House of Commons Hansard #33 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was treaty.


Nisga'A Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.


Gurmant Grewal Reform Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the constituents of Surrey Central, British Columbia to speak at report stage of Bill C-9, the legislation which will implement the Nisga'a agreement.

For the people of Surrey, British Columbia and Canada who are listening, and for the sake of the record, I point out that the previous Liberal speaker, the member for Haliburton—Victoria—Brock, in response to a committee hearing in B.C., pointed out that if it was not for the Reform Party of Canada the committee would not have held hearings in B.C. This is the same member who said that the committee hearings in B.C. were a dog and pony show. That shows the arrogance of Liberals.

We are considering hundreds of amendments which my colleagues and I in the official opposition have introduced in our effort to change the bill. We are standing on behalf of aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians who know that this treaty, the treaty process and the bill are seriously flawed, and who want to avoid the many problems that will result if the Liberals have their way and pass the bill in its present form.

I must add, as I did in my speech on the bill at second reading, because I want the record to clearly show, that the Reform Party is the only party in the House opposed to the bill. Reformers are the only members talking about the problems that will be created. We are the only members standing for Canadians and the Nisga'a people who have been forced to accept this treaty because, after decades of effort, this is all they will get. They are having to satisfy themselves with what is in this treaty, and the Liberals are in a conspiracy with other parties in the House to force the treaty on the Nisga'a people.

It was the B.C. provincial Liberal Party which opposed the bill, while the soon to be ousted NDP government in B.C. rammed it through the B.C. legislature. The process the bill has gone through is a democratic travesty. Democracy is not only marking an x on a ballot every four years; democracy is the continuous representation of the people, with continuous input from Canadians on all the decision making which affects them.

The Liberals across Canada are confused about the bill. They are in conflict over the bill. The Reform Party is the only party in the House that has a vision for the future. That is why we are the only members with the guts to raise the concerns being whispered by so many Canadians.

No one wants to offend the Nisga'a people or criticize their treaty. When we talk about the Nisga'a treaty we are not talking against the Nisga'a people. As a matter of fact, it is a tragedy that no other party in the House is acknowledging that the history of the government's treatment of the Nisga'a people is shameful. No other party in the House is admitting that this treaty is a very poor attempt to make up for the way the Nisga'a people have been treated and what they have lost over the course of decades. Most importantly, the Nisga'a will face a tough future as a result of this treaty.

The Liberals are continuing to deny the Nisga'a an equal partnership in Canada and full citizenship in our great country. This treaty will maintain their segregation. It tries to buy them off with millions of dollars in cash. There are many problems with the treaty which my colleagues will address.

I have put forward and seconded amendments on behalf of the people of Surrey Central, the official opposition and those people in B.C. and Canada who feel strongly that the Liberals are making a big mistake with Bill C-9. They are concerned with the coming into force of Bill C-9, knowing that the Liberals and other parties in the House will not likely permit amendments to be made to the bill in this concerted dictatorship that is being passed off as debate.

We have provided hundreds of opportunities for the government to rethink its position and delay the passage of the bill. We proposed the delay of the clauses of the bill which deal with the Nisga'a final agreement itself, the moneys to be paid out of the federal government's consolidated revenue fund and the taxation regime that will be created.

It is the intention of these amendments to allow time for the Government of Canada to wake up to what the lawyers, constitutional experts, historians and many other learned people are saying about the problems with Bill C-9.

I also hope that by forcing a time delay in the coming into force of the bill the Nisga'a people, by their own means or by any other means, can manage a better deal. I do not mean more cash, more land or resource rights based on race, but based on need. I refer to a better deal that provides a good blueprint for future negotiations with aboriginals that satisfies all Canadians.

Our sole interest in this issue is to establish a new and better future for the Nisga'a people in their relationships with each other and other Canadians. We understand that this agreement is all the Nisga'a people could hope to achieve. After years of negotiation, most Nisga'a leaders feel they have no alternative to this agreement and the principles on which it is based. We understand that. For them it is this or nothing. I am sad that they are forced to support it.

Rather than addressing the problems of our natives, our governments pretended that the problems did not exist and they hoped they would go away. Now, rather than addressing the problems appropriately, the government is going to make a serious blunder, a serious mistake. Two wrongs can never make a right. What we get is a double wrong. That is what we are doing in Canada through the courtesy of the Liberal government.

The magnitude of the consequences of the Nisga'a treaty may be so great that it will have the potential to spark a big fire of violence and threaten the peace, harmony and prosperity of our nation.

This agreement contradicts one of the key founding principles of the Reform Party, namely that we believe in the true equality of Canadian citizens, with equal rights and responsibilities for all. We want equality for all Canadians. We want a new start for aboriginal people in Canada. We want them to be full and equal participants in Canadian society, with the same rights and protections that every Canadian enjoys. We want aboriginal women to be full and equal partners on and off Indian reserves.

The Nisga'a final agreement does not meet these requirements. The treaty is not a perfect document because it is based on compromise and race, rather than on consultation and need. The flawed treaty process is driven by history. There is a need to undo the mistakes of past Liberal and Tory governments, but historians have not been included.

I would also point out that treaties, like diamonds, are forever. That is why it is folly for negotiators to assume omniscience and produce voluminous treaties that attempt to cover every eventuality. What if the public attitude on these issues changes over time? Treaties should be based on need, not race. That is why the Nisga'a deal should be subject to the broadest and most careful public scrutiny.

Therefore, to not let British Columbians in on the deal, essentially negotiated in secret only after the initial ceremony and then told by those in authority that no change will be considered, is the height of Liberal arrogance. This is simply unacceptable. Every opportunity should be given to all Canadians to have their input. We are asking for a referendum on this treaty, which is so important to all Canadians, to maintain peace, harmony and prosperity in Canada.

Nisga'A Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.


Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, in listening to the interventions by members from the Liberal Party the PC Party and the Bloc this morning, they talked about this agreement bringing certainty.

Listening to evidence from a Queen's counsel in Vancouver at one of the meetings on Friday, he said that the only certainty it would bring was certainty for the lawyers because he could make a living for the rest of his days off this treaty either by challenging it because it was wrong or defending it because he thought it was right. He said that either side would produce certainty of income for the lawyers.

Some of the members here, who are not from B.C. and, frankly, do not have the faintest idea of what they are talking about, said that it has been in negotiations for 25 years, as if that justifies signing it. Sure, it has been 25 years in negotiations but that does not automatically make it right.

The fact that it was supported by the politically correct Liberals and the politically correct provincial NDP in B.C., neither having more than 39% of the popular vote, is enough to show that it was negotiated by the elite not by the grassroots, neither by the grassroots non-natives or the grassroots natives themselves. It was negotiated by elites using formulas that have never worked and have no hope of working in the future either.

When I stood in the House on November 1 to speak on this bill, I specifically asked the minister to name a single Indian reserve anywhere in the country governed by a treaty where the standard of living is equal to or higher than off reserve. That minister stood and completely avoided the question. The reason is that he cannot answer it because there is not a single Indian reserve that has a higher standard of living.

I can use the example of the Samson Cree reserve, probably the wealthiest reserve in the entire country in terms of income: $100 million a year. Yet 85% of the members live in poverty and I believe 85% of them are on welfare.

Only time will tell who is correct about the Nisga'a treaty, but I do not see any way that the Nisga'a Tribal Council can pull off something that no other tribal council has been able to pull off, and that is a success in a treaty. All of the evidence is stacked solidly against it, and that 10 years from now we will have the same levels of poverty and the same repression of the women on reserve. These were exactly the same problems before the treaty existed. There is absolutely no justification to have it passed.

Not a single Liberal member from British Columbia has had the the gumption to stand in the House and say what needs to be said. They know what needs to be said. Every one of them has heard the message from British Columbians that this is such an important deal for British Columbia that it should be subjected to a referendum of the people, not just the Nisga'a but the non-natives as well.

As Noel Wright, a columnist in the Vancouver area said last weekend in his column:

As the model for all future treaties with B.C. natives, it stands to result eventually in a province pockmarked with 50 or more tiny, apartheid-type independent “nations” wielding powers in some 14 areas that would supersede those of the provincial and federal governments.

That is the theme of many of the letters that I get from my constituents. They do not see the treaty as bringing Canadians together. It is separating Canadians based on race. It is creating these apartheid-type or segregated-type communities that we will pay a heavy price for promoting in the future.

I have also heard some of the members over there criticizing Reformers. They make implications about our motives. I will put a few things on the record here that may not be known by the people opposite, and I will give them the benefit of the doubt.

