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View Randy Boissonnault Profile
Lib. (AB)
View Randy Boissonnault Profile
2018-11-20 11:26 [p.23588]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my support for Bill C-75. I would like to use my time today to discuss the proposed changes to this bill that would affect the LGBTQ2 community, human trafficking and the victim surcharge.
As special adviser to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 issues, I am particularly proud of the work of our government in advancing the rights of LBGTQ2 Canadians and the work of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in making concrete, tangible legislative changes that would improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit Canadians.
Today, on the the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, when we pause to reflect on the lives of transgender people here in Canada and around the world that have been lost to murder, suicide, hatred and discrimination; the lives diminished due to overt transphobia and misogyny; and the daily discrimination faced by trans children, siblings, parents and their loved ones, I am proud, as the first openly gay MP elected from Alberta to the House, that Parliament passed Bill C-16 to protect trans persons in the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act. I am particularly proud that our government led this charge.
I am also proud of the work of our government in passing legislation to enable Canadians who have criminal records for same-sex consensual activity to have these records expunged, and I acknowledge the leadership of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness on this file.
I would also like to thank the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada for including in Bill C-75 the removal of section 159, which discriminates against young gay or bisexual men. That would now be removed from the Criminal Code with the passing of Bill C-75.
I also applaud the work of the committee and the ministry in responding to expert testimony for the repeal of the bawdy house and vagrancy provisions that were used by police forces to arrest gay men who frequented gay clubs and bathhouses. Men arrested in these police raids, many now in their 60s, 70s and 80s, still face criminal records as a result of these charges. We heard the testimony, and the committee and the ministry responded. Should Bill C-75 pass, these odious provisions in the Criminal Code would be removed and amends could thus be made.
Parts of the bill pertain to human trafficking and the victim surcharge.
I think it is very important to clearly state that human trafficking cannot be tolerated and that our government sees it as a very serious concern. That is why we continue to work closely with the provinces, territories, law enforcement agencies, victim services groups, organizations representing indigenous peoples, and other community groups, as well as our international partners. We are working together to combat all forms of human trafficking in Canada and abroad, to provide victims with special protection and support, to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice and to ensure that their punishment reflects the severity of the crime.
Human trafficking is a very difficult crime to detect because of its clandestine nature and victims' reluctance to report their situations out of fear of their traffickers. We heard testimony about that when the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights travelled across the country to listen to victims of human trafficking and to see how we could change the Criminal Code to provide more opportunities for police to work with those organizations that work with victims.
The legislative changes within Bill C-75 would provide police and prosecutors with additional tools for investigation and prosecution. These measures would bring the perpetrators of human trafficking to justice so they can answer for the severity of their actions.
The amendments proposed in Bill C-38 would bring into force amendments that have already been passed by Parliament, but were not promulgated in the former parliamentary initiative, Bill C-452. They would also strengthen the legislation to combat all forms of human trafficking, whether through sexual exploitation or forced labour, while respecting the rights and freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution.
We heard of heinous crimes being committed not just against those who are unknown to the perpetrators, but also against family members. Family trafficking exists in this country, and we must make sure that police forces are armed with the tools they need to be able to put an end to such heinous crimes.
More specifically, the proposed changes will make it easier to prosecute human trafficking offences by introducing a presumption that will enable the Crown to prove that the accused exercised control, direction or influence over the victim's movements by establishing that the accused lived with or was habitually in the company of the victim.
In addition, these changes would add human trafficking to the list of offences to which the provisions imposing a reverse onus for forfeiture of proceeds of crime apply.
I would now like to discuss the changes that would affect the victim surcharge. Bill C-75 proposes to restore judicial discretion to waive the victim surcharge by guiding judges to waive the victim surcharge only when the offender is truly unable to pay. For certain offences against the administration of justice, where the total amount would be disproportionate in certain circumstances, the bill would also provide for limited judicial discretion to not impose a federal victim surcharge amount per offence.
The federal victim surcharge, which is set out in the Criminal Code, is imposed on a sentencing basis, and revenue is collected and used by the province or territory where the criminal act was committed to assist in the sentencing process for funding victims services. Bill C-75 would maintain that the federal victim surcharge must be imposed ex officio and must apply cumulatively to each offence. However, to address concerns about the negative impact of current federal victim surcharge provisions on marginalized offenders, the bill would provide limited judicial discretion regarding the mandatory and cumulative imposition of the surcharge in certain circumstances.
