House of Commons Hansard #186 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cbc.


Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.


Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Insofar as the Ministry of the Solicitor General is concerned, the answer is as follows: a) Violent Crimes Investigated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Year—Violent Crimes 1978—35,400 1979—37,930 1980—39,665 1981—40,888 1982—44,550 1983—44,687 1984—47,983 1985—50,859 1986—54,733 1987—57,592 1988—60,158 1989—64,924 1990—70,236 1991—76,871 1992—81,040 1993—84,894 1994—85,139 1995—83,863 1996—84,499 1997—93,055

Source, Canadian Centre for Justice StatisticsL>E Aggregate Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR 1)

The statistics on violent crimes investigated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, RCMP, were obtained from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, CCJS. The RCMP does not have crime statistics in an automated format for 1978 to 1981 and must rely on CCJS statistics.

“Violent Crime” in the table refers to the total number of violent crimes investigated by the RCMP which includes crimes against persons, such as homicide, attempted homicide, sexual assault, non-sexual assault, other sexual offences, abduction and robbery.

It is important to note that CCJS's statistical information reflects the “Most Serious Offence Rule” which restricts the reporting of offences to CCJS to only the most serious offence in an event. For this reason, the number of violent offences investigated by the RCMP is undercounted by 2000-4000 when compared to operational police data maintained by the RCMP.

b) Violent Crime Incidents involving Firearms Investigated by the RCMP

Year—Homicide 1978—78 1979—65 1980—57 1981—61 1982—76 1983—68 1984—62 1985—60 1986—60 1987—45 1988—45 1989—47 1990—53 1991—58 1992—68 1993—59 1994—56 1995—43 1996—61 1997—51

Year—Robbery with Firearms 1978—263 1979—275 1980—290 1981—340 1982—457 1983—378 1984—381 1985—324 1986—335 1987—388 1988—317 1989—354 1990—438 1991—731 1992—734 1993—656 1994—597 1995—649 1996—736 1997—610

Year—Discharge of Firearms with intent 1978—n/a 1979—n/a 1980—n/a 1981—n/a 1982—n/a 1983—56 1984—69 1985—79 1986—93 1987—84 1988—87 1989—73 1990—97 1991—116 1992—154 1993—109 1994—86 1995—85 1996—82 1997—62

Note: n/a = Not available

Source: Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics Aggregate Uniform Crime Reporting Servey (UCR 1)

The RCMP does not have an automated system to indentify all crimes where a firearm was used during the commission of an offence. The police information retrieval system PIRS, is the automated indexing system for the majority of the RCMP investigative files. However, it is not mandatory to record all information on the system. PIRS serves as a pointer to the hard-copy files where the details of investigations are recorded, including information on firearms used in a crime. The hard-copy files are the only source of information that can accurately reveal all information on firearms the RCMP encounters.

The RCMP opens approximately 2.5M investigational files each year; therefore, it is estimated that the number of files the RCMP created during the past 20 years would be up to 50M. The RCMP does not have the resources for this type of extensive file review. We would encounter problems conducting this research, even if resources were available, since files have various retention periods ranging from 24 months after the date of conclusion to 240 months. Some files are retained indefinitely if they meet the general criteria of the National Archives of Canada. With all of these details in mind, clearly tabulating the requested information is an impossible task due to the records that no longer exist and the quantity of resources required to review the millions of files.

The RCMP uses operational statistics reporting OSR, to fulfil the requirement of reporting crime information to Statistics Canada. OSR is a far more accurate data source than PIRS, but there are data quality concerns with it. OSR is comprised of 1,206 codes which identify various offences, survey or service provided information. There are no OSR codes to clearly identify all instances when firearms are used to commit crimes. For example, AA01 indicates a 1st degree murder, but it does not reveal how the murder occurred. There are some OSR codes which do indicate a firearm was used or some other weapon. These codes include the following: AA34—Robbery with Firearms—Effective date: 1981-05-01; AA48—Discharge of Firearms with Intent—Effective date: 1983-01-04.

The OSR codes AC13, AC14 and AC15 identify weapons offences that include many firearm crimes, but without a detailed review of every file there is no way of identifying only the crimes involving firearms. For this reason, these statistics have not been included in this report. The following information explains the offences covered by each OSR code.

AC13—Prohibited Weapons—Effective date: 1981-05-01—Note that not all prohibited weapons are firearms. The existence of an offence does not mean the weapon was used directly against someone. The presence of a prohibited weapon is an offence. Offences under this category refer ot breaches of Sections 90 (Possession of Prohibited Weapon), 95 (Importing or Delivering Prohibited Weapon), 103(10) (Possession of Prohibited Weapon while Prohibited), 104 (Found Prohibited Weapon) and 105 (Record of Transaction in Prohibited Weapons) of the Criminal Code. It is not possible to determine how many offences in this category involve violence against a person.

AC14—Restricted Weapons—Effective date: 1981-05-01—Note that not all restricted weapons are firearms. The presence of a restricted weapon can be an offence; therefore, the existence of an offence does not mean the weapon was used directly against someone. AC14 covers restricted weapons offences under Sections 91 (Possession of Unregistered Restricted Weapon), 96 (Delivery of Restricted Weapon to Person without Permit), 103(10) (Possession of Restricted Weapon while Prohibited), 104 (Found Restricted Weapon) and 105 (Record of Transaction in Restricted Weapons) of the Criminal Code.

AC15—Other Offensive Weapons—Effective date: 1981-05-01—Note that this code includes much more than firearm offences and includes: breaches of Section 85 (Use of Firearm in Commission of Offence); 86 (Pointing a Firearm); 87 (Possession of Weapon or imitation); 88 (While Attending Public Meeting); 89 (Carrying Concealed Weapon); 93 (Transfer of Firearm to Person Under 18); 94 (Wrongful Delivery of Firearms, etc.); 97 (Delivery of Firearm to Person Without Firearms Acquisition Certificate); 100 (Prohibition Orders, Seizure and Forfeiture); 103(6)(b) & (10) (Possession of Firearm, etc. while Prohibited); 104 (Found Weapon not Prohibited or Restricted); 105 (Ammunition and Firearm[not Prohibited or Restricted]); and, 113 (Offences Relating to Certificate and Permits) of the Criminal Code.

(c) The RCMP does not collect statistics in this format. To even provide a partial answer to this qestion would require a labour intensive review of millions of RCMP files at detachments across Canada. The RCMP does not have resources for this undertaking.

Question No. 144—

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.


Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

With respect to “E Division” of the RCMP in the Province of British Columbia: ( a ) for the period January 1, 1998, to date, what actual number of charges have been laid and investigative files have been opened; ( b ) what were the respective totals for the period January 1, 1997, to December 31, 1997; and ( c ) what were the forecasted numbers of charges likely to be laid and files likely to be opened for the 12-month period January 1, 1998, to December 31, 1998?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.


Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

With respect to “E Division” of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the following information was retrieved from the RCMP Operational Statistics Reporting system:

(a) From January 1, 1998 to December 31, 1998: Total Reported Offences: 1,271,604 Total Cleared by Charge: 507,072-*

(b) From January 1, 1997 to December 31, 1997: Total Reported Offences: 1,380,769 Total Cleared by Charge: 514,386*

(c) see (a)

*Total cleared by charge indicates that charges were laid in these instances.

