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House of Commons Hansard #38 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was land.

Topics

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Yukon Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Madam Speaker, this agreement involves almost four categories of territory in the Tlicho lands. There is a larger category with certain harvesting rights; a smaller territory where there are environmental assessment controls and responsibilities; and there is even a smaller area that is the actual Tlicho lands. Within the Tlicho lands there are four communities, which is really the only place where people have permanent homes.

In those four communities there are some non-aboriginal people. I wonder if the member could outline how the non-aboriginal people will fit into this whole agreement.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, the Tlicho agreement would establish a municipal-like community government and this would be pursuant to territorial legislation. Each of the four Tlicho communities would be covered under this agreement. All eligible voters can run and all eligible voters can vote for seats on the community council. Half of the seats on the community council will be guaranteed for Tlicho citizens and only a Tlicho citizen could run or vote for the chief of the community government. However the structure itself does engage all members of the community.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence O'Brien Liberal Labrador, NL

Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure to speak in this debate. I hail from a riding that is largely dominated by aboriginal parties, the Innu, the Inuit and the Métis of Labrador.

It is a genuine honour and privilege for me to rise in the House to speak to this legislation. Bill C-31 is no ordinary piece of legislation. The bill puts into effect the Tlicho land claims and self-government agreement. This is an historic step for the Tlicho people of the Northwest Territories and a milestone in the history of aboriginal peoples in Canada.

The word milestone is entirely appropriate, for the Tlicho land claims and self-government agreement represents the accumulation of a long journey, one that has demanded patience, determination and conviction.

As this journey has now reached the House of Commons, I would like to offer my congratulations to the Tlicho people for achieving this momentous agreement. I am proud to declare my support for the agreement and for Bill C-31.

The benefits of aboriginal self-government are many. The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has made this fact abundantly clear on numerous occasions. In the time allocated to me today, I would like to touch on just one of these benefits: strengthening economic development in aboriginal communities.

This is an area of which I am deeply concerned. I am very proud to see our aboriginal peoples move forward and to see the Tlicho people, as well as the aboriginal people that I represent, starting to do so very well in economic development.

The question is, why does the promise of economic development for the Tlicho people deserve special attention? As the House will recall, the government made a plea in the recent Speech from the Throne to foster such opportunities for aboriginal communities, to see aboriginal peoples participate fully in national life on the basis of historic rights and agreements, with greater economic self-reliance and improved quality of life.

The land claims and self-government agreement signed by the Government of Canada, the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Tlicho people helps fulfill that commitment by recognizing the jurisdiction of the Tlicho people over their land, resources, language and culture.

Economic growth can occur only when people have their freedom to cultivate it. Most Canadians take this truth to be self-evident but I was struck by a comment made by the Tlicho elder, Mary Ann Jermemick, upon the signing of the Tlicho agreement last August. She said:

We were always told what to do and what we couldn't do. We could have somebody doing mining…right next to our house and we have nothing to say about it. Now at least we have some say about what's going on in our community and our land.

I think that is a very important statement and one that speaks well of aboriginal people throughout Canada and a statement that could be used by almost any aboriginal person. These are profound words spoken by a wise elder. With this agreement, the Tlicho people will now have the freedom to cultivate economic development. They will possess the authority to not only identify new and important opportunities but also to promptly and decisively pursue them.

How will they accomplish these worthy goals? Under the Tlicho land claims and self-government agreement, the Tlicho people will gain additional governance and administrative tools to strengthen their economy. Using these levers of prosperity, the Tlicho expect to create an entrepreneurial climate that will encourage investment and pave the way for new jobs paying good wages. Through the land, resource and financial benefits they receive from the agreement, the Tlicho will be in a better position to undertake new business ventures and forge profitable partnerships.

As new economic ventures get underway, other opportunities are sure to follow. With these exciting new possibilities on the horizon, it is important to remember that the Tlicho people are no strangers to entrepreneurship. In fact, they have provided an excellent example to other groups, aboriginal and non-aboriginal alike, of the benefits of hard work, the strength of partnership, and the value of innovative thinking.

The Tlicho people were the first aboriginal group in the Northwest Territories to develop their own hydroelectric project. Developed in the 1990s, the Snare Cascades hydroelectric project was a joint venture with the Northwest Territories Power Corporation and represented the largest economic project undertaken by the Tlicho. A vital component of the regional power grid, the Snare Cascades project now generates more than four megawatts and supplies 7% of the territory's power. Labrador could probably help a bit because there are 5,500 in Great Churchill Falls.

The Tlicho also built, independent of any government funding, an airport in the aboriginal community of Rae-Edzo. The airport, which enables airlines to provide direct flights to Edmonton and Yellowknife, is sure to bolster a variety of industries in the region as traffic steadily increases.

