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View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2019-06-11 23:26 [p.28977]
Mr. Speaker, first I want to acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people.
I have a speech, but I think I will start by trying to answer questions and concerns that have been brought up. If I do that, then members could vote unanimously for this bill.
The first thing members have been asking is why there are only five more hours to debate this bill. For a lot of bills, that would be a valid question, but at this particular time we have had Conservative after Conservative getting up and not talking about the bill. We heard a lot about Bill C-48, Bill S-6, a letter from premiers not related to this bill, Bill C-15 and a northern moratorium.
I have been here awhile, and last night I witnessed an amazing situation. One of the Conservative speakers, in a 10-minute slot to speak on this bill, spent nine and a half minutes talking before they got to the bill, and then answering three questions by not referring to anything in the bill.
If the public wonders why Parliament has decided to call time allocation on this bill, it is obviously because the Conservatives have nothing more to say. We have heard the same arguments over and over again, and they are not valid. I will go through them one by one right now.
I am not sure why a party would want to stretch out a debate on a terrible injustice that it has caused, and it has done this a number of times. It is strange. Why would they want to put that in the light? Why would they not want to fix that injustice by supporting this bill? One of the members mentioned that he was not here at the time that it happened, so in good justice, he could support the bill.
People have asked what we have been doing for the last four years and why we did not debate this bill earlier. Some of the people in the House now have actually asked this question. This Liberal government has passed something like 85 bills. I think some members' constituents would like to ask them where they have been while these very important 85 bills were being discussed and debated.
One bill in particular was in the exact same situation as this one. It was Bill C-17. Again, the previous government had unlawfully, either technically or in spirit, abrogated a modern treaty, a constitutionally protected treaty, and tried to pass a law that got around it. That was certainly disrespectful.
Some may ask why Liberals did not get more things done, and a good example was what happened when Bill C-17, related to the treaty, was ready to pass. There was a grand chief, chiefs and aboriginal people here in the galleries. It cost thousands of dollars for them to get here from the Yukon. What did the Conservatives do at that time? They called a dilatory motion that the next speaker be allowed to speak, and then the bill could not be done. Some members ask why things are not done, yet they continue to do tricks like that.
This particular bill broke a constitutionally protected treaty, as I said earlier, a land claim. The members opposite have asked—and it is a good question for the ones who were not here before—why Liberals voted for that bill. This question has been brought up a number of times. The reason is that the part of the bill in which the law was broken in spirit or in technicality was snuck in in a much larger devolution bill.
The devolution bill transferred the remaining federal powers to the territorial government. That was a tremendous move, and that is why the party supported that initiative. Unfortunately, even though the people affected by this wanted this taken out and some parliamentarians tried to get it out, the Conservatives pushed ahead with the bill, and that is why the other parties voted for it.
Another concern the Conservatives have noted a number of times is that there are two parts to the bill. I think the member for Northwest Territories corrected them and said there are three parts. Nevertheless, they said there is part 1 and part 2, and there was no consultation regarding part 2. That is not true at all. When we consulted, we consulted with all the local governments involved regarding the entire bill, both part 1 and part 2. Shortly, I will read to members some of the things they said, because the opposition has suggested they did not support both parts of the bill.
The bill concerns the Sahtu, the Gwich’in and the Tlicho. When the Tlicho signed its constitutionally protected land claim and its self-government agreement, I was parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Affairs. At that time, unfortunately, we had to fight against the Conservatives to get that agreement signed. At least the Conservatives can now make peace with that wrongdoing of the past and support the bill.
I will read some comments of support, because the Conservatives have said that indigenous groups did not support part 2 or the bill.
Grand Chief George Mackenzie, from the Tlicho Government, said, “We urge the community to move swiftly and decisively to ensure that Bill C-88 comes into force during the current session of Parliament.”
David Wright is legal counsel to the Gwich'in Tribal Council. I say to David, drin gwiinzih shalakat. He said the following at the INAN committee:
If Bill C-88 is not passed, not only will Canada not have fulfilled its commitment to Northwest Territories indigenous communities, but these communities will be forced back into time-consuming, expensive, acrimonious litigation, all adversely affecting that treaty relationship and the broader reconciliation project. Further, this would generate regulatory uncertainty that benefits no one....
I know the Conservatives have spoken against uncertainty in the past, so that is another reason for them to support the bill.
Premier McLeod and Grand Chief George Mackenzie, in a joint letter, said:
[W]e are hopeful that Bill C-88 will proceed expeditiously through the legislative process and receive Royal Assent [in this Parliament].... The negative implications of the status quo are significant.
Mervin Gruben was also quoted as supporting the bill, as well as Duane Smith from Inuvialuit. It was suggested he was not allowed to come to committee, but he was actually invited. He did provide a written submission, and it was nice to have that information added to the record.
A Conservative member talked about not listening to indigenous people and indigenous voices. The member said that not listening to the people of the north is arrogance. I just read that the four governments involved, the Sahtu, the Gwich’in, the Tlicho and the GNWT, all support the bill. Conservatives are right; we should listen to those people. They should listen to those people as well, along with the rest of the parties supporting the bill, and support the bill.
