244 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was negotiations.


Points Of Order

10 a.m.


Darrel Stinson Reform Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, according to Standing Order 29(4) whenever the Speaker adjourns the House for want of a quorum, the time of adjournment and the names of the members then present shall be inserted in the Journals .

Mr. Speaker, I was present yet my name was not recorded. I signed the sheet.

Points Of Order

10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member signed the sheet and there is a mistake. It will be checked out and if somehow it has been lost, his name will be added in the journals branch, so he need not worry about that.

I thank you for bringing it to the attention of the House.

The House resumed from October 19 consideration of the motion that Bill C-107, an act respecting the establishment of the British Columbia Treaty Commission, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

British Columbia Treaty Commission ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour had the floor. The hon. member for Surrey North has the floor for 40 minutes on behalf of her party.

British Columbia Treaty Commission ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.


Margaret Bridgman Reform Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, on September 21, 1992 the federal government, the British Columbia provincial government and the summit, which is a group representing aboriginal groups involved in this matter, reached an agreement to establish a commission called the British Columbia Treaty Commission. It would aid in the treaty negotiation process by assisting the groups involved to become fully prepared for their role in this process.

In other words, the commission itself would not be directly involved in the actual negotiations but would ensure those persons who would be at the negotiation table would have arrived there fully prepared with all the i 's dotted and the t 's crossed. I am assuming the objective of this approach, i.e. the creation of a commission to facilitate, is to speed up the negotiating process and to ensure all parties are fully informed as to the nature and intent of the negotiating dialogue.

The September 21, 1992 agreement committed the three principals involved to establish this treaty commission via statutes in the case of the governments and a resolution in the case of the summit. This agreement also addressed the B.C. Treaty Commission's organization such as the membership, the terms of office, the location of the office, the quorum, the funding arrangements at least for the first five years, and so on. The agreement also identified the commission's mandates and its parameters.

It was all there on September 21, 1992. Very early in May, 1993, less than one year later, the summit passed its resolution. Later that same month the B.C. legislature also passed its enabling legislation. However, here in October 1995, almost two and one-half to three years later, we are debating Bill C-107 which is the bill respecting the establishment of the B.C. Treaty Commission.

There has been an awareness of this need for legislation for some time, actually one year and three months since September. One can ask why this government is taking so long, since January 1994 for example when Parliament opened here, to carry out its obligations on this process.

The commission does exist but because of the delay in the passing of legislation here to establish it, it has been functioning informally. The fact that the commission has been functioning in our immediate past provides us here today with an insight as to the possible effectiveness of its role in the whole negotiating process to date.

For example, we have had some difficulties. In British Columbia six blockades were erected by the natives in the past year. One was a blockade on a road for private residences on Adams Lake near Kamloops that ran through an Indian reserve. Not far away was a two-week blockade disrupting business this spring at the Douglas Lake ranch after the ranch had asked natives to stop net fishing on a lake that was privately stocked by the ranch. Only the delicate

negotiations of the RCMP kept the peace and brought that blockade down.

A third blockade was outside Penticton. Three native bands disrupted last winter's season for the Apex ski resort with their so-called checkpoints on the access road that ran through the reserve.

Early this summer the province shelled out millions to a developer to buy waterfront property on Vancouver Island which was later discovered to be another burial ground. This triggered another obstruction.

Then in northern B.C. the Gitksan Indians, who are well into negotiating land claims, erected blockades to frustrate forestry operations on the land they wish to claim. Number six was Gustafsen Lake. The owners of the cattle ranch company at Gustafsen Lake were victimized by renegades who had no direct association with the North Shuswap Band.

These behaviour patterns are not condoned and they are certainly not conducive toward achieving a constructive negotiating process. They are occurring regardless of the negotiations today and regardless of the commission's activity to date. Be it legal or illegal, behaviour patterns are occurring suggesting that one, there is a frustration with the whole process, possibly partially due to delays such as the one we are experiencing today; and two, that the present approach of the negotiations is not effective or at least not as effective as it should be.

In addressing the slowdowns or the delays, it is quite obvious in British Columbia how long the land negotiations have been dragging on. We can see that right across the country. Negotiations on the Nisga'a claim have carried on for some 23 years.

As negotiations proceeded into the 29th Parliament, which was 1972-74, the current Prime Minister was then the minister of Indian affairs. Negotiations continued on through the 30th Parliament of 1974-79 and again our Prime Minister was present. Negotiations marched on through the 31st Parliament of 1979-84 and our Prime Minister was there as well. As negotiations sped along during the 32nd and 33rd Parliaments of 1984-88 and 1988-93 respectively, our Prime Minister was in the opposition, except for a very brief period of time.

