House of Commons photo

Elsewhere

Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was first.

Last in Parliament October 2019, as NDP MP for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou (Québec)

Won his last election, in 2015, with 37% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply June 4th, 2018

moved:

That the House: (a) re-affirm its support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), including article 32(2), which guarantees “free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources”; and (b) acknowledge that advancing Constitutional Reconciliation through a nation-to-nation approach means respecting the right to self-determination of Indigenous Peoples and the will of their representative institutions, like the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs which has said with respect to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline that “No means no – the project does not have the consent it requires”, which is a principled position conducive to achieving the ends of the UNDRIP.

Madam Speaker, I know it is always hard to pronounce the name of that part of my riding. I would like to begin by saying that I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the very impressive member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

First of all, I think it is worth reminding the House that we passed Bill C-262 some time ago. It was a historic moment when the House adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. That is why I think it is important to start with that reminder.

My motion reaffirms the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including article 32.2. I worked on UNDRIP negotiations for 23 years. For all those years, I was a participant and a negotiator working on the texts we have agreed to as part of the declaration. We need to understand something about the whole conversation around this in Canada today. People who talk about reconciliation cannot just say whatever they please. They have to recognize Canada's constitutional context. Anyone who talks about reconciliation in Canada has to talk about it with that context in mind.

For instance, one of the things the Supreme Court states in its rulings is that reconciliation is necessary, but that it is also vital to recognize that our consent, the consent of the indigenous peoples, Canada's first peoples, is equally necessary.

That is what reconciliation is all about. We must always come back to that principle. In a 2004 decision, the Supreme Court wrote that the principle of reconciliation rests on the government's duty to recognize the pre-existing sovereignty of indigenous peoples, since it is in some way more honourable than Crown sovereignty.

The pre-existing sovereignty of indigenous peoples has an overriding right over the crown's assumed sovereignty. These are not my words. They are the words of the Supreme Court. The “assumed Crown sovereignty” is what the Supreme Court used.

When discussing the sovereignty of the crown, or whatever we wish, there are a lot of issues, one of them being where we stand today. Where we stand today is pretty significant, I would suggest, because we have an issue before us. We praise people who say yes but ignore those who have the same right to say no. People have said that. There are communities across the country that have said no, and they have the right to say no.

That is our point. I could go on and on speaking about all of these issues, but all of this is about the right to self-determination, and they have said so. Let us keep it to that and respect that right to say yes, of course, but to say no also.

Export and Import Permits Act May 31st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the presentation made by my hon. colleague, a former colleague on the indigenous affairs committee.

She quoted article 19 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in our debate on Bill C-262 when talking about the situation in Akwesasne.

It was quite interesting in this context, because article 19 talks about consultation and co-operation “in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions”.

First of all, whom does the member consider the representative institution in Akwesasne? Second, I find it curious that members cite indigenous issues and indigenous people in situations that serve their arguments but not in the situation where the House was debating a vote to support indigenous peoples and their fundamental human rights in this place.

Indigenous Affairs May 31st, 2018

Mr. Speaker, yesterday was a remarkable day since my bill to ensure that our laws respect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was passed. Yesterday, I also asked the Prime Minister whether his decision to impose a pipeline despite opposition from first nations upheld the honour of the crown. However, as we saw, he did not answer.

Does this government believe that its approach to the pipeline respects the letter and the spirit of the declaration?

Indigenous Affairs May 30th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon there will be a vote on my bill to ensure that Canadian laws respect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a principle that the Prime Minister supported.

This government has a fundamental constitutional obligation to uphold the honour of the Crown in its relations with the indigenous peoples.

How does imposing the pipeline expansion despite strong and growing opposition from indigenous peoples uphold the honour of the Crown?

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act May 29th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, I can pick up where my colleague from Winnipeg Centre left off.

First, I believe that human rights should not be a partisan issue in this place, because human rights are human rights. It is unfortunate that one party has expressed its opposition to this bill, but I respect its right to do so.

