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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.

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The House resumed from October 27 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

10 a.m.

Liberal

Roger Valley Liberal Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I rise in the House to speak about honouring traditions and building prosperity. I rise in support of Bill C-14, the Tlicho land claims and self-government act. The legislation brings into effect an agreement that respects more than 1,000 years of history and lays the groundwork for Tlicho prosperity well into the future.

The history of the Tlicho is a story of a people who have met successive challenges thanks to a set of ancient principles handed down from generation to generation. These principles help the Tlicho decide when to act and when to react, when to drive change and when to adapt to it. By applying these principles, the Tlicho made wise decisions that allowed them to prosper in a modern world, while ensuring the survival of their people, their language and their culture.

These same principles inform the agreement at the heart of the legislation before us, an agreement that will have a positive impact on the quality of life in Tlicho communities because it is rooted in their rich history and honours the way they have lived for generations.

For centuries, the Tlicho were a nomadic people who occupied and used vast stretches of land in the Mackenzie River and Great Bear and Great Slave Lakes. Their ancestors tracked migrating herds of caribou, fished in waters according to age old patterns, trapped and hunted different species according to the seasons.

It should come as no surprise that the primary Tlicho principle is a respect for the natural environment, for the land, the flora and the fauna that thrive on it. It can be difficult for us to appreciate just how deeply the land resonates through the Tlicho culture. More than a source of sustenance, the land also provides spiritual guidance and shapes Tlicho language and art.

Respect for the land guided the Tlicho in their initial dealings with southerners. In 1921, as oil and gas exploration accelerated in the north, Chief Monfwi signed Treaty 11 on behalf of the Tlicho people, who were then known as the Dogrib. The chief traced the traditional lands of his people on a map and the boundaries he described are nearly identical to the ones included in the Tlicho agreement. In fact, when modern negotiators sought to finalize the boundaries for today's agreement, they turned to Tlicho elders for assistance. Their elders based their input on traditional knowledge of the routes travelled regularly by their ancestors.

The agreement at the heart of Bill C-14 will give Tlicho effective control over 39,000 square kilometres of land, almost 20% of their traditional territory. To ensure that the lands can be used in an effective, sustainable and equitable manner, the agreement enables the Tlicho to participate in several boards that will make resource management decisions in their area.

The second guiding principle at the heart of the Tlicho philosophy and the agreement is to act for the common good. Survival in a harsh environment of the north requires collaboration. The interests of the community are to be respected before those of the individual.

In the modern era, this principle has been evident in the Tlicho's approach to education and social services. The Tlicho moved swiftly and effectively to establish schools, for instance, when it became apparent that their traditional way of life was going to be threatened.

In the 1960s, the Tlicho recognized that a proposed pipeline through the Mackenzie Valley could have serious effects on their culture. The chief at the time was Jimmy Bruneau. He insisted that his people learn to blend northern and southern cultures and study the aboriginal and non-aboriginal traditions. This vision became known as a need to “be strong like two people”, a phrase that later became the mission statement for the Chief Jimmy Bruneau school.

The school opened in 1971 and it still teaches a curriculum that balances ideas from the north and the south, from aboriginal and non-aboriginal perspectives. Today, the Dogrib community services board, Canada's first aboriginal school board, operates five schools. An average of 20 students earn high school diplomas every year.

Modern Tlicho leaders believe that access to higher education is crucial to their people's ability to design and implement the policies that can ensure survival of their culture, their language and their traditions. As a result, the Tlicho invested heavily in post-secondary education. When impact benefit agreements were negotiated with mining companies, Diavik and BHP Billiton, the Tlicho insisted both include contributions to a scholarship fund. The Tlicho also intend to put sizable portion of payments they receive from the agreement toward this scholarship fund.

Today the fund supports more than 130 Tlicho who are pursuing post-secondary education. Once they graduate, these people will likely return to serve their communities as teachers, doctors and tradespeople. Their academic success will provide living proof of the Tlicho principles to the next generation.

The Tlicho principle of common good is the central theme of this legislation before us today. Effective self-government, for instance, enhances the Tlicho's ability to improve their communities. The Tlicho government will be able to enact laws to protect culture, language and deliver the social services and manage the resources.

Bill C-14 also incorporates two other Tlicho principles: recognition and representation. Each of the four Tlicho community governments established under the legislation will be run by a chief and a council comprised of a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 12 members. All will be democratically elected. At least half of each council must be comprised of Tlicho citizens. All community residents of legal age can qualify to vote for councillors, although only Tlicho citizens will be eligible to vote for the chief.

