Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was aboriginal.

Last in Parliament May 2004, as Liberal MP for Churchill River (Saskatchewan)

Lost his last election, in 2004, with 10% of the vote.

Statements in the House

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act May 10th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, in large part, the other reason I recommended that this be considered for consultation was that last year, Bill C-6, Bill C-19 and Bill C-7 were considered as a suite of bills in the standing committee that went through public consultation. However, the focus of that consultation was Bill C-7, the governance bill. Bill C-19, now Bill C-23 moved in the shadow of the consultation of Bill C-7. A lot of the consultation took place in Parliament.

Bill C-19 was not taken to community consultation. In the Bill C-7 hearings, some people wanted to talk about Bill C-23, or Bill C-19 as it was, but were not allowed to because the mandate of the standing committee in the community hearings was limited to Bill C-7 only. If we are so proud of this bill and it stands the test of community consultation and first nations leadership consideration, it is time to take it to the communities. Let us make sure that everybody thoroughly understands that this search of fiscal relationship deals with a domestic market. There is an opportunity for borrowing members, and there is a definition of borrowing members among the first nations band councils.

There are also definitions of taxpayers. I find them very amusing because there are different categories of taxpayers. There are commercial taxpayers, residential taxpayers and utility taxpayers. I do not know of any other act, federally or provincially, where these different definitions and categories of taxpayers exist.

There is also an issue of a different type of first nation, a first nation member. First nations members are the Indians of Canada, as defined in the Indian Act. However, there is this other category of first nation member and that is a member who agrees with taxation of land. A first nation member who agrees with taxation can sit on the tax commission and on the fiscal institution.

It defines different types of first nations as well. If we are going to define different types of first nations and different types of taxpayers, why can we not define the different nations and tribes of Canada and allow these first nations, as orders of government, to be part of the security of a first nation? Lets say a first nation member wants to borrow money, say a Cree community in northern Saskatchewan in my riding. However, because of fiscal relationships, member does not pay taxes and cannot pay the debt. Why can the Cree nation, or the Prairie Cree or the Woodland Cree not come in and help the member, instead of the third party management or the co-management provisions in the bill?

That co-management and third party management is delegated to the different institutions: the financial management board, the tax commission, and the finance authority. These authorities will be created because of the risk management when dealing with market realities of borrowing money. Why can we not recognize the nations, the tribal councils that have been created across the country, in the bill as having a significant role in this new fiscal relationship?

Also, I cannot miss the opportunity to say that this is a bold vision by our Prime Minister, who wants to have a relationship with the first nations of this land. Allow that relationship to exist first before we define these in stone, in legislation. Once a first nation opts in, it will be difficult to opt out of the fiscal institution. It will be hard for first nations to redefine themselves as a non-borrowing member because the consensus of the borrowing members will be required before they do that.

There are many strong measures that need to be carefully looked at. Proper consultation and understanding by the first nations and their leaders needs to take place. The government should recognize true aboriginal governance first as nations and tribes. Then this legislation will provide them with security for the future. It is the wrong sequence of events.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act May 10th, 2004

Mr. Speaker,

It is an honour to speak again on behalf of the many first nations and the aboriginal people who have created this beautiful country that we call Canada through a treaty relationship. This bill would impact on their lives, the development of their communities, the assessment of their lands and the risk management that would take place within the borrowing limitations that are being afforded through the new fiscal relationship in Bill C-23.

I have studied the bill extensively to figure out where it is coming from and why. In large part, the government's explanation is that this is for socio-economic development of the first nations' members on the band list who come under the Indian Act definition of who is an Indian and first nation member. I tried to get to the bottom line of what the department was thinking.

I went through a document from the estimates of Indians affairs from 2003. It says that without a new fiscal model, increasing budgetary needs by first nations may erode public support, including public support for self-government.

That one little sentence says a lot. It means that Indian affairs understands that the first nations of this country are an exploding population. In recent history our young people in these communities on reserves and off reserves have never grown to this number before.

We have communities of about 5,000, 6,000, 10,000 or 15,000 people living on a reserve. Pressure builds on the band councils to develop and finance the housing needs and the social and economic needs of these communities.

That sentence means that Indian affairs recognizes that there will be increased budgetary needs. However, Indian affairs and our government seem to be more concerned about public political opinion on this greater need. The government is trying to give a new fiscal relationship to the band councils to alleviate this budgetary pressure that is building.

There is more need for housing, water and sewer. More health clinics, schools and more classrooms are required. The population is growing. The population in Canada is growing and it is growing not only on first nations reserves but off the reserves as well.

