Skip to main content
Start of content

AANR Committee Meeting

Notices of Meeting include information about the subject matter to be examined by the committee and date, time and place of the meeting, as well as a list of any witnesses scheduled to appear. The Evidence is the edited and revised transcript of what is said before a committee. The Minutes of Proceedings are the official record of the business conducted by the committee at a sitting.

For an advanced search, use Publication Search tool.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the accessibility of this publication, please contact us at accessible@parl.gc.ca.

Previous day publication Next day publication

37th PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources


EVIDENCE

CONTENTS

Thursday, March 20, 2003




½ 1955
V         The Chair (Mr. Raymond Bonin (Nickel Belt, Lib.))
V         Mr. Jim Boyles (Archdeacon, General Secretary, Anglican Church of Canada)

¾ 2000

¾ 2005
V         The Chair
V         Rev. Jim Sinclair (General Secretary, General Council Offices, United Church of Canada)

¾ 2010
V         Rev. Anne Miller (Speaker for the All Native Circle Conference, United Church of Canada)
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Jennifer Preston Howe (Programme Associate, Quaker Aboriginal Affairs Committee)

¾ 2015
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Pat Martin

¾ 2020
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Pat Martin
V         Rev. Jim Sinclair
V         Mr. Pat Martin
V         Ms. Choice Okoro (Program Officer, Human Rights and Reconciliation Initiatives, United Church of Canada)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Charles Hubbard (Miramichi, Lib.)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Charles Hubbard
V         Mr. Jim Boyles

¾ 2025
V         Mr. Charles Hubbard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Pat Martin
V         Mr. Jim Boyles
V         The Chair
V         Rev. Anne Miller
V         Mr. Pat Martin
V         Rev. Anne Miller
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Stan Dromisky (Thunder Bay—Atikokan, Lib.)

¾ 2030
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Pat Martin
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Pat Martin
V         Ms. Lorraine Land (Associate, Past National Chair of the Aboriginal Rights Coalition, Articling Lawyer, Klippensteins, Barristers and Solicitors, Quaker Aboriginal Affairs Committee)

¾ 2035
V         Mr. Pat Martin
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Pat Martin
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John Godfrey (Don Valley West, Lib.)
V         Ms. Jennifer Preston Howe
V         Mr. John Godfrey
V         Ms. Lorraine Land

¾ 2040
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Pat Martin
V         Ms. Choice Okoro
V         The Chair
V         Rev. Anne Miller

¾ 2045
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Charles Hubbard
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Charles Hubbard
V         Rev. Anne Miller
V         Mr. Charles Hubbard
V         Mr. Jim Boyles

¾ 2050
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Pat Martin
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Pat Martin
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Pat Martin
V         Ms. Choice Okoro
V         Martin, Pat Member
V         Rev. Jim Sinclair
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Rick Laliberte (Churchill River, Lib.)

¾ 2055
V         The Chair
V         Ms. Jennifer Preston Howe
V         The Chair
V         Rev. Jim Sinclair
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Jim Boyles

¿ 2100
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Fred Lazar (Economist, Schulich School of Business, York University)
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Fred Lazar

¿ 2105

¿ 2110
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Pat Martin
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Pat Martin

¿ 2115
V         The Chair
V         Martin, Pat Member
V         Mr. Fred Lazar
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Charles Hubbard
V         Mr. Fred Lazar
V         Mr. Charles Hubbard
V         Mr. Fred Lazar

¿ 2120
V         Mr. Charles Hubbard
V         Mr. Fred Lazar
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Pat Martin
V         Dr. Fred Lazar
V         Mr. Pat Martin
V         Mr. Fred Lazar
V         Mr. Pat Martin
V         The Chair
V         Mr. John Godfrey

¿ 2125
V         Mr. Fred Lazar
V         Mr. John Godfrey
V         The Chair
V         Mr. Fred Lazar

¿ 2130
V         The Chair










CANADA

Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources


NUMBER 048 
l
2nd SESSION 
l
37th PARLIAMENT 

EVIDENCE

Thursday, March 20, 2003

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

½  +(1955)  

[English]

+

    The Chair (Mr. Raymond Bonin (Nickel Belt, Lib.)): Good evening, everyone.

    We are here to resume proceedings on public hearings on Bill C-7, an act respecting leadership selection, administration, and accountability of Indian bands and to make related amendments to other acts.

    We are pleased to welcome, from the Anglican Church of Canada, Jim Boyles, archdeacon and general secretary; from the United Church of Canada, Reverend Anne Miller, speaker for the All Native Circle Conference; Reverend Jim Sinclair, general secretary, general council offices; Choice Okoro, program officer, human rights and reconciliation initiatives; and from the Quaker Aboriginal Affairs Committee, Lorraine Land, associate, past national chair of the Aboriginal Rights Coalition, and articling lawyer, Klippenstein Barristers and Solicitors; and Jennifer Preston Howe, program associate.

    We have one hour together. I assume you have figured out how you will make the presentations and who will go first, second, and third. I'm sure if the churches can't get along and share the time, there is not much sharing going to be going on in other hearings.

    So we will ask you to proceed, please.

+-

    Mr. Jim Boyles (Archdeacon, General Secretary, Anglican Church of Canada): I'll start.

    I'm Jim Boyles, Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee, friends, colleagues.

    I'm here to represent the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, the national body of the church, and to speak to you about our concerns regarding the First Nations Governance Act, Bill C-7.

    The Anglican Church of Canada has had a long and rich history of involvement with the indigenous peoples of Canada, going back to 1578 when the first eucharist was celebrated in Canada at what used to be called Frobisher Bay.

    This history from today's perspective comes under judgment, but it is a history that lives as evidenced in the approximately 225 Anglican aboriginal congregations across Canada. The Anglican Church has over 130 aboriginal clergy and now 4 indigenous bishops.

    Since 1969 the General Synod of the church has dedicated itself to live in partnership, the aboriginal and non-aboriginal members together seeking justice, seeking healing, and seeking reconciliation. These are qualities that apply not only to the life of the Anglican Church, but ones that I would expect to be the basis for a similar partnership in the wider Canadian society.

    Since 1969 then the General Synod, the national body of the church, has attempted to stand in solidarity with our indigenous brothers and sisters as they seek resolution to the many outstanding issues facing them and their communities--constitutional issues and issues of life and death as well. The conditions under which many of our aboriginal people live are scandalous in a country often portrayed as the best place in the world to live.

    At its meeting in Waterloo, Ontario, in July 2001, the General Synod, comprised of the bishops and representatives of clergy and lay people from across Canada, representing our 30 dioceses, passed a resolution calling on the federal government to reconsider its approach to the governance issues, and I read from the first paragraph of that motion:

That this General Synod:



1. Affirm, in the spirit of the resolution made at General Synod in 1969, that the Indian Act should not be changed or abolished by the Federal Government without the expressed consent of Indigenous peoples; that the Federal Government should not impose a process on Indigenous peoples related to such changes; that any consultation and negotiation process related to such changes must be designed in full partnership with First Nations involving the duly chosen and recognized leadership and all members of those communities; and that First Nations must each retain the right to opt out of such changes.

¾  +-(2000)  

    The synod also asked Anglicans “to speak out against assimilative initiatives of the Federal Government”. As so many other groups have done, I want to express our view that the consultative process around Bill C-7 has been inadequate. The Assembly of First Nations believes that Bill C-7 is fundamentally flawed and must be withdrawn. Our own Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples feels the same way.

    I believe that if Bill C-7 is passed there will be many years of hostility, fractiousness, anger, and the journey toward healing will be stalled and in fact moved backwards. It will be a disaster, and trust will break down even more.

    Our Primate, Archbishop Michael Peers, wrote to the Prime Minister in August 2001, outlining our position on first nations governance. He said:

...First Nations must have a lead in any truly progressive change process, and that such change must begin with the recognition and timely implementation of Aboriginal land, treaty, and inherent rights, through the implementation of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.

    Another part:

We deeply respect the self-determination of individual First Nations communities.