The Tlicho currently partner with some of Canada's largest engineering companies, including Procon and SNC-Lavalin. The Tlicho nation is party to impact and benefits agreements with Diavik and Ekati, two prominent diamond mining companies in the region. Through these accords, the Tlicho have negotiated for guaranteed training and employment at both mines, enhancing the chances for increased employment and improved standards of living for the Tlicho well into the future.

It is no secret that the mining industry is the leading employer of aboriginal people in the Northwest Territories. In the early 1990s, aboriginal people accounted for only 10% of full time mining jobs in the north. Direct employment since then has tripled to about 30% largely due to the aboriginal hiring and training initiatives at the two diamond mines.

In fact, at the end of 2001, 683 aboriginal employees, or 30% of the operation's workforce, worked for the Ekati mine or its contractors. At the end of 2002, 36 of Diavik's operating employees were aboriginal. Diavik anticipates that aboriginal workers will account for at least 40% of the company's northern workforce when the mine reaches full capacity.

The mine is well on its way to reaching this figure following a recent agreement signed between Diavik and I&D Management Services, a consortium of aboriginal groups. Under this agreement, I&D provides 100 employees to the mine, of whom half are aboriginal. These workers operate many of the ore haul trucks, excavators, dozers and other heavy equipment essential to the mine's operations.

A new school, for instance, now provides Tlicho youth with a broader range of career and lifestyle options than those enjoyed by previous generations. These increased opportunities are encouraging many more students to remain in school and graduate. Dropout rates have plummeted. Many young people are now going on to post-secondary education, and in June 2006 the school will graduate its first university bound students. That is a very important milestone.

The spirit of entrepreneurship is also reflected in the rapid growth of the local business community. Today, more than 200 aboriginal owned businesses in the region, with annual revenues in excess of $100 million, are employing some 1,000 aboriginal people. These figures represent unprecedented growth in aboriginal entrepreneurship in Canada's north.

Here is more evidence of this growth. In 2001, Ekati spent $105 million of its $400 million operations support budget with aboriginal owned firms, a 62% increase over the previous year. At Diavik, by the end of 2001, the company had $726 million in contracts with northern companies, including $500 million with aboriginal joint venture firms.

These firms provide a variety of support services to the mines, namely, pit haul operations, explosives manufacturing, camp management and food services, employee recruiting, construction, engineering, and environmental management. Mining companies are fast recognizing that contract aboriginal firms in the region makes, above all else, excellent business sense.

I believe that I have made it clear that the spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well among the Tlicho people. I have no doubt that the land claims and self-government agreement will help bolster the regional economy even further.

The agreement gives the Tlicho people greater and more immediate decision making powers to capitalize on business relationships and expand their entrepreneurial horizons. As those horizons expand, the range of work experience available to the Tlicho will continue to broaden. And it is precisely that breadth of experience that will foster ongoing economic development and innovation.

In this way the Tlicho agreement benefits all Canadians, by providing a model of economic self-determination that others might emulate, and by strengthening the central role played by an aboriginal community within a broader regional economy.

I want to offer my personal congratulations again. This agreement and the people represented in this agreement rivals the kind of support and the kind of development I see in my own riding of Labrador among aboriginal peoples. I wish to offer my sincere congratulations.

It is for these reasons, and many others, that I urge all members to lend their support to this historic piece of legislation, to see its passing, and to ensure that the economic promise of the Tlicho land claims and self-government agreement is made real.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The vote is deferred until the end of government orders today when the other votes will take place.

The House resumed from March 12, 2004 consideration of the motion that Bill C-12, an act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act, be read the third time and passed, of the amendment and the amendment to the amendment.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Hon. members will recall that, on Friday March 12, 2004, the hon. member for Surrey Central proposed an amendment to the amendment of the motion for third reading of Bill C-12. This called for the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to report back no later than April 5, 2004. The date in the amendment to the amendment having passed, I am obliged to declare that the amendment to the amendment out of date.

Resuming debate on the amendment standing under the name of the hon. member for Lethbridge.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on Bill C-12, an act to amend the Criminal Code, which, as everyone knows, is the protection of children and other vulnerable persons, and the Canada Evidence Act.

Bill C-12 proposes a broad package of reforms which seeks to ensure that the criminal law meets the concerns and needs of all Canadians, especially those who are most vulnerable among us, our children.

The bill has five key components. I would like to go through them one by one and give illustrations of how the bill would be implemented.

The first one is strengthening the existing child pornography provisions by broadening the definition of written child pornography and narrowing the existing defences to one defence of public good.

