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View Kelly Block Profile
View Kelly Block Profile
2019-06-17 13:34 [p.29172]
Mr. Speaker, I would note that this bill actually was created as a result of a directive that was given by the Prime Minister to the Minister of Transport through a mandate letter. When we were studying the bill in committee, to a witness, none of the witnesses were consulted when it came to it, especially when it came to first nations communities.
Would the member care to comment on why no first nations communities were consulted before the bill was introduced?
View Kelly Block Profile
View Kelly Block Profile
2019-06-17 13:44 [p.29173]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to respond to the government's motion on the Senate amendments to Bill C-48. While I do appreciate the opportunity to speak to the motion, what I do not appreciate, what millions of other Canadians do not appreciate, is that we have to respond to the bill at all.
I want to recap what the bill would do.
First, this legislation was created as a result of a directive in the Prime Minister's mandate letter to the Minister of Transport dated November 2015.
If passed, this legislation would enact an oil tanker moratorium on B.C.'s northwest coast. The proposed moratorium would be in effect from the Canada-U.S. Alaska border to the northern tip of Vancouver Island.
The legislation would prohibit oil tankers carrying crude and persistent oil as cargo from stopping, loading and unloading at ports or marine installations in the moratorium area. Vessels carrying less than 12,500 metric tons of crude oil would be exempted from the moratorium.
I would suggest that this bill is an open, sneering attack on our oil and gas sector, an anti-pipeline bill poorly masquerading as an environment bill.
Environmental legislation is supposed to be based on science. Bill C-48 is not. It is not science but rather politics and ideology that inform this legislation: Liberal ideology that is as damaging to national unity as it is cynical.
Afer reviewing the bill, which included travelling across the country to hear from witnesses from coast to coast, the Senate transport committee recommended that it not proceed. While the Senate as a whole rescued Bill C-48, the Prime Minister should have taken the hint and withdrawn this anti-energy legislation.
Six premiers, including Premier Scott Moe from my province of Saskatchewan, wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister outlining their legitimate concerns about the anti-oil, anti-energy legislation pushed by the Liberal government here in Ottawa, in particular Bill C-69 and Bill C-48.
The premiers explained the damage that these two pieces of legislation would do to the economy, but more importantly, they warned of the damage this legislation has done and will continue to do to our national unity.
This was not a threat. This was not spiteful. These six premiers were pointing to a real and growing sense of alienation, alienation on a scale not seen since the Prime Minister's father was in office.
Rather than listening to their concerns, the Prime Minister lashed out at the premiers, calling them irresponsible and accusing them of threatening our national unity if they did not get their way.
The premiers are not threatening our national unity; it is in fact the Prime Minister's radical, anti-science, anti-energy agenda that is, but he is refusing to listen.
Since the Prime Minister is refusing to heed these warnings on Bill C-48 and Bill C-69, I am going to take this opportunity to read them into the record now:
Dear Prime Minister,
We are writing on behalf of the Governments of Ontario, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta and the Northwest Territories. Collectively, our five provinces and territory represent 59 per cent of the Canadian population and 63 per cent of Canada's GDP. We are central to Canada's economy and prosperity, and it is of the utmost importance that you consider our concerns with bills C-69 and C-48.
Canadians across the country are unified in their concern about the economic impacts of the legislation such as it was proposed by the House of Commons. In this form, the damage it would do to the economy, jobs and investment will echo from one coast to the other. Provincial and territorial jurisdiction must be respected. Provinces and territories have clear and sole jurisdiction over the development of their non-renewable natural resources, forestry resources, and the generation and production of electricity. Bill C-69 upsets the balance struck by the constitutional division of powers by ignoring the exclusive provincial powers over projects relating to these resources. The federal government must recognize the exclusive role provinces and territories have over the management of our non-renewable natural resource development or risk creating a Constitutional crisis.
Bill C-69, as originally drafted, would make it virtually impossible to develop critical infrastructure, depriving Canada of much needed investment. According to the C.D. Howe Institute, between 2017 and 2018, the planned investment value of major resource sector projects in Canada plunged by $100 billion – an amount equivalent to 4.5 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product. To protect Canada’s economic future, we, collectively, cannot afford to overlook the uncertainty and risk to future investment created by Bill C-69.
