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Results: 1 - 15 of 268
View Dennis Bevington Profile
NDP (NT)
View Dennis Bevington Profile
2013-06-18 17:14 [p.18562]
Mr. Speaker, it is a sad fact that we are here at this time speaking to another closure motion. This has gone on for a long time. It has become habit forming. The government is addicted to the process that it has created with the closure motions it has put forward.
Quite clearly, through the limited debate time today, many issues have been raised and have not been responded to fully. Are we going to get to those in the five hours? I do not think so.
What we see is a failure of the government to recognize the nature of its own addiction to its belief that it is right on all issues, that it is correct. Those things are very dangerous to our process.
Would the minister look into his heart and understand what he is doing by supporting these types of closure motions over and over again? What is he doing to this process we are in?
View Dennis Bevington Profile
NDP (NT)
View Dennis Bevington Profile
2013-06-13 14:51 [p.18302]
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' nutrition north program has done nothing but increase the cost of groceries across northern Canada. It costs $17 for a box of cereal in Iqaluit, $19 for a bag of rice in Pangnirtung and $25 for baby formula in Clyde River. The Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut legislatures have voted unanimously to have the Auditor General investigate this program, but the Yukon and Nunavut MPs are very silent.
Will the Minister of Health heed the demands of the territorial governments and call in the Auditor General to investigate this boondoggle?
View Dennis Bevington Profile
NDP (NT)
View Dennis Bevington Profile
2013-06-12 14:04 [p.18167]
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' nutrition north program, created by the Minister of Health, has done nothing but increase the cost of groceries across northern Canada.
From Labrador to the Yukon, people are paying outrageous prices for food: $16.29 for a can of beef ravioli, $13.39 for a box of spaghetti, $14.49 for a bag of muffin dust, $59.59 for a package of ground beef. Unlike the old food mail program which subsidized the cost of shipping food north, nutrition north subsidizes the cost of selling food, resulting in record profits for some northern grocery stores.
Northerners have taken to the streets to protest this failure, including a march by Inuit to Parliament Hill. However, there has been no action by the Conservatives. Now the legislatures of the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut have voted unanimously to have the Auditor General investigate this program.
When is the government going to listen to northerners and fix this boondoggle?
View Dennis Bevington Profile
NDP (NT)
View Dennis Bevington Profile
2013-06-11 12:31 [p.18068]
Mr. Speaker, of course, there were consultations that took place with two first nations groups in particular. However, the requirements that came out of those consultations were not met. The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs has withdrawn its support for the bill. There is still some support from the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs.
I want to read an email that I was copied on, which was directed to the parliamentary secretary for aboriginal affairs. It is from a person from Band 23 in New Brunswick. She says:
I was watching second reading of the Bill on CPAC last night (Tuesday May 28, 2013) and it brought to mind some interesting concerns regarding the process by which this legislation and others, has unfolded. You specifically mentioned an organization that supposedly represents the interests of the people in Atlantic Canada—the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs—and praised their input in the process. And there was mention, I am not sure if it was by you, that Chiefs were asked to take this legislation back to their communities to solicit input from the people. Well, from a personal perspective there has been no consultation with the people in my community. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find someone who has any idea these changes....have been duly informed and have had an opportunity to question and comment. This has not been the case with Woodstock Band 23 in New Brunswick and if one community has been left out then I am sure there are others have been as well.
View Dennis Bevington Profile
NDP (NT)
View Dennis Bevington Profile
2013-06-11 12:34 [p.18068]
Mr. Speaker, certainly that is the nub of the issue with this bill and so many of the bills that the Conservatives have put forward regarding first nations governments. There has been lip service paid to the idea that first nations governments have a legitimate status, and they do under the Constitution and in so many ways, yet we leave them out of so much of this legislation that is going forward right now.
Regulation is where the rubber hits the road in this bill. Under section 3, the minister would just have to be satisfied that a protracted leadership dispute has significantly compromised governance of a first nation, whatever that means. The minister could then force that first nation into the Elections Act and put forward the regulations of how that would occur. Without any appeal, if the minister had a problem with a first nation, he or she would have the ability to shut it down and put in new elections regulations. This is really inappropriate.