Bill C-75 would provide clear direction as to what would constitute undue hardship. These guidelines would ensure that the mandatory exemption, or waiver, would be applied consistently and only to offenders who were truly unable to pay the surcharge. In addition, the bill would state that undue hardship would refer to the financial ability to pay and was not simply caused by harm associated with incarceration. We are trying to avoid the criminalization and over-criminalization of people simply because of their inability to pay a federal victim surcharge.
For certain offences against the justice administration, in the event that the cumulative surcharge was disproportionate to the circumstances, Bill C-75 would contain provisions allowing an exception to the victim fine surcharge ratio. This exception would apply to two types of offences against the administration of justice: failure to appear in court; and breach of conditions of bail by a peace officer or court order, and only when said breach did not cause any moral, bodily or financial damage to the victim.
Studies show that marginalized offenders, especially indigenous offenders and offenders with mental health and addiction issues, are more likely to be found guilty of offences against the administration of justice.
Under the existing victim surcharge provisions, it is unlikely that much of the money collected in the federal victim surcharges that are paid out to the provinces and territories comes from groups of offenders who are unable to pay the victim surcharge or who are only able to pay part of the surcharge because of their personal situation or because of their multiple offences against the administration of justice.
In addition, offenders who suffer undue hardship as a result of the mandatory victim surcharge are, by the current application of the provisions, hampered in their ability to regain financial stability. This places them in a situation where the surcharge does not allow them to successfully reintegrate into society after serving their sentences or paying their outstanding fines, and they risk reoffending. These types of situations do not help survivors or victims of crime or the provision of services to help them. This proposed exception would be consistent with the principles of fairness and equity.
I am confident that by maintaining a higher mandatory surcharge, this proposed legislation would support the objective of the victim surcharge to provide a source of funding for provincial and territorial victim services while strengthening offender accountability regarding victims and society in general. At the same time, the bill would be in keeping with the principles of proportionality, fairness and respect for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Not having gone through law school, I can say that it is an honour to serve on this committee and to be part of making Bill C-75 appear in the House today.
View Kelly McCauley Profile
View Kelly McCauley Profile
2018-04-30 17:00 [p.18934]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak on Bill C-48 again.
There is a content creator on YouTube who does these great videos called “honest trailers”. He discusses what movies should actually be talking about when they do their trailers. I would like to do the same with Liberal bills, because quite often we hear these grandiose names.
For example, for the budget, I would rename it the “Dude, where is my infrastructure budget?”, because no one seems to know where the infrastructure money went. Even the Parliamentary Budget Officer could not locate $7 billion of it. I do note that of the $7 billion, he was able to find that it was costing Canadian taxpayers $700,000 of spending for every job created.
I also called it the “Honey, I sank the kids” bill, because $100 billion in added debt is going to stick to our children and our grandchildren in the coming years. However, I stuck on a different name, the Vantablack bill. Vantablack is the darkest substance known to man, so I called it that because of the lack of transparency in the budget bill. In fact, it is so lacking in transparency that even a supernova could not bring light to it.
An issue with the budget bill was, for example, that the finance department refused to respond to either us or the Parliamentary Budget Officer about some five-year spending projections. There was vote 40, which the treasury board president has brought forward, which will allow him to spend $7 billion without any oversight from committees, Parliament, or votes once the money has been done. The government that brought us an $8 million hockey rink is going to be given $7 billion without any oversight or transparency.
With Bill C-48 there could be a lot of names, but I am going to call it the “hypocrite bill”. The name “hypocrite bill” could also be applied to a lot of other bills. For example, the government talked big on military spending, but it is not mentioned once in the budget. The Liberals also talk about helping the middle class, yet burdened it with tax hikes and hundreds of billions of dollars of added debt with no mention of how it will ever be paid back.
As well, the government brags about a gender-balanced cabinet, but they give all five junior ministries to women. No government since the Trudeau Senior government has given all five of the junior ministries to women.
