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Madam Chair, before we get started, I want to express significant concern. To have the government side drop over 20 amendments 15 minutes prior to clause-by-clause is absolutely ridiculous. There is a process, which I think every committee member goes through, in terms of doing due diligence around amendments to see if it fits in. As I said, I think it's absolutely shameful that with 15 minutes to go there are over 20 amendments that have been tabled.
As such, I'd like to make a motion that we adopt this bill as is, without amendments.
I'm just getting some advice from the clerks for the moment. I'm just going to hold that for a second, if I may, so that I can get proper advice from my clerks.
Because this is highly unusual, it requires getting some advice from the external clerk. We're going to have to hold onto that for a moment. I'm just going to suspend it for a moment so I can get the proper advice.
If I may, what I did want to start with, in fact, was the budget for the study.
First and foremost, to the committee members, particularly the opposition, I want to profusely apologize for the very late submission of the proposed amendments. I recognize that both parties opposite have been submitting these documents in a very timely manner, and we appreciate that. Regrettably, due to circumstances beyond our control and beyond the control of the minister, we were unable to provide these up until now. In fact, we take responsibility for this. However, we believe the nature of the amendments that are proposed is such that they shouldn't necessarily alter the bill significantly, and they're fairly straightforward and not ambiguous. I do want to ask the committee's indulgence on this.
I know this committee has worked very well, and we certainly appreciate the enormous co-operation we received, both from the NDP and the Conservative Party, with respect to this bill. I do, however, just want to reiterate the importance of this and the fact that we do need to move forward.
Once again, I apologize. We are open to discussion of the amendments we've put forward.
I'm still waiting for the final advice on this, but now that we seem to be having a discussion about it, I will allow it. We could go to Monsieur Nantel and Mrs. McLeod. Because it's still on hold and we haven't decided whether this motion could even go ahead, I'll just allow the two of them to speak.
First, I want to thank Mr. Anandasangaree for apologizing. We have to show good faith in the clause-by-clause study of this bill, given the sensitivities involved.
Even if his apology has been accepted, I'd like to know how much time we will need to debate all of these amendments, especially since we were not able to study them beforehand. It seems impossible to me to debate these very particular amendments without having had the opportunity to discuss them with my colleagues. Perhaps we should suspend the meeting or study all of the other amendments first and look at these later.
I'll close with a broader question to the clerk. What sort of agenda did you have in mind? I can't see how we will manage to do all this unless we extend the meeting till 7:30 p.m. or 8 o'clock this evening. I can't see how we can study all of these amendments, all the more so since there are already 21 we are supposed to study.
I was puzzled when my colleague indicated that there were circumstances beyond the minister's control, in terms of getting this to the table. I thought this was a committee process and it was a committee input into clause-by-clause, so I guess we now understand that it is being driven by the PMO.
Having said that, I want to be on the record as saying that, when we vote on these amendments, it is not because we may or may not think they are valuable amendments. We will be voting no to every single amendment that came in at the last minute because it would be absolutely irresponsible for us to look at so many different amendments on the fly.
I want it to be clear that our “no” is going to relate to the inadequacy of any time for the opposition to give proper consideration to this batch of amendments.
I'm going to hold the conversation because we're still trying to figure out if we can go ahead with it. We have two big green books out.
We still need to pass the budget for this study. Can we go to that, please? I believe that you all have the request for project budget in front of you. I'll open it up for questions and discussions about the budget.
I understand the amount on the budget. However, I want to state that given the significance of this bill, in my opinion thorough consultation or the bringing in of witnesses should have been done, and we should have taken it further than we did. As an indigenous woman, with my first language being Dene, I find the small amount being spent very disrespectful to indigenous people across Canada.
Ms. Jolibois, I will comment that this budget is driven by the witness lists that were provided by all parties, and the witnesses were called in the order of priority given by the parties. That's how this budget was set up. Just so you understand, the number of witnesses, as well as who was called and where they were based, was not driven by the budget, but the other way around. It was driven by the lists that were provided by the parties.
Seeing no further discussion on the budget for the study of Bill C-91, I will call it to a vote.
Seeing none opposed, it passes.
I'm going to take one more moment to consult with the clerks. I'm going to suspend for five minutes to allow the clerks to continue to look at this question, rather than having us sit. Please don't go far.
It's an unusual request. I've been here 18 years, and it's a first for me, hence the time required to give you an answer. We don't have a straight answer for you, as it stands. We have to go in parallel with what the chamber does.
It's possible to pass a piece of legislation in the House at all stages, but it requires unanimous consent. Here's the question: Can we pass through clause-by-clause at committee in one motion? The Standing Orders tell us that we have to go through clause-by-clause. If we take a parallel with the chamber, we come to the same conclusion, that it would require unanimous consent to do it.
We also have a motion which seems like the only gracious thing to do, which is an acceptance of the government's apology. I did say the government, not the committee. So, we accept your apology. However, it is out of the question that we study these in a few seconds or on the fly.
Consequently, I ask that today's clause-by-clause study be adjourned and that this study be postponed until the next meeting of the committee.
Before I go to Ms. Jolibois, I apologize. When we were looking at all the motions, I skipped one part, which is that pursuant to Standing Order 75(1), consideration of clause 1, the short title, is postponed.
Now we're on clause 2, and we'll just pick up from there.
With all due respect, I'm going to reiterate that the government is rushing through this process.
[Member spoke in Dene as follows:]
Sı Denesųłı̨ne hesłı̨,
[Member provided the following translation:]
I am a Denesųlı̨ne Woman,
[Member spoke in Dene as follows:]
dırı dene ɂa yastı
[Member provided the following translation:]
I am speaking in dene.
This legislation is so important, yet the government is rushing this very important piece of legislation through and insulting the speakers of the languages across Canada. It's just rushing through.
The “Commissioner means the Indigenous Commissioner”, the wording here.... We've heard from witnesses. Witnesses provided solutions, suggestions. They invested their time, energy and who they are, their identity, into it. Yet, we aren't taking that into consideration here, and the government, again, is just emphasizing words to their liking. Indigenous people who speak their languages want more than what the Liberals are providing.
My question is, how come we aren't taking our time to review what the witnesses brought forward with their suggestions?
Madam Chair, with respect to this, it would essentially amend the bill to limit the commissioner of indigenous languages to be an indigenous person, and I think in principle it is appropriate and important to have an indigenous person in that role.
Legislatively, however, I do believe it's likely a violation of the charter, given that we can't limit the individual to be of a particular background, and this is part of the enumerated grounds under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The fear is that it will be a violation and therefore this particular amendment.... I think it's important to record that, with the committee that will likely advise the minister, as well as with the demand that's there, it would ensure that the person does have a full understanding and ideally is an indigenous person. I think that should suffice. I don't think we can necessarily put that in legislation.
Consistent with the comments just made, it's my understanding as well that there may well be a charter challenge should we do this.
We have a proposal later on in this legislation to look at an advisory committee that would be primarily indigenous people, who would make the recommendations. I think that we can achieve the principle and goal, because I think we all believe the commissioner should be an indigenous person. It's just the process of getting there that I'm concerned about. I would hate to see a charter challenge and this being sidelined, but if we do have an advisory committee that frames that in a reasoned way, I think that's the best way of achieving this.
I want to point out that a vote on NDP-1 also applies to NDP-10 and NDP-11, as they have the same content of adding the word “Indigenous” before “Commissioner of Indigenous”, just so everyone is aware of that.
First, I want to start by saying that I still recall the day the Prime Minister made his speech about this. That was more than two and a half years ago. It's been almost three years since he announced this legislation, and it comes at this moment in time, just before the election. We're rushing because of the government's waste of time.
Second, I want to respond to what Gary just said. I know it's important for indigenous people to get confirmation that this should be an indigenous commissioner. I understand the point raised by the charter; however, I think there are ways under our Constitution that allow us to do that in a free and democratic society, so perhaps that may be an avenue, or we can clarify this clause by mentioning that the person holding the commissioner position should be an indigenous-speaking person. That may be a way out of this discussion as well.
