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  • Her favourite word is terms.

Conservative MP for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo (B.C.)

Won her last election, in 2015, with 35% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns December 13th, 2017

With regard to the Privy Council Office and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls: (a) what is the total amount of money allocated to the Privy Council Office from the National Inquiry's budget; (b) how was the money referred to in (a) spent, and what is the itemized breakdown of all such expenditures; (c) how many employees within the Privy Council Office have been assigned to the National Inquiry between August 1, 2016, and present; and (d) what action has the Privy Council Office taken to support the National Inquiry?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns December 13th, 2017

With regard to the First Nations-Canada Joint Committee on the Fiscal Relationship: (a) what are the names and titles of each member of the Committee; (b) has the list of committee members changed since December 12, 2016; (c) what are the titles of all briefing notes provided to the Committee between December 13, 2016, and October 30, 2017, by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada; (d) what are the details of all meetings of the Committee, including, for each meeting, the (i) date, (ii) location, (iii) agenda, (iv) minutes; (e) what are the total travel costs covered by the government for the Committee; (f) what are the total accommodation costs covered by the government for the Committee; (g) what is the daily per diem rate, which members of the Committee are entitled to; and (h) what is the total paid out in per diem for the Committee?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns December 13th, 2017

With regard to the creation of the Ad Hoc Cabinet Committee on Federal Recovery Efforts for 2017 British Columbia BC Wildfires, announced by the Prime Minister on July 14, 2017: (a) what are the titles of all briefing notes provided to the committee between July 14, 2017, and October 30, 2017; (b) what are the details of all meetings of this committee, including for each meeting the (i) date, (ii) location, (iii) agenda, (iv) minutes; (c) what analysis has been conducted from July 14, 2017, to present by the government with regard to the long-term impact of the 2017 BC wildfires on BC residents, communities, businesses, and First Nations; (d) what analysis has been conducted from July 14, 2017, to present by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada with regard to the long-term impact of the 2017 BC wildfires on First Nations in BC; and (e) on what date will the committee disband?

Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement Act December 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I am extremely pleased to speak in support of this historic bill, Bill C-61, Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement Act. It is a momentous occasion, and I want to offer my sincere congratulations to all those who have given so much time and energy in seeing this through.

As was mentioned, negotiations began in 1993 and concluded in 2015, at the end of the Conservative government's last term. The agreement was signed August 16, 2017. It truly has been created through a bipartisan process.

However, it is important to note that it has taken much too long. As we move to other agreements in the future, whether it be education or health, I hope we have a much more nimble process to get us to a final conclusion. The people who are here in the gallery listening today would agree that 20 years is much too long for this kind of important agreement to move forward.

We all recognize the importance of education. I want to share some of Roberta Jamieson's words:

Indigenous peoples are the fastest-growing demographic group in Canada. They have the potential to make a strong contribution to Canada's economic well-being. But if that is to happen, we must deal with the gap between the well-being of indigenous and non-indigenous people in Canada. That requires understanding the role education plays in closing that gap—and the action required to make that happen. The economic advantages of “closing the gap” far outweigh the costs.

As Matthew Calver of the Centre for the Study of Living Standards notes:

The benefits of education extend far beyond labour market performance...[It] is also associated with better health, reduced crime, political engagement and better financial decisions.

Ms. Jamieson went on to say:

We must build awareness that education is more than just the ABCs—it is the means of restoring cultural loss by strengthening identity, language, culture, and indigenous peoples' history. Our children require an education that recognizes and respects our values and our science, and is intended to contribute to the rebuilding of nations. When our youth realize they have reason for a strong affirming sense of identity, when they believe they are persons of value, knowing they are part of a positive change being woven into the history of Canada, they will respond by realizing that they have talent, potential, intelligence, and something special to offer the world.

As the minister described the signing agreement, and seeing the two youths with the sweatshirts, that just speaks to those words so clearly.

Hopefully, this agreement is going to do all that for these communities. As has been mentioned, 23 of the 39 Anishinabek First Nations have signed on, and of course the remaining communities have an option to sign on in the future if they want to. It recognizes the control over education on reserve from junior kindergarten to grade 12 in the 23 participating first nations.

It is an enormous agreement. There are over 25,000 students, of which approximately 2,000 currently attend band-operated schools. The 39 first nations in Anishinabek Nation are spread across much of Ontario, from Thunder Bay to Pembroke to Sarnia. For those of us who come from different provinces, it is important to really understand the scope of the massive area this is going to include. As has been mentioned, this is the first self-government agreement in Ontario.

The agreement comes with a number of pieces. It has an education fiscal transfer agreement, which is going to be updated and renewed every five fiscal years, the first of which the previous Conservative government signed on July 8, 2015. It provides stable, predictable, and flexible funding to ensure the school board can deliver quality education to the same standards as the province of Ontario.

