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Results: 1 - 15 of 232
View John Duncan Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, first nation members have asked for greater accountability and transparency for public funds. Our government has responded to these calls with the first nations financial transparency act. It would provide community members with the tools they need to hold their band governments accountable.
We are disappointed that the Liberals are opposed to transparency and accountability for band governments for the tax dollars they receive.
View John Duncan Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, we are taking serious action to ensure that first nations students have access to a quality education, just like every other student in Canada.
That is why we have launched intensive consultations on the development of a first nations education act. We want to have that in place in September 2014 for the school year. We have already had one of our regional round tables in Nova Scotia, and we will have one on Friday this week in Saskatoon.
We are moving forward, and we are achieving success.
View John Duncan Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, our government must ensure that programs and services for aboriginal peoples are fiscally sustainable. We continue to work in partnership to enhance the economic opportunities for Métis and non-status Indians. Given that the federal court decision raises complex issues, it is prudent for Canada to obtain a decision from a higher court. After careful consideration, Canada has filed an appeal and this case is now before the courts.
View John Duncan Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, we are taking action to ensure that first nations students have access to a quality education just like every other student in Canada. Under our government, we have seen a steady increase in graduation rates for first nations. We have built over 30 new schools and renovated over 200 more.
We are in intensive consultation for the development of a first nations education act, which will lead to a stronger system for first nations students across the country.
View John Duncan Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I compliment the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan for her initiative today. There are many positive things happening across the country. We have added eight new first nations very recently to the first nations land management regime. That means those first nations have chosen freedom from 34 sections of the Indian Act so they have control over their land and resources. Within the last two weeks, I announced the regulations that will now allow the natural gas facility at the Haisla First Nation in Kitimat to proceed, bringing jobs and economic opportunity to northwestern British Columbia and opening up markets for Canada in Asia and other places.
There are many examples, and rather than focusing on an attempt to create a negative picture, I would make that comment.
View John Duncan Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to the motion by the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan. The member's motion calls for improved economic outcomes for first nations, Inuit and Métis, and a commitment on treaty implementation and meaningful consultation on legislation with aboriginal peoples in Canada.
I am proud of our government's record on improving the lives of aboriginal people in Canada. Since 2006, our government has made unprecedented investments that will make a concrete difference in the lives of aboriginal people, including skills training, housing on reserves, potable water, schools, treaty rights, protection of the rights of women and the resolution of land claims.
For example, we have built over 30 new schools on reserve and renovated more than 200 others. We have invested in a major way in safe drinking water systems. We have built over 10,000 new homes and renovated thousands more. We have increased funding for child and family services by 25%. We have legislated that the Canadian Human Rights Act will apply to first nation individuals living on reserves. This was a glaring discriminatory provision in the Canadian Human Rights Act, which we reversed, over the objections of the opposition.
We introduced legislation to improve the accountability of first nation governments to their people. We introduced legislation to create an open and transparent elections process, necessary for economic development. We have settled over 80 outstanding land claims, many of which had been languishing for 20 years in the hopper. We have invested in over 700 projects, linking aboriginals across Canada with job training and counselling services.
I have had a long history with first nations and have seen a lot of change over the years. I am very encouraged to see firsthand many examples of strong first nation leadership driving very positive change.
Aboriginal peoples represent the fastest growing population in Canada. Given the country's labour shortages and the proximity of first nation communities to resource development projects, there is a tremendous economic opportunity before us. That is why we have consistently invested in measures to improve aboriginal participation in the economy.
Like economic action plan 2012, economic action plan 2013 will be focused on jobs and opportunities for all Canadians, including first nations, Inuit and Métis.
Finding ways to ensure that first nations can benefit from resource development is a priority. It is good for first nations, for Canada, for our Métis and for our Inuit. Our government is investing in measures that will help ensure that first nations are well-positioned to take advantage of these and other economic opportunities. For example, our government has invested in over 700 initiatives to link aboriginal people with job training, mentoring and other supports. We also invest more than $400 million annually in direct funding for aboriginal skills development and training.
My department's major projects and investment funds initiative has also contributed over $22 million to support aboriginal participation in 87 energy and resource projects, such as hydro, mining, renewable energy and forestry. These contributions have helped create over 400 jobs and levered just over $307 million from public and private debt and equity financing sources.