Now the Prime Minister has held a large majority in the 35th Parliament since October 1993 and here we are over two years later creating a commission to facilitate discussions between aboriginals, the B.C. government and the federal government. I wonder, will the right thing be done now on the treaty negotiations?

The second suggestion I mentioned earlier arises from the various behavioural signals we are getting, that is, the possibility that the present approach for constructive negotiating is not effective or is not as effective as it should be. As I stated earlier, the commission is functioning in its facilitating role. Therefore, it should be preparing the parties involved for effective participation in the negotiating process.

Possibly it is this preparation aspect which may be the weakness in achieving the effective results for all those involved or for all those affected by the decisions which are being reached. Possibly the present method which we are using to prepare for these negotiations should be reviewed. We strongly recommend that the commission review this situation and insist that the parties involved listen to the concerns of both aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples at the grassroots level and formulate their negotiating position with input from that source.

In our discussions with people at the grassroots level we found a common concern for jobs, public safety, health, racism, education, et cetera. We also found a common lack of understanding of the land claims and the self-government demands. We further found that there was a common mistrust of the federal department of Indian affairs and of politicians.

We recommend that the commission also promote the need for creating or establishing a fundamental change in the relationships between the aboriginals and governments, with less dependency on the federal government and more democratic control by the aboriginals over aboriginal governments. Our aim is to give aboriginals more responsibility for their own well-being, the tools to discharge that responsibility and more accountability for the results.

We strongly recommend that the commission prepare the parties involved to achieve that objective by incorporating the following principles into the agreements while they are at the negotiating table.

First, the development of democratic, accountable and responsible local governments on the reserves should be supported and subject to the laws of Canada and the provinces. Members will recall during the constitutional wranglings of the Mulroney government that aboriginal women were very concerned about protection of their individual fundamental rights and freedoms.

Second, aboriginal people on reserves should have access to the services of Elections Canada to guarantee democratic process is respected in band council elections and access to the services of the auditor general to maintain the fiscal accountability of local governments. We have been approached by band members who are very unhappy with what they view as this huge process in band elections and what they allege to be the misuse of band funds.

Third, land settlement processes should be not only fair, affordable and final but publicly negotiated and open to all the affected

interests. The negotiations that led to Bills C-33 and C-34, being rushed through the House, were not publicly conducted.

Fourth, individual aboriginals should be able to opt for private ownership of a share of any land entitlement and the property rights and reserves should be expanded and respected. Presently aboriginal farmers have difficulty getting operating loans for each crop year because they do not hold title. A newly formed aboriginal association, the First Nations Agriculture Association of Alberta wants to address this and other related issues.

Fifth, aboriginals living on reserves should be able to receive federal financial transfers directly as other Canadians do rather than from a band council.

Sixth, direct federal funding of aboriginal political associations should end, allowing the aboriginals to decide which organizations they will support financially or otherwise. Why should anyone have to support something whose aims do not agree with his or hers?

Seventh, special tax exemptions for aboriginals provided for under the Indian Act should be rescinded and aboriginal individuals and companies should be subject to the same taxation laws as all Canadians. This would do much to counteract resentment and would give the aboriginals a stake in what happens in the federal government.

Eighth, existing treaties should be honoured in accordance with court interpretation and laws enacted by aboriginal governments should conform to the laws of Canada. Another point the commission could prepare the parties for discussing is Canadian law, including the Criminal Code. Laws should be enforced uniformly across the country regardless of race, language or culture of the victims or perpetrators of the crime.

In the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development policy guide on self-government listed among: "The subject matter where there are no compelling reasons for aboriginal governments or institutions to exercise law-making authority" are: "maintenance of the national law and order and substantive criminal law including offences and penalties under the Criminal Code and other criminal laws, emergencies and the peace, order and good government power". That was page 7. We hope the minister will follow through on this commitment to universal application and enforcement of the Criminal Code.

A ninth principle for consideration at the table would be regional conventions of aboriginal representatives elected by aboriginals to discuss particular application of the principles of self-government. The commission can achieve the objective of giving aboriginals more responsibility for their own well-being and the tools to discharge that responsibility plus more accountability for the results by preparing the parties involved to negotiate the previously mentioned principles at the table.

Regarding the whole concept of treaty negotiations not specifically in the negotiating component, in British Columbia another concern comes to mind at this time. Article 13 of the British Columbia Terms of Union is: "The charge of the Indians, and the trusteeship and management of lands reserved for their use and benefit shall be assumed by the dominion government".

The document goes on to say: "To carry out such policy, tracts of land of such extent as it has hitherto been the practice of the British Columbia government to appropriate for that purpose, shall from time to time be conveyed by the local government to the dominion government in trust for the use and benefit of Indians on application of the dominion government".