For example, the leader of the party worked for many years as a consultant for native bands helping them to set up native businesses and deal with the government. The member for Nanaimo—Cowichan has adopted native children into his family. The member for Vancouver Island North is married to a Métis. The member for Edmonton North lived and worked on a reserve for many years teaching native children. The member for Yorkton—Melville also worked and lived on a native reserve. The member for Wild Rose introduced a private member's bill in the House to cause an ombudsman to be established to help native Indians with the problems they have with getting help from Indian affairs to investigate corruption in the bands.

While I do not have any direct connection with native bands, in my riding more than 200 members of the Squamish band have approached me by writing, coming directly to my office, via petition and via telephone with their concerns about Bill C-49.

For anybody on the other side to say that we do not understand the issue, that we do not have connections with natives and do not understand where the problems lie in things like the treaty or Bill C-9, is poppycock. We probably understand it a lot better than the politically correct who sit on the other side of the House and refuse to see that for every treaty that has ever been passed in the country evidence shows that they do not work. They create poverty. They continue with the process of repression because they are styled in a socialist manner. They set up a socialist style of community with collective rights that are rife with corruption. It does not work.

I have just been corrected. I apologize to the member for Vancouver Island North. His wife is a status Indian not a Métis.

When the Liberal government introduced enabling legislation for the Nisga'a treaty to parliament on October 21, the minister made it clear that there would be no committee hearings, there would be no travel to the provinces, there would be no amendments to the bill and the time for debate would be severely curtailed. What sort of democracy does that represent?

It does not help us, who are elected to represent the concerns of our constituents, to know that the outcome of every vote is predetermined, that we do not have a hope of making a single amendment no matter how many flaws we point out in the bill. It contains 252 pages. How can there possibly not be one single mistake in the 252 page bill? It is impossible. It is bullet-headed. It is arrogant for the government to assume that it is perfect in every respect. As I mentioned earlier, it is nothing more than certainty of income for the lawyers.

The auditor general himself has said that the longer the treaty, the more likely there will be legal challenges. At the moment we already have more than $9 billion worth of legal challenges under way to existing treaties. The Nisga'a treaty, which is not even law yet, is under challenge from five different groups.

The Liberal Party of British Columbia, the bedfellows of the federal Liberals, is challenging the treaty as unconstitutional. The Gitanyow first nation, as a number of other members on this side have mentioned, consider it an act of aggression. They are challenging it in court. The fisheries survival coalition and a group of Nisga'a people are taking this treaty to court. Where is the certainty? The agreement has not even gone through the House and there are five legal challenges against it.

How can members on the other side of the House have the nerve to stand and tell us that there is certainty? How do they have the nerve to tell us that it is a good agreement because it took 25 years, when every other treaty that has ever been negotiated in the country has been a failure? They have no logic to defend their position.

In my previous speech on November 1, I did bring up the issue of the treaty producing apartheid-like or segregated-type of communities. One of the Liberal members noticed my comment and brought it up in a committee hearing to the chiefs of the Nisga'a band. The answer from the chiefs was that they did not consider the deal to be apartheid-like because those affected freely voted for the system of government themselves.

Is apartheid not apartheid just because people voted for it? It is a totally ludicrous position to take. If we are separating people based on race, that is separation based on race whether we vote for it or not. This is creating segregated communities in British Columbia, not only non-native from native but there will be one native band segregated from another native band segregated from another native band. They will all have their own bylaws and rules.

What is British Columbia going to look like? We have more than 90% of all the Indian bands in the entire country. Nobody outside of British Columbia understands the impact of this treaty on British Columbia. The people of British Columbia should have been involved in the preparation of the treaty. The people of British Columbia should have had the right to vote on the basic components of that treaty making process.

The only way that the treaty would have had the support of the people of British Columbia is if they had genuine input into the basics for that treaty. Then, if necessary, the government could have negotiated a treaty that had public support and, if necessary, use the notwithstanding clause to silence the lawyers because it would have had the support of the people.

As it stands at the moment, we have a lot of big problems on our plate. When this thing gets rammed through the House next week, the law courts will open for business and we will see years and years of expensive legal challenges.

Nisga'A Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.


Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is quite an interesting debate today. I did want to respond to a couple of the comments that I have heard from the Liberal Party in particular regarding the Nisga'a final agreement.

The first thing that comes to mind is that one of the members said that it was just the Reform Party that opposes the Nisga'a deal. That is not true at all. If we look at the vote that the Nisga'a people had, there was not an absolute consensus on the Nisga'a final agreement even with the them. Neither was there a consensus or even a majority of people in the province of B.C. who thought that the Nisga'a final agreement would bring certainty. The official opposition in the province of B.C., the B.C. Liberal Party, also strenuously objects to the Nisga'a final agreement.

To enhance that argument, I point out that I have presented literally thousands of names of people in my riding of Okanagan—Coquihalla who are opposed to the Nisga'a final agreement. Through the office of petitions in the House of Commons, some of those are still being processed. There are many more people who are still rising up and saying that there are major problems with the Nisga'a final agreement and they want to be heard. That is why the Reform Party of Canada is bringing forward a number of amendments to this very important piece of legislation that is being put through the House of Commons.

It should also be very instructive to the government that the majority of B.C. representatives in the Reform Party of Canada are opposing this. We would not be opposing it if we were not hearing from our constituents in our ridings that they have problems with this agreement. For the government, of which most of its members are from Ontario or other provinces, to argue that the Nisga'a final agreement is being accepted by the people of B.C., is just a ridiculous statement if we look at the democratic process that we live under. We are here to represent the province of B.C.

I have an interesting story to tell the House. Some seven years ago, my first trip to Ottawa before I was elected, I got on the phone to make the flight arrangements. I remember distinctly talking to the customer service representative of the airlines. She asked me where I was calling from and I told her that I was in the Okanagan Valley. She asked me where I wanted to go and I said that I was going to Ottawa. After looking on her computer screen she said that I could not get there from where I was. Although she made that comment tongue-in-cheek, and it was kind of humourous at the time and still is, that is the way a lot of British Columbians feel. Ottawa is so far away and so disjointed from the way we feel in the province of British Columbia that we simply cannot get through to the people here, in particular the Liberal federal government.

I have another example of how the Liberals deal with these types of situations. We have had a considerable amount of unfortunate incidents in my riding between non-native and native groups. It has affected our economy.

One of the most recent ones was when the Minister of Transport sent a Liberal senator to make a big announcement at the Penticton airport. The announcement was that the federal government would put $650,000 into repaving the runway at that airport. That in itself is not bad and the work needs to be done, but the fact is that for years now I have been telling the government that there is a serious problem which has caused division in the riding between the native and non-native groups, that is a specific land claim against the Penticton airport.

I almost felt sorry for that Liberal senator. He should have known, after years and years of attempting to get this message through to the Government of Canada, that they have to deal first with the root problem we are facing in Penticton, which is the land claim settlement and the issues with the native band regarding ownership of the land. They blew into town, dropped $650,000, blew out of town as quickly as possible, and left the problem with the local people who have no authority to deal with the issue.

What has that caused? It has caused a number of things. It caused more disruption at the Penticton airport. The band and the locatee families have stopped the paving company from fulfilling its work. It has caused all kinds of problems but this is typical of the Liberal government.

When we look at the Nisga'a agreement it is the same. They came to the province of British Columbia and said that this would solve all their problems and left town. They will push it through the House of Commons very quickly, and who will be left with the economic problems at the end of the day? First it will be the Nisga'a people and then the people of British Columbia. That is unsatisfactory.

I have heard from members in the House today that the agreement will not affect anyone else. In the research I have done I discovered a briefing note from the NDP ministry of agriculture to the minister of agriculture which confirmed that the former premiers of British Columbia continually see the Nisga'a final agreement as a template for treaty negotiations in B.C. I say former because they keep changing premiers as the NDP has trouble keeping someone in place there. Then it went on to state:

Impacts on current agricultural uses of crown resources will result if the Nisga'a land selection and settlement model is repeated.

The briefing note then detailed what the impacts would be by stating that we could expect to see significant localized disruptions to individual ranchers within close proximity to first nations land. As an example it pointed out that 1,000 farms in the south Okanagan held crown tenures within 10 kilometres of existing Indian reserves. The same land holds 69% of the British Columbia agricultural land reserve. All this land will become the subject of land claims if the Nisga'a agreement is used as a template, which even the former premiers of British Columbia admit. The briefing note went on to state:

—that the total land quotum to be transferred to First Nations would be in the range of 5% of the total land base, an area larger than the total Agricultural Land Reserve. This amount of land would likely consume the majority of Crown Agricultural Land Reserve, approximately 2.5 million hectares.