It is important to note we are moving in the right direction. We still have a long way to go. The 2016 census revealed some positive steps forward in terms of completion rates. I do not think that we have caught up to where we need to be, but there was a movement, very importantly, in the right direction, and agreements such as this will further close the gap.

The minister will not be surprised to hear that I am pleased to see there is clear language around the financial transparency of each first nation and the school board, which will be fully accountable to the band members for the spending to ensure the money will go where it is needed most. Having that financial transparency and accountability in these communities will be a very important measurement. It will include audited statements, which will be made available to the membership.

My children were raised in a small rural community with a small high school. At the time, rural broadband was not available. I remember looking at options, but they just were not available. However, now with broadband being widely available, there is an ability for our budding doctors to take physics, or someone who wants to be an engineer to take calculus, which are typically opportunities that are not available in small rural communities and some of our first nation communities.

Hopefully, in the future, when we have signed agreements, they will include a component where we commit to bring into these communities high-speed broadband, which will allow even greater opportunity for the students to have flexibility and an expanded scope.

The minister also talked about how many of the students could not stay in their communities and had to move on in terms of high school. Again, this would allow greater flexibility in terms of choices, and students could spend more time in their home communities and get a full and robust education. If we are looking at agreements, this should be something that requires a significant discussion.

In closing, this is a monumental achievement. My sincerest congratulations go to the people who have worked so hard on it. Jurisdiction over their primary, elementary, and secondary education will be very important, as well as the ability to deliver a culturally-relevant curriculum every day. Ultimately, as these schools learn by doing and succeed, perhaps we will have lessons that we can learn from for some of our more traditional schools in larger centres.

I remember visiting a day care in T’it’q’et, a small community, that welcomed members from the nearby off-reserve community to attend. I remember how enriching it was for the children that lived in Lillooet to go to that particular day care. They also benefited from the cultural programming that was part of this particular day care. Therefore, I see that there is going to be opportunity in the future for everyone to be a little better.

Again, I am pleased to support the bill and congratulations to all.

Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement Act December 6th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I too will be speaking in support of this particular agreement. I did go through its many components, the master agreement and the fiscal transfer relationship.

In this day of technological opportunities, if a community has a budding scientist, for example, is there anything in the agreement to ensure the availability of broadband connections in every community? To me that is an important component of providing additional opportunities for students. Was that talked about and did the federal government commit to it?

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act December 5th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou for bringing forward his private member's bill, Bill C-262. I note his important contribution to the discussion on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I would also like to share my profound respect for my colleague and acknowledge the important work he has done over many years that has significantly impacted indigenous policy in this country.

Before addressing the private member's bill, I would like to make a general observation. Section 35 of our Constitution and Canada's existing laws has in the past, and will in the future, ensure that indigenous rights are protected in Canada. We only need to reflect on a number of historical court decisions to understand how section 35 is shaping these rights. From the 1999 Marshall decision that confirmed the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet treaty right to catch and sell fish, to the 2014 Tsilhqot'in decision that granted aboriginal title to more than 1,700 sq kilometres of territory, a first in Canadian law, it is clear that our understanding of indigenous rights is constantly evolving. Just last week, the Supreme Court of Canada rendered a decision regarding the Peel watershed, which upheld aboriginal land use rights protected in treaties.

It might be suggested that the gap or problem in Canada is not our legal framework, but our frequent failure to live up to the obligations and the honour of the crown.

The bill before us today seeks to implement the 46 articles in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as stated in the document, “a standard...to be pursued in a spirit of partnership and mutual respect”. All parties in the House acknowledge the need for reconciliation, a better shared future, and the importance of the declaration. The 46 articles are essential guiding principles for that journey.

I do have some unanswered questions regarding how this international document will transpose into a domestic framework. In my opinion, we need some clear answers before we can move forward on Bill C-262. Let me share some general and specific concerns that need to be addressed.

In the past, the Liberals have argued vehemently that any small changes to the Indian Act and the Labour Code must only be introduced as government legislation, where there is an opportunity for comprehensive reflection and not just a couple of hours of debate. I would suggest that the bill before us today has more far-reaching implications than the right to a secret ballot for union certification. For the Liberals to support an NDP private member's bill to implement UNDRIP and not put it forward as government-initiated legislation is unfathomable. The debate will not be afforded the due diligence that it requires and deserves. Even today, members might have noticed that we did not hear from the minister. We did not have an opportunity under private members' business to even question the minister. In my mind, that is a problem.

To get into more specifics, first and foremost was the statement by the Minister of Justice in 2016, and I quote, “Simplistic approaches such as adopting the United Nations declaration as being Canadian law are unworkable and, respectfully, a political distraction to undertaking the hard work actually required to implement it back home in communities.”

The justice minister, unlike many of us who will be speaking to the bill, has access to all sorts of comprehensive briefings and advice. The minister would not have made that comment lightly, so it is critical for her to explain why she made the comment at that time, and how she now reconciles that with her recent commitment to support the bill. I would note that because it is private member's bill, we are very unlikely to get a chance to ask her that question.