The Liberals killed energy east by constantly changing the goalposts and requiring upstream and downstream emission considerations. At the same time, they have given hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to their friends in Bombardier to pay out millions of dollars in bonuses, by the way. Apparently Bombardier jets do not emit emissions. The Liberals have given millions and millions to Ford motor companies because apparently Ford cars now run on pixie dust.
Let us look at the general hypocrisy around Bill C-48. Do not let anyone be fooled. It is not about banning tankers; it is about killing the northern gateway pipeline once and for all and killing Alberta jobs.
The Liberals like to talk a lot about human rights, but they blocked Alberta oil, the cleanest, most ethically produced oil in the world, to bring in oil from some of the worst human rights-abusing countries in the world. We bring in oil from Saudi Arabia, where there are some of the worst oppressions of women and of the LGBTQ community.
The Liberals brought in oil from Nigeria, where the government will murder a person for being gay. Think about that. We are bringing in oil from Nigeria and giving them money. Instead of creating Alberta jobs, we are getting oil from people who murder gays just for expressing who they truly are. We bring in oil from Angola, a country that Human Rights Watch highlights for its heavy government oppression. However, we buy their oil and block Alberta oil.
This is really interesting. Just last week, the Liberal government banned the famous Angolan human rights crusader Rafael Marques from Canada. We have open borders to all those fleeing the tyranny of the U.S., where one million Canadians still live. I hope they are going to flee as well. The Liberals will allow open borders for that, yet an award-winning human rights crusader from Angola is banned by the government. However, we will buy their oil.
The Liberals talk about evidence-based decision-making, so let us look at the facts on tanker safety.
We allow tankers into the Vancouver harbour to pick up oil in Burnaby from Kinder Morgan, where it currently is. We are planning, if Kinder Morgan gets built, to move that up to one freighter a day. That is perfectly fine. The Liberals approved that.
We allow what is called an Aframax tanker to move under the Second Narrows bridge in North Vancouver or Burnaby, where there is a width of 137 metres across the narrows.
The government now also says that a tanker moving through a width of 1,400 metres, through the Douglas Channel from Kitimat to the open seas, is not safe. Not only is the Douglas Channel 10 times the width of underneath the Second Narrows Bridge, but it would be escorted with three pilots for the entire passage. That is something we do not do when bringing in Venezuelan oil, Saudi Arabian oil, or Nigerian oil on the east coast. It is something we currently do not do when we bring in ships through the much narrower passage from North Vancouver to Burnaby.
The TERMPOL document for northern gateway added many other safety measures, such as radar on Gil Island, and more response gear, which we also do not offer for the tankers coming in through North Vancouver or the east coast.
Let us talk about the hypocrisy of the government's empty statement on nothing being more important than the nation-to-nation relationships. We heard in the government operations and estimates committee that no industry does better in Canada than the energy industry in working with indigenous groups, indigenous business, and providing jobs and prosperity to indigenous people of Canada. Who does the very worst on engaging them? It is the Canadian government.
This is what the first nations are saying. Elmer Ghostkeeper of the Buffalo Lake Métis said that they and other first nations are disappointed by the political decision, not the evidence-based decision, but the political decision, made without their input. Mr. Ghostkeeper said that 30 bands were looking forward to the shared prosperity that northern gateway would bring, with $2 billion in set asides.
Again, let us remember. It is Suncor, Syncrude, Enbridge. These are all the companies that were named in the government operations and estimates committee as companies that do the very best of any industry in providing prosperity, jobs and opportunities for first nations, and we are throwing it aside.
Chief Derrick of the Gitxsan first nations said that the Prime Minister did not even want to hear from supportive bands.
The government will consult with every U.S.-financed radical environmentalist group on pipelines in the industry. It will even take taxpayers' money to give to these radical environmentalist groups, saying, “Here, take some taxpayers' money from Alberta, from all across Canada, and go out and work against the Canadian interest.” It is working against what the government has said is in the national interest. Will the government listen and consult with first nations? No, of course not.
I want to talk about some of the safety issues. B.C. coast pilots are some of the very best pilots in the entire world. They have a safety standard for shipping off of B.C. that far exceeds what we do on the east coast. I want to talk about their record.
