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House of Commons Hansard #79 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was report.

Topics

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Prentice Conservative Calgary North Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the hon. member for Desnethé--Missinippi--Churchill River, which is an important riding with a long name.

The hon. member has led the way in the House in fighting for justice for aboriginal people in two respects: first, with respect to recognition and fairness for aboriginal veterans; and second, with respect to fairness for the victims of the aboriginal residential school system. He has done so diligently in this House and as the vice-chair of the standing committee.

However, in doing so, he has had to continually overcome problems with the governing Liberals. They fought him tooth and nail in terms of his efforts to make sure aboriginal veterans were recognized. They also have fought him tooth and nail in terms of trying to see some sort of justice for the survivors of the residential school fiasco.

I wonder if the member has any comments on his experience with the governing Liberals and the steps he has had to take on behalf of his constituents to remedy these injustices.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

Conservative

Jeremy Harrison Conservative Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the kind words from my colleague from Calgary North Centre, who is doing an excellent job as the critic on aboriginal affairs for my party and is somebody who I look forward to being the minister of aboriginal affairs in a short while.

I just want to address very briefly the issue of aboriginal war veterans. It is something that passed in the House last week and which was supported unanimously by all opposition parties. I, quite frankly, do not know what the government has against aboriginal war veterans. I thought it was quite disgraceful for the Liberals to stand en masse and vote against recognizing the historic injustice that was done to aboriginal war veterans, which they did. Not only that, they did not want that to go to committee or to be brought forward onto the floor of the House of Commons. The veterans affairs minister asked me to withdraw that motion. These are not the actions of a government with any compassion for or understanding of aboriginal people in this country.

The fact that the Liberals are trying to send this motion dealing with the ADR back to committee where it will die, is another indication of the total lack of respect and understanding that the government has for aboriginal Canadians.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am standing to support the amendment that has been moved, which is to give the committee another opportunity to look at the issues that have been raised here on the floor of the House, and that deal with the whole concept and process of an alternative dispute resolution approach.

I have been following very carefully the comments that have been made by colleagues on both sides. I make the observation that we have had an extremely contentious process in committee. Out of that process has come a report from the opposition. What seems incredulous to me is that this is a report that purports to do the best thing for those who have suffered the tragedy associated with residential schools. Those of course have been represented by our first nations.

We also have a very clear indication that not only does the Assembly of First Nations feel that there is very strong tenets within the alternative dispute resolution that bears further exploration but there also is, as has been pointed out, at least one other opposition party that feels that there are strengths, or at least parts of an alternative dispute resolution process that would help to come to grips with many of those issues that have come out of the committee's deliberations.

Here we are again debating an issue that came out of a process where there was not a clear consensus. This is clearly one of those kinds of issues where we ought not to be seen, nor should we be doing something that in a patronizing or paternalistic way is neither accepted in substance by the first nations people, through this report coming from the opposition, nor on the other hand should we be closing the door to a further consideration of some of the issues that have been raised. That is the reason why the amendment has come through in the manner in which it has.

It would be my position, and I say it with some degree of hesitation, because to the greatest extent my knowledge of those issues related to our first nations people has been through my attendance at the aboriginal affairs committee mainly through the last term. I have been following, though, the debate in this House today.

The report before the House shows that the hearings held by the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development on the effectiveness and the government's alternative dispute resolution process failed to study this complex issue in a truly meaningful way.

I cannot help but bring forward again the observation or the inference that is drawn from that. It seems that the committee for whatever reason did not really explore the alternative dispute resolution to the extent that it should have and could have.

It also seems that some of the members were not as interested in a real understanding of the alternative dispute resolution because many of the stakeholders that came before the committee, I am told, were also interested in working to improve that particular approach which, I might add, is a work in progress.

The committee, with the momentum and the focus provided by mainly the opposition, actually undertook a series of very quick hearings. One could suggest that there was not an absence of bias in those hearings into what is an extremely complex and important issue. It is a very important part of our history, which is the experience that so many of our first nations people, too many, had with the Indian residential schools.

At best, the hearings held by the committee in February were incomplete. That is clear from a simple review of the list of witnesses called to testify at these hearings. At worst, the hearings had the ring of political bias, a bias at the expense, though, of a real understanding or a real study, a genuine attempt to understand not only what happened at so many residential schools but also to understand the work that has been taking place subsequently over the past number of years to address this terrible legacy.

I am told that the committee heard from several former students who were displeased with the process. Let me be clear, we recognize on this side that both criticism and discussion are necessary parts of a developmental and innovative approach to resolving this issue.

For this reason, last year the government provided specific funding support to both the Assembly of First Nations and the Canadian Bar Association, two extremely legitimate organizations, which together would examine the ADR process and offer up their views. If there were no bias, if we were totally objective, would we not have wanted to hear from those two organizations?