Madam, just for the record, and for the purpose of interpretation of this particular component of the legislation, I think the intention of the government is for this individual, the commissioner, to be an indigenous person. I think there is no doubt about that.
If we look at the way it's framed, with an advisory committee, as well as, no doubt, the expectation that the indigenous languages legislation creates, I think it will be virtually impossible to have a non-indigenous person in this role. However, to put it in legislation, I think, would be problematic in that it can be open to challenge, particularly from applicants or individuals who may be seeking that position and who are non-indigenous.
I think that, in an abundance of caution, it's important to address it now but to make the intention clear, for the purpose of interpretation, that this role is meant to be for an indigenous individual.
I'm holding myself back because the way you explained it is offensive. It is degrading and colonialistic. It does not support first nations, Métis and Inuit people across Canada. I'm sorry, but with all due respect, the government is showing that it is continuing with the practices of colonialism through the way you just explained it.
You're asking me, a full-blooded Dene, who speaks Dene, to be open to someone who is a non-indigenous speaker. That is colonialistic. That is offensive. With all due respect, this is a very sensitive issue to me, to my family, to my cultural group, to Saskatchewan and to all of Canada.
The government sits here and explains it offensively. That is hurtful. That is disrespectful. That is unacceptable. First nations, Métis and Inuit people across Canada are going to read about what was just said, and it will be all across Canada, and I won't encourage the indigenous speakers, those who work really hard every day to teach the languages, to sit back and be open to the commissioner being a non-indigenous person—that is essentially what I'm hearing—and leading us.
Idle no more—indigenous people across Canada have been telling us that has to change. Sunny ways.... The government proposed that we do this differently, and now you're telling us that there is no other way than to continue with colonialism.
What stands out for me here is the cavalier attitude of the current government and its committee representatives regarding this very specific and very sensitive bill. It's the same carelessness I saw when Mélanie Joly, the previous minister of Canadian Heritage, said they would review the broadcasting system. She opened all the doors wide and all the bugs came in, and now we're stuck with a system where our broadcasters and our newspapers—
Forgive me, but my comments are on topic. I'll get back to it quickly. From one mistake to another, the Liberal government, despite all the nice, striking window-dressing, is sherking its responsibilities. If that is of interest to you, of course, it applies here.
As my two colleagues said so well, this bill is vital. In addition, you have the audacity to say that it is closely related to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. You know that this is sensitive, but that did not prevent you from dragging your feet for three years. The Prime Minister said that this was extremely important to him. However, three years later, everyone is still sitting around. Of course, the Minister of Canadian Heritage told us that this was a proper, exhaustive consultation process and that is why it is so long. Listen, either you are responsible or you are not.
And now we are seized with this bill, and people say that in principle, everyone was consulted. But in practice, several witnesses told us that they had not been consulted. We are presented with an improvised bill that seems to have been quickly drafted on the corner of a table. I don't want to disrespect our public servants, but clearly, there are a lot of problems.
I want you to know that I am very upset. You know how committed I am to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage—it's a little play on words. I have been committed to this committee for several years, on very important topics. I am told that the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs cannot deal with this matter, and that it was referred to this committee. Finally, we have had a lot of discussions here, and in this offhand fashion, you introduce about 20 amendments at the last second. It's irresponsible and pathetic. I find this insulting, and imagine what all of the first nations people must feel, and the Innu, the Métis. It's really shameful.
The truth is that we are here because your government did nothing for too long. Now it realizes that the election is near and that it must absolutely do something. It rushed off to the ITK and went to cry in the Far North in order to have something to show. Apparently, it didn't work.
This is really shameful, and I am not happy about it. I find that we are wasting our time. The only reasonable thing you can do is agree to adjourn this meeting to give us the time to examine the amendments you have proposed.
Madam Chair, congratulations. I have not spoken to this committee with you as chair, so I hope it won't offend you that, before I begin to put this amendment forward, I have to state on the record the various reasons that I so regret that every committee was asked to pass the identical motion that requires me to show up at committees at clause-by-clause.
It is true that, in fact, at this very moment, I should be at the fisheries and oceans committee, where the bill I am sponsoring, Bill S-203, is being presented and witnesses are being heard. I can't be in two places at once, so I presented what I could and ran here, because I believe this bill is very important, but so is the bill before the fisheries committee now on ensuring that whales and dolphins aren't kept in captivity.
If it weren't for the motion passed by this committee, I could have brought forward the amendments I have before you now at the report stage. The effect of the motion that was originally put forward by Harper's PMO, and then repeated by this Prime Minister's PMO, is that I have to be in two places at one time. I'm sure it's taking years off my life, and I don't mean that rhetorically; I mean it literally.
Despite the fact that I don't welcome this opportunity, I do appreciate that the individuals around this table aren't responsible for what's happened to me.
With good will, I will put forward my amendment, which is to speak to the issue of how we define “indigenous governing body”. This, of course, is found in the definitions section at clause 2. The current definition, as in the legislation at first reading, would exclude governing bodies that fall outside the Indian Act and the colonial system that was established for how indigenous nations govern themselves.
This, of course, was brought to the committee by Jennifer Wickham, the executive director of the Witsuwit'en Language and Culture Society. We do know from the Delgamuukw case, for example, that Witsuwit'en land is unceded and that they have been extraordinarily courageous—as all indigenous peoples have—in hanging onto culture, tradition and language in the face of oppression and colonialism. In the case of Witsuwit'en, for example, there is a still unbroken lineage of hereditary chiefs, and the hereditary chiefs and the traditional hereditary government on unceded land are not included under the Indian Act, so hereditary chiefs and governance such as that on Witsuwit'en territory would be excluded from being able negotiate to get access to funding and so on.
I'm hoping that this amendment will meet with your approval. It merely extends the definition of “indigenous governing body”, as found at clause 2, with the words “including a traditional hereditary government of unceded lands that is not provided for under the Indian Act”, etc.
I would say that Madame May has a point—that it doesn't specifically refer to the traditional hereditary government of unceded lands—but it does cover every form of government, including self-governing nations and other treaty holders. It also covers the band councils as they currently exist, where they exist, but it doesn't exclude the traditional hereditary government per se.
The reason it's silent is that how the traditional governments are represented is also a discussion that happens among indigenous people themselves. Sometimes they're included in the more formal government form, either through self-government or others, or they are included or consulted by band councils. The intent behind being silent is to leave the full spectrum open to indigenous people to make their choice around that. If we were to be specific, we would probably be interfering in how they are choosing to actually make the place for their hereditary chiefs or form of government. We wanted to be respectful of that by leaving it open to be determined internally by indigenous people themselves.
The Conservative amendment is also very good in specifically referencing Métis, although I believe the Métis would be more likely to fall in this definition.
We've had recent actions by the federal government that suggest it doesn't believe hereditary chiefs on Witsuwit'en territory have any rights. The appearance of militarized RCMP to arrest hereditary chiefs protesting peacefully suggests a lack of respect for hereditary governments.
In particular because of those recent arrests, I find it unlikely that they would qualify under this legislation to negotiate for funding if we didn't specifically recognize the integrity and the authenticity of hereditary chiefs who are operating within a framework that falls outside the Indian Act.
I have this amendment in here because there's confusion between Métis nation and settlements. Settlements are land-based and have their own governing body. They are unique and separate. The Métis nation is a society, and settlements are governing bodies. They are two different things.
We've had many officials come here. We've consulted with all indigenous groups, but it seems they are always excluded for some reason. It's important that we recognize them. We don't want to exclude anyone, so I think this is an important step towards ensuring that everyone is consulted. Sometimes we assume something that is not the case in reality.
My amendment is this:
That Bill C-91, in Clause 2, be amended by replacing line 19 on page 3 with the following:
“ment or other entity, including a Métis Settlement and the Métis Settlements General Council, that is authorized to act on behalf of”
It just achieves clarity, to place more emphasis on ensuring that settlements have a voice.
