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House of Commons Hansard #170 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was amendments.

Topics

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Pursuant to order made earlier today, Bill C-59, an act to amend the Criminal Code (unauthorized recording of a movie) is deemed read the second time, referred to a committee of the whole, reported without amendment, concurred in at report stage, read a third time and passed.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time, considered in committee of the whole, reported, concurred in, read the third time and passed)

Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

John Baird Conservative Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

Daniel Petit Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, as parliamentarians, we are sometimes rewarded with moments of profound satisfaction, and today is one of them.

With the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement—the last Inuit land claim settlement in the country—we have now come full circle. The Inuit of Nunavik will once again become the owners of a group of islands totaling 5,100 square kilometres located north of the 53rd parallel.

In Inuktitut, Nunavik means “place to live". From now on, 10,000 Inuit living in 15 communities scattered along the Ungava Bay and the east coast of the Hudson Bay will own the land they have been using for over 4,000 years.

This agreement was overwhelmingly supported by the Inuit of Nunavik. Indeed, some 78% of the eligible beneficiaries and 90% of everyone who voted supported the agreement. Such strong support is an excellent indication of the commitment of the Inuit people of Nunavik and just how important the agreement is to them.

I would also like to point out the measures set out in the agreement to protect the traditions that have ensured the survival of the Inuit culture. With the new act, the Inuit of Nunavik will have the right to harvest wildlife on the lands covered by the agreement, in order to meet their economic, social and cultural needs.

Thanks to this bill, and to the agreement at its foundation, the Inuit of Nunavik will own the surface rights and subsoil rights in fee simple. The islands belong to them without question.

These claims were particularly complex because of the overlap in the Nunavut land claims, the offshore land claims of the Crees of Quebec and the land claims of the Inuit of Labrador. It was impossible to settle the claims of the Inuit of Nunavik without first putting some order into these issues. It was essential to achieve the desired agreements to clarify the ownership rights on the land and the resources.

Here is an example. The Inuit of Nunavik and the Crees of James Bay had created three adjacent zones along the coast of Hudson Bay and James Bay.

To the north, was the Inuit zone, where the Crees of Quebec are permitted to harvest wildlife resources. The common zone is shared by the two groups. Finally, the southernmost zone will be the exclusive property of the Crees of Quebec, but the Inuit will be allowed to harvest wildlife resources in that zone.

In case of any disputes, the regulations provide for a resolution mechanism based on arbitration.

In addition to clarifying the territory belonging to the parties, this final agreement provides greater certainty about the future of the region.

It is in the interest of all parties to establish certainty regarding the use and ownership of the land and the resources. The certainty consists in replacing ambiguous ancestral rights with rights that are very precisely defined in the agreement. Section 35(3) of the Constitution Act, 1982 expressly grants the same protection to ancestral rights as to rights flowing from a treaty.

The benefits of obtaining certainty are clearly illustrated in another important point of the agreement: the creation of a new Canadian national park.

The Torngat Mountains National Park is a magnificent park of about 9,700 square kilometres with some of the most marvellous landscapes in Canada. It extends from Saglek Fiord in the south up to the northernmost point of Labrador, and from the border with Quebec on the west, to the Labrador Sea on the east.

The park protects a spectacular, untouched arctic area that is home to numerous archaeological sites and wildlife resources of great interest to Canadian historians.

Under the agreement, the Government of Canada will pay about $94 million over 10 years to the Inuit of Nunavik, who will invest those funds for their future. This amount includes the transfer of $54.8 million to the trust fund of the Inuit of Nunavik. The money will be distributed to some 10,000 Inuit of Nunavik, individually and collectively, to meet their educational, social, cultural and socio-economic needs. The great success of the Makivik Corporation shows that the settlement of land claims leads to the creation of businesses, jobs and new national and international markets, which strengthens the ability of First Nations and Inuit communities to meet the needs of their members.

That translates into a better quality of life for Aboriginal people, which is precisely the objective that we had set out to achieve. To guarantee that the economic development generated by this agreement procures sustainable benefits to the Inuit of Nunavik, the regulations provide for creation of several institutions public government. The Makivik Corporation will have legal authority to nominate 50% of the members of those institutions. For the first time, the Inuit of Nunavik will exercise real decision-making powers and be able to act decisively in the review processes that govern development of the region.