View Dennis Bevington Profile
NDP (NT)
View Dennis Bevington Profile
2013-06-11 12:36 [p.18069]
Mr. Speaker, I am afraid that is simply not going to happen, whether time allocation occurs or not. The Conservative majority government has chosen not to deal with amendments in a good fashion on the aboriginal affairs committee for the last two years that I have sat on it.
A good example was Bill C-47, a bill that deals only with specific regions of the country. Representatives of those regions of the country put forward 50 amendments. New Democrats brought them forward and the Conservatives chose not only to vote against them but to not even speak to them. Once a bill is written, they do not seem to be interested at all in trying to work with the bill to make sure it is in a good fashion. The consultation is weak. Witnesses now would rather not come to the aboriginal affairs committee because they see it as a waste of their time.
The process is falling apart around the Conservative government, and it keeps pushing forward with these bills.
View Dennis Bevington Profile
NDP (NT)
View Dennis Bevington Profile
2013-05-31 11:31 [p.17465]
Mr. Speaker, then Conservative Senator Mike Duffy campaigned in the Northwest Territories during the last election and was double- or triple-dipping on expenses.
Why did the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages say yesterday that the Conservative Party campaign was financed by Conservative funds, when that is clearly not true?
View Dennis Bevington Profile
NDP (NT)
View Dennis Bevington Profile
2013-05-28 18:44 [p.17185]
Mr. Speaker, my question is on tax fairness and equity in the system.
There is something missing in the bill, and would be some method of determining the inflation rate within the north for the northern residents tax deduction.
In 2007, after constant lobbying on my part and on the part of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the territorial governments, which were asking for a 50% increase in this northern residents tax deduction that had not been changed since 1989, the government gave us 10%.
Over the last six years, that 10% has been taken up by inflation. We are back to square one. We have not had the increases that would make the system fairer.
Why did the Conservative government not put something into this legislation that would identify an inflation increase to the northern residents tax deduction, something that is absolutely required in the north? We are losing workers. The cost of living has gone up so high in the north that people are not staying there anymore. They are flying in and out to their jobs. What has happened in northern Canada in terms of the cost of living is a disgrace.
Why did the Conservative government ignore the important requirements of tax equity and fairness for northern people?
View Dennis Bevington Profile
NDP (NT)
View Dennis Bevington Profile
2013-05-28 18:50 [p.17185]
Mr. Speaker, it is a rare privilege to have an opportunity to ask my colleague a couple of question.
He talked a lot about tax fairness and equity in his speech. I remember when the Conservatives thought they needed to fix the capital gains exemption for small businesses. They said it had fallen behind inflation, so they upped it by 50%. That was fair, and we did not argue about that.
When does the member think we should deal with fairness in the tax system? The tinkering by the government that the member is talking about with these various components in this technical tax act are simply that. Where do we see the fairness in the system? Where do we see that the actual needs of Canadians are being taken into account when we look at the tax system, how it is set up and how it delivers for Canadians?
When the member and his government talk about the $3,000 per average family, that is not the average family. The $3,000 is quite a bit larger for the more wealthy families and quite a bit smaller for the less wealthy families. Where is the money going in the system? Where is the fairness?
View Dennis Bevington Profile
NDP (NT)
View Dennis Bevington Profile
2013-05-28 19:44 [p.17192]
Mr. Speaker, my colleague commented on our support or non-support for the bill. I come from the Northwest Territories, a land where people have lived in certain areas of it for about 30,000 years. I think my hon. colleague said that we are land of immigrants. In reality, where I live, the Chipewyan tribe, there were 90,000 people before the coming of immigrants who through the passing of disease dropped that population down to 10%. This changed things quite a bit for those people. Those people occupied Canada very completely.
When my colleague made his history speech in the direction he has, it does not give me much assurance that the Conservative government has the right attitude to take forward with the history of Canada. In the history of the Canada that I represent in the Northwest Territories, people have lived for 30,000 years. Large indigenous populations roamed and took care of the land for thousands of years before the immigrants. If the member does not understand Canadian history, how does he expect the rest of Canadians to understand history? How does he expect us to have any comfort with what he says about history?
View Dennis Bevington Profile
NDP (NT)
View Dennis Bevington Profile
2013-05-28 22:13 [p.17211]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for an entertaining address on Canadian history. I found it to be his version of Canadian history to be entrusting us. I suppose each one of us in this room would have our version of Canadian history, what we think is important and how it should be displayed.
