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House of Commons Hansard #18 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agreements.

Topics

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Randy White Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, a third petition asks for Parliament to disallow conditional sentencing for sexual offences against children, mandate consecutive sentences in cases where violent acts against children are committed, promote measures of early identification and behaviour modification of potential sex predators and undertake a complete review of the entire issue of sexual exploitation of children.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Randy White Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, the final petition asks Parliament to amend Bill C-23 allowing for retroactive inclusion of sex offenders serving a sentence or parole for sex offenders, and that sex offenders automatically be included in the national sex offender registry, something that the government has failed to look after.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce yet another in the long series of petitions that I have been presenting to the House of Commons.

This one is from the citizens of Schreiber, Ontario and St. Stephen, New Brunswick. Like those preceding them, they wish to draw to the attention of the House that Canadian Forces Housing Agency does provide on base housing and that it provides a valuable purpose by allowing military families to live in a military community. However they also wish to draw to the attention of the House that many of these homes that are provided are below acceptable living standards and that they are also subject to periodic and very substantial rent increases to those who are least able to afford them.

Therefore they call upon Parliament to immediately suspend any future rent increases for accommodation provided by the Canadian Forces Housing Agency until such time as the Government of Canada makes substantive improvements to these homes to bring them up to an acceptable standard for our military families.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

October 29th, 2004 / 12:20 p.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

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

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Thompson Conservative St. Croix—Belleisle, NB

Mr. Speaker, I draw to your attention the Order Paper and Notice Paper of October 6 of this year. The first question on the order paper in the House was by the member for New Brunswick Southwest, yours truly, in regard to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans licence buy-out program.

The point I want to make, and I was up about a week ago on this same issue, is that my questions are now two Parliaments old. The ministry was aware of these questions back on April 15.

We have gone through an election. The government has had several months to answer those questions. I know the parliamentary secretary will get up and say that there is a 45 day period, but that is totally unacceptable. When he stood in his place a couple of weeks ago with respect to the same question that I put today, he made a commitment that he and the department would get back to me to discuss the answering of those questions and why the delay. He has not fulfilled that commitment.

The fact is that we are entitled to answers to those questions. We can only have four questions on the order paper, but when we go through several months, there is something wrong. Why is there a delay in answering those very specific questions on the licence buy-out program?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for New Brunswick Southwest has more experience than I do in this House. He clearly knows that the rules provide for a 45 day delay. He says several months; 45 days normally is a month and a half.

On this side of the House we were so confident in the member's re-election, because of the effective work he has done in New Brunswick Southwest, that we would not have wanted to deprive him of being able to put on the order paper in this Parliament a question which he so enjoyed seeing on the order paper in the last Parliament.

I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that we take the standing orders very seriously. There is no effort whatsoever on the part of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to not answer the question in a timely manner. There is so much good news coming from the aboriginal fisheries licence program and the aboriginal fisheries strategy that to put together all of this good news and to show how effective the program has been will take some time.

The program has been a considerable success in my own riding. I know the member for New Brunswick Southwest will want to celebrate this success when he gets his answer in the prescribed time period.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

I think the member for New Brunswick Southwest has a grievance and the parliamentary secretary is taking good note, but this is not a point of order.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Thompson Conservative St. Croix—Belleisle, NB

Mr. Speaker, then debate; he turned it into a debate. I want an answer. He did not provide an answer.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

This is not a point of order and we are not in debate.

Is it agreed that all questions be allowed to stand?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Thompson Conservative St. Croix—Belleisle, NB

No, Mr. Speaker.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

This being Friday and the week having been tiring, we will listen to the hon. member very briefly.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Thompson Conservative St. Croix—Belleisle, NB

Mr. Speaker, thank you for your generosity. This is twice in one day and I am overwhelmed.

I want to urge the government to proceed with answering questions. The parliamentary secretary is falling back on a technicality. He talks about the 45 day answering period.

If the Chair will listen carefully, which I know you do and you did, he said a 45 day delay. He actually used the word delay. Why the need for delay? The exact same questions were on the order paper on April 15 two parliaments ago. That is completely unacceptable.