In addition to these investments, our government has worked to modernize legislation to allow first nations and aboriginal organizations to operate at the speed of business. Last year, our government introduced Bill C-27, the first nations financial transparency act to allow first nations community members access to the same basic financial information about their government and their elected officials available to all other Canadians.
More specifically, the bill would require first nation elected officials to publish their statements of remuneration and expenses as well as their audited consolidated financial statements. The bill would provide community members with the information required to make informed decisions about their leadership and to provide investors with the confidence they need to enter into financial partnerships with first nations.
Now that the legislation is before the Senate committee, we hope to see it passed into law very soon.
The first nations financial transparency act was driven by grassroots first nation members who were calling for greater accountability from their governments. Many of these people have suffered retribution, including intimidation and verbal and physical abuse, for having spoken in support of greater transparency and accountability.
Another important legislative initiative that would foster jobs and economic growth is Bill C-47, the northern jobs and growth act, which includes the Nunavut planning and project assessment act and the Northwest Territories surface rights board act, along with related amendments to the Yukon Surface Rights Board Act. Together, these measures would fulfill outstanding obligations under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, as well as the Gwich'in and Sahtu land claims agreements, and respond to calls for measures to streamline and improve regulatory processes in the north. The bill is currently being studied by the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.
Amendments to the land designation sections of the Indian Act that comprised a portion of Bill C-45 would also create economic opportunities. These amendments would speed up the process for leasing lands for economic development purposes, while allowing first nations to maintain full ownership of their lands. As a result, it would provide greater flexibility for first nations to act on time-sensitive economic development opportunities. These amendments responded directly to first nations who had expressed frustration to me, to the standing committee and to other members with the overly complex and lengthy process of designating land, which was an impediment to investment opportunities.
I quote from Chief Shane Gottfriedson, chief of the Tk'emlúps Indian Band in British Columbia, speaking about these changes to the land designation process in Bill C-45. “[Before the changes] it was just horrific for us to try and do any sort of business within our territory”.
Chief Reginald Bellerose of the Muskowekwan First Nation in Saskatchewan also spoke in favour of the changes: “[Muskowekwan First Nation] recognizes the positive steps the federal government has made to assist First Nation communities to operate in a more efficient and commercial manner. Specifically, Bill C-45 provides for a more efficient land designation vote process”.
We have heard from first nations that they want to be able to move at the speed of business and we continue to work with willing partners to remove economic barriers to the success of first nation communities as they seek out opportunities to generate wealth for their communities and their members.
If further proof was needed that legislative action can speed economic development, I would like to point to my announcement just last week on new regulations under the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act that will allow the Kitimat natural gas facility on the Haisla First Nation's Bees Indian Reserve No. 6 to move forward. The Kitimat LNG facility will provide Canada's energy producers with a doorway to overseas markets. It will create well-paying jobs and economic growth opportunities for the Haisla First Nation and the entire northwest region of British Columbia.
We have also invested in modernizing the land management regimes for first nations so that they can unlock the potential of their lands and natural resources. This past month I announced that eight more first nations will soon be operating under the First Nations Land Management Act. These first nations have chosen freedom from 34 land-related sections of the Indian Act, which were holding them back from achieving their full economic potential. They now have power over their own reserve lands and resources so that they can take advantage of economic activities without wading through bureaucratic red tape.
This is in addition to 18 other first nations that I announced last January, making a total of 69 first nations that can now develop their own land codes, which will allow them to more quickly and effectively pursue economic opportunities and create jobs. Through these initiatives we are putting in place the building blocks for future success. These foundational pieces will help prepare communities to take advantage of new economic opportunities available to them.
We are a business-like government. We like to obtain concrete results. We are making unprecedented investments in the spirit of partnership and we recognize historical grievances. This is why we have settled outstanding land claims that have been long languishing.