By order in council P.C. 1265, dated July 19, 1924, the federal government formally acknowledged that B.C. had satisfied all the obligations of article 13 respecting the furnishing of lands for Indian reserves and had described the process as: "full and final settlement of all differences between the government of the dominion and the provinces".

One tends to think that would imply the negotiating aspect, as far as British Columbia is concerned, has been completed. However, here we are negotiating treaty settlements in British Columbia with British Columbia aboriginal groups which according to a release from British Columbia's aboriginal affairs minister will cost taxpayers some $10 billion.

In studying Bill C-107, I became concerned about some of the clauses. The first concern is there are several money spending clauses. For example, clause 6(3) assumes the commission has been functioning informally already, that any transactions which occurred previous to this will be assumed by the commission once this bill passes.

Clause 9 is remuneration and other terms and conditions of appointment of the commissioners. Here we are possibly talking about salaries or expenses, et cetera.

Clause 16 is a money clause which illustrates that the federal government will assume the financial responsibility of any claims or damages that the commission may incur. But it is directly related to the proportion of their original funding.

Clause 17 allows the commission to hire persons to assist it. In clause 5 allowances are made for the commission to have moneys to enable aboriginal groups to participate in the negotiations. Further to that, in clause 5(3)(c), should a dispute arise, money will be provided for the parties to prepare themselves to resolve the dispute.

Those money clauses are included in the bill. The agreement of September 1992 identifies a cost sharing program between the federal and provincial governments. It only addresses this issue for the first five years of the activities of the commission. No apparent indication is made of what occurs in the sixth year or thereafter and

no date is available in the whole process to say how long these negotiations in British Columbia will continue.

On the money concept a clause states that an annual budget will be presented to the principals. Considering all these points, auditing is essential. Clause 20 does address the audit situation, but it says:

The accounts and financial transactions of the Commission shall be audited annually-

That's good.

-by a qualified independent auditor designated by the Commission, and a report of the audit shall be made to the Commission.

It does not go any further than that. Considering that a portion of this is federal funding, it seems very logical to me that auditing of the federal funding portion at least should be done by the auditor general.

Clauses 18 and 22 are of concern as well. Clause 18 says:

The Commission may make by-laws consistent with this Act and the Agreement-

The agreement in this case means the agreement of September 21, 1992.

The Commission may make by-laws consistent with this Act and the Agreement respecting the carrying out of the work-

That in itself is all right. Clause 22 says:

Nothing in this Act shall be interpreted as preventing the principals from amending the Agreement from time to time.

That is the September 21 agreement. I find that quite difficult from the point of view the whole bill is the agreement of September 21, 1992. Therefore, if the principals are going to go back and change this agreement after the legislation has been passed, it is a logical follow through that the bill should be amended to incorporate the changes the principals have made to the initial agreement.

We offer qualified support to the establishment of the B.C. treaty commission and to Bill C-107. We are a little after the fact, but nevertheless we hope any discussions facilitated by the commission would include our recommendations which, as I said, come from the grassroots, both native and non-native.

The concerns of aboriginal people are Canadian concerns. They are concerned about jobs, personal safety, social service, control over their own government just like the rest of us are. We need to give aboriginals the same rights and responsibilities for meeting those concerns as other Canadians enjoy-they may not enjoy them-but as other Canadians have.

We believe aboriginals will welcome the chance to free themselves from the paternalism of the department of Indian affairs, to assert a more genuine, democratic control over their own affairs and to realize brighter futures for themselves and for their children and their grandchildren.

British Columbia Treaty Commission ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Vancouver Centre B.C.


Hedy Fry LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in my place today to join the debate on second reading of Bill C-107. The Government of Canada has maintained that providing justice and equity for aboriginal peoples requires two ingredients, self-government and the process of making modern day treaties through comprehensive claims.

Canadians have been wrestling with these issues for years. The Reform Party, for its part, has used the self-government issue to fan the flames of fear and apprehension during the debates over the Charlottetown accord and now it continues to stir up controversy in British Columbia through its misrepresentation of the treaty process.

I have heard hon. members opposite make a great deal of the media reports of the total First Nations' claims adding up to 110 per cent of the province. That total should not surprise us. Why should not the claims overlap one another? The First Nations have shared the land and its resources for centuries. They have migrated and tapped the resources of different locales at different times.

They have been asked as part of the treaty making process to describe the geographic area of the First Nations' traditional territory in British Columbia. They provided a map of the traditional areas of their ancestors which depicts a territory that a nation occupied historically. These maps are used to provide negotiators with a general idea of what area of land is under question, which is part of stage one of the process, the statement of intent.