What this means in reality is that the existing defences for child pornography would be reduced to the single concept of the public good. A person would be found guilty of a child pornography offence when the material or act in question does not serve the public good or where the risk of harm outweighs any public good it serves.

The bill now defines the public good as including--and I think this is important--“acts or materials that are necessary or advantageous to the administration of justice or the pursuit of science, medicine, education or art”.

The proposed reforms would also expand the existing definition of written child pornography to include material that is created for a sexual purpose and predominantly describes prohibited sexual activity with children. The current definition of child pornography applies only to material that advocates or counsels prohibited sexual activity with children, and this is strengthening the concept that at the end it is the ultimate public good that must be served.

The second component is the creation of a new prohibited category of sexual exploitation of young persons, as evidenced by the nature and circumstances of the relationship, including: the age of the young person, any difference in age between the young person and the other person, and the degree of control or influence exerted over that young person.

This provision would provide new protection to young persons between 14 and 18 years of age. Under the proposed reform, courts could infer that a relationship is exploitative based on its nature and circumstances, including the age of the young person, any difference of age, the evolution of the relationship, and the degree of control or influence exercised over the younger person. This new category would focus the court's determination on the conduct or behaviour of the accused rather than on the consent of the young person to sexual activity.

The third component is to increase the maximum penalties for offences against children and make the commission of an offence against any child an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.

These tougher sentencing provisions include, under the government's reform proposals, penalties for offences that harm children. The maximum sentence for sexual exploitation would double from five years to ten. The maximum penalty for abandonment of a child or failure to provide the necessities of life to a child would more than double from two to five years. The abuse of a child in the commission of any Criminal Code offence would also have to be considered as an aggravating factor by the court and could result in a tougher sentence.

The fourth component is the facilitating of testimony by children and other vulnerable victims and witnesses by enhancing their ability to provide clear, complete and accurate accounts of events while at the same time ensuring that all of an accused person's rights are protected and respected.

These measures to protect children and other vulnerable persons as witnesses involve several reforms which will help ensure that participating in the criminal justice system is less traumatic for the victim or witness. Current Criminal Code provisions would be expanded to allow all witnesses under 18 to benefit from testimonial aids in any criminal proceeding, not only those involving sexual and other specified offences.

These aids include providing testimony from behind a screen or by closed circuit television or having a support person accompany the young witness. Current provisions generally require that the Crown establish the need for a testimonial aid. Given the potential trauma of the courtroom experience for young witnesses, the proposed reforms acknowledge the need for an aid.

For all testimonial aids, the judge retains the discretion to deny the aid or protection where its use would interfere with the proper administration of justice. In addition, the facilities to permit the use of a screen or closed TV circuit must be available in the courtroom before the judge can permit their use. Fundamental rights for the accused are fully respected under the proposed amendments.

These reforms also would allow children under 14 to give their evidence when they are able to understand and respond to questions. A competency hearing, which is currently mandatory, would no longer be required.

The fifth component is the creation of a new offence of voyeurism to criminalize the surreptitious observation or recording of a person in defined circumstances that give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy.

This new offence of voyeurism is influenced through the rapid technological developments of recent years. They have brought many benefits to Canadian society, but they have also had implications for such basic matters as privacy. Web cameras, for example, which can transmit live images over the Internet, have raised concerns about the potential for abuse, notably where the secret viewing or recording of people involves a serious breach of privacy or is made for sexual purposes.

The proposed offences would make it a crime in three specific cases to deliberately and secretly observe or record another person in circumstances where a reasonable expectation of privacy exists: when the person observed or recorded is in a place where one is reasonably expected to be in a state of nudity or engaged in explicit sexual activity; when the person observed is in a state of nudity or engaged in explicit sexual activity and the purpose is to observe or record a person in such a state of activity; or when the observation or recording is done for a sexual purpose.

Distributing material knowing that it was produced through an offence of voyeurism would also be a crime. The maximum penalties for all voyeurism offences would be five years' imprisonment and the copies for sale or distribution of a recording obtained through the commission of a voyeurism offence would be subject to seizure and forfeiture. The courts could also order the deletion of voyeuristic material from a computer system.

I believe that Bill C-12's objectives are clearly stated and reflected in the preamble. Paragraph one states:

Whereas the Parliament of Canada has grave concerns regarding the vulnerability of children to all forms of exploitation, including child pornography, sexual exploitation, abuse and neglect--

These words are an emphatic statement of purpose in Bill C-12.