For example, the Nunavik Marine Region Wildlife Board will be responsible for wildlife management and conservation. It will conduct research, monitor the allowable take, including the Nunavik Inuit share, and set quotas as needed.

For its part, the Nunavik Marine Region Planning Commission will establish policies, objectives and goals to be used in managing the Nunavik Marine Region together with the federal and territorial governments. The Commission will also create land use plans for the development and exploitation of resources in the marine region.

Among other things, the Nunavik Marine Region Planning Commission will be responsible for assessing impacts, and will pre-select proposals for assessment. It will assess the impacts of proposed projects and monitor their progress.

As with all other land claims agreements, people will wonder which act takes precedence. I want to be very clear: all general federal, territorial and local legislation applies to the Inuit of Nunavik on the Inuit of Nunavik lands. Should incompatibility or conflict arise between these acts and the agreement, the agreement takes precedence, but only in cases of incompatibility or conflict.

It is clear that this final agreement, which has been so carefully drafted, seeks to strike a balance between the past and the creation of a better future for the Inuit of Nunavik.

This agreement is beneficial to all parties. We should celebrate this final step, which is a major achievement, and highlight its benefits for all Canadians. I therefore wish to reaffirm my support for this important bill.

Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-51 and encourage its passage. My leader supports the bill, as do, I believe, all leaders in the House today.

Many years ago a great Inuit leader, Zebedee Nungak, called for what he termed the completion of the circle of Confederation by the acceptance of Canada's Inuit peoples. It has taken too long, but we are moving closer to that goal.

I was greatly impressed by the briefings I received from Nunavik Inuit leaders on this treaty. The agreement, and the bill that implements it, reflects their objectives while respecting the rights and interests of my Inuit and other constituents in Labrador.

I wish to acknowledge in the House the president of Makivik, Pita Aatami, and my good friend and cousin, Johnny Peters, vice-president, representing the Nunavik Inuit.

I have had a warm relationship over the last decade with the leadership of the Nunavimmiut as we have collaborated in trying to ensure that all Inuit people in the Labrador peninsula are accommodated. This is a historic agreement for Canada, for Nunavik, for Quebec, for Labrador, and for all Inuit.

At the same time, the people of Canada and Labrador deserve honesty, accountability and clarity. Today I want to explore the implications of this proposed treaty. I also want to deliver a message that treaty making is the way of the future for reconciling Canada's sovereignty with all aboriginal peoples, Indian, Inuit and Métis.

We must certainly do better as legislators in moving the process of treaty making forward. Some of the major land claims we have faced were filed 20, 30, even 40 years ago, and most are still unresolved. Surely we can find a better way. Yesterday's announcement, unfortunately, does nothing to relieve the backlog in comprehensive claims.

I also have a special concern as the member for Labrador to ensure that the land ownership, the jurisdictional and the compensation aspects of this treaty are fully consistent with the honour of the Crown. I must be assured that the Nunavik Inuit and anyone else affected by the treaty are fully and fairly accommodated.

The bill before the House is a well crafted, well negotiated and fair expression of Nunavik Inuit interests on the offshore regions of Quebec and Labrador and in the overlap territories the Nunavik Inuit share with my other cousins, the north coast Inuit within my riding.

To be sure, as my friend in the other place, Senator Charlie Watt, has put it, the agreement could be better, particularly in relation to certainty and the continuing demand by Canada that aboriginal groups give up what is undefined about their rights, but the Nunavik Inuit have accepted the wording in the course of their negotiations.

The treaty strikes an important balance in providing Nunavik Inuit, as well as the Inuit of Nunatsiavut, northern Labrador, with solid, constitutionally protected rights and interests in the management of lands and ocean resources.

This treaty has been negotiated over a great many years. The deal has been approved and ratified by the Nunavik Inuit. It has been reviewed and signed off by the Nunatsiavut government, which will play an important role in implementation within terrestrial Labrador.