Our five provinces and territory stand united and strongly urge the government to accept Bill C69 as amended by the Senate, in order to minimize the damage to the Canadian economy. We would encourage the Government of Canada and all members of the House of Commons to accept the full slate of amendments to the bill. The Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment, and Natural Resources heard 38 days of testimony from 277 witnesses including indigenous communities, industry, Premiers, and independent experts. Based on that comprehensive testimony, the committee recommended significant amendments to the bill, which were accepted by the Senate as a whole. We urge you to respect that process, the committee’s expertise, and the Senate’s vote.
If the Senate’s amendments are not respected, the bill should be rejected, as it will present insurmountable roadblocks for major infrastructure projects across the country and will further jeopardize jobs, growth and investor confidence.
Similarly, Bill C-48 threatens investor confidence, and the tanker moratorium discriminates against western Canadian crude products. We were very disappointed that the Senate did not accept the recommendation to the Senate Committee on Transport and Communications that the bill not be reported. We would urge the government to stop pressing for the passage of this bill which will have detrimental effects on national unity and for the Canadian economy as a whole.
Our governments are deeply concerned with the federal government’s disregard, so far, of the concerns raised by our provinces and territory related to these bills. As it stands, the federal government appears indifferent to the economic hardships faced by provinces and territories. Immediate action to refine or eliminate these bills is needed to avoid further alienating provinces and territories and their citizens and focus on uniting the country in support of Canada’s economic prosperity.
Perhaps having heard the letter read aloud, the Prime Minister will acknowledge that it contains no threats, but rather it is an appeal from leaders who have listened to their constituents. The Prime Minister needs to understand that simply saying things louder is not going to make them go away. Shouting will not put food in the stomachs of the laid-off construction workers' children. Chanting talking points will not pay the gas bill in the middle of winter.
If this were the only piece of legislation that the government had introduced, one might argue that this is an overreaction, but it is not just one piece of legislation, it is a targeted, cynical, ongoing political attack of our resource sector. The Prime Minister has filled his cabinet with vocal opponents of the oil sands. In 2012, the now Minister of Democratic Institutions posted a tweet that read, “It's time to landlock Alberta's tar sands - call on BC Premier @christyclarkbc to reject the #Enbridge pipeline now!”
Then there is the President of the Treasury Board, who said publicly that the approval of the Trans Mountain extension was deeply disappointing and who celebrated when the Prime Minister killed the northern gateway pipeline project. Here I should pause and point out the ridiculous theatrics surrounding the TMX project.
In 2016, the government approved TMX, yet tomorrow, we are told, the government will decide on whether to approve the project all over again. It is like we are in a terrible remake of Groundhog Day. Meanwhile, not an inch of pipeline has been built since the government nationalized Trans Mountain.
However, it is not only the cabinet that the Prime Minister has filled with anti-oil activists, but senior staff positions as well. Here I quote an article from the March 14 edition of the Financial Post:
Prior to ascending to the most powerful post in the Prime Minister’s Office, from 2008 to 2012 Gerald Butts was president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund Canada...an important Tides campaign partner. Butts would use his new powerful position to bring other former campaigners with him: Marlo Reynolds, chief of staff to the Environment Minister...is past executive director of the Tides-backed Pembina Institute. Zoë Caron, chief of staff to Natural Resource Minister...is also a former WWF Canada official. Sarah Goodman, on the prime minister’s staff, is a former vice-president of Tides Canada. With these anti-oil activists at the epicentre of federal power, it’s no wonder the oil industry, and hundreds of thousands of workers, have plummeted into political and policy purgatory.
Why should we be surprised? The Prime Minister is no friend of the oil sands. The Prime Minister stated that he wants to phase out the oil sands and during the election loudly proclaimed, “If I am elected Prime Minister, the Northern Gateway Pipeline won't become a reality”.
The Prime Minister has spent his time in office attempting to do just that and he has been willing to trample on not only the rights of the provinces, but the rights of aboriginal peoples as well to get his way. When the Prime Minister used an order in council to cancel the northern gateway pipeline, he stole the future of 30 first nations that would have benefited enormously from it. This very bill is facing a lawsuit from Laxkw'alaams Indian band for unjustly infringing on their rights and titles.
Bill C-48 will prevent the proposed first nations-owned and operated Eagle Spirit pipeline project from being built as the proposed route to tidewater ends within the area wherein this bill bans tanker traffic. It was done without any consultation with first nations communities. Again, this should come as no surprise.