    And then:

...any change process that is not initiated by and with Indigenous peoples and that does not incorporate their full and equal participation in agenda setting and decision-making simply will not work. Worse still, such a change process is likely to repeat age-old patterns of racism, paternalism, and colonialism.

    Our position then is that Bill C-7 should be withdrawn and a better consultative process established. Discussions should be based on the report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and should start with clear acknowledgment of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the declaration there that:

The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.

¾  +-(2005)  

+-

    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    I will give you a choice. We can either have 20 minutes for each group for presentation and questions or have the three presentations and have the questions directed at whoever the members wish. Do you prefer the second way?

    Next presentation, then, please.

+-

    Rev. Jim Sinclair (General Secretary, General Council Offices, United Church of Canada): Good evening, everyone. I speak to you and bring greetings from our denomination, but I am proud to be here as partner with other churches and aboriginal partners as well.

    I am here as part of the group representing the United Church of Canada in this instance. I want to place before you again the fact that we are a denomination that is committed to working with first nations of Canada to uphold indigenous peoples' rights within Canadian society and beyond.

    So we're asking the standing committee to recommend that the proposed Bill C-7, the First Nations Governance Act, be withdrawn, and that the federal government adopt a process that respects first nations peoples' rights, including the right to first nations leadership and process for self-government.

    We are doing this today based on lessons that have been learned in many years of dialogue and solidarity work with first nations rights both within the church and beyond. We are not going to comment on the bill itself, but rather we shall offer a summary of the two related policies that have been adopted by our general council of the United Church that leads us to oppose Bill C-7 and recommend that it be withdrawn.

    Our history includes that in 1984 it became clear to the United Church that native congregations struggled to exist, and some have even died under the general council, the United Church structure, mainly due to their not having a governing structure of their own. In response to this sad fact, the church passed a resolution for the establishment for first nations governing structures designed and implemented by first nations congregations of the church. Out of that came what we call the All Native Circle Conference, formed in 1986, and the first nations members of the United Church in British Columbia formed the British Columbia Native Ministries Council.

    The formation of these two bodies was a major step in the affirmation of our commitment as a denomination to first nation self-governance and a clear recognition and indication that the church does recognize that first nations peoples must be the primary decision-makers in matters that are relevant to their lives and their governance. So in opposing the bill we offer two clear lessons out of our own experience, that we have learned affirming, designing, and implementing first nations self-governance in the church itself.

    Mistakes are made when we assume we know what is best for first nations. First nations have governance structures that work and empower first nations communities. They already exist. We know this because the first nations members of the United Church have said so and our aboriginal partners outside the church have told us so. We also see this clearly stated in the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. So Bill C-7, we feel, has failed to recognize and articulate a first nations vision of governance.

    The second thing is, in spite of the brutal and continuing consequences of colonialism, first nations are retaining and reviving governance structures suited to the unique and special needs of first nations peoples, structures that adhere, uphold, and affirm first nations values of consensus seeking and respect for elders. We have experienced this, so that is part of our testimony to you tonight.

    When this has been allowed to happen in our own community, we have seen it make a difference. We are inspired by it from our own All Native Circle Conference and through the achievement of friends in the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and the Assembly of First Nations. All of Canada is going to be enriched by recognizing the gifts that first nations systems and values can contribute to our lives and the structures of this country.

    The United Church's commitment to opposing this bill grows out of our policy to support first nations self-determination and governance. We believe that the First Nations Governance Act will affect the ability of first nations to achieve this. While we support the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development's commitment that first nations be self-sustaining, we doubt that this is the instrument that can make it happen. We are concerned that this bill has made claims and articulated potential achievements that first nations people themselves disagree with.

    The hope that this bill would enable first nations to design and adopt codes for leadership selection, financial management and accountability, and the administration of government according to the needs of their community opens the doors to first nations leaders simply becoming federal government administrators.

¾  +-(2010)  

    The first nations peoples of the United Church and our partners in other mainstream aboriginal organizations have been very clear about this. Among the concerns raised: the proposed governance act will reduce first nations to the legal status of municipalities; increase the fiscal and political accountability of first nations leaders to the Minister of Indian Affairs and not to their own communities; decrease the federal government's accountability to first nations--that really concerns us; abolish the right of first nations to choose customary forms of governance; tinker with the Indian Act, changing some archaic sections but ignoring other necessary changes; and shift federal responsibility for programs and funding to first nations without providing compensation or structures that enable first nations to cover these costs.

    So our policy is to support governance systems that do uphold first nations right to self-determination. One way of achieving this is to be vigilant that federal government-led policies ensure that the policy of assimilation by which first nations governments and cultures were destroyed are not simply repackaged in new policies. That's why we call on the federal government to withdraw the bill.

+-

    Rev. Anne Miller (Speaker for the All Native Circle Conference, United Church of Canada): In 1986 the general council of the United Church of Canada passed a resolution requiring the full participation, consultation, and consent of aboriginal people in matters affecting them. The United Church of Canada committed to implementing this in the church and to working in partnership with aboriginal organizations to advocate for this in Canada. This resolution came on the back of over a decade of conflict.

    The United Church of Canada advocacy program works by according first nations involvement in government and corporate policies affecting first nations people. For example, in 1977 the United Church of Canada made strong statements directed against the devastation by industries and governments of the resource-rich northern lands, which are home to many native people. It joined other churches in calling for the moratorium on further development of the north without the appropriate involvement of first nations. In the same year, the 27th general council gave clear endorsement to Project North.

    The ecumenical group, now KAIROS, stood visibly alongside the native people in their determination to be heard by Canadian decision-makers. The United Church of Canada has stood in solidarity with first nations in relation to more recent rights issues, such as the Oka crisis and the fishing crisis in Burnt Church--

+-

    The Chair: Excuse me. I'm afraid we'll have to go on to our next presentation. It's been ten minutes just on your presentation.

    I will now go to Ms. Land and Ms. Howe.

+-

    Ms. Jennifer Preston Howe (Programme Associate, Quaker Aboriginal Affairs Committee): Good evening. My name is Jennifer Howe, and this is Lorraine Land, and I'm speaking on behalf of the Quaker Aboriginal Affairs Committee, which is a standing committee of the Canadian Friends Service Committee, which is the peace and service arm of the national body for the Religious Society of Friends, better known as Quakers.

    Quakers have been involved with and supporting first nations concerns since the time that William Penn was granted a charter of land by Charles II in 1681. Penn decided that he should both negotiate the relationship of Quaker settlers with the Lenape and pay them for the land that he alienated from their possession.

    To this day, Friends strive to uphold our testimonies of peace, integrity, and equality in our relationships with aboriginal peoples. Perhaps now, even more important during this time of global crisis, we have to remember that peace is not simply the absence of war. We believe we cannot be at peace without justice, and that justice continues to be denied to Canada's first nations.

    It is our opinion that Bill C-7 continues to perpetrate this injustice. We have many concerns with regard to Bill C-7, which are outlined in our written submission, which I believe you have. In my spoken presentation I am going to focus mainly on Canada's obligations under international law.

    It is time for Canada to promote and protect the rights of first nations peoples, including the right to self-determination guaranteed to all peoples by the International Bill of Rights. The proposed legislation does not lead to this end. Indeed, there is justifiable concern that it undermines the right to self-determination. To be clear, self-determination is not the same as self-government. The very nature of this legislation contradicts the concept of self-determination.

    The draft United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states clearly in article 3:

Indigenous peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

    Canada has stated unequivocally that it supports article 3. For the Government of Canada to define governance on behalf of first nations is a complete contradiction of article 3.

    The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights clarify that self-determination is an essential part of what the United Nations General Assembly has declared to be a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, including peoples considered to be under the jurisdiction of member states.

    Canada is legally and morally committed to the upholding of this right. Full enjoyment of the right of self-determination presupposes the acknowledgement and protection of the full range of civil, political, social, economic, and cultural rights. We are concerned that Canada is trying to define down self-determination. The proposed legislation does not even adequately address the right to self-government, and indeed it is possible that it violates Canada's commitments under international law.

