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House of Commons Hansard #76 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was auto.

Topics

Strengthening Canada's Corrections System ActRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-43, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Criminal Code.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Conservative Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the following reports of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation at the following meetings: first, the National Governors Association winter meeting, “Strengthening our Infrastructure for a Sustainable Future” held in Washington, D.C., February 21-23, 2009; second, the Pacific Northwest Economic Region "Border Challenges and Regional Solutions: 2010 Olympics and the Pacific Northwest Experience" also held in Washington, D.C., on February 24, 2009; and third, a U.S. congressional visit which was held in Washington, D.C. on February 25 and 26, 2009.

Library of ParliamentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Goldring Conservative Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament. The report focuses on the operations of the Parliamentary Budget Officer within the Library of Parliament.

I am pleased to inform the House that the report received unanimous support from all members of the committee who represented all parties in the Senate and the House of Commons.

Public AccountsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present in the House today, in both official languages, the following reports of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts: first, the 15th report on Chapter 7, Economy and Efficiency of Services, Correctional Service Canada, of the December 2008 report of the Auditor General of Canada; and, second, the 16th report on Plans and Priorities for 2009-10 and the Departmental Performance Report for 2007-08 of the Office of the Auditor General of Canada.

Valcartier Military Base ActRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-419, An Act respecting the notification of former residents and former employees of Valcartier military base concerning contaminated water.

Mr. Speaker, I am introducing a bill concerning the contaminated water in Shannon. This Bill requires the Department of National Defence to identify the former residents and former employees of Valcartier military base and to notify them that they may have been exposed to contaminated drinking water.

When we are aware of the consequences, we can only condemn this serious negligence. The people identified would be given the option of completing an epidemiological questionnaire, and Health Canada would analyze the questionnaires and publish the results within 18 months of the coming into force of the act.

The Department of National Defence can no longer remain passive in light of the tragedy affecting all the victims of this contamination, for which it is partly responsible. It must inform everyone who drank this contaminated water, as the American navy did in a similar situation.

I thank Charles Veilleux, a lawyer from Quebec City, and I encourage all of my colleagues, here in this House, to vote in favour of this bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-420, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (deduction for volunteer emergency service).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce this bill which would amend the Income Tax Act to allow volunteer emergency workers to deduct $3,000 from their taxable income if they perform at least 200 hours of volunteer service in one year.

Volunteer emergency workers make up the bulk of the emergency service providers in our small communities. They represent the majority of Canada's rural firefighters and perform their services selflessly.

Without a thought to the monetary compensation, they put their lives on the line to protect ours. I believe there is something we can do to acknowledge this sacrifice. I am sure there will be a few among us who feel otherwise.

The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs advises that changes such as this one would greatly assist in the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighting personnel within our smaller communities. It is a win-win situation for the communities, both in recruitment and in the protection of our infrastructure.

I would like to thank my colleague, the member for Nickel Belt, for seconding this bill. I know it is an issue that is important to him and the constituents he serves, as it is to myself and those I am fortunate to represent.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Emergency Services Appreciation Day ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-421, An Act respecting an Emergency Services Appreciation Day.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today with my colleague from Nickel Belt to introduce a bill that I think is long overdue.

This bill entitled “An Act respecting an Emergency Services Appreciation Day” would legislate that every third Saturday in June be known as emergency services appreciation day all across our great country. The bill supports and recognizes the work done by police, fire and emergency ambulance personnel.

Greater Sudbury emergency services personnel, like those right across our great country, work hard every day to keep us safe and secure. It is important that we as Canadians recognize the huge sacrifices made by these individuals every day so we can live our lives safely. Each day as greater Sudburians and Canadians wake up and go to work, these individuals have already been up answering emergency calls, helping those in danger and distress.

This day is our way of saying thanks.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Divorce ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Maurice Vellacott Conservative Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-422, An Act to amend the Divorce Act (equal parenting) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

Mr. Speaker, I am quite honoured to be introducing a private member's bill today which would direct the courts in regard to divorce to make equal shared parenting the presumptive arrangement in the best interests of the child, except in proven cases of abuse or neglect.