A statement of intent is not a settlement. A claim is not a treaty. A treaty is a result of negotiations and the negotiations are just beginning. The claims are but the start of the bargaining position. No first nation would expect to receive the entire region described in its statement of intent. The First Nations do not expect fee simple title to the entire province.

When two First Nations have overlapping traditional claims they will settle the matter as the negotiations proceed. The federal and provincial governments do not participate in negotiating an overlapping settlement. However, several of the members across the floor, members who ought to know better, have been using the claims to instil fear among British Columbians.

They infer that these opening positions will lead to lost property for third parties across the province. They ask: "What will become of your cottages? What will happen to the jobs in the mining and forestry sectors? What will happen to the fisheries?" They raise these fears without adding that the treaty process provides for all sectors of British Columbia from cottage owners to the broad spectrum of industries to have a voice in the process.

They neglect to tell the people at the town hall meetings and on the radio talk shows that the Government of Canada consults with a treaty negotiations advisory committee representing many of their interests. They do not tell people that no negotiation can proceed until a regional advisory committee has been created to provide the views of British Columbians from that particular part of the province who are not at the negotiating table. They do not say any of these things.

This pattern of misinformation and fear mongering is typical of the tactics some members on the other side of the House have used to score cheap political points. They have often criticized the government for its dedication to the inherent right of self-government as a cornerstone of the Government of Canada's aboriginal policy.

We have said since the beginning, since the red book that provided our election platform, that we believe the inherent right to self-government to be an existing right within Canada's Constitution.

Hon. members of the third party have often made the case that no one has defined what self-government means. The argument that self-government has not been defined has been erected as an obstacle to prevent justice from getting through to the aboriginal communities across Canada. That argument speaks to the kind of meanspirited and narrow minded approach that has thwarted efforts to bring justice to aboriginal issues for years. It speaks for the tyranny of the status quo. It speaks for the preservation of the paternalism of the Indian Act.

Is that what Reform members want to uphold? Do they really want to impede progress, to impede righting past wrongs, to impede certainty, to impede economic stability, to impede job creation?

We want to make progress. One way we are doing it is by acknowledging that the inherent right to self-government is an existing right. We are now negotiating with First Nations on how that right is to be implemented.

No one wants to return to the constitutional debates to implement self-government. Self-government arrangements can be negotiated with individual communities based upon local culture, traditions and needs. That is exactly what we have been doing. That is how we are going about the process in British Columbia.

I remind the House, especially members of the third party who seem to specialize in misinformation and misunderstanding, of the

six stages that a claim must go through before a treaty comes into effect. Hon. members will observe that it is a very thorough process.

In the first step a first nation files a statement of intent with the B.C. Treaty Commission. The commission makes sure that the statement is complete and forwards it to the federal and provincial governments. It is at this stage that the First Nations describe the geographic area in British Columbia that they consider to be their traditional territory. Forty-seven statements of intent have been filed. They represent over 70 per cent of the aboriginal people of British Columbia.

The second stage is the commission convenes a meeting to prepare for negotiations. All three parties exchange information, consider the criteria, discuss the research they will do to prepare for negotiations and identify issues of concern. Each party appoints a negotiator with a clear mandate. Each party establishes a ratification procedure and the parties agree upon the substantive and procedural matters that will be negotiated.

This is the stage at which the Canadian and British Columbia governments establish their own mechanisms for consultation with non-aboriginal interests. One of the requirements the B.C. Treaty Commission imposes on the two governments is the establishment of a regional consultative mechanism to represent third party interests. It imposes that.

When a commission determines that all three parties have met the criteria for readiness it confirms that they can proceed to stage three. This is where all three parties negotiate a framework agreement, a negotiated agenda, and identify the issues to be negotiated, the goals of the negotiation process, special procedural arrangements and a timetable for negotiations. So far four framework agreements have been signed and another three initialled by negotiators.

It is in the fourth stage of the treaty process that the parties negotiate an agreement in principle. These are the substantive negotiations. The parties examine the framework in detail.

Then the fifth stage is that the principals negotiate to finalize the treaty and remaining technical and legal issues are then resolved at this stage.

The sixth and final stage is the implementation of the treaty. Long term implementation plans need to be tailored to specific agreements.

All commissioners have agreed that significant progress has been made in the treaty process. The BCTC process is working. The process is fair. It is equitable and it is open. No one denies the negotiations ahead will be tough. Negotiations are tough. All

negotiations are tough. There are some very complex issues that must be brought to the table.

It is time we settled these land claims so that all British Columbians, aboriginals and non-aboriginals, can get on with the job of building a prosperous society in our province, a society where all groups can enjoy the wealth, the resources that the province has to offer. This will benefit all British Columbians and all Canadians.