    We are concerned that Canada's actions internally do not reflect the standards that Canada says it supports at the United Nations.

    Further, in our conversations with representatives of the Government of Canada, we are told that all Canadian policy affecting first nations is measured against the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. We do not believe this legislation is defensible when held up to RCAP.

    First, RCAP strongly recommended against tinkering with the Indian Act; and second, RCAP is about nation-to-nation partnerships. Nowhere in Bill C-7 do we see promotion of nation-to-nation relationships.

    Further, I would like to say that we support what our colleagues have already said this evening about the consultation process and some of the specifics of the legislation. It is not acceptable for the government to forge ahead with an agenda that is not supported by aboriginal peoples.

    We recommend that the Minister of Indian Affairs go back to the recommendations of RCAP and engage in meaningful consultations that result in legislation supported by both aboriginal peoples and international human rights law.

    Attempts to delimit self-determination through imposition of this legislation, along with what appears to be manipulations of democratic process in order to further colonialist agendas, indicate to us that the substantive changes for which aboriginal peoples and their supporters have been working continue to be blocked by institutional denial. We request that the standing committee lay aside this legislation and encourage the minister to work with first nations representatives to construct legislation that reflects working in partnership and addressing mutual concerns.

¾  +-(2015)  

+-

    The Chair: Thank you very much. We will now open to questions.

    We will have many rounds. Do you prefer quick three-minute rounds or should we start with five and reduce?

+-

    Mr. Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP): It's up to you, Mr. Chair. I don't have any opinion one way or the other. It will keep coming around, I suppose.

+-

    The Chair: We'll end up with the same amount of time, so we'll have three-minute rounds.

+-

    Mr. Pat Martin: Thank you very much, all of you, for being here. It is so important to hear from the non-aboriginal people. I'm heartened by what I'm hearing. I represent the NDP. I'm on this side because this is the opposition side and that's the government's side. I've been a little lonely today.

    We've been trying to make the argument that overwhelmingly, everywhere we've gone, the leadership of first nations have made those very points. It is so positive and so heartening to hear that from non-aboriginal people.

    I'll start by asking your views on the Harvard study on first nations governance, which the government claims was one of their guides in crafting this legislation. The very authors of the Harvard governance had a lot of things to say that were very critical of the First Nations Governance Act. One of the points they make, and which I will ask for your comments on, is that codes of governance imposed without sovereignty are about as likely to succeed as sovereignty would be without good governance codes. Another point is that it undermines the very idea of self-governance to impose codes and regulations, because surely self-governance includes the right to design and implement institutions of governance that are suitable and sensitive to custom and tradition.

    Would anyone care to expand on that theme?

¾  +-(2020)  

+-

    The Chair: Are you referring to a specific person?

+-

    Mr. Pat Martin: I could direct it first to Jim Sinclair with the United Church. Reverend Miller, you were cut off, so if you want to, you could use some of my time to add to your comments.

+-

    Rev. Jim Sinclair: The question you are putting then is exactly what?

+-

    Mr. Pat Martin: I'm sorry.

    Could I get your comments on the opinion of the author of the Harvard study that it undermines the very idea of self-governance to impose codes of governance? Surely, designing your own governance institutions is part of true self-governance.

+-

    Ms. Choice Okoro (Program Officer, Human Rights and Reconciliation Initiatives, United Church of Canada): You are talking about the Harvard project, and it says there that one of the key issues for economic development, which FNGA seems to be referring to, is, if I may quote from the Harvard project:

Sovereignty Matters. When tribes make their own decisions about what approaches to take and what resources to develop, they consistently out-perform non-tribal decision-makers.

    The whole basis of this is that first nations have to make those decisions from within. I think the Harvard project states very clearly that it has to come from within, not based on some decision that FNGA requests first nations communities make; it comes through decisions being made from first nations communities.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    Mr. Hubbard, three minutes.

+-

    Mr. Charles Hubbard (Miramichi, Lib.): Three minutes. That's not very much time, is it?

+-

    The Chair: We can go four.

+-

    Mr. Charles Hubbard: We do have people here who have worked with first nations peoples, as Mr. Boyles has mentioned, for darn near 500 years.

    I have a couple of points, first of all, in terms of what you are recommending to us. Some of you have relatively large denominations, the United Church, for example, and again with the Anglican Church. In preparing for this presentation, did you work at the grassroots levels to make the recommendation? Did you consult not just your clergy but also the people who were in your pews?

    The second thing I would like to get some indication of is.... As a government we are looking at some situations that don't work very well for a lot of people. For example, the Indian Act and the charter, as we call it...our native people aren't able to deal with their problems in terms of our charter of human rights. We have women who feel on reserves that they don't get much protection in terms of their way of life. There are a great number of other points, but when you study this bill and you look at the idea of redress, you look at the idea of trying to establish procedures and policies, and you consider an act that was made in 1876, how can we as legislators continue an act that was made before we had cars or televisions? The native people of this country are working under very old legislation, so antiquated that we wonder about it when you say to us, let's continue with legislation that was made in 1867.

    I am sorry, Mr. Chair, I probably took too much time. Maybe Mr. Boyles, or Mr. Sinclair, or Ms. Miller could respond.

+-

    Mr. Jim Boyles: In terms of your first question about the consultation, like the government we have a representative kind of church government. Our Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples represents the dioceses where we have aboriginal work, and there are about 20 of those. They have been a group in existence for about 15 years and they're in touch constantly with people back home.

    The rest of the church, through its structures, are in touch with that. So I can't say that we've consulted all Anglicans, as you likely can't say that you've consulted all Canadians.

¾  +-(2025)  

+-

    Mr. Charles Hubbard: I am speaking of the Anglican people who are natives who live in the various communities we are talking about.

+-

    The Chair: Sorry, time's up now.

    I'll go to Mr. Martin, but before I do, I will say to our guests and friends in the audience that these people, when they ask a question in the House of Commons, have 35 seconds--and they do it. Tonight it took two minutes each, but I understand why.

    We'll go to four minutes. Mr. Martin.

+-

    Mr. Pat Martin: Thank you.

    Maybe I'll stay with the consultation process. Most people--and I don't think I'll get jumped on--most witnesses have said that the consultation process was a sham. It didn't meet any of the tests of what the normal definition of what true consultation would be, because real consultation, they argue, must include some accommodation. In other words, you can't simply explain to people what we're going to do to you and not take any of their input and say you've had a true consultation with that person.

    You mentioned, Mr. Boyles, that consultation must include the leadership. But the minister, when he got frustrated with opposition from the leadership, deliberately bypassed the elected leadership.

    Can you speak about why you felt the consultation process wasn't satisfactory?

    I'll shut up right there.

+-

    Mr. Jim Boyles: Consultation needs to be serious and widespread, and I think the fact that so many aboriginal groups and people are opposed is proof itself that the consultation hasn't been adequate. I think that without further consultation at this point in terms of going back to the drawing board on this, it will mean that the legislation is introduced with very little support by the people whose lives will be affected.

+-

    The Chair: You have two and a half minutes left.

+-

    Rev. Anne Miller: I'm from the All Native Circle Conference. We're part of the United Church. The All Native Circle Conference is made up of all native people from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. We've had a discussion around this governance act. They're totally against it.

    We've talked in our churches, the 37 congregations, so it is widely spread through the United Church of Canada. It's very hard for me to talk here on the speed that you're going because my culture says you listen. Time doesn't mean anything. You have to sit down and listen.

    From what my understanding is, people aren't listening. People aren't hearing. They're talking, but they're not hearing. It's like we're going backwards. You talk about legislation from back in 18-whatever. We're still there. If you're not listening, we're still there. You're still doing the same things. You're telling us what is good for us. You're not hearing what we say is good for us.

    In terms of not being acknowledged, you mentioned the people sitting here, all the non-natives, but I'm native. You excluded me.

+-

    Mr. Pat Martin: I apologize. I didn't realize that.