Over 10 years ago a joint House-Senate committee presented to Parliament a report entitled, “For the Sake of the Children”. That report urged Parliament to amend the Divorce Act to make equal shared parenting the normative determination by courts dealing with situations of divorce involving children. This non-partisan recommendation from that joint House-Senate report was based on compelling research made available to the committee members.

Over the past 10 years the best research has continued to demonstrate the far superior outcomes for children in general when both parents, mom and dad, are actively involved in their children's lives even if the parents divorce or separate. Polling from the past two years demonstrates overwhelming support from Canadians for equal shared parenting. There is in fact slightly more support among women than men for equal parenting.

This strong support from almost 80% of Canadians exists across the country with the strongest regional support coming from Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Canadians claiming to be Liberal and Bloc supporters expressed the strongest endorsement for equal shared parenting at 80.6% among Liberals and 82.9% among Bloc Québécois supporters.

A variety of countries, such as Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Australia and various U.S. states have implemented equal parenting, joint custody or shared parenting presumptive legislation which has resulted in lowered court costs, less conflict and improved social outcomes for the children of divorce.

This bill is one of the most apolitical, non-partisan pieces of legislation introduced in this current Parliament. I look forward to strong support for this important piece of legislation from all members of Parliament who are committed to the best interests of our Canadian children.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Peary Polar ExpeditionRoutine Proceedings

June 16th, 2009 / 10:10 a.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, there has been discussion among the parties and I believe that you will find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That this House takes note of the significance of the 100th anniversary of Captain Bob Bartlett's voyage to the North Pole as captain of the Peary Polar Expedition and the Bartlett 2009 Program celebrating his life, his career and his contribution to helping us to better understand the Arctic now taking place in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Peary Polar ExpeditionRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move this motion?

Peary Polar ExpeditionRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Peary Polar ExpeditionRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Peary Polar ExpeditionRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Peary Polar ExpeditionRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

(Motion agreed to)

Public Safety Officers Compensation FundPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 and as certified by the Clerk of Petitions I am pleased to present again another petition concerning public safety officers.

The petitioners would like to point out to the House that police officers and firefighters are required to place their lives at risk in the execution of their duties on a daily basis and that the employment benefits of these public safety officers often provide insufficient compensation to the families of those who are killed while on duty; and finally, that the public also mourns that loss of these police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty and wish to support in a tangible way the surviving members in their time of need.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon Parliament to establish a fund known as the public safety officers compensation fund for the benefit of families and public safety officers killed in the line of duty.

BroadcastingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Patrick Brown Conservative Barrie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by several hundred residents of the city of Barrie petitioning Parliament and the CRTC to look at value for signal. This is in regard to our local television station that is going through some difficult periods, like local TV is across Canada.

The petition has gained significant support in the community of Barrie where we certainly appreciate the role our local television plays in highlighting local charities and contributing to our local culture.

Therefore, it is with pride and enthusiasm that I present this petition on behalf of the residents of Barrie.

Canadian Broadcasting CorporationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer NDP Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to present two petitions signed by the people in my riding of Thunder Bay—Superior North.

The first one is from over 500 citizens who are concerned that the recent cuts to the CBC will endanger more services and the long-term viability of our national broadcaster. The CBC plays an absolutely vital role in providing northwestern Ontario with a voice through which we are able to express our ideas, concerns and opinions.

In northwestern Ontario, as with many other areas across Canada, we rely on the CBC also to provide a sense of connection for those of us who reside in remote and isolated communities and locations.

Postal ServicePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer NDP Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

The second petition, Mr. Speaker, is on behalf of residents of Port Arthur and Thunder Bay. It encourages the government to provide adequate local postal service there.

Canada Post has a long tradition of service in Port Arthur, opening its first post office in 1882, but early this year the last postal outlet was closed, leaving downtown Port Arthur stranded.

Residents and business people have had to travel far for basic postal services. Many local residents are mobility impaired, do not have cars or have to mail large packages too cumbersome to take on the bus. It is time for postal service to be restored.