Once again, Madam Chair, this is very much in line with the previous amendment. The definition is broad enough as is. It contemplates groups, including the settlements, so I think it's important to keep it as broad as possible and not to narrow the scope or limit it to just one or two additional groups. The broad definition allows for indigenous communities to be able to define the groups and organizations that can seek the funding.
Ms. Laurendeau, in listening to your previous explanation, I thought you were defining it as broadly as it could be defined. If we started to list groups, then I'm assuming we would have to list everyone within it, but we're much broader without doing that. Am I interpreting what you said correctly?
You are interpreting correctly. What I said about the hereditary construct applies here. If we start to list, we will exclude people by not having them on the list. The suggestion of the definition is to keep it as broad and as inclusive as possible.
With all due respect, the Métis people have had, and continue to have, this discussion because, if we go with what is being proposed, the broad definition being used actually creates further animosity and it will create further questions. My discussion, even with the Métis people, regarding the language and governing is different.
Governments only recognize.... I can be corrected, but my understanding is that only governing the settlements...would be only recognized as government. Mr. Yurdiga said.... And I support what he's saying, because the confusion comes from the society and the nations that are being struck at various levels. The selection of their leaders is not necessarily done by the residents. There are so many questions floating around with no answers, and looking to the government actually, again, provides more chaos than clarity on this very important thing.
The Métis people—the scholars, the youth, the elders and other leaders I speak to—want clarification. They want to be included with how important this legislation is for their ability to retain Michif, to retain the languages of their choice that they have—be they Cree, Saulteaux, Dene, Blackfoot—across Canada. When we speak about the Métis in provinces, they're often the responsibility of the provinces. We are speaking of the federal level, and this creates further animosity again. The Métis children who are attending provincially run schools won't necessarily have the option to apply for funding so that they can be taught or can continue to speak their languages.
From my perspective, the government isn't doing its part, being respectful of Métis people across Canada.
We were talking about having a broad definition, and I understand that, but it hasn't worked well for the Métis settlements. When the officials were here, we talked about Métis settlements, and all of a sudden we heard, “Oh, we contacted the Métis nation”; well, they're separate, so they were excluded. If we don't have a definition that separates a society from a governing body, and one is excluded, and we see time and time again that they're always excluded.... This is ensuring that the settlements are part of the discussion. They can participate. By having a broad definition, we see a lot of issues, and this is not right. Settlements are governing bodies, and I think they should be identified as such.
We move that Bill C-91, in clause 5, be amended by replacing line 19 on page 4, with the following:
“guages, regardless of how the users of those languages communicate;”
I want to say that given the number of amendments being proposed to clause 5, we aren't out of the woods. I think that ideally someone should take the trouble of putting the text and the potential amendments online—unfortunately we don't have access to the screens, if I understand correctly. This may take quite a long time and does affect the LIB-01 amendment. You read it and you mentioned that it had an impact on the Liberal amendment.
I would like to seek clarification. If it's an add-on.... Maybe the legislative clerk could assist us with this. Amendment NDP-2 seeks to add “regardless of how the users of those languages communicate”, and then this would be in addition to that, if I'm not mistaken.
I think there seems to be a bit of a distinction between the two. The phrase “la situation distincte des langues autochtones” is actually not very clear; “status of Indigenous languages” may be a little clearer in the sense that it says in which state they are in currently.
What we don't have in either amendment is the status of how it's.... Is it about proficiency, or is it about how many people are using it or speaking it? In a way, the amendment in both languages is not really clear, but I think it's even less clear in French.
On top of 30-plus late or table-dropped amendments from the Liberals, we have here a piece of legislation that the government and the different organizations—at least the MNC and the AFN—took great pride in co-developing. However, we're making significant changes through these amendments. I wonder what that does to the whole issue of respecting a co-development process with intent in mind. We are making what I would suggest are significant changes, and it might perhaps not be a very respectful process.
Thank you, all of you. When we all work together on bills, we make fewer mistakes. I don't know why, but SNC-Lavalin comes to mind.
It says “assess the status of indigenous languages”, but in the French version, we could replace the word “situation” by “statut”, and “distincte” with “distinct”, and say “évaluer le statut distinct des langues autochtones”. That seems to me like an excellent translation of the English version. Please excuse the poor quality of the translation.
It may sound like wordsmithing, but it would actually be a little clearer if we could say in English “assess the status of distinct indigenous languages”.
The French would say « évaluer le statut distinct des langues autochtones », as was suggested.
It's going to be hard to know exactly what it means, but I think it would be clearer because it would actually single out each of the languages on its own and provide for the possibility of an assessment of that.
However, once again, that's the limit of what I can say on this amendment.
This amendment covers quite a few spots within clause 5. They amend the bill to more accurately reflect some of the really excellent testimony from those involved in indigenous education—the First Peoples' Cultural Council and the evidence of Dr. Onowa McIvor from the University of Victoria.
I'll just try to summarize them by saying that in the first line, “by replacing line 24 on page 4”, that's dealing with the evidence we have before us that the word “fluency” isn't as acceptable or as accurate in indigenous education, as it is evolving. Dr. McIvor did note that some people still use “fluency”, but there is a shift in the field of indigenous language revitalization to use language like “proficiency” and “restoring”, which is the effect of the first subpart of my amendment.
The other part of my amendment would replace some of the language here that speaks to supporting learning and education, to be more accurately reflecting...“to create new speakers, including language nests, immersion programs, schools and mentor-apprentice programs”.
Just to digress for just half a tick, I know that a lot of you around this table don't have the same experience in your own ridings, but it is so exciting for me that in our community on Tsartlip First Nation there is Sencoten immersion education. The kids are so turned on and so excited to be able to sing songs and play with each other exclusively speaking Sencoten. These kinds of things should be recognized as this important legislation goes forward.
Lastly, I've included, at the encouragement of Dr. McIvor's testimony, the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by speaking specifically to articles 13 and 14. Although I can't move it myself, if anyone felt like helping me out here, I really should have included article 16, based on the evidence that article 16 of UNDRIP gives indigenous peoples the right to establish media in their own languages. I know I can't amend my own amendment.
That's the substance, in brief, of my second amendment.
That means that we'd be debating the subamendment first, which is to add to “by replacing line 19 on page 5 with the following”, and it would say “implement Articles 13, 14 and 16 of the”. It's adding the number 16.
Under clause 5, lines 35 and 36 on page 4, following “cultural activities”, I'm proposing that it read “including language nest, mentorship and immersion programs—to increase the number of new speakers of Indigenous languages.”
It would be in paragraph (b) of amendment PV-2, replacing lines 35 and 36 on page 4 with the following: “tural activities—including language nest, mentorship and immersion programs—to increase the number of new speakers of indigenous languages, to create new speakers, including”—
I am clarifying one more time. I can read it as what the LIB-02 reads, which would be that at that line you would say, “tural activities—including language nest, mentorship and immersion programs—to increase the number of new speakers of Indigenous languages”. Is that how that clause would read?
We are also removing words, if that's the way it would read. I just want to be clear that that's the wording.
That is the subamendment we are debating right now, which is that in replacing lines 35 and 36, that would be changed to read, as I said, “tural activities—including language nest, mentorship and immersion programs—to increase the number of new speakers of Indigenous languages”.
I just want to say that, in terms of committee protocol, as a non-member of the committee, I can have no view on this, as my amendments are deemed to have been moved, but if I were a member, I'd find this a friendly amendment.
With all due respect, I don't share the same mentality as my colleague to my left. In fact, I find this very offensive.
Are you guys listening on the other end? Because this is very important.
In my riding...indigenous people across Canada, first nations, Métis and Inuit...how we view our languages to thrive, to survive and become very strong is different from your view. I hear the grand chiefs. I hear the chiefs, and I hear the leaders from across the sectors speak about one very important thing, important to us as indigenous people across Canada. We were taught.... We lived it. I lived it. I grew up with this. My family and friends, and the indigenous people across Canada still practise it, but now we're not mentioning that here.
That's why it's not friendly. I don't see the words here. In fact, I find this a little more offensive than the first one, now that we're going to have a commissioner who is non-indigenous and who can lead and can revive languages, for languages to survive, to thrive and to do well. That's one offensive thing.