I want to raise another concern I have with Bill C-23 and put it on the record. My concern comes from the royal commission. Within the past 10 years the United Nations designated this an international decade to deal with the issues of indigenous people. Within those 10 years, Canada instituted the royal commission on aboriginal peoples, which made the following recommendation concerning section 35 of the Constitution Act, “the Canadian Constitution in section 35 identifies the first nations, the Indians, the Métis and the Inuit. Section 35 provides the basis for an aboriginal order of government that co-exists with the framework of Canada, along with federal and provincial orders of government”.

We have the federal and provincial orders of government. The Constitution gives Parliament all the powers. Through the evolution of this country, the federal government has given its powers to create provincial governments. In turn, the provincial governments turn around and give its powers to the municipal governments.

In our history, Parliament created an Indian Act which identified 630 to 650 band councils across the country. Bill C-23 would give the first nations, as defined under this bill, the band councils the same powers as a municipal government. They would have borrowing powers and the power to tax real property, assess land and assess buildings, so they can be used for taxation and local revenue making.

However the royal commission recommended that the Government of Canada recognize an aboriginal order of government equal within the framework of Canada and within the realm of federal and provincial governments.

I bring back to the House a history of this country. There was an intention of a treaty called a two-row wampum. A two-row wampum treaty signified that the newcomers, which was the British parliamentary system, the British North American Act, Britain, France, all the Europeans who were looking for colonies, the Spanish, Portuguese and the Dutch, who were a big part of the agreement, would have their own vessel for their laws, their languages and their religion. In these treaties the original peoples and their nations would have their governments, their languages, their religions, and that the two vessels would journey together in this river of life.

That statement from the royal commission challenged Canada to recognize an aboriginal order of government. I offer to the House today that the aboriginal orders of government be recognized first as nations, as tribes and as communities, what the Indian Act defines as bands, those camps and communities that engage with treaty, the Indian Act does not recognize the nations and tribes.

For the record of the House, I will read the official names of the nations and tribes of this country, which I have researched, and maybe people will recognize these names. They are: the Beothuk, the Mi'kmaw, the Maliseet, the Naskapi, the Montagnais, the Innu, the Huron, the Petun, the Neutral, the Algonquin, the Odawa, the Cayuga, the Tuscarora, the Seneca, the Onondaga, the Oneida, the Mohawk, the Ojibwa, the Plains Cree, the Woodland Cree, the Swampy Cree, the Assiniboine, the Saulteaux, the Blackfoot, the Dene, the Gwich'in, the Tahltan, the Hare, the Sarcee, the Tlicho, the Slavey, the Carrier, the Chippewyan, the Tutchone, the Beaver, the Sioux, the Dakota, the Nakota, the Lakota, the Kutenai, the Okanagan, the Shuswap, the Comox, the Lillooet, the Nuu-chah-nulth, the Kwakiutl, the Nuxalk, the Heiltsuk, the Haisla, the Wakashan, the Haida, the Tsimshian, the Nisga'a, the Salish, the Sechelt, the Squamish, the Halkomelem and the Tlingit.

Canada will be making a grave mistake if it does not organize, recognize and respect these nations. I have studied the treaty creation of this country through the books and the history of the people.

I have studied how that relationship of the co-existence that symbolized and was reflected in treaty. The Crown made an obligation called a fiduciary responsibility. It was not only a fiscal relationship. The fiduciary responsibility was that the Crown would respect the original sovereignty of the nations. I do not think we should go head strong into creating a municipal type of borrowing and fiscal relationship with the band councils, which fall under the Indian Act under the Indian agent, acting like a warden.

The Indians have been treated like wards of the state, which is how they entered into residential schools. How could the government take five year old children away from their families and place them in institutions to teach them French and English, and Roman Catholic and Protestant religions? These children were forced out of their communities by a government that considered them to be wards of the state.

Now is the time to give aboriginals proper respect and allow them to play a significant role in the governance of this country. The royal commission also challenged the country to reconstruct the structure of the governance of Canada, not only the self-government structures of a band council, of a Métis community or an Inuit village, it challenged us to restructure the very parliamentary structure of our country. Part of that is the recommendation that an aboriginal order of government be recognized.

I have recommended through many of my speeches in the House that we look at a third House of Parliament. The House of Commons is a House. The Senate is a House. They are of the British parliamentary system where two sides argue in order to correct human nature. There is the opposition and government. There is no symbol of unity here. It is all square. It is designed because the king in England could not convene the commoners except in a cathedral, which was square. That is why this is a square room. However there is one building on Parliament Hill, called the parliamentary library, that resembles a teepee. A very sacred symbol of the medicine wheel is imbedded on the floor plan of the building. It is being renovated now and will be ready in 2006.

This is a challenge for all my brothers and sisters of all the nations and tribes of Canada to organize themselves as a council to help guide this country. There is no greater time and no greater threat to our aboriginal nations than now.