This petition calls on the Government of Canada to instruct Canada Post to immediately reopen a full service Canada Post outlet or post office in downtown Port Arthur.

Protection of Human LifePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, people have sent petitions to my office asking that Parliament pass legislation for the protection of human life from the time of conception until natural death. These petitions are from all over Canada including some from my riding.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Conservative

Laurie Hawn ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

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

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Maa-nulth First Nations Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Maa-nulth First Nations Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Vancouver Island North B.C.

Conservative

John Duncan ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today in support of Bill C-41. This landmark legislation before us today would put into force the Maa-nulth First Nations final agreement, a historic accord reached by the Maa-nulth first nations, the Government of British Columbia and the Government of Canada.

The Maa-nulth First Nations final agreement is only the second final agreement concluded under the B.C. treaty process and the first under that process that involves more than one first nation. The agreement is an example of the major progress we are making in the province to resolve outstanding land claims.

With the recent implementation of the Tsawwassen First Nation final agreement earlier this year and the signing of several agreements in principle, there is no denying that we are engaged in an extraordinary period in the history of Canada, British Columbia and first nations communities.

Bill C-41 and the progress we have made in other negotiations are positive markers that the B.C. treaty process can achieve success. We continue to work with the provincial government and British Columbia first nations in the negotiation process, and we have ensured that final agreements are appropriate to the needs of the people of Canada, B.C., the citizens of local municipalities and the members of first nations communities.

Many people from the five Maa-nulth First Nations communities played critical roles in enabling us to reach this historic moment. The chiefs of the five communities, four of whom are with us today, along with their chief negotiator, deserve special recognition and thanks for their ongoing leadership and commitment. They are Chief Councillor Charlie Cootes of the Uchucklesaht Tribe, Chief Councillor Violet Mundy of the Ucluelet First Nation, Chief Councillor Therese Smith of the Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Chek’tles7et’h’ First Nation, Chief Councillor Robert Dennis Senior of the Huu-ay-aht First Nation and Hereditary Chief Anne Mack of the Toquaht First Nation.

Bert Mack also played a critical role. For 67 years, he was hereditary chief of the Toquaht Nation, a sacred role he passed on to his daughter Anne earlier this year. I understand that when Chief Mack became chief, at the age of 18, his father had one clear, concise instruction for him to follow. His father said “go and negotiate a treaty”. The Maa-nulth First Nations final agreement is a fitting testament to his unwaivering dedication to that task.

As a personal note, I have known Bert Mack and his wife Lil for over 30 years. I was delighted to attend the signing ceremony early this year in Port Alberni and to have the opportunity to share the moment with Bert and Lil and the Maa-nulth people. I have also worked in the forest industry in that region with Chief Charlie Cootes, so we were able to renew our friendship, as well.

The five first nations are collaborative and progressive, and it is very rewarding to witness the passage of Bill C-41. It will be transformative for the people of the Maa-nulth First Nations. With the approval of this legislation, the Maa-nulth First Nations communities can nourish their culture, assume greater control over issues affecting their people and lands, make their own decisions about resource use and delivery of programs and services, and create business partnerships. This would result in self-reliant communities that are better prepared to participate in the overall economic growth and development of Canada.

I would like to expand on five elements of the agreement: land use, finances, taxation, natural resources and governance.

The first element is land use. The land package of the final agreement consists of approximately 25,000 hectares of treaty settlement lands and former Indian reserves that would be held by the Maa-nulth First Nations in fee simple. This type of ownership gives these first nations flexibility to manage and use them to generate long-term economic benefits. The final agreement provides for five first nations governments to exercise a wide range of law-making authority over these lands. In addition, federal and provincial laws would continue to apply.

Over a period of 10 years, the five first nations would receive a total of $73.1 million in a capital transfer. In addition, over a period of 25 years, the communities would receive an estimated $1.2 million annually in resource payments.

For their part, the first nations would also deliver a host of agreed upon social programs and services to their people and would be fully accountable for the financial transfers they receive from the governments of Canada and British Columbia to support these programs and services.