The constitution, already ratified by the Tlicho, outlines rules and responsibilities of government and protects the rights and freedoms of those who reside on Tlicho lands. Non-Tlicho citizens, for instance, may be appointed or elected to serve on Tlicho institutions. The constitution also ensures that the Tlicho government is politically and financially accountable to the citizens that it represents. All laws enacted by the Tlicho government are subject to legal challenges.

The final principle I would like to address involves respect for the people. The Tlicho believe that every resident must be accountable to contribute to the community in some way. This is part of the reason the Tlicho negotiators organized dozens of town hall meetings during the negotiations that led up to the agreement. They wanted to ensure that everyone had the opportunity to be heard.

Furthermore, to prepare people for success in the new economy, the Tlicho established a development corporation in 1978. Rather than focus exclusively on making a profit, the corporation's primary goal was to train and employ Tlicho people.

The wisdom of this approach is evident today. There are now two Tlicho holding companies operating several businesses in multiple economic sectors. A logistics company provides services to mining projects and a trucking firm transports goods across this vast region.

The Tlicho also own a local motel and a sporting goods store in Yellowknife. These businesses provide training opportunities and work experience, and give every Tlicho citizen a chance to contribute to their communities.

The Tlicho agreement is a modern expression of the age old principles that have enabled an ancient people to adapt and to change. This agreement has already earned the support of the Tlicho, of the territorial legislature in Yellowknife and now it is our turn in the House. I am convinced that a careful examination of Bill C-14 will lead my hon. colleagues to support it enthusiastically.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, today we are dealing with 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, or the Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act.

We in the Bloc Québécois are in favour of this bill, as we were moreover of Bill C-31, which died on the Order Paper but has now returned as the bill we are discussing today, Bill C-14.

I have had the honour of meeting with representatives of the Tlicho nation, on October 6 and then again yesterday, along with the Bloc Québécois critic for Indian and northern affairs, the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent. I would draw to hon. members' attention that this gentleman is the first aboriginal person from Quebec to sit in this Parliament. He was a negotiator for the aboriginal peoples for many years. I will not let his age slip. I dated myself yesterday, but I will not do the same to him. I will merely say he was an aboriginal negotiator for many years and is very familiar with the issues. As native elders pass down their wisdom to the younger members of their community, he is passing his knowledge on to me, and I am very grateful to him. It is a pleasure to work with him on this.

The Tlicho who met with us have, moreover, honoured him with the name Barbe blanche. I have not yet been given a name, nor do I yet have a white beard, but I am sure it will not be long until I do.

We also received a letter from grand chief Joe Rabesca on October 22 thanking us for the way the Bloc Québécois has backed his people's claims.

I will just provide some of the background of this bill. The Tlicho agreement comes out of the failure of negotiations with the Dene and Métis nations, a process that ended in 1990. Negotiations with the Tlicho nation resumed in 1994 and concluded in 2003 with the signing of the Tlicho agreement. In this field, patience is a must. The Tlicho have been patient, and I think their patience will soon be rewarded.

On June 26 and 27, 2003, the Tlicho voted 84% in favour of the agreement. It was not a close vote for a referendum, but I will say that we would have unquestioningly accepted the result even if it had been 50% plus 1.

Thus, the passage of Bill C-14 is the final step in recognizing the land claims and self-government of the Tlicho people.

With respect to the terms of the agreement, just to remind the House what it is about, the agreement will give the Tlicho the largest contiguous block of land belonging to a first nation in Canada and will set up new forms of self-government for the Tlicho. The agreement will clarify the rights, titles and obligations of the Tlicho nation. The agreement does not interfere—and this is important—with ancestral or treaty rights of other aboriginal groups. The Tlicho government will own a territory of almost 40,000 square kilometres and it will receive slightly more than $150 million over 14 years. It will have specific legislative jurisdiction over its land and over Tlicho citizens, including those not living on Tlicho land. The most important point in this bill is that the agreement gives the Tlicho nation the tools it needs to achieve financial self-sufficiency, to protect its way of life and to improve its economic growth and the well-being of the whole community. Those principles and values are very dear to us.

The Tlicho have been waiting for 14 months now, since the agreement was signed, for self-government. The Bloc Québécois is 100% in favour of the right to self-government for the aboriginal peoples, their right to govern themselves autonomously. The agreement before us is an excellent example of self-government.

Since it first arrived on the federal political scene, the Bloc Québécois has recognized aboriginal peoples as distinct peoples. We think that aboriginal peoples have a right to their languages, their cultures and their traditions.