This bill has an opt-in clause which is the only significant measure that allows the government to say that this is a safe bill for first nations to consider right now. It is not. There was another opt-in clause that was thrown in for political purpose in the House. It dealt with members' pensions. There were certain people in certain parties in the House who took exception to the pension plan. The government used a political ploy and made the pension an opt-in program. Certain members hung on without a pension for many years but they finally gave in. If we were to check the records of the House, a majority of the members are now under the pension plan that certain people had opposed.

This is the same political strategy that is being used in this bill. Band councils can choose not to enter into this but in 10 years or 15 years, or whatever time it takes, eventually all band councils will be squeezed to find a financial institution to borrow money from for their clinic. If they want more classrooms because of the growing population of children, they will be pointed to the fiscal relationship to borrow money to build the school.

On the issue of water and sewer, the quality of their water might diminish to a point where they will be forced, because of medical and critical reasons for the mere survival of a community, to borrow money to upgrade their water and sewer systems.

This is a dangerous precedent without the proper recognition of the original tribes and nations. That is where the security blanket of our people will be taken care of and secured. There are sacred responsibilities within the nations. Our language is an example.

I speak Cree fluently, thanks to the aboriginal nations, my ancestors, who held that language as a God given gift. The creator give us the gift of language. I carry it today in a proud and noble way. There is knowledge and wisdom locked in that language as well. It is the responsibility of a nation to take care of that language. It is not a band council. A community cannot uphold one responsibility for one language. A whole nation is required to carry the language responsibility.

There are also sacred responsibilities for land, for traditional knowledge and for intellectual property rights of medicines. Pharmaceutical companies are rampant in finding medicines from different plants, beans and minerals in this land. Some of those medicines were taken care of within the knowledge of nationhood, within the knowledge of these tribes. There is a great responsibility there.

The intention of the fiscal and statistical management bill is great and it is appreciated, but it is in the wrong sequence. Organize the proper aboriginal governments of the nations first, the nations, the tribes and band councils. There are three orders of government. We have a federal, provincial and municipal order within our parliamentary system. There are three orders as well in the aboriginal order of government: nation, tribes and band councils. The Government of Canada is making a grave mistake by only recognizing the band councils. In the bill the first nation definition is a band council identified under the Indian Act.

Study the English language dictionary. First means original, number one, the ones who were here first. Nation means nation. Nation does not mean band council. The original nations of Canada are the nations that I read off. There are 50 up to 60 nations. If we look at the documents of the government and the department, they look at the Assembly of First Nations as a lobby group that represents the chiefs and band councils of the country.

It is time, my brothers and sisters, that we gather as nations and tribes, and respect each other. Let us gather ourselves in a circle and help guide the country. Otherwise the country will lose its way. Canada is such a beautiful country.

We cannot carry our responsibilities, as the clan mothers, who are sitting here in the chamber today, have. In their history there was a gift of peace. The creator gave a gift of peace to the original people of this land. We will be making a great mistake if we do not nurture that peace in a respectful and responsible way.

I would like to introduce the following amendment: That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “that” and substituting the following:Bill C-23, an act to provide for real property taxation for first nations to create a first nations tax commission, first nations management board, first nations finance authority and first nations statistical institute and to make consequential amendments to other acts related, be not now read a third time but be referred back to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources for the purpose of reconsidering the bill to ensure that full consultation with the first nations leaders and their communities on the benefits and impacts of this new fiscal relationship.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act May 7th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member to maybe enlighten the House on the parliamentary process that the bill has taken. It is now Bill C-23, but in the previous sitting of Parliament it was Bill C-19.

Bill C-19 was taken into consideration by the Standing Committee of Aboriginal Affairs. Could he maybe enlighten the House, myself and maybe Canadians and first nations who may be listening, on the extent of that review of clause by clause and on the level of witnesses? Did the standing committee travel extensively to economically diverse communities, some of which may have been economically progressive, or geographically or economically challenged, in the far north geographical regions? I just wanted to know what level of activity took place during the standing committee's study of Bill C-19.

With regard to optionality, the member used the example of a driver's licence. I would refer him to something that is more near and dear to us as members, and that is the option program for us to get into our pension funds. A certain group in a certain party opted out of the MP pension plan.

Maybe the member can explain and enlighten the House a little bit more on why all members here are now part of the pension fund. There was a point in our history when members could consider opting into this pension fund as members of Parliament. I think that is a better example of this opting in program for first nations to buy into Bill C-23.

Maybe the hon. member could enlighten us on the Bill C-19 parliamentary process and on the option program that we have experienced as members of Parliament in this House.

Aboriginal Affairs May 7th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to speak about the International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples from 1995 to 2004. It was proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 21, 1993. This was to address such areas as human rights, the environment, development, education and health.

The theme for the decade was “Indigenous People: Partnership in Action”. With this the United Nations couches the request to the member states to strengthen the role of the indigenous population groups.