**Please note that the total indicated for “cleared by charge” for 1998 is accurate as of 1999-01-04. However, these statistics may change slightly since some charges will be processed in 1999.

Questions Passed As Orders For ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

March 1st, 1999 / 3:10 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario


Peter Adams LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, would you be so kind as to call Starred Question No. 154. .[Text]

*Question No. 154—

Questions Passed As Orders For ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.


Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

In the previous five fiscal years, and to date in this fiscal year, ( a ) what has been the cost to Canada of association with regional Development Banks in the following categories: (i) any annual dues by the way of membership or association, (ii) any contributions to loans or so-called rescue packages to foreign nations, (iii) any contributions to specific bilateral or multilateral development projects and, if so, to which ones, and (iv) any other costs incurred for any other purposes; ( b ) what has been the source of this funding (e.g. annual revenue, foreign loans); and ( c ) in each case, which departmental votes have been the source of payments?

Questions Passed As Orders For ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.


Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the answer to Question No. 154 be made an order for return and this return would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed As Orders For ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed As Orders For ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed. .[Text]

*Question No. 154—

Questions Passed As Orders For ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.


Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

In the previous five fiscal years, and to date in this fiscal year, ( a ) what has been the cost to Canada of association with regional Development Banks in the following categories: (i) any annual dues by the way of membership or association, (ii) any contributions to loans or so-called rescue packages to foreign nations, (iii) any contributions to specific bilateral or multilateral development projects and, if so, to which ones, and (iv) any other costs incurred for any other purposes; ( b ) what has been the source of this funding (e.g. annual revenue, foreign loans); and ( c ) in each case, which departmental votes have been the source of payments?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed As Orders For ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.


Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed As Orders For ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed As Orders For ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members


The House resumed consideration of Bill C-49, an act providing for the ratification and the bringing into effect of the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management, as reported (with amendment) from the committee; and of Motions Nos. 1, 6 and 7.

First Nations Land Management ActGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

When the debate was interrupted for question period, the hon. member for Oak Ridges had the floor. He has five minutes remaining in his allotted time.

First Nations Land Management ActGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.


Bryon Wilfert Liberal Oak Ridges, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will continue my remarks with regard to the impact of the framework on municipal governments. As the former president of the federation of municipalities and as a member of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, I offer the following perspectives.

We prefer that first nations and their neighbours work out issues among themselves without our interference. We strongly believe this bill and the framework agreement will pave the way for better understanding and closer relationships between first nations and neighbouring municipal governments. They remove some of the constraints that impede the building of partnerships between first nations and neighbouring communities.

First nations recognize the necessity of consulting with neighbouring municipal governments to establish long term co-ordinated approaches to development and servicing. These consultative processes are already in place. First nations are already working with the Union of British Columbia Municipalities to develop the appropriate consultation mechanism.

In its January 20 response to this issue, the UBCM indicated that on the recommendation of the aboriginal affairs committee, the UBCM executive endorsed in principle the idea of mutual consultation. The letter also stated: “Further, the aboriginal affairs committee believes that the ideas contained in the draft discussion paper attached hereto are a very good starting point for the negotiation”.

In other words the UBCM supports that in the following areas: the land use plans in existence at the time of agreement and in the future; environmental impacts for development on their lands; the provision of local infrastructure and services to their residents; cross-boundary land use issues; other matters of general concern relating to land development and its effect on the respective adjoining lands. Consultation and discussions will occur in a round table format to which all parties will be invited. Individual agreements between neighbouring B.C. first nations and B.C. local governments will be encouraged. The local governments affected in support would be Vancouver, North Vancouver and Kelowna along with the five first nations already mentioned. I mention that particularly for my colleagues across the way.

Various land and resource management initiatives will again proceed. First nations will be able to sign servicing agreements with their neighbours on such matters as water, sewer services, schools, roads, and so on. In one case one first nation has already loaned money to a neighbouring municipal government to help complete a water project.

I also point out that there are over 100 active service agreements between first nations and neighbouring municipal governments in the province of British Columbia in the areas of water, sewer, transportation and schools.

I further point out that the Centre for Municipal Aboriginal Affairs which is based in Ottawa would indicate again how, from a best practices standpoint, first nations and municipal governments work together not only in British Columbia but right across the country.

I would like to address the concerns of third parties who are neither provincial nor municipal. They are, for the most part, individuals or associations representing individuals who have leased property on first nations land. Let me emphasize that any interest currently held by third parties will transfer to the jurisdiction of the first nation with the original terms and conditions intact. At the expiration of these interests, the lessee, like lessees anywhere in Canada, will have the opportunity to negotiate directly with the first nations to remain on first nations land.

Members will appreciate that while provinces and municipal governments were consulted extensively in the development of this act, the department had neither the resources nor the time to consult with individual lessees affected. Some meetings did take place, however. For example, department officials met with the Ontario Association of Cottage Owners last September and most recently with the Musqueam Home Park lessees. Wherever the concerns of third party leases were brought to the government's attention, federal officials did meet to try to address these concerns.

Third party tenants will not have an opportunity to vote or have input into the land code because they have no proprietary rights to the effect that lands are on the existing lease, licence or permit. Therefore voting rights under this regime have been restricted to those directly affected by the delegation process under the Indian Act who do hold proprietary rights to the affected lands, in other words the band members.

This House can be assured that individual third party leases are and will continue to be notified by Canada and the first nation where the first nation opts to come under the new regime. The framework agreement and this bill require that they be informed of the proposed land code, the first nations land management act and the date of the vote.

One of the attentions of the new land management regime is to foster partnerships between interested parties such as provincial governments, municipal governments and private industries that deal with first nations on a daily basis. We hope that all will participate in making sure that the relationships foster mutual respect and co-operation.

First Nations Land Management ActGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.


Rob Anders Reform Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, today I am speaking on Bill C-49. For the folks back home, I want to make sure they understand that this is indeed not the 47th, not the 46th, not even the 45th, but the 48th time this Liberal government has brought in closure to go ahead and stifle debate. That is 48 jackboots I hear a thumpin' on the pavement where this government will not allow freedom of speech.

Who is being silenced by this, by those 48 votes of closure? Who is not being heard? Who do the Liberals want to shut down? Who do the Liberals want to muffle? Who do the Liberals want to stifle on this? I will tell members about some of those voices.

One of those voices says that at least 250 members of the Squamish nation have joined the rising chorus of criticism against proposed changes to the federal Indian Act, this very Bill C-49. They are saying that powers greater than those granted to municipal governments are being given out here. There is authority over zoning and search and seizure. The legislation would also give bands the power to implement laws that call for punishments ranging from fines to jail terms. There are those within those bands who have been after the council members to explain the bill and its ramifications to the band membership, but the band members have heard nothing with regard to explanation.

We have people on bands across this country who want to hear explanations. They are not getting explanations. And yet we are having a third level of government created here. One person here says it may be 10 years in the process, but when in the 10 years were we consulted?