The second offensive thing.... This is really crucial to indigenous people across Canada—first nations, Métis and Inuit, from coast to coast to coast. I hear consistently from everyone at these levels about the importance of land-based teachings, traditionally and historically. I don't even know what a language nest is. That is some terminology created by the government that is so out of touch with indigenous people. If this is very important—
That's what I'm looking at, the bill. LIB-02E is what I'm looking at.
Again, speaking of mentorship, if we have a commissioner who is non-indigenous, who may not speak the language and who wants to be a mentor, who's going to mentor here? Is it going to be the elder mentoring the commissioner because he or she doesn't understand thoroughly the importance of the language? Immersion, the importance of immersion...but again, elders, young people, leaders, communities across Canada, and this is where the government fails again. There's no mention of land-based, no mention.
I'm not thinking cultural activities, because probably the interpretation from the government's perspective about cultural activities is attending a powwow or a jigging contest or playing music somewhere. I'm talking about the identity of people, of children, of youth, of our families that you speak to about first nations, Métis and Inuit, yet the approach that you are taking is colonialistic. Attending a cultural event is not the same thing as going to specific land-based initiatives or being in the classroom listening to the elders, or listening to the youth speak their languages.
This is so disheartening. This is really upsetting.
Madam Chair, if I may just clarify, with respect to Ms. May's amendment, there are three different sections to it. Is it going to be voted on as one, or as separate units? Is it going to be (a), (b) and (c), or is it going to be...?
I appreciate the tolerance of the chair in letting me have the floor again. I wanted to clarify some of the language around language nests and mentor-apprenticeship programs, just to remind the committee that this was language that came from the First Nations Summit. Of course, it was Chief Ed John who testified, but he testified here on this bill on behalf of the First Nations Summit, so there was quite a lot of indigenous—
With all due respect to my friend Georgina, I can't speak as an indigenous person, obviously—I'm a settler-culture Canadian—but in looking at this evidence, there certainly was a very substantial indigenous component to the language that Gordie has brought forward.
The advice I have from the legislative clerk is that if there's something you don't like in the large amendment, you can bring a subamendment to remove it from the full amendment, and that's how we carry forward.
The subamendment, essentially, is a separate amendment on its own, so in fact, it will be voted.... My understanding is that we vote on Ms. May's amendment, all three components, and then vote on Mr. Hogg's amendment.
I just want to understand the rationale. I think “proficiency” is better than “fluency”, but not a great deal hangs on it in terms of how the bill operates. However, a great deal hangs on the recognition of articles 13 and 14 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Maybe Randy could give us some rationale for why (c) is unacceptable. I think (b) as amended still carries some good changes within it, but without articles 13 and 14 of United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, I think the whole amendment is very weakened.
Thank you for that, Madam Chair, and to my honourable colleague.
I think the reason we have concerns about (a) and (c) in PV-2 is that we heard clearly from the community that they want to decide how best to support their languages. They don't want top-down government direction. We heard that repeatedly. That needs to come back.
As you heard us say, we're supportive of (b). We just suggested some different wording there about increasing the number of speakers. Listing schools is very specific. Schools are important, but not directly connected to languages, and other things on the list are specific to a language focus.
Our entire point of doing this work is to respect not only the TRC but the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Just to clarify, with respect to UNDRIP, I think specifying articles 13 and 14 is insufficient. The wording that we see in paragraph 5(g) in its current form is a little convoluted, but I think it's addressed later on. I don't know if we want to specify just the clauses relating to indigenous languages.
The wording as is reads “United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as it relates to Indigenous languages”, and it's broad enough to capture all the different components of UNDRIP that specifically deal with language. We don't want to specifically narrow down which parts of UNDRIP need to be adhered to here.
I think it's broad enough, Ms. May, so that it does allow for a much broader interpretation of what UNDRIP stands for with respect to languages.
I apologize, but this is going to be a bit complex, in both English and French, because our amendment corrects the wording in both languages, but in a different way.
In the English version of the current bill, line 25 says “maintaining fluency in Indigenous languages”. My colleagues and I would prefer to see: “maintaining fluency and proficiency in Indigenous languages”.
In line 21 of the French version of the bill, on the same page, it says “se réapproprier les langues autochtones”. We would like to remove the word “autochtones” and have the line say: “se réapproprier les langues et la compétence danscelles-ci”, which would be followed with the existing wording in line 22.
On the issue of fluency and proficiency, in our discussion and consultation it's pretty clear that there are measurements for fluency and there is a body of work around that. In terms of the word “proficiency”, it doesn't add a lot, but there's not really any measurement that is known. The reason we maintain what we put there, “fluency” alone, is really that it captures things that are known. These are things that came through in our consultation.
I have to say that on the second amendment, because it's a different amendment, I am not clear. I don't think I understand it, so I don't think I can really speak to it. The amendment that is in French, I'm not sure I understand what it does, really. I'm being just very candid here. They are not the same thing. Maintaining fluency in indigenous languages and the second correlation to line 21 in French are different. I'm hard-pressed to understand what we're trying to achieve with that one. My apologies, Monsieur Nantel.
You are right, it doesn't say exactly the same thing. However, the topic is the same. Even though we are correcting two aspects of the same thing, this is the amendment we wanted to introduce. Also, we realize that the line numbers differ in the two versions, regarding the same topic.
Correct me if I am mistaken--you are certainly much more competent than I am--but the terms “proficiency” and “compétence” are somewhat equivalent. It is the word “fluency”, present in the English version, that is missing in the French version, as well as in the amendment we submitted. At line 21 of the French version, we added the word “compétence” to the word “langues”. However, we also need to add the closest French equivalent to the word “fluency”, and I propose « courante », « vivante » or « usuelle ». So you are right when you say that there is something missing in the French wording we are proposing. We would like to add a French equivalent to the word “fluency”.
The concept of “fluency” is found a few lines below, in paragraph 5(b)(ii), where the French version refers to “activités permettant de retrouver et de conserver la maîtrise” of indigenous languages. The word “maîtrise” corresponds to the English word “fluency”. That is why I did not understand what you were trying to do with the French.
Mr. Nantel, I'm trying to understand the purpose of your adding the word “proficiency” to the English version. What are you trying to do? I'm not against this in principle, but the deputy minister said that the concept of “fluency” was measurable; is that the case with “proficiency”? What is your understanding of that term, for which I am looking for an equivalent French term? We can certainly find a French word to correspond to the concept of “fluency” but I will vote against this amendment if it contains the term “proficiency”.
The closest translation for the word “proficiency” would be the word “compétence”, if I am not mistaken.
You are correct, Ms. Laurendeau. We made a mistake in the French version of our amendment. In the English version we think it is relevant to add the word “proficiency”. However, the French version seems fine as is it and we apologize for having tried to be too literal.
To conclude, I would like to change my amendment NDP-4 by withdrawing the French part, but by keeping the addition of the word “proficiency” in the English version of the bill, which is rendered in French by the word “compétence”.
With all due respect, from the indigenous perspective, the wording is really important. I'm not saying anything other than what I'm going to say. The English language, from my understanding, the English interpretation.... I think I've heard witnesses talk about the fluency. For an indigenous person, the word "fluency" means something entirely different. I think what I'm hearing the government and others saying.... Again, the interpretation is not aligned with what I understand it to be. I've heard, not here but in other places, the word "proficient" and the importance of the French language.
It is an official language, so whatever language is being used will be used across Canada. I think, regardless of the English version and the French version, it will mean differently to indigenous people. I just want to clarify that. I just want to point that out because obviously, going line by line, indigenous people's interpretation of what we want in our language bill isn't exactly what is being proposed here, so I'm trying to understand this piece right here.
(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Chair: LIB-02 and NDP-5 cannot proceed because of previous amendments, which brings us to IND-1.
Welcome, Mr. Tootoo.
I'm just going to make a comment, if I may, at the beginning, that this amendment is actually a consequential amendment to your later amendment, which is IND-2, so in fact what we need to do is to suspend IND-1 so that everyone can consider IND-2 properly before going back to deciding the consequential one, if that makes sense.