He talked about small museums. I sat on the board of a small museum called the Northern Lights Museum in Fort Smith. It actually had a great collection, collected by the Oblate priests from all over the north, 10,000 items. It is all in the national registry now.
At the time, we got great displays from national museums in our museum. We actually had a museum assistance program. In the 1980s, we used to get $25,000 for our museum from the provincial government. That museum assistance program never got any bigger in size and eventually it was cut by the Conservatives.
Small museums across the country need some financial support. What will this do for my small museum in my community?
View Dennis Bevington Profile
NDP (NT)
View Dennis Bevington Profile
2013-05-28 23:46 [p.17225]
Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the parliamentary secretary on the addition to his family. That is always a wonderful event for all of us. I am sure that the smile on his face may indicate the same.
His statement about the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs leaves me a little short. Here is a quote from Grand Chief Derek Nepinak:
This proposal does not fulfill the recommendations put forth by the AMC. It appears to be an attempt by the Minister to expand governmental jurisdiction and control the First Nations electoral processes that are created pursuant to the Indian Act or custom code. I am hopeful that Canada will engage in meaningful consultation with First Nations in Manitoba in order to fix some of the problems, instead of unilaterally imposing a statutory framework that will greatly affect the rights of First Nations.
That is the Grand Chief who is in power today, not the one mentioned by the parliamentary secretary. I would ask him to clarify which particular grand chief he was talking about. Is it the one who is currently in power, who has said that he does not support this particular legislation?
View Dennis Bevington Profile
NDP (NT)
View Dennis Bevington Profile
2013-05-28 23:56 [p.17226]
Mr. Speaker, I have the opportunity here, quite late on Tuesday night, to speak to this particular bill.
It has been my viewpoint over the past two years on the aboriginal affairs committee that the Conservatives really have not been consulting in the correct fashion with first nations across the country. They come in with the wrong attitude. What we really need is to have first nations design the legislation that they would like to see enacted for their governments, their people and their nations. We can then take that in Parliament and understand how we can amend it so that it works.
However, we have the opposite way and we saw that with the accountability act, an act that really was an unfortunate piece of goods that came from the government. It was universally condemned by first nations. They did have a couple of supporters there, but they were some very specific people who had problems in their own particular communities. Those who understood the nature of the first nations-Canada relationship rejected the accountability act.
We are now at Bill S-8, the safe drinking water act, which we would think that everyone could get behind and support. However, once again, we see that the method of consultation and delivery of these bills is simply not working. The Conservative government is not providing the first nations with the opportunities to design the legislation so that it works for them. In this case, with the Senate putting forward Bill S-8, we also have the additional problem that we cannot make requirements for resources to ensure that first nations can actually meet standards that they would all want to meet.
The history so far of the majority government has been of one that refuses amendments. I think of Bill C-47, when we put forward some 45 amendments on a bill that only affected Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. Of those 40-some amendments, the Conservatives turned down all of them, even though the amendments were designed to make the bill work better. They were not coming from people who had great opposition to the bill. They were coming from people who were concerned that the bill should work right.
In other words, once again the Conservatives failed to provide a methodology of consultation that delivered a product that people could get behind. I see that this pattern is being repeated with Bill S-6. The Conservatives did go into some consultation. They did hold meetings with first nations. They got recommendations from first nations about how this bill should be set up. The problem is that when the bill showed up, those recommendations were not carried forward in the fashion that the first nations had assumed.
We can see that in the problem with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. The first Grand Chief, who was involved in the consultation side of it before the bill was put out, was pretty happy with what was going to happen. He said that, but then when the bill arrived in the Senate, the Manitoba Chief that I quoted in my question to the parliamentary secretary said, "no, that is not what we are after".
The consultation process is wrong. The consultation process does not deliver the goods for first nations. That is the problem here and the government has to change its direction in order to make legislation that truly represents first nations' points of view. The legislation is for the first nations. This legislation does not affect other people in Canada. The legislation is for the governments of the first nations. Therefore, it should really have those elements as the prime elements within the legislation.
That seems to be simple. We are not here to force our way upon other governments. We are here to provide guidance and accommodation and to make the system work.
Conservatives have a different view. They view it from that economic development lens. We heard the parliamentary secretary say that. Implicit within all the work that the Conservatives are doing is the idea that economic development for the first nations is the most important element. The most important element is not what the first nations want, not what the first nations deserve, but what will make economic development work. That is the Conservatives' point of view.