Another thing the Conservatives have talked about a lot is support for resource development. I am sure all other parties agree with sustainable development. It is another reason the Conservatives should vote for the bill. I will read some comments about how the bill promotes and ensures this.
Chief Alfonz Nitsiza, from the Tlicho Government, said:
[F]ailure to resolve this matter co-operatively would damage our treaty relationship and undermine the process of reconciliation as directed by the courts. Long-term regulatory uncertainty for any reason will damage the economy of the Northwest Territories, including within the Tlicho community. This is all avoidable with the passage of Bill C-88.
David Wright, legal counsel to the Gwich'in Tribal Council, said, “Bill C-88 is a step toward certainty in the Mackenzie Valley, and that is a step that should be taken at this time”.
Finally, Premier McLeod said:
The proposed amendments to the MVRMA in Bill C-88 would increase certainty around responsible resource development in the Northwest Territories. That certainty is something our territory needs as we continue to work with the indigenous governments in the territory to attract responsible resource development.
Conservatives, to be true to the values they so eloquently put forward on resource development, can support those values by supporting this bill.
I support Bill C-88, an act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act. Although the debate so far has focused on the content of the proposed act, I want to talk about what is not in Bill C-88 and why it would be a mistake to make major amendments at this stage.
Amending Bill C-88 at this stage of the process would defeat its overall purpose, which is to resolve a court challenge arising from the previous government's decision to merge the land and water boards without holding appropriate consultations.
The Northwest Territories Devolution Act, Bill C-15, was assented to in March 2014. The act transferred the administration and control of public lands and waters to the Government of the Northwest Territories and amended the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act. The act includes provisions restructuring the Mackenzie Valley land and water boards.
The Tlicho government and Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated challenged the changes to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act that would have dissolved their regional land and water boards. They argued that theses changes violated their land claims agreements and infringed on the honour of the Crown. They added that the consultations had been inadequate. On February 27, 2015, the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories granted an injunction that suspended the proposed board restructuring, along with the coming into force of other regulatory amendments.
I would like to point out that those regulatory amendments, which included the addition of a regulation-making authority for cost recovery, administrative monetary penalties, development certificates and other provisions related to regional studies, all passed through the parliamentary process in 2014. Those same provisions are being presented today. However, they were rewritten to ensure that they could apply under the existing four-board structure. They were not part of the court challenge. Bill C-88 responds to the court challenge by reversing the provisions to merge the boards and re-introducing some regulatory elements that are applicable under the existing four-board structure.
On September 23, 2016, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations sent a letter to indigenous governments, organizations and stakeholders to launch the consultation process on Bill C-88.
Consultations were held with indigenous governments and organizations in the Mackenzie Valley, transboundary indigenous governments and organizations, resource co-management boards, organizations from the mining, oil and gas sectors, and the territorial government. To ensure that the indigenous governments and organizations were able to fully participate in the process, the Government of Canada provided funding to these groups and to the resource co-management boards that took part in the consultations.
Representatives from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, or CIRNAC, held a teleconference with stakeholders to consider next steps and to discuss the consultation plan. A legislative proposal to repeal the board restructuring provisions was drafted and submitted to the groups for review. During the review period, the groups had the opportunity to meet with CIRNAC representatives in Yellowknife to talk about the content of the proposal and to ask questions. This was also an opportunity for CIRNAC representatives to determine whether any part of the proposal was unclear or could be improved, based on the feedback they received.
I will not have time to finish, but I do not want to miss this particular point. The only other questions someone could ask that I have not already answered are whether the consultation that was done was serious and, although they were in agreement at the end, whether any changes were made. The answer is yes. I will give an example of two of the changes that were made.
The first was that because of the consultations with the people involved, a court jurisdiction related to a judicial review of administrative monetary penalties, AMPs, was modified in order to ensure consistency with the exclusive jurisdiction of the Northwest Territories Supreme Court under section 32 of the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act.
A second change was that consultation obligations related to the AMPs were added to the bill to ensure consistency with the comprehensive land claim agreements.
The only other thing I think someone might ask is related to the position of national interest and whether this is the only case of that. The answer is no; it is a clause, an idea, that comes up in different legislation. I will give members some examples from the north: the Mackenzie Valley Resource Act, Statutes of Canada 1998, chapter 25, section 130, and the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act, Statutes of Canada 2013, chapter 14, section 2.
Section 94 of the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act provides for the federal minister to refer a proposed project to the Minister of Environment for the purpose of a joint review of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act if it is in the national interest to do so.
The Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act also provides for the responsible minister to reject a board decision or to reject or vary recommended terms or conditions if it is in the national interest to do so.
A few close references can also be found in section 51 of the Yukon Act, Statutes of Canada 2002, chapter 7, and in section 57 of the Northwest Territories Act, Statutes of Canada 2014, chapter 2, section 2.
To boil it all down, basically an act was passed that abrogated the land claim and went against a constitutionally protected law of Canada, which we cannot change by just doing another law. Of course, the court found that out and would not let it go ahead. All this bill would do is to put into law what the court had ordered.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2019-06-11 23:56 [p.28981]
Mr. Speaker, I am delighted when the indigenous affairs critic asks questions supporting things that were in my speech. All 86 bills are very important. The member for Northwest Territories already answered that question when he said that we have to rebuild the trust that was broken by the Conservatives.