Second, I want to raise a point that I wanted to mention in my presentation but I ran out of time. I want to express my thanks to the many indigenous and non-indigenous organizations and communities across this country that have supported and endorsed Bill C-262 through resolution.

I would particularly like to thank the mayor of Val-d'Or, Pierre Corbeil, and his council. Val-d'Or was the first non-indigenous city in the country to adopt a resolution in support of Bill C-262 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I also want to thank the people of Val-d'Or.

The member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo rightly pointed out that declarations are not the same as international conventions or treaties, which are binding.

She is right in raising that point, but she forgets to mention that international declarations, such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, do have legal effect, and our courts can refer to declarations when interpreting domestic law in our country. That is an important point we cannot forget.

I remember the days when the Constitution of 1982 was discussed and finally patriated in our country. No one knew at that time what aboriginal rights were, and we did not ask the government at that time to clarify what aboriginal rights were in this country. We adopted the Constitution of 1982, and it was up to the courts to interpret the concept of aboriginal rights.

In those years, when aboriginal rights and treaty rights were enshrined in the Constitution, there were fears expressed by many opponents. However, the good news is that the sky did not fall, and it is going to be the same with the human rights of indigenous peoples. It is important to recognize that.

It has been said that it took 150 years to get into this mess. This is the 151st year of this country. Why not take this major fundamental step in the right direction? This is what Bill C-262 is proposing to do.

Finally, I want to mention one thing that I have said in this place before. My colleague from Saskatchewan referred to the fact that I was sent to residential school. I spent 10 years in residential school. I should have been mad the rest of my life because of that, because it was not my choice to go to residential school. I was forced to do so. However, when I came out of residential school, I set out to reconcile with the people who put me away. Bill C-262 is all about that reconciliation.

Mr. Speaker, this is my extended hand to you and, through you, to all members of this place and to all Canadians across the country. The 151st year of this country is a momentous occasion for us in this place, and for all Canadians, to do the right thing when it comes to the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act May 29th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, on my colleague's first point, Bill C-262 would confirm that the UN declaration is a human rights instrument that has application in Canadian law. It would confirm that the declaration already applies in Canadian law. It is important to remind members of that fact. Bill C-262 only confirms its application in Canadian law already.

That being said, a lot of what we do in this place in terms of legislation must be consistent with a lot of things. It must be consistent with the Constitution, and section 35 in particular. It must be consistent with the rulings of the Supreme Court that have been handed down since 1982. Every piece of legislation needs to be consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

One of the pieces of legislation, I believe it was Bill C-69 my colleague mentioned, references the UN declaration, but only in the preamble. It belongs in the text of the legislation as well. It is important to do that.

If we claim that we have adopted and implemented the UN declaration, we need to be consistent in that claim, absolutely.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act May 29th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, it is important to mention again, as I did during my presentation, that the previous Conservative government finally endorsed the declaration in November 2010. I read the quote into the record. It is important to remind ourselves that this is where we are.

The second point I want to make is that I wrote to the leader of the Conservative Party last week pleading with him personally for his party to support Bill C-262.

It is important to do it, because documents like the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples forge proper relationships and partnerships among governments and indigenous peoples. We can look at the history of northern Quebec, for instance, since we signed the first modern treaty in this country in 1975. Some 80 additional agreements have been signed since then. This is what happens when we recognize the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples. That leads to reconciliation, and that leads to proper partnerships with indigenous peoples.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act May 29th, 2018

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, thank you.

[Member spoke in Cree]

I remember very clearly when, in September 2007, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It was such an important moment in the history of the United Nations, and also in the history of 400 million indigenous people throughout more than 70 countries. Today, I would suggest, is an equally important moment for this Parliament, for indigenous peoples, and indeed for all Canadians in this country.