So I have something that is long, agonizing and painful but with not a lot of consultation. It sounds like this Liberal government when it got elected in 1993.

The powers that band councils would acquire to expropriate their own members' land and the absence of any requirement that bands consult with the neighbouring municipalities before developing these lands are real problems. There need to be consultations, not unilateral actions.

I have just touched on a few issues here but we also have issues of property rights, of expropriation, of a lack of consultation and of a lack of openness in the process. We also have people who have been silenced on these bands and have to put up with all these types of unilateral actions and lack of explanations.

It calls into question here that there should be one law enforced uniformly over the land in a common jurisdiction. Yet what we have here is a set-up of some sort of third form of government. We also have people who are not even listening.

That Bill C-49 will not protect non-aboriginal tenants is also another criticism. Here is where we talk about these expropriations. To kind of turn a phrase, it is almost a joke in and of itself but not so funny for those who have their property taken where it is called expropriation rights. A right to expropriation, can anyone believe it?

There are aboriginal women's rights as well to equal access to the marital home in the event of a marriage breakdown. There are real problems. Under the law everybody else who marries and then gets divorced has the ability to get half the assets. There are those who would quibble about whether some deserve half or more or less but nonetheless it is part of the law.

What we have with this situation is that native women entering into a marriage contract if it does not work out have a very vague system that they will be going into where they are not assured of having equal access to the matrimonial assets.

We have warnings from B.C. mayors that the bill would create planning chaos because it does not require bands to consult with the municipalities that must provide the services, roads, sewers and the water for any developments the bands plan.

We have warnings from Vancouver area real estate agents and non-native residents on reserves that the legislation makes homes owned by non-natives on Indian lands across the country unmarketable because there is not enough protection for homeowners from expropriation.

One might ask how this government can pass this. It can implement its land use codes after they are approved by 25% of all eligible band voters. Usually in a democracy it requires 50% to pass something. I guess what we have here is half democracy because real democracy would demand that we need 50% plus one. I guess that is what we would call half a democracy.

We have west Vancouver mayor Pat Boname saying that the bill should be amended to require bands to consult with neighbouring communities before undertaking major developments as B.C. municipalities are now required to do. What they are calling for is a level playing field, not a veto. This is pretty straightforward stuff, no unilateral actions, consultations. This is not a painful process. They only want a little openness and a little explanation.

They are not confident that the council will consult with them thoroughly before drawing up a land use code which is one of the reasons we are proposing changes to this and one of the reasons why we do not want to see time allocation and the 48 jackboots of the Liberals once again shutting down debate.

Coincidentally, where it is only requiring 25% of eligible voters, not the majority needed in just about every other common sense democratic election one can possibly think of, that can approve a land use code chain that equals the number of people employed by the band.

I stress this once more for the folks at home. In just about every other democratic set-up one could possibly imagine they require 50% plus one to make a change.

They only require 25%. More insidious than that being half a democracy, there is the coincidence that 25% equals the number of people employed by the band. I do not think that just sounds incestuous, I say it is incestuous. We have serious problems with that.

On top of that, one of the other voices that the government is trying to silence is Gail Sparrow, the former chief of the Musqueam Band. She says: “How can you go to parliament with this when the first nations people haven't voted on it?” That is a very good question. How can that happen? It is because the Liberals bring in closure for the 48th time. That is how that happens. She said: “Land use codes could be used to deny women access to homes on the reserve”.

I have some more people who are being silenced. Barbara Findlay, the lawyer for the B.C. Native Women's Society, says: “You can't hand off inequality. You can't contract out your constitutional responsibility for women to native bands”.

Those are pretty good quotes. Those are quotes that should be heard by the government across the way when it goes ahead and restricts freedom of speech.

I mentioned that we have non-natives on band lands who are worried. I will quote a few of them because the Liberal jackboots are silencing them. “`We will be excluded', McKay said of non-native residents who have lived on the reserve for 30 years but who will have no say in the land use code”. Imagine that, living some place for 30 years and not being able to have any say with regard to the land use codes. “People's property rights are being trampled”.

“`They have to pay fair market value but what will fair market value be?', asks Fred Warkentin, a real estate agent with MacDonald Realty”. That is a very fair question. If they have no say over their land use codes what type of market value is that? Once somebody has stated they will expropriate your land and take it from you what value does it have? It is like a government that says it will confiscate your gun. Good luck selling it. Who would want it after that? That is property rights.

We also have an instance where market prices have plummeted since the band more than doubled taxes and imposed a 7,366% rent increase on leasehold homes in the Musqueam Park subdivision. Cheryl Dewson, a real estate agent with Dexter Associates, said: “In my professional opinion there will not be any buyer prepared to purchase a property with this type of encumbrance”. Who does this affect? There are 20,000 leaseholders on Indian lands in B.C. and 60,000 in Ontario whose homes may now have no value. Unless amendments are made to this bill, Bill C-49 renders all properties on Indian leasehold lands worthless.

I have been able to go through only a few of the voices that have been silenced. This screams, if anything possibly could, that the Liberals should open up their ears and make changes so that those people do not fall victim to bad legislation.

First Nations Land Management ActGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.


Ted McWhinney Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to intervene at this stage of the debate on Bill C-49. We are at report stage. I remind hon. members that third reading is still to come and after that to the Senate.

We sometimes tend to think in terms of dichotomous divisions, watertight departments and divisions between the different organs of parliament.

I would like to pay tribute to the very helpful discussions on this bill I have had with members of the Senate, both government and opposition members, and members of other parties in this House, more particularly on the larger public issues with which it is bound up. It is legally and constitutionally separate and distinct from the Nisga'a treaty to which a lot of us have given a lot of attention. It is separate and distinct from the Musqueam leaseholders issue. In the public mind it is part of the general discussion and our thoughts could never be completely divorced one from the other.

I take notice of the fact that although it is an area in which I have had some pre-parliamentary experience, there are some massive briefs by lawyers presenting arguments on this issue which I am studying in some detail; some communications by leaseholders, by both native and non-native leaseholders; some by native women. We recognize of course that no one of our legislative acts in Indian matters is a template for other matters. That was the original confusion, if I can call it that, of the provincial government of B.C. Each act is historically separate and should be seen on its merits. Nevertheless, certain points are common in respect to them.

I have advanced the view that I have problems with section 35(3) of the charter of rights, which was an amendment adopted after the charter was enacted in 1982. I have some problems with it, but nevertheless it does remain my view that the better interpretation is that all matters in this area are subject to the Constitution and to the charter of rights. This means that the larger charter principles of due process in its procedural sense and its substantive sense are applicable to all subsequent measures that may be made in this area.

In some areas, and the Nisga'a treaty is an example, it is stated explicitly, and if one wishes a subordination to the charter of rights and to the Constitution, there is the case for making assurance doubly sure and stating that in terms. But I would say again that it is not constitutionally necessary to do that.

I would also think that it is implicit in the subjection to the charter that judicial review and recourse to the Supreme Court of Canada remain an ultimate resource in every situation.