The member also made the point I started out with, which is that all the Conservatives who have spoken to this bill have talked about other bills, other things not related to the bill. It is no wonder Parliament has put time allocation on this bill, when Conservatives repeat over and over again things that are not even related to the bill we are debating.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2017-10-26 15:38 [p.14588]
Mr. Speaker, first of all on the uncertainty, that is what we are doing today: returning the certainty.
The member made a very important point that, in this particular case, the Yukon is different from NWT or any other part of Canada, because for this assessment, the rest of Canada has to go through CEAA, but the Yukon does not. It has its own assessment and its own regime. However, talking about intervenor funding, each first nation gets a specific amount of money from the federal government for the exact purposes the member mentioned.
I will say that there is the possibility of a way to improve the allocation of those funds. For example, some projects may be heavier in mining, and those districts where there is a lot of development may have a lot of projects, whereas another first nation may not have any projects in a particular year, yet they both get the same amount of money from us. The member may have raised a point unintentionally, that we could do a better job of distributing the money, but we do distribute the money so that they can do some analysis of those projects.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2017-06-19 17:45 [p.12931]
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her very eloquent defence of YESAA. I cannot fault anything she said on YESAA, so I will not ask a question but allow her to wax more eloquent on the bill.
I just want to say something for opposition members, just in case they try to say that we are rolling back everything they did and nothing was accomplished with that five years of review. There were 72 recommendations that were actually negotiated, the parties agreed to, and were implemented, either legislatively or some as policy recommendations. That was achieved, but what the member spoke so eloquently about was the four major things that were thrown in at the last moment, on which Yukoners and first nations were not consulted. They were in contravention of the spirit and probably the law of their treaty.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2017-04-10 15:28 [p.10386]
Mr. Speaker, it is great to rise today to talk about Bill C-17. I apologize if I am a little groggy. I have not been to sleep since Saturday night. It has taken me since 4:30 p.m. yesterday to get here, with my three plane flights. However, we will go ahead.
It is seldom that we have a bill before Parliament with respect to only one riding. Therefore, I appreciate having Bill C-17 on the agenda. I appreciate that many members in the House, maybe all of them except the minister and parliamentary secretary, may know very little about this bill because it relates to just one riding. That is totally understandable. Therefore, I will try to explain it to make it clear to members what they will be voting on.
The bill removes four issues that were put into place through Bill S-6 in a totally inappropriate process. The four issues are timelines, reassessment of ongoing projects, ministerial policy direction, and a delegation to the Yukon government of that authority. Although first nations negotiated all of the other changes, they were not offered the opportunity to negotiate these four matters. Therefore, for the other 336 members who do not live in Yukon, I will try to put this bill into context.
On February 14, 1973, the chiefs of Yukon went to Ottawa and presented Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau with a paper entitled “Together Today for our Children Tomorrow”, which started the land claim and self-government process in Yukon. Negotiations went on for 20 years, until the modern treaty, the Umbrella Final Agreement, was signed on May 29, 1993 by the three orders of government: federal, territorial, and first nations. The UFA is constitutionally protected, so not even we, as legislators, can change it. It is truly a collaborative, negotiated effort, which is now sometimes used across Canada and around the world. However, we must remember that it took 20 years.
Part of that treaty prescribed the development of YESAA, the Yukon Environmental Socio-economic Assessment Act, again a unique Yukon creation and model, our own assessment act. Unlike most of the rest of the country, we do not fall under CEAA. However, it deals with assessments on the lands of all the governments: the first nations governments, the Yukon government, and the federal government. Creating YESAA was a negotiation exercise by the three partner governments. It took 10 years. YESAA was passed in 2003, and so far so good.
YESAA had a built-in five-year review. That review took five years, from 2008 to 2012. A five-year review is not supposed to take five years. It not only happened after five years, but it also took five years. However, there was a lot of hard work that took place in those five years. There were 72 recommendations agreed to by the three levels of government after all of that work. These were implemented either in Bill S-6, or administratively. Once again, so far so good.
However, at the eleventh hour, near the end of the five years of negotiation, the federal government said it was adding four new major clauses to Bill S-6, and it was not negotiating them. After 20 years of the three partners working together on the UFA, and 10 years working together on the YESAA legislation, would members not be outraged if one of their partners said they were adding four new major clauses and that they could not negotiate them? It is probably not in the letter of the law, and certainly not in the spirit of the law. If we have an illegal law, or a law created in contravention of the treaty, then it does not matter what is in it, it has to go.
We are now in a whole new era of partnerships and collaboration with indigenous people and first nations governments. Often, industry has led the way in making partnerships with first nations people. Therefore, I want to go on to talk about some of the elements that people have raised in the debate so far.
One of the elements was that it is very important for mining. The Conservatives made a good point about how important mining is to the economy of Yukon. It has been the biggest producer of our GDP since the gold rush. That is a very important point. That is exactly what this bill is supposed to do, help that along and add the certainty needed to go ahead.
I am going to quote a couple of speeches and letters. Paul West-Sells, the president of Casino Mining Corporation, one of the biggest in the world and a world-class mine, said:
On behalf of Casino Mining Corporation (Casino), I am putting forward our company's concerns regarding the fragility of intergovernmental relations in the Yukon surrounding Bill S-6 and the negative impact this is having on the territory's mineral industry.
