Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you very much for inviting us.
Your press release of October 30, 2009, launching your comprehensive study of issues related to northern economic development, states that, “The Committee intends to focus on gaining a better understanding of the barriers and challenges northerners in the three territories face in promoting their economic well-being, and possible solutions to overcome those barriers”.
We'd like to try to make the case to you today that the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board is one of those solutions you are seeking.
YESAB is totally unique in Canada in that it is a single made-for-Yukoners assessment process that applies throughout Yukon to all projects on all Yukon lands, and to the territorial, federal, and first nations governments.
How did this come about? It was mainly through the Yukon land claim and the insistence of the Yukon first nations people that there would effectively be no more Faros created in the Yukon.
Faro became the largest lead/zinc mine in the world in the 1970s. It was created with absolutely no consultation with the Ross River Dena, in whose traditional territory the mine was located, and no consultation with any other group of Yukoners. The cost of cleanup of this mine to the Canadian taxpayer is now estimated at anywhere between $500 million to $1 billion over a lifetime of some 50 to 100 years.
The Yukon first nations, under chapter 12 of the Yukon first nations Umbrella Final Agreement, demanded that federal legislation establish an assessment process that would apply to all lands of Yukon, so that no more Faros would ever take place on Yukon lands without going through a stringent and thorough assessment conducted by Yukoners.
So how are we doing? Since our inception some four years ago, our six offices throughout the Yukon have handled nearly 1,000 assessments. The average number of days for YESAB to complete an assessment is 34 days. We have been commended as presently outperforming all other assessment regimes across the north, and possibly across Canada.
I'd like now to reintroduce to someone you met in Whitehorse. He is Stephen Mills, my fellow executive committee member. As a negotiator for the Council of Yukon First Nations on the YESA Act, Stephen has been invaluable to our process since the very beginning of YESAB.
Thank you, Mr. McKinnon.
Thank you, honourable members and Chair, for inviting me back to appear before you in a slightly warmer location than Whitehorse when you were there. I only say “slightly”; it is a little chilly still.
I will just continue on what Mr. McKinnon had to say. YESAA replaced several formal and informal assessment processes when it came into force. It really did slice through some complex land ownership issues that were created partly from first nation final agreements, but also in association with the Canada-Yukon devolution agreement.
Some of the unique aspects of YESAA are that it looks not only at environmental effects, but at socio-economic effects, that it also integrates local and traditional knowledge into assessments, and that it provides for guaranteed opportunities to participate for all Yukoners, including first nations.
Another key aspect of YESAA is that it calls for timelines for all stages of assessment. As Mr. McKinnon mentioned, at our designated office levels, these timelines have I think all been met, and in most cases, exceeded—to the good, not to the bad.
Having said that I believe this process has worked very well over the last four years, I would add that there are some ways to improve it. At the current time, there are two different reviews taking place. There's a five-year review being conducted by the three parties to the Umbrella Final Agreement, those being the Government of Canada, the Yukon, and the Council of Yukon First Nations. We have participated in these reviews in providing input. We also have understood some of the concerns that have been raised, as well as some of the good things that have been identified as part of that review.
When we brought in our rules and started assessing, we promised Yukoners that we would go back out to Yukoners after a couple of years of practice and would vary our rules to fix any issues that came up. We have been doing that as well. We have reviewed our rules at the designated office level, because that's where we have around 1,000 assessments, and we are implementing some changes that we hope to have in place by the end of this fiscal year.
These changes are based on input from first nations and all the regulators of the other governments, as well as various environmental and industry groups, including the mining industry, the chamber of commerce, and other proponent groups. We believe these changes will improve the rules at the designated office level.
Part of our discussion here is around barriers and solutions. I want to identify a few.
One of the biggest barriers that we find involves capacity. First of all, first nations and even some of the governments, federal and territorial, are still getting used to this process after four years and are not always prepared to participate or to provide input into these assessments in a timely way. First nations are trying to participate in our assessments while trying also to implement their new governments.
Another issue around capacity is that we have five of our offices located out in communities throughout the Yukon. We find that we're competing for a very small skilled labour pool in each community. We're competing against first nations and other governments, as well as private industry, in trying to get skilled, qualified people to work in our offices. As a result, we've had to look at importing people from other parts of the Yukon as well as people from outside the Yukon to fill these positions.