Given the dramatic impact of the Nisga'a final agreement in a riding that is so far away from the Nass Valley, the House must consider those problems. We must be very cautious. We must be very sure that we have processes in place to make sure that other economic industries, whether it is ranching, orcharding or natural resources such as mining and forestry, are not disrupted by this type of land settlement. Those areas are of great interest to the province of B.C. To say that this agreement brings certainty is far from the truth. The briefing note I have presented today is just one of the examples we have.

There has been a lot of talk in the House about private property. I stress that the Nisga'a agreement gives collective rights. The Reform Party would like to see it be individual rights.

We think there will be some problems down the road. What do we do when collective rights come in conflict with individual rights? That is the big question. As the Liberal government does time and time again with legislation, it will not spell it out clearly. It will leave it to the courts, which means more more economic uncertainty in the province of British Columbia.

My colleagues and I want to see certainty. We want to see finality to the whole issue of native land claims. Unless we have that we will have years and years and probably decades of more uncertainty in the province of British Columbia.

On behalf of the riding of Okanagan—Coquihalla and the people of B.C., I urge the government to look at our amendments very carefully and accept the express desires of the people of B.C.

Nisga'A Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.


John Duncan Reform Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for North Vancouver asked me to correct a statement he made in the heat of debate in which he mentioned that British Columbia had over 90% of the bands in Canada. The number is actually about 30%.

As a politician I thank the Liberal government for being so stupid, clumsy and arrogant in how it is imposing this agreement since it is creating animosity toward the governing Liberals that will not scrub away. I am more concerned about what will happen to my family, my community, my province and the nation. The Nisga'a disagreement is the most important and the worst social and economic legislation and constitutional amendment in my lifetime.

I have been talking about the Nisga'a agreement since 1995. I am intimately familiar with the agreement. Much to the contrary of what some of its proponents have been saying, we have read the agreement. We have studied it. We are familiar with it. I wish they were as familiar with it. They are glossing over the real facts. I have done more than read it. I have analyzed it. My analysis is available at my website,

It is with a heavy heart that I speak to this agreement once again, knowing that the government is committed to what will be seen down the road as a monumental social and economic blunder.

I have talked to live audiences more than 25 times and sent out half a million householders across the province. British Columbians are well informed compared with people in other provinces, jurisdictions and territories in terms of the Nisga'a agreement. They are better informed than many members of parliament. I only had to witness some of the comments this morning to appreciate how true that is.

On Friday, November 26, I spent the afternoon in Vancouver at the official opposition sponsored hearings. I will briefly talk about three presentations that were made because they illuminate with some clarity what is going on. Mike deJong and Geoffrey Plant, provincial MLAs from the B.C. Liberal Party, the official opposition; Jeff Rustand, the lawyer representing Mr. Lloyd Brinson, a small landowner in the Nass Valley of British Columbia who is surrounded by Nisga'a lands; and Miss Kerry-Lynne Findlay, Q.C., a lawyer and Musqueam leaseholder, appeared as witnesses.

Interestingly both B.C. official opposition Liberals and Mr. Lloyd Brinson have launched lawsuits in attempts to bring accountability and common sense to this federal and provincial negotiated agreement which has excluded the public interest and flies in the face democracy, equality and constitutional principles. For starters, I will quote Kerry-Lynne Findlay:

I am a Musqueam leaseholder. I live there with my husband and four children. I am a mortgage holder. I am also a lawyer and I seem to have found myself in the role of kind of general counsel and spokesperson for the Musqueam leaseholders. I have advocated on their behalf in many areas. Taxation without representation, Bill C-9, particularly the expropriation portions of that bill, and the treaty process in general. One of the comments I am always given, one of the answers I am always given by the federal government is that the Musqueam situation has no bearing on Bill C-9, which is separate legislation. It has no bearing on the Nisga'a Treaty, which is a separate matter.

It has no bearing on the treaty process in general, which is a separate matter. I have a fundamental disagreement with that concept because I believe it is part of an overall approach of divide and conquer, which is very much alive and well in Canada in 1999. All of these legislative initiatives, the treaty process, what is happening through the transfer of taxation powers to aboriginals under the Indian Act, this is all about the transfer of power and authority and the setting up of new governance institutions and new governing systems. Of course the stakes are very high... There are many aspects of the treaty that concern Musqueam leaseholders.

They include, if I can just highlight, the treatment of non-aboriginals on aboriginal lands; the fact that the treaty is one step away from giving taxing authority to the Nisga'a and, in our experience, could very well mean taxation without representation and all of what that entails because of the lack of vote that non-aboriginals have in Indian government; the lack of a timetable for this Nisga'a self-sufficiency; the open-ended financial commitment that all taxpayers are being asked to enter into and, of course, the constitutional level changes we are dealing with...all of this process reminds me very much of the discussions around the Meech and Charlottetown accord. At that time I was the National Chair of the constitutional law section of the Canadian Bar Association. I was very involved in those discussions and the process that evolved at that time. What happened there, of course, is not news to most people here, is there was the Canadian elite, those who headed up the large businesses, large monopolies of the country, big business and big government, got behind both of those and said that's the way this country should look, that is what we want.

Ms. Findlay continued:

I say that, in part, as a Liberal, and I want to say that today because I think it's important. I have been a Liberal Party member nationally and provincially since I was a teenager. I worked for that party. I've actively campaigned for that party in elections. I have acted as a legal adviser to people who are now members of parliament. I am fundamentally ashamed of that party and its lack of vision...I use the word “ashamed” because it is the true feeling I have and I think many of us will have right now because of the way the government has shown its indifference and arrogance on this issue. It is a fundamental issue for the Canadian fabric and it is important to both non-aboriginals and aboriginals that it be handled well and clearly and that the guidelines be precise.

We had testimony from Geoffrey Plant and Mike deJong of the B.C. Liberal opposition. I will quote briefly from what they had to say:

We have commenced a court action. We have concerns about what is in this treaty, we have concerns about the self-government provisions, we have concerns about a treaty that would purport to limit your ability to vote for a government that has responsibility over you and limit that right to vote on the basis of your ethnicity. We think that's wrong. We think a fishery, a commercial fishery, based on an allocation that is tied to ethnicity is wrong, and we think there are alternatives...We're asking the court to declare that the Nisga'a final agreement is unconstitutional. There are three basic pillars of the argument.

They went through them and concluded by saying:

If we're right on any of those points, then what has happened is that the governments have tried to negotiate a document which is outside their constitutional authority to do so.

Finally, we had testimony from another very interesting witness, and these are only three of many, Mr. Rustand, representing Lloyd Brinson, a small landowner in the Nass Valley. I will quote a bit from his speech because I am running out of time. He said:

Mr. Brinson owns a small patch of land up in the Nass Valley. The land that he owns is going to be if this treaty is implemented surrounded by what is known as the Nisga'a Lands. Now, what this means is that although Lloyd's land will remain technically part of the B.C. Land Title system and part of B.C. and subject to the laws of Victoria and Canada, all the lands about him will be subject to the laws and the administration of the Nisga'a government. To give you a microcosmic view of what this means for Lloyd and others who will be in his position, this means that everything related to his livelihood and his daily living will be under the purview of a government that is established for the purpose of administering to the needs of a racially defined group, on a communal basis, without an outsider. The issues that will come up for Mr. Brinson are such things as water...wood-lot rights, he requires wood for his heating...simple things like garbage disposal, business activities, commercial transactions, zoning, access to health, education, maybe not so much for Mr. Brinson, payment of local taxes....Because Mr. Brinson lacks the bloodlines to qualify as a Nisga'a citizen, the treaty takes a giant step backward to something which, if this happened in any other community in Canada today, would be considered an abomination.

Rafe Mair said recently in a public meeting which I attended, “Never assume that the people in charge know what they are doing”. That is what is happening with this Nisga'a disagreement.

Nisga'A Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

December 2nd, 1999 / 1 p.m.


Lee Morrison Reform Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, I find it rather interesting that only members of the Reform Party seem to feel that this tremendously important legislation which is before us is worthy of debate. I do not know why we are not hearing, for example, from the British Columbia representatives in the Liberal Party. Perhaps they are a bit afraid to show their faces around here. I do not know.

This appears to have turned out to be “dump on B.C. week”. We have a government which is using its heavy-handed powers to impose its will upon a province which freely entered into Confederation in 1871. I asked a fellow from B.C. the other day if he could tell me for sure if it entered Confederation in 1871 or 1872. He said “I am not quite sure, but I will sure remember the day we leave”.

That is what really concerns me. Over here we have the so-called party of national unity, which expends a great deal of hot air telling us how it wants to keep Canada together, yet it has mounted a full frontal attack against one of our major provinces. Why, I do not know, but I find it extremely disconcerting.