These groups are the original aboriginal nations of Canada. The proper respect and recognition, and preservation of the aboriginal nations was the true fiduciary responsibility of our Canadian government through the Crown that flowed from the creation of the peace and friendship treaties. That is the foundation of our proud nation we call Canada.

Let us celebrate the final year of this decade. I call on my brothers and sisters of all aboriginal nations to gather as nations and show the world--

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act April 29th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I must rise on this group of amendments to speak with my conscience. As I said before in previous debates, the intentions are well intended, but this relationship of first nations on finance authorities and tax commissions will be entrenched. They will be a guiding principle for on reserve taxation and on reserve borrowing.

The bill is designed to let people make their own decisions at the band council--and we must define it as a band council because that is what a first nation is defined as by the government. We cannot define it appropriately. The government should be defining first nations as who they are.

The first nations of this land are, unfortunately, not respected appropriately. If there was proper respect given among our own nations: the Oneida, the Cree, the Dene, the Mohawk, the Onondaga, and the Haida, there could be a fiscal relationship created. However, in the absence of those first nations being thoroughly recognized, accounted and respected, there is major uncertainty in the bill.

The bill is like: “Divided you will be conquered; united you will be strong”. This is dividing our first nations. This division appears in the different definitions of band councils. Band councils would become borrowing members, but in order for a borrowing member to borrow--and I will read into the record what the bill says in clause 77:

The Authority shall not make a long-term loan to a borrowing member for the purpose of financing capital infrastructure--

Capital infrastructure can be anything from a band office, a health clinic, a school, a day care or a housing project. There is a major housing crisis in our communities because of our exploding population.

The government and the Indian affairs minister, in order to address these issues, will point to our band councils and our chiefs in council and say that if we want to address the economic and social dire straits of our people, if we have capital needs in our band councils, then we are to go and borrow money. But in order for us to borrow money, the tax commission must approve a law under subclause 4(1).

In order for any band council to borrow money, it will have to assess its land first. It will have to mortgage its land and put value on that land before it borrows money for its schools, its clinics, or for water and sewers. Many of our communities have the worst water quality and the worst sewer services in Canada, but in order for them to upgrade those systems, they will have to ransom their children's future.

It will be easy to opt in, to come in and borrow money. It is like me. I can go and borrow money for a vehicle, but if tomorrow I lose my job and I have no more income, no more value to pay for that loan, who will pay for it? It will be my children. It is my children that I have to think about, and that is what I am speaking about today. I am speaking for the children of first nations of tomorrow. I speak from experience on this.

In 1983 my communities in northern Saskatchewan were finally given municipal status. I was one of the first tax collectors for my community. I became a village administrator. Right after that I sought election as a school trustee. I was a school board member as well. In my municipal communities we collect taxes from land for local improvement and schools. There are two tax collections. One tax is levied on the property and every year taxes are collected. It is like running sap from the maple trees for maple syrup. Every year that happens off our land; some revenue is reaped

However, what if the first nations taxpayers cannot pay for it? There are provisions in here and powers where property could be taken from people.

In Treaty No. 5, Treaty No. 6, Treaty No. 8 and Treaty No. 10, the very treaties that created this country, there were obligations by the Crown. We cannot forget these obligations. The obligations were to the people who lived on these reserves, the small little communities that they were left with after sharing the entire territory of this country.

Treaty No. 6 is the entire Saskatchewan river system. Treaty No. 10 is the entire Churchill river system. The first nations were willing to share these with few provisions for medicine, education, housing and tax exemption. Tax exemption was a treaty provision in the regions of my constituency. This bill is creating tax opportunities and defining taxpayers.

Where else in Canadian law, or even provincial law, are there three types of taxpayers? We are going to have taxpayers for residential purposes, taxpayers for commercial purposes, and taxpayers for utility purposes. Where else in Canadian law do we have three categories that will protect the interests of those taxpayers? It does not matter if it is some newcomers from, for example, Spain who invest in one of our first nations communities and says that now they are taxpayers in this community. They will have their interests protected under this bill.

My concern is, why are the interests of the first nations not protected? Where is the Cree nation? There is no protection of the Cree nation. There is no protection of the Okanagan nation, the Tlingit, or the Gwich'in. Why are we forgetting the very first nations that were part of this land before?

This is a tax commission that is well intended. It can exist. There is nothing wrong with having fiscal relations with first nations, but first we must establish the relationship between the first nations as governments. Right now, Canadian federal and provincial governments recognize aboriginal government as a band council, a chief in council, but they do not recognize the tribal councils. It stops at tribal councils because in most parts the tribal councils were formerly Indian Act district offices, for district reasons, and for district administration of programs and services. When will we fully extend and respect the first nations of this land?