The parliamentary secretary is very clever because he stands up and talks about how great a guy I am, which is fine, but he is trying to dodge the bullet.

The fact is this is a program with no transparency. Every member in this place who has a fisheries component in their riding wants answers to these questions. I am sure the member himself would like some technical and accurate responses from the department. The fact is that the department has no idea and is completely lost on this file.

I urge the parliamentary secretary to talk to the minister of fisheries and get some answers, and get them soon.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, I do not disagree with the member that this is an important question.

He referred to the standing orders as a technicality. I do not view them that way. If he would like to amend the standing orders, I am sure there is a process that he could look into.

In the meantime, I can assure the House that the government entirely respects the standing orders. I too look forward to the positive news and the great success story that will come out when the member gets an answer to his question on the order paper.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

Is it agreed that all questions be allowed to stand?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-14, an act to give effect to a land claims and self-government agreement among the Tlicho, the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Canada, to make related amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

I understand the hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca has five minutes left on questions and comments.

The hon. member for Calgary Centre-North.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Prentice Conservative Calgary North Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened as my hon. friend from Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca spoke with respect to this matter and I was surprised with respect to some of his comments because, looking at some of the other things which the hon. member has said in the House, he seems to have undergone quite an epiphany.

Specifically, on June 9, 1994, in respect of the land claim relating to Yukon which was then before the House, my friend said:

Bill C-34 gives special rights and special privileges to some of the native peoples of the Yukon Territory. As a representative here of all Canadians I have some problems with this. This bill is divisive. It will define the citizens of the First Nations as a separate group of citizens. Therefore what we would have in this land are two citizenships, citizens with different rules and regulations pertaining to each group.

As a result of this we are setting up separate governments for separate nations within the borders of this country, new governments with broad legislative powers, independent legislative powers of the rest of the country.

Native peoples see themselves as separate nations and not part of Canada. This I recognize. It is obviously a philosophical point of contention. To see oneself as a nation that is separate from another within the borders of this country may sound good to some, but I think that it is only divisive.

The hon. member carried on to say a number of other things which were significantly less moderate and which I do not want to have come out of my mouth in this chamber. On June 5, 1995, in relation to the Nisga'a agreement, the hon. member opposite said:

In closing, I would strongly urge the government to invest in policies that will enable native people to take care of themselves in a sustainable way in the future. Land claims are not the answer.

I wonder if my hon. friend would be good enough to explain for the benefit of the citizens in his constituency and other Canadians how he has undergone such an epiphany or are these merely chunterings from the other side of the House?

My hon. friend referenced chapter 7.7.2 of the agreement here in the House stating that it effectively had a concept of federal paramountcy. Leaving aside the other provisions of the agreement, I wonder if my learned friend would assist the House by explaining how chapter 7.7.2 operates and if he could describe for the House what is the difference between federal legislation of general application and other federal legislation?

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

12:30 p.m.

Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca B.C.

Liberal

Keith Martin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, it is important for us to compare equivalency, apples to apples, not apples to oranges, and my comments before were related to circumstances where I felt that laws would be different. My feelings have always been that the laws of Canada should supercede any laws of another nature.

That is the beauty of this agreement and I encourage the member from the other side to look at this very closely. The Tlicho have been very careful in ensuring that this was within the constitutional framework. The Tlicho people will establish their rules and regulations within the constitutional framework of Canada, not separate from it, not above it, but indeed within the framework.

The Tlicho government will respect Canadian law fully and the Tlicho people will recognize that as Canadians they are subject to federal law everywhere. They are subject to the same laws as everyone else in Canada. The laws of Canada will supercede any other laws that are made within the context of this agreement.

Furthermore, and this is an important point that the hon. member should realize, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms supercedes any kinds of agreements or laws that are made up within this agreement. The member should be very happy that if he had the same concerns that I had, where laws would somehow supercede the laws of Canada, those questions have been answered fully. Within the context of chapter 7 within the agreement, it clearly states and supports the comments that I have made in response to his questions.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-14 is a land claim and self-government agreement between the Tlicho, earlier known as the Dogrib, the government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Canada. It makes amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and consequential amendments to other acts. Because this is a land claim agreement as well as a self-government agreement, it is constitutionally protected. This enabling legislation also gives effect to the tax treatment agreement for the Tlicho.