This has only caused more issues around our very tight housing and the other shortages in the communities. For a solution to that, we've been trying to work with the Yukon Mining Advisory Committee and other groups to say that we need more training in the community, that we need to steer people into these professions. I think this work, with Yukon College, will be very helpful. That definitely is a solution: the training of people in these offices. We want community members assessing projects that mostly affect their communities.
Another issue that has come up is with respect to what we call decision bodies, or regulators. At this time, all governments are having some difficulty in including socio-economic conditions in any of their licences. For example, DFO has a great difficulty in putting socio-economic mitigations into a licence. So does the Yukon government, and so do the first nations. The solution to this is regulatory change at that level—not necessarily to our act, but at the actual regulatory level.
The second side of this is a difficulty in coordinating federal regulators in our assessment process. Currently, Transport Canada does not participate in the front end of our assessments. It only takes part towards the end, but by that time, we've already made it clear what information we need from proponents and have already assessed the project. Then Transport Canada enters as a regulator and we run a real risk of uncertainty in the process if we have not assessed all issues that Transport Canada requires.
One solution I'm starting to see come forward is through CanNor and the Northern Project Management Office. We have met with them over the last couple of weeks. We see a real role for that major projects office in trying to coordinate some of the various federal regulators, whether that's Transport Canada, DFO, or some other federal department. If this continues, I think it's a good, positive sign with regard to that particular office.
I will identify one other issue. It will feed in nicely to Mr. Robertson's presentation. It is that when the Umbrella Final Agreement and the first nation agreements came into force, we envisaged chapter 12, which was the development assessment process or YESAA, and there was also chapter 11, which dealt with land use planning.
It was always thought that land use planning would feed into our assessments. To date, only one land use plan has been enacted in the Yukon. Not having land use plans does sort of force us to assess in a bit of a vacuum. We think these plans are key tools as part of any assessment. Adding completed plans, along with additional completed resource management plans, whether for renewable or non-renewable resources, will greatly help us in completing our assessments and probably will shorten timelines for assessments as well.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to represent the Council. If there are no objections, I would prefer to make my presentation in English.
Regional planning assists northern development by being holistic: providing a clear vision of the appropriate balance between conservation and development interests applicable to the circumstances of a given region. It does help to ensure orderly and efficient provision of infrastructure and an appropriate land management regulatory and policy framework.
Providing present and future potential land users with greater certainty and access to valued resources is also an important consideration, as well as the flexibility of creating plans that can adapt to new knowledge. Land use planning also helps to prevent and, hopefully, resolve conflicts. Also, an important thing from industry's point of view is that it helps to reduce risk.
One of the other advantages of regional planning is that it provides an upfront and overarching framework for individual projects as well as socio-economic and environmental assessments. It's interesting that the back end of the process presented to you first. We're the front end of the process.
If regional planning is done right, it can facilitate positive development. I'm going to give you a bit of history about land use planning in the north.
Really, the key sort of change situation was the 1977 Berger report dealing with the Mackenzie Valley pipeline. Berger recommended a 10-year moratorium on major development to allow time for the settlement of land claims and to build governance capacity. He also recommended that regional planning follow immediately after land claims settlement.
DIAND tried a top-down planning process in 1985 and it didn't work, mainly because first nations were more concentrated on resolving land claim negotiations. So only to the extent that planning contributed to resolving a claim or assisting a first nation to make its case for its land claim were they prepared to participate.
The program was cancelled in 1990 and later resurrected, and in the case of Yukon, specifically because it was included in the 1993 Umbrella Final Agreement and tied to the first four land claim and self-government agreements, which involved the Teslin Tlingit Council, the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, of which Stephen is a member, the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, and the Nacho Nyak Dun.
The key is chapter 11, but I'm not going to go into detail. What I want to tell you is that only one plan has been completed after all this time and that is the North Yukon Land Use Plan. But a second plan for the Peel region has reached the recommended plan stage. Unfortunately, these plans are taking too long to complete and they're costing too much. Why?
In the first place, there is the amount of time required for preplanning, setting up commissions, and collecting basic resource information. Much of the resource information is sketchy, incomplete, of questionable accuracy, and out of date. This is primarily because of the lack of government attention to science. Science is not seen as an investment but as a cost, so governments at both the federal and territorial levels have consistently been cutting back and looking to development proponents to do their work for them.