I hope I have said it slowly enough so that the third party across the House can understand. It is time.

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10:35 a.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the government talking about dealing with the issue of land claims negotiations quickly and resolving the problems.

We heard of an Indian settlement area on the west coast that has been working for 23 years to resolve these issues. A whole generation has spent time negotiating with governments that obviously have not come to any sort of agreement. The negotiation is still not finished after 23 years.

My colleagues and I agree that it is very important to get on with the job to settle the land claim issue and to negotiate with the aboriginal people. However it is not right for the government to hold out unrealistic goals for aboriginal people. It is not fair to the aboriginal people to lead them to expect more than what they are likely to achieve through the process.

I spent 15 years living in an aboriginal community in northern Alberta. I spent three years working to prepare non-treaty settlement areas for self-government. I know the process. I have been through the process and it can be done successfully. However they have to be very realistic in their expectations of what government and the people will help them to achieve.

I do not think this government is any more able than the previous government unless it comes into these negotiations with a very realistic perspective.

I am concerned. I would like to ask a question of the hon. member for Vancouver Centre. Why has it taken the government over two years to come up with legislation to support the process which I feel may work in British Columbia? Why has it taken the government two years to address that issue?

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10:40 a.m.


Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, obviously three parties participate in the process: the Government of British Columbia, the Government of Canada and the summit. These three parties have to agree on what the framework will be to set up the whole treaty organization process. That takes a long time.

If the hon. member knows anything about negotiations, and she just said she did, you would understand also because you talked about-

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10:40 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I ask the hon. member to direct her remarks to the Chair.

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10:40 a.m.


Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

The hon. member claimed that she understands negotiations. I would think the member would know that setting up the intent in an opening position is not what one ends up deciding on. Realistic agreements do not come until the process has taken place, until people have come to the table and have talked. Then they come with a settlement.

I do not think the hon. member understands negotiations at all.

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10:40 a.m.


Margaret Bridgman Reform Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I repeat my colleague's question to the member for Vancouver Centre. Why did Bill C-107, which recognizes the fact that we have B.C. Treaty Commission, take the government two years?

I do not want to get into a debate on levels of understanding of the process. It did not take the past two years to come to an agreement. The agreement was reached on September 21, 1992. In May 1993 the summit brought in its resolution. In May 1993 the B.C. government passed its resolution. In October 1995 we are debating it. Why so long? This is a typical example of the 23 years or however long it has taken on these issues. Why did it take two years for the government to bring it to the table now?

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10:40 a.m.


Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I really thought I had answered that question. However it is obvious I have to repeat it so it is understood.

Getting three groups together to come to an agreement to write a piece of legislation takes time and agreement on every single part of the legislation before it can be brought to the table. This is a very technical and difficult process. We need to ensure when the legislation is done and on the table that everyone can agree to sign and can believe and trust it. It takes time to work that ground to ensure there is trust and there is agreement on the process.

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10:40 a.m.

Nunatsiaq Northwest Territories


Jack Iyerak Anawak LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

It is both a pleasure and an honour to speak to Bill C-107 today. The time has come to move forward on the issue. I am reminded of a comment made by the hon. member for Yorkton-Melville who, unlike his fellow members in the third party, does not realize this

issue of land claims is what we have been talking about for many years. I refer to a quote of the hon. member for Yorkton-Melville in the Melville Advance : ``Nobody even talked about it for 20 years and suddenly we're asking how did this ever come to be''. That is quite unlike the position put forward by his party colleagues who just spoke.

This is a very important bill and it is long overdue. However, the understanding should be that we are now at this stage and we should move forward on it. Today marks the culmination of a long and at times very difficult struggle. It is born of British Columbia's unique history. It is the product of many years of hard work and goodwill.

Fairness, clarity and justice are not issues of party politics; they are elements of principles we all share as Canadians. Over the decades many people have played a part: people from various parties and political ideologies; people who share little in common except a desire to see justice done and to get on with building a brighter future for British Columbia.

To understand why in 1995 we are still talking about negotiating treaties, we need to look at our history. Unlike most other provinces, where treaties were signed to clarify jurisdiction over land and resources and to forge new relationships between First Nations and the newcomers to this great land, few treaties were ever concluded in British Columbia. As a result, some 124 years after becoming a province the key questions of unextinguished aboriginal claims and rights remain unresolved and the majority of the province remains subject to outstanding aboriginal land claims.

Few treaties were signed because of the position historically taken by the Government of British Columbia. From the late 1800s the position was that aboriginal rights had been extinguished prior to B.C.'s entry into Confederation in 1871, or if these rights did exist they were the exclusive responsibility of the federal government. In 1990, under the leadership of Premier Vander Zalm, of the Social Credit Party, B.C. reversed its longstanding position and the way was open to resolving these issues.