Aboriginal peoples unquestionably have the right to decide how to develop their own identity. Therefore, we endorse most of the recommendations of the Erasmus-Dussault royal commission on aboriginal peoples. They called for an approach to the concept of self-government based on the recognition of aboriginal governments as a level of government with jurisdiction over governance and the welfare of their people. We feel that this agreement reflects this approach.

In Quebec, if I can make a comparison, we have long been advocating this type of agreement, in which mutual respect is paramount. As early as 1985, René Lévesque and the Parti Québécois government in office at the time recognized Quebec's aboriginal nations. The Quebec people recognizes that diversity is not a threat, but an asset.

In Quebec, the year 2002 was also a turning point in this regard. It was once again a sovereignist government—what a coincidence—the PQ government of Bernard Landry, which signed the peace of the braves agreement and the joint agreement. The peace of the braves was signed on February 7, 2002, by then Quebec premier Bernard Landry, and the Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees, Ted Moses.

This historic 50-year agreement marks the beginning of a new era in relations between Quebec and the Cree. The agreement concerns the establishment of a new relationship between the two nations. It provides, I should point out, for greater empowerment for the Cree regarding their economic and community development and for hydro development projects in James Bay. It also provides for the harmonization of forest activities with traditional Cree activities.

What a fine example of nation to nation negotiations. Soon, a sovereign Quebec will also be negotiating nation to nation with Canada, and the earlier the better. During the last election campaign, the Bloc Québécois reminded the federal government that the peace of the braves agreement was the example to follow. The Cree nation deserves as much consideration as the Tlicho nation. The peace of the braves has demonstrated that major development projects have to be negotiated with mutual interests in mind. The Bloc Québécois supports the first nations in their fight for emancipation. That is why we are asking Ottawa to follow this example to negotiate a similar agreement with the Cree.

As for the joint agreement, in 2002, the Parti Québécois government of Bernard Landry signed with the Inuit of Nunavik a 25-year agreement to accelerate economic and community development in Northern Quebec. This joint agreement enables the Inuit to assume responsibilities in economic and community development formerly held by the Government of Quebec.

This agreement is opening up bright new horizons by accelerating hydro development in Nunavik, promoting more control for the Inuit over their economic and community development, simplifying and increasing the efficiency of the financing for the Kativik regional administration and northern villages, and providing funding for priority projects.

To conclude, there are two historic agreements, both signed by a sovereignist government. Those who believe that we, sovereignists, want to close borders do not know what we are about. Those who believe that we do not treat our minorities right do not know what we are about. A sovereign Quebec will work in partnership with other peoples.

I reiterate the Bloc Québécois' support for the principle of self-government for aboriginal peoples. This agreement actualizes the right of the Tlicho to govern themselves. I might add that the Tlicho nation clearly indicated its desire to self-govern, and we support this democratic desire.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Roger Valley Liberal Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently for a question but what I heard was a lot of praise for the work done by the government and the negotiators. A few points were made on how it took too long, but it was important to get it right. The government had to make sure the Tlicho people were satisfied with the agreement. I think it was incumbent upon us, as the government, to make sure everyone was heard. During my comments I explained some of the details.

I would like to take a minute to bring forward some of the many areas which I meant to do during my speech. This is a very comprehensive agreement and the areas I want to touch on are areas which many of us would not realize.

The Tlicho agreement contains 27 chapters and includes some of the following topics, among others, which will show how broad the negotiations were: enrolment, Tlicho government, Tlicho community governments, Tlicho lands, access to Tlicho lands, wild rice harvesting rights, wild rice harvesting management, land and water regulation, subsurface resources, mineral royalties, protected areas, heritage resources and economic measures. Those are just some of the many things that were looked after and everyone was in agreement.

I would point out to my hon. colleagues across the way that when the job is done right and everyone has patience and we make sure that we cover all our bases, we can get results, like 84% in a vote of confidence. The member mentioned that he would accept 50% plus one, but I believe most of Canada would like to see a rate of 84% or higher if there is going to be a decision made in Quebec.

I think they can learn from the Tlicho and learn to do things right. We can all live together. I think it is very good news for Canada.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are in a place where we talk about democracy. That is the link I wanted to make with the agreement being presented in this House.

In a future referendum in Quebec, I would like the result to be 84% in favour of Quebec's sovereignty. We are going to work very hard to achieve that.

I can assure my colleague that when this happens, we will be as direct and frank in our negotiations as the Tlicho were with the Northwest Territories and the Government of Canada.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Conservative Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, the last member indicated that he thought the negotiations that were done with the Tlicho were great. However, the member from the Bloc talked about having its own sovereignty and dealing with the federal government, plus having borders for the Cree.