So I am suspending IND-1, if everyone will hop along with us to IND-2, which is on page 21.
Thank you, Madam Chair and members of this committee, for the opportunity to speak in support of the amendments I proposed to the draft indigenous languages act.
Before I continue, I just want to note that I'm Inuk. I think everyone here knows that, but I do not speak my language, the language of my forefathers and ancestors, due to the history of discriminatory government policies referred to in the preamble of Bill C-91.
I believe that this bill, as currently drafted, is incomplete. It fails to take into account the unique geographic and linguistic situation of Inuit. The Inuit languages and dialects that make up Inuktitut were spoken on this continent long before the arrival of French or English, whose languages are now recognized as Canada's two official languages.
This year Canada celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act and intends to review and modernize it. It is entirely fitting, in my view, that this committee take the very important step of acknowledging the irony of excluding Inuktitut—the majority language in the vast northern Inuit regions known as Inuit Nunangat, which is probably close to a quarter of this country—from enjoying enhanced legal status similar to that of the two majority languages in southern Canada. The amendment I am proposing in clause 9.1 would lay the groundwork to begin addressing this exclusion.
The intent of the amendment is to allow, but not commit, the minister to go beyond the matters referred to in clause 9, which are restricted to negotiating indigenous language programs and service delivery, subject to as yet unknown terms and conditions. Under my proposed clause 9.1, the minister would be able to enter into an arrangement or agreement with provincial or territorial governments, indigenous governments or other indigenous governing bodies that goes beyond program and service delivery.
Clause 9.1 would allow the minister to further the promotion and the use of indigenous languages in light of the distinctiveness, the aspirations and the circumstances of indigenous people in a designated region or territory. This would encompass a large territory like Nunavut, where 84% of the population speaks Inuktitut, or a large region like Inuit Nunangat. Clause 9.1 would make it possible for the minister to negotiate the status in Canadian law of an indigenous language in such a region or territory. It would also be possible for the minister to do so incrementally.
Importantly, if adopted, this amendment would allow the minister to keep the dialogue open with our national Inuit organization, ITK, whose current views about the shortcomings of Bill C-91 are quite clearly on the record for this committee. In fact, I understand that the government members have been told to vote against an amendment that is being brought forward by Mr. Nantel, which reflects changes that would make Bill C-91 amenable to ITK. I can't underline enough the importance of continuing dialogue with ITK on the matter of protecting our Inuit language.
It was mentioned that this was co-developed. I think ITK and NTI have made it very clear that this piece of legislation was in no way co-developed with Inuit. ITK said it was negotiated in bad faith. In developing my amendment, I tried to find a way to put an olive branch out there, or a sign of good faith, for ongoing negotiations, which I understand is where the government wants to go.
I think that all committee members are very capable, as we've heard over the last few weeks, of making their own decisions. I look forward to that. I would encourage you all to do the right thing—support Inuit, support this amendment. I think that would show that this government is serious about what they're saying.
I also urge all committee members to consider carefully what I'm proposing and the consequences of moving forward with a bill that excludes Canada's oldest languages.
With that, Madam Chair, I'm prepared to respond to any questions that any committee members may have.
Okay. I want to draw attention to the fact that it is 5:30. We had no end time for this meeting when it was posted, and we know that we have votes coming up much later, so no one is leaving here for a while in any event, so I do propose that we go through this. What I can do is see if there's a way to get food for people as part of it, and perhaps, after we consider this block, anyone who needs a short break can just run out of the room for a few minutes.
This is just so everyone has an idea of where we're at.
Mr. Nantel, do you have something to say about that?
Yes, Madam Chair, and thank you for the very useful information about the extension of our meeting.
I'd like to thank Mr. Tootoo, because his exceptional contribution as an independent member brings a great deal to the scope and reach of this bill, aside from extending a hand to the entire community he speaks for here. I thank him very much, and we support this amendment.
Thank you, Madam Chair, and thank you, Monsieur Nantel.
I think one point you made was on the scope of the bill. I understand going in and looking at developing an amendment. One of the concerns that the government had with the amendments that ITK put forward was that they didn't fall within the scope and mandate of the bill. I had some discussions with a lawyer to help me draft this, to try to put it forward in a way that fit within the scope and mandate of this bill. I believe that I've been able to do that with this amendment. I didn't want to cross a line with it, to come up to the line, and I think it's a good compromise as a potential win-win scenario. Neither side would be doing the happy dance, but it would put in place a mechanism in the legislation to allow both sides to get to where they want to go in the future.
First of all, I also want to echo the efforts being made in trying to bring the perspective of the Inuit into this bill.
There is a concern with the amendment as drafted, particularly in the part that talks about providing something that could be done either through an agreement or an arrangement between the federal government and a provincial government, which is fine, or an indigenous government for some things that refer to “all institutions of the provincial government”. I think we probably need to be careful in making sure that the federal legislation is not creating obligations on provinces directly.
That being said, I would also offer to the committee that many of the elements that are covered there are already covered in the current clause 8 and the current clause 9 of the bill, so I would urge the committee to think about not adding something that could actually create a bit of pressure within provincial or territorial institutions in a legislation that is purely federal.
I know that in Nunavut and the NWT, Inuktitut is an official language. The amendment I am proposing talks about a region or a territory, and I think that's one of the things ITK was looking at in what they're trying to achieve with the goal of it, so it's not imposing it on a whole territory but it would be within a region.
The wording I put forward to the person I had draft this was much simpler than the legalese that came out of it, and I think you can all appreciate that. This is just consistent language with the existing legislation, which is why that's in there. Also, she said many of these things are included in the other clauses, but not all of them.
The main thing is that it does not take into account the unique geographic and linguistic situation of Inuit, or the distinctiveness and the aspirations of indigenous people, especially Inuit. I say Inuit, but the way I worded it, again, wasn't singling out any indigenous group. It was mentioned earlier that if we just put one in there it's going to exclude others. I was very careful to put it forward in a way that was inclusive and broad, which wouldn't exclude any possible group.
Mr. Tootoo, thank you very much for your presentation on the new clause 9.1. I have to say, personally, that I do follow the logic of the department in that 9.1 would be redundant to clauses 8 and 9, and those powers would exist there, but I do notice that you talk about “an Indigenous language and the rights and privileges as to its use—in a province or a region”. I'm curious as to the intent of the rights that you're talking about. Is it your hope that Inuktitut would have federal official language status in Nunavut?
I think the intent of this and the intent of what ITK was looking at, and also in discussions with the minister, was to find a way, in a region where it is the majority language spoken, that it could be considered an official language, but only within that region. Again, that is something yet to be negotiated.
Mr. Tootoo, you referred to “a region or a territory”, but you haven't used the word “province”. I was wondering if that had been changed, but I think Mr. Boissonnault clarified that it was “in a province or a region”.
You haven't used the word “province”, so I was just making sure that I was dealing with the same piece here.
I'm not so sure, Mr. Shields, which is why I'll ask another question of Mr. Tootoo.
I didn't hear you say that, yes, the intent of the rights piece of this is to ensure that Inuktitut would have federal official language status in a region or subregion of a province where the majority speaks that language. By extension, if official language status would apply to Inuktitut in Nunavut, it would also apply in northern Quebec, and then we'd be looking at federal official language status in northern Quebec for people who speak the language there. That's what this would allow the minister to do.
It would allow the minister to negotiate with a group with its.... If ITK said they want it to be recognized in Nunavut, where 85% of it is, then they could negotiate or come to an agreement to allow that to happen. It doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to be everywhere else, either. It would be up to that region to come to the table to negotiate with the minister if that's something they chose to do. It doesn't necessarily mandate that it has to be.
I know everybody's getting hung up, and the deputy minister, on the word “province”. That was something the lawyers put in there. They said it had to be like that. It doesn't mean that it's going to force it on all of them. My understanding from what the lawyers tell me is that it was just for consistency with the existing legislation. Again, the intent is within a region or territory, like Nunavut.