Since 2007, the very worst year for incidents has been a 99.94% success rate. There was not a single issue of an oil spill from tankers since Kinder Morgan was built 63 years ago. Not one. On regular shipping, the very worst year was 99.94%. In 2017, it was 99.97%. They have gone above and beyond, as I mentioned.
With the portable pilotage units they put on their ships in case their ships piloting or GPS goes down, they can control it as well. They spend $600,000 a year in training for the pilots. As I mentioned, they have a perfect record for moving liquid bulk vessels of over 40,000 dead weight. These are the experts.
They did a computer program when northern gateway was being considered. The experts said that moving ships down, even without pilots, would be perfectly safe. However, the plan was to include three pilots. Here we have the experts saying it is perfectly safe without all the added measures, and they have offered to put on these additional measures to make them extra safe. The government shot it down.
Bill C-48 is not about coastal safety. If it were, the government would shut down the east coast and Vancouver as well. This bill is all about killing Alberta jobs, and about killing once and for all the northern gateway pipeline.
View Romeo Saganash Profile
That Bill S-3 be amended by deleting Clause 10.
Madam Speaker, [member spoke in aboriginal language]
First, I could not help reiterating my disappointment in the Speaker's ruling on the question of privilege raised by the member for Winnipeg Centre. I am going to accommodate the House and repeat my message in both official languages.
It is all the more disappointing that it has been decided, with unprecedented and delicate irony, on the eve of National Aboriginal Day, that I will no longer have the right to speak my own language here in the House of Commons. This is frustrating, not to say insulting, because my language has been spoken for 7,000 years. It was spoken before a word of French or English was ever spoken in this country that we now call Canada.
I am going to accommodate the House.
This afternoon, the Speaker rendered his ruling on the question of privilege that was raised by the member for Winnipeg Centre, which is extremely disappointing, especially on the eve of National Aboriginal Day.
On the very eve of National Aboriginal Day 2017, in this country that you now call Canada, I am told that there are only two official languages in this place, and that I cannot speak the language that has been spoken in this country, on this territory, for the last 7,000 years, even before a single word in English or French was heard in this place. In this country, that you now call Canada, I am told that I cannot use my language. Allow me to express my disappointment.
Tomorrow is a sacred day for all indigenous peoples in this country. It is so sacred. However, hearing this ruling from the Speaker was the most terrible thing I have heard in this chamber in the six years that I have been sitting in this place. In fact, if members want to know, the words in Cree for the Speaker of the House is [Member spoke in Cree] which means “the boss of those who speak in the House”.
However, I rise again on Bill S-3, which is a bill that should eliminate any gender inequities in the Indian Act.
In doing so, I need to refer to a couple aspects of where we are at this moment as we speak. As we know, there were important amendments that stemmed from the work of the Senate, important amendments that not only attempted to respond to the Quebec Superior Court ruling in the Descheneaux case, but also addressed the other inequities and discriminations that exist under the Indian Act.
That was the purpose of the amendments submitted by the Senate. Unfortunately, the majority Liberal members of the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs decided that those amendments were unacceptable. That is very unfortunate, because discrimination in this country should not even be allowed in 2017. That is so unjust. That is one aspect that I will be talking about in the remaining time I have.
There is also the aspect of the liability of the crown, which needs to be addressed. It is one of the most important calls to action of the TRC. It is number 26 of the TRC which deals with this aspect. Again, it is a provision that is included in the amendments that are before us. I believe it is a proposition to accept human rights violations that were done in the past and accept them in 2017. In all conscience, I as an indigenous person will never accept that proposition. We cannot justify past wrongs, past human rights violations in this place in 2017. Wrongs of the past are wrongs. We cannot say today to forget about them and move on. That is not how it works.
The other aspect I would like to address in the couple of minutes I have left is the fact that the government is telling us to trust it, that there is a second phase coming up, and it will deal with the other concerns that we are talking about six months after this bill is ratified by the Senate. Again, who else is asked that their human rights be delayed once again? Indigenous women in this country have waited for so long. Now we are asking again to do away with their human rights, that we will deal with them later on. That is absolutely unacceptable. On this side of the House, that cannot be accepted.
Let me quote one of our expert witnesses who came before us, Pam Palmater. She had this to say to our committee:
How many more times are you going to require that indigenous women spend their entire lives trying to get equality, in a country where equality is actually the law?