Just last week I spoke against another anti-energy bill, Bill C-88. As I said then, C-88 makes a mockery of the government's claim to seriously consult with indigenous and Inuit peoples. Without any consultation with Inuit peoples or the territorial governments, the Prime Minister unilaterally announced a five-year ban on offshore oil and gas development. Not only did the Prime Minister refuse to consult the premiers of the territories, he gave some of them less than an hour's notice that he would be making that announcement.
Does that sound like a Prime Minister who wants to listen, consult and work with aboriginal Canadians? Does it reflect the Prime Minister's declaration that his government's relationship with indigenous peoples is their most important relationship or does it sound like a Prime Minister who says what he believes people want to hear and then does the exact opposite by imposing his own will on them? If he had consulted, this is what he would have heard:
Minister Wally Schumann of the Northwest Territories, on how they found out about the ban and the impact it will have on our north, stated:
When it first came out, we never got very much notice on the whole issue of the moratorium and the potential that was in the Beaufort Sea. There were millions and millions, if not billions, of dollars in bid deposits and land leases up there. That took away any hope we had of developing the Beaufort Sea.
Councillor Jackie Jacobson of Tuktoyaktuk said:
It’s so easy to sit down here and make judgments on people and lives that are 3,500 klicks away, and make decisions on our behalf, especially with that moratorium on the Beaufort. That should be taken away, lifted, please and thank you. That is going to open up and give jobs to our people – training and all the stuff we’re wishing for.
Then premier of Nunavut, Peter Taptuna stated, “ We do want to be getting to a state where we can make our own determination of our priorities, and the way to do that is gain meaningful revenue from resource development.”
Mr. Speaker, I note that you are indicating that my time is up. I assume that I will be able to continue at another time.
View Georgina Jolibois Profile
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the national day of healing and reconciliation and the anniversary of the government's apology for residential schools.
As MPs, we recognize the harms that Canada has inflicted on first nations, Métis and Inuit people. Though we can never truly understand the loss of culture and language, and the family separations Canada has caused, I continue to be inspired by the young people across Canada who are working on building a path forward. That includes people like Renée Carrière and her students at Charlebois Community School in Cumberland House. Their book entitled Muskrats and Fire teaches youth about indigenous cultural practices and how they benefit the ecosystem in northern Saskatchewan.
Reconciliation and healing are done in small and profound ways. I challenge all Canadians to follow the example of the students at Charlebois Community School to turn the promise of reconciliation into action within their communities.
Hiy hiy.
View Michael McLeod Profile
Lib. (NT)
View Michael McLeod Profile
2019-06-11 21:16 [p.28965]
Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I take offence to the fact that the member feels that I, as an indigenous person, belong to him. I also take offence to the comment that because the minister is wearing an indigenous scarf, it is offensive. That is totally wrong and unacceptable. I would ask the member to retract those statements.
View Michael McLeod Profile
Lib. (NT)
View Michael McLeod Profile
2019-06-10 21:10 [p.28859]
Mr. Speaker, I will leave Canadians to interpret and translate what the member has said.
I want to point out a couple of things that he failed to mention.
First, the Conservatives were in power for the 10 years, when these discussions were going on, and really did not do anything to help the economy. In fact, they left it in shambles.
The member also pointed out that the bill and the changes made would influence the activities in resource development in the Northwest Territories. I should remind him that it was his government that created the Mackenzie Valley resource management boards and negotiated, through land claim discussions and negotiations, to come to this arrangement. They decided they wanted to change it.
I was in the indigenous affairs committee when the contractor who was hired by Minister Strahl to go out and consult was presented. He talked about the direction he received from the minister. He was not totally clear, but he was told to fold all the regional boards and set up one super board. He was also talked about the rounds of consultations he had in the Northwest Territories. From what other witnesses said, he had set up two rounds of consultations.
One was with the indigenous governments, where everybody who was in the room was against the changes that included doing away with a regional board system and bringing in a super board. In the second round of consultations, everybody showed up except the consultant who was hired by the Conservative government.
When I asked the consultant about the report he presented and how he recommended that this was what everybody wanted when everybody was against it. He claimed that people said one thing in public, but whispered something else in his ear.
I am very disappointed that the member views including indigenous people in the consultation and regulatory process as a hindrance. Why does he see the involvement of indigenous as an attack on industry, as were his words?