There would be merits at some stage in the proceeding—and it is a long march I think to the issue of native self-government within the Constitution—in adopting some form of general code. But the procedure that all parties have agreed on, provincial government, federal government and others, is that this would do less than justice to the special historical facts and circumstances of each of the individual agreements. But it should come and I would envisage in that case, if there were some sort of general code, that the explicitness in relation to the Constitution and the charter would be made. The provision for a dispute settlement process, some form of third party adjudication, arbitral or otherwise, a mixed commission of which there are many comparative law models, would be there apart from the court itself.

What I am saying is that we are at certain steps along the road. This particular bill is at the moment limited to 14 nations of which five are from B.C., although others can opt in. I do believe that the proceedings in this House, the further debate to occur this afternoon and at the next reading, as well as the deliberations in the Senate which could include hearings as well as study, will help take us further in the search for the best form of expression of the imperatives of giving heed to the concept of self-government within the Constitution for Indian nations, the concept of control over property, but subject again to the constitutional rights that apply to all Canadians and to rendering them uniform in some later general code.

The debate has been helpful and constructive in the general Canadian community, including, I would stress, B.C. We sometimes are more heated in our statements, but it is the way of arriving at constitutional truths and I would like to pay tribute to the thousands of people, and I stress that, who have communicated with me over the last two months on aspects of this general problem. We have tried to answer each letter individually and respond to each individual case. The message is “I am still working. I appreciate the co-operation that has been extended by everybody in this House, the Senate and those whom I have discussed it with. The book is not closed”. I believe that constructive changes can occur in the general process of self-government within the Constitution and in the control and ownership of lands which are being spelled out at the moment by several distinct and separate measures of the government and which will also be present in each of the 50 treaties still to be discussed.

This is my comment at this stage. I hope to have studied the briefs in great detail, and they do require detail. I hope to have more specific recommendations to make. But I repeat again, even in the absence of express mention and in the Latin phrase, making assurance doubly sure that we have in the Nisga'a treaty, that the general constitutional rules prevail and are paramount, including the charter of rights. And so the protections are given to all Canadian citizens, especially including the Indian communities, but they also exist in relation to the parties.

First Nations Land Management ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.


Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to be able to stand to speak to this bill. It is a rare privilege, since there are not many people who will have the right to speak due to the fact that the Liberal government by the careful pulling of the strings of their voters on that side said “You have no choice but to vote in favour of time allocation and we are not going to let anybody speak on this after today”. That is shameful in my view.

I remember a number of years ago a colleague of mine at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology where I worked had a little placard on the bulletin board in his office. It is one that is very applicable to our situation here today. It said “If you don't have time to do it right, when will you find time to do it again?” I thought that was a very good principle. We need to get things right.

I am not speaking here only of a united alternative, I am speaking generally of what our purpose in parliament is. It is to make rules and regulations which govern our country, which govern our people. We need to get it right. If we do not get it right all we have to do is look at history to see the number of countries around the world which have suffered immensely because of the fact that their government structure was not established in a correct way.

What is wrong here? First, I would like to talk about this process. Why would the government in this particular instance insist on invoking time allocation? It is a mystery to me. I think that the purpose of government, the purpose of the minister, the purpose of the Prime Minister should be to bring a solution to the long-festering problem which we have had on land claims. Let us bring a solution that works.

Overriding all of those considerations is that thing which occupies our minds so much these days, national unity. We need to be together on it. We need to make sure that members of our society, all Canadian citizens, are respectful of each other and that they respect that the limitations which apply to one apply to others.

A request has been made by the official opposition and indeed by Bloc members to make small amendments to this bill.

I worked for a while on a school board. I liked the form of democracy in the school board somewhat better than what we have here. We did not have bills at our school board, but we had motions. If the motion was not a good motion, a number of members would speak against it. When I happened to be the chairman for a while I would ask “All those in favour?” and maybe one or two hands would go up. I would say “Who is opposed?” and the other 13 hands would go up. I would simply declare the motion defeated and we would go on with our business.

What do we do here? Somehow we have this idiotic process. I am not speaking of any individual member, but we have this idiotic process. Parenthetically I have to say that it is mathematically possible and maybe even probable that occasionally a bill might be brought forward by a minister that is not perfect. That is possible. Yet we have this idiotic process which says that unless all members on the government side vote for it somehow they are being disloyal. I contend that they are being disloyal if they vote for something that is not as good as it could be. Instead, it is reversed and then we have the government forcing this vote through. Now we are not even able to speak on it.

One might ask why we do not use the time that we have to debate the issue. It is bigger than that. We are dealing with a relationship among Canadians. We are dealing with people who live next door to their neighbours.

All of us have neighbours. In my instance I have neighbours from a wide spectrum of national backgrounds. They have different language backgrounds, different ethnic backgrounds and we get along just fine.

What happens if we have rules brought in by a distant, disjointed, ineffective federal government that controls how we live next to our neighbours, who happen to be natives living on reserve lands or on native lands as they are called? What happens if we do not do that right? It introduces friction that could otherwise be resolved. All we are asking is that we take some very, very simple measures.

This government could have avoided the embarrassment of the vote at noon today. That was embarrassing. It is incredibly embarrassing that there is no thought for democracy in this place. “It is my way or no way. It is my way or the highway”. That cannot be.

Part of the legislative process, in my view, is that we also make sure that the people who are affected have an opportunity to communicate. They have done so to a certain degree already. Some of my colleagues have referred to a number of different letters that they have received. We are dealing not only with members of municipal councils who are concerned. We are not dealing only as the government tends to do, with those people who form the leadership of the natives. What we need to do is to make sure that the input from grassroots natives is also taken into account. We need to make sure that we hear them. They have some very genuine concerns and we need to hear them.

I cannot for the life of me understand why this government would be so reluctant to enter into a few simple amendments and say “Yes, that is a good idea. Let us adopt it. Let us correct this slightly flawed legislation to make it the best bill possible”, instead of allowing it to just be jammed through in its present mediocre form.

In conclusion, it is atrocious of the government to set up within the nation a separate set of nations without having an appropriate governance system. It is inappropriate to do that. It is awful that the government is suggesting that there can be pockets of municipal-like governments that are not subject to the same rules as other adjacent municipalities.

We are asking for a very simple amendment, that when the law is passed first nations must obey the rules and laws of the municipal acts of the provinces in which they exist. They have to enter into meaningful negotiations.

It is atrocious that people who have been leasing land in the area to be affected can essentially have their life savings and their homes wiped out. There is no protection for them. I do not believe that is right. The government should be paying attention to the very legitimate rights of landowners and investors who have put their life savings into their properties.

Prior to the bill becoming law some local band councils have been driving the value of property essentially to zero, putting lease rates so high that they cannot afford to stay there. It is unconscionable that the values are down and they cannot afford to sell. They ought not to be doing that.

I urge members to support these amendments. Let us do that instead of just ramming it through like a bull in a china shop. Let us listen to each other. Let us listen to the reasoning. If it is valid, let us make the changes that are necessary. Then we will have an opposition that will be supportive of the legislation as improved.

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3:45 p.m.


John Finlay Liberal Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think it will be difficult, after what I have heard today, to deal in any direct way with some of the ramblings of the opposition.