I' d like to put a question to Mr. Tootoo with regard to the verbs that were chosen. In English, the amendment says “the minister may”. In French, the text says “le ministre peut conclure”. Would those verbs not suffice to reassure Mr. Boissonnault?
I've been looking at and developing legislation for over 20 years now. Usually there are two words in there; it's either “shall” or “may”. When you use the word “shall”, it means you have to. When you use the word “may”, you don't have to. That's where I was making my point. One concern coming from the government was that it would be binding on them to do it, but if you put “may” in there, it's non-binding. They can do it if they want to. If everyone agrees that's where they want to go, then they can do that. It just allows a mechanism, in there, to get there.
Okay. We can do that, but I also just want to point out that because IND-1 and IND-3 are consequential to this one, your vote on this one would apply to IND-1 and IND-3 as well because they all go together.
No. If you look at page 10 of the amendments package on clause 5, it deals with line 11 on page 5, the first one, (a). I just wanted to clarify that the vote on LIB-1 applies to LIB-3, LIB-4, LIB-5, LIB-9, LIB-11. Also, if LIB-1 is adopted, PV-3 cannot be moved due to a line conflict.
As a clarification, according to our legislative clerk, rather than doing the full list, this vote will apply to LIB-1. I will advise you on the future ones if they are essentially the same, and hopefully that will make it easier for people as we go through.
Yes. The intent is that clause 5 be amended after line 16 on page 5 with the following:
facilitate meaningful opportunities for Indigenous governments and other Indigenous governing bodies and Indigenous organizations to collaborate in policy development related to the implementation of this Act;
I'm going to reiterate, because it's been a while and I don't want people to think we're impractical, that on principle we will not be supporting anything that was table-dropped today, unless it's very straightforward. Sometimes things have ramifications you don't understand.
Essentially, Madam Chair, it doesn't necessarily add anything to the bill as it is right now. It essentially says “affirms” twice, so we're affirming an affirmation of the section 35 right. It appears to be redundant.
From one of our witnesses and also from the requests we put in for some legal analysis, we heard, first of all, that it's highly unusual to reaffirm a right embedded in a legislation. An amendment that you will see later will move it to the preamble.
There was also some discussion about whether it was legal and appropriate in terms of the jurisdictional issues with the provinces, the indigenous peoples and Canada. When we proposed legislation in the former government, I know that the Liberals were always concerned not to overstep constitutional boundaries. There were enough red flags and there was no comfortable response, so I think we would be best to acknowledge section 35 rights, but certainly to talk about, language rights in the preamble.
The purpose of this amendment is to amend clause 6 by adding after line 25 on page 5, the following:
(2) for greater certainty the rights referred to in subsection (1) include the following rights of indigenous peoples:
(a) the right to reclaim, revitalize, use, develop, strengthen and transmit to present and future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures;
(b) the right to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons;
(c) the right to establish their own media in their own languages;
(d) the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture; and
(e) the right to enter into agreements with the Government of Canada or with provincial governments, including agreements to further the purposes of this act.
Those are, essentially, the changes we wanted to make.
I can read it, but you may also look at page 13 of the document.
That bill C-91 be amended by adding after line 25, on page 5, the following new clauses:
Additional Specific Rights Related to Inuktut
6.1 (1) The following definitions apply in this section and in sections 6.2 to 6.5.
Inuit regions means Nunavik, Nunatsiavut, the Nunavut Settlement Area as defined in section 2 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region referred to in the definition Agreement in section 2 of the Western Arctic (Inuvialuit) Claims Settlement Act. (régions inuites)
lnuktut means the Indigenous language spoken by Inuit in Canada and includes Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Inuttut and Inuvialuktun, as well as related dialects and subdialects. (Inuktut)
(2) This section and sections 6.2 to 6.5 are to be interpreted in accordance with the following principles:
(a) Inuit Nunangat, being the Inuit homeland in Canada, is a distinct cultural, political, and geographical area composed of the Inuit regions;
(b) Inuktut is an original language of Canada, the original language of Inuit Nunangat and the first language spoken by the majority of Inuit Nunganat residents;
(c) effective public administration in Inuit Nunangat is best achieved through the delivery of programs and services in the first Ianguage of the recipients of those programs and services; and
(d) speakers of Inuktut are entitled to programs and services in Inuktut the quality and accessibility of which are comparable to programs and services offered to Canadians living in parts or regions of Canada where English or French predominates.
6.2 (1) The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that—in close collaboration with Inuit governing bodies and in a manner consistent with the powers and jurisdictions of the provinces—the necessary measures are taken to sustain and support the status of lnuktut as an original language of Canada, including by ensuring that federal programs and services are delivered in Inuktut in Inuit Nunangat, to the extent that demand requires and capacity allows, and, outside Inuit Nunangat, where the numbers of speakers of Inuktut warrant its use.
With respect to Ms. May's amendment PV-3, we believe that this seeks to give power to the minister to co-operate with Indigenous Services, but it's not just Indigenous Services that needs to be a part of it. There are multiplicities of different departments that need to be part of it, so we don't want to specify just Indigenous Services. We want to have a broader, open-ended level of consultation.
It's LIB-3.2. I move that clause 9 be amended by replacing lines 14 to 17 on page 6 with the following:
in a manner consistent with the rights of Indigenous peoples recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 and the powers and jurisdictions of Indigenous governing bodies and of the provinces and territories, the Minister
and also replacing line 20 on page 6 with the following: “with a provincial or territorial” agreement.
I know that a bunch of them have this “territorial” change. As a short form, would it be acceptable to everyone that when it's one of those that just adds “territories” or “territorial” that he just says “territories” or “territorial” and that's it? Okay? Thanks.
(Clause 10 as amended agreed to on division)
The Chair: There are no proposed amendments to clause 11 that I've seen, so shall clause 11 carry?
(Clause 11 agreed to on division)
The Chair: On clause 12, there are no amendments standing because NDP-10 was consequential to NDP-1, and that has been defeated. That means we can go straight to a vote.
(Clause 12 agreed to on division)
(On clause 13)
The Chair: We now have LIB-6. If LIB-6 is adopted, LIB-6.1 cannot be moved due to a line conflict.
This is again using the word “variety”. I move that clause 13 be amended by replacing, in the English version, lines 15 to 17 on page 7 with the following: “the Minister has consulted with a variety of Indigenous governments...and a variety of Indigenous organizations”.
The Chair: All in favour?
(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
Yes. It's that line 21 on page 7 be amended by adding the following:
The Minister may establish a committee to provide the Minister with advice on the appointment of the Commissioner.
This is to deal with the issue we discussed earlier with respect to ensuring that the commissioner does have authority to receive advice and therefore our expectation that it would be an indigenous person.
I'm moving LIB-8.1, which asks that this be amended by replacing lines 2 to 4 on page 8 with the following: “the Minister has consulted with a variety of Indigenous governments and...Indigenous...bodies and a variety of Indigenous organizations...”.
It's that clause 16 be amended by adding after line 6 on page 8 the following:
Before making recommendations under subsection (1), the Minister must seek comments in order to ensure that the Governor in Council appoints persons who have the ability to represent the interests of First Nations, the Inuit, and the Métis.
Again, it's reinforcing the statement made earlier.
As read, Madam Chair, this really does allow for the flexibility of doing it part time or full time. We believe the flexibility is important. At this point in the process at this stage of the bill, we believe that flexibility is important in order to get the expertise, to get someone who may be engaged in something else concurrently, and we may not be able to get the most qualified person to fill that role. Therefore, essentially, I think the flexibility is what's contemplated in the bill.
Mr. Anandasangaree, we keep hearing about the urgency of the situation with regard to many languages. This urgent situation certainly warrants putting a number of people to work. Designating a full-time position would reassure the entire community.
I understand that you're looking for flexibility. However, people are afraid that we're moving too fast and that it will become a watered down version of what was wanted. A full-time position isn't much to ask for. It would be very surprising if, before the end of the renewal exercise for this legislation, we don't need someone on a full-time basis.
I concur with the argument just made by Mr. Nantel, despite there being a wonderful argument to the contrary put forward here. I believe that it is worth having it full time and being able to establish that type of consistency in the program.