It is noteworthy that the analysis and study by both the AFN and CBA was undertaken over the course of several months, in stark contrast to the six hours devoted to hearings by the standing committee. The standing committee also heard from the National Consortium of Residential Schools Survivors Counsel, an association of lawyers with significant investments that they had made in time to litigate against the government. We did not hear from them.

As I said a few moments ago, criticism and discussion are a necessary part of an innovative approach, but are dissenting voices the only voices that merit attention? The government is aware that no process is perfect, but the more than 1,400 applications the ADR process has received to date are surely a sign that this process is taken as a real, viable option for a growing number of former students who have taken it up.

The ADR process continues to receive more and more applications each week. Its adjudicators continue to render decisions, the total of which now stands at almost $5 million. These decisions are made within 30 days of a hearing taking place and the hearings have taken place in private homes, at other locations in communities of former students, and in some cases, in hospital rooms.

I state that because the inference or the implication has been made that the process is very ex parte, that it goes on in confusion and in environments that are not accessible and so on. That is not the case. Health support is available to former students who may be in crisis. The funding is also provided for support persons to attend the hearing with the former student.

That is how the alternative dispute resolution is happening in practical terms. These are clear indications that the ADR process has much merit and the committee would know this if the hon. Ted Hughes, who was the chief adjudicator of the ADR process, would have had the opportunity to address the committee for more than a meagre 10 minutes.

This is really revealing I am afraid. Mr. Hughes had barely started his presentation when the hearing of February 22 was adjourned. He graciously offered to return to complete his testimony at the committee's convenience. The question is: was he taken up on the offer? Unfortunately not. I cannot imagine why because several committee members, including I believe two of our colleagues from the Bloc, made it clear that they wished to hear the rest of the presentation. But it never happened.

As I have stated before and has been stated in the House, the government is working closely with former students, representatives of the churches and other stakeholders, in particular the Assembly of First Nations, to examine ways in which the reconciliation and healing of the terrible residential school experiences of many aboriginal Canadians can begin.

This is difficult and important work. The government and many people are working together to both streamline the existing process as well as to explore other ways to reconcile the legacy of residential schools. It would be an understatement, and I believe that all sides agree in this respect, that far too many aboriginal Canadians and their families in turn suffered as a result of their experiences at residential schools. On this point, I am sure that all colleagues agree.

Therefore, we need to take the time and make the effort in as expeditious way as possible to appropriately and in a fulsome manner address the legacy of Indian residential schools. This means continuing to work with former students and our other partners and stakeholders to find ways to improve the processes that we have in place, and to consider the ways that they may indeed be supplemented.

This does not mean throwing out all of the work that has already been completed. This does not mean abandoning the more than 1,200 former students who have taken the time and the immense effort to complete an application, as has been pointed out, to the alternative dispute resolution process and whose hearings will be taking place over the coming months.

We must not truncate this process and leave these people adrift in terms of what we already have instituted. The government will not abandon these people and it will live up to the commitment to offer a supportive, safe and timely process which is an alternative to the courts. The government will continue to foster debate and discussion. If this amendment is approved, that process will continue in committee and the government will continue to work with partners and other stakeholders.

On behalf of the government, I will state unequivocally that the government will not and cannot support the report that has been put before the House through the opposition.

It is the government's opinion, I think shared by other parties in the House, that the report is the product of a hasty and superficial study by the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. Accordingly I will be supporting the amendment that would send the report back to the committee for further attention and study.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, while I support the idea of my colleague from the Liberal Party, the chair of the environment committee, that this issue be sent back to committee and that we move a fulsome motion to accurately reflect the plan of Assembly of First Nations, he does a disservice to the debate by trying to soft sell how bad the current system is.

Any objective observer would concede that the current system is a catastrophic failure. The government is spending millions of dollars trying to paint victims as liars. What we are proposing is a lump sum compensation package where eligibility should be based on the fact that a person was there.

If someone was a student or a prisoner in one of these residential schools, in my view that person is eligible for compensation. I do not care how many times a person was touched or by whom. I do not care how big the stick was with which the person was beaten. I am not going to make people relive the horror of abuse they went through. Compensation should be based on the fact that a person was a student in one of those horrible institutions. To hear my colleague soft sell it does a disservice to the whole debate.

I am here to suggest that we should be voting against the motion for concurrence put forward by the Conservatives. The member and I agree on that point, but we certainly do not say that the status quo is in any way acceptable.

What we should move forward with is a three part recommendation that mirrors the report of the Assembly of First Nations, which calls for: first, lump sum blanket compensation to all victims so the $1.7 billion, which the Canadian people set aside for compensation, goes into the pockets of the victims; second, a full apology from the Prime Minister of Canada in the House of Commons to acknowledge this stain on our Canadian history; and third, a comprehensive truth and reconciliation process not just for the survivors to come forward to tell their stories but for both sides of this shameful piece of our history to begin healing. This would mean non-aboriginal Canadians, the churches and the government agents who put in place these horror stories.

Would my colleague, the chair of the environment committee, agree with me that the status quo is an abysmal failure and that what is necessary are the three steps I just outlined, as proposed by the Assembly of First Nations and the experts who wrote this report?