My friend from Elk Island said they are not able to speak to it. We have been speaking to it since 10.15 this morning and I have not heard a great deal that is on the bill, the purpose of the bill, or why the bill has been 11 years in the making. In fact, it has probably been 30 or 40 years in the making.

Some of the enlightened first nations of the country have been trying to become responsible, have been trying to get out from under the paternalistic Indian Act for many years. Three times in fairly recent history the government has offered to scrap the Indian Act and to bring native people into full partnership in Canada. It has never been accepted, partly because it was too big a chunk to swallow and partly because first nations were at various levels of expertise or capacity for economic development of their reserves and their peoples. They suffered from that paternalism. They all recognized it, and we recognize it.

We are trying to take a step at the behest of 16 first nations and more that sought a review of federal policy on delegated land authority as part of a broader exploration of alternatives to the Indian Act. They began work on the legislation in 1991. In the last parliament it was Bill C-75 which unfortunately died on the order paper.

As vice-chair of the aboriginal affairs and northern development committee I have been dealing with this problem on behalf of the government, my fellow members in the House and the aboriginal people of the country for about five years. It is not very long, as the native people count their seven generations, but I have been struck by the capacity of these people to look after themselves, to take a hand in their own development. I have seen evidence where they have been given some encouragement in terms of what they can do.

I have read a good deal of the royal commission report on aboriginal peoples which talked about four things that were important if we were to bring first nations as citizens of Canada into Canada where they belong. They were respect for their values, for their spirituality, for their history, for their sense of land and for their sense of community; recognition that they are in fact citizens of the country; responsibility, which we had been summarily taking away since the passing of the Indian Act; and sharing, to share in the future of the land because we realize this is the second largest country in the world in area, much of it north of the 60th parallel.

In less than a month, on April 1, we will be celebrating the founding of Nunavut, a land, a territory, the northeastern arctic territory of the country which is one-fifth of Canada's land mass. It has fewer residents than the town of Woodstock, the county seat of Oxford, but it will have control and responsibility for its people, its land and its laws.

The first language of the territory will be Inuktitut. Cree will be a language as will English. They will start off on this great adventure and I wish them well. It would be too bad to go on carping about what other first nations want to do with their land in concert with the provincial governments which they must respect in terms of environmental matters, the Constitution and the charter of rights and freedoms that they fully accept.

I hear opposition members railing that they have not had enough time to speak to it. If they had stuck to what was in the bill we might agree with them but they have not. They have talked about it being slightly flawed. I would like to know what legislation introduced in parliament since 1867 has been perfect.

I have heard from the opposition that it has to be right, that we have to do it right. Nonsense. We have to do it and do it the best way we know how with the best brains and co-operation we have. We have to give aboriginal people the right to go on and make some mistakes as we have done. We seem to think it will be perfection overnight. It will not be, but we will move along the road in the way those responsible for the aboriginal people want us to go.

As a new member in the House I sat beyond where the member from Perth is sitting and my colleague, Elijah Harper, addressed the House. He said to all of us including the opposition: “You don't get it, do you? You just don't get it. We were the first people here. It was our land”.

Contrary to what a member of the opposition mentioned two weeks ago, they did not have a feudal system of government. The feudal system of government was something created by the Anglo-Saxon race in England.

The Indians had a communal, co-operative system of government. They traded the length and breadth of this continent and the South American continent. They have been here for 10,000 years. They existed in the face of the harshest conditions that the world knows. They were never defeated in battle in this country. They welcomed the white skinned people. They taught them how to survive in the wilderness, how to survive the winter, and they expect to treated with some respect. That is what the report of the aboriginal people's commission said, and Gathering Strength which the minister published last year says how we will do it.

We need to pass the bill today. Members of the opposition worked with me in committee. They approved the bill in committee. They listened to the witnesses, to the people. They struggled with it. We asked for an amendment which we got. They said that was fine and they would support it.

A lot of good work is done in our committees. We match wits and we deal with a problem before us. Politics normally stay out of the way if there are a good committee chair and good committee members like we have on our committee. We came to an agreement.

Then I came in this morning and found that my colleague from Prince Albert was worried about giving band leadership more power. He agreed to the amendment. He agreed to the bill, but the big boss from Kootenay—Columbia came in and said “No, you can't do that. You can't go along with your colleagues and bring in a good bill because we are going to make some trouble”.

If I had heard some enlightened discussion on what was wrong with the bill, I might not be so passionate about it. I have spent a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of work on the bill. I want it passed. I want the chiefs to be proud of it. I want the 14 nations to get on with running their own affairs. I want us to get on with Gathering Strength. As one of my colleagues said earlier, the four principles of that document are increased governance, partners, new fiscal arrangements and strong community.

What could be more important to the aboriginal people of the country? I rest my case.

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3:55 p.m.


Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, this is actually an important bill to me because I have a large number of big reserves in my riding. I will be presenting the problem with the bill in relation to a rural environment.

I start by saying that this is 48th time that time allocation and

or closure has been used by the Liberal government. It is a shame. I recall what members opposite said when they were over here about that issue. They cried long and hard. We stood here in the precincts of parliament unwilling to sit in our places this morning because it is inappropriate to be bringing in time allocation or closure.

Bill C-49 actually has a lot of good things in it. I will grant that to the member opposite. This is in fact a move in the right direction. Land management control to bands willing to accept that responsibility is the way we should be going. The member opposite also has a large native community in his riding and is very interested in this issue.

I will enumerate the bands within my riding: Eden Valley, the Peigan Band, the Blood reserve which is the largest reserve in Canada, and the Tsuu T'ina. The chief of the Tsuu T'ina Band was my Liberal opponent in the first election. He is a fine, articulate native man by the name of Roy Whitney. There is also the Siksika reserve which is one reserve that is very interested in the bill. It is a very advanced band with a highly educated administration. They are computer literate natives of the highest standards who are ready for land management control if any band in Canada is.

Our position, however, is that this bill is deficient in the area of co-operation with surrounding municipalities. I would say to my colleagues that if my own home town of Okotoks, a small community coming close to 10,000 people now, does something in a developmental sense, it must consult with the municipal district beside it. If it decides to put up an ammunition control facility, it must consult. That only makes sense, would it have an impact. If the municipality outside decides to put a golf course in place, it must let the town of Okotoks know. It gets an opportunity to interchange, comment and if there is a problem, there is a modification.

I give two practical examples from the Siksika reserve of how that sort of consultation is not taking place today. It will not take place under Bill C-49 because Bill C-49 does not address this. This is not a casual issue but a significant issue. There is a boundary fence along the south side of the Siksika reserve which delineates. For those who have not spent time in a rural riding, this boundary fence is important because it keeps livestock from one side getting on to the other side. On the Siksika reserve there is a very large wild horse herd, 150, 175 wild horses. They spend much of the time during the day on the reserve and at night time cross the boundary fence which is old and broken down.

The neighbouring municipality, the town of Vulcan, which is the closest town, has tried for 15 years to get this boundary fence fixed. When it went to the band administration, it was referred to Indian affairs. When it went to Indian affairs, it was referred to the band administration.