+-

    Rev. Anne Miller: I think those are very good points that people have to take the time. They can't be pushing the clock all the time. It doesn't work that way and it never will.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    Mr. Dromisky.

+-

    Mr. Stan Dromisky (Thunder Bay—Atikokan, Lib.): Thank you very much.

    I have been involved in this all last week and this week, and I keep asking myself why, why, why? You make your presentations. I cannot accept any of your presentations at face value. Do you understand?

    I have to ask a million questions pertaining to many of the sentences you have in just those two documents alone, in light of my own personal experiences. But I will not use my personal experiences with native populations and churches working in northwestern Ontario to make the final decisions regarding this act. It is extremely important to find out as much as we possibly can.

    You talk about the consultative process. When I questioned one of the grand council chiefs, he said there were 130 some chiefs in his jurisdiction. Only two attended the consultative meeting. Where were the other 130-some? They were told not to come. They were told not to become part of it. Did you find that out from your parishioners? Did you find out that kind of information from the people you are working with in those reserves?

    Who goes to the convention? Only those who are going to be financially supported by the chief and council. If you are going to be in favour of this, we will send you. There will be thousands who will not be in favour, but they will never receive the funds to go to any convention that is going to, in a sense, be opposed totally to what a chief, or a collection of chiefs, or the nation of chiefs want.

    There has to be a reason why every single chief all of a sudden jumped on the bandwagon and opposed this bill. What are the reasons? We have heard from, and I have heard from personally, in the last week and a half, individuals who are afraid to come forward. And there were some courageous people, very courageous.

    I know some of the things that are happening in northwestern Ontario. This bill is opening the door. It is a first step towards self-determination. Self-determination starts right here. It starts with the individual and not with some legislation, not with some grand statement made by politicians, or grand council chiefs, and so forth. It has to be right in here and the people have to learn to live it, to experience it.

    The women and a lot of people are not experiencing it. They are under the tight control of, in many cases, a very dictatorial system that they have no way of escaping, none at all, because of the way the act exists at the present time. We have to give them the tools. We have to open the door so that they start working and developing the strategies and making the decisions in their own neighbourhood, in their own communities, and not in Ottawa.

    How they will solve their problems will be up to them for years to come. We, the politicians, will not solve them. Self-determination will not come from Ottawa; it will come from the hearts of the individuals who are free within the community.

¾  +-(2030)  

+-

    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Martin, four minutes.

+-

    Mr. Pat Martin: If you think Stan's little diatribe was Eurocentric, colonialist, and paternalistic, you should hear some of the Canadian Alliance comments now and then.

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Martin, we will not tolerate that. You know it. We've been through it. This is the fifth time. We don't attack individuals. We don't name individuals and we don't attack other political parties. We've been through this five times. Proceed.

+-

    Mr. Pat Martin: It's frustrating.

    The bill is being pitched as being all about accountability and transparency. That seems to be that the minister is pitching it to garner support from the general public. It's been really a campaign of misinformation that accountability and transparency issues are so severe that it justifies this heavy hand that has imposed new rules as to how first nations will have to conduct themselves. But we suspect, and many witnesses suspect, that the real agenda is to undermine and diminish inherent treaty and aboriginal rights and the fiduciary responsibility stemming from the implementation of treaties, even prior to them ever being truly implemented.

    Does anybody care to comment on that theme that has been developing throughout our witness hearings?

+-

    Ms. Lorraine Land (Associate, Past National Chair of the Aboriginal Rights Coalition, Articling Lawyer, Klippensteins, Barristers and Solicitors, Quaker Aboriginal Affairs Committee): I can make a comment on that.

    Certainly since the beginning this debate has been framed as freeing the aboriginal people in their communities from onerous leadership and making the leaders more accountable. As we read it, what this legislation does, and why it's so unacceptable, is that it essentially makes first nations governments not more accountable to their own people but to the Minister of Indian Affairs.

    For instance, the minister has the power to unilaterally take over control of the finances of bands when there are disputes about the financial management by bands. They are very broad powers that make the bands more accountable to the minister.

    As we are aware, even the Auditor General has pointed out to the standing committee that first nations already have many more obligations for reporting financially, for instance, to the Department of Indian Affairs than other governments would have in terms of reporting obligations. This in fact imposes more onerous obligations upon first nations to be accountable to Indian Affairs, as opposed to really determining what the appropriate governance structures are for their own communities.

¾  +-(2035)  

+-

    Mr. Pat Martin: Thank you.

    Does anyone else care to comment?

    Do we have a minute left, Mr. Chair?

+-

    The Chair: Yes, you have one minute.

+-

    Mr. Pat Martin: Does anyone care to comment on the accountability and transparency?

    One point I'll make is that 96% of all first nations file their audits on time without incident. Of the remaining 4%, it's often due to fiscal mismanagement because of the impossible task of trying to meet the basic needs of communities with inadequate resources. They are robbing Peter to pay Paul to keep people fed, clothed, and housed.

    With whatever seconds are left, would anyone like to talk about the accountability issue?

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Godfrey, you have four minutes.

+-

    Mr. John Godfrey (Don Valley West, Lib.): Thank you.

    I was reading through the presentation of the Quaker Aboriginal Affairs Committee. There's one phrase where you indicate that you have difficulties with the legislation as drafted. You indicate that one of the problems is that the focus is on individual rights rather than collective rights.

    It seems to me there are two things I'd like to get your views on.

    One is that under the proposed legislation, for the first time, the Canadian Human Rights Act will now apply. This may have some, I would have thought, beneficial consequences for native women, among others. It may be that we need some rebalancing of individual rights against collective rights, particularly for native women. I'd be interested in your reaction to that.

    Secondly, one of the reasons the legislation came forward was in response to the Corbiere decision. It essentially indicated that we had to increase the rights--individual rights, if you wish--of non-reserve members to be part of the electoral process on reserves. We were instructed to do something about that in the legislature. This legislation is an attempt, and you may say it is a clumsy and inadequate attempt, to respond to a direction by the Supreme Court of Canada to advance individual rights.

    Are you entirely opposed to individual rights? I can't think that.

+-

    Ms. Jennifer Preston Howe: No. I would say we are not entirely opposed to individual rights.

    I think it's important, particularly for those of you who are perhaps not aware of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to know that the document is about the collective rights of peoples. Under emerging international rights law, indigenous nations are recognized as “peoples” with an “s”, which is implied as collective rights.

    Part of the reason this is new at the United Nations, and therefore broadly new, is that we have to recognize that when we're talking about individual rights, we're talking about a very western Eurocentric process. Collective rights have always been part of indigenous systems and systems of governance. It's one of the reasons it is recognized in the draft declaration and it is one of the things that's considered very important to the indigenous nations that are working on this work at the international level.

+-

    Mr. John Godfrey: On the two points I raised, that is to say that the Canadian Human Rights Act will now apply, that the Indian Act is no longer exempt, and we have to do something about Corbiere, are you going to tell me that the collective rights trump the rights of women or the rights of people to be on voters' lists?

+-

    Ms. Lorraine Land: I don't think this is the point, and with respect to those specific examples, the Canadian Human Rights Act already applies. It applies through case law. This is just one example of how a lot of the provisions that are in the First Nations Governance Act aren't necessary in legislation. Some of them already exist in case law, for instance.

    In terms of, for instance, talking about native women, obviously that's an ongoing human rights concern. But instead of this parallel legislation essentially tinkering with it in the Indian Act, why not address some of the other issues, such as women's lack of matrimonial property rights?

    The problem is, there's picking and choosing. What is addressed and what isn't? The fundamental point is it should be first nations who are driving this process and who are deciding what governance is about, not the federal government imposing yet another system and saying this is how you will govern yourselves, we decide, and we prescribe what the terms are.

    That's why we're saying it should be withdrawn until that process happens, a nation-to-nation, fully cooperative process with first nations defining what governance means for them.

¾  +-(2040)  

+-

    The Chair: Thank you.