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings at this time and put forthwith the question on the motion now before the House. The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

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

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

The vote stands deferred until tomorrow.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dale Johnston Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today from constituents in my riding with regard to marriage. The petitioners pray that Parliament pass legislation to recognize the institution of marriage in federal law as being the lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure of presenting quite a number of petitions with thousands of names from Ontario, Alberta and B.C. on the issue of marriage.

The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that the majority of Canadians believe that fundamental matters of social policy should be decided by elected members of Parliament, not the unelected judiciary. They support the current definition of marriage as the voluntary union of a single man and a single woman.

They ask, therefore, that Parliament ensure that marriage is defined as Canadians wish and petition Parliament to use all possible legislative and administrative measures, including invoking section 33 of the charter if necessary, to preserve and protect the current definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. All these petitions are of the same nature.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to present petitions signed by 200 Canadians. The petitioners pray that Parliament pass legislation to recognize the institution of marriage in federal law as being the lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to present, on behalf of my constituents of Yellowhead, three petitions with thousands of names with regard to the definition of marriage. The petitioners are very concerned at the unintended consequences of marriage and they want the definition of marriage to remain as being between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, my petitioners state that marriage is the exclusive domain of Parliament and its upholding of the traditional definition. They ask, therefore, that Parliament define marriage in federal law as being the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Batters Conservative Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the honour of presenting three petitions this evening.

The first is on behalf of a number of citizens of Regina, many of whom are in my riding of Palliser. These petitioners wish to call to the attention of Parliament that this honourable House passed a motion in June of 1999 that called for marriage to continue to be recognized as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, and that the definition of marriage is the exclusive jurisdiction of Parliament.

These constituents petition that Parliament pass legislation to recognize the institution in federal law as being a lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

The second petition is very similar to the first. These constituents petition Parliament to define marriage in federal law as being the lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

The third petition, also pursuant to Standing Order 36, is on behalf of a large number of citizens from Moose Jaw in my riding of Palliser. The petitioners wish to call to the attention of Parliament that they recognize the importance of the special role of traditional marriage and family in our society.

These petitioners call upon the justice minister and Parliament to do everything within their power to preserve the definition of marriage as being the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

April 11th, 2005 / 6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, because of the sequence of events was changed somewhat today, I was unable to present a report from committee involving the change of a committee member, I believe a member of the Bloc Quebecois, which is one that we normally adopt routinely.

If the House is willing, I seek unanimous consent to present the 31st report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the membership of the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and I should like to move concurrence at this time.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

Is that agreed?

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 98 and 110.

Question No. 98Routine Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Bloc Compton—Stanstead, QC

With respect to the Canadian Learning Institute: ( a ) what is its mandate; ( b ) what is its address; ( c ) what activities has it undertaken since its creation; ( d ) if applicable, what is the total amount of funding allocated to it by each department since its creation; ( e ) what have its expenditures been for each fiscal year since its creation; and ( f ) if applicable, what funding has it allocated to projects, specifying the organizations and programs, and for what purposes?

Question No. 98Routine Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada

Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), the Canadian Council on Learning, CCL, was awarded a Government of Canada grant to support evidence based decision making in all areas of lifelong learning, from early childhood development, through adult and workplace learning and beyond. The independent, not for profit council will inform Canadians regularly on Canada's progress on learning outcomes, and will promote knowledge and information exchange among learning partners.

In response to (b), the CCL's office is located at 50 O'Connor, Suite 215, Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 6L2.

In response to (c), the CCL has moved from a transitional board of directors to a full board, has established an office in Ottawa, and has hired staff, including its president and CEO, Dr. Cappon.

Since his appointment in October 2004 Dr. Cappon has conducted consultations with key players in the learning community.

CCL has developed a plan to establish five knowledge centres organized around the themes of early childhood learning; adult learning; work and learning; aboriginal learning; and health and learning. One knowledge centre will be located in each of the country's five regions. the knowledge centres will be geographically distributed but nationally networked.

In addition, CCL is currently in negotiations with the Council of Ministers of Education Canada to conduct joint work on structured learning with the Canadian Education Statistics Council.

CCL is also partnering with Statistics Canada on a project to improve the infrastructure for reporting on learning indicators

In response to (d), the CCL was provided with a one-time conditional grant of $85 millions. The principal and interest of the grant are to be spent over a five year period from 2004-05 to 2008-09. The grant is governed by a funding agreement between Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and the Canadian Council on Learning.

In response to (e), it is estimated that CCL will expend approximately $1.67 million in the 2004-05 fiscal year, the first year of the grant.

In response to (f), as part of its mandate to develop an integrated plan-Canadian set of indicators that measure progress on outcomes across the continuum of lifelong learning, CCL has identified specific areas where better data sets are required. CCL has provided $397,000 to Statistics Canada in 2004-05 for a project to improve the infrastructure for reporting on learning indicators.