When the Liberals purported to want to consult after the fact with residents of B.C., after they had already tabled their legislation for the treaty in the House, they went through a little dog and pony show, or some smoke and mirrors. They were going to consult with the people of British Columbia and they were going to have hearings out there.

We have already heard in the House today how that went. Only a very select group of people were allowed to appear before that committee. When the government could not find suitable pro-treaty people to appear before the committee in some of the smaller cities, it flew them in from Vancouver and Victoria to appear before the committee because it had to stack it. That is not my definition of democracy.

Fortunately, or perhaps it will not be fortunate because I do not know what good it will do when we live with an elected dictatorship, but nevertheless I will say fortunately, the Reform Party representatives from B.C. were able to hold their own hearings and they invited interested parties on both sides of the issue to address the treaty. They received many submissions. I just pulled a bunch of them off the Internet.

I want to quote from some of the eloquent testimony that was given at those hearings. I emphasize the word eloquent because these people were speaking from the heart. They were fighting for their lives, basically. If I ever hear the degree of eloquence in the House that came out in these hearings, particularly from over yonder, I will be a very pleased man indeed.

I want to quote briefly from some of the submissions that were made. Clearly there are some 60 pages of fine print. I wish I could read it all, but I am sure the Speaker would not permit that. The Speaker is nodding his agreement. Therefore, I will quote a few little highlights.

This is part of the submission of Mr. Doug Massey. Doug Massey is a fisherman. His father immigrated to Canada from Ireland. He got into the fishing business. His son came in and took up the business behind him. These are some of the comments which Mr. Massey made:

I believe this land and resource known as British Columbia has been provided in trust to all inhabitants, past and present, to be used as a source of life and to be protected for the continuance of life. No one segment of the human race should be recognized as having claim merely by being here longer.

In fish or hunt for wildlife or wild fowl was illegal, for every stream and forest was owned by land barons and anyone caught was a trespasser and a criminal. You can understand why, upon arrival in British Columbia, my father considered this to be a land of freedom, plenty and untold beauty. Are we heading in the direction of the Irish where we are not going to be able to even enter into our own forest to hunt and fish?

I could answer Mr. Massey. The answer is yes, because the Nisga'a treaty is widely acknowledged by people on both sides of the debate to be a template. More than 100% of the rural land of British Columbia is covered by land claims—overlapping land claims.

When Nisga'a becomes the pattern, as it must for future land claims agreements, we will end up with a situation where the average citizen of British Columbia will be excluded from entering what is now the public domain in the same respect that people in my part of Canada are now excluded from entering Indian reserves. The difference is that in B.C. most of the land will end up with reserve status if people follow the course they have been blindly following.

I heard somebody in the House this morning state that there are no dangers in the Nisga'a treaty for native women, that their rights will be truly respected; don't worry, be happy. I would also like to quote Ms. Wendy Lundberg, a status Indian from the Squamish Nation. She delivered a very long dissertation. She lives off reserve. She is unable, therefore, to claim access to many of the benefits, such as mortgage and rent-free housing, freedom from taxes and other benefits which reserve members enjoy. This is what she had to say about reserve governments and what she foresees for the Nisga'a government:

In an attempt to build a better relationship between native and non-native Canadians a federal action plan called Gathering Strength was introduced by the former Minister of Indian Affairs....To grassroots native people, particularly native women and band members outside the governing elite, Gathering Strength appropriately describes another tool used by male dominated councils to maintain their control over federal funding, programs and governance. Gathering Strength is exactly what our so-called native leaders have been doing to the detriment of their own people who remain oppressed under their leadership. While young native warriors are out on the front lines hunting, fishing and logging, native leaders armed with cell phones, lap tops and the Internet sit comfortably on padded, ergonomically correct swivel chairs, orchestrating their assertions from behind massive mahogany desks. They are secure in the knowledge of supportive fellow leaders with whom they have set up mutually beneficial advisory boards, joint ventures and partnerships.

Ms. Lundberg went on to say:

The reason the Indian Act was put into place is because natives were considered to be stupid and irresponsible and the Indian Act allowed the government to control them. This is the same logic used by the chiefs today to control their own people. I assert that self-reliance and self-government must go hand in hand with responsibility, accountability and transparency. Native leaders say they must exercise what they believe is their inherent right to hunt, fish or log. They say they must do this in order to educate, house and feed their people, even though native programs are funded $3.6 billion annually by the federal government. Where does this money go to? This is a question that continually perplexes me.

I really do not think Ms. Lundberg is very perplexed, but she was being polite when she made her submission. This particular question has been raised many times in the House by members of this party. I think it is something that has to be taken into consideration when we talk about a treaty which will be constitutionally cast in stone if it is approved by the House.

The problem is the permanency, the perpetuity. We have to stop this thing before it is too late.

Nisga'A Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is with mixed emotions that I rise today to speak to Bill C-9.

From my perspective, it is a shame that the bill in its current form has come to the House without the adoption of solutions that my colleagues in the Reform Party have put forth, and in particular the member for Skeena, who in my view has done an excellent job on this particular bill.

I am going to take a different tack. I am going to look at what the government, aboriginal people and Reform would agree on with respect to this issue. If we looked at the heart of what we do not agree on, at the end of the day I think we would find that we agree on a great deal. However, we disagree on the way to pursue it. In fact, we would counter that what the government is trying to do in achieving this goal will do the exact opposite.

We agree with the emancipation of aboriginal people. In the words of an aboriginal gentleman who wrote an editorial countering mine in the Ottawa Citizen about a week ago, “We agree on the integration, not assimilation of aboriginal people. We also strongly believe and support the ability and the right of aboriginal people, as guaranteed under our constitution, to engage in their traditional activities for traditional purposes”.

We agree with all of that. We also agree wholeheartedly in reversing the appalling socioeconomic conditions that aboriginal people find themselves them in: a suicide rate four to five times that of the non-aboriginal population; a diabetes rate that is three to four times higher than that of the non-aboriginal population; a high mortality rate; a shorter lifespan; a high infant mortality rate; and, in effect, socioeconomic conditions that rival those found in third world countries.

I can say from personal experience, having flown into reserves where the unemployment rate is 80%, there is a very high rate of fetal alcohol syndrome, people living with many in a house that does not have proper ventilation, where elderly people are sleeping in the middle of the living room on soiled mattresses. When I do house calls to these homes, it breaks my heart to see that and to watch the children with infections on their faces that I have not seen since being in a developing nation.

Let us take a look at what is going on here. The government wants to pursue a treaty negotiation. If it was good, let us take a look at what treaty negotiations have done. We need not look any further than what has taken place east of the Rockies where treaties have been signed.

If treaty negotiations were effective then we would find the people east of the Rockies who have had treaties negotiated with conditions that are a lot better. But their situation in many cases is as appalling as the conditions in British Columbia where treaties have not been signed.

Treaties in and of themselves and the way that they have been negotiated rather than integrating, not assimilating aboriginal people have actually been a boot on the neck of aboriginal people, causing their separation. This is the crux of the argument that my colleagues and I are proffering to the government.

The member for Yukon, an aboriginal lady herself, spoke eloquently and mentioned the important point we agree on, that aboriginal people want to be treated the same as everyone else. If that was the case, then all we would need to do is remove the barriers that governments in past years have instituted in law to separate aboriginal people from non-aboriginal people. If we remove those laws, instead of hindering aboriginal people with such things as the racist Indian Act, those restrictions on aboriginal people will be removed. It would still leave them with socioeconomic conditions that are appalling. It would still leave them far behind the eight ball, but instead of investing moneys into a bureaucracy, exemplified by the department of Indian affairs, and putting money into the sink hole, we could make sure that those moneys are used on the hard edge of helping aboriginal people help themselves. We could give them the tools, give them the ability to provide for themselves.

This brings to mind another problem that we have with this whole process. Members on the other side say “This is going to empower aboriginal people”. Every member in the House knows that the powers do not go to individual aboriginal people. It goes to a collective.

We are not doing this out of spite, but there is a fundamental lesson. Regardless of racial background an individual human being cannot be empowered if the power is not given to them, but is given to a collective. The Nisga'a treaty in Bill C-9 is an extension of what the government and previous governments have been doing for decades. They have been empowering the aboriginal people on top at the expense of the individual aboriginal people.

A person living in Kanesatake, Kahnawake, Yukon or downtown Vancouver off reserve, how can that individual aboriginal person ever be able to have self-respect and pride if they are unable to provide for themselves, unable to provide for their families, unable to contribute to their society? How are they and their society going to get the pride and self-respect that they so richly deserve? They cannot. No one can. People cannot get pride and self-respect unless they take it. They cannot get pride and self-respect unless they have the power to be able to provide for themselves. They cannot do that by living in an institutionalized welfare state.