    Before I go to Mr. Martin, let me point out that this committee has been assigned this piece of legislation by the House of Commons. When we hear you say it should be withdrawn, well, the committee will go to clause-by-clause consideration and then the bill will go back to the House of Commons. There's a clause that says we must have a minimum of one meeting per year, for instance, and I can't imagine the committee voting against that one clause.

    You just say withdraw the bill, but we don't have the power to do that. This is not a committee of the minister or the Prime Minster or the government; this is a committee of the House of Commons. The Speaker of the House has given us a job and we must do it.

    We have concerns too, but our job is to take the piece of legislation we have, try to make it better, and send it back to the House. We need your help to do that. Just saying scrap it doesn't help us one bit.

    Mr. Martin, you have four minutes.

+-

    Mr. Pat Martin: I'm wondering, Reverend Miller, if you would like to use this four minutes to carry on and enter into the record some of the points you didn't have time to make. Would that be useful to you?

+-

    Ms. Choice Okoro: While she's getting there, I'll just say that in the introduction we read from the United Church, we said we are asking you to recommend that. We do understand that you don't have the power fully, so we're asking you to recommend that.

+-

    The Chair: But we must still go to clause-by-clause, and there are 59 clauses. Each one will be addressed individually. That's the point I wish to make.

    Did you wish to take Mr. Martin up on his offer?

+-

    Rev. Anne Miller: The General Council of the United Church recognizes that the path to right and just relationships with first nations requires dedicated and persistent commitment. It is a path often fraught with assumptions and the reproduction of the colonial and racist notions that have continually plagued policies affecting first nations people.

    Commitment to future right relationships with first nations will be manifested by our ability to admit when we are wrong and our willingness to seek a fresh start. Our experience as a church is that our relationship with our first nations brothers and sisters suffer when we do not listen--and that “do not listen” is a very important statement.

    We've struggled becoming first nations people within the United Church of Canada. We were down there on the bottom, but we are now becoming equal with the rest of the church. We're struggling with that. They're learning, we're learning, but they've decided to take the time to listen, to come into our communities and try to understand what we're all about.

    They're not imposing things on us any more and saying, you have to do this, this is what we say, this is it. We're saying as a church, as native people, that we do things differently. We don't always fall under the guidelines of the United Church of Canada, because they don't fit. They take the time to come to us and sit and try to figure out how we can fit, how we can work together. It's a long process, but we're working at it.

    We have our own conference now. We have our own presbyteries now. We're sitting at tables at an equal level, and I think that's what first nations peoples need to do. They need to be able to be up there and be respected on the same level as each and every one of you sitting at this table. They need to be heard. We need to be sitting here deciding what's right for us, not being told what's right for us.

¾  +-(2045)  

+-

    The Chair: Thank you.

    Before I go to Mr. Hubbard, I just want to draw the distinction between the committee and the government again.

    This committee spent three months studying the Indian Act last spring and now we are working nine weeks almost full-time on these amendments to the Indian Act. The members of this committee are very serious about the work they have here, and not one of them or I consider we're more important than anybody else. We do our work in the house of the common people, and I haven't seen anyone in Ottawa more important than anybody in this room.

+-

    Mr. Charles Hubbard: How much longer do we have, Mr. Chair?

+-

    The Chair: We have 13 minutes, and I'd like to give time for closing. You have four minutes, and you may share it if you want.

+-

    Mr. Charles Hubbard: You might also mention that your church's moderator just a few years back was from the native people of Canada. Mr. McKay, was it?

+-

    Rev. Anne Miller: Yes.

+-

    Mr. Charles Hubbard: In terms of Corbiere, first of all, it's the Supreme Court of Canada that said to us as a nation, people living off reserve--and nearly half the native people in this country live away from their reserves--have to be able to vote in the elections that are being held back on reserve. This is something we're mandated to do by the highest court in our land, and we have to address that, as Mr. Godfrey says.

    It's not an easy task any of us has to do. Somebody made the statement today in terms of the chiefs--and we have to pay all due respect to the chiefs--and a question was posed by one of our members. Did your people--and there were a lot of first nations involved under this grand chief--have an opportunity to take part in the consultative process through your leadership as chief? The answer that was given to the committee, Mr. Chair, was “We decide what we will consult our people about and we didn't think they should be consulted on the First Nations Governance Act.” So it's a very difficult thing we're dealing with.

    I would hope, in terms of your generosity and in terms of your background in this, you might offer to us as legislators some suggestions in terms of the various parts of this bill. It's very easy for some of us to say throw it out. Mr. Martin does that nearly every day, in fact two, three, or four times a day.

    The big point is that we have to make an effort. We did that during the 35th Parliament and we made a bill that was optional. It never became an act because it died when the election was called in 1997. You may recommend to us that it could be an optional piece of legislation. You could talk about various parts of the bill to give us some guidance. I'm not sure you want to, but certainly it would be of great benefit to us, and our chair and our clerks could entertain some written submissions that might review this and say, this is good, this should be changed, and this might be a better suggestion.

    But we really have to do something, Mr. Chair. Maybe Mr. Boyles or someone would comment on that.

+-

    Mr. Jim Boyles: I will start.

    I think you're facing a very difficult task, and the government is likewise in terms of consulting. How to do that in a nation-to-nation way is, I think, a real challenge.

    I would hope, although your task as a committee as I understand it is to go line by line or section by section, that you'd also find a way to report back what you're hearing. That may well go beyond the line-by-line study, and I think what you're hearing is that the consultation process was not sufficient.

    I think one would be looking for a framework in terms of self-governance, and it seems to me that the voices contributing to the development of the framework itself need to be from people nation to nation. Rather than inviting people into the conversation to develop the framework together, this appears to be a case of--I realize the sincerity of the attempt--here's the framework, what do you think of it?

¾  +-(2050)  

+-

    The Chair: Thank you. We'll do one last two-minute round. This will allow two minutes per group for closing remarks.

+-

    Mr. Pat Martin: Perhaps I can ask this, Mr. Chair. If I yield, would Mr. Laliberte be able to ask...?

+-

    The Chair: No.

+-

    Mr. Pat Martin: It's up to that side.

+-

    The Chair: That's right, and we do it all the time with the Alliance Party. They often have three. We did it with Ms. Desjarlais, but she had the time you allowed her.

+-

    Mr. Pat Martin: I'm not overly eager to give my time away. I am only wondering.

    In the last analysis, I'd ask you to speak to the damage done to the relationship.

    We've had people say that this has been very hurtful to first nations leadership, and in fact we've set back the relationship for many years. Even though there were framework negotiations under way in many provinces that were well along the way to genuine models of self-governance, those have been interrupted and this has taken its place.

    I know the recommendation is to withdraw. By stopping this bill, say, by taking one step back and starting the process over in an inclusionary way, do you think this can be pulled out of the fire?

    Anyone?

+-

    Ms. Choice Okoro: I hope we're not thinking that just because we put some work into this we might need to go ahead with this.

    More recently, the United Church and all the churches became aware of the devastation caused by the Indian residential schools, for example. One thing we know is that the experience shows that a major consequence of federal government-imposed policies is that it breaks down the relationship between natives and non-natives and it collapses first nations cultures and systems.

    Even though we argue about consultation, we know it's not an issue of technicality at this point. It's the fact that consultation is not consent. Even if we agree that consultation has been exhausted, we know, we hear it everywhere, that first nations oppose these bills. I don't think it would be right for relationships to impose it, and if we go ahead with it, it's imposing it.

+-

    Martin, Pat Member : Good point.

+-

    Rev. Jim Sinclair: I think for me the characterization of consultation that I run into over and over again is not consultation but presentation. It simply is an arrival of a view. It's placed before people and that's it. I think the consultation that stands out in our history is the royal commission. Nothing has been at a ground level more than the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you very much. We don't have the $58 million to start it over. The royal commission report is an excellent report, there's no doubt, but our task is not along that line.

    The government side has agreed to include Mr. Laliberte in the questioning, so he has two minutes.

+-

    Mr. Rick Laliberte (Churchill River, Lib.): [Member speaks in his native language]

    It's an honour to address you in my first language--it's Cree, Nehiyawuk.