It is only fair to point out that one of the key players in convincing the provincial government to reverse its historical opposition to negotiating treaties was the B.C. minister of native affairs at the time, Mr. Jack Weisgerber. I know that many of my Reform Party friends will recognize Mr. Weisgerber's name. One of the early and enthusiastic architects of this process, Mr. Weisgerber now leads the provincial Reform Party in British Columbia.

Following on the heels of the B.C. government's decision, the Government of Canada and the B.C. government acted quickly to advance this process. Later that same year the federal minister of Indian and northern affairs, the Hon. Tom Siddon, along with Mr. Weisgerber and Bill Wilson, chairman of the First Nations Congress, agreed to establish a task force to make recommendations on the mandate and process for treaty negotiations.

By June of 1991 the B.C. claims task force had released its report. One of its key recommendations was the creation of the arm's length B.C. Treaty Commission. In the ten months that followed, representatives of Canada, B.C., and the First Nations Summit negotiated the British Columbia Treaty Commission agreement, which was the blueprint for the commission.

On September 21, 1992, the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Hon. Brian Mulroney, Indian affairs minister Tom Siddon, and B.C. Premier Mike Harcourt and native affairs minister Andrew Petter joined with the First Nations Summit leadership in signing the B.C. Treaty Commission agreement. In the three years since, the commission has made great progress. To date, 47 First Nations groups, representing over 70 per cent of British Columbia's aboriginal peoples, have submitted statements of intent to negotiate. In the agreement creating the treaty commission was the commitment to establish it in legislation. In May 1993 both the aboriginal summit and the province fulfilled their part of that commitment. Now the time has come for the federal government to honour its part of the bargain.

These are the events that have led us to this legislation and this debate. Across the years and across party lines people have joined in a common cause. It is their vision and determination that we celebrate and formalize today. Their cause was simple: the desire to bring justice to the aboriginal people and certainty to their province.

A Price Waterhouse study prepared in 1990 estimated that $1 billion in investment had not occurred because of unresolved claims. Since the time of that study the price has continued to be paid, year in and year out. Some 300 badly needed jobs have not been created and $125 million in capital investments have not been made. That has been the price of denying the problem or pretending that it would go away. That is the price of the status quo for the people of British Columbia. It is a price we can no longer afford. With the passage of this legislation, we will no longer have to pay it.

If the price of inaction has been high for the general population of British Columbia, for aboriginal people it has been far higher. For aboriginal people it has meant great hardships and poverty. It has meant the denial of historic rights and future hopes. It has meant generations of dreams deferred and promises unkept. It has meant a quality of life few in the House can imagine and none of us should have to tolerate.

Aboriginal socioeconomic conditions are appalling. Almost one third of aboriginal homes on reserves lack running water. Diseases such as hepatitis and tuberculosis, virtually eradicated in the non-native population, persist in aboriginal communities. Deaths from fires are three and a half times the non-aboriginal level because of unsafe housing and lack of proper sanitation. The

suicide rate among aboriginal people is 50 per cent higher than for non-aboriginal people. That difference is even more pronounced in the age group between 15 and 25.

The country simply cannot afford to lose another generation of aboriginal people who are able and willing to make a contribution to this country. The people of British Columbia have told their government to get on with it and negotiate fair and just agreements that protect the rights of both aboriginal and non-aboriginal people alike. They want to establish a stable economic climate, which in turn will help to bring investment dollars and opportunities to all British Columbians.

In 1993, speaking in favour of the legislation creating the B.C. Treaty Commission, Mr. Jack Weisgerber recounted his experience in 1989 as a member of the premier's advisory council on native affairs: "It became clear to us, as we travelled and met with groups around the province, that if we were going to address the root of the social and economic problems we had to deal with the land claims question". Those words were from a man who now leads the Reform Party in British Columbia, words echoed by members of all parties in the B.C. legislature when that body passed its own enabling legislation. I commend to my friends across the floor today those words, which we now have the opportunity to honour through our actions.

The history of this legislation is the story of partnership between cultures, between political parties, between generations. Let us continue in that same spirit of partnership now as we open the way for a brighter future for all British Columbians and a prouder day for Canadians.

I would also like to comment on some things the hon. member for Yorkton-Melville said. Again from the same paper: "We are giving tax exemptions to anybody who carries an Indian treaty card. They do not have to pass a DNA test". That is an insult to all aboriginal people across the country or anybody of colour.

Does that mean that if I say I am an Inuk this person expects me to pass a DNA test? Does that mean that my colleague from Vancouver Centre, if she says she is a certain colour, has to pass a DNA test in order to prove to the hon. member for Yorkton-Melville that she is the colour she is?