The federal government has essentially been carving up the north since the 1980s. It did it through the creation of Nunavut, through the comprehensive Yukon Indian agreement for the 14 Yukon first nations, and it has done it in the western Arctic with the Gwich’in, the Inuvialuit, and the Sahtu land claim agreements in the Northwest Territories.

There are essentially two areas in the north not yet covered with a land claim after the Tlicho agreement. Those are the Akaitcho and Deh Cho in the Northwest Territories, bordering to the south and west of the Tlicho agreement we are talking about today. I hope that kind of puts a perspective on things for people who are listening.

We have an interesting scenario here. The former premier of the Northwest Territories, Stephen Kakfwi, prior to holding the premiership, held the aboriginal portfolio and even held it during his time as premier. He consistently supported a very strong aboriginal and northern ownership agenda.

Last year he suggested that the Northwest Territories would live under some form of aboriginal governance within five years. We have had a lot of land claim agreements, as I just portrayed, but we certainly have not had much in the way of aboriginal self-government agreements. This means that he is promoting an agenda that would lead to many new agreements. This agreement would be a forerunner of that.

The governance provisions in this agreement are obviously precedent setting and, one would imagine, very important for us to scrutinize because they have major implications for future negotiations. I think that is of great concern to us from the standpoint that this agreement has received very little scrutiny. There has been very little interest from the rest of the world. There is a lack of clarity in this agreement, such as the concerns about paramountcy.

There are paramountcy concerns in many of our aboriginal agreements, but this one is exacerbated by the fact that it is not just two sets of laws that are colliding, it is very often three sets of laws: those of the Northwest Territories, those of the federal government and those of, in this case, the Tlicho.

Therefore, without clarity this could lead to all kinds of collisions and jurisdictional disputes. There is no satisfaction in talking to the bureaucracy or anyone involved in these negotiations in terms of getting answers to specific questions when it comes to that issue.

I have some very real sympathy with the aspirations of the north and with the fact that the federal government has been an oppressive presence in many respects.

We know from the current situation that has been brought to light about the differences between Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia and the federal government over offshore revenues from oil and gas, for example, that there is every reason to believe that no Liberal federal government has ever wanted the provinces to control resource revenues or their own resources. That goes doubly so for the Northwest Territories and for Nunavut and Yukon.

I have some real sympathies to the reasons and the rationale for some of the expressions of using this land claim and self-government initiative to try and bring new expression to northern control over resources. I am not sure this vehicle is always the best way but it has been their only way.

Only last year, Jim Antoine, a very well known MLA in the Northwest Territories and the resources minister, stated that aboriginal governments would become allies in the territories' fight to win control over its resources and the associated royalties from the federal government. That is a validation of what I just said and a validation about the ongoing dispute, not just with the north, but with the provinces over control of their own resources, their own destiny and their problems with clawbacks and other arrangements whereby there is a disincentive to carry on enterprise and resource extraction.

The bill is rather compact but it would give force of law to the tripartite agreement of August 25, 2003, and that accords the agreement from 2003 paramountcy over the act itself. The act would bring into law these very complex provisions.

The Tlicho First Nation would have ownership of approximately 39,000 square kilometres of area north of Yellowknife and between Great Slave Lake and Great Bear Lake. Under the terms of Bill C-14, the first nation would also acquire participatory regulatory authority over a much larger area. The bill is unique in that it would give effect to the land claim and the self-government agreement.

The act and the agreement have been put before this Parliament on an all or nothing basis. The government, on the advice of the clerk and the House, has taken the position that Parliament lacks the capacity to amend the provisions of the agreement. For this reason, the legislation was introduced by way of a notice of ways and means motion.

What this is really telling us is that the federal government can negotiate essentially any agreement it so chooses in its area of expertise and can do so in a completely unchecked fashion.

We have great concerns about that. We and the other opposition parties expressed our concerns about the lack of any democratic check on the government's ability to sign on to the missile defence initiative, for example. We amended the throne speech so that a vote will be held in this place if the government decides to proceed with the missile defence initiative.