    I want to ask you if you would agree that this committee should consider an amendment. It refers in subclause 5(3) to the following:

A code consisting of custom rules may be adopted only during the period of two years beginning on the coming into force of this section.

    When it refers to “custom rules”, those customs and those rules of leadership selection, leadership accountability, are governance that flows from the original nations of this land. The amendment that I would seek support for is the definition of first nations itself.

    Under section 35 of the Constitution, the aboriginal peoples of Canada are the Inuit, the Métis, and then there's a term called “first nations”. Since this bill recognizes customs from old indigenous nations before, it should now say, “first nations of Canada are”. Use the English term or the French term--Cree, Nehiyawuk, Mohawk, Miq'maq, Klingit, Blackfoot, Stoney. Name all the nations that are indigenous to Canada. Identify them.

    If we're going to gain anything from this bill in 2003, on the close of the indigenous peoples decade that's been declared by the United Nations, would you agree that Canada should now recognize her first nations?

¾  +-(2055)  

+-

    The Chair: That is two minutes, so you won't have time to agree or disagree, except in your closing remarks.

    You have two minutes for each group.

    Who will start? How about reverse order?

    Ms. Howe.

+-

    Ms. Jennifer Preston Howe: I think in closing I would say that one of the things.... We deliberated whether or not we would make an appearance before the standing committee. One of the reasons we deliberated was that some of the first nations partners we work with have expressed frustration about this entire process, including the process of the standing committee, feeling like no matter how many people come before it and express their frustration, it will go ahead, so there's not really much point in putting your time and energy into it.

    We considered that and we decided we would come anyway, because we thought it was important that you hear from non-aboriginal organizations that we do not support this bill. I think it is important for you to remember--I mean, if your only choice is to go through it clause by clause and decide how we could change this clause or fix this clause, you can't say, you know what, this is unworkable we need to start over. Maybe what you need to do is look at the works that have been done by other first nations bodies that already outline governance--I know these materials have already been made available to you--and look at those recommendations.

    I don't think it's the place of the churches to then say to you, well, you know what, this is wrong, but you could do it this way. It's the place of the first nations to say to you that this is how it has to be done.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    The United Church.

+-

    Rev. Jim Sinclair: I think an illustration that comes to my mind is visiting with people in British Petroleum who had to take a position on how they would deal with aboriginal populations in terms of working on their land, working with them--a decision they took at BP, that they would take as long as necessary to come up with the answer that would serve them for the long term.

    I think we would emphasize to you that the words have been spoken; the wisdom has been shared. Yes, we do have a document that cost us $58 million. It is a powerful statement that somehow we have lost track in many different respects, or we have ignored, as we have heard here this evening.

    I don't think we're asking for a miracle here, except the miracle of the will. The answers are already in our documents, in our consultation processes. We're here to represent, both as non-native and native people, that this wisdom does exist and it is not reflected in this bill. The bill needs a major rethinking by those who want to continue it as a bill, or it does need to be recommended that it not continue in its present form.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you.

    The Anglican Church.

+-

    Mr. Jim Boyles: I have been involved in the last few years with very intensive and difficult negotiations with the federal government with regard to residential schools, as you know.

    The commitment of our church is to stand with aboriginal people in creating a better life and better communities, healthy communities, healthy individuals. We are committed to continuing with that goal. That is a big goal, a big question facing government, facing society, and facing the churches as well.

    This part of it is a difficult part, and I appreciate that you're struggling with it, and I certainly appreciate the opportunity to come and speak with you. I would hope that you can listen to us, listen to the aboriginal people who have come before you, and in the wisdom and with the vision that we hold up for a better society, for a society in which relations are improved and strengthened, that you can give advice, take decisions, and move towards something that is better than this particular piece of legislation.

¿  +-(2100)  

+-

    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    Everyone agrees that the Indian Act is a flawed piece of legislation. There's no doubt about it. But it exists, and Bill C-7 really attempts to patch it up. People say, “Don't use that term, because it's not politically correct”, but that's what it is. The Indian Act is a broken-down car and we want to patch it up, to bring it to the scrapyard. Hopefully some day it won't exist, and first nations people will negotiate self-government agreements and then are no longer subject to this archaic piece of legislation.

    There was a consultation. While some people say it wasn't a good consultation, there was one--$10 million was spent. This committee spent three months studying it. We're spending nine weeks on it. It was tabled in the House and it's going back to the House. There will be another debate, and we will make many amendments, which we already know we will do. After that debate and amendments, there will be another vote, and then another debate and vote. That will get it past the House, and it will then go to the Senate, which will start completely over again.

    So there are a lot of opportunities to bring things to the table. We're going to do our best, but there still are opportunities. I hope everyone will continue to be involved and to assist us in making it better—until we can go to self-governance and get the Indian Act out of people's lives. I think that's the best thing that could happen to us.

    We thank you very much for your contribution.

    I now invite to the table, from York University, Fred Lazar, an economist with the Schulich School of Business.

    Good evening, Mr. Lazar.

+-

    Mr. Fred Lazar (Economist, Schulich School of Business, York University): Good evening.

+-

    The Chair: Welcome. We have 30 minutes together. We invite you to make your presentation. If you allow time, we would like to ask some questions.

    Please proceed.

+-

    Mr. Fred Lazar: Thank you very much for the invitation allowing me to come and address this group. If you don't mind, I will read from some notes. In the past I would have been able to just remember what I had written, but that was in the past.

    I have made my position very clear on the proposed pieces of legislation on a number of other occasions. Some of the reasons for my strong opposition to this suite of legislation are set out in the document I have submitted to the committee.

    What I intend to discuss today are the fundamental issues that the committee and the government as a whole should be considering.

    The supposed objectives of the legislation you are reviewing are to facilitate the move toward self-government for first nations and to provide the foundations for economic prosperity for these people. The legislation will achieve neither objective. Instead, I suggest that the legislation is simply the latest manifestation of the government's real goal of paternalistic assimilation. Richard Bartlett, writing in the Buffalo Law Review more than 25 years ago, stated: “The ultimate goal of assimilation received explicit declaration in the Civilization of Indian Tribes Act of 1857.” That was the original predecessor of the Indian Act.

    The 1969 white paper, produced under the auspices of Jean Chrétien, was very clear on the government's objectives, and the present suite of legislation, although it does not use the same language, has the same goals. There is a very good reason for this, as we shall see. The white paper presented to Parliament over 30 years ago declared that total assimilation must occur within a short period of time. All legislation specifically pertaining to Indians was to be repealed, thereby denying special rights to these peoples. All services were to be provided by the provinces. The white paper rejected treaties and land claims as insignificant in the debate on the future of the first nations. Its essence was the severing of all ties between the first nations and the federal government.

    Today Ottawa is attempting to lay the blame for the poor economic conditions of first nations on the lack of good government practices and the absence of real democracy and accountability. Yet Ottawa does not seem to express similar concerns about many of its colleagues in the UN. Democracy and accountability are not high on Ottawa's agenda in dealing with these colleagues.

    I suggest two reasons for this: one, Ottawa cannot control these other countries. But it believes it has the right to control all the affairs of the first nations. The Indian Act has been the principal means for asserting control and supposedly for legitimizing the right to control. The proposed legislation would only continue the unilateral and unjustified control by the federal government.

    Two, Ottawa wants the first nations to be accountable for spending Canada's money. However, the belief that it is Canada's money is wrong. Herein lies the fundamental problem that you should be examining and most likely the major reason the Indian bureaucracy--and I include Department of Justice lawyers in this--wants the assimilation of the first nations peoples.

    If one reads the English texts of the many historic treaties within the context of the importance of land to the cultures, economies, and societies of the first nations, and if one also learns a little of the history of these people, then the only logical conclusion one can reach is that the English texts do not at all represent the oral agreements and the verbal promises and commitments made by the Crown.