He went on to say:
Casino believes that if YESAA has the full support of all levels of government, it will provide greater certainty for the mineral industry.
This is exactly what the Conservatives were saying, so it is great that they are supporting this.
To this end, we encourage Canada, Yukon, and Yukon First Nation governments to engage, work collaboratively and find a solution to address the outstanding issues within Bill S-6.
That is exactly what Bill C-17 does.
Another speech was made at committee by Ms. Allison Rippin Armstrong, vice-president, lands and environment of Kaminak Gold Corporation, which has a good chance of being the next mine to open in Yukon. She said:
Kaminak is concerned that the process through which YESAA is being amended is creating increased distrust between governments and uncertainty in the assessment of regulatory process for current and future projects in Yukon.
As the Conservatives have so rightly said, it is exactly that uncertainty that this mining vice-president is talking about that we want to fix. She went on to say:
Our Coffee gold project is yet to enter the YESAA process. If Bill S-6 is passed and challenged in court, the Coffee gold project and our presence in the Yukon is uncertain. Kaminak urges the federal government to resume discussions with the first nations to work collectively toward reaching consensus on the proposed amendments to YESAA and avoid a court challenge.
Again, that is exactly what the bill does. It is what everyone is asking for.
I want to go on quote from a letter, once again in light of the Conservatives' emphasis on mining letter. All these documents I am quoting from are much longer and emphasize the situation, but we would not have time to go through them all.
This letter is signed by Sandy Silver, the Premier of Yukon. As the Conservatives and the NDP have said, it is important that decisions are made by Yukoners. This is signed by the Premier of Yukon; Peter Johnston, grand chief; and Mike Burke, president of Yukon Chamber of Mines. Once again, it is important for mining to get that certainty back. It says:
Repeal of these amendments and addressing industry concerns through collaborative framework is critical to re-establishing confidence in the development assessment process in Yukon and to honouring the intent of Final and Self-Government Agreements.
We were pleased to see Bill C-17, which removes these contentious clauses, introduced in the House of Commons on June 8, 2016.
[...] The Government of Yukon, self-governing Yukon First Nations, Council of Yukon First Nations and Yukon Chamber of Mines look forward to seeing Bill C-17 passed, without change, as soon as possible.
Before I go on to some of the other points that have been made in this debate, I want to mention that the honour of the crown is incumbent not only on the federal government, but also on the territorial governments.
As recently as March 22, and this is mostly to make sure that the lawyers in the various government departments and the House of Commons are aware of this, during the Supreme Court appeal hearing, Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella discussed the responsibilities of Yukon government in relation to first nation states, particularly the Yukon government, to whom the honour of the crown attaches.
It was 18 years earlier, in 1999, Justice Vertes' ruling in 1999, Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories, in the case of Donald Morin v. Anne Crawford, reflected on the constitutional status of the territories which had direct relevance to their function as the crown.
I do not expect anyone in the House to understand this complex legislation, because it only applies to Yukon, and it was a treaty between three governments there. That is why I am trying to explain some of the facets of this.
First of all, there was the comment that the people of Yukon should decide. That is exactly what this bill would do. What happened is that Bill S-6 came forward with the four clauses being thrown in at the end. As I said, it was great in the sense that 72 things got approved, either administratively or in Bill S-6, 72 things that the three governments negotiated and agreed on. However, the four things thrown in at the end really aggravated the people of Yukon. They did not like them being imposed, without being able to negotiate. Two large town hall meetings, with around 100 people each, spontaneously occurred. People were enraged about this imposition by the federal government, and rightly so.
Let us remember the 20 years of negotiation for the constitutionally protected treaty, the 10 years of negotiation for the YESAA legislation, and the five years of the five-year review. Obviously people were outraged when, all of a sudden, four items were added to their environmental legislation, by Ottawa, without allowing them to negotiate, as they had with everything else.
Another item that was raised, and it was a very good point, by the Conservatives is about northern strategy. As I responded to that, it is being developed right at the moment and, once again, by Yukoners from the bottom up. The chiefs, the premiers, and the people who live in Yukon will put their input into this northern Arctic policy framework. We really look forward to seeing this, in these days and times.
I can say that my view of the strategy for the north is that it first has to start with the people of the north. There will be great sovereignty and great success in the north if we focus on the people.
Another item I want to talk about that was raised is the reassessments. When a project needs to change, expand, or do something else, in the old days there was a reassessment that had to occur at the exact time that the next permit came due. Permits are what trigger assessments in this particular act, permits by various orders of government. Some people were concerned about that. It was mentioned in debate.
As I outlined, this system has been changed, through the recent amendments that have been made, and as I said, of the 72 some were policy and some were legislative. Now the assessments that YESAA can do are not limited to the next trigger, let us say the five years when the next water licence or mining permit is due. The assessment is not limited to that time frame. The assessment can be for as long as the assessment board and the proponent think is reasonable, a time that fits with the project. Therefore, reassessments would not be due in those particular time frames, as was talked about earlier.