In point of fact that is what the government has been doing for years. This is the system that we have for aboriginal people today. We have an institutionalized welfare state. It has rotted them. What a profound tragedy that this has happened, not for all but for most. For those bands that have been successful, their leadership has acted in a very responsible way to share with and involve their people. Unfortunately, that is not the case in too many situations. In fact, of the 660 bands that exist in the country today, roughly, 150 of those or more had to be investigated by the department because of misappropriation of funds. There are bands into which millions of dollars are poured, yet the people live in abject poverty. Why? The department will turn its back on that.

There is no protection in the treaty for individual aboriginal people. What we would like is to make sure that aboriginal people do have the right to engage in their traditional activities for traditional purposes as protected under the constitution. We want to see them integrated, not assimilated members of Canadian society. We want to see the changes in those socioeconomic conditions and we want to see the money that is poured into the situation go to help the people, not to create a bureaucracy.

Nunavut may be a case in point to see what has taken place. Rather than creating a system where people who live in Nunavut can live according to their traditional ways congruent with their traditional activities, we are creating a society of pencil pushers. We are creating a society of bureaucrats. That is no more congruent to the history of a person living in Nunavut than it is for us to be hunting polar bears. It does not work that way. In the creation of Nunavut we are actually committing cultural genocide in slow motion.

The government needs to take a careful look at what is going on up there. It is rotting the heart and soul of a proud people. That is unfathomable and unforgivable.

We need to work with grassroots aboriginal people to make sure the limited resources that exist today go to the people who need them so they will have the tools to be employed, the health care they deserve, the educational opportunity, the employment opportunity, the housing opportunity and they will take charge, as individual men and women, of their destiny as an integrated, not assimilated, part of Canadian society.

We are not being spiteful by pursuing the course that we have. We are not being spiteful by standing alone in the House against the Nisga'a treaty. We do it because we care. We do it because we want to see, as all members of parliament do, the situation change. If we ask members from all political parties behind the scenes they will admit that we are creating a Gordian knot. We are tying ourselves up in a situation from which we will not be able to extricate ourselves and it will be a system that will affect all of us in an egregious fashion.

I hope that the government will listen to my colleagues' constructive suggestions that we have put forth so that all of us can work with all aboriginal people to ensure that they are empowered and have the same rights, responsibilities and hope for the future as non-aboriginals have.

Nisga'A Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


Jim Gouk Reform West Kootenay—Okanagan, BC

Mr. Speaker, as you well know, I could probably fill the entire day of debate on some of the things that the Reform in general have been doing and I, in particular, have been doing. However, in the limited time that I have and as has been stated by our critic from Skeena, we would like to put into record some of the things that were provided to us by people who were denied access to the main committee by the Liberal government but came before the special hearings held by Reform to give these people an opportunity.

One particular individual, Ehor Boyanowsky, is a professor of criminal psychology at Simon Fraser University. His area of expertise is individual and group violence and inter-group violence and conflict. Mr. Boyanowsky stated that he is also a writer and he finds that sometimes things can be put in better perspective with a story than with a long string of facts and figures. Mr. Boyanowsky told us a story which is an extrapolation of current facts into a future scenario.

The year is 2025. A young woman has arrived in Vancouver with her small children to seek her fortune.

The azure of the sky and ocean, the green of the forested mountains filled her with exhilaration and hope. Not for long. Vancouver, bounded by Musqueam, Sto:lo, Squamish and other national territories, though vital at its core as a city-state, inhabited by an international population, was crumbling at its extremities where aboriginal government had the purchased land and incorporated it into the national territories ceded by recent treaties, thereby removing them from provincial and municipal tax base. Tenants faced with sky rocketing rents, no longer able to vote for local government, and no longer fully protected by the Canadian constitution, were bailing out. As a result, rents both on Indian lands and in the city centre were among the highest in the world.

Despite heavy subsidies provided by the federal government, since the signing over of over 5 treaties, aboriginal leadership claimed they could not finance the infrastructure for the rapidly expanding land base. Animosity toward treaty aboriginals was so high they no longer were safe to walk the streets of Vancouver unprotected. She decided to head up north. There were teaching positions advertised in the Nisga'a national territory, a vast area at the time of ratification of the treaty, about four-fifths of the size of Vancouver Island. With the recent expansion and incorporation of surrounding lands, the territory had now grown to 125 per cent of the size of Vancouver Island. It had taken two days passing through interminable aboriginal territorial check points to get there. Twice she had been checked by aboriginal militia for contraband, fish, wildlife, meats or plants prohibited from being transported from one tribal territory to another.

Twice she'd been fined for being in possession of goods without a bill of sale from an establishment in that territory. Twice she'd had to buy permits for legal access on to lands away from the highway. The countryside was littered with abandoned houses, those of white settlers, peoples whose families had been there for nearly a hundred years.

They'd suddenly found themselves, as a result of treaties, or through the expansion of aboriginal lands, either on or surrounded by aboriginal homeland territory. Ironically, those disenfranchised citizens of a diminishing Canadian nation regarded themselves as native Canadians born and bred over many generations. Now they were dispossessed and bitter living in city enclaves like Prince George and Prince Rupert. As she went farther north, the encounters at borders got more tense.

Young men of the various aboriginal militia dressed in camouflage fatigues sat on armoured all-terrain vehicles nervously fondling their assault weapons. There had been clashes among Gitanyow and Nisga'a militia and others, and the Gitanyow were specially bitter about the original Nisga'a Treaty ratified back in the turn of the century. They claim that they had been cheated out of much of their traditional territory. They cursed the politicians of the time, both white and aboriginal. She arrived in New Aiyansh, the major Nisga'a centre. To her surprise, it looked much like an Indian reserve of old, but bigger. Unprepossessing tract houses, most fewer than two years old, were scattered to the horizon.

Until she came to a very posh suburb of large, palatial houses more reminiscent of southern California than northern British Columbia, patrolled by uniformed security and guard dogs. It was where the chiefs and the executive council lived. The charming young man from the Nisga'a University explained to her that these standards of living were necessary to attract capable people into politics and administration. Since the resources were held in common, you couldn't borrow against individual land or resources to build a business.

She got the job and as she lived there, she discovered that individual Nisga'a trying to get ahead would move any finances they acquired off-shore buying condos in Hawaii, et cetera, to avoid them being reabsorbed by the nation when there was a change in the administration and a rival family got into power. She fell in love, got married and ended up living with the young Nisga'a man for four years. He spoke longingly of united native nations that would opt out of B.C. entirely, but several forces colluded and produced a crisis. Canada racked by the financial demands of treaties renegotiated across the country, reduced subsidies drastically.

The Nisga'a nation having expanded quickly, was over-extended and things grew worse as border clashes increased with the discovery of oil and gas in the disputed territories. Resources, especially precious, as the nation paid no royalties to the Canadian or B.C. governments.

Her partner was voted out of office and went into a downward spiral personally. Eventually he asked her to leave and she moved with her children into an empty house. Her lawyer informed her that under Nisga'a law she had no right to any support or compensation. She received notice she was being terminated in her teaching position. Non-Nisga'a did not qualify for tenure. The Nisga'a administration building was blown up soon after. A group of disaffected, displaced, residents calling themselves Canadians Against Racism claimed responsibility. As a result, all whites on Nisga'a land were told their movements would be severely restricted. Given the sudden instability, the Nisga'a deal with the Japanese oil developers fell through. She took her children and headed north and east, perhaps to Ontario or Nunavut, where she'd heard that a non-aboriginal still had rights.

Though this story may appear to be fiction to many readers, the conditions making it possible have already been created within the Nisga'a treaty operating in concert with recent supreme court decisions. We can prevent such an outcome by replacing the Nisga'a treaty with one that allows compensation without segregation, settlement without disenfranchisement. Canadians must act on the courage of their convictions if they believe that an egalitarian, non-conflictual vision of Canada should exist.

Those were the words that were presented. This is a very troubling vision but also one that he points out could come into reality because the conditions necessary are now being put in place by the government.

I would like to close with two points of my own because I mentioned the Gitanyow being concerned about a conflict with land. When the all party committee held its meeting in Smithers members of the Bloc Quebecois stated to the Gitanyow that they were interested in supporting an amendment to the treaty which would take the disputed lands out of the treaty at this time and hold them apart. I have yet to see that amendment come forth from them.

The government has told us that the people of B.C. will have a vote. We have called for a referendum. Government members state that the residents of British Columbia will have a vote through B.C. members of parliament. B.C. members of parliament, represented largely by the Reform Party, in consultation with their constituents are voting against this treaty.

I hope the government will honour its own words and allow B.C. MPs to represent their constituents, recognize that it is a B.C. treaty and withdraw this legislation. At the very minimum the government should give them a vote. If it will not allow their MPs to direct the government then those people should be allowed to vote themselves. It is a troubling word to the party on the other side but that is democracy.