    Professor Slattery has stated in one of his Canadian Bar Review articles:

At times, the English parties recorded some of the treaty terms in a concise written document that the Indian parties would be asked to “sign”. Such a document has sometimes come to be regarded as the “treaty”. However, this conclusion is usually unwarranted. In most cases, the treaty was the oral agreement, and the written document just a memorial of that agreement.... Many such documents have proven to be unreliable guides to the oral compacts. They often record only matters of particular interest to the English parties and omit certain terms of significance to the Indian parties. Even the recorded terms may not represent an accurate or balanced account of the true oral bargain. The written documents were often translated to the Indian parties in a manner allowing ample opportunity for misunderstanding and distortion.

    In effect, the first nations in most cases did not sell their land. They did not extinguish their title and give up their sovereignty. They did not subjugate themselves to the power and control of the Crown.

¿  +-(2105)  

    The Crown--Canada--cheated the first nations of their title, their rights, their resources, their wealth, their powers, and their sovereignty, and the proposed suite of legislation does not even begin to scratch the surface in addressing the continuing injustice.

    The first nations were extremely generous in being willing to share the lands and resources with the white settlers and to live in peace and friendship with them, but under their separate governments. Instead, Canada has committed one of the largest land frauds in history and has stolen the wealth of the first nations.

    Canada unilaterally subjugated free and sovereign first nations to its control. Section 91.24 and its Indian Act have no legal standing in international law. What right did Canada have to assert and legislate control over independent and sovereign nations? Where is the logic in this?

    Again, to quote Professor Slattery, if first nations were once independent, how did they come to lose that status? To invoke European discoveries is to employ technocentric criteria that cannot meet neutral standards of justification. Further, to rely simply on conquest or succession ignores the arguments of some aboriginal groups that they never were conquered by the Crown or voluntarily accepted its authority.

    Professor Borrows was even more blunt, writing in the Osgoode Hall Law Journal two years ago:

How can land possessed by Aboriginal peoples for centuries be undermined by another nation's assertion of sovereignty?

It does not make sense that one could secure a legal entitlement to land over another merely through raw assertion. As Chief Justice Marshall of the United States Supreme Court once observed, it is an “extravagant and absurd idea.” It is even less of a “morally and politically defensible” position when this assertion has not been a neutral and noble statement, but has benefited the Crown to the detriment of the land's original inhabitants. The contemporary reliance on assertions of sovereignty seems to “perpetuat[e] the historical injustice suffered by aboriginal peoples at the hands of the colonizers who failed to respect the distinctive cultures of pre-existing societies.”

    I've done some calculations on what the first nations have lost from being deprived of their fair share of resource revenues. Depending on the assumptions and timeframe, the aggregate loss easily exceeds $250 billion. To this we can add at least $20 billion for damages arising from the residential schools and another $10 billion to $15 billion for underpayment of annuities under the treaties. By the way, the annual shortfall in the payment of these annuities exceeds the total amount generated from property taxes imposed by first nations during the past 13 years.

    So this legislation deals with a very trivial amount, and quickly we begin to understand the real concerns of the Indian bureaucracy: assimilate or extinguish thyself. One way or the other, the potential liability must be destroyed.

    Solicit Canada's money? Of course not. In fact, the first nations are receiving collectively a fraction of what is truly owing to them--$15 billion to $25 billion annually would be closer to the mark. So why should they be held accountable to Ottawa when Ottawa has not been forthright and accountable to them?

    Therefore, the questions before you should be, what does Canada stand for? What is the legacy you want to create? Do we finally come clean as a people and admit that we have committed a great injustice, that we have not lived up to our promises, that we have not honoured our commitments, that we have allowed racism and greed to govern our dealings with the first nations, that we are not willing to accept responsibility for the harm we have caused, that we are not accountable? Do we make the financial and political sacrifices necessary to partially compensate the first nations? Of course, you may ask, can we afford the sacrifices? The real question should be, can we afford not to make them? Or do we continue the myths, the lies, the injustice, and then try to pride ourselves as a role model for other countries and for future generations of Canadians? If we choose the latter, then we are no better than our ancestors, and we are worse than corrupt and greedy corporate leaders who have plundered countless companies for many years. So I ask you, what is your view of Canada and of Canadians?

    Thank you.

¿  +-(2110)  

+-

    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    Do you prefer four or five minutes?

+-

    Mr. Pat Martin: If we go four minutes, we might get more.

+-

    The Chair: We'll go four minutes, and if you go five, we'll make it a five-minute round. How about that?

+-

    Mr. Pat Martin: Okay. Thank you very much.

¿  +-(2115)  

+-

    The Chair: Tonight it's easy.

+-

    Martin, Pat Member : Thank you, Dr. Lazar.

    That was very interesting and very powerful. Certain themes are actually starting to develop as we travel across the country. One of those themes is certainly that even though the minister seems to pitch this bill as being about transparency and accountability in first nations communities, based on sort of a misinformation campaign that the abuse and negligence is so horrific out there that it warrants this kind of heavy-handed imposition, many people do believe the real intent here, the secondary objective, is to get out from under this overwhelming liability that the courts seem to keep affirming and first nations remind us of, that in the treaty process, they agreed to share resources, not to hand them over. They never gave up title. They are making these claims over and over and over again, usually on deaf ears. So it's refreshing to hear you, as a non-aboriginal person, come forward with the same conclusion.

    So I'd ask you to expand on this idea of sharing resources. There is a growing feeling that if we don't get on this bus, we're going to get run over by it, because not only is the liability growing, but the appalling living conditions are causing such social unrest within reserves and within urban centres....

    I represent downtown Winnipeg, the largest reserve, you might say, in the country. The social tragedy is so self-evident that we're all paying the price, and if it's not in cash transfers, it's certainly in quality-of-life issues for everybody concerned.

    I'm intrigued at the dollar figure you've put on it. Perhaps you could comment on the $7 billion that currently gets spent on aboriginal affairs. That translates into about $7,000 per person, which is about what the City of Winnipeg pays for each high school student per year. But they have to provide all the basic needs of all their citizens for that amount of money.

    It is not really a question. I am asking you to comment further, if you'd like, and use up the time on the dollar figures.

+-

    Mr. Fred Lazar: Okay. Let me focus on two issues, one being the problems that are there below the surface, and I think they were long ago recognized by lawyers in the Department of Justice. They reached a conclusion that there are these liabilities. However, it is highly unlikely that the Supreme Court will ever make a decision saying, Canada you're guilty, you owe the money, and pay it.

    Instead, if you look at the decisions of the Supreme Court over the past 10 or 15 years, if you look at the literature in the law journals reviewing these decisions, my impression is that the Supreme Court justices are fully aware of the fact that the treaties as written were not the promises, that there was a great injustice committed, but there is a reluctance to impose the liability and the cost on Canada for fear that a decision saying these are really sovereign people, we had no right to subjugate them to our laws, there is no logic in the Indian Act itself governing these people.... The Supreme Court is concerned--and probably rightly so--that if they express these, what might be viewed as radical, but the correct views, it really throws into disarray the Constitution, Confederation, the various arrangements. So the courts always conclude: negotiate. It is a political decision. It is a political compromise that has to be worked out.

    The Supreme Court is basically waving the red flag, saying, Canada, you've been wrong; we're not going to say this publicly, because that may undermine the whole legal and political structure, but you'd better do something about it.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you.

    Mr. Hubbard, four minutes.

+-

    Mr. Charles Hubbard: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

    It is doctor, is it, and you are an economist?

    Mr. Fred Lazar: Yes.

    Mr. Charles Hubbard: Does your presentation reflect the school of business at York University or your own personal views tonight?

+-

    Mr. Fred Lazar: It reflects my views based on work that I've been doing in this area.

+-

    Mr. Charles Hubbard: I don't know much about economics, probably a little bit more about history, but it would appear that the Age of Discovery changed.... Maybe it wasn't the New World to the people who were here, but for the people who came from Europe, it was a new world, and indigenous peoples, native peoples, were met in nearly every country here in the New World. When you put your suppositions forward, you're not just talking about Canada; you're talking about Brazil, Mexico, all of South America.