The other aspect is this. Let us say that a project has gone on for 10 or 20 years, and the permits are expired; water permits, assessments, everything has expired. That does not mean things are going to be exactly the same. There is a number of things that have changed: the climate, patterns of wildlife, the amount of wildlife affected by the road, and the air and water affected by the tailings. Even though nothing is new in the particular production, there could easily be things that have to be changed.
The present system where that can be decided between the board and the deciding bodies makes a lot of sense, and that those assessments are only done when required.
We talked about barriers to mining, barriers to investments, disincentives to investment, and as I said earlier, that is a very important point raised by the Conservatives because that is exactly what this bill would do. It would remove those barriers, the ones that have been holding assessments in limbo. I will explain a little later about how that happens through this bill, and how this would clear it up. The minister talked about some of that in her speech.
I want to talk about the barriers that would leave it in limbo. Unique in the country is this partnership of the three governments that signed the treaty. The three governments all have particular roles to play in the assessment. If we were to change it and totally aggravate one of the parties, these changes are likely illegal but are certainly not in the spirit of the treaty. There would be huge uncertainty in the assessment process.
We first have to realize who will be on the board. The board is made up of the three parties. If one of the parties to the board makes these decisions, obviously there will be a problem. As the NDP also said, there are section 35 constitutional rights, which is, once again, why we have to have the first nations onside. They each have settlement land, over which they have total control and make decisions in light of what YESAA recommends. The way the UFA works, the entire Yukon is divided into all 14 first nations' traditional land. They have certain influence and say about their traditional land as part of the treaty, which included the huge quantities of land they gave up.
With these three huge types of influence in the process, if we make them furious by circumventing them and not acting in the honour of the crown or in good faith in the negotiations, obviously there is going to be huge uncertainty in getting environmental assessments done. That is why we have the letters from mining and from the Chamber of Mines, because they want to negotiate things correctly in the future and have a partnership. As I said earlier, there are some great partnerships between first nations and mines in the Yukon, and they are leading the way.
The last item I want to talk about is the timelines. Once again, it would be hard for people who do not come from the riding to understand how this works. It looks as if we are getting rid of all timelines, and that is not true. The timelines are set out in the regulations as a matter of policy and, as we know, there is a process regulations have to go through. If it were the riding of other members, would they not want something sent by the economic experts, environmental experts, first nation experts, and Yukon government experts, as opposed to it being imposed by Ottawa? That is exactly how it works. It is the same as the executive board decisions being made by the rules of the YESAB. Therefore, the timelines are there.
Finally, as was said a couple of times, even without timelines, the YESAB has a great record and was making decisions in less than the timelines, almost all of the time, anyway. In a way, it was a solution to something that was not a problem.
Let us have a new beginning. Let us have negotiations, which may be tough, but will include the three legal signatories to the treaty, with the federal government, the first nations government, the Yukon government, and industry now all onside working collaboratively. Hopefully all of us, as parliamentarians, will join this partnership, put this quickly behind us, and get on with building a fair and prosperous country for us all.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2017-04-10 15:50 [p.10389]
Mr. Speaker. I hope the member will be sensitive to the limited audience for this particular bill because it is mostly administrative for this riding.
However, the member made a good point related to the Peel case. I think the parallel is the obligation in the treaty, taking the honour of the crown and living up to the treaties. The treaty in the Peel case, which is just before the Supreme Court now, is that there is a process let out for land use planning, for the land use planning in the Peel area. The claim in the court, and I cannot really comment on the courts, is that the process of the land claim was not followed with the honour of the crown.
As I said, it is timely that I mention that the crown does apply for the territorial government, that it has that responsibility as well.
I think the member's colleague mentioned a good case when he talked about section 35 again; that is the Little Salmon Carmacks trapping case. I do not know if the member remembers that one. Once again, the crown had an obligation to protect the rights of the first nations, and this was not on their settlement land, but because it would affect their settlement land. That was very important.
The point I tried to make in my debate is that it does not really matter what those four clauses are because they are there illegally; they are there improperly, so however good they are, they just have to go for that reason, and for the same reason as the Peel controversy over the fair implementation of the Umbrella Final Agreement.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2016-10-06 10:11 [p.5556]
Mr. Speaker, I am just going to start out by explaining to the public watching TV, members here, the journalists, etc. what today's debate is all about.
Basically, all the mystifying procedures that happen here, the various votes, who is on committee, and all this stuff, are handled by 159 standing orders that we as MPs create. The huge number of new MPs—probably the highest number in history, in this Parliament—may find some of these procedures very mystifying, strange, or even bizarre. Some of those come from England's House of Commons and were established before Canada was even created. Today is those members' chance to change the rules of the House. Are they most effective for doing the business of the nation?
One of the 159 standing orders is number 51, which mandates today's debate. The Right Hon. Paul Martin wanted to give backbenchers and all MPs a chance to have a kick at the can in these procedures, so he put in the standing order that says that between the 60th and 90th days of a new Parliament, everyone gets a chance to have a take-note debate on the Standing Orders, which is what we're doing today. After this debate, all this information will go to the procedure and House affairs committee of the House to do with what it will, and it can make recommendations to the government on changes to the Standing Orders.
An example is that the last time we had this debate, on February 17, 2012, one of the suggestions was electronic petitions, which are now a reality; so members can make a difference.