I say all Canadians, because Canadians stand for justice when it comes to the rights of indigenous peoples in this country. I say indeed for all Canadians, because Canadians believe in the human rights of the first peoples of this land. Canadians believe in and want reconciliation with indigenous peoples in this country. I am certain that no one in this place is against justice. No MP is opposed to reconciliation, and all want the human rights of indigenous peoples to be upheld at all times. That is part of our duty as parliamentarians in this place. There cannot be reconciliation in the absence of justice. Let us be clear about that as well.

I am honoured once again to rise in the House to speak about these issues and questions that I hold dear to my heart. I would like to start by briefly talking about the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the human rights that this international human rights document enshrines.

Although it has been more than a decade since the UN General Assembly adopted the declaration, this human rights instrument is still not well known. It is the most comprehensive international human rights document that deals specifically with the rights of indigenous peoples: their political rights, their economic rights, their cultural rights, their environmental rights, and I would even add their spiritual rights. Bill C-262 proposes all of that.

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the most comprehensive, as I said, but I think it is also worthwhile reminding this place that it has been reaffirmed by consensus at the UN General Assembly eight times since its adoption. In December 2010, the United States, which was one of the last remaining countries that had initially opposed the declaration, confirmed its endorsement for the declaration. Therefore, since December 2010, no state in the world formally objects to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

I would remind members that the UN declaration is the longest-discussed and longest-negotiated human rights instrument in the history of the United Nations. Two decades is a long time for countries to have discussed, negotiated, expressed their concerns, and proposed drafting for the contents of this declaration.

I also want to remind members that Canada finally endorsed the UN declaration in November 2010. I will read what Stephen Harper said when he confirmed the government's endorsement. Mr. Harper said:

We are now confident that Canada can interpret the principles expressed in the Declaration in a manner that is consistent with our Constitution and legal framework.

I know my speaking time is running out, and I want to give other members a chance to speak on this matter. However, I want to remind the House that Bill C-262 actually fulfills two major calls to action issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in its report, namely calls to action 43 and 44.

Call to action 43 calls upon federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation. If we truly believe in reconciliation, we must use that declaration as the framework.

I also want to remind the House that the rights enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples are inherent, meaning they supersede all other documents. They exist because we exist today as indigenous peoples.

Bill C-262 is probably the most important bill Parliament has considered in a long time. We will get to vote on this bill as of tomorrow. “If you believe in reconciliation, what are you doing about it?” That is the question I asked all summer when I was speaking to Canadians across the country, from east to west and all the way up north.

“What are you doing about it?” That is the question I asked Canadians throughout the country, both indigenous and non-indigenous. They all want justice for indigenous peoples. Every Canadian wants reconciliation. Every Canadian believes in the human rights of the first peoples of this country.

When I was travelling across Canada, many Canadians asked me questions about this declaration. Once they understood it, Canadians wanted the framework for reconciliation to be based on this document, which took two decades to negotiate and to be drafted. That is why I am saying that Canadians want reconciliation. They believe in the importance of justice for Canada's indigenous peoples. It is 2018 and they believe that it is finally time to recognize that indigenous rights are also human rights. A country such as Canada must support the rights enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Bill C-262 is a bill of reconciliation. All parties in the House have expressed their support for the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its 94 calls to action. This bill proposes to implement two of the most important calls to action of the report. That is what Bill C-262 attempts to do, and that is what all parties also wanted to accomplish with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Democratic Reform May 25th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, in 2014, when the Conservatives used time allocation to limit debate on the Fair Elections Act, my hon. colleague from Winnipeg North said, “The Canada Elections Act is like no other....This legislation should be designated such that time allocation cannot be applied to it.”

I do not get it. What has changed since 2014?

Indigenous Affairs May 25th, 2018

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister promised indigenous peoples that he would honour and protect their rights. He repeated those promises on the world stage saying that he would honour the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

What have we seen in the past three years? There have been bogus consultations, secret agreements, and blank cheques for Kinder Morgan.

Which relationship is more important, the one with Kinder Morgan, or the one with indigenous peoples?