Along with these fiscal transfers, each first nation government would have the ability to levy direct taxes on its members who live on treaty settlement lands. The section 87 tax exemption for transaction and other taxes would be phased out after 8 and 12 years respectively.

I should also point out that non-Maa-nulth First Nations members who live on Maa-nulth First Nations lands would be able to participate in discussions and vote on decisions of Maa-nulth public institutions that would directly and significantly affect them. In addition, each Maa-nulth government and public institution would formally consult with non-members concerning decisions that would directly and significantly affect them.

Under the final agreement, each Maa-nulth First Nations would have the right to harvest fish and aquatic plants for food, social and ceremonial purposes. However, these rights would be limited by prudent measures. A harvest agreement, separate from the final agreement, would enable the first nations to acquire commercial fishing licences on a long-term renewable basis, comparable to those held by fishers in the region's commercial fishery. There is no priority commercial fishery for the Maa-nulth First Nations. The Maa-nulth peoples would purchase commercial fishing licences in the open market. Moreover, Maa-nulth commercial fishing would take place only upon a general fishery being open for that species. Further, the standards for catch monitoring and reporting would apply as for other commercial fishing.

Finally, the Maa-nulth First Nations final agreement would establish open, democratic and accountable governments for each of the five first nations, with the exception of determining Indian status. The Indian Act would no longer apply to the Maa-nulth First Nations, their land or their members. Instead, each Maa-nulth first nation would have its own constitution. Each government would consist of a majority of members elected according to an election code, and elections would be held at least every five years. Each of these governments would enjoy all the attributes of modern democratic governments, including rigorous systems of financial administration, conflict of interest guidelines and processes that would enable citizens to review and appeal administrative decisions.

The final agreement would provide an opportunity for the first nations to include traditional chiefs in their government structures, if they so choose. This is an important recognition of the culture and heritage of the Maa-nulth communities. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms would also apply to the Maa-nulth first nations governments, and the final agreement would include specific provisions to protect the rights of non-Maa-nulth residents living on treaty lands.

In combination, these and other elements of the final agreement would provide what Uchucklesaht tribal chief Charlie Cootes calls a “toolbox” for the Maa-nulth people: a collection of proven, flexible mechanisms that would enable the Maa-nulth to make their own decisions on their own terms. Do not all Canadians, aboriginal and non-aboriginal, want and deserve to steer their lives, to provide for their families, to build strong communities, to reach their full potential and to control their fates?

Men and women would find it easier to secure bank loans, start businesses and save for the future. These are all simple yet profound consequences of the Maa-nulth nations final agreement. The benefits of the agreement would go far beyond the Maa-nulth First Nations. The transformative power of this agreement would touch the lives of each citizen of British Columbia and indeed all Canadians.

In the words of Robert Dennis Senior, Chief Councillor of the Huu-ay-aht First Nations:

The treaty offers opportunities for all of us.

...today, British Columbia can stand proud and say: “I was part of that change. I was willing to stand up and say things must change. Things cannot stay the same.—”

Finally, I would like to pass on the word said to me yesterday by Chief Anne Mack from the Toquaht band. It was from her father Bert Mack. The word, to me, means paddling forward together, and it is a fitting conclusion. The word is chuqchuqa.

Maa-nulth First Nations Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, indeed it is a pleasure to indicate our strong support for Bill C-41, which is an act to give effect to the Maa-nulth first nations final agreement. Our party has been a strong advocate for first nations rights, for aboriginal rights generally in this country, and a strong advocate over the years for treaty and comprehensive claims settlement.

Yesterday I had the honour of meeting with four of the five chiefs from the five first nations under this Maa-nulth final agreement. I will call them by their first names, Anne, Tess, Vi and Charlie, if that is appropriate. I was struck by the smiles on their faces, the sense of encouragement in their voices and the sense of optimism they had for their communities when they understood this legislation was going through in an expedited fashion.

I would say to those chiefs and their people that we have also spoken with our colleagues in the other place and asked that they expedite this legislation before rising this summer so this bill can come into force and be constitutionally protected.