On this side of the House, the present Prime Minister has the same philosophy as the Right Hon. Paul Martin: that this is not for the government. Today, this is for backbenchers, for all MPs to express their ideas, so the government is not providing any input. The government has no idea what we as individual backbenchers are going to say. I think it is going to be a very fun, non-partisan, creative brainstorming day to improve Canada's house of democracy for the benefit of all Canadians.
I'm going to have to talk very quickly to get through about 14 points, just for further discussion. I am not necessarily in favour of or against them, but they are points we might discuss further. I apologize to the translators for talking quickly, but really it is just a warm-up. If they think I am bad, wait until the member for Laurentides—Labelle gets up.
A lot of members will talk about decorum in the House. They have certain concerns, and members will hear that later today.
The first of my 14 points is that the shape of Parliament can actually determine attitudes. If we were in a semi-circle like in Sweden or in Congress, we would be all focused toward the Speaker, a common problem for Canada, and we are all trying to solve it together. It is the same in the committees. Why do we have to have it as adversarial, across the board from each other?
My second point is first nations, recognizing that we are on the traditional land of the Algonquin First Nation. First nations have run successful governments in Canada for centuries, for generations. Maybe we should look at some of their successes. Some members might be interested in reading how the Six Nations Confederacy was instrumental for the designers of the American constitution and Congress.
My third point is this. If an MP of today were given another job to add to all his or her other jobs, not only the MP work but another 28 hours of work that he or she had to do, would the MP find that frustrating? For 10 years, I have had to spend 28 hours every week commuting to my riding. When members revamp the Standing Orders, I ask them to please be sensitive and gentle for those of us who have to travel a long way.
My fourth point is that it is incumbent on all of us today to think of the procedures of the House and Senate and committees as being structured in such a way that the amount of legislation that Canadians need, regardless of who is in Parliament, can be dealt with without any draconian measures by the opposition or the government to get this work done.
My fifth point is that in Congress, if members watch it, at times there are two podiums and there is a person from each party at a podium, and they are debating back and forth for a few minutes. In this Parliament, we really get no chance to debate with each other. We get a 10-minute speech, we only get to speak once, and except for a question, there is really no ongoing debate. Ten minutes may be enough or not enough. One of the greatest speeches in history, the Gettysburg address, just took barely more than two minutes. So are the speaking limits too long or too short?
My sixth point is that the situation is totally different in committee. There members have unlimited chances to speak, instead of just once as in the House. Members can speak 1,000 times or for 10 hours each time they speak, as long as they maintain relevancy and avoid redundancy and repetition.
Seventh, not long ago in this place, MPs were not allowed to have papers or read a speech. There are some who would like to go back to that. I remember being here many years ago when all the MPs from one party were reading almost identical speeches, which was not very productive. I am not doing very well today because I have lots of paper here, but that is an idea some people had.
Mr. Charlie Angus: Don't look down.
Mr. Larry Bagnell: Don't look down, yes.
Mr. Speaker, eighth is why not have electronic voting for some of the more repetitious votes, or votes whose outcome we know. In Sweden, members are in a semi-circle and get five seconds to vote. They push a red or green button, and there is a big board with green and red buttons and the total is displayed automatically. Then there is another five seconds to do the next vote. They could do 300 amendments in 10 minutes, whereas it would take us a day.
The ninth point is interesting. I am a simple backbench MP. Quite often, I only leave this building by two or three o'clock in the morning. Can anyone imagine if another full-time job were added to an MP's work? That is what happens when someone becomes a minister. Obviously, there is not appropriate time to do both of those jobs. One of them will not be done well. In Sweden, ministers do not sit in the house. They are given brand new MPs to do their MP jobs, to take care of their constituencies and to give their speeches, and ministers can devote all of their time to their ministerial work.
Tenth, I want to make a point for those of us who travel. Having Fridays alone off would not give me more time in my constituency. There would have to be no votes after noon on Thursday; otherwise, I would spend all day Friday travelling and still would not get time in my constituency, because it is a 14-hour trip. I have to take three airlines.
As for my eleventh point, to be fair to all Canadians, I personally think there should be playground equipment at the new Centre Block, both inside and outside, for families.
Twelfth, senators are often assigned to delegations on trips on joint committees with the House of Commons based on their parties, but soon there will be a Senate where most of the senators will not belong to a party. I think that whole system has to be looked at.
Thirteenth, I think private members' business needs to be looked at. It could be really abused at both ends of the spectrum. I have a slot now for the first time in 11 years, and I could propose some crazy thing that could seriously affect 30 million Canadians. That could happen if MPs were allowed to do whatever they wanted. On the other hand, I have heard that in the past, a government could go to an MP and say that it did not like his or her speech, that it had a speech it wanted read, and the MP was told to read it.
With any private member's bill, whether it comes from the Senate, the House of Commons, or members, the end result is the same. It becomes the law of the land. A bill is a bill is a bill. Any of these bills should go through two screenings, one from the factual, technical, scientific, professional, knowledge-based input of technical experts who have spent their lives on a certain topic in the bureaucracy, and the second is from the point of view of the social licence of the people, which we provide as politicians.