Regional planning is funded through the land claim implementation process. Here's one place you can help us. There's a 10-year implementation review that is now in year 14, and we don't believe Canada is taking the completion of this review seriously enough. We also note that the Auditor General has already rapped DIAND's efforts north of 60, calling for more accountability and consequences for non-performance. We agree, but this must apply to all involved.
First nations have not received adequate funding to build their own capacity to participate in land use planning or development assessment. High staff turnover, inadequate funding, and lack of qualified first nations people are part of the problem.
It's interesting that in the committee's discussion we talk about the definition of the north as being the three territories. As a planner, I don't think that way. I see two norths.
There's one that incorporates the boreal forest, which is the southern band of the territories in the northern parts of the provinces and stretches from coast to coast. The 60th parallel is really an artificial boundary.
The north is also not an unoccupied frontier. The development game has changed, particularly with the emergence of the territorial governments. But I can assure you that it's taken well over 35 years for people to get the message that the old ways of doing business are no longer appropriate.
This planning takes a more holistic approach. We're really dealing with the front end versus the back end. Planning adds value and context for development assessment. One of the weaknesses in the YESAA legislation, from our point of view, is in the implementation. That is, if there is no land use plan existing and it is in the process of being developed, say, remembering that this can be a three-year or four-year process, it's business as usual.
What business as usual means is that the commissions must focus on getting their plan done, and as council we have told them this. We tell them, “Don't get involved in the YESAA process”. That's government's responsibility at this stage.
But then we have the scenario where a plan is completed and the issue becomes, “What do you do when a proponent brings forward a proposal that is inconsistent with the plan?” This is an area that requires greater clarity. At the present time under YESAA, the assessor is to assist the proponent in trying to facilitate as much compliance as possible, but effectively he recommends to the parties if it's not compliant. That's really up to the governments, then, which are the parties, to make a decision. But there's a question we have here. At that point, really, shouldn't the proponent have to stop, go back, and seek a planned amendment?
There are some implications of the business-as-usual approach to doing plan preparation. For example, you have the whole issue of claim staking and the free entry rights. In the case of the Peel plan, which is in a very environmentally sensitive area, there was a concern of the conservation side of the equation. Wait a minute, they said, there's all this staking going on at the same time, but in effect we can't go in and stake our interest; only the mining people get to stake their interest. I think it's a fair point that's worth consideration.
It's somewhat ironic that industry considers best practices as being an adequate standard whereas we tend to think of them as the minimum standard.
If we're going to make plans more successful, we need more strategic thinking and we need to be thinking about how strategic investment has paid off. A good example is the extension of the Internet to the north, the telehealth concept, and things like RADARSAT, that technology. Ironically, conservation organizations sometimes seem to have a better appreciation of the needs for strategic thinking than the development industry or the respective governments.
We believe that development planning and conservation planning can and should proceed in hand in the north. The Yukon is too polarized, but the NWT has been a bit more successful in that regard.
So how can we improve planning quickly?
Our 10-year review is going on year 14, and it sure would help if we could get that solved. Also, I believe that first nations have to spend more time resolving overlap issues with respect to their boundaries, because it makes it very difficult to plan when there are areas that are in conflict. The council's position has been that the planning boundaries must be seamless and there should be no doughnuts.
As well, Canada and Yukon both have to insist on greater accountability for plan production.
We need to get the outstanding land claim negotiations going again, particularly with respect to White River and the Kaska.
We have some suggestions in terms of how things can be improved. One of the interesting things—
Thank you all for coming today. It's great to see you again.
Just to put it on the record, Stephen, I think you've now probably set a record in the history of the Parliament of Canada by being a witness on the same project three times. In my nine years, I've never seen someone be a witness twice, and now you've had three different hats, so I think you've set a great record there.
Ian, on the 10-year review, you can rest assured that the committee had that point from a number of witnesses. I've brought it up in Parliament numerous times. We really agree with you and we want to get moving on that.
Stephen and Ken, as you said, it takes 34 days. We heard from a witness in the Northwest Territories, I think, that what took you 34 days takes months or years in their processes. This is the only process in Canada, actually, where you go through one process for all the crown land. In those jurisdictions that have self-governments, and actually three orders of government, you could go through three assessment processes.