This is part of the Reform Party. By the way, DNA does not tell what colour the person is. The ignorance of some of the members of the third party is appalling, to say the least.

Again, this is what the hon. member for Yorkton-Melville said: "The general public does not know the sellout that is taking place". Who is selling out? The aboriginal people from British Columbia have been in British Columbia for in the neighbourhood of 36,000 years.

When British Columbia joined Confederation in 1871, the aboriginal people of British Columbia were in the majority in British Columbia. What did the government, when they joined Confederation, do? It passed a law forbidding the aboriginal people of British Columbia to vote.

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10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

We will pick up the debate a little later. It being11 a.m., we will now proceed to statements by members.

Northwest Territories ElectionStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Jack Iyerak Anawak Liberal Nunatsiaq, NT

Mr. Speaker, on Monday the last general election of the undivided Northwest Territories was held. Twenty-four men and women, many of them newcomers, will form the 13th NWT Legislative Assembly.

I congratulate all those who were elected and extend to them best wishes for a productive, creative, and successful term in office. I salute as well all the candidates who ran in this election for their courage and commitment to their people and their communities.

This new assembly faces challenges unlike any assembly before it. The task is great, but I have every confidence in the ability of these people of the north to pull together and work together. Through co-operation and mutual respect we will build a stronger north and a stronger Canada.

Patriation Of The ConstitutionStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Jean Landry Bloc Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Marc Lalonde, a former Liberal minister and an old fellow traveller of the Prime Minister's, stated that the federalists did not have to apologize for unilaterally patriating the constitution in 1982.

Is it Quebecers' fault that the federalists patriated the Canadian constitution without Quebec's agreement and despite the opposition of all parties in the National Assembly? Is it Quebecers' fault

that all efforts to bring Quebec back into the Canadian family fold failed, that the rest of Canada rejected the Meech Lake accord, that they felt too much was given to Quebec in the Charlottetown accord?

Now that they have shown they could shove the country's fundamental law down our throats with impunity, the only alternative left for Quebecers is to leave with honour and dignity, their heads held high, and to take their destiny into their own hands.

Canada PostStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Jack Frazer Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, many Saanich-Gulf Islands constituents complain about Canada Post's service. Despite rate increases, mail delivery is notoriously unreliable. Personal mail boxes have been replaced with centralized superboxes. Service, rather than improving, is deteriorating.

By legislating that anyone who delivers letter mail must charge three times what Canada Post charges, government has created a monopoly operation and, typical of such enterprises, an inefficient one. Furthermore, using its financial advantage on letter mail to cross-subsidize, Canada Post can sell junk mail delivery at a loss, thus prohibiting effective competition from other agencies.

Because there is no alternative mail delivery system, Canada Post has no fear of dissatisfied customers. The advent of facsimiles and E-mail gives some Canadians an option but many Canadians have no access to these alternatives. What is missing and vitally needed is fair competition. Government should remove the Canada Post competitive price advantage and let the free market set prices and standards.

``My Canadian Bouquet''Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Georgette Sheridan Liberal Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Saskatchewan artist Anne Prefontaine.

In 1985 Anne was commissioned by the French Cultural Association to make a painting for the town of Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan. This painting was ultimately presented to the Right Hon. Jeanne Sauvé, former Governor General of Canada, on September 17, 1986. Mr. Speaker, you will recall that Madam Sauvé was a francophone who spent part of her childhood in Prud'homme, Saskatchewan, a small village in my riding of Saskatoon-Humboldt.

Mrs. Prefontaine's painting is called "My Canadian Bouquet", en français "Mon pays en fleurs". The painting depicts a beautiful bouquet of flowers. On closer inspection, we see it is made up of the floral emblems of each of the provinces and territories, including the prairie lily, the floral emblem of Saskatchewan. Each flower is beautiful on its own, but as part of this floral arrangement the beauty of each is further enhanced. Like Canada, the final result is truly more than a mere sum of its parts.

Thank you, Anne, for stepping forward again with your message of love and hope for a united Canada.

Quebec ReferendumStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Lyle Vanclief Liberal Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, I received a letter the other day from the Prince Edward county council. Part of it reads:

Council was in unanimous agreement that I should forward a letter to you as our representative of the Government of Canada advising that Prince Edward county urges the residents of Quebec to remain a part of a strong and independent country.

Although ours is but a small voice in what has become a national debate, the people of Prince Edward have always had a strong sentiment for home and country, a country which includes Quebec.

This letter was signed by Laverne Bailey, warden of the county of Prince Edward.