Here I agree with Mr. Anandasangaree in terms of the flexibility. You might have the perfect candidate who says they can only do 30 hours a week or that they need to have some time off. It's not precluding full-time work, and certainly the goal would be full-time work, but I would hate to see an ideal candidate disqualified because of the legislation if they could work only 32 hours a week and not 37. I think that would be very foolish of us.
Thank you. I apologize for the absence. I was also doing adjournment proceedings this evening. The fun never stops, Madam Chair.
This amendment is derived from the evidence of Wanda Wilson, President of the Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre. What I'm attempting to do with the amendment to clause 23, line 3 on page 9, is to replace the language that we currently find in order to strengthen the notion of reclaiming and revitalizing, and also so that the office of the commissioner will include such efforts through research and assessments. That's why there's an addition to subclause 23(b) to:
support the efforts of Indigenous peoples, including in their research and assessments, to re-
I found this a very puzzling amendment. Absolutely we support education, but sometimes innovation is not synonymous with education. I'd like to understand what he found concerning about innovation and new technologies. I thought those were very strong pieces in the bill.
This is similar to amendments I brought forward some time ago in terms of replacing the word “fluency” with the notions of building proficiency, restoring and maintaining. These occur in clause 24 at line 3. Rather than saying “maintain fluency”, my amendment would say the following:
those languages or identifying measures to build proficiency and restore and
Unless I'm mistaken, we just studied a Green Party amendment that addressed the same issues. Haven't we already discussed “fluency and proficiency” and “compétence”? Didn't the previous vote already settle this matter? It's pointless to resume this debate, because the amendment addresses exactly the same thing.
I'd urge my friends across the way in the Liberal Party to look at this one and consider whether you couldn't let it pass.
We have the evidence from Jennifer Wickham from Witsuwit'en territories that what we see happening, in her words, when we talk about research and community studies, is, “The concern is that our communities have been researched and researched, and we don't have access to that information.”
It currently says “community assessments” in subclause 24(2):
The research or studies referred to in paragraph (1)(b) may take into account, among other things, community assessments.
My amendment proposes that the office of the commissioner, when conducting research:
may take into account a community assessment, with the consent of the Indigenous community in respect of which the assessment was undertaken, as well as other things.
I then insert a new subclause (2.1) that says:
The Office must keep the Indigenous community informed of the progress of any research or studies that it undertakes under subsection (1), must recognize the community's contributions in its final report and must provide it with a copy.
This is completely non-controversial. One would hope that in 2019, as a recognition of the disrespect of the decades and decades of studies about indigenous peoples but not with indigenous peoples, not for indigenous peoples, that this would correct that gap quite substantially.
In the past there has been a preoccupation with respect to research and study and access to the results. That said, the intent behind the amendment is one that has a purpose. However, I would say—and I wouldn't want to move into other amendments that will come later—that there might be another way to address similar things without necessarily creating a burden that would be a little convoluted by maybe making obligations that would exclude other possibilities.
Sorry, I'm not expressing myself very well. What I mean is that it may be a little too procedural to talk about informing every step of the way about progress. That said, finding a way to provide access to the results is something that would probably be desirable.
If you seek it, I think you would find general support on this side with some amendments.
In part, what Madame Laurendeau just said was exactly our thinking on this. We think we have covered proposed subsection (2.1) elsewhere. We don't want it to be overly burdensome.
I think one of the principles we heard clearly from witnesses is to get as much money to the communities as possible. Let's not overly bureaucratize this piece. We think we might be more precise in subsection (2.1) elsewhere in the amendments.
We take your point on paragraph (1)(b). As long as we could strike “as well as other things” and take out proposed subsection (2.1), we would make that subamendment.
I think you'd see that sort of a compromise on your amendment, Ms. May.
Just to remind members of the committee, I'm here with no powers whatsoever. I'm not a member of the committee. My amendments are deemed to have been made. I can say nothing about it, pro or con.
I'd prefer the entire amendment to be carried. But I'm in the weirdest position in the history of the Parliament of Canada, with a special motion passed in every committee that essentially applies only to me. That's my problem.
What we were trying to accomplish.... Again, I would go to the officials, as we heard fear from many witnesses around the Statistics Canada.... Even with the word “may”, there was still that fear expressed by many.
LIB-10.1, because of CPC-2, cannot be moved because of the fact it covered the same lines. I read that out when I went through the consequentials. I'm just trying to discuss—because it's two whole paragraphs sitting here—whether there is something to be done. This addresses, in fact, I believe.... The reason I'm flagging it is that Ms. May, when she raised her issues, had actually flagged these issues that are in LIB-10.1.
If there were a desire to revisit the 10.1 question—I'm just putting it out there for everyone, as I don't know if you've seen LIB-10.1—the only way to do that would be to have unanimous consent to reverse the decision on CPC-2 and then do 10.1.
I'm going to let everyone look at it so that you see what it's doing, because it's not reversing that part you talked about, Ms. McLeod.
Ms. McLeod, with respect, I think in the spirit of moving this along.... While you indicated that at the beginning and I think you're disappointed and you're correct on that at that time, I think that given where we are, we are trying to improve the bill. I think there's a genuine effort to do so. I think the language itself is somewhat plain. It does really speak to an amendment that you brought forward and we supported. I would really encourage you to look at this and maybe give your opinion. Just don't base it on principle, as you indicated earlier.
Madam Chair, I would recommend we skip that and continue through the bill. I know that your colleagues on the other side are diligently working on a solution to what is a big issue with what they wanted to do.
This is again related to evidence that we heard from two of the witnesses, Wanda Wilson from the Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre, and Jennifer Wickham from Witsuwit'en. Clause 25 currently refers to “Support offered by Office”, and what this amendment does is specify a bit more, stating that:
(c.1) promote and assist research and scholarship, collect, store and update data, archive collections, and facilitate knowledge sharing among Indigenous groups in respect of the language;
There's just a bit more specificity about the functions and keeping them as close as possible to the first nations communities involved.
Wait one second, please. I believe there's an issue that was flagged to me by the legislative clerk. Before you begin discussion, I'm just going to flag that it was flagged for me that paragraph 2(a), in reference to the Trade-marks Act, may be out of the scope of this legislation. That was raised by the legislative clerk.
Thank you, Madam Chair. I was also made aware that this was a possibility, but this provision to protect intellectual property for research, technologies and certification standards did come up in evidence. Intellectual property rights are certainly within the frame of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and are very clearly connected with the work that we're doing in this bill towards expanding, restoring and preserving indigenous languages. There will be innovations that come along with that, and intellectual property protections will certainly make sense, particularly around the registering of their own trademarks within indigenous communities.
I won't go into the full amendment in all its detail because, as you mentioned, there might be one part that was a problem, but we don't want to prevent indigenous communities from licensing and otherwise making available property that is their own intellectual property. That's the key concern: that we not inadvertently deprive indigenous communities of something that they would otherwise have.
The purpose of this amendment is to avoid limiting to certain people the opportunity to report a fact or situation related to the treatment of Indigenous languages. For example, if a constituent from one of these communities wants to ask us, as members of Parliament, to comment on the issue, the current wording of the bill would prevent us from doing so. We're proposing here to expand the wording to include “any individual or organization, respecting any matter referred.”
I'll ask the department to comment on this matter. I find that the wording of the amendment is much too broad in scope and could cause issues if anyone were able to file a complaint with regard to Indigenous peoples.
The purpose of the current wording of subclause 27(1) is to give Indigenous representatives the full authority to decide whether to deal with a complaint. By expanding the definition of the complainant as proposed and therefore the type of complaints that may be filed, we may not be complying with our 12 guiding principles, which seek to limit the commissioner's mandate in order to reduce costs. It could also somewhat undermine the power of Indigenous people to file complaints. This is about the balance between a very broad definition and a very specific definition guided by the intentions of the Indigenous representatives.
Yes. My views are, as I mentioned, not material, but, yes, I thought it might make it easier to say.... But I can't remove my own amendment just to save you time, because I don't have the power to do that.