This is a great model for the rest of the country. Could you suggest why it might take only 34 days? What are the clues to this success, against the barriers we're having in the other two territories, where they say it takes months or years?
Thanks for the question, Mr. Bagnell.
On the offices that do these assessments, we were talking about the designated offices. At the executive committee level, we're dealing with the more major projects. They take a longer period of time--anywhere from six months up to two years--but we're talking about very major hardrock mines. We've completed two of those and have two more being assessed now.
But at the designated office level, we're talking anywhere from very small projects up to fairly large exploration and small-level mines. There is a spectrum on the time it takes. We have fairly tight timelines, so our assessors have to work to those timelines.
We also have worked very hard at trying to make sure that the information request, or what is needed for a proponent to file in our assessments, is clear and comprehensive so that proponents are coming in with complete proposals. That is different from other jurisdictions.
That is actually different from how CEAA did assessments in the Yukon. Proponents would come in with partial applications and then would work through a long process of more information requests, back and forth.
We've been trying to front-end load this process, as we call it, so that the proponents are really clear. What that does is weed out a lot of bad proposals that will never get through. It also makes sure that it's kind of a level playing field that allows proponents to gear up. If you're looking at an exploration project, you know what kind of research and information you need to collect as you start to work on the ground, before you ever come in our door. We think that's probably one of the keys to proper assessment.
I'm sorry that is a bit of a long answer, but on some of the issues that came up in the five-year review, we're addressing them. I'm going to be working with the DO. We're going to be working with conservation groups, first nations, proponents, and the regulators to come up with sector-specific application forms and information requirements. We tried a generic one that wasn't working as well,so we think this will add even more clarity.
Depending on what sector you're in, the information that you need to bring in and be assessed on will be much clearer. We think that's going to actually result in a more efficient process as well.
It gets very complicated, but generally, on some settlement lands, there are surface and subsurface rights, while some have only surface rights.
If a project is to go on first nation land where they have both surface and subsurface rights, that first nation is the decision body under YESAA and they will make that determination.
What happens in areas where there's not a claim, such as Ross River, is that our legislation still applies, and to all the Yukon. In the case of a project proceeding down by Watson Lake, which is in an unsettled area, we still assess the project the same as we would in Old Crow or anywhere else.
What we have done is include the first nation when we look at the project proposal to determine adequacy. They are part of providing input into the assessments we conduct. Also, there's an obligation under the legislation that before the government decision-making body issues what's called a decision document, it must consult with those first nations that do not have final agreements. Our legislation puts in an extra step of consultation that's required.
But for us, in all levels of our assessment, we include Ross River and those unsettled first nations the same as we include any of the first nations that are settled. Also, those first nations are funded by DIAND with a certain amount of money to participate in YESAA assessments.
On the settlement lands there are so many blocks, even with my own first nation, the Vuntut Gwitchin in Old Crow, that many projects tend to cover more than one jurisdiction. So we issue one recommendation for an assessment. I'll give you a good example.
We had a large power-line project. In the end, there were three decision bodies and regulators: the Yukon government, the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation, and the Selkirk First Nation. All three received their recommendations and all three issued what they call a decision document.
All three agreed with our recommendations, which was good, and then they issued whatever regulatory authorizations they needed to, such as land use permits.
A voice: It's very complicated.
Mr. Stephen Mills: It's complicated, but it has worked.
That's why initially everybody was wondering if this was going to work or not. The fact is that it has worked. There have been many cases where you have a first nation and, for instance, a federal decision authority like DFO where they work together to make sure they agree. There's a federal coordination regulation that says different decision bodies are going to work together to try to come up with the same decision on a project. So far, I don't believe they've ever gone against each other.
It's good to see you again, Mr. Mills.
I want to welcome our other two witnesses.
I come from the great Labrador riding. I just want to make that very clear.
Voices: Oh, oh!
Mr. Todd Russell: How do you deal with claimant groups that do not have a settled land claim? Are they treated as just another Yukoner or Canadian for the purposes of involvement in the environmental assessment process or is there some special way you deal with that?