This is only the second final agreement under the British Columbia Treaty Commission process, the first being Tsawwassen. It has been a long process that has taken decades. The chiefs say it has taken generations for them to arrive at this place of certainty and understanding between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people.

They acknowledge the great sacrifices of their many negotiators, their many chiefs, and they wanted me to particularly mention George Watts. I do not know him personally, but I have some sense of the man and his contribution through the voices of these chiefs. They wanted to recognize their elders, who have given so much over the years to help their people progress.

We often talk about the benefits when we go through these final land claims and self-government agreements. There are tremendous benefits, but that comes with costs as well, many times to the first nations people. It is not as if they are giving up nothing. Many times it is only a portion of the traditional lands that are claimed that are settled for in the final agreements. The self-government powers that aboriginal people will have under these agreements are in some way, shape or form similar to what they wanted. There is a give and take.

These agreements are arrived at through long personal struggles, community struggles. People might ask if the benefits are worth the costs of what has been given up and whether there is a brighter future. The chiefs say, “Yes. For too long we have been denied our rights, our recognition. For too long we have not had the certainty of our own lands. For too long our own forms of self-governance and decision-making were not honoured. This is the way to go forward.”

Therefore, we have arrived at a final agreement. The parliamentary secretary has gone over the more general aspects of it, and I just want to refresh the House on some of those benefits and features of the final agreement.

Of course the benefits are certainty over the Maa-nulth First Nations' lands about who can do what, who can make decisions, and what the arrangement is between the aboriginal and non-aboriginal people. It provides modern governance tools and more workable relationships between industry and business as well as other levels of government.

As well, the governance regime under the Maa-nulth First Nations final agreement will be constitutionally protected. There will be no application of the Indian Act after a transition period, aside from the determination of Indian status.

Under the governance provisions, the agreement also contains law-making powers for matters relating to lands, resources and areas of governance relating to the delivery of health services, adoption and education.

There is a land regime where certain powers are conferred upon Maa-nulth First Nations and Maa-nulth First Nations lands and more co-jurisdiction powers on other lands within the settlement area.

There will be five first nations governments, and each Maa-nulth government can make laws applicable to its own lands to preserve, promote and develop their language and their culture.

Maa-nulth First Nations will also have the right to harvest wildlife and migratory birds for food and social and ceremonial purposes within Maa-nulth First Nations areas. They will be able to trade and barter wildlife and wildlife parts, migratory birds and migratory bird parts among themselves and with other aboriginal people who live in British Columbia.

There is a provision for fish to be caught for food and social and ceremonial purposes. When it comes to the commercial side of the fisheries, there is a side agreement, but it is not constitutionally protected and does not fall under this particular first nations final agreement.

There are also provisions that relate to areas of particular concern and interest to the Maa-nulth first nations people, such as Thunderbird's Nest. Under the final agreement, British Columbia has agreed to remove Thunderbird's Nest from the working forest and protect it because it has special cultural and spiritual significance to the Maa-nulth people.

There are also financial components, revenue sharing aspects, as well as aspects dealing with taxation.

The agreement also ensures that where there are, or may be, overlaps, the rights and interests of other first nations are not in any way impaired or hindered.

Each Maa-nulth First Nation community voted separately. There was over 80% support for the Maa-nulth final agreement. When it was debated and reviewed in the B.C. legislature, it passed by a vote of, I believe, 61 to 2.

This particular first nations final agreement has had outstanding support. That support was driven from the community up. Support came from first nations themselves. It was supported within the provincial legislature, and I am more than confident that it will be supported in this House and in the other place.

I wanted to speak with the chiefs because not being from that area and not knowing them personally, I wanted to get a sense of where they were. I wanted to see their faces and to hear what this meant to them and to their communities. They said to me that this means a coming back to their traditional ways, that it means coming back to their traditional lands. They said that it means their young people will have a place to call home. They said that it means opportunity, that it means a way forward, that it means hope for the future.

I am proud to stand here as an aboriginal person to support this bill on behalf of my colleagues and to support the Maa-nulth First Nations communities. I thank them for travelling here and for taking the time to be with us on this historic occasion.