Members may say from an urban perspective this is not significant. There is a roadway along that boundary fence. This roadway carries kids on school buses and large transport trucks. The number of close misses at dusk and at dawn when the horses are going back and forth is legion. In fact a school bus with kids on board nearly overturned when it swerved to miss the wild horses.

No one would take responsibility. There was no direct contact. Would this bill improve that? Yes, if there were the necessity to have a consultation process with the neighbouring municipality. That should be there. It could be there. It is not a major amendment to have it there.

The second issue farming individuals will understand. On one side of the fence is unfarmed, untended land, dirty land, weedy land. On the other side of the fence is highly valuable farm land, kept clean, tilled regularly where no weeds are allowed to grow. No one will take responsibility for the weedy portion inside the reserve. No one will cut. No one will look after it. Of course the weeds blow on to the farmland.

There is a lawsuit in place because there is no consultation back and forth between the two administrative levels that could have and should have been addressed in this bill.

To my colleagues opposite, would it be unreasonable to request the native administration to consult with the neighbouring administration? Why not? I can think of only one reason that we would not want to go that route and that is if we were treating the reserve as something unique, not as a municipal style of government but a country style of government. That has not been envisaged. It should not be envisaged. I think it would be wrong to go that route.

I am in a position where I would like to have the opportunity to have a reason that this is not addressed. This is Group No. 1 amendments and I tried to be very specific to the Group No. 1 amendments, not to stray but to go directly to the consultation component.

I wish I could understand why my colleagues opposite would not address this consultation which, to my mind, is profoundly important and profoundly necessary.

The municipal government from the outside has raised this with me and asked me to speak to it in the House. The councillors have asked me to deal with this in the House and this is my opportunity. It is an opportunity, however, that is attenuated by the fact that other MPs with exactly the same concerns now will not be able to speak. I think that is a shame. I think it is dreadful.

I would like to speak directly to the Siksika band so that I can reiterate how comfortable I am with the land management arrangements that it proposes. I think it is likely to consult better with the surrounding municipalities without the department of Indian affairs as a buffer. I think there will be a better relationship. I would be profoundly reassured if this bill made that certain. Every municipal act that I have read takes the time to make that certain.

I will try not to waste the House's time but to mention again how advanced these reserves are. I have not spoken of the Tsuu T'ina reserve which has also a very highly advanced administration. Natives there have gone to university and can debate and discuss on any level with anyone.

The native communities do need to become independent. They should not be subservient to the department of Indian affairs. They should move down this path but they should also be as accountable and consultation wise able to discuss with the surrounding municipalities.

My hope is that Bill C-49 will still be altered. I wish it would be altered before we were forced to vote on it in this inadequate form. I will look forward to the opportunity to discuss with my own native community things that could improve it from its perspective, as I represent it here.

It is an honour to be its representative here, to represent individual needs of natives as well as their collective needs, Eden Valley, Peigan band, Blood reserve, Tsuu T'ina and Siksika.

I would ask that the government still consider putting in a consultation component. Amendments that have been put forward would stifle and still my concerns about this bill completely. Once again, it is an honour to represent those interests in the House.

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4:05 p.m.


Inky Mark Reform Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today on Bill C-49, the first nations land management act.

Like my colleagues, I am not happy with the government's evoking time allocation for the 48th time. I certainly hope the government resists the temptation to invoke time allocation on certain other bills. As I understand, next week it may do the same on Bill C-55.

I come from a riding with 13 Indian reserves. Bill C-49 will have profound implications from what I have heard today. I hope the government slows down the process and consults the aboriginal community certainly at the grassroots level before passing this bill.

I want to focus today on the issue of simple fairness as it relates to Bill C-49. Bill C-49 proposes to give significant jurisdiction to certain Indian bands, including the authority to collect taxes from residents on reserve land.

Bill C-49 fails to take account of how these jurisdictions affect residents on reserve lands who are not status treaty Indians. So far in dealing with the residents of the Musqueam development of lower mainland B.C., the Musqueam band is proposing the collection of horrendous rents from resident leaseholders.

The Musqueam's proposed rent will have the effect of driving residents who own homes built on leased lands out of their homes. I have received briefs from the people who are affected by this proposed change to the act. They have had numerous town hall meetings and have many issues to be concerned about.

In some cases the band's rents are driving out senior citizens who have resided on the Musqueam development for the past 30 years. Annual rental payments for each lot are now in the range of $28,000 to $38,000 depending on lot size. Currently rents are based on a percentage of the property value if these properties were owned outright, including the land. The homeowners do not own the land on which their homes sit. Property taxes have recently been doubled into the $7,000 range by the band's taxation authority. The homeowners' only recourse is through the courts. Currently they are pursuing their case before the Supreme Court of Canada.

The homeowners have no voice on the Musqueam band council nor with the band's taxation authority. The are not entitled to vote in band elections. Even if homeowners choose to pay unreasonable land rent, they know their homes are now rendered worthless.

Under Bill C-49 the Musqueam band will obtain sweeping powers of expropriation. Bill C-49 restricts recourse to the courts of the provinces and of Canada. Under Bill C-49 charter protection is no longer guaranteed. Where is the fairness in this kind of legislation. Why is the Indian affairs minister pitting Canadians against Canadians? In the name of fairness to all stakeholders the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development should withdraw this unfortunate bill forthwith or certainly approve its amendments.

Most Canadians believe the granting of self-government powers to first nations is a reasonable solution to historical problems. However, the manifest unfairness of Bill C-49 is its effect on non-natives who have property interests on first nation reserve lands.

I have been asked to bring forth to the House concerns about the Musqueam band issue. The first nations law that Bill C-49 enables will apply within the boundaries of reserve land. Therefore people can choose whether to subject themselves to such laws based on whether they choose to enter reserve lands. However, the reason Bill C-49 would be outrageously unfair to existing non-native leaseholders on reserve land is that such leaseholders would be automatically subject to any new first nation law. Whether they approve or not by virtue of their pre-existing leasehold interests, choice is effectively violated.

I will present to the House some thoughts on the Musqueam situation vis-à-vis Bill C-49. This is seen as a squeeze play by the federal government. The government can give away all the self-government power it wants provided that it is acting fairly to all parties involved. In other words, people caught in the middle like leaseholders on reserve land should not be destroyed in the process. It is only reasonable. After all, this is supposed to be a democratic country.

This is also seen as an abuse of power. The powers granted under Bill C-49 are much too broad and are apparently not restrained by checks and balances. Unchecked power tends to abuse, as we all know in the House. In this case the law is giving aboriginal bands the right to abuse with impugnity. Bill C-49 would be all right if there were some safeguards, for example guaranteed charter protection for the non-native people who live on the reserve.

Concerning the lessons of history, the American revolution was in part fought over this issue. The Americans objected to the authoritarian rules of the British monarchy and thus revolted in order to establish a system of government with fundamental checks and balances to counter the supreme power of the leader. Today in Canada our system of government follows this model, supposedly. It is known as democracy.

On Bill C-49 in the context of appeasement, appeasement does not always work since the party receiving the benefit will invariably ask for more power in the future. Just ask Prime Minister Chamberlain before the outbreak of World War II.