How are they going to all work together because we are dealing with several levels of government? What type of government is going to be set up with all of these little autonomies? Will we have a level of government that has the powers of the federal government? Will they be partners with provinces? Will they be municipal governments?

What vision does this member have for all of these different autonomies because I see very many right now, the Tlicho, the Cree and the separate Quebec borders?

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her question. Do I have a couple of hours to give her a course on Quebec sovereignty? I do not think so, unfortunately. It is no surprise that we are here. We have been here since 1993. In our speeches we often draw parallels with sovereignty in Quebec.

As far as how it would work is concerned, it is not so complicated considering this agreement was established on the same principle as the agreement with the Nisga'a. I know her party was against that agreement.

We agree completely with aboriginal self-government. We will not flip-flop on this, because of some alleged administrative problems. Quite the contrary, we know that, while Nisga'a agreement was not supported by her party, it is working quite well. In Quebec, the agreements with the Cree and the Inuit are also working quite well.

The federal government needs to look at these agreements and use them as examples. In the case of the peace of the braves, the problem still has not been resolved with the federal government. We are asking the federal government to draw on this agreement with the Tlicho and to do the same with the peace of the braves and the agreement with the Quebec Cree.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to make a couple of comments.We would like to support the spirit of the agreement. Clearly, the Conservative Party agrees that the settlement for the Tlicho land claim should happen. Negotiation of any aboriginal self-government agreement is something we support.

The problem that I have with this agreement, and I would like to question the hon. member on a couple of points, is that it is poorly drafted. There are a number of inconsistencies and flaws in the agreement that should be addressed before we pass this legislation.

The agreement does not recognize Canada's official languages. The Tlicho constitution recognizes the official language of the Tlicho nation to be Tlicho and English, but it does not recognize Canada's other official language, French. I wonder what the hon. member for Richmond--Arthabaska would say with respect to that. Does he feel that this is something that should be included in the agreement or is he satisfied with the terms of language provision the agreement calls for?

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are of course going to look into what the hon. member says. Obviously, this may merely be a technicality that will have to be checked in committee.

At this point we are totally in agreement with the principle of this bill. This has been pointed out by the Bloc Québécois Indian and northern affairs critic. The Bloc has always been in agreement with the bill, even when it went by another name and died, unfortunately, on the Order Paper during the last session.

We are going to look into what the hon. member has said. There is nothing to prevent certain amendments from being made in committee, as required. We will pay careful attention to the bill, while delaying its examination as little as possible.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, that is one of many flaws that I believe is contained in this agreement.

One of the larger problems with this agreement and the way it is drafted right now is the fact that there is no finality to this agreement. Chapter 27.6.1 provides that the Tlicho will receive equivalent benefits to those granted in the future to any other aboriginal group in the Northwest Territories, whether by land claims agreement, self-government agreements, taxpayer exemptions, et cetera.

This agreement is not a final agreement at all. One of the basic premises of any agreement is finality. This agreement, in the way it is currently drafted, does not call for finality to be enacted. This agreement could be reopened for future negotiations. I do not believe that is what we want to see in any agreement of this sort.

We want to see a document and a piece of legislation that is properly crafted and properly worded so that all partners in this assembly can agree, or at least agree to disagree, on the wording. The biggest problem I have is that there is no finality to this agreement. It cannot be a proper piece of legislation unless there is a finality contained in the language of this document.

I would ask questions of both the hon. members who have just spoken. What would they do to ensure--

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member is only able to direct his question to the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska.

That member now has an opportunity to give a brief reply.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I cannot respond on behalf of my colleague, of course. The hon. member has submitted a long list of problems he feels are in the agreement. All I can say is that he is entitled to his opinion, but I do not share it.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Michael John Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague from Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca.

It is a special honour for me to rise today and encourage my hon. colleagues to support Bill C-14, the Tlicho land claims and self-government act. The act would make possible boundless improvements in the lives of the Tlicho people. It would serve throughout Canada and around the world as an example of visionary advancement of the principles of ethical fairness, social encouragement, and legislative support for aboriginal communities. Moreover, it would most assuredly have a positive and sustained effect on Canada's economy as a whole.

In the modern age, the keys to the long term business success of a corporation and the keys to economic prosperity of a whole society are in many ways similar. The requisites are creativity, honesty, hard work, persistence, and now above all else, effective partnerships.

Buyers need sellers, retailers need wholesalers, distributors need manufacturers, and producers need suppliers of raw materials. In the development of social economic structures the pattern of interdependence is the same. Communities need support, individuals need encouragement, leaders need wise counsel and organizations need allies.