Because there are asserted claims that haven't been dealt with, as I understand it, or finalized. Would that not impact the nature of the negotiations, their land selections, and things of this nature?
For a group that hasn't had a settled land claim, Mr. Robertson, they would not be included in the land use planning process other than as regular Yukoners as well. Is that the way it is? I'm just trying for clarification. I'm using some words, but I'd like to have some clarification on that.
Thank you for the question.
It's a big question. First of all, federal funding normally triggers a CEAA assessment. In the Yukon, it triggers a YESAA assessment. So certain projects are going to go through an assessment even with federal funding, let's say, and even with some of the new initiatives that are out there.
One of the projects that we're assessing at a more advanced level, a bigger project, is a fairly large hydro project. A very large amount of federal funding flowed into that project.
We recognize that there are time limits on funding. We work with the proponents closely, as well as with the other parties that are going to participate, as early as possible before they submit their proposal, to make sure that the proposals are complete and are viable projects. In that case, we think that so long as proponents do their job, we can provide fairly good timelines to projects.
On the economic development side, I think that provides some certainty in the Yukon. We've heard what it takes to raise funding for major mining projects and others, so our timelines are an integral part of that. We think a good assessment can provide for good projects in a timely manner.
I'll try to be as brief as possible on that.
Natural Resources Canada, Transport Canada, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans all provide regulatory roles, but in some cases they come in fairly late, or they're hard to reach in assessments.
On the northern major projects office, I think it may be helpful to have them as effective participants in our assessments and to have them recognize what is happening in the Yukon. They don't have offices in the Yukon, so it's difficult.
For example, with DFO, we have one major project before us where they are currently the only regulator on it. The biggest issues on that project are socio-economic and DFO has already said that they have no authority to add any socio-economic aspects to a fishery authorization.
We have some big hurdles to overcome and I think all the governments--first nations, territorial, and federal--have not kept pace with the YESAA legislation. If you really want to deal with socio-economic effects, you need to have some way of enforcing those effects through licence or something else.
This motion concerns me a lot. The motion is referencing a 2008-09 report of the Office of the Correctional Investigator, which has 19 recommendations, only one of which is specific to aboriginal Canadians. That recommendation is actually specific to the public safety minister and an action he might take. The other 18 recommendations generally fall outside the mandate of this committee. Yes, it's true that aboriginal inmates may be impacted by the other recommendations, but no more so than any other inmate, generally speaking.
We have copies of those recommendations. They consistently talk about recommendations regarding “the Service”, which means the Correctional Service of Canada, and which is outside the mandate of this committee, clearly outside the mandate of this committee.
I think it must also be considered that in our study on this topic, Mr. Sapers mentioned his recommendations from his 2007-08 report as they relate to aboriginal people. Ms. Crowder's motion does not mention that report, even though it was included in our consideration of the topic.
The report mentioned in the motion, “Good Intentions, Disappointing Results: A Progress Report on Federal Aboriginal Corrections”, was not a report by the Office of the Correctional Investigator, but it was released by his office. There were no specific recommendations in that report. The only thing we had in that report was a conclusion, and I can tell you that the conclusion contains no recommendations.
He talked in the conclusion about “a concern about ongoing performance gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal corrections”, which has turned into alarm as the Correctional Service of Canada is failing to deliver on commitments to date. He talks about previous good intentions reflected in the Correctional Service of Canada policies and strategies, which “have been inadequately operationalized, at least partially due to a lack of data tracking, clearly enumerated deliverables, and accompanying accountabilities”, whatever that means, “leading to disappointing results”.
He talks about the “Aboriginal Corrections Accountability Framework”, which is:
...intended to establish concrete actions with projected results and expected outcomes subject to evaluation and establish levels of accountability in regards to deliverables in implementing the Strategic Plan, 2006. Future implementation of the Framework should be expected to further CSC’s meeting of its goals in Aboriginal corrections.
Therefore, he endorses the approach of setting up “tangible targets with timelines, relevant performance indicators, strengthening accountability and clarifying roles and responsibilities, enhanced monitoring, and public reporting on progress”. This says, “Only time will tell if the Draft Strategy for Aboriginal Corrections Accountability Framework will live up to its promise of accountability and results in Aboriginal corrections”.