View Michael McLeod Profile
Lib. (NT)
View Michael McLeod Profile
2019-06-10 22:06 [p.28867]
Mr. Speaker, I want to correct the member. She mentioned there were two aspects to this legislation, but there are three. First, it would repeal the restructuring of the superboard. Second, regulatory items negotiated with the Conservative government of the day, which we consider positive, are included. Third, changes are proposed to the Canadian Petroleum Resources Act.
I was very pleased to hear the hon. member talk about the need to listen to people who were impacted. In 2014, the consultant who was hired heard many presentations in the first round of discussions, during which indigenous governments and the Government of the Northwest Territories sat in the same room. All governments there indicated they did not support the changes. There was not one word of support at that time. However, the consultant still chose to recommend that changes be made in three different sections of the bill.
Bill C-88 is an important bill. It is now supported by the Government of the Northwest Territories, which has provided written support. The Tlicho government, the Gwich’in government and the Sahtu government support it. All the impacted indigenous governments, along with the Government of the Northwest Territories, support it.
Now that the member has been reassured that governments in the Northwest Territories support Bill C-88 and that it is positive, will she vote to support it?
View Kelly Block Profile
View Kelly Block Profile
2019-06-10 22:46 [p.28872]
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague from Markham—Unionville.
I appreciate having the opportunity to speak to Bill C-88 at third reading stage.
This bill is divided into two parts, as we have heard. Part 1 amends the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act while part 2 amends the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. It is the second part of the bill that I will primarily be addressing in the time that I have today.
Simply put, this part of Bill C-88 makes a mockery of the government's claim to seriously consult with aboriginal and Inuit peoples. Furthermore, it proves yet again that the Liberal Party is no friend of the Canadian oil and gas sector.
Part 2 of Bill C-88 imposes a five-year moratorium on the development of offshore oil and gas projects in the Beaufort Sea. This is not surprising for anyone who has followed the government with even a modicum of attention. The Liberals have proven time and time again that they are opposed to Canada's energy sector. Whether it be the carbon tax or Bill C-48 banning tanker traffic off of British Columbia's northern coast or the 180-amendment, Frankenstein monster of a bill that is the “no more pipelines” Bill C-69, or the cancellation of the northern gateway and energy east pipelines, or the continued bungling of the Trans Mountain extension, we can always count on the Liberals to find a way to make life miserable for workers in our oil and gas sector.
At every opportunity, the Prime Minister has politicized the regulatory and environmental assessment processes. Bill C-88 follows this already established pattern. As a result, it is no wonder Canada has been bleeding foreign investment funds and suffered economic stagnation under the Prime Minister.
Bill C-88 is about more than just the Liberals' clear disdain for our natural resource sector. This bill exposes the Prime Minister's false claims of consultation.
Under the previous Conservative government, we made a concerted effort to devolve power to the territories to ensure that they had the decision-making powers they needed to develop their abundance of natural resources in a safe, secure and sustainable manner. I will not pretend that we got it right every step of the way but there was no doubt about our goal and our honest attempt to transfer power to the territorial level.
In one afternoon, the Prime Minister derailed years of progress by the territories toward full self-governance. At a glitzy press conference in Washington designed to garner praise from the international press, he announced that Canada would be placing a moratorium on offshore drilling in the north. This announcement came as quite the surprise to the governments of the territories. Some of them received less than an hour's notice that the Prime Minister was about to throw their economic futures out the window so he could get a nice write-up in Vanity Fair.
Minister Wally Schumann of the Northwest Territories described how they found out about the ban and the impact it will have on our north. He said:
When it first came out, we never got very much notice on the whole issue of the moratorium and the potential that was in the Beaufort Sea. There were millions and millions, if not billions, of dollars in bid deposits and land leases up there. That took away any hope we had of developing the Beaufort Sea.
Really, we should not be surprised. The Prime Minister has always believed in a paternalistic, “Ottawa knows best” relationship with the territories, provinces and indigenous peoples. Mayor Merven Gruben put it well when speaking at committee in Ottawa. He said:
It’s so easy to sit down here and make judgments on people and lives that are 3,500 klicks away, and make decisions on our behalf, especially with that moratorium on the Beaufort. That should be taken away, lifted, please and thank you. That is going to open up and give jobs to our people—training and all the stuff we’re wishing for.
The Prime Minister has decided the future for the north and he is using this bill to make that happen but he never stopped and asked what the people in the north want, and they do not want this.
Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod stated clearly how his government felt about the announcement. He said:
It feels like a step backward.