Nisga'A Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


Philip Mayfield Reform Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in this debate. It has been distressing for me to hear government members talk about how strongly B.C. supports the bill. In fact I would not be here if that were the case.

What is even more distressing is that members do not speak for native Indian people as they claim. I would like to read into the record part of a paper presented by Wendy Lundberg at the Reform hearings in Vancouver last Friday. If I do not finish and people would like to know where to reference this paper, they can do so on the Internet at and click on the Nisga'a link there. The text of the hearings last week in Vancouver are in their entirety. I would like to add that my colleague from Cypress Hills—Grasslands quoted previously from this paper and I will continue. Miss Lundberg said:

Native leaders say that the federal government has a fiduciary responsibility to protect their interests and their rights, but in a treaty of collectivity, how are the rights of the individual going to be protected? As a native woman, as a status member of the Squamish Indian Band, I can tell you that individual rights will not be protected. I know, because as recently as June 1999, my individual rights were not protected by the federal government that allowed Squamish Band Council to falsely represent me and enter into an agreement under Bill C-49, the First Nations Land Management Act.

I was legislated even without a treaty on to the path of self-government, whether or not I wanted to be there. My rights and freedoms are supposed to be protected under the charter, but native women in Canada know even without the ratification of any treaty, that the charter does not apply to them. In fact, after the passing of Bill C-49, the Native Women's Association of Canada had to resort to the filing of a lawsuit to bring forward the total failure of the federal government to provide any protection for native women's property rights. These rights which are protected for non-native women in Canada include the rights to an equal division of property on marriage breakdown, inheritance and expropriation on reserve lands. The rights of all aboriginal peoples, including aboriginal women, are supposed to be protected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

And the rights and freedoms of all Canadians, native and non-native, are supposed to be guaranteed equally to male and female persons under section 28 of the charter. Already, though, we have seen that this is just not the case. The individual rights of my mother, Nona Lockhart, a native woman born on reserve, have not been protected. In 1947 she was stripped of her native status and Squamish Band membership because she married a non-native man. This discriminating rule of the Indian Act did not apply to native men, who could marry whomever they pleased without punishment or loss of their identity.

When her father died, my mother could not even live in the house where she was raised or inherit his two properties on reserve lands, despite the existence of an Indian Affairs approved will. My mother was theoretically reinstated pursuant to Bill C-31 in 1988, but Squamish Band Council has not returned her property to her, thereby denying my mother her rightful inheritance.

While thousands of native women in Canada suffer similar injustices at the discretion of their own band councils, the federal government ignores its fiduciary responsibility to them. My mother is a Canadian citizen, she should be protected by section 28 of the charter, which guarantees rights and freedoms equally to men and women and by section 15 which says that every individual is equal before and under the law without discrimination based on race, ethnic origin or sex. And although my mother's story is documented in my testimony before the standing Senate committee on aboriginal peoples in a hearing in May 1999, the federal government still has not exercised its fiduciary responsibility to her and litigation is not an accessible option to native women.

In debates on Bill C-49, some female members of parliament, non-native women, whose rights are enshrined in the charter said that each native band would determine these issues in their communities, based on unique native cultures. History will show that in 1999, the Canadian government allowed the perpetuation of discrimination, alienation and injustice of native women under the guise of cultural freedom, unique rights and unique cultural identity. Clearly, treaties and self-government issues have personal significance to me.

And in preparation for debate with my own band, I have studied Nisga'a treaty documents, the most comprehensive being the agreements between Canada, British Columbia and the Nisga'a Nation. Although the Nisga'a constitution makes reference to the charter, it is the wording of the proviso: “Bearing in mind the free and democratic nature of Nisga'a government” under section 6(2), which is the most disconcerting to me. The Nisga'a treaty is not just about a northern territory of British Columbia, it's about the future of Canada as a whole, and how peoples and communities, native and non-native will co-exist. While the chiefs will argue that all treaties will be different and unique to each native band, ultimately it will be the same leaders who will have the resources to protect their interests and take their cases to the courts seeking interpretation of the precedent setting words in the Nisga'a Treaty.

Native women, powerless, penniless and unable to access the courts for their individual rights will be at home, if they have a home, anxiously awaiting the court's decision. And I'd just like to add a couple of footnotes to that. The properties on reserve lands under claim by inheritance belonged to my grandfather, the legendary lacrosse goalie, Henry Hawkeye Baker, who was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1966, and the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame in 1999. Hawkeye, a Squamish born native man, also played for Canada with honour, pride and dignity in the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, where the team won a bronze medal.

And my second footnote, I would like to say that my mother, Nona Lockhart, lives in Richmond, B.C. and is a constituent of the Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific. I would like to comment on something I saw on CPAC last week. It involved Question Period on November 22, 1999, and the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development was commenting on the protest against the Nisga'a treaty in Vancouver last Friday. He said, and I quote from Hansard : “Mr. Speaker, I just got back from visiting British Columbia on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. One of the things I noted was that Reformers tried their hardest. I have never seen them work so hard. In a huge metropolitan city like Vancouver they managed to get a whole 200 people out to say they were opposed to the Nisga'a deal.

When I was in the labour movement I could do that with one phone call and I would get 500 people out”. Well, I would like to suggest to the minister of Indian affairs that the reason there were so few native women out in Vancouver last Friday demonstrating their opposition to the treaty is because they did not know about the hearings taking place and they have probably not had the benefit of reading the treaty documents, and even if they did know about the hearings, they...could not afford even the bus fare to get there. The Native Women's Association of Canada receives nowhere near the amount of funding that the Assembly of First Nations does.

And lastly, I would also like to table to the committee and these proceedings a copy of a letter dated November 1, 1999, that I received from the Secretary of State for the Status of Women, in which she acknowledges the legislative gap of native women's property rights, and in which she supports the government's position and belief that native women's rights will be addressed by First Nations communities. In other words, her acknowledgement that her rights as a non-native Canadian woman are protected and guaranteed under the charter, while I, my aunt and other native women have to fight for our rights. And I would just like to table that document to this hearing please. Thank you—

Then in a footnote she said:

I would say that the ministers and the government are totally ignoring the issues. They are not listening to the grassroots people and they are not exercising their fiduciary responsibility to us. They only speak and deal with the chiefs and councils, and I have documented in black and white...many of the problems and issues that we face. I am not making problems come out of the air. These are evidentiary matters documented and presented to the government and still they ignore the native women and the grassroots members.

This paper was presented by Wendy Lundberg last Friday, a native Indian woman and member of the Squamish band.

Nisga'A Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Dave Chatters Reform Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to join in this debate. Primarily this morning and this afternoon speakers from our side have been from British Columbia, and rightly so. The Nisga'a agreement is first and foremost of concern to British Columbians but that is not exclusive.

Some two years ago the former minister of Indian affairs landed in my riding and reopened one of the traditional treaties, Treaty No. 8, for renegotiation and what is termed modernization of the treaty. The Nisga'a agreement gives us a glimpse of what the government's concept of a modern day treaty will be and entrenches that concept in the constitution of Canada.

I think that my constituents and those in other parts of Canada should pay attention and have a vested interest because the whole movement to entrench self-government in modern day treaties will at some point in time affect them just as it is now affecting British Columbia. On that basis I am pleased to raise my concerns on the Nisga'a deal.

In a Supreme Court of Canada decision in the Lord Elgin Hotel case the court says that the constitution of Canada does not belong to parliament. Nor does it belong to the provincial legislatures. It belongs to the people of Canada. What we are talking about here is modifying the constitution without due consideration by all involved members.

This is primarily a constitutional change by the government without due consideration for the others involved, namely the Nisga'a people, British Columbians and Canadians. I do not believe that this piece of legislation acts in the best interests of any of the involved parties. Although it claims to present the Nisga'a with greater freedoms, it will in fact entrench greater controls on their society as a whole.

The legislation will act as a template for up to 50 other treaty negotiations within British Columbia. As I said, after British Columbia it may very well be the template for modernizing the traditional treaties that have existing for 100 years in this country.

To ignore the needs of the Nisga'a could result in numerous other treaties that drastically diminish the rights of other bands across the country. For the sake of the Nisga'a and for other bands who entering into negotiations, this cannot happen. It behoves us to get this first treaty right so that it deals fairly with everybody involved.

Currently within the Nisga'a final agreement, the rights of the Nisga'a people granted under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms may be substantially diminished. I would refer the House to the fact that the treaty grants supreme legislative authority in at least 14 areas, so parliament or the provincial legislature cannot ever override Nisga'a law in these areas. Quite frankly, that makes me nervous and should make others in this country nervous.