When I see the Mohawk nation represented by elected and democratically selected people in the House, or a House in Parliament, then that fiscal relation, through these borrowing measures, can be created. There are major powers that the band councils will be transferring to the tax commission and finance management board. The bill would legitimize co-management and third parties. What if one of our band councils runs amok with the financial institutions?

I have seen in legislation, for the first time, that co-management and third party management can be fully implemented, and that the powers of a first nation can be adopted. One of the strongest indications of this power transfer is that these financial boards or tax commissions would have the power to change the bylaw of a first nation.

It is like Esso having the power to change the laws of Canada. It is like McDonald's having the power to change the laws of the provincial Government of Quebec.

Why would we allow a tax commission to have the power to change the bylaws of first nations? These are the small powers that they have. We must recognize the first nations. I urge members to send this back to committee.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act April 26th, 2004

Mr. Speaker, it is truly an historic time to be discussing legislation that is going to deal with tax collection and real property assessment of value of land.

In large part, the whole reason this country was created was the premise that the Crown, negotiating by treaty with the original nations of this land, would co-exist and co-administer this country. In light of that, the understanding is that the Crown has taken the affairs of the defined Indians, the first nations of this land, in its power, and now is making adjustments in legislation and subsequent amendments that flow through the creation of the Indian Act.

The Indian Act created band councils. In this country we have up to 650 band councils that want to be recognized. This bill defines a first nation as a band council of an Indian Act.

I want to raise this for the attention of the House and the government. Why not define the first nations for who they really are? The first nations are the nations of this land, the original nations. We should define them as who they are, because Bill C-23 even defines “taxpayer”, and taxpayer interests and responsibilities are going to be protected and represented in the bill.

So I say, why can we not discuss the interests of the original nations: the Nehiyawuk, the Oneida, the Mohawk, the Okanagan, the Tlingit, the Tlicho, the Blackfoot, the Lakota, the Mi'kmaw, the Innu. These are the original nations of this land. Why can we not create legislation or provide a means in legislation to respect and protect the interests and representation of those original nations? Why can we not do that?

Instead, this bill protects the interests of taxpayers who will reside on first nations. It will protect the interests of borrowing agents that will be lending moneys to first nations that deem they will need those moneys.

The bill is a signal to us, and not only to us as a government, as a Parliament, but also a signal to our people, the original nations, that we are misguided. This bill, this kind of financial relationship that the first nations and the band councils are seeking, the investment opportunities they need, should be based on the certainty that the original nations are respected, recognized and represented appropriately in this Government of Canada. Why are there not representations of our nations in this Parliament?

I have spoken many times suggesting that there maybe should be a third house of Parliament. A Senate and a House of Commons are created in these square chambers, but there is a round room in this building. It is called the Library of Parliament. It is a round room shaped like a teepee, a medicine wheel, a symbol of unity. Why can we not take our place in there as an aboriginal first nation house? Then, that place, a governing house, respected by this Parliament and the legislatures of the provinces and territories and the municipal governments, would be recognized as a house and government, not as a lobbying group that is being recognized by ministers at the whim of cabinet or a governor in council. It would be a thoroughly recognized house of government representing our nations.

Our nations have many responsibilities. They assess taxation on the value of land. They look at the services required for utilities. They are responsible for fire protection, police services, housing needs, protecting the quality of water and ensuring sewer retention and treatment. Those are all major responsibilities.

We are responsible in our relations to all living things on the planet and the medicines that grow on this Mother Earth. These are major responsibilities that the original nations carry and there are the relationships that they have with their language.

The Mohawk language, as an example, is a responsibility of the Mohawk Nation. The Cree language is a responsibility of the Cree Nation, of which I am a part, and the Métis. I am a half-breed of the Cree Nation.

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Cree]


I know my first nation brothers and sisters. They are of Cree descent. I know my language. It is based on the Cree culture and language. Even Cree is the wrong word for us, as is Indian the wrong word for the first nations of the land.

It is for the purview of the original people that they be given proper respect. I am telling the House that Bill C-23 is in the wrong sequence of events. It should be the last of the arrangements. The first arrangement should be the proper relationships that our Prime Minister was discussing at the aboriginal summit one week ago. At that aboriginal summit a proper relationship should have been established with the first nations, the Inuit and the Métis nations of the land. That relationship should have been founded first before we enter into financial arrangements like this.

A tax commission would be established and somehow, by the minister or the government's will, the head office would be located in Kamloops. Why could it not be discussed by the first nations of the land? Why could they not gather in council as nations so that they would decide where the headquarters of these commissions, boards, authorities and institutes would be located? Why should it be the minister? Why should it be the governor in council making the final decisions on who will be appointed? The bill calls for up to 52 appointments which is a sacred number because that is the number of recognized nations in the land.