We spent a lot of time negotiating a devolution agreement and we thought the days were gone when we'd have unilateral decisions made about the North in some faraway place like Ottawa, and that northerners would be making the decisions about issues that affected northerners.
Then premier of Nunavut, Peter Taptuna, shared McLeod's frustrations. He said:
We do want to be getting to a state where we can make our own determination of our priorities, and the way to do that is gain meaningful revenue from resource development.
And at the same time, when one potential sources of revenue is taken off the table, it puts us back at practically Square 1 where Ottawa will make the decision for us.
In my role as shadow minister for transportation, I have had the chance to meet with companies and groups seeking to develop in the north to provide jobs and future prospects to Inuit and other northern Canadians. I heard one phrase repeated over and over again: one big park. Stakeholders told me over and over again that they feel the Liberals do not care about their economic development, but are only interested in making northern Canada one big park even if that means ignoring the will of indigenous peoples.
As I prepared these remarks and delved into Bill C-88, I could not help but see the parallels between the top-down “Ottawa knows best” bill and Bill C-48, the Liberals' ideological oil tanker moratorium act. Bill C-48 is called the oil tanker moratorium act, but everyone knows it is an anti-pipeline bill designed to eliminate any possibility of a pipeline to tidewater through northern British Columbia.
The Prime Minister has a pattern of imposing his will on indigenous groups while still claiming to consult. Just like they did when banning northern development through Bill C-88, the Liberal government pushed ahead on Bill C-48 without consulting indigenous stakeholders.
When testifying at transport committee on Bill C-48, Gary Alexcee, hereditary chief of the Nisga'a Nation for the community of Gingolx, made the following comments about the Liberal government's consultation process:
With no consultation, the B.C. first nations groups being cut off economically with no opportunity to even sit down with the government to further negotiate Bill C-48.
In fact, Eagle Spirit Energy, a first nations owned energy company, is taking the government to court over Bill C-48 because of, among other reasons, the very lack of consultation. In cancelling the northern gateway pipeline, the Prime Minister ignored the input of over 30 first nations along the route who have revenue agreements in place. Again, this is the Liberals' “Ottawa knows best” mentality in practice, yet the Prime Minister continues to claim time and again to consult with indigenous stakeholders.
I oppose this Ottawa-centric anti-Canadian energy industry mentality and it is for that reason that I will be voting against Bill C-88.
View Michael McLeod Profile
Lib. (NT)
View Michael McLeod Profile
2019-06-10 22:55 [p.28873]
Mr. Speaker, Bill C-88 is intended to enhance the involvement of indigenous people in the regulatory process. When changes were brought forward by the Conservative government in 2014, everyone was against them, including industry. They were saying, “Do not change the process. This is a process they are familiar with. Everyone is used to it. Let us continue to use it.”
However, the government of the day decided to get rid of the regional boards. It said that land and water boards were not needed. It wanted to have one superboard and it plowed ahead, even though everyone recommended against it.
When I hear the hon. member talk about disdain for industry by introducing this bill, it makes me wonder why she would say that when industry supports the bill. When she says that the bill is going to be detrimental to industry, she is forgetting that the bill is going to enhance the involvement of indigenous people. Is she saying industry is more important than the indigenous people of the north?
View Kelly Block Profile
View Kelly Block Profile
2019-06-10 22:56 [p.28874]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the question, although I will dispute his characterization of what I said in my speech. He is trying to confuse the issue, when, in fact, the issue that most indigenous communities have and that we have with this bill is part 2.
We have heard that indigenous peoples and communities were not consulted on this part of the bill. We know that part 2 would amend the Canada Petroleum Resources Act to allow the Governor in Council to issue orders, when in the national interest, to prohibit oil and gas activities and freeze the terms of existing licences to prevent them from expiring during a moratorium. Again, we have heard that indigenous communities were not consulted on this part of the legislation.
Further, this bill reveals a full rejection of calls from elected territorial leaders for increased control of their natural resources. We heard that. I am deeply concerned that with Bill C-88, the Liberals will continue to entrench into law their ability to continue to arbitrarily and without consultation block oil and gas projects.
View Kelly Block Profile
View Kelly Block Profile
2019-06-10 22:58 [p.28874]
Mr. Speaker, I want to recognize the very good work my colleague does as the shadow minister for indigenous and northern affairs and how well she keeps us informed about what is happening on the files she oversees on behalf of our Conservative caucus and on the work the committee is doing.