    I am not sure how you arrived at some of your figures about values. You seem to reflect something like $50 billion instead of the $7 billion or $8 billion that Mr. Martin alluded to. The value of the territories and the land that was taken over by the Europeans as they came is not in the billions, but in the trillions of dollars in terms of value. So how did you arrive at the figures you're quoting for us tonight?

    Secondly, in terms of what you think our payments should be annually, as an economist and as a business teacher, do you think Canadians can afford to increase their level of taxation by probably about 50% to pay these costs that you speak about? Would you like to comment?

+-

    Mr. Fred Lazar: I have two things.

    One, I arrived at the number, the $250 billion number, by simply looking at resource-based revenues, excluding income taxes and property taxes, derived by the federal government and the four western provinces over the past 30 years. I assumed that 25% to 50% of the amounts were owed to the first nations. If you take the present value of these, the number I came up with was just under $800 billion.

¿  +-(2120)  

+-

    Mr. Charles Hubbard: Why not use all the amounts rather than just a percentage?

+-

    Mr. Fred Lazar: l only started with those numbers. If you go back to 1867, to Confederation, look at all land and resource-based revenues, take the present value of the revenues and take half of that, and deduct whatever has been given to the first nations over the years. Then you're probably going to be looking at a number, assuming a 50-50 split, that's going to be astronomical. It is well in excess of $500 billion. I took a conservative approach.

    Secondly, it's always easy to say that we can't afford to pay them. What you're basically saying to me is that we screwed them in the past and did them an injustice, but that was in the past and we can't afford to rectify if.

    Do you know what that tells me? It tells me what you stand for and what you think Canada stands for.

    Can we afford it? It depends on what our beliefs are, what our ethical values are, and what we think is important for us.

    If we don't think correcting an injustice is important, then you're right and we can't afford it. If you think it is important, we can afford it. We will make some other personal sacrifices. It's only a matter of what we consider to be important.

+-

    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    Mr. Martin, you have four minutes.

+-

    Mr. Pat Martin: Thank you.

    I think if the original consultation process was a true consultation and the government or the minister asked first nations what changes they would like to make, it wouldn't be Bill C-7. It wouldn't be tinkering with the Indian Act or tinkering with colonialism. It would have been giving life to the treaties that first nations thought they had. They've lived up to their end of the treaty, it's only that the other side has not.

    I come back to the idea that over and over again we've heard first nations leaders tell us that giving life to the treaty process is not necessarily a transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars. It's allowing them access to some of the resources on their traditional lands.

    We had one example of a chief who was saying he lives in an area where the timber-cutting rights have all been given away to a foreign corporation. They would like to start a small lumber and logging operation or to even be the truckers that provide the timber to the corporation. They can't.

    I guess economic development is really what they're asking for, not necessarily transfers of huge amounts of money.

    Could you speak to how the model might look in terms of sharing access to lands and resources?

+-

    Dr. Fred Lazar: You have to look at the issue in terms of development. There are two major requirements. One is sovereignty for the first nations in the ability to govern themselves in all aspects. Of course, there are going to be some overlaps and some complex issues. They can be addressed. They can be handled. Bill C-7 is not the means to do that.

    Secondly, they need the economic resources and the money. Sovereignty alone is not going to do it. It's important, but access to the wealth generated by the resources is needed.

    Unless they get both, you're simply going to have a dependent first nations people with all types of social problems for years to come. You have underlying uncertainties that keep rising to the surface that eventually will be recognized by corporations and foreign investors and will come back to haunt the country.

+-

    Mr. Pat Martin: It's a good point. This is what the Harvard project on economic development certainly says. Good governance without sovereignty is about as likely to help first nations elevate their standard of living as sovereignty would be without good governance.

    The third element that you've introduced is on access to at least share the resources--not to give us control over all the natural resources but to access or at least share them.

+-

    Mr. Fred Lazar: I'm not even claiming that.

    Assuming that one works out the numbers and we agree $200 billion is owed, I'm not saying there should be a transfer of that amount. Pay a nominal interest rate on it. Give the first nations their fair share of the resource and land wealth.

    Will it all be spent wisely? No. Is money spent wisely by every level of government? No. Will it turn around the first nations people? Absolutely.

+-

    Mr. Pat Martin: Thank you.

+-

    The Chair: Mr. Godfrey.

+-

    Mr. John Godfrey: I'm really intrigued by your paper. I understand the arguments about justice and the notional figures you put forward. In fact I've used them myself in making claims for my land in the United States, because I am a Loyalist and was done out of them. I owned a large part of Philadelphia, but no one will listen to me.

    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

    Mr. John Godfrey: On the other hand, putting aside the justice issues, I find it intriguing that in discussing the theory of how wealth gets generated, you, as a professor of business, are almost suggesting the creation of a rentier class. What's interesting is that the minister's line of logic goes, “Get get the governance right, then business will come in because there'll be a stable environment, and then society will be protected and so on and so forth.” Others would say, “Give people the resources. The governance will sort itself out, and society and culture will sort themselves out.”

    I'm not sure that either of these is true. I think what really happens is that social groups have certain kinds of cohesion. They can arrive penniless in this country, if you look at the Ismaili community, for example, but they have a set of coherent social values allowing them to make money whether they're dispossessed or not.

    As we've seen in the case of some very lucky reserves, you can give people an awful lot of natural resources, yet there will be pathologies in social behaviour that will simply repeat themselves, because people have not addressed the fundamental questions of what sort of a people and what sort of society we are. So putting aside the arguments about justice, I have a problem with the notion that cash alone, particularly cash transfers alone, is going to be anybody's salvation.

¿  +-(2125)  

+-

    Mr. Fred Lazar: I have two things to say, one on the governance side. The reason I have difficulty trying to impose good governance from the top down is because implicit in this is the assumption that these people do not know what's in their self-interest. Therefore, they do not know that good governance is in their self interest. I don't buy that. It is the same type of argument saying they really misunderstood what they were signing on to in the treaties.

    Second, will money transform them? We have many examples of many countries that have been on the right end or receiving end of large transfers of income, and these haven't really transformed their economies. So you're right, there are risks. However, either we have the belief and the confidence—which I have no reason to question, because I've always been a firm believer that entrepreneurial skills and intelligence are roundly distributed regardless of the group—that some of the money will stick and that you'll start seeing successes. The more successes you have, the more they will encourage and inspire others.

    Right now, what is the history of economic development on reserves? It is basically failure. So what do you expect? There isn't that record of success.

+-

    Mr. John Godfrey: I guess my only other question is on the whole issue of taxation, which you have quite a lot to say about. I don't know if you know the work of Charles Tilley, who's done a lot of work on the connection between governance and taxation, or an historical perspective on it. I come back to my point about rentier, because his overall conclusion for all societies is that what advances democracy is when people get taxed and then folks are responsible. They have to answer back. Every other form of transfer, including foreign aid to dictators in Africa or to people who just get money and live off the avails, so to speak, produces irresponsible forms of government. There are these connections between things like taxation and good governance. I just want to make this observation.

+-

    The Chair: This completes Mr. Godfrey's time, but the last four minutes are yours. So it is your choice either to address his question or to go on to your closing remarks.

+-

    Mr. Fred Lazar: I'll address the questions because my closing remarks are quite apparent. I'm not a believer in continuing to repeat certain statements that I've made quite clear.

    With regard to the observation, I can probably give you many examples through European history where taxation, either taxation by the king or by the church, has not had any positive impacts on economic development or growth. The fact is there are extraneous factors that are much more important; it's not taxation itself that has been a critical factor. You can say that if one imposes a tax environment, maybe that'll make the leadership more accountable, as they'll have to explain how they spend the money, but I can point to the municipal, provincial, and federal levels here in Canada and other countries where taxation does not necessarily make elected officials accountable or responsible.

¿  -(2130)  

-

    The Chair: Thank you very much.

    It was very interesting, and I'm sure reference will be made to your presentation and there will be debate around it. I thank you very much

    We'll suspend the proceedings until eight o'clock tomorrow morning, when we will meet in this room.