Before any of this can happen local communities need the full understanding and support of provincial and territorial authorities. All levels of government need the clarity of well considered legislation from which they can seek, build and sustain the partnerships that will lead to prosperity.

In my opinion, Bill C-14 would provide the Tlicho people with the tools they need to establish new and effective partnerships. The Tlicho have already demonstrated a remarkable ability to negotiate mutually beneficial agreements with private companies. Consider for example the resourceful approach the Tlicho took to two of the diamond mining projects now underway in the Northwest Territories. Before the projects went ahead impact benefit agreements were completed that guaranteed valuable benefits for Tlicho communities. These agreements made with Diavik and BHP Billiton respectively have generated jobs for the Tlicho people, service contracts for Tlicho owned companies, and post-secondary scholarships for Tlicho youth.

The Tlicho have recognized that most mines are productive only for a finite period and that once this time elapses many of the well negotiated jobs and contracts will then dry up. To maximize the potential long term benefits associated with diamond mines on their traditional territory, the Tlicho people sought the help of a business partner. Several years ago the Tlicho began an association with ATCO Frontec, a logistics firm that follows a unique and successful business model based on collaboration with aboriginal groups.

Beginning in the late 1980s, ATCO established a series of partnerships with aboriginal groups across the north. As an example, the Uqsuq Corporation, which stores and distributes fuel, is jointly owned with the Inuit Development Corporation of Nunavut.

The Inuit of Labrador are partners with ATCO in Torngait, a company that provides support services to a range of industries. In B.C., the Northwest Territories and Yukon, Northwest Tel operates and maintains microwave towers thanks to agreements ATCO has made with several aboriginal development corporations.

Each one of these partnerships with ATCO is based on a similar business model, one that stresses the building of capacity within aboriginal communities. While contacts may come and go, industrial and business capacity has an enduring market value that can be adapted to suit new opportunities.

This capacity based business model appealed to the Dogrib Treaty 11 Council which then partnered with ATCO Frontec to create Tli Cho Logistics. The business model is pretty simple. The Tlicho own 51% of Tli Cho Logistics and ATCO Frontec controls 49%. The company provides a range of services to the Diavik diamond mine and to the remediation project underway at the Colomac gold mine. Today more than 130 people work for Tli Cho Logistics, 50 of whom are members of the Dogrib Rae band.

When the company was founded five years ago ATCO handled nearly all the company's administrative and managerial work while the unskilled jobs went to the Tlicho people. During the past few years however ATCO has helped the Tlicho acquire the skills needed to manage and to administer that company.

This incremental transfer of technical skills is why the Tlicho were and continue to be keen to partner with companies like ATCO Frontec. Tlicho leaders recognize that management skills acquired on mining projects can be readily applied to other ventures as well. In other words, the Tlicho will be better able to initiate, to manage and to operate other projects as a result of experience gained from these diamond mines. This, my hon. colleagues, represents community capacity building in its purest form, and all Canadians stand to benefit from it and should be proud of it.

When Canadians want to do business they must make and seek investment. These days attracting investment is tricky. Investors everywhere have been burned. They look for security, for solidity and for mitigated risk. In short, they look now more for a secure return on investment rather than a large or perhaps uncertain quick return on investment. Managing risk is often now the act of avoiding it altogether.

Now look at the challenges facing the first nations, the Inuit, the Métis and northern communities attempting to attract the financing necessary to move a business ahead in their communities. These communities are often frozen in their progress by factors such as limited access to venture capital, a shortage of private sector partners and a lack of infrastructure. In this environment, what security can they offer investors? What factors must be addressed? What conditions must be changed to show investors that those who are in charge are ready, willing and able to make the kind of business decisions that generate results? This, I believe, is where Bill C-14 shines through.

Today land claims and self-government agreements are opening up the business environment by finally clarifying the ownership of resources. In the north, one of the world's greatest storehouses of natural resources, first nations, Inuit, Métis and northerners play a major role in growing the local and Canadian economies.

With such certainty affirmed by law, aboriginal groups, such as the Tlicho, can move resolutely, creating businesses. Instead of going cap in hand to investors, they can say, “Something big is about to happen, are you in or are you out?”.

I believe many Canadians have not yet appreciated the tremendous impact that first nations, Inuit, Métis and northerners will have on our national economy in the decades to come. Theirs is a community of communities where the population is rapidly growing, a sure sign of economic potential. The Conference Board of Canada has been warning Canadian corporations to “ignore the economic potential of aboriginal people at their own risk”.