I see no recommendation there. It also states:
However, while supporting this initiative, the...[Office of the Correctional Investigator] also feels compelled to ring the alarm. The anticipated growth in the federal Aboriginal offender population and potential shifts in their geographic distribution is in the pipeline, suggesting continuing over-representation in correctional populations for the five-year [Correctional Service of Canada] planning period from 2009/10 to 2014/15.
There is no recommendation there, I submit. It continues:
At this juncture, given the young and growing Aboriginal population, a...[Correctional Service of Canada] failure to expeditiously mobilize good intentions in Aboriginal corrections will reverberate throughout the youth and criminal justice system, Aboriginal communities and Canadian society for years to come.
That's a summary of what this report represents.
The Office of the Correctional Investigator's “recommendations”, which are referenced in Jean's motion, appear to point to two reports, which are the 2008-09 report and the progress report. In the first instance, as I've already mentioned, all but one of the 19 recommendations are clearly outside the committee's mandate, and I would submit that the other one is also outside our mandate, although it does mention “aboriginal” in its intent. In the second report, there are clearly no recommendations.
I would submit that according to Standing Order 108(2) the motion is clearly inadmissible. For the record, I think I'll read Standing Order 108(2):
The standing committees, except those set out in sections (3)(a), (3)(f), (3)(h) and (4) of this Standing Order, shall, in addition to the powers granted to them pursuant to section (1) of this Standing Order and pursuant to Standing Order 81, be empowered to study and report on all matters relating to the mandate, management and operation of the department or departments of government which are assigned to them from time to time by the House. In general, the committees shall be severally empowered to review and report on:
(a) the statute law relating to the department assigned to them;
(b) the program and policy objectives of the department and its effectiveness in the implementation of same;
(c) the immediate, medium and long-term expenditure plans and the effectiveness of implementation of same by the department;
(d) an analysis of the relative success of the department, as measured by the results obtained as compared with its stated objectives; and
(e) other matters, relating to the mandate, management, organization or operation of the department, as the committee deems fit.
Both of the Correctional Investigator's reports are clearly beyond the mandate of this committee. I would suggest that if the NDP wants a committee to recommend these to the House, then the reports should be sent to the relevant committee for further study there.
In addition, both of these reports have already been tabled in the House. It would be completely redundant for this committee to report them to the House when that has already been done.
That's my objection to reporting this to the House, Mr. Chair.
Thank you for allowing me to take part in your meeting today. I'm here for two reasons. First of all, as an aboriginal woman, I take great interest in what occurs within your committee, and I congratulate all members of the committee for the fantastic work you do each and every time you appear.
But as an aboriginal woman and the daughter of a woman who spent her entire career in a correctional facility dealing with mainly aboriginal women offenders, I wanted to be here today to express my concern about the fact that there is a motion before your committee to accept these recommendations,when I have to agree with Mr. Duncan that they're clearly out of the mandate of this committee. I appreciate Ms. Crowder's willingness to try to help aboriginal people.
The second reason I'm here is that I am a member of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. It is in that committee that we are presently looking at mental illness in the prison systems, and we are focusing quite a bit of our time on the fact that we do have a number of aboriginal offenders who are in fact affected by mental illness and addiction.
The report by the Correctional Investigator is the basis of much of our study. In fact, as many of the members here know, each and every party represented has taken part in an extensive trip to visit and to study prisons across Canada, and we've also made an effort to visit institutions in other countries, so that we can provide the best possible recommendations to the House in collaboration with a number of stakeholders, including the Correctional Investigator.
The countries we have visited are Norway and England, so there has already been substantial cost on the endeavour in this study. We are looking at very similar recommendations and we are studying the recommendations of the Correctional Investigator. It would be highly untimely for this committee to put forward some kind of proposal in the House. It would interfere with the work that is being done. It would really, in my opinion, tell the taxpayer that we don't care how we spend their money, that we're going to interfere in any way we can, even knowing that it's an obstacle to the good work that others are trying to do, at a high cost to the taxpayer.
More than anything, we want to help these offenders. We want to make sure they get every benefit of the Correctional Investigator, of the stakeholders within Correctional Service of Canada, and of parliamentarians who are working very hard on this issue.
I truly believe that each and every member of this committee wants what's best for aboriginal people. I truly believe that. That's why I'm here today to suggest that this is an inappropriate submission at this point, knowing what all of the parties are involved in other committees, and knowing that we are all trying to do the right thing here.