Another thought on this bill is future uncertainty. Once a break occurs, no one can control the direction in which it spreads. Bill C-49 grants wide, sweeping powers. Once established the future evolution and scope of the powers cannot be predicted with any degree of certainty.

This dynamic evolution of law is a fundamental element of our common law system. Therefore, once such broad powers are granted, they may be very difficult to restrain, since they will be able to use the full force of the legal system in the fight to keep such powers entrenched. Before granting such powers, the government should carefully consider all of the downside permutations lest there be future regrets.

The Musqueam situation is unique. It is a 10 sigma event, one that just happens to fall through all the cracks. The three pronged combination of property taxation, rental dispute, and Bill C-49 expropriation could be used to destroy the leaseholders completely. In other words, the leaseholders can be hit with any of the prongs in any order to maximum effect. The catch is that it is perfectly legal.

On the provisions of Bill C-49, clause 28 deals with expropriation. Expropriation can occur for any first nations purpose. In other words, it is effectively carte blanche. Expropriation takes effect from the moment of its registration or 30 days, whichever is shorter. In other words, it can have immediate effect.

Fair compensation is to be paid along the lines of fair market value. In the case of the Musqueam, current FMV is zero. Appeals of fair compensation are to be had through their own internal review structure, one that is sure to confirm any initial assessment. It is uncertain whether or not the usual courts of Canada can be engaged in reviews of fair compensation. It is arguable that they are not since this bill is essentially granting powers of self-government.

I would like to close by stating that self-government by the bands means that they are being granted the right to write their own criminal legislation along with penalties. Penalties follow the summary conviction stream, meaning the maximum penalty is either a $2,000 fine or six months imprisonment. They are also being given the power to hire their own justice of the peace and police.

The combination of all the powers under this section would effectively allow a band to create its own criminal justice system. And the application of the charter is uncertain. Therefore, there is no guarantee of fairness or due process. This is very alarming.

I urge all members of the House to support the amendments.

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4:15 p.m.


Sophia Leung Liberal Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, as an MP from British Columbia I want to express the great concerns British Columbians have regarding Bill C-49. I have had a number of meetings and discussions with B.C. residents and mayors and also with the ministry of Indian affairs to express my concerns.

First I want to speak on the consultation process between the first nations and the municipalities. Let me refer to the correspondence between the Union of B.C. Municipalities to the Land Management Board representing the 14 first nations. The UBCM clearly supports the concept of mutual reciprocal consultation on land use and responded to a draft discussion paper in very favourable terms. I quote: “The UBCM aboriginal affairs committee has now considered the draft discussion paper on land use and related matters. The draft discussion paper between first nation governments and the municipalities including a number of cities states they will consult with one another on a regular basis regarding the following issues of mutual concerns: First, their land use plans in existence at the time of this agreement and in the future. Second, environmental impacts from development on their lands. Third, the provision of the local infrastructure and services to their residents. Fourth, cross-boundary land use issues. Fifth, general concern regarding land development and its effect on their respective adjacent lands”.

I am pleased that the consultation process is already in place. The five B.C. first nations are involved in discussions with UBCM to develop a process to address the issue of consultation. Those five first nations have agreed to consult off reserve governments and other interested parties on major developments that would affect them. They are currently working with the Union of British Columbia Municipalities to develop the appropriate consultation mechanisms. Such a consultation process must protect the interests of all Canadians which is what I support the most.

Under Bill C-49, first nations could not exercise expropriation powers arbitrarily. Expropriation by first nations would be for community purposes only, such as water and sewage projects or a public building like a fire hall. Bill C-49 requires first nations to clearly define their expropriation powers in their land codes before they are ratified by the community.

I want to pay tribute to many British Columbians, officials and mayors for their input and opinions regarding Bill C-49. I convey their opinions to my colleagues in this House as I speak now as their representative from B.C.

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4:20 p.m.


Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to take part in the debate at report stage of Bill C-49, and specifically the group one amendments that are before us today.

It is clear that this is an area that needs a lot of work. From my own experience in my riding of Peace River there are a number of reserves with significant problems which I think need to be addressed down the road by disbanding the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and letting the reserves take control of the situation themselves. One aspect that is really hurting that prospect right now is the fact that they still have to have communal property. I will speak to that in a moment.

The glaring problem in Bill C-49 is that it fails to require a band to consult with adjacent municipalities on land use issues. These issues have a potential impact and implication for other municipalities. There needs to be consultation and co-operation, otherwise it may lead to conflict which quite often hurts and delays industrial development, environmental clean-up and many other issues.

That is why my colleague from this side of the House suggested that we should have consultational amendments that will help ensure that bands have local community support in writing, to create a much smoother transition from the remote control aspect that we have seen under this government and Indian and northern affairs to what we might have, which is local control by bands that do not meet development problems that exist when we have two municipalities existing side by side.

I suggest in many respects that is what we really should have here. These reserves should really be municipalities.

I hear the NDP members talking. I guess they will probably have their turn in debate so I would hope they would use this opportunity to listen to others while they are speaking.

I believe that we need to have local government at the band level, a municipal style government, not government that gets into provincial or federal areas but which is a delegated government from the province on down. It seems to me that by having municipal type government on reserves, if we had a good municipal style election process, we would have greater responsibility on the reserves as well. We would have an election process that was under the courts and would have to be adhered to more openly.

My big concern today has to do with the communal property aspect as I was suggesting earlier. It is one important change we could make by repealing the Indian Act and moving away from the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and establishing a better relationship with the local reserves.

I suggest that as long as we have communal property aspects rather than fee simple title on the reserves, we have the potential for a lot of problems. We know that the communal property aspect has not worked anywhere around the world in the socialist or communist countries. I am not sure how we intend it to work here and work effectively.

I want to tell the House about a friend of mine who passed on about two years ago. A Cree Indian from northern Alberta, from the Beaver Lodge Hythe area, Archie Calihou was a friend of mine and I talked to him at great length. Archie told me that he had some of the best advice of his entire life when his father said to him when he was a young man, “Archie, don't take treaty”. The reason, his dad said to him, “You are going down a dead end road, Archie”. Archie took his advice. Archie went on to become a war hero for us. He fought in the second world war. He worked very hard to help his people out with substance abuse counselling and he worked very hard as an advocate for people on personal issues. Archie said to me when I was elected, “You have to do something here to address this communal property aspect. Down the road in 100 years my friends out there on that reserve at Horse Lake and their descendants are going to be no better off in 100 years than they are right now. Look at my situation. My wife and I did not take treaty. We have our own home in Beaver Lodge. My friends on the Horse Lake reserve are having a great deal of difficulty. They try to get ahead, yet what happens to them with the communal property aspect? There is no reward system”.

Private property gives that reward. We take chances in life when we have private property. We have a farm ourselves. We make investments. We know that sometimes we make good investments, sometimes we make bad investments. We make good decisions, or we make bad decisions, but we live by them and we learn from them. But when people have a piece of property that does not really belong to them, when they are working a piece of land and all they can do is lease it for a farm, and they do not know about the long term tenure of that lease, and there is no possibility of it ever becoming theirs, what hope do these people have?

We have to move beyond this situation. Clearly we have to move to a system where people have fee simple title to land. Fee simple title is an aspect of life we enjoy in Canada and I would suggest it has worked very well for us.