With Bill C-14 we can give one group the certainty it needs to push ahead and to make its mark. This is a positive step in improving our nation's health. Our legislation must give people the tools they need to press ahead. The ability, the drive and the opportunity are there. With Bill C-14 and others like it, we can at last make sure that the certainty is there.

We have before us an opportunity to send a clear and powerful message to first nations, Inuit, Métis and northerners across our country, that the Government of Canada is ready to remove the remaining barriers to economic development in aboriginal communities. I urge my hon. colleagues to support Bill C-14.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague opposite made some very good points in terms of needing to have some certainty on a lot of these investment issues so that when companies do go in and make the large capital investments, they do have that certainty throughout a time period.

This week I was at the Energy Council dinner where they honoured Nellie Cournoyer from the north for all of her actions and what she has done to really bring prosperity to the north.

One of the questions I do want to ask my colleague is on the issue of jurisdiction. Which level of government has jurisdiction? One of the things we found in our reading of the legislation was that it is a little confusing over which jurisdiction is paramount. Is it the provincial government, the federal government, the agreement itself or Tlicho law?

Could the hon. member identify which level of government has paramountcy in terms of jurisdiction? Could he point to either the agreement or Bill C-14 legislation where it identifies which level of government is paramount.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Michael John Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, the area of economic certainty applies to many places in Canada. It certainly applies to the part of Canada where I live, which is Atlantic Canada, where we have had not as dramatic but similar lacks in terms of access to venture capital and to resources that they have had in the north.

One of the great benefits in the Northwest Territories with this treaty is that it provides certainty and clarity with the ownership and management of land and resources. That is very key. How does this treaty make it easier for the first nations people in northern Canada, and in particular the Tlicho nation, to take advantage of the great resources that lie beneath them? I think this provides a lot of clarity around that, provides certainty about the ownership and management of land and resources, and will create a much more predictable decision making environment so that people who are looking to make investments can be certain about their returns.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to follow up on this because I do not know if I was clear in my question.

If we take a look at, for instance, the Mackenzie Valley pipeline, there is some disagreement now. The federal government is willing to go ahead but there is some disagreement with respect to the Deh Cho in the north. In terms of economic investment, the government needs to clarify.

Suppose there is a disagreement between either a provincial government and the federal government or between the Tlicho and this agreement, which would be paramount? Who, in the end, has the authority to make that decision?

To be honest, as I read the legislation and the treaty itself, I find them confusing. I do not find which level of government would be given paramountcy in these types of tough decisions. I would like the government member to highlight for us where in the agreement we can find which level of government would be paramount in issues of tough jurisdiction where one or more levels of government disagree.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Michael John Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, this agreement does state that Tlicho laws would be concurrent with federal and territorial legislation. However the Tlicho have agreed that any federal legislation would prevail over Tlicho laws. I assume that is the question the hon. member is asking. The agreement states, “There is no paramount authority over the federal Crown in relation to matters concerning the Tlicho”.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca B.C.

Liberal

Keith Martin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-14, which I do support.

Many of my hon. colleagues had much to say about this and I will not restate their points, but I will talk about it in the context of first nations, Inuit, Métis and northerners identity, self-sufficiency and treatment within Confederation. In my opinion the bill is more than appropriate and timely. It is absolutely essential.

Bill C-14 would enable the Tlicho to affect their environment and the changes in a better way because they are most familiar with their local conditions. At long last the Tlicho will be guaranteed representation on land, water and renewable resource boards and within community governments. They will have control over the land and resource management, aboriginal language and culture.

By exercising their inherent rights, the Tlicho will have the power to assume control over their resources once and for all. They gain the right to grant interests and licences and they gain the freedom to establish partnerships and conduct business according to their needs, while at the same time respecting interests that already exist. I think that is an essential point to the good question that was posed by the opposition that this bill respects the interests of groups that are already there.

The Tlicho have ably demonstrated that they can manage their affairs responsibly and, indeed, profitably. I urge hon. members here today to remember that the Tlicho are one of the most prosperous aboriginal communities in the north. They have proven to be both forward thinking and industrious. They constructed and now run an airport, take a lead role in the management of their schools and have built and operated both senior centres and a long term care facility.

They have proven to be able and fair negotiators, and have successfully negotiated delivery agreements on a number of matters and, in particular, in working with the Northwest Territories. They have signed a number of mutually beneficial agreements with private sector firms, chief among them the far reaching impact that the Ekati Diamond Mine deal has struck.

The Tlicho have long experience in devising and supporting fruitful partnerships and alliances, partly due to their sharing nature and partly because of their world view. They and their society understand that long term health and prosperity lies directly with their ability to cooperate with those around them.