Last, I do not know what it is like in the other ridings, but in my riding, May and June are my busiest months. It might work better for me if we were to come back earlier in September and leave earlier in the spring, so I could get to all the graduations, etc.
For those who are really excited about this topic and scintillating debate on procedure, there is an excellent paper people might want to read, called “The Good Parliament”, by Professor Sarah Childs. She was commissioned to do it for Britain. That report contains 43 recommendations to ensure the diverse and inclusive equality of participation in an effectively organized House of Commons in Westminster, England.
I have three final points from members who could not participate in this debate. First, they suggest there be a maximum time in the Standing Orders for each different category of bill, a different amount of time, but with a limit. Second, they recommend that members who are not on a committee could get mailings from the clerk on important issues if their input were needed. Third, they call for MPs to have comparable staff to civil servants and the ability to pay for at least four.
I am prepared now to answer any questions on my 14 points. Members should remember that if they could not get into the debate, there are questions and comments. They do not have to ask questions. If they could not get on the speaking list today, they could make their comments in the questions and comments period.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2016-05-02 22:01 [p.2718]
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise on this very important debate. It affects all of us, including my wife Melissa, my seven-year-old daughter Aurora, my four-year-old son Dawson, me, and everyone. Not all bills affect every Canadian, but this does. It is a very critical debate.
When this first came up in the House, I voted against it, because sadly there is much elder abuse in Canada, people who take advantage of those with less capacity. I encourage all legislatures, all four levels of government in Canada, all government workers, and all journalists to do everything in their power to work to eliminate elder abuse. That includes the protections needed in this particular bill.
I was also not comforted by what happens in some European countries with legislation. Many people are assisted in dying without their consent.
I have now been convinced by six items. First is the great care that was put into the protection provisions of this bill. There are two doctors or nurse practitioners, totally independent from each other, who are needed to approve the consent.
Informed consent is needed, and again at the time that the act will be carried out. The person must be suffering from intolerable pain. They must provide written consent. They must be in the process of dying, and there must be a 15-day waiting period.
There must be a five-year review of this bill, with the additions that many people might be suggesting during this debate.
Also, I have been convinced by the overwhelming support of my constituents who have contacted me, saying that people should have assistance in choosing the time to end their intolerable suffering.
I have also been convinced by the government's strong conviction, ensuring that there is good palliative care, so that the lack thereof is not what forces the choice of this other decision under this law.
I am also convinced by the cautious approach the government has taken to ensure that such a major life-and-death decision is done right.
Finally, I am convinced that there will be no sanction against health care workers who do not want to participate. I talked to a very experienced medical administrator who suggested that it could be up to 90% of doctors who would choose not to participate. For the provincial and territorial governments, that will provide an administrative challenge for those very small communities that may only have one practitioner.
I have asked my constituents, through the newspaper, to give me feedback. I received very heartfelt thanks and heartfelt views on all sides of this legislation, similar to what I am sure the other 338 members of Parliament have from many of their constituents. Of course, they were not all the same.
I have not had any bad experiences, as a number of MPs have had. However, I was moved by the sad stories of those who did, primarily with family members.
I remember a call from a mayor who told the story of the terrible suffering of a family member. It had gone on far longer than was ever needed. There was no benefit to the person. They did not want to be there.
I remember a call from another friend in a very similar situation. They exposed the myth that it was important not to do this in order to have family gathering together for a peaceful end. They outlined how that is a myth because at the end, in that particular case, the person was in so much pain and it was so distracting, the person did not want to or have the ability to see or gather with anyone.
I had feedback from another constituent whose father and other relatives had Alzheimer's disease. It was a terrible end that they did not want to have, and it could have been ended earlier.
Other constituents gave a large number of different views. One person said that if we allowed such suffering to go on in an animal, we would be charged. Another person talked about their husband who had a rapidly deteriorating disease. He wanted to die at home with family and could not. The doctor explained how that was not possible. They had a terrible painful experience in the hospital for their last few days.
On the other side of the issue, I had a nurse contact me who is totally against the bill and did not think we should proceed with it.
Then there were two views related to the people who are left behind in these situations. There were a number of people who, when in this terrible pain and suffering, did not want the suffering of their relatives and friends to go on. They wanted to terminate their lives so there would be no suffering left for their family and friends. On the other side of the coin, a person suggested we did not want to deny family and friends the wonderful ability to care for that person to the end.
Another person suggested that we have to make sure that all publicly funded health care facilities must allow this.
I also had a suggestion from someone who works with seniors, wanting an advance directive, similar to what is in the Yukon Care Consent Act for end of life that exists right now.
In summary, a majority of my constituents were in favour of assisted dying. Some were against it, like a woman from the small community of Haines Junction. Of those in favour, a number of them want some of the suggestions that people have talked about here today. Many were in favour of having advance directives. I would say that is the biggest amendment they would like to occur at second reading.
I want to close with a couple of suggestions for the committee to wrestle with. First is the advance directives. If people have a debilitating disease, they have to give informed consent at the very last minute, but they may not be able to, as they might not be in condition to do so, so it defeats the whole purpose. Perhaps it should be allowed only for those who are not capable at the last minute so that, as has occurred in the past, people with advance directives who in the end did not want them carried out are not taken advantage of.