As well, section 3 of the treaty expressly states that the entire agreement, including the self-government powers that I just mentioned, are to be defined as aboriginal and treaty rights within the meaning of section 35 of the constitution. As our critic pointed out this morning, that is one of the major concerns we have with this treaty.

Section 25 of the constitution requires courts to give higher weighting to these section 35 aboriginal rights, which are of course collective rights over their charter rights. What this means in simple terms is that the collective rights of the Nisga'a government, including its vast legislative powers, can most definitely be used to overpower the individual charter rights of rank and file Nisga'a members.

Ideally, such a situation would never be of concern, and we want to believe that the individual rights of Nisga'a people will never be in jeopardy or compromised, but is it really wise to pass legislation that is based on the mere assumption of fair treatment. History would say otherwise.

Can the government absolutely guarantee that at no time in the future will the individual rights of members of the Nisga'a band come into conflict with the collective rights of the Nisga'a government. I do not believe that such a promise can possibly be made and, because of this, section 3 of Bill C-9 must not go forward in its present form. The rights of present and future Nisga'a are far too important to disregard them on a wish and a prayer.

If this treaty is enacted, effectively a third level of government will be formed that is created exclusively along ethnic lines. It seems to me that this is another dangerous precedent that this legislation will set. The Nisga'a government will hold absolute control in 14 areas and share jurisdiction in 16 fields. Because these powers will be entrenched in a treaty, it will amount to a third order of government in Canada.

Members from other parties in the House have claimed that the Nisga'a government would be municipal in nature and that it conforms to the constitution. In at least 14 specific areas of the treaty, the treaty reads “in the event of an inconsistency or conflict between a Nisga'a law under this paragraph and a federal or provincial law, the Nisga'a law prevails to the extent of the inconsistency or conflict.”

When this ruling applies to areas such as health services, chapter 11, paragraph 84, page 174 of the agreement; child and family services, chapter 11, paragraph 89, page 174; and adoption, chapter 11, paragraph 96, page 175, the ramifications are staggering. It is obvious that under these arrangements the federal and provincial governments are proposing to permanently cede legislative authority. No municipal government in this country has the powers that even approach the levels of the Nisga'a government.

The creation of a third order of government also raises constitutional questions, for what this treaty proposes is to amend the constitution without due process or regard.

Section 91 and 92 of our constitution thoroughly divides legislative powers in Canada between the federal and provincial governments. Without amending the constitution, the federal government and B.C. do not have the right to cede legislative authority to the Nisga'a government. In order to amend the constitution, a referendum would automatically occur in British Columbia which, as we have heard, has not happened and will not likely happen.

I mentioned at the beginning of my comments that our constitution does not belong to parliament or the law makers. It belongs to the people of Canada. Only with the consent of Canadians can legislative authority be changed or ceded. However, the government is completely ignoring the constitution in its rush to approve this treaty. In doing so, it is doing a great disservice to all Canadians.

Until this point in my comments, I have focused primarily on how Bill C-9 is an irresponsible piece of legislation due to how it will impact on the Nisga'a people. However, Canada is an interconnected nation and what affects one group of people inevitably and strongly impacts on us all.

The reality is that in its present state, the Nisga'a treaty will grant the Nisga'a band collective ownership of 1,992 square kilometres of land in the Nass Valley. An additional 10,000 square kilometre area is designated as the Nisga'a wildlife management area, and access by forestry and mining concerns to this area may be seriously restricted or cut off. The Nisga'a will also be granted a priority commercial fishing allocation on the Nass River. If future negotiations take the same path as the Nisga'a treaty, it could result in 50 or more governments in British Columbia. This is an area that would also transfer certainly with concerns to my part of Canada, the northern part of Alberta, and how such an agreement would impact on the provincial ownership and management of resources.

In recent weeks, months and years efforts have been made by the aboriginal groups in my area to gain exactly this same kind of control over what they term as traditional territory and will have huge impacts on natural resource management and development in that area.

This lack of consistency that we see in this particular section in how the province is governed will have ramifications for economic development not only in British Columbia but also in Alberta and other provinces in Canada. Long term development of natural resources may be impeded, causing long range impacts that will affect all British Columbians and Canadians from coast to coast in the country.

Canadians as a whole also face serious impacts should this treaty go through as it presently exists. The federal government has estimated the total cost of the Nisga'a deal at around $490 million. This includes $312 million in cash costs and $178 million in land and other costs. In addition, the Nisga'a government will receive $32.1 million annually in perpetuity under the deal. These are federal figures but, as we have seen time and time again in the House, the real figures are generally much higher. Many experts estimate that the cost will be much higher and possibly well over $1 billion.

I have several more points to make but I will have other opportunities in other groupings of amendments and I will continue my comments at that point.

Nisga'A Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Werner Schmidt Reform Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to comment pretty well exclusively on what other people have said about the Nisga'a treaty. Some people have said “The only people who are opposed to this treaty are people in the Reform Party”. I want to make it abundantly clear that that is not so.

I want to refer to two major documents. The first one has to do with the transcript of the record of the presentations that were made to the committee in Vancouver last Friday. I also want to refer to one of the senior columnists with the National Post and then refer further again to one of the transcripts from the committee in Vancouver.

I will begin by referring to the comments that were made by Mr. Plant who accompanied Mr. deJong, the MLA from the British Columbia legislature. He reviewed very briefly the three arguments that were presented in the court case that the opposition in British Columbia has given to the courts. Here are the three arguments to why the Nisga'a final agreement is unconstitutional. First, that it is not open to the federal and provincial governments within the existing constitution of Canada to create a new freestanding third order of government. The question is: Does the government even have the authority to do that?

Second, that it is not open to the federal and provincial governments by negotiation with the Nisga'a or in any other way short of a constitutional amendment to confer upon a new order of government paramount legislative power. This is what the Nisga'a treaty does in at least 14 areas.

Third, that the Nisga'a final agreement violates the charter because it denies non-Nisga'a the right to vote for a government which will have the power to make decisions that affect their lives. As the House knows, the charter guarantees every citizen of Canada the right to vote. That is being denied to the people of Canada.

Those are the three arguments that have been presented to the court that is currently examining this particular treaty.

I will refer to an article in The National Post dated November 20. It was written by Diane Francis. The headline reads “Land claims will be the next big crisis: Political correctness is costing Canadians a bundle.” The article states:

This country's next crisis will be about aboriginal claims.

Already, aboriginals have taken the law into their hands and seized private property belonging to others involved in the fishing and forestry sectors. These actions should be met with the full force of the law, in my opinion, and have nothing to do with promises by the British Crown decades ago that aboriginals could fish the waters and hunt in the forests they traditionally used only for their own consumption. Anything more than subsistence rights may be upheld by some courts but these decisions should be immediately struck down with new legislation limiting aboriginal claims.

But we ain't seen nothin' yet.

A precedent-setting treaty in British Columbia negotiated by the feds and province behind closed doors is about to become law. The NDP in B.C. has approved it already and the Liberals want to ram it through by Christmas. The treaty gives the Nisga'a band some 2,000 square kilometres of land, $253 million in cash and self-government powers.

And that is just the beginning.

That is a handout of $101,200 in tax dollars to every one of the 2,500 members of the band and title to a land mass just slightly smaller than the country of Luxembourg.

Not only does this constitute a hideous giveaway—

Nisga'A Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleague, I think this would be a good place to break up the speech. The hon. member still has six minutes left and he will have the floor when we resume on this matter.

As it is almost 2 p.m., we will go to Statements by Members.

Edmonton Ball HockeyStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Peter Goldring Reform Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to pay tribute to a championship ball hockey team. The team members epitomize determination, good character, perseverance and exemplify the best of team effort.

The team members grew up in Edmonton's inner city. They faced poverty's challenges straight on. They have practised together at sport, not crime, and brought honour to the community of McCauley with their championship win.

They won the right to take great pride in their achievements. They won the respect and admiration of their community's youth which is so very important to encourage the young away from inner city ills. They have become inner city role models.

They won the right to represent McCauley in the January Florida World Championship. Unfortunately, they won the right and not the funds.

Hats off to Raeo Dempsey and the boys of the Skidrow Dog'z for a job well done. First rate, I say. Edmonton, truly the city of champions.

Judson SimpsonStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Beth Phinney Liberal Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I bring to the attention of the House the recent honour bestowed upon the executive chef of the House of Commons, Mr. Judson Simpson.

Last week he was appointed to the position of manager for the Culinary Team Canada, which will compete in the Culinary Olympics in 2004 in Berlin. Mr. Simpson was part of a team from Toronto which won gold in the 1988 culinary olympics.