The government signs many other international treaties where the degree of scrutiny might be something we want to look at, but surely, when it comes to a domestic arrangement that will be constitutionally protected and that is something that is as complex as this agreement is, there must be some arrangement that allows for amendments to or checks on the fact that our bureaucracy, one department, one minister and the cabinet, can simply approve an agreement of this degree of seriousness.

I think there is a huge issue at stake and, I must say, I disagree with the position that the House has taken on this. I do not believe this contributes to democracy in any way. As a matter of fact, I believe it undercuts democracy. The very role that the House should be providing has been undercut by this decision.

The agreement gives 3,000 Tlicho people claims to subsurface resources, law-making authority and the power to tax, levy royalties and manage resources. The 39,000 square kilometres area is roughly half the size of New Brunswick. It is bounded on the north by the Sahtu, on the east by the Nunavut and on the south and west by the future Akaitcho and Deh Cho territories.

In order to negotiate this agreement, the negotiating costs for the Tlicho alone were $27 million. If we think about that, a group of 3,000 people spent $27 million just on their side alone negotiating this agreement and the House of Commons has no opportunity to change one sentence in that agreement. I do not know of any other jurisdiction that would accept this, but in any case, that is where we are. This is not a proud record. I would assume that all of the negotiating costs combined must be approaching $80 million.

I want to summarize some of the specifics of the agreement for the interest of our listeners. I think it is important that we know some of the non-self-government settlement provisions.

Two operating diamond mines in the Tlicho territory are specifically excluded from the land claim area but remain within the territory. Any future subsurface extraction on Tlicho lands would be subject to a Tlicho royalty regime.

Five years ago we were essentially a non-diamond producing nation. Now we are the third largest diamond producing nation on the globe and we have every reason to believe that we will become second in short order. There are lots of future expansions of diamond mining that will occur north of 60° and in northern Ontario, northern Saskatchewan and other jurisdictions.

Yes, the existing mines are excluded but for any future mines within the Tlicho it is quite realistic to assume that they will be on lands owned by the Tlicho. As it stands right now, under the Mackenzie Valley resource sharing agreement, the Tlicho get 10.5% of the first $2 million of mineral royalties received by the federal and territorial governments for subsurface resources within the five regions of the Mackenzie Valley and a further 2.1% after the $2 million figure is reached. This would bring in about $3.5 million a year to the Tlicho government from the whole basin.

The royalties from the existing diamond mines that are specifically excluded from the Tlicho lands contribute to that formula, which is also shared by the Shatu, the Gwich'in and others in the Mackenzie Valley region. The proposed route of the Mackenzie Valley pipeline would not traverse Tlicho lands and, therefore, is not an issue at this time.

The band is involved in hydro development and is likely to become self-sufficient and a net contributor to the grid for the Northwest Territories. The largest of the four Tlicho communities, Rae-Edzo, is located along the Fraser Highway and the Tlicho government is planning an all weather highway to link the other three communities, which are Lac la Martre, Snare Lake and Rae Lake. I must say that adding these kinds of infrastructures to the north are important and progressive and are all very good initiatives.

The taxation provisions of the agreement are a little unclear since there is no concluded taxation agreement between Canada and the Tlicho, although one is to be concluded. Once again, here we are enabling something that is yet to happen without any ability to amend anything.

Tlicho citizens would pay GST and income tax. Tlicho government corporations would not pay either tax when conducting business on Tlicho land. The Indian Act would no longer apply to Tlicho citizens and Tlicho lands would not be considered reserve lands. Tlicho citizens would have continued access to all federal programs for status and non-status Indians and Métis. The Tlicho government would receive taxes paid to the federal government from Tlicho residents. The Criminal Code would continue to apply.

This agreement has a $152 million cash settlement to be paid out over 15 years, and the Tlicho government will pay off its $27 million negotiating loan in its first six years. In addition, there is a one time payment of $5 million from the federal government to an economic development fund to be managed by the Tlicho government.

Although the agreement has received little attention in the Canadian media, it is certainly the most significant agreement concluded by the Canadian government in recent years, as I have explained. We have some issues with this agreement and I think they generally fall under several categories.