The fact that it's inadmissible, given the points that Mr. Duncan has provided, suggests that all of us should look within ourselves and really dismiss this motion at this time, because it will negatively impact on the things we're doing in the public safety committee.
I want to tell a very short story just to put into perspective how this study that we're doing in the public safety committee is impacting aboriginal people. With Mr. Don Davies from the NDP, I met a young woman, an aboriginal woman by the name of Debra, and she was actually incarcerated for a murder in the Saskatoon--
When this motion was brought up by Ms. Crowder, I felt somewhat concerned about it. I believe this is out of our committee's mandate. We're stepping on another committee's mandate for public safety and corrections.
I've worked with the RCMP for 18 years. Everyone knows that I've served all my time stationed on first nations or working closely with first nations or Métis communities. I've seen the worst and best of what people can offer.
I have a story with regard to what transpired with me and how this committee is looking at bringing this motion to the House. This is about my brother. When I was six years old, we brought a foster brother into our home from a very troubled family from Sechelt, British Columbia. He was involved with and in and out of the law at six years of age. Growing up with him, I saw the trouble he had gone through in being taken in and out of foster care. Then, when he turned 16, he moved out. It was devastating for me, because I lost a brother. At that time, he went into the correctional system for stealing cars; you name it and he would do it.
That's one of the main reasons why I got into law enforcement. I thought I could try to help the communities and first nations. There is a lot of work in the communities. But as for what I've seen from correctional strikes where the RCMP have to be brought in on a provincial basis, I've seen a lot of good work being undertaken by corrections and the federal corrections. I see the corrections leading right now by providing sweat lodges, meeting with the elders, talking about traditions, trying to get their--
Mr. Chair, we've heard concerns about redundancy and interfering with a process that's already going on in another committee. We've also heard some concerns about our specific mandate. I would take that a step further and, for those reasons, I would say that this is incomplete. The reference in the motion is to one specific report, but we've already heard from a colleague that there may be other reports that have to be considered in regard to this.
I have an appreciation for Jean's comment that first nation socio-economic development should be viewed through a broad lens. She mentioned the silo theory, if you will, as it relates to our discussion today. And there may something to that, through you to Jean, Mr. Chair, who I know has historically been passionate about this issue and the work that this committee does.
But I would submit respectfully that if we were really looking at broader determinants, then we would have to consider the things that are going on in other committees and that ought to be read in and considered for the purposes of this motion or anything like it that we would hope to achieve.
We've heard from a colleague that there are issues around mental illness and addiction. Based on my own history of living in isolated and remote first nations communities--and across this country, in fact--I know that Health Canada's first nations and Inuit health branch has some information with respect to this. I think we certainly want to ensure that we reach that balance where we're not interfering with the important work that other committees are or may be doing. We respect our mandate, and I would say that I think we've done a pretty good job of looking at broader determinants and at what could prevent the kinds of activities that often lead to this specific issue.
It seems quite analytically natural to me to see that redundancy and interference take us to a place where we're really incomplete. For the purposes of this motion and all of the technical concerns my colleague outlined earlier, I think it would be reasonable at this point to objectively take a step back and look at what else is going on here and may impact what this motion is striving to achieve.
Thank you, Mr. Russell.
Thank you, all members, for your input and advice on this question. There's no doubt the mandate of each committee is something that's very clear in the standing orders and we are obliged to follow. It's important, therefore, that all notices of motion meet the admissibility test. I appreciate the thoughts and comments of members in that regard.
I'm inclined, in this case, to uphold the comments that have suggested that this motion is, in fact, not admissible, simply and principally for the fact that it is a broad range of recommendations--in fact, as was pointed out, 19 recommendations in the 2008-2009 report--that are not specifically within the mandate of our committee. So we'll rule the motion out of order.
We of course have a process in place for substantive motions. It can be reworked and brought back to the committee at any time.
This is perhaps instructional for all members, in that when you're considering notices of motion, if there is a question about admissibility you can speak with me or the clerk. These are questions that could be covered off to ensure that we have those in front of us, but we'll abide by our normal committee rules and proceed as follows.
There being no other business before the committee, this meeting is adjourned.