On Thursday of last week, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations was at committee. At that time, we had the opportunity to ask a number of questions, and I want to provide a brief summary of that testimony.

Article 19 suggests that the government ensure free, prior, and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative measures that may affect them. When the minister was asked if that would apply to laws of general application or only laws that exclusively impact indigenous people, she clearly indicated that there would be a broader application. That brings us to a question of what future laws of broader application in this country would require free, prior, and informed consent, and how will that be determined in a country as diverse as Canada. How will that consent be given?

The national organizations acknowledge they are not rights holders, they are not the authorized decision-makers, and their mandate is advocacy. The indigenous community has indicated that it has to do a lot of work in terms of nation rebuilding. Therefore, what government structure or consultation framework would be put in place to actually engage in these consultations? To what degree would this commitment around the laws of general application fetter the government's ability to move forward? I will give some recent examples.

We certainly know that with Bill S-3, the government is committed to engaging in a consultation process. Clearly, that is not a general application law, but the government is going to have consultations with bands across the country. I have no idea how the government members are going to determine when they have concurrence and how long they are going to have to spend in a process where there will be human rights competing in terms of consent, and at the very dichotomy of the many consultations they will have to have. In that case it is first nations, but we also have the Métis and the Inuit.

The marijuana law is another example of broader application that is clearly going to have an impact in indigenous communities. Under our current framework, the government only engaged in a general consultation process. Would that bill be subject to article 19, and if so what would it do to the government's timelines and how are the Liberals going to move forward? The answer to that question is unknown, but it is important.

Today, we have been debating in the House Bill C-58, which is the privacy law. Again, we have a number of indigenous communities whose representatives have said that they have grave concerns. They have referenced the UN declaration in terms of their right to have input, and free, prior, and informed consent, but we have no system or process in terms of how we are going to move that forward. That is important work that needs to be done.

Where a lot of people have focused, the laws of general application are something we need to pay particular attention to, but there is also the issue of free, prior, and informed consent as it relates to the development of the natural resources. The minister has suggested it was not a veto and the position was supported by National Chief Bellegarde. However, he noted on three occasions that free, prior, and informed consent means the right to say yes and the right to say no. A number of lawyers have said the whole discussion is really a bit of semantics and whether it is veto or consent it has the same effect. Again, it leads to a question in law. What is the difference between “free, prior, and informed consent” and “consult and accommodate”, which is what we have in law right now? Certainly there is no question that the declaration proposes that change in our law and we need to simply know what that is going to mean because it is important. From what I have seen, the legal opinions out there are as varied as they possibly could be. As members might imagine, it leaves confusion in the minds of not only the indigenous communities but Canadians in general. We have some work to do in terms of developing a common understanding before we commit to an implementation into our legal framework.

Article 29 talks about the right to territories, lands, and resources. In British Columbia alone, that is 100% of the province. What are going to be the practical implications for perhaps the tourism operators in the Chilcotin or the ranchers who have depended on crown land, as these decisions get made? We have not talked about impacted third parties and how, as we correct the injustices of the past, we should not create a new injustice.

In conclusion, as members can see from my 10 minutes of speaking, there are a lot of important unanswered questions. My first concern is the fact that the government has committed to implementing this as a private member's bill where we are going to be limited in the debate and our opportunity to create a shared understanding. The shared understanding of all these concepts is going to be critical in terms of moving forward into success in the future for all.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act December 5th, 2017

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for a very powerful speech, and for talking about introducing the bill and the hand it is extending to all of us in reconciliation.

He talked about the fact that this is perhaps one of the most important pieces of legislation in the House, but I have a concern. As he knows, a private member's bill gets very limited debate. My question is, with having it come through the House as a private member's bill, where we do not get the opportunity to debate it in the way I think it should be debated, is that a concern for him?

Access to Information Act December 5th, 2017

Madam Speaker, the AFN is looking at issuing an emergency resolution because it is so concerned about this particular bill. Clearly, whatever amendments were done at committee were not satisfactory.

That is all we need to say on that issue.

Access to Information Act December 5th, 2017

Madam Speaker, that is an excellent question. Clearly, that is what this bill would do.

Had it been the previous Conservative government that introduced this bill in a similar form, the Liberals would have been outraged and pointing out its flaws, just as I have today in my speech. They would not have supported it for a minute. While the government says this bill is so transparent and such a great move forward, I am almost certain they would never have supported it in the past when we were government.

Access to Information Act December 5th, 2017

Madam Speaker, I was very proud when the Conservatives came into government that the accountability act was a huge step forward. However, no update is better than a bad update.

What we have now are first nations communities saying that the current government will make their lives more difficult, and Suzanne Legault saying that first nations cannot get information that was really critical in the past. It would not meet the new standards that have been set.

I would finish by saying that the Liberals have introduced legislation that is worse than the status quo, and the status quo was not acceptable.