I am pleased that the government has recognized the hard work done by our previous Liberal government, as most of the federal work was done under our watch. I hope that the reciprocal arrangement defining the rights of Labrador Inuit in Nunavik will soon be finalized as well.

This treaty does not require provincial approval. All the offshore areas involved are fully within Parliament's jurisdiction. The land based impacts are within a national park reserve, the Torngat Mountain national park, to be created by this bill, which is also within federal jurisdiction.

The treaty affirms Nunavik Inuit interests and rights in the Labrador Inuit settlement area in accordance with an overlap agreement between the two Inuit organizations as originally provided for in the Labrador Inuit land claims settlement agreement.

The treaty respects the interests of Canadians, of Labradorians and of Labrador's aboriginal peoples.

I wish to highlight the next steps to bring reconciliation a final and deciding step closer to realization in Labrador.

This is a piece of a wider solution. Part of Canada's agenda must be a treaty with the Innu Nation of Labrador. These negotiations have languished for so long that the social and economic prospects for both the Innu and all Labradorians have suffered. It is important to move ahead and closer to an agreement like those achieved by the Nunatsiavut and now the Nunavik Inuit.

The Innu Nation of Labrador has built important relationships with Nunatsiavut and their Innu brothers and sisters in Quebec. One day they will enjoy a renewed relationship with the provincial and federal governments through land rights resolution and self-government treaties.

Unfortunately, there are legitimate fears that the recent dismissal and shuffling of chief federal land claims negotiators may delay progress on the Innu Nation negotiations. This does not help.

There is also one last Inuit descendant group in Canada that must be accommodated in Labrador. I am, of course, talking of the Inuit-Métis of Labrador, of which I am one. This is a unique group, the only aboriginal people in the country to span the Inuit and Métis peoples recognized in the Constitution Act, 1982.

In 1996 the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples took special efforts to assess and comment on the Labrador Inuit-Métis. In 2003 the Supreme Court of Canada also made specific mention of the Labrador Inuit-Métis in its Powley decision and clearly implied the need for a reconciliation for this unique people.

Only in southern Labrador have Inuit people been associated with Europeans for so long, in fact since the 16th century. Yet, we are clearly an Inuit people of mixed descent, unique in Canada. It is a historical and legal fact.

Last year the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador took these precedents into account and ordered the provincial government to accept reality: that the Inuit-Métis exist and have rights that are certain to be upheld in a court of law. The provincial position that Powley and other aboriginal jurisprudence do not apply in Labrador is simply not tenable.

The province, at least tacitly, has consented to the Nunavik-Nunatsiavut agreement, yet it continues to blockade progress by the Labrador Métis Nation. This is unfair, unjust and hypocritical. It is also contrary to the solemn, written promise made by Premier Williams during the 2003 election campaign. It does not serve the interests of the province of Labrador or of the Métis Nation.

It is for Canada, through Parliament, to take action to restore a fair and equitable basis for accommodation and reconciliation. In this spirit, yesterday, we heard the minister announce the creation of a special Indian claims tribunal. It is a step forward.

This acknowledged that in aboriginal claims and rights issues, it is important to provide an efficient and fair avenue for negotiations, and for dispute settlement where negotiations do not succeed. This is all part of the essence of reconciliation.

Although it is a step forward, I have expressed certain concerns about the tribunal. I would stress again that there must be progress on comprehensive claims, as well as on specific claims.

The 6,500 Inuit-Métis of Labrador living in isolated communities, as they have for time immemorial, have been waiting almost two decades for a response to their claim. They have been denied justice.

The royal commission in 1996 had suggested and recommended acceptance of the claim. In 2003 the Supreme Court also commented on the Inuit-Métis claim and clearly paved the way for acceptance. The people of Labrador are ready to accept the Inuit-Métis claim.

I have resolutions from the combined councils of Labrador, representing all municipalities, to the same effect. My friends and indeed relations from Nunavik have themselves been very sympathetic and supportive. It is time that the federal and provincial governments take action.

I have worked to break that deadlock. In 2003 I negotiated an agreement with the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs to have an independent legal assessment done of this Inuit-Métis claim filed by the Labrador Métis Nation.