Why could the government and minister not recognize the 52 nations and create 52 seats representing all the nations of the land, one seat each for the Mohawks, one seat for the Oneidas, one seat for the Tuscaroras, one seat for the Senecas and one seat for the Cayugas? Why were these nations not thoroughly recognized?

Why are we presenting a financial institution bill before we create the proper relationship that was based on the peace and friendship treaties that created this country? We are making a grave mistake. The will and intent of the bill, of creating financial opportunities to provide services and infrastructure development on first nations reserves, is well-intentioned but there is also fiduciary responsibility that the government has, and it has not defined that.

The government has no obligation to recognize what those obligations are under treaty. The treaty obligations are not described in the bill and we dismiss those obligations by saying that it is an option for a first nation to enter into these provisions and commitments if they so decide.

It is the first nations' decision but I ask members of the government, of the House of Commons and of the Senate to search within themselves and ask why, in the year 2004, the original nations of this land are not properly recognized in legislation, in definition, as original nations.

Why can this statistical institute not describe who the first nations are? It is going to describe our languages and our culture but it will not describe who the nations are. It is time.

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Cree]


--all the children's children to come. There is a means for us to live together in this land but the wisdom and the responsibility of the original nations is locked in with the original nation in its embodiment and that nation has to be recognized.

I call upon my colleagues in the House to give us the proper respect as the first nations, the original nations of this land, to guide members in governing this country as well.

The bill would pre-empt that relationship because it would start carving out ways of assessing and putting value on land, a value that never existed before on first nations properties. How can we put value on land where the land, a secluded reserve in northern Saskatchewan as an example, is to be assessed at the same value of land on an urban reserve in Vancouver? That value of land is unequal and this bill would start doing that.

Mr. Speaker, if you would allow me another day of debate I would explain to you a vision of a country because it is time. The year is 2004 and Canada would be remiss not to officially recognize and respect the original nations as nations.

Westbank First Nation Self-Government Act April 22nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, as far as I know, there are three levels of government in Canada: federal, provincial and municipal. When the treaty-making process took place and the British crown, after ascertaining its rights to enter into treaty because of the treaties it already had with France, entered into these treaties, those differences were settled. However I think the British crown was remiss in that it did not respect the nations, the tribes and the communities, the bands.

Putting it into perspective, the original nations had their levels of government as well, their levels of confederacies among nations. They had land use agreements and transportation through the river systems agreements among the different regions of the country. Those nations were involved and they had agreements. They had Wampum belts. There is oral history and significant history that documents all of this.

With respect to the third order of government, which is the substance of the debate, we already have a third order of government and it is the municipal level. The federal government transfers powers to the provinces which in turn transfers powers to the municipalities. Within the band councils, under the Indian Act, powers were transferred directly from the federal government.

There are 630 Indian bands across the country. What about their tribes and their nations? That is what I am bringing forward to this House. What about the tribes and nations as governing bodies? Why are they not recognized in modern day Canada?

The Okanagan nation is a nation in and of itself. Westbank is a part of the Okanagan nation but Canada does not recognize the Okanagan nation. These nations have to practise in their own ways. Through that practice and that recognition there will be a greater magic taking place in this country. There will be greater responsibility because some of those gifts of governance, some of those gifts of wisdom and intellectual property have to be protected by the nations themselves, not as the generic term of first nations.

The Okanagan have their own language and their own inherent rights and properties. They carry their own medicine and their own knowledge of the land and animals that are within their region. There is traditional knowledge but it is based on each a nation and it is locked in their language.

The Dene cannot carry the knowledge of the Okanagan. The Okanagan do not carry the knowledge of the Mohawk. The Mohawk do not carry the knowledge of the Cree. We should allow these nations to come and celebrate their knowledge. We should allow them to express themselves in their way. Canada would be a greater nation by sharing this openness, this generosity, these Canadian principles and values. Why can we not share this openness? Why are we shy? Why are we unsure of opening our arms and allowing us to come together as one nation?

That as why I deem our country as a river of nations. No matter where we are, we should be proud of our ancestors. The strength of our ancestors will make our nation strong. We must be one nation. We must flow as one like the river.

Westbank First Nation Self-Government Act April 22nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, it is truly an honour to speak in favour of Bill C-11. In large part we have heard the debate take place and opposition members not rising. The bill is worthy of being discussed. We need dialogue on the Westbank situation not only in this chamber but throughout Canada.

This region of the country, as I mentioned in previous debates, is unsettled territories. These are treaty lands that the entire country has negotiated for the territory to become a country as a Canadian crown, or what we call crown lands. However, in this region the treaty process has not been complete. The treaty process would need partnership between the province, the federal government and the first nations themselves. We hope that process will come to its conclusion in the very near future.

My colleague who spoke previously mentioned that this was a self-government deal that was needed now so the community could have the law-making powers on education and culture, finances, land use policies, land lease policies and on resource development within their lands.