In the private sector their agreements have resulted in a wealth of economic and social benefits, including jobs and training opportunities. The resulting economic activity in Tlicho communities supports a wide range of social services. Indeed, when we consider this agreement, it springs from a group of communities working together in the spirit of collaboration. It is no surprise that Bill C-14 itself is the result of extensive and fruitful collaboration by many groups.

I am aware, though, that sometimes the results of public consultation have been criticized and overstated. In fact, we all know that sometimes consultation and collaboration have been far less than successful and merely an exercise of having a lot of meetings. However that was not the case in this set of negotiations that have resulted in Bill C-14.

The consultation process, in short, was exemplary. First, it was conducted as the combined efforts of the Tlicho, the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Canada. This coherent tripartite approach ensured proper representation of all three levels of government from the beginning and, by unanimous agreement, the process was refined so that we have the formal agreement we have now.

Open house sessions were held in four Tlicho communities, as well as Yellowknife, and feedback was listened to and incorporated. What is important is that the public at large was informed about this process and had opportunities to have input all the way along.

In the summer of 2002, when the Government of Canada announced the withdrawal of 39,000 square kilometres of land that would eventually become Tlicho land, widespread public consultation occurred again with interest groups and representations from all three governments were brought to bear.

Another public information session occurred in September of that year when it was decided that further consultations were necessary to ensure that the public was completely informed and had ample time to discuss and respond to all these proposals. The chief negotiators had set up a three month information exchange period with interest groups so that questions would be asked and answers would be forthcoming.

It is worth noting that during these exchange periods, tangential discussions between the Tlicho and the Akaitcho Treaty 8 Dene gained considerable momentum. To their credit, the Tlicho were diligent negotiators. During these information exchange periods, in which the Tlicho agreement was hammered out, it was refined in a number of areas as a result of these negotiations so that by March 2003 the ratification process was formerly commenced.

This is a remarkable achievement of public consultation. It makes clear the intention of the local aboriginal people to be heard and respected. High public turnouts attested to this fact. Moreover, wide public consultation occurred throughout this process. People throughout the north had their views heard, respected and incorporated. That was been important. Some concerns had been expressed by members about the process.

The Tlicho are clearly ready to fulfill their obligation. They have been working toward this agreement for more than decade. They have staged hundreds of consultation sessions and have secured the support of a range of public and private sector groups. Now the Tlicho are ready to establish and maintain a democratic government. This is very important. I think it will address a number of the questions that will come from the opposition.

The Tlicho are ready to establish and maintain a democratic government within the constitutional framework of Canada. Their government will respect Canadian law, fully recognizing that the Tlicho, as are Canadians everywhere, will be subject to federal laws and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

My colleague on the other side asked a very legitimate question about the issue of who would be in control and which law would be of paramount importance. It is the laws of Canada. I can reference specifically within the agreement. Chapter 7 has very specific references as to which laws are paramount within the context of any conflicts that may occur between what is in the agreement for the Tlicho people and other levels of government. Article 7.7.2 explicitly states that the federal legislation will prevail over Tlicho legislation where there is any conflict. I hope this will answer the member's question specifically.

Many of us have had the opportunity to work with aboriginal people. We have seen what occurs in aboriginal communities. We have seen the devastation within some aboriginal communities, which has been wrought for such a long time. We have seen the pain, suffering, the social dislocations which have occurred and the terrible social parameters that occur with aboriginal people both on and off reserve.

Domestically, I know we are committed to change the historical problems that have occurred with aboriginal people and change the horrible social parameters in some communities, such as unemployment, substance abuse, the lack of skills training, fetal alcohol syndrome, dislocated communities, communities where they desperately need and want to work with non-aboriginal communities to ensure that together we can enjoy the fruits of our wonderful country.

We on this side are committed to doing this. I have no doubt that members on all sides want to work with aboriginal communities to change those parameters, to rectify those problems and ensure that aboriginal people will be able to teach us the strengths of their cultures and their communities. Together we will learn about each other and will enrich each other. Together we will have a stronger country. Together we are a stronger people. Together we are culturally enforced. Together we will improve the social welfare of the people and societies of which we are part. I know that we are committed to that goal.

Women EntrepreneursStatements By Members

October 29th, 2004 / 10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, encouraging and supporting women's entrepreneurship is a key priority for the government. Today, on the first anniversary of the report of the Prime Minister's task force on women entrepreneurs, which I had the opportunity to chair, I am pleased to inform the House that this priority is indeed being realized.