It is my understanding that with part 2, the Liberals are further politicizing the regulatory and environmental processes for resource extraction in Canada's north. They have consistently politicized these processes, as I shared in my earlier remarks. As the shadow minister for transportation, we heard testimony from witnesses on Bill C-48 and Bill C-69 who told us very clearly that first nations communities were not consulted when it came to the introduction of these bills. In fact, many of the changes being proposed in these bills were simply the result of direction that had been included in the mandate letters for these ministers. There was actually no evidence to support what the minister was proposing when it came to making those changes.
View Sheri Benson Profile
View Sheri Benson Profile
2019-06-04 14:39 [p.28500]
Mr. Speaker, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released 231 calls for justice to protect indigenous women and children. The calls include providing sufficient and readily available transit between cities in rural and northern communities. I have asked the current Liberal government 18 times to provide safe and affordable transportation in Saskatchewan, following the closure of the STC and the Greyhound service cuts.
Will the Liberals act now to ensure indigenous women and girls have access to safe transportation options?
View Georgina Jolibois Profile
Mr. Speaker, the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls inquiry has called for serious action to help the families of women who have gone missing.
Families across northern Saskatchewan expect action from the Liberal government after the genocide of indigenous women. The families of Happy Charles and Myrna Montgrand need mental health supports and funding to help find their loved ones.
Will the Liberals commit today to provide all the necessary resources toward missing and murdered women in northern Saskatchewan?
View Andrew Scheer Profile
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2019-06-03 14:18 [p.28405]
Mr. Speaker, today the inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women released its report, and of course our hearts go out to those who have lost family and loved ones.
This report calls attention to gaps in our Criminal Code that make it easier for vulnerable people to be exploited. Advocates have been calling for more action on human trafficking specifically, which also includes funding for survivor services and public awareness.
Will the Prime Minister agree that more action needs to be taken to combat human trafficking and to protect those most vulnerable?
View Kevin Waugh Profile
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2019-06-03 18:57 [p.28450]
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure tonight to speak to Bill C-92.
Before I get into it, I would like to say a few comments about this morning when I attended, along with our shadow minister, the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls report release.
I think we all agree in the House that it is a national tragedy. I was reminded of that this morning when I struck up a conversation with the woman seated next to me. I did not know her, but when we sat down, I noticed that she was holding a 5” x 7” picture of a young girl. I was inquisitive and asked her if she would share her story with me.
The woman was an auntie from Six Nations, and she immediately filled me in on the story. The picture she was holding was of 14-year-old Patricia “Trish” Carpenter from Alderville First Nation. It was 27 years ago, in 1992, when Ms. Carpenter's body was found at a construction site by Yonge Street in Toronto face down. Going further, I found out that Trish Carpenter was a mother of a two-month-old baby boy. The coroner's investigation said that she died of asphyxiation. An inquest later concluded that Trish's death was indeed suspicious.
The national inquiry report stated that indigenous persons, especially first nations, Inuit and Métis women, are overrepresented as victims of this violence. The tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women is one that the Liberal government has failed to adequately address over its three and half years in office. As with that important issue, the Liberals have left the introduction of this important bill, the indigenous child welfare legislation, to the very last minute, which brings me to the topic tonight of Bill C-92.
I started talking about missing and murdered indigenous women and girls because it is directly related to the legislation before us. Many of the victims were part of the failed welfare system, maybe even the woman I was talking to this morning during the release of the report. However, Bill C-92, an act respecting first nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, is a bill that would bring forth important national principles applicable to the provision of child and family services in relation to indigenous children. These principles in relation to the administration of child and family services with respect to indigenous children are in the best interest of the child, would have cultural continuity and certainly substantive equality in this country. These principles are very important. They are pieces of our country's long road towards reconciliation with indigenous peoples.
However, as important as these principles in the bill are, I should point out that the current Liberal government has introduced the bill at such a late stage in the parliamentary agenda that Parliament will barely have any time to study it at any length at all. We have seen that in committee. It was all crammed, and we had a couple of weeks at the very most to talk about this crucial bill.
We want to make sure that the principles described in the bill are actually reflected in practice, but that task is made more difficult when important bills such as this one, Bill C-92, are tabled so late in the parliamentary calendar with no excuse at all.
