Madam Speaker, I am honoured to rise today in response to private member's bill, Bill C-222, an act to amend the Expropriation Act, which is a protection of private property, and was prepared and presented by the hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke. Contained within and for the purpose of restating the bill's intention, it adds specific exemptions to the Expropriation Act under sections 10(11) and 19(3) and reads that the Expropriations Act:
—does not apply if the interest or right to which the notice of intention relates is intended to be expropriated by the Crown for the purpose of restoring historical natural habitats or addressing, directly or indirectly, climate variability, regardless of whether or not that purpose is referred to in the notice or described in the notice as the primary purpose of the intended expropriation.
The members of the House may recall that in moving the bill to the second reading in November, the hon. member began her intervention with a land acknowledgement that Parliament was on Algonquin Anishinabe territory, which is subject to an ongoing land claim process. The hon. member then proceeded to suggest that the current movement to protect private property landowners' rights in Ontario started in her riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.
If the landowners association in her constituency is upset about the expropriation of private property in response to catastrophic climate change, wait until it finds out about the ongoing and generational dispossession of indigenous lands by the Crown. Wait until they learn about Oka, Ipperwash, Unist'ot'en, 1492 and Wet'suwet'in.
It would appear, based on the private member's last intervention, that she would seek to elevate the property rights to a constitutional consideration on parity with our charter rights. That is a reference to the fifth amendment of the United States that she would seek to enshrine the rights of private property above all societal considerations and specifically as they relate to what appears to be a form of the denial of climate change.
I would suggest that before we could in good faith consider this request that we have a moral and indeed a legal obligation to first address the unceded territorial claims of indigenous first nations, Métis and Inuit.
The hon. member's underlying intention in the bill seems, at least to us, to force the federal government to recognize that the plan in 2014 is in fact responsible for the flooding of the Ottawa Valley in 2017 and 2019, which is denying the real reason for flooding, which is climate change, and to hold public consultations under the Expropriation Act. In addition, it would appear as though the hon. member wants the federal government to compensate residents affected by the flooding. Therefore, Bill C-222 contains no provisions of compensation.
I want to acknowledge the very real and devastating impacts on those members in her riding who may have been owners of one of the 900 buildings affected by the flooding. However, how can we even begin to further enshrine settler rights in response to these 900 buildings impacted by climate change when there are currently 900 unsettled first nation land claims that are historically based on the racist doctrine of discovery and the British colonial legal fiction called Terra Nullius, which effectively erased a millennia of indigenous inhabitations of these lands pre-European contract?
While I am no expert in the Robinson-Huron Treaty for incidents of clear and intentional treaties by the Crown, such as the Haldimand Treaty of October 25, 1784, for the purpose of this debate, I would like to remind members of the House who may not know or may have forgotten the text of this treaty, which states:
Whereas His Majesty having been pleased to direct that in consideration of the early attachment to his cause manifested by the Mohawk Indians and of the loss of their settlement which they thereby sustained—that a convenient tract of land under his protection should be chosen as a safe and comfortable retreat for them and others of the Six Nations, who have either lost their settlements within the Territory of the American States, or wish to retire from them to the British—I have at the earnest desire of many of these His Majesty's faithful Allies purchased a tract of land from the Indians situated between the Lakes Ontario, Erie and Huron, and I do hereby in His Majesty's name authorize and permit the said Mohawk Nation and such others of the Six Nation Indians as wish to settle in that quarter to take possession of and settle upon the Banks of the River commonly called Ouse or Grand River, running into Lake Erie, allotting to them for that purpose six miles deep from each side of the river beginning at Lake Erie and extending in that proportion to the head of the said river, which them and their posterity are to enjoy for ever.
Given under my hand and seal at arms at the Castle of St. Lewis at Quebec this twenty-fifth day of October one thousand seven hundred and eighty-four and in the twenty-fifth year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord George The Third by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France, and Ireland King Defender of the Faith and so forth.
By His Excellency's Command
More specifically, given the act of reclamation of unceded Haudenosaunee Confederacy territories, and to underscore the importance of the point, I shall add to this debate, for the good and welfare of the House, that an excerpt from the document entitled, “Land Rights of the Six Nations of the Grand River”, submitted by the Six Nations Elected Council, states that the promising of their tract consisted of 950,000 acres within their Beaver Hunting Grounds along the Grand River to the “Mohawk Nation and such others of the Six Nations Indians as wish to settle in that Quarter”.
In the application of their allegiance to the King, and for the loss of their settlements to the American States, they were to take possession and settle upon the banks of the river commonly called the Grand River, running from Lake Erie and allotting for that purpose six miles on either side of the Grand.
Therefore, although the Haldimand Treaty was unequivocally promised to the Six Nations, this tract, approximately 275,000 acres of land up to the source of the Grand River, remains outstanding to the present date as treaty land entitlement to the Six Nations people.
In contrast to the private property rights of settlers, as expressed in Bill C-222, Six Nations of the Grand River's experiences of Canada's specific and comprehensive land claims policies, which have been unsuccessful as existing policy, cannot provide proper restitution or compensation for Six Nations' validated claims and others yet to be determined. Previous negotiations have proved unsuccessful, as the extinguishment requirement is unacceptable and non-negotiable. Six Nations of the Grand River has previously lobbied MPs from all parties, and is looking for justice in its land rights issues. As the group realizes, Canada does not have enough money to bring historic land issues to resolution under existing policies.
Six Nations has also taken its land rights issues to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and to the Canadian courts commencing in 1995. This juxtaposition of the Crown's legislative protections for those deemed to be holding private property versus the original inhabitants of these lands is a grave admission to the ongoing colonialism of Canada with respect to first nations, Métis and Inuit.
Perhaps it would be more appropriate and timely, given the current government's new-found commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, that prior to further entrenching private property rights for Canadian citizens we first acknowledge the problematic nature of the failure to adequately address the first nations' land claims with negotiated cash settlements, and instead recognize their legitimate calls for land back.
Allow me to conclude in the same spirit in which we began this debate around Bill C-222, with a reminder that Parliament is on Algonquin Anishinabe territory, which is subject to an ongoing land claim process. If we are to have any newly introduced legislation around property rights, let us begin there.