The government is committed to continue building on the progress we have made to improve living conditions for first nations and to create jobs and economic opportunities in their communities. Specifically, we are committed to expediting comprehensive claims and treaty implementation. We all recognize that while much progress has been made, more work remains to be done. We are taking steps to improve land claim and self-government negotiation processes. This includes identifying alternatives to negotiations that meet the interests of the parties as well as practical measures to make sure that first nations are ready and able to fully engage and participate in the process.
In some cases there are alternatives to comprehensive claims and we are good with that. For example, the Haisla, the Squamish First Nation and Westbank First Nation are not specifically interested in pursuing treaties. They realize there are other measures that can and have been put in place, which are expediting the conditions for economic prosperity for their communities. We are also involved currently in self-government negotiations on a number of historic treaties. An example of that is the Sioux Valley Dakota First Nation in Manitoba, where we anticipate imminently the conclusion of self-government negotiations.
There is a clear link between the strength of the relationship and the economic prosperity of first nations and all Canadians. Protection of aboriginal treaty rights and consultations with aboriginals are enshrined in our laws, which have been passed by this Parliament. This government fully respects our duty to consult. That is why we have conducted more than 5,000 consultations annually. As minister, I have visited over 50 first nation communities since 2010 and I have had hundreds of productive meetings with first nation chiefs, councillors and community members across Canada.
This government also undertook unprecedented consultations on Bill S-8, the safe drinking water for first nations act. We are currently in the midst of intensive consultations with first nation leaders, teachers, students and educators in the development of a first nation education act. I would like to highlight some of the important work that has been done on the development of a first nation education act.
In economic action plan 2012, our government committed to work with willing partners to establish a first nation education act that will establish the structures and standards to support strong and accountable education systems on reserve. Through intense consultations, we have committed to work with willing partners to have the legislation in place by September 2014. We are determined to follow through on this commitment.
First nation students are the only children in Canada whose education system is not governed by legislation. Our government, unlike previous governments, is committed to bringing forward such legislation. The legislation would provide the modern framework necessary to build standards and structures, strengthen governance and accountability, and provide the mechanism for stable, predictable and sustainable funding.
I would like to add that, as recently as yesterday, I met with the first nation education steering committee in British Columbia. We have other examples, such as Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey in Nova Scotia, where these parameters are already in place. An important part of our consultation is to meet with first nation authorities that have already done much work in this area and are obtaining results of the kind that are setting a great example.
We are making other investments. We have also invested an additional $100 million over three years to help ensure readiness for the new education system to be put in place by September 2014. We committed an incremental $175 million, on top of the $200 million that we spend on an annual basis, to new school projects. It is unfortunate that the member who brought forward today's motion chose to vote against these investments in first nation education.
This past December I announced the launch of intensive face-to-face consultation with first nation parents, students, leaders, educators and others on the initiative. The first in a series of sessions began in Halifax last week. The second session will be in Saskatoon next week.
I want to state very clearly that there is no legislation drafted. The purpose of these ongoing consultations is to get views and feedback so that legislation can be drafted. The input gathered during consultations will help shape the drafting of the legislation. Once drafted, the proposed legislation will be shared with every first nation across Canada, as well as with provincial governments and other stakeholders for feedback.
Modern land claims and self-government agreements can also provide a path to self-sufficiency and unlock economic opportunities. We are working in partnership with first nations on a new results-based approach to treaty and self-government negotiations to achieve more treaties in less time so that aboriginal communities can begin to unlock economic opportunities that can be realized through treaties.
Under the new approach, our government will focus its resources on tables with the greatest potential for success to bring treaties to fruition. The chief commissioner of the B.C. Treaty Commission is strongly supportive of our new approach, saying that she is encouraged our government is accelerating progress. We have heard first nations' concerns and we are delivering necessary change. It is also clear that there are options to the treaty process. Our goal is to achieve treaties where we can and to develop options to treaties where we cannot.
I will conclude by saying that moving forward will take time and dedicated effort from all parties. We are fully committed to taking further steps along this journey. We will continue to focus on real structural reforms and increasing the effectiveness of long-term investments.
View John Duncan Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I travelled widely this past summer and visited many first nations. The entire question of the legislation that the member referred to was wide open for comments this summer, and I received none. We have a strong relationship. We have been building partnerships. First nations do recognize that we mean business, that we are conducting ourselves in a business-like way and that we are very interested in achieving progress and results.