We see what is happening in some countries, for example Russia, which still has not been able to make that transition out of the communist system to go to private property. They are wallowing. They cannot produce enough food for their own people under that kind of system. I talked to people who were here from Estonia. I asked them if they had been able to move back to the private property aspect and they said that after having communal property it is very difficult. People get used to that security of the government over all those years.

I suggest there is an analogy here with what we are talking about today. They get used to that security blanket and they are not willing to take any opportunities and chances for themselves. They said that the result is very little production. The production levels in Estonia need to be increased.

I believe that will happen over time, but only when we make the transition back to the fact that people can have private property and it will be their decision to go ahead or not based on their own industry.

I support the amendment by my colleague which suggests that we need to have a consultation process between Indian bands on their reserves and the local municipalities.

I know from firsthand knowledge in my area that it is important that we have that. It seems to me that municipalities should work together. In fact, it is a requirement in all other municipalities in Canada that if one is suggesting an industrial development that will affect the other they have to consult. I am not sure why we would want to move away from a model that is working well throughout the rest of Canada.

It is a very good amendment. I look forward to further debate on the other aspects of this bill later on.

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4:30 p.m.


Gerry Ritz Reform Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Group No. 1 amendments to Bill C-49, a framework on first nations land management. It is a great title.

My colleagues from Skeena and Prince Albert have done a considerable amount of work on this issue through committee and through the various stages in the House of Commons. But we have only scratched the surface of what is really wrong with this government's approach to native Canadian issues.

Our amendments to Bill C-49 call for the co-ordination of first nations land code changes in concert with their municipal neighbours and in line with the laws and provisions set out by the provinces in which the effected lands are located. Otherwise it would seem to me that what this government has in mind is to set up a fourth level of government superior to the provinces and with no accountability to the other Canadians around it who are subject to property taxes and codes much more restrictive than what we see in Bill C-49. Who would believe that a Liberal government would undermine the provinces and hand out special privileges based on who a person's grandfather was?

We have to assume that every member of the House and most Canadians are interested in the same thing, the greatest prosperity for the greatest number of people. We all want to see a country that has stable families, good health and education for its citizens and the maximum opportunity for individuals not only to provide the necessities in life but also to enjoy leisure activities that make life more pleasant. How a country can best provide these conditions is where the parties in this place disagree. That is why Canadians vote for different parties and hope for the best.

Canadians both aboriginal and non-aboriginal look at misguided legislation like Bill C-49 and they are still hoping for the best. It is more likely that very few Canadians, including those aboriginals who are directly affected by it, will get to see this legislation or to understand its implication. Again we have closure. We forget how little time ordinary citizens have to follow the deliberations that consume our time in this place. When we do hear from them we tend to pick and choose what we want to hear depending on whether they already agree with us or not.

We cannot forget that what comes out of here in terms of legislation has real consequences. While we are trying to appease one group we may end up victimizing another. I am sure everyone is familiar with the plight of the residents of Salish Park on the Musqueam reserve in B.C. Twenty or thirty years ago they signed 99 year leases with the federal government to build homes on the native land. We have to assume there were perfectly legitimate reasons for the arrangements made by the federal government then. But before a generation has passed a new ideology was loose in the halls of this government and all the promises and legal documents that once offered rights to one group were torn up in the interest of giving new rights to another group.

I am aware that native bands are familiar with this process. They have been fighting it for years. But to continuing to make and break deals with the victim group of the week is never right, no matter who is the victim and who is the beneficiary. The non-native residents of Musqueam lands now find themselves cut off from recourse to such basic rights as voting for local representation. They have no way to protect their property against expropriation by a band council that also has the right to raise their property taxes by any amount and then offer them arbitrary compensation after the value of their property has collapsed. As I said, some may defend this abuse of constitutional rights of one group by saying they had a sweetheart deal in the first place and now they must pay the piper. If I were a Musqueam band councillor or chief I would be nervous about this weak minded logic since it suggests that every agreement made by government can be tossed out at the discretion of a later government.

Let us not be mistaken that what we are talking about is a bunch of displaced white homeowners. The provisions of this bill that hand over open ended powers to almost unaccountable legislative structures fall heavily on natives as well. We as MPs should have all received an e-mail recently from Wendy Lockhart Lundberg who is described as a registered status native and a member of the Squamish nation. Ms. Lundberg describes Bill C-49 as a legislative end-run around treaties and as a little publicized government bill. She said that her band council has sent a member to Ottawa to support Bill C-49 while not informing the general band membership of the existence of the bill itself. That does not sound like the conditions for effective legislation are representative to me.

Ms. Lundberg complains that the all too common tragedy of divorce on reserves leaves women and children high and dry. Frequently the male assumes ownership of the matrimonial home as dictated by their band council and there is nothing here to change this situation.

This government might be willing to leave these issues dangling in its legislation but the B.C. Native Women's Council is not and is taking this government to court.

The letter goes on to say that all band members, not just women, may be subject to the limitless powers being implied by this bill. Anyone who is not interested in toeing the band council line may find their property expropriated for vaguely defined community works or other first nations purposes.

I can only speak from my experiences dealing with the complaints of native constituents in my riding, but the instances of abuse of band funding and administration are so outrageous that they would not be tolerated in any other part of the country.

We do not have a system in this country for making sure that the benefits provided by all Canadians go to those less fortunate on reserves. I can hardly blame native administrators for the way they take advantage of government handouts. If somebody handed any one of us a cheque for millions of dollars and said that we could spend it however the receiver of the money saw fit, I do not doubt that we would all be tempted to dabble in a bit of mismanagement.

When it concerns the dispensation of taxpayer money to party favourites we are angered. But this concerns people's lives. The Minister of Health and his colleague, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, got an earful last week when they tried to brag to natives about the pitiful new health programs they came up with. The natives were angered that $190 million would not go far enough. But they would have been better off getting an answer to the question where has all the money gone.

This country spent billions of dollars to make things better on reserves and has far too little to show for it. Most people would like to see a better way of doing things.

I guess the government will finally see that it is a two edged sword to falsely accuse others of evil intentions while trying to address the problems of the day.

We have to assume that the government is counting on goodwill and good intentions for the future implementation of this badly written bill. The problem is no one can do a good job in a bad system. This does not apply to certain races and not others for any kind of cultural differences. We are people. We all desire similar things from life. But if we do not have accountable, open systems of government that apply equally to everybody, we will simply be exchanging one group of disgruntled citizens for another.

There is a tremendous amount of people out there who say they have not been consulted on this bill, women's groups and rank and file natives. They are all concerned that this will be an entrenchment of existing disparities and problems that are systemic in all levels of government acting on behalf of rank and file aboriginals. Rank and file aboriginal peoples are crying for a voice, someone to carry their message to the House. There has been a number of petitions presented here with regard to that.

As my colleagues have said here today, parts of Bill C-49 are a step in the right direction but very tentative, small steps.

First Nations Land Management ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Before resuming debate it is my duty to inform the House, pursuant to Standing Order 38, that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of the adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, Health Care; the hon. member for Prince Albert, Aboriginal Affairs.