This self-government deal is an opportunity for Canada to look into other opportunities. There are many other arrangements, as we experienced yesterday with Bill C-31 and the Tlicho in Treaty No. 11. This is another self-government agreement within the treaty boundaries of an existing treaty. However, this is a self-government deal without a treaty. It is an historical point in our country to reach out to these first nations that wish to seek a better administrative structure and a better decision making structure away from the Indian Act.

I welcome any opposition to speak against this. This is the time and place to debate it, not collapse the debate. Let us hear it out. Let us find out what the opposition is.

This also is an opportunity to look at statements that have been made by some individuals who were opposed to the bill. They talked about taxpayers' rights and representation. I believe the country should have citizens' rights.

Many of our young people may not be deemed or labelled taxpayers. What rights do they have? Is it the level of taxes people pay that measures how much influence they have? I dare say that is a totally wrong definition of democracy and not what the world should be looking at. Democracy should be based on the rights of citizens. We are all Canadians. All Canadians should have a right in the House of Commons, not only the tax paying public. This is an opportunity for us to have this type of a debate in the House.

I also think it is an opportunity for young people who may not be taxpayers because they are unemployed. They may be people in hard times. They may not be contributing toward taxes because they have been unable to afford property and then pay property taxes.

There is a whole different realm and reality in Canada that should be taken into context as a true nation.

When the debate comes as a taxpayers' federation dialogue or mantra or lobby, that is the wrong perspective of democracy. Democracy should be based on equal citizens no matter where we are. The original nations presided on this land way before any crown or any other European country discovered the new land called North American or Turtle Island, as it is perceived in our stories.

The whole story of the self-government deal in the Westbank First Nation is an historical time to reflect on Canada's history and its future. It has been deemed that there were two founding nations of France and England which came to terms to create a country. I say the treaties that came into being created this country.

There were original treaties with the French nation. There were original treaties with the English nation. They knew that to ascertain this territory, they had to make agreements, sacred accords with the original nations. They were the keepers of this land. They were the true owners of this land.

I dare say the definition of ownership because, in large part, it is our belief that this land was a responsibility for us, not a right. To exercise that responsibility, here is a self-government model where these people will be electing their leaders. There will be 7,000 or 8,000 non-members of the Westbank First Nation living among them.

There will be laws and provisions to help guide them in their decisions for the future. The House should be making provisions for the first nations or the original nations to be part of the decision making of Parliament. That is why I speak about a third house of Parliament where the real first nations, the original nations of this land, not the band councils as defined by purview of the Indian Act. would sit. I am speaking of the Okanagan Nation, the Cree Nation, the Mohawk Nation, the Wyandot Nation, the Haida Nation. All these nations are missing today in 2004. They are not being respected or properly recognized.

I think the indigenous decade is coming to a close. Canada has an opportunity to pay respect to this, as my region did in Treaty No. 6 and Treaty No. 10. They celebrate their treaty every year when a day is set aside as treaty day. Canadians should be celebrating the existence of the treaty in our country, like we celebrate Canada Day. The country was created by a peace and friendship treaty.

Today we have a very renowned visitor, the Dalai Lama, within the realms of the House. He has been spreading the word of peace and friendship throughout the world. I think he celebrates and feels the peace and friendship on which Canada was founded. I think he feels at home here because we have the peace and friendship initiatives of our nations. They want to live among us. There is no need to fight. There is no need for opposition. There is a need for consensus and a need to find ways to live among one another.

I always coin it as a river of nations. We are here from all corners of the world, as well as the original nations. We have to find ways to live together as one nation, as one country. This is an opportunity where the people of the Westbank First Nation can be given the self-government tools and means to make their own decisions on issues such as finances, culture, education, social well-being and the future of their children, and to find a place within the community of Kelowna, within the province of British Columbia and within this nation of Canada.

Let them speak for themselves. Let them express themselves on the world view, with the gifts that they have as an Okanagan nation. Let them express themselves in their language, in the way they have been brought up. There are harsh realities within that parched, semi-desert region. However, there is also the beautiful aspect of orchards, the river and the sacred responsibility to life that will continue in the future. All this comes into play.

This is a time for Canada to debate this, to share this world view of our country. I welcome the opportunity to speak on this. I commend the leaders of the Westbank who have brought this forward. I commend the democratic process that they have chosen. It is not perfect. There is no perfect democracy that we can find as an example in this world right now. We are trying to push democracy in other regions of the world, the war conflict countries of this world. Maybe through the self-government practices of the original nations of Canada, they will start practising the original governance models.

As we live in Ottawa, there is the Algonquin nation to the south, from where the hon. Speaker comes. The original six nations of the Iroquois confederacy live within the Great Lakes. We should let the original governance structures be practised. Let them be celebrated. Let them make their mistakes. If mistakes are made, they will correct them. However, these models of governance may some day transform the House into a new governance model.