What we see in legislation over and over again is that message. What is important for economic development is the primary thing that we will see in legislation that comes from the Conservatives on first nations issues. If first nations go along with that, and the government can get some to go along with that, those will be the quotations that are used. Those will be the validations that Conservatives seek.
What really is needed? We really need to listen to the first nations. This legislation is for them, it is not for us. It is not telling us how we are getting elected. It is working with the first nations to come up with a system that they endorse, that they want for their very valid self-government efforts.
In the consultation process there was probably a little more give, a little more understanding, but when it came back to Ottawa, the changes were made to ensure that it worked for the government and it plans. That is the reality of what we are dealing with.
We have trouble with the bill. We also have trouble supporting it at second reading and taking it to committee. We have done this over and over again, but we are not getting any results. We are not getting the government to come onside for valid amendments to bills.
That is the process by which we all want to engage in here. This is what we want to do at committees. We want to have the opportunity to take what the people want, take what the government wants, come up with some compromises. We do not want this hard line attitude about the committees and about how amendments are dealt with at committees. That is not working for us. What we are saying is that will oppose this bill at second reading because it does not what the first nations want.
It is a tragedy that we cannot take the bill to committee with some kind of assurance that some of the important elements that need to be fixed in the bill will be fixed. However, when we beat our head against the wall and do not get results, then we should quit beating our head against the wall. That is sensible.
We can fight it here in Parliament. We can go to committee and hear the witnesses who will say that they want amendments and to make the bill work properly. That is what we have heard over and over again. With all the legislation that has come in front of us, it has always been the case that the first nations witnesses who testify want solutions. They do not want to go away empty handed.
It is a tragedy and it is wrong. That is not the way we should do government. Government is for the people. The people who are affected by legislation are the primary concern of the legislation. This is not for all of Canada. This is for first nations. They have the primary say here. If we go against that principle, we are really going against the principle of democracy if we are not allowing the people who are affected by the law to have the dominant say over how the law is put together.
If a law affects all Canadians, then we all have a say in it. The responsibility is different. However, in the case when we are making laws for first nations, first nations that have a constitutional right of self-government, that have been in this land for thousands of years, who signed treaties, they should have a say in it. We did not take the land away from them, we signed treaties with them. The Queen agreed about how these treaties were taken care of in 1763.
That is our history. Do we want to rewrite history? We should write it the way it has been done.
I really would like to get along with the government on legislation for first nations when it starts getting along with first nations and when it starts listening to first nations. This is what the legislation is for. These are the people who are affected by the legislation. It is not for businessmen, not for those who look upon reserves as potential new sources of land and resources. No, it is for those people. Let us remember that when we deal with legislation. If we do not, we are simply not doing the job that, as Canadians, we know we should be doing.
View Dennis Bevington Profile
NDP (NT)
Mr. Speaker, having grown up with, gone to school with and spent my life with first nations people, I find them to be some of the warmest and most accommodating people I have known. They are people who are there for each other.
It is interesting that in the Dene language there is no word for “thank you”. They had to invent a word for it because their culture says that taking care of each other is not a “thank you” issue, but an issue of responsibility.
It is a wonderful culture. It is a culture that all Canadians could learn from, and we should respect that culture in every way in the legislation that we pass in the House.
View Dennis Bevington Profile
NDP (NT)
View Dennis Bevington Profile
2013-05-23 20:38 [p.16935]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have a chance to speak to this issue, and I was very glad that my colleague gave us a full exposition on the oversight committee on regulations.
Forgive me; I need someone to field me with some details on this committee. The committee has the ability to modify regulations or simply just return them to the government.
In the case of the bill, with the type of opportunity the government has to take regulations from other sources it does not control, would it not be that this committee would be sideswiped by this process in many cases, where the regulations that may be in place would be changed without that oversight occurring by the committee? Therefore that committee, which is an institution of this Parliament of which the members talk so highly, would lose some of its ability to ensure the regulations.
As he has told us, these regulations go back and forth very many times, and very bright and capable individuals are giving them a very deep and sincere scrutiny. Is it the case that we will have regulations now that will not be accorded the same respect by this Parliament, by the government, and in that case, are we losing something in the process we have?
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