This is exactly the kind of alternative dispute resolution called for and must be respected through the creation of the tribunal. Yet, the independent assessment that was agreed to has not started.

It is now 17 months into Canada's tired—

Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Order, please. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but we have reached an order of the day. The member will be able to resume his comments when we return to government orders.

Speaker's Ruling--Devils Lake Diversion ProjectRequest for Emergency DebateGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2007 / 5:20 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Earlier today, the hon. member for Winnipeg North requested an emergency debate on the Devils Lake diversion pursuant to Standing Order 52.

The Speaker took the request under advisement and has asked me to inform the House that having considered the request, he has concluded that it meets the requirements of the Standing Order.

Accordingly, to give members an opportunity to prepare for the debate, it will be scheduled for Thursday, June 14, 2007, at the completion of debate on government orders, but in any event no later than 9 p.m. pursuant to special order adopted earlier today.

It being 5:20 p.m., pursuant to order made earlier today, I now invite the hon. member for Burlington to address the House concerning Bill C-279, An Act to amend the DNA Identification Act (establishment of indexes).

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-279, An Act to amend the DNA Identification Act (establishment of indexes), as reported (with amendments) from the committee.

DNA Identification ActPrivate Members' Business

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, throughout the debate on Bill C-279 many significant facts have been stated. There are nearly 100,000 missing persons in Canada every year. Over 6,000 missing person cases are currently unresolved, with an addition of over 450 new cases per year.

There are over 15,000 samples of unidentified DNA recovered from crime scenes across this country currently stored in the RCMP's national DNA data bank here in Ottawa.

As well, there are hundreds of sets of unidentified DNA from Jane and John Does found in morgues across Canada.

Given the need for a DNA data bank and the widespread support from Canadians, law enforcement professionals, the provincial and territorial governments, a DNA database for missing persons housed within the national DNA data bank is on the horizon. Bill C-279 helps make that possible.

The public safety committee recently studied Bill C-279 and referred it back to this House. The committee recognized our need for a national missing persons index, an MPI data bank, as soon as possible, and supported my bill in principle, but recognized that more work needs to be done.

That work is being done and experts will be back in the fall to testify before the committee.

I am happy to tell this House that the Minister of Public Safety himself has expressed interest in looking into this concept as a possible future government bill.

Members from all parties have acknowledged their support and the support in principle from their respective parties.

Canada is the DNA leader. It is known for pushing the technology, how it handles DNA, and how it will handle a DNA data bank. We should support Canada's commitment as a leader in DNA and set a great example for other countries to follow.

I would like to thank Lindsey's mother, Judy Peterson, for inspiring this bill and the Minister of Natural Resources who has worked tirelessly on this issue before I took it over.

Bill C-279 may not exist after today, but the concept will and I will continue to work hard with our government to make this happen. At this time I would seek the withdrawal of my bill, Bill C-279, An Act to amend the DNA Identification Act.

DNA Identification ActPrivate Members' Business

5:20 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Pursuant to order made earlier today, Bill C-279, An Act to amend the DNA Identification Act (establishment of indexes) is withdrawn.

(Order discharged and bill withdrawn)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-51, An Act to give effect to the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, I repeat that in 2003 I negotiated an agreement with the previous minister of Indian and northern affairs to have an independent legal assessment done of this Inuit-Métis claim filed by the Labrador Métis Nation. This is exactly the kind of alternative dispute resolution called for through the creation of the tribunal.

Yet, the independent assessment that was agreed to has not started. It is now 17 months into Canada's tired Conservative government. We ask, where is the action on reconciliation from the government? There will not be a completion of the circle of Confederation until all Inuit, Métis and Indian people are accommodated, and have their rights reconciled with the reality of Canadian federalism.

In supporting this bill and this treaty, I call on the government and on Parliament to include all of Canada's Inuit peoples in the circle of our common federation by resolving all the outstanding aboriginal land claims and rights issues in Labrador involving the Inuit, Innu-Métis and Innu. This treaty and this bill is one important step in that direction.

On behalf of all my constituents in Labrador, my sincere congratulations are extended to president Aatami, vice-president Peters, and all my relations within the Nunavik-Inuit family.

Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yvon Lévesque Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, if Bill C-51, An Act to give effect to the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, is passed, it would be a major step forward for the Inuit in my riding.

Back in 1975, the Nunavik Inuit and James Bay Cree signed the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, the first comprehensive land claims agreement in Canada. At that time, the Government of Canada signed an undertaking with the Nunavik Inuit on land claims in offshore areas of Nunavik. The Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement deals with a number of issues related to land and resources in offshore areas adjacent to Quebec. It specifies property rights to the land and the sharing of resources, with financial compensation of course.

The Bloc Québécois will support the bill to give effect to the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement. The wishes of the people of Nunavik are very clear in this regard. When the referendum was held in October, 2006, 81% of the people of Nunavik cast a ballot. This is a very high figure. In addition, 78% of them voted in favour of the agreement, thereby enabling the Makivik Corporation to legitimately sign it on their behalf. The purpose of the agreement is to resolve a land problem that is central to the hunting, fishing and trapping lifestyle of the Nuvavik Inuit. It reflects the democratic choice of the people of Nunavik. It took 15 years of negotiations between the Inuit and the Government of Canada before this agreement could be signed on December 1, 2006.

In contrast to what many people think, the Nunavik Inuit—whom we are basically dealing with here—consist of around 10,000 people living in some 15 municipalities scattered along the shores of Hudson Bay, Ungava Bay and Labrador. Canadians still seem to know very little about these people who pay taxes without ever getting the benefit of roads, railways or adequate services. Their culture, based on their survival methods, has made them very community-minded. In each village, they are divided into several different groups whose jobs are determined by the needs of the community. There are hunters, trappers, fishers, and people engaged in various other activities.

Every participant in these groups uses their own tools and personal equipment, such as boats, engines, all terrain vehicles and trucks, which, in these circumstances, are considered recreational equipment unlike anywhere else, where they would be viewed as commercial equipment. Gas is now almost $2 a litre. What is more, gas for the equipment and tools is not tax deductible as it is in our communities. Ironically enough, they pay the most tax in Canada per capita—dollars/value. Take for example a car for which we would pay $30,000. Add another $2,000 to have it transported by boat and you end up paying federal and provincial sales tax on $32,000.

And what about daily needs such as food, clothing and drugs? The area along the coasts is very important to the survival of the Nunavik Inuit, who live on the coast and not inland. These activities are important for harvesting flora and fauna, which they do, and for preserving their culture. The Inuit have been inhabiting and using this area for almost 4,000 years for hunting and fishing for food. They also use this area for transportation. Some 75% of the Inuit's traditional food comes from the marine life found in this area. The Inuit are the occupants and guardians of these shores, thereby allowing Quebec and Canada to justify occupying the land. They ensure the sovereignty and surveillance of these lands. And what do they get in return? As Rangers or researchers of whale and seal populations or marine life, they receive salaries below the minimum cost of living in this sector, only to be replaced by officials hired to verify their skills.

In your opinion, what skill would be more convincing than 4,000 years of practice carried on from generation to generation? Considering it has never been disputed, should this practice not count for more than theories acquired off site and out of season?

We are reaching the point where malnutrition, housing that does not meet minimum public health standards and toxic substances leaking—

Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Order, please. I am sorry to have to interrupt the hon. member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou.

The House resumed from June 11 consideration of Motion M-321.

Income TrustsPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on Motion M-321 under private members' business.

Call in the members.

Before the Clerk announced the results of the vote:

Income TrustsPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

The hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley.

Income TrustsPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Independent

Bill Casey Independent Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, I missed my whip so much I voted the wrong way. I would like to change my vote. I voted yea, but I would like to vote nay, please.

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

Vote #203

Income TrustsPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

I declare the motion defeated.

The House resumed from June 11 consideration of the motion.

Justice and Human RightsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the 16th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Justice and Human RightsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, notwithstanding an order made previously today, if you were to seek it you might find unanimous consent of all members present this evening to support this motion unanimously.

Justice and Human RightsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Is there unanimous consent to support this motion unanimously?

Justice and Human RightsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.