Maybe some day the Westbank experience will bring forth an enlightenment to the legislature in British Columbia to change its governing structure within British Columbia. Maybe their governance structure or governance model might supercede what the Kelowna mayor and council are practising right now under the municipal governments of Kelowna.

Those governments may have the perfect opportunity of a well-described democratic community governance. Maybe Kelowna will adopt these models of governance. Maybe the model of governance by the central Okanagan regional district that surrounds the communities is imperfect. Maybe the people of the Westbank First Nation will be practising a governance model that will improve all our lives.

We all must have faith that these people will make their decisions appropriately for their people and that they will incorporate their decisions with the people who will live among them. This self-government agreement is certainly a vehicle that they wanted and one for which they have strived. We must allow them that.

This is a democratic country. They have democratically spoken with their voices. I believe the true nature of the original making of this country, a peace and friendship country under treaty, was through our sharing and teachings of the two row wampum, where the vessel of the original peoples was bound together with the vessel of the newcomers.

This self-government model is their vessel. We must allow them this journey of life, this river of life, with the vessels in unison with the municipal, provincial and federal governments. We may eventually have three orders of government that will parallel what we call our three orders of government: federal, provincial and municipal. Maybe they will have a national, tribal or first nation community band level government.

This is an opportunity for them to practise and show us their ways but without example how can we judge? Let them show us by example.

I challenge the members of the House, if there are any conflicts or arguments they have on the self-government deal, to please express them in the House and allow other Canadians to digest a different perspective.

Here is an opportunity to allow a first nation, which has duly negotiated through the proper processes under the government's policy of self-government, under the auspices of section 35 of the Constitution, the inherent right to self-government, the opportunity in a modern context to govern themselves in the ways they wish.

At the same time, those ways of governance are not in any way to be judged lesser or greater but maybe a sharing of those forms of governance might transform our country into a better and greater place where more people of the world, as they discover our bountiful gifts, our resources and water, may also discover Canada has bountiful gifts of knowledge and that knowledge is carried by the original nations.

Those original nations have a great responsibility and great respect that this can be carried and nurtured by them, not to be given away to somebody in their caring, that they can find their way under an Indian agent away from the Indian Act, that they can bring that responsibility home.

This is what the Westbank First Nation is all about. It is an exercise of its right to govern itself. It is an exercise of international respect of an original nation within the boundaries of a country to exercise, in its language and its world view, a way of governance that may some day influence our system of governance, as imperfect as this House is and as imperfect as the provincial houses are.

Maybe allowing these first nations to govern themselves under these structures, under their laws and their ways, is a way for Canada to mature into the truly beautiful nation that was envisioned between the original founders, the crown and the French nation that came in. It is a river of nations and a nation of rivers.

This is their opportunity and we must allow them. I beg all my members to support the bill and give these people a proud place in this corner of Canada in a beautiful part of British Columbia. Allow them to exercise their way of governance as they have negotiated. Allow them to make the changes that they will make into the future and allow them to seek assurances and certainty through the treaty-making process that they are continuing to strive for, that the treaty process will take precedence very soon. I hope it takes formality and finalization in all of British Columbia.

The nation must rest assured that we can live among each other and that it is no longer a battle of us and them. Let us come together as one nation.

I will conclude my speech by saying that this is one time that I can beg for the support of all the members. Allow the Westbank First Nation to seek its way of governance by passing the bill into law.

Westbank First Nation Self-Government Act April 22nd, 2004

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the hon. member. I think he could speak with quite distinct experience from his own constituency in his community. Within the provisions of the Westbank self-government act, there are opportunities for additions to reserves and the willingness that the first nations of Westbank would ascertain their property under the definition of Indian lands under the Indian Act.

There is a history within the Chippewas of Sarnia of an example that land set aside for the Chippewas of Sarnia was put under the War Measures Act as opposed to the Indian Act and the end result was that they lost that land.

I think there is very huge hesitancy and uncertainty within the Westbank first nation, and also other nations throughout Canada. They want to preserve a lot of this land under reserve definition because of this specific experience. Maybe the hon. member can share the history of the Chippewas of Sarnia and their land deals.

Westbank First Nation Self-Government Act April 22nd, 2004

Madam Speaker, I was just reviewing the self-government proposal that was ratified by the first nations themselves after thorough discussion with their membership and the surrounding community of Kelowna.

I have a question for the member concerning the perceived relationships with the greater community. The unique situation with Westbank is that it is within the municipal boundaries of Kelowna. However there are provisions in the bill to address that relationship with the municipality and the greater community surrounding other first nations within the Westbank region along the Okanagan. I guess there also is a county or rural municipality beyond the Kelowna boundary. Perhaps the member could focus on what is provided in the bill.