Over the next year he will travel the country to put together a team of 10, which will represent the culinary excellence and variety of Canada. Canadian teams have captured overall gold in 1984 and 1992 and ranked in the top five since 1984. I am sure Mr. Simpson and his team will live up to this high honour and make us all proud.

I ask all my colleagues in the House to join with me in wishing Mr. Simpson the best of luck and congratulating him on receiving this great honour.

International Year Of Older PersonsStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Yvon Charbonneau Liberal Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the International Year of Older Persons draws to a close, I would like to pay tribute to the seniors in my riding who have become involved through their organizations, some thirty of them, in activities I have proposed for them.

Our program concluded with a round table where our seniors prepared the following message. First, they consider themselves and want to be considered full fledged citizens, with all the ensuing rights, obligations and responsibilities.

While they are not a homogenous group, seniors demand respect first and foremost. This means access to quality, humane and appropriate health care, a contribution to society, the opportunity to live among family and friends so long as their health permits, access to appropriate social, cultural and physical activities, reasonable incomes and information on services available. They also want the attention they deserve from the next generations.

In short, seniors are now looking for quality of life and not just an extension of it. On the other side of the coin, the government has a responsibility to make the means available and, in particular, to support those of our seniors who are most vulnerable.

World Aids DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday on the occasion of World AIDS Day, the Government of Canada announced $50 million in aid to fight AIDS and HIV in Africa. This money will be paid out in amounts of $10 million annually over five years.

In some African countries, AIDS has already killed half the labour force. Over 11 million Africans have died, and over 22 million adults and children are infected with the disease.

In addition to what it is doing here in Canada through research and development, the Government of Canada intends to play its role fully internationally through CIDA. In this regard, it will be hosting an international conference on HIV and AIDS in 2000.

AgricultureStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Rick Casson Reform Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government has promised over and over that it will make the reduction of international agricultural subsidies a top priority. For six years farmers have been waiting for the government to act and nothing has happened. Even if subsidies are reduced by the WTO, and it is a real possibility that they will not be, it will take years before the result is felt at the family farm.

Time has run out. Farmers need a government prepared for what is happening today, not 10 years from now. The Prime Minister must immediately lead a Team Canada trade mission to the U.S. and European Union to demand an end to their protectionist agricultural policies that are contrary to the letter and spirit of the international free trade agreements and are killing our farmers.

The government is relying on a risky, long term plan with no guarantee of success to address immediate problems and our farmers are paying the price.

The government has let Canadian farmers down far too often. The bleeding must stop before our farmers are bled dry.

Stratford FestivalStatements By Members

2 p.m.


John Richardson Liberal Perth—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to rise in the House today to pay tribute to one of Canada's cultural cornerstones, the Stratford Festival. Now ranked among the great classical theatres like the Royal Shakespearean Company, the Stratford Festival has clearly become one of Canada's premier theatrical centres. What started out as a small theatre festival in 1953 is now responsible for a full 12% of southwestern Ontario tourism, drawing over 590,000 visitors this year alone.

This remarkable festival contributes over $185 million in economic benefit to the province of Ontario, generates $71 million in tax revenues and creates over 6,000 jobs for the regional economy. The Stratford Festival is beyond any doubt an economic and cultural powerhouse for the whole of Canada.

I would like to congratulate the festival staff for their hard work and to wish them continued success in the new millennium.

ReferendumsStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Paul Mercier Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, for several days now, the Prime Minister has taken a veritable delight in quoting from the bylaws of organizations such as the CSN or the constitutions of political parties such as the Reform Party. With respect, we would like to remind the Prime Minister that there is a big difference between the constitution of a government and the constitution of an organization or a company, such as the Grand-Mère golf club, to take an example. Perhaps he did not know this.

The Prime Minister should know, and if he does not, we are reminding him, that the only justification for departing from the 50% plus one rule is when the vote is by elected representatives of the public, rather than the public itself.

When the public is consulted, here as elsewhere, the rule of 50% plus one applies. That is democracy.

CultureStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Sarmite Bulte Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I recently had the opportunity to see the new English Translation of Governor General award winner Michel Tremblay's play, “For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again”, at the National Arts Centres.

This production represents the first collaboration between the Canadian Stage Company of Ontario and the Centaur Theatre Company of Quebec, to produce a truly national tour.

Directed by Montreal's Gordon McCall, starring Vancouver's Nicola Cavendish, and Parkdale—High Park's Dennis O'Connor, this Canadian masterpiece speaks of the relationship between a mother and her son and the nurturing of that relationship through the good times and trying times. This play focuses on who we are and what influences contribute to the formation of our identity as individuals and as Canadians.

The Ottawa portion of the tour winds up on December 4 and will then move on to Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. I encourage everyone to see this uniquely Canadian production and experience the wonder of Michel Tremblay.

Higher EducationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, almost all the provinces have raised college and university tuition fees in recent years. Some provinces have greatly increased those fees. This is one of the causes of student debt. Tuition fees have now become so high that they are a serious barrier to students from lower income families.

I realize that the federal government has taken some steps to alleviate this, for example, the millennium scholarships and improvements to the Canada student loans program. But I believe that much more must be done. We cannot stand by while provinces such as Ontario place barriers between Canadian children and a good education. We need to harness every ounce of talent in Canada and our children deserve every opportunity.

I urge the government to give even more priority to the growing problem of limited access to higher education.

FinanceStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, he steps up to the contestant's chair. It is the finance minister. Who wants to be a billionaire? “I do”, said the finance minister.

Is it (a) grab the money from taxpayers using bracket creep for $40 billion? Is it (b) grab the money from the civil servants getting $30 billion from their pension fund? Is it (c) grab the money from the EI fund getting a cool $26 billion or so? Is it (d) all of the above?

The finance minister holds his glasses in his hand, thinks and says, “(d) all of the above”. Is that your final answer? “Yes.” says the finance minister, “It's my final answer”.

He wins. He grabs it all, billions and billions taken from Canada's poor, beleaguered taxpayers. The finance minister walks away from the podium, a slight glint in his eyes. He has billions of dollars to spend any way he wants. The only problem is he does not realize he has killed all of his lifelines.

Violence Against WomenStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Reg Alcock Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, there are watershed events in the history of every nation, events that both challenge and build national character. December 6, 1989, was the date of such an event for Canadians, the tragic killing of 14 young women at L'École polytechnique in Montreal.

It was an unparalleled act of violence, terrible to contemplate and difficult to comprehend. It shocked the nation and burned its way into the hearts and minds of Canadian women and men. It was the turning point, a wake up call. The silence on violence against women was forever broken and the pervasive scope of the problem revealed.

The public will to change our social environment was galvanized. On Monday, women, men and children across Canada will join together on this national day of remembrance on action against violence against women. It is a day for sober reflection and a day to renew our commitment to ending violence.

The government stands with our partners in civil society and individual Canadians across the country in pledging ourselves to ending violence against women.

Disability Tax CreditStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance is on record as saying Canadians with disabilities must rank very high on everybody's priority list. However, he sets policy on the disability tax credit, which is so narrowly defined that persons with schizophrenia do not qualify, even though 1 in 100 Canadian families have a member with schizophrenia.

Furthermore, a doctor has told me that patients with cystic fibrosis, who spend a good deal of their day just trying to breathe, are also disabled from the current policy.

Hundreds of thousands of Canadians with disabilities who desperately need financial support to deal with the crushing costs which stem from their disabilities find it easier to get through the eye of a needle than to get help from the government. If the minister is truly committed to assisting disabled people to become fully functional citizens, he must broaden his rules around the disability tax credits and the medical and the infirm dependent tax credits so that they will provide real refundable benefits for all disabled Canadians.

Quebec's Anglophone CommunityStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Mitis, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is downright shocking the way certain Liberal members from Quebec in this House never miss an opportunity to run down the services available to Quebec's anglophone community, when they know very well that these services are in fact far superior to anything available to francophone and Acadian communities in Canada.

The Government of Quebec decided to go it alone with respect to funding health and social services in English for the anglophone community, and accordingly terminated an agreement with Canada. The Government of Quebec announced that it was making no changes to existing programs and budgets.

What was disgraceful yesterday was not the behaviour of the Government of Quebec, but the cries of indignation from the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.

Job CreationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, thanks to the Canada Jobs Fund, more than 80 jobs will be created in six businesses in the riding of Rimouski—Mitis with projects totalling $720,000. There are apparently four more projects being examined, representing over $250,000 in funding and 30 more jobs.

In order for a project to qualify for this funding from Human Resources Development Canada, it must create a minimum of three sustainable full time jobs lasting at least six months of the year.

This is a concrete initiative of the Canadian government to encourage regional development and job creation, even in ridings represented by members of the opposition.