Paragraph three of the preamble also notes as an objective that Bill C-12 seeks:

...to encourage the participation of witnesses in the criminal justice system through the use of protective measures that seek to facilitate the participation of children and other vulnerable witnesses while ensuring that the rights of accused persons are respected--

I believe we should all be readily able to recognize these objectives as not only important but fundamental to our collective efforts to provide better protection to our children and other vulnerable persons. I hope that all hon. members will support Bill C-12.

Much of the debate on Bill C-12 has focused on the proposed child pornography amendments. Canada's child pornography laws are among the toughest in the world. Bill C-12 will make them tougher still. I believe this bill's proposed expansion of the definition of written child pornography and the narrowing of the defences to one single defence of public good, now defined in Bill C-12, respond in a very direct and meaningful way to issues highlighted by the March 2002 case involving Robin Sharpe. I hope that all hon. members can support Bill C-12's child pornography amendments. I hope that all hon. members can support the bill.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gerry Ritz Canadian Alliance Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like at this time to move, seconded by the member for Lakeland, that the amendment be amended by adding “and that the committee report back to the House no later than June 1, 2004”.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It is a matter of procedure, but of course every matter of procedure is important. Just to review where we were, when the hon. member for York South—Weston concluded his remarks, I then called for questions and comments. The member for Battlefords—Lloydminster rose to propose this amendment, which, in terms of substance, is in a correct form, but the Chair cannot accept the proposal at this time while the member gained the floor on questions and comments.

I will have to go back to the House and ask for questions and comments. Then of course subsequently if the occasion arises, the member getting up on debate would have that same opportunity.

I will go back to the previous question on questions or comments. There being no response, we will resume debate with the member for Battlefords—Lloydminster.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gerry Ritz Canadian Alliance Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, if this is the appropriate time, I move:

That the amendment be amended by adding: “and that the committee report back to the House no later than June 1, 2004”.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The Chair wants to make sure that it is doing things in the proper order and I thank the House for its understanding and cooperation.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Elgin—Middlesex—London Ontario

Liberal

Gar Knutson LiberalMinister of State (New and Emerging Markets)

Mr. Speaker, and all members of the House, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-12, an act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act.

This is not among my normal course of work being a Minister of State for International Trade. I know I share the concern with all members of the House about the protection of children and vulnerable people.

Bill C-12 proposes a broad package of criminal law reforms that seek to strengthen the criminal justice system's protection and response to children and other vulnerable persons.

Although I will focus my comments on child pornography, I would also like to note that Bill C-12 contains other important reforms. It proposes to strengthen protection for young persons against sexual exploitation. It would increase the penalties for offences against children. It would facilitate testimony by child and other vulnerable victims and witnesses. It would create a new offence of voyeurism.

As I said, I would like to focus my comments on the amendments relating to child pornography.

The sexual exploitation of children, society's most vulnerable group in any form, including through child pornography, is to be condemned. I know there is no debate among civilized people on this point.

Bill C-12 recognizes this and proposes amendments to our existing child pornography provisions that I believe will serve to better protect children against this form of sexual exploitation. Canada's child pornography laws are already among the toughest in the world and as my colleague before me said, Bill C-12 would make them tougher still.

First, Bill C-12 proposes to broaden the existing definition of written child pornography to include written material that describes prohibited sexual activity with children where the description is the predominant characteristic of the material and it is done for a sexual purpose.

The proposed amendment reflects Canadians' belief that these types of written materials pose a real risk of harm to our children and society by portraying children as a class of objects for sexual exploitation. Bill C-12 clearly states that such materials are not acceptable.

Second, Bill C-12 proposes to narrow the existing defences into one defence, of public good, a term that is now specifically defined in the bill. Under the new law, no defence will be available where the material or act in question does not serve the public good or where it exceeds or goes beyond what serves the public good.

The public good defence recognizes that in some instances, such as with the possession of child pornography by police as part of an investigation, such possession serves the public good and should be protected. It also recognizes that art or material that has artistic value can serve the public good. However and unlike the current artistic merit defence, the proposed public good defence in Bill C-12 will not be available for such art where the risk of harm it imposes to society outweighs any potential benefits that it offers.

Canadians have been demanding that we respond in a direct and meaningful way to the issues that flowed from the March 2002 case involving Robin Sharpe, and this is exactly what Bill C-12 does. The adoption of Bill C-12's amendments will reaffirm Canada's leadership role in protecting children from sexual exploitation through child pornography.

I note from the clock that I am running out of time, so I just ask in closing that all hon. members support these amendments.

The House resumed from April 20 consideration of the motion that Bill C-30, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 23, 2004, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the motion that this question be now put.

Budget Implementation Act, 2004Government Orders

April 21st, 2004 / 5:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 5:30 p.m. the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the previous question at the second reading stage of Bill C-30.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)