In particular, I would draw the attention of the House to the event concluding in Ottawa today on “Sustaining the Momentum: An Economic Forum for Women Entrepreneurs”. This forum, co-sponsored by Industry Canada and the Eric Sprott School of Business at Carleton University, brings together leading thinkers in the public, private and academic sectors to consider ways to foster the development of women's entrepreneurship in Canada.

I hope all members of the House will join me in recognizing the importance of the contribution made by women entrepreneurs in advancing economic competitiveness and a high overall quality of life in communities throughout Canada.

Toward this end, the government looks forward to hearing and advancing considerations of the views and recommendations from this forum.

2004 Summer Olympic GamesStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to pay tribute to Olympic gymnast Melanie Banville. Melanie is 17 years old and hails from Long Sault in the riding I am proud to represent, Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry.

Melanie was one of only two Canadians to reach the individual all round final in gymnastics at the summer Olympic Games in Athens. Only the top 24 women gymnasts in the world advanced to the all round final. This achievement is even more remarkable considering that it was Melanie's first summer Olympics and that she had just recovered from two shoulder injuries in two months that forced her to miss three weeks of training.

Long Sault is proud, Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry is proud and Canada is proud of Melanie. I look forward to following her promising career in gymnastics. I know her athletic performance and personal grace will represent Canada well at future Olympic Games.

Culinary OlympicsStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to announce that a team of young chefs from Prince Edward Island has brought back a gold medal for Canada from the Culinary Olympics in Germany this week.

The team members study at the Atlantic Tourism and Hospitality Institute in Charlottetown. They were competing against more than 700 chefs from 31 countries in tests of culinary skills. The team is made up of students Kreg Graham, Rebecca Hutchings, Mark Sheehy, Gerald Sharpe, Tommy Archibald, Kelly Clark, Natalie Fortier, Gillian Gilfoy and team coach Hans Anderegg.

These students come from every region of the country and have been achieving world class results as they compete in culinary events around Canada and in Europe.

Please join me in congratulating the members of team Canada on their gold medal performance and for showcasing Prince Edward Island's culinary institute on the global stage.

École du Bois-JoliStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, recently, the École du Bois-Joli, in Trois-Rivières-Ouest, lost its right to use its student radio for educational purposes, this for reasons that seemed mysterious. We looked into this seemingly unjustified measure and we took the necessary actions, so that the student radio could resume its activities.

I also want to mention the hard work done by the media, the students, the parents and the school management to settle this issue.

Now that students have regained the right to carry on their educational activities through the student radio, to the satisfaction of the whole community, I wish to thank all those involved in the resolution of this matter, and I also want to underline how much these people care about students.

Bell CanadaStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Lui Temelkovski Liberal Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, over the course of the past several months numerous constituents, myself included, have encountered issues with the service of Bell Canada. As one of Canada's largest providers of telecommunications services, it is imperative that the service be reliable and professional.

The introduction of what is termed “Bell Bundles” also introduced billing and service difficulties for customers. For instance, customers are not being billed the way they have requested or told they would be billed; exceedingly long waiting times for customer support services; harassing customers to take unnecessary services; and customer support representatives who are not informed regarding the other portions of the bundle services, ultimately resulting in frustration and very poor service for users of Bell.

Given the importance of telecommunication services in the country, I look forward to a quick resolution to this problem.

Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, recently the revenue minister delivered what may be the ultimate statement in Liberal ethics. Asked why he ignored Treasury Board rules in appointing Gordon Feeney as chair of Canada Post, the minister replied that those were just suggestions and not regulations. All of a sudden, there is a lot of Liberal behaviour that is becoming quite clear.

The Prime Minister said he would not call an election until he got to the bottom of the sponsorship scandal. I guess he only suggested that possibility. The Prime Minister also vowed he would end cronyism. Again, it appears this was only a suggestion.

I have a suggestion for my Liberal colleagues. They should keep their resumés handy because after the next federal election, the voters will make the suggestion that they look for clear opportunities in the private sector.

Small Business WeekStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take this opportunity to recognize the contribution of the people who received awards last week, as part of Small Business Week, in the Restigouche region.

First, I want to congratulate Irène Doyle, from the region of Campbellton, who received an award as an exceptional individual in the Restigouche. Needless to say, people like Mrs. Doyle are making a significant contribution to our communities.

Finally, I want to congratulate Alain and Adrien Arseneault, of the Adrien Arseneault sawmill, who received the 2004 entrepreneurship award for the Restigouche. Their business, in the Balmoral region, is making a great contribution to the economic development of the riding, and this award is well-deserved by these business people and their team.