The history of the Canadian government's treatment of indigenous child welfare, we all know, is dark and tragic. Through the use of its residential schools, the Canadian government separated generation after generation of indigenous children from their families, their communities, their culture and their way of life. During the sixties scoop, countless numbers of indigenous children were taken away from their families of birth and placed into non-indigenous homes, where they were simply cut off from their cultural background and their ties to their communities. I know several people in Saskatchewan that this happened to. These are just some of the tragedies that have been inflicted on indigenous children in this country.
As Canada moves forward on a path toward reconciliation, it must do so in a way that represents and respects the rights of indigenous peoples and respects their unique cultural heritage. We support the principles that this bill seeks out in relation to the administration of child and family services with respect to indigenous children. As my colleague from Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo has pointed out many times in this House, in moving forward with the principles of this bill, we are not denying the hard work of social workers, nor are we not acknowledging the families that have adopted children in the past; we are simply pressing on to do better when it comes to this very important issue.
However, in committee, the Minister of Indigenous Services referred to child welfare workers as being participants in “abduction”. Yes, he said that in committee. This kind of language is both inflammatory and very unhelpful. It divides us rather than bringing us together. In this respect, the minister owes the social welfare agencies, including those run by first nations, an apology. Insulting and inflammatory language has no place in any discussions of this important principle that we are putting forth here tonight.
The first of the principles laid out in this bill is the best interest of the child. That is first and foremost. This principle dictates that among other factors, an indigenous child's cultural, linguistic, religious and spiritual upbringing and heritage must be considered in the context of decision-making by child and family services. This principle is crucially important, as child and family services around this country are moving toward a focus on preventive care in order to keep indigenous children in their communities where they can maintain their valuable cultural ties.
According to Indigenous Services Canada, 52.2% of children aged 14 and under who are living under foster care in private homes are indigenous. This statistic shows that indigenous children are extremely overrepresented in child and family services systems across Canada, especially considering that indigenous children make up only 7.7% of the general population of children 14 years of age and under in this country. It is clear that more work needs to be done so that indigenous children can stay in their communities and build everlasting relationships with the members of their community. This bill highlights the need for the administration of child and family services to have a focus on preventive care so that fewer indigenous children end up in foster homes and away from their culture and their community.
Our former Conservative government also recognized the need to focus on preventive care when it came to the provision of child and family services for indigenous children. Among the different concrete steps that we took to develop a prevention-based orientation was the creation of the enhanced prevention-focused approach, better known as EPFA. The start of it was in 2007. This was a reform of the funding model that had been formerly used by the first nations child and family services program.
It took effect immediately in Alberta. Then a year later Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia adopted it. It was subsequently adopted in Quebec, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba.
Funding was specifically redirected towards a prevention-based approach in order to keep indigenous children in their communities and to support the self-sufficiency of these communities in a culturally appropriate manner.
The prevention-oriented focus that was put in place by our former Conservative government refocused child welfare services to a family-centred practice with children-centred outcomes. This approach delivered real and positive results towards turning back the trend of increasingly larger numbers of indigenous children being placed in foster care in this country.
During the length of our former Conservative government, the percentage of first nations children on reserve placed in foster care decreased from 89.67% in the first year, which was 2006-07, to 76.08% in the year 2014-15. I think we could all agree we would like it to be zero, but this was a major reduction of over 13%, according to stats gathered by the first nations child and family services program. Over that same time period, the percentages of first nations children placed in kinship care increased from no recorded amount to 17.83% in 2014-15.
Our former Conservative government also increased first nations child and family services national expenditures by about 50%. These results represent concrete progress achieved by our former Conservative government towards improving child and family services for indigenous children, both in quality of service and, maybe most importantly, the prevention-based outcomes.
Another key aspect of this bill is that it would affirm the rights and jurisdiction of indigenous peoples in relation to child and family services. It would allow indigenous governing bodies to pass their own laws, consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in relation to child and family services, and these laws would have the same force as the federal law. On this issue, however, there are still some outstanding questions that need to be answered.
One such question regards situations in which more than one indigenous governing body claims jurisdiction over a particular child. Today there are many indigenous children who identify as being part of multiple indigenous backgrounds. It is not hard to imagine a child who may have a first nations father and a Métis mother, or vice versa. In these kinds of situations, it is conceivable that two different indigenous governing bodies may each claim full jurisdiction over the provision of child and family services in relation to that child.