In terms of the specifics of the question related to the outcomes from the January 11 meeting, we are making good progress on all the commitments that were made from that meeting. The national chief and the Prime Minister will be having a meeting in the relatively near future. I am sure they can fully discuss at that time the progress that has been made.
View John Duncan Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Liberal Party is very thoughtful on these matters. We all share this strong concern and priority for first nations education across the country.
Two things are at play here.
We want to consult as widely as possible and we are very interested in these consultations going beyond the political level to the teachers, students and parents. We are encouraging that at all of the round tables and in all of the discussions we are having. We will draft some legislation out of that and then we will share that legislation widely. What we do in this place with legislation oftentimes becomes a partisan political exercise as opposed to doing what is right in every other way. That is one of my concerns.
The other concern I have is the fact that we want to get on with this. We made a commitment to have this all in place for the 2014 school year. From that perspective, as long as we can fit into these time frames, we are willing to be flexible.
View John Duncan Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, to talk about all four of those subjects in one minute and fifteen seconds would be somewhat difficult.
The government has done something quite extraordinary regarding first nations health and safety when it comes to drinking water. We commissioned a national survey that showed a very unsatisfactory situation across the country. We covered 98% of all the residences and public buildings on reserves across the country, which demonstrated there was a big problem. We inherited a legacy of a big problem.
I heard the Liberal member talking about the commitment of $300 million. We have spent almost $3 billion on drinking water systems. I made an announcement two weeks ago of a further $330 million over the next two years on 50 high-risk water systems. We are moving ahead. We want concrete, deliverable results. The same applies to the other subjects brought up by my colleague.
View John Duncan Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, there was an earlier comment made by the member that we were not interested in talking with the Innu of Quebec. That is absolutely incorrect. I have spoken with several of the chiefs and I have been to their communities. We have certainly encouraged negotiations and are continuing to do that.
It goes without saying that we can work with people who wish to work with us and achieve major progress. Where there is no collaboration or co-operation, it is made much more difficult.
View John Duncan Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to compliment the member opposite for his speech, which was obviously done without notes and was obviously from the heart.
Last evening I spent some time in the company of Chief Kirby Whiteduck from the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation, who told a story about the fact that this year marks 400 years, exactly, from the time that Samuel de Champlain came to the Ottawa Valley and was hosted by the Algonquin people, who basically treated the visitor, this first contact, with great aplomb. It was actually a very good reminder of how long this relationship has gone on.
There is one thing that concerns me greatly in the member's speech. We have said very clearly that we are seeking the same outcomes in our education initiative for first nation students as for other Canadian students. In Nova Scotia, with the Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey, MK, school district, we have 70% first nation graduation rates, which is almost up to the provincial school rates.
We are now at the point where the first nation education steering committee in British Columbia has full agreements, full transferability of students between the first nation schools and the provincial schools and vice versa. Students are followed with pin numbers. This is all working very constructively and positively. That is our objective and I just wanted to make that clear.
View John Duncan Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, as we have said from the very beginning, we are absolutely committed to honouring our obligations under the Indian residential schools settlement agreement. The Government of Canada recognizes that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is an important part of the reconciliation process between aboriginal peoples and all Canadians. We are reviewing the court's decision.
View John Duncan Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, like economic action plan 2012, budget 2013 will focus on jobs and economic opportunity for all Canadians, including first nations.
The protection of aboriginal treaty rights and consultation with aboriginals are recognized in our Constitution and statutes. We have made unprecedented investments that will make a concrete difference in people's lives, including skills training, housing on reserves, potable water, schools, treaty rights, protection of the rights of women and the resolution of land claims, and we will continue in that vein.
View John Duncan Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, our government is focused on working in partnership with our aboriginal partners to create jobs and growth for all Canadians, including first nations.
View John Duncan Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I reject the premise of the member's question.
Our Prime Minister delivered an historic apology to Canada's first nations on our role in the residential school system. That was in 2008. Since then federal departments have disclosed nearly one million documents to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as part of a court supervised process. We are reviewing the judge's decision that was rendered today. It certainly does not say what the member across states.
We will continue to fulfill our obligations under the—
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