That it be amended by adding, after line 23 on page 17, the following:
The Minister must ensure that Indigenous governments and other Indigenous governing bodies and Indigenous organizations are afforded a meaningful opportunity to collaborate in policy development leading to the making of regulations under section 45.
That it be amended by adding, after line 17 on page 18, the following:
Before submitting the report to the Minister, the person or body that conducts the review must consult with a variety of Indigenous governments and other Indigenous governing bodies and a variety of Indigenous organizations concerning the conclusions and recommendations that should be included in the report.
That it be amended by adding, after line 25 on page 18, the following:
As soon as feasible after the fifth anniversary of the day on which this section comes into force and after each subsequent fifth anniversary, a review of this Act and of its administration and operation is to be commenced by a committee of the Senate, of the House of Commons or of both Houses of Parliament that may be designated or established for that purpose.
All right. This is the way it will have to happen. We will have to pass through clause 24 first before we can do clause 24.1. There's a leap of everyone at this table understanding where it's going, because we'll have to carry clause 24—
The lawyer in me has flagged this, except the word “must” was used throughout this legislation and earlier in the same paragraph, so you would have a conflict in wording. But I respect that; I'm old school, and I like my “shalls” and “mays”.
Right now we're on the subamendment to change the “mays” to “musts” in both paragraphs.
All in favour?
(Subamendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
My concern was about not doing legislation just on the fly and having things tabled. We know we have many clauses that we're challenging to get right. My bigger issue, which I've expressed, is that you could have work being done with multi-parties. Let's say you have five different language communities asking to have research as a one-research study, and they're using different techniques and doing comparative analysis. One group can ask for the results and have the results for all. It might not necessarily be something the others want to share.
I think when we do something on the fly, we're heading down dangerous territory here. I don't for one minute doubt that the Senate will make other changes to this bill and it will be coming back to the House. I think it needs to be done with due diligence and with some testimony about what happens if there are different language groups and comparatives and you don't want to share, you don't want to be compared, or you don't want your program to be compared.
We've headed into a dangerous area with this. It happens when you do it on the fly. We absolutely are adamantly concerned about this clause as it stands.
The underpinning behind it is that when there is collaborative research, the methodology is agreed at the outset, just like any other collaborative work, which would include end to end, from the moment that information is gathered to the moment where the information is released or used for comparative purposes.
It leaves the possibility of not participating, or striking an agreement with the commissioner to have research with one community specifically. It doesn't preclude that. The idea behind this is to provide for the possibility of having comparative research, but not forcing comparative research. Once people participate, they participate from the beginning to the end and it's pre-agreed to; it's not forced on anybody.
Madam Chair, again, respectfully, we just had this tabled-dropped on us tonight, but I interpret this as someone agreeing to research and getting their own results—ensuring that they have the right to their own results. I don't see the whole issue around collaborative research being particularly well addressed. People might want to have collaborative research efforts and they don't share results with their other partners; they want it for their own self-improvement.
As I say, I think it's fine if it's either defeated or given more thought when the Senate looks at it. We can flag it to the Senate as an issue that might need more witnesses, some more thought. But we're heading down a dangerous path and we're doing legislation on the fly, and I am really uncomfortable.
Yes. This is a different kind of research that we're talking about and different kinds of communities, and it's a bit like my colleague mentioned. This is not like going out and saying to 10 municipal communities, we're going to do research and get back to you on the research and collaborate with you.
We're talking about independent nations here. This is different. I think you're pushing the boundaries with this one when you're talking “collaboratively” and independent nations versus a number of municipal communities, like groups, different things, which might sign off and give you permission.
You have to be careful with what you're suggesting here. I think the caution is wise. You have to be careful.
You may tell me that it's a little late to do so, but I want to thank my colleagues for raising this issue. Mr. Saganash told me that one solution here could be to add a provision for the funding of this type of work.
See, if we put the money toward doing these studies, you can actually add that clause. You want to make sure that this issue is addressed, so there is still space for you to be comfortable potentially when the money is [Inaudible--Editor].
Seeing no further discussion, is everyone in favour of the NDP amendment as amended to create clause 24.1?
(Amendment as amended agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Chair: This brings us to the preamble.
We are in the home stretch, so I'm going to ask if everybody can bear through it. We don't have many other amendments, and in fact some of what I might say next is going to shorten it.
Shall the short title carry?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: Thank you.
With regard to the preamble, it has been flagged for me by the legislative clerk that the preamble amendments, save PV-10, are procedurally inadmissible. The legislative clerk can help with that. If anybody has any questions, he can explain CPC-3, for example, on the preamble. There is a special reason why.
I'll ask the clerk to explain why he says it is inadmissible.
It's very simple. Everybody around the table is familiar with it. The current draft speaks of the languages spoken. That could preclude other forms of language, such as sign language, so my amendment would change “spoken” to “used”.
(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])
Can I appeal your decision, because according to me
it's quite clear. During the study, I often told you how surprised I was to see us confronted with the emotions and experiences of First Nations, Innu and Métis people. I never imagined that a language bill would lead us to such a profound place. That's why we want to replace line 3 on page 2 with the following:
forced assimilation, forced relocation
—which is already in the text—
during the Sixties Scoop and residential
I think that it's important to specify this. I believe that the legislator originally wanted a connection with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
You're right, Mr. Boissonnault. It's a useful clarification. In the English version, we want to replace line 6 on page 2 with the following:
languages and the destruction of Indigenous culture;
Once again, these are the things that we've heard. I think that everyone here makes many concessions to move things forward. A number of people, including me, have wanted to pull the plug. However, we're ultimately making efforts to move things forward. Anything that can be done to ensure a better response to the bill is welcome.
I remember being told that “you just need to help us rebuild what you destroyed.” I think that the words “the erosion of those languages and the destruction of Indigenous culture” must be included in the preamble. This makes it even more likely to meet the objective of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Okay. I just want to be clear, though. The subamendment that was actually passed did not delete paragraph (b). I've just checked with our legislative clerk to double-check. What was voted upon was an amendment to paragraph (a) as a subamendment. The subamendment did not erase paragraph (b). That is open to be moved, but I just want it to be clear that this was not what was voted upon.
Can you do that? I don't think you can do that, because you already did the first part of it. I think all you can do now is either vote against it or subamend to remove paragraph (b). You can't deal with the part that you've already subamended.
The commission's report uses words that are more worse than these words. It talks about cultural genocide. I don't understand why we've suddenly become a little fussy and why don't want to go through with it. I think that it's very relevant to talk about the erosion and destruction of Indigenous culture. Of course, we'll all be going to bed in an hour and we'll all be quite happy.
I don't see why there's an objection to this. In reality, this all comes from a report where much more serious words are used. I can't understand this caution.
In the TRC, however, there are a number of different calls to action, and this particular bill doesn't address all of that. It addresses only the languages component. The addition that you have really goes outside the scope in that respect. I think there are other ways and other avenues for us to be able to address that.
In summary, I think parliamentarians do their due diligence when they come to clause-by-clause. We get our amendments in a timely way. I always like to have my packages of amendments. It is busy and it's complicated. Typically you like to have a system.
When you have this many amendments being table-dropped.... I've been in committees when we've had one or two get table-dropped, which you can deal with. But, to be frank, I think this was incredibly unprofessional. It was disruptive. It really created some challenges. I think it put us at greater risk of making and leaving some serious flaws in this bill.
I just want to make sure that this is on the record, because I have never ever seen it before. It certainly felt very disruptive to me, disruptive of my having a system and knowing what I was doing and where we were going, to have multiple more documents submitted that we all of a sudden were essentially seeing for the first time.
Before you do, Ms. McLeod, I addressed your concern at the outset, and I will reiterate our apologies for that.
To both the Conservatives and the NDP, we do appreciate the manner in which we've been able to bring the bill to this stage. We definitely look forward to your support in getting it through the House as well as the Senate.
I know there are a lot of our staff here, interpreters, clerks and our counsel. I want to thank everyone for their diligence, their support and their hard work today to get this done.