Quebec ReferendumStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Carolyn Parrish Liberal Mississauga West, ON

Mr. Speaker, an open letter was sent by the Mississauga West Federal Liberal Riding Association to the residents of Quebec. It expresses their thoughts and feelings about Quebec within Canada:

As members of two of the four original provinces, Quebec and Ontario share a 128-year history of being close neighbours within Canada. Over the years we have established many links through families, trade, commerce and tourism. The vibrant and ongoing ties continue to define the spirit of solidarity that only close friends can share.

Through education, travel and a wide range of pursuits and experiences a new generation has acquired even greater cultural sensitivity. We believe that given the opportunity, young people will enhance and strengthen the ties that exist between us.

As friends, neighbours, and Canadians we have helped to build a great nation. Together we can continue to enjoy the richness Canada has to offer.

Le Canada n'est pas le Canada sans le Quebec!

AgricultureStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Jake Hoeppner Reform Lisgar—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government's WGTA buyout has turned into a total fiasco. It is clear that whoever designed this program had limited knowledge of prairie agriculture. It is confused, disorganized and poorly planned.

The system for distributing applications for this program relied on obsolete information. As a result, many farmers were left out of the initial mailing.

My office has received hundreds of complaints from both grain and livestock producers who are fed up with this boondoggle. An example is a recent letter I received signed by over 100 beef and grain producers incensed that compensation will not go to forage acres but will include other livestock feed crops.

If this is a forerunner of the way the government will handle changes for western agriculture, then farmers will be faced with many more hit and run farm programs.

Referendum CampaignStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Maurice Godin Bloc Châteauguay, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Quebec workers' solidarity fund has come out in support of the side for change. To all those waging a scaremongering campaign against the sovereignist option, Mr. Blanchet, the president of the fund, said, and I quote: "The solidarity fund feels that Quebec sovereignty is not only economically viable but that it will be profitable".

Since its inception in 1983, the solidarity fund has become the largest venture capital fund in Canada with over $1 billion in assets. This represents almost 30 per cent of the total value of all venture capital funds in Canada and it is at home, in Quebec, that this money is invested.

Since its inception, the fund has helped create and preserve over 30,000 jobs in Quebec. The solidarity fund is a shining example of what Quebecers can accomplish when they take control of their own destiny. In the same way, Quebecers understand that Quebec's future involves sovereignty and they will vote Yes to change on October 30.

Referendum CampaignStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Guy Arseneault Liberal Restigouche—Chaleur, NB

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Bloc Quebecois is resuming his duties as negotiator for the PQ government, the same job he had during the 1979 negotiations with the Quebec public sector. This time again, the chief negotiator for the PQ has his bosses' complete trust and has been given a free hand.

The PQ negotiator's mandate in these negotiations as in the negotiations with the Quebec public service is to do his utmost to meet his bosses' expectations. Sixteen years later, history is repeating itself. The negotiator rehired by the PQ can exert himself all he wants, it is not up to him to make the final decision that will seal the outcome of these negotiations. Jacques Parizeau will make this decision as he did before, a decision that all union workers in Quebec are still paying for.

Tembec Forest ProductsStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Bob Wood Liberal Nipissing, ON

Mr. Speaker, in Mattawa, in my riding of Nipissing, Tembec Forest Products president Frank Dottori addressed a public meeting of the Mattawa & Area Forestry Committee. He announced the future plans for a $10 million expansion of Tembec's forestry products operation in the town of Mattawa.

Also at that meeting, Mr. Dottori was recognized by the Canadian Institute of Forestry. He received an award recognizing his achievements in being one of the founders of Tembec which was created in 1973 by former employees of Canadian International Paper.

The resurgence of the Temiscaming, Quebec mill and the growth of Tembec is one of Canada's best known business success stories. Under Mr. Dottori's leadership Tembec has risen to become one of the leading forest product manufacturers in Canada.

My congratulations are extended to Mr. Dottori and to the Canadian Institute of Forestry for presenting him with this achievement award.

Referendum CampaignStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Pierrette Ringuette-Maltais Liberal Madawaska—Victoria, NB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in Montreal, the PQ leader told a group of young people something that sheds light on the kind of relationship Quebec separatists have maintained with Canada over the past 30 years. This is what the separatist said: "Stop bothering me with this idea of a distinct society. I am not interested. I want a country".

The sacrosanct concept of distinct society that one separatist dream weaver after another cloaked themselves in was really nothing more than a gimmick, a trap, a ruse to create constitutional deadlock. Quebecers are staggered to learn that, for the PQ leader, the distinct society concept was only a separatist gimmick. The people of Quebec are aware of their distinctiveness and, on October 30, they will say No to this man who has been fooling them for all these years.