I will summarize my major concerns by talking about the jurisdictional confusion, the absence of finality that is not in the agreement and the fact that we are simply doing this in a vacuum. The whole agreement has been agreed to by a few individuals and is being rubber stamped because no other option is available to us as the Parliament of Canada.

Somehow we have to revisit how these initiatives are approached right from the beginning and ask what the long term ramifications will be of these precedent setting agreements that tend to create a jurisdictional lack of clarity between Tlicho or aboriginal law, territorial or provincial law and federal law.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

London West Ontario

Liberal

Sue Barnes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, with that speaker, I do not know where to begin on some of the misinformation. I will take that it is innocently laid on the table, so I will try to clarify some of the comments he has made.

The Tlicho agreement and the tax treatment agreement set out the status and authorities of the Tlicho government and the Tlicho community governments with respect to taxation. Tlicho citizens will be subject to taxation in the same way as other Canadians. The Tlicho agreement provides that the Tlicho government can enact laws in relation to direct taxation of Tlicho citizens on Tlicho lands or in Tlicho communities.

In addition, the Tlicho community governments can make laws respecting taxation similar to property taxation in other municipalities. Federal taxation authorities are not affected by these new authorities. Like other governmental bodies, the Tlicho government will be entitled to a refund of the goods and services tax paid in the course of performing a function of government, and similarly the income of the Tlicho government and the Tlicho community governments will be tax exempt.

The ratification process we are going through is where they will get inside their agreement the taxation authority. Documents have been made. The only document that is left undone is the tax sharing one between departments, like we would have with any province or territory and the federal government.

What is important to understand is Tlicho people pay taxes now and they will continue to pay taxes. They will have new rights. The new rights will come about because they are in the written agreement, which we will ratify. For anybody who understands procedure in the House, and he is a longer-standing member so I would have expected him to know this, when there is a taxation authority, the procedural ways and means motion is the way we bring it here. We have to do that because there is a taxation part on what we are doing.

That is procedure. It is not something that somebody dreamed up. I know the member from our party said that. It is in the documents at the table. It can be confirmed by the clerks who sit at the table who are independent procedural experts. It is a rule of the House and that is how we have to proceed. It has nothing to do with what can or cannot be done afterwards. It has to do with the authorities that are needed. The member for Winnipeg Centre also reiterated the same point. We are certainly not of the same party and often not of the same view.

He said many things about minerals. The lack of generosity boggles my mind. The whole point of giving resources is so a community can develop. There will be taxes paid. There will be certainty for those inside the territory and outside the territory as to the boundaries of the territory. Economic community for aboriginal Canadians is good for every Canadian. It is all about that.

Is this the same mindset that we saw in Nisga'a, or is it really just an evolution to another excuse not to contribute to the advancement of aboriginal Canadians and treaty processes in the country?

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have been here at least as long as the parliamentary secretary. I was the aboriginal affairs critic from 1994 to 1997 and again the last couple of years prior to my re-posting in this new Parliament. In that role we dealt with many of these agreements in the north. We dealt with the Nisga'a agreement, the Westbank agreement, the First Nations Land Management Act and taxation authority in various guises and forms.

Prior to this legislation, the House has never before handled one of these self-government or land claims bills in the fashion where it was an all or nothing swallow it whole, way. To suggest that Nisga'a was done in that way is not correct. We had vote after vote on amendment to the Nisga'a agreement in the House. That was done through a completely different process.

The member either has forgotten or does not know from whence she speaks. To somehow suggest that this is the only way to approach this kind of agreement, contradicts the facts. This is never how we have approached these agreements before. I hope it is never how we approach these agreements in the future. It is in the best interest of the government not to approach them in this way because it will end up wearing it, if there is a need in the future to amend it.

The government has failed to see what should have been seen. We are the most important check and balance on ensuring that it occurs. We are 308 members from across the country.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

Check your record, it's the same. Check in Hansard .

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

I will try to keep my clarity of thought despite the heckling of the parliamentary secretary. I think I have quite answered her questions.

Everything she had to say about the taxation treatment was basically covered in my speech. Therefore, I do not know what new information she brought to the table, other than a question about how this is handled in Parliament, that defies the facts.