While the bill addresses jurisdictional disputes between a province and an indigenous governing body, it does not properly address jurisdictional disputes that may arise between indigenous governing bodies that both have equally strong ties and connections to the indigenous child in question.
This jurisdictional question is one of the concerns that was directly raised in committee while we were studying Bill C-92. One of the committee's witnesses was Raven McCallum, a well-spoken young person who is a youth adviser on the British Columbia Ministry of Children and Family Development Youth Advisory Council. She is of British and Haida descent on her mother's side, and of Métis descent on her father's side. In her testimony, while talking about Bill C-92, she stated:
I do not see any reference about how to approach situations when a child belongs to more than one nation.
She goes on to say:
I think it's something that is important to acknowledge. We need to know all aspects of our identity.
Time and time again, we heard in committee that indigenous identity is complex and multi-layered. However, this bill still has not adequately addressed these complexities as they relate to jurisdictional issues in the provision of child and family services for indigenous children.
We also want to make sure that this bill would not negatively impact the existing self-government agreements that exist between indigenous governing bodies and the provincial and federal levels of government in relation to child and family services. These kinds of agreements include the three which were recently concluded this past March in my province of Saskatchewan between the provincial government and the Saskatoon Tribal Council.
One of these agreements was a delegation agreement which re-established the Saskatoon Tribal Council's child and family services agency, which will provide services to the on-reserve communities covered by this governing body. Another agreement is the reconciliation partnership agreement, which strives to ensure that indigenous children maintain connections to their culture and communities. These sorts of agreements further the important principle of cultural continuity, which recognizes that one of the crucial interests of indigenous children is to live and grow within their unique cultural and linguistic communities.
As Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand noted about the agreements in committee, “all of this work is about prevention”. In committee, he stressed the importance of the work once again, stating, “Our opinion is we have to build partnerships and relationships, as we've done with the federal and provincial governments. To us, it's meaningful because it's building bridges. We have to work together.”
As we move forward in our consideration of Bill C-92, we need to study how this bill will impact agreement such as these, in order to be sure we are upholding the principles which are stated within the bill itself.
Delegation agreements, such as those made between the Province of Saskatchewan and the Saskatoon Tribal Council are incredibly important. They are about returning the jurisdiction of care for the indigenous child to the indigenous communities themselves, so that these children are no longer cut off and separated from their culture and heritage.
Cultural continuity is one of the key principles of this bill. It is clear from the testimony of many witnesses that agreements made between the provinces and indigenous governing bodies often play a large role toward ensuring that child and family services are provided in a way that ensures indigenous children maintain strong relationships to their culture and community.
Another issue that arose in committee was the discovery that some major stakeholders who would be immediately impacted by this legislation were not consulted. When Grand Chief Arlen Dumas of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs came to testify at our committee, he said that his governing body was not consulted at all. The AMC had already crafted its own legislation with respect to child and family services, which was uniquely tailored to the experiences of that governing body's work in the province of Manitoba.
Given that all the groundwork had already been laid, the grand chief told us that Bill C-92 was thrust upon the AMC. He said, “It was quite a surprise when Bill C-92 was presented to us. It was almost [like] a slap in the face, because we had invested so much of our time in bringing forward a solution that everybody could build upon.”
How could the Liberal government introduce a bill that brings such dramatic changes to indigenous child welfare without consulting one of the largest indigenous governing bodies in a province with one of the highest numbers of indigenous children in foster care?
I am running out of time. In general, we support the principles laid out in this bill, and we want this bill to progress. However, the Liberals have put this piece of legislation at the back of their list of priorities. As a result, the Liberal government has left us with hardly any time to peel back the onion and have a great conversation about this bill.
View Kevin Waugh Profile
View Kevin Waugh Profile
2019-06-03 19:19 [p.28452]
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Saint Boniface—Saint Vital has been a great contributor to the indigenous affairs committee.
Recently, maybe 10 days ago, I spoke at the FSIN spring assembly in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan. There are 74 bands there, and not all of them agree with Bill C-92.
As I have talked about, consultation with Manitoba was not done, and the Provinces of Saskatchewan and Ontario both have issues with the bill. However, I guess one cannot get everything right, and we have to move forward.
We heard some great testimony from the Peter Ballantyne Child and Family Services when they came to committee. It was all about children. We want to make things better for everyone's family situation. I talked about this in my passionate speech. It is most important that these kids stay connected to their communities for good.
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