The second biggest suggestion was related to the description of foreseeable future. On one side it may provide the flexibility that people want to make the right decision at the right time. On the other hand, it may not be enough definition. Medical workers want more definition, so they are not caught on the wrong side of a criminal law suit.
I had a student ask me an interesting question: what if a person suffering from an insufferable physical disease also has a mental illness and therefore could not give the informed consent? I am glad the committee will further study mental illness. I had a number of people suggest that mental health, Alzheimer's, and even mature youth need to be dealt with.
I want to thank my constituents and members of the House for this very non-partisan, thoughtful debate on this life-and-death situation for all of us. Hopefully, in the end we will find the combination that gives the most peace to the most Canadians.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2016-02-03 18:15 [p.802]
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the great member for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook.
I am very pleased to participate in the debate on Bill C-4, the proposed repeal of two labour bills passed by the previous government. This is an important piece of legislation, and I encourage my fellow members to support its passage in the House.
Some do not agree with our moving to repeal these bills, which is fair enough. However, suggesting the government has a hidden agenda goes too far. During the election campaign, the Prime Minister publicly made a commitment to repeal both these pieces of legislation. Canadians went to the polls and they expect us to keep our commitments. It was also clearly spelled out and made public in her mandate after the minister was sworn in as Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour. This commitment was restated by the Prime Minister when he spoke to the Canadian Labour Congress in November. Far from being part of some hidden agenda, the government's intention to repeal these bills was made very clear, stated often, and its reasons for doing so were repeated frequently.
Let us start with the most important reason. Repealing these bills would help restore a fair and balanced approach to labour relations in Canada. While both of these bills pose a number of problems, today I am going to focus on the legislative amendments made by Bill C-525. Bill C-525 changed the union certification and decertification processes under three federal labour relations statutes: the Canada Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, and the Public Service Labour Relations Act.
Prior to these amendments enacted through Bill C-525, federally regulated unions could use what was called a “card check system” for certification. If a union demonstrated that a majority of workers had signed union cards, the union could be certified as the bargaining agent for these workers, although it was only required if less than a majority signed but enough to indicate a strong interest, 35% under the Canada Labour Code, for example.
Bill C-525 changed that to require that unions show at least 40% membership support before holding a secret ballot, and to require a vote even where more than 50% of voters had signed union member cards. It also made it easier for unions to be decertified by lowering the threshold to trigger a decertification vote to 40%, compared to majority support, which was previously required. Essentially, Bill C-525 made it more difficult for Canadian workers to unionize. This is not good for our economy and it is not good for Canadians. Unions help to address inequality by helping to ensure fair wages. They help protect worker safety and prevent discrimination in the workplace. They also help employers because a fair workplace is a more productive workplace, and more productive workplaces help to grow our economy and help strengthen our middle class.
What was presented in Bill C-525 was essentially a solution in search of a problem. There were no great rallies on Parliament Hill or even in the boardrooms demanding that we change a union certification system that had worked successfully for many years. The card check system, whereby a union is certified by demonstrating majority support through signed union cards, has been used successfully for many years in the federal jurisdiction and in several provinces. A number of unions, like Unifor and the Airline Pilots Association, argued that it is fast and efficient and much more likely to be free of employer interference than the mandatory secret ballot system brought in under Bill C-525. The card check system is not undemocratic. It required a majority support through signed cards. The Canada Industrial Relations Board has strong measures in place to ensure the process of signed cards is fair.
It should also be noted that representatives from both sides of the bargaining table were highly critical of how the previous government brought in these changes. Both bills were brought in as private members' bills, and without consultation with employers, unions, or other levels of government.
Many argue that it set a very dangerous precedent for future labour reform. They are right. We believe that fair and balanced labour policies developed through real and meaningful consultation with unions, employers, stakeholders, the provinces and territories, and the Canadian public are essential for harmonious labour relations.
Bill C-377 also presents problems that could have been averted with proper consultation. We have heard my colleagues talk about that in great detail. Among other things, it has the potential to seriously disrupt collective bargaining processes. For example, detailed information about unions, including information on union strike funds, would be available to employers. It seems like a blatant attempt to make things harder for unions. We recognize the essential role that unions play in protecting the rights of workers and helping the middle class to grow and prosper.
It is clear that the legislative amendments enacted through these bills must be repealed in order to restore fairness and balance in our approach to labour relations in Canada. To do less would be a disservice to workers, employers, and the economy.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2016-02-03 18:23 [p.803]
Mr. Speaker, the member brought up one of the major points about this bill, which is the case with some other bills too that I would love to talk about, and that is the process as opposed to just the content. I have certain personal qualms sometimes with how private members' bills do not get the same rigorous analysis by departments, the same type of consultation, and the same type of constitutional review as other bills. A private member's bill results in a law, the same as any other bill, so why would it not get the same type of thorough treatment?
Personally, I would like to reform the system to ensure that all bills are looked at with the same wisdom by the technocrats, the people who have spent their lives working on the technical details, so they can provide technical information, some of which the member mentioned, to parliamentarians. Of course, the bottom line is that parliamentarians ultimately have to and should make the final decision based on a comprehensive technical review to ensure the bill is under the right jurisdiction, makes technical sense and does not offend the Constitution. As we know, Bill C-377 is under a constitutional challenge.
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