We do not have a choice here. This issue should in fact be moot. There is a very clear message here. The fact the government or any committee would be wondering or considering delaying equality for one more day shows exactly how ingrained sexism and racism is in this country, and especially for indigenous women.
The provisions that were truncated from the proposed Senate amendments were once accepted by both the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs and the Minister of Justice. In fact, this is what the Minister of Justice said to Parliament back in 2010. She insisted that Parliament eradicate discrimination wherever and whenever possible. Now she has changed her mind. The proposition that I have before us is the very minimum that we need this House to adopt.
View Murray Rankin Profile
View Murray Rankin Profile
2016-05-17 15:41 [p.3486]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate your thoughtful ruling and your recognition that this is indeed a historic event and, as you said, a generational issue. In Motion No. 1, I have suggested that we delete clause 3 of the bill, which is one of the central features of it.
The Supreme Court's ruling in the Carter case was a watershed moment for many Canadians, especially those who had fought so long to have their suffering recognized and their autonomy respected. I was proud to support the principle of Bill C-14 during second reading. I did so thinking of Sue Rodriguez of Victoria, Gloria Taylor, and Kay Carter, and of all of the others who paved the way for the rights of other suffering Canadians to be recognized by the Supreme Court and by Parliament.
While I was proud to support the bill in principle, at the time I raised serious concerns about particular provisions in it. Still, I was optimistic that these concerns would be resolved and the bill improved by hearing from experts and making the necessary amendments in committee. Sadly, that was not to be done.
The first day of consideration in the justice committee ended without a single opposition amendment accepted by the Liberal majority. By the end of the week, after more than 100 amendments were proposed, just 16 were accepted. Of course, I am pleased that my amendment was accepted to strengthen the government's commitment to providing more Canadians with palliative care, mental health supports, better services for patients with Alzheimer's and dementia, and culturally appropriate services for indigenous patients. I thank my colleagues from all parties for supporting my amendments to that end. However, many of the handful of changes at committee were simply minor technical changes.
Along with members from several parties, I offered a solution to the glaring flaw in the bill, the elephant in the room, namely the fact that it simply did not square with the Supreme Court's ruling. I proposed using the exact words of the Supreme Court to determine eligibility. That was of course one of the main recommendations of the special House Senate joint committee that addressed this bill. Sadly, all of these proposals were rejected. It became clear that the government had no interest in changing the central feature of this bill. Therefore, does the Liberals' bill square with the Supreme Court decision in Carter? The answer is clearly no.
The Supreme Court declared the two laws that prevented medical assistance in dying:
...void insofar as they prohibit physician-assisted death for a competent adult person who (1) clearly consents to the termination of life; and (2) has a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition.
That language defined the circumference set out by our highest court as to who had the right to physician-assisted dying. Outside of that circle, there remains a total ban on assistance in dying. Mature minors, those who have lost or never had the capacity to give legal informed consent, those with solely psychiatric conditions, and those with merely minor medical conditions were never eligible in the Supreme Court decision. However, within the circle are all consenting competent adults with a grievous and irremediable illness, disease, or disability that causes enduring and intolerable suffering.
This bill would erase the circle set by the Supreme Court and draws a much smaller circle within it, covering only those nearing the end of life and facing what is called reasonably foreseeable natural death, a phrase which just recently the Collège des médecins du Québec called incomprehensible from a medical perspective.
A lawyer representing the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association at the court hearings said this to the justice committee, “Bill C-14 cuts the heart out of our victory in the Carter case”. By adding an end-of-life requirement onto the court's ruling, Bill C-14 would revoke the right to choose from an entire class of competent adult Canadians. That group is everyone suffering intolerably from an irremediable but non-fatal condition.
I have constituents in my riding who fall into that outer ring beyond the circle of rights recognized by the government, people who are suffering, who saw their suffering recognized by the Supreme Court and who cannot, for the life of them, understand why the government now insists on removing their right to choose this option.
What justification has the government offered for this disturbing decision? At the House and Senate committee, and again at the justice committee, some argued we could not afford to expand the circle of compassion, that the Supreme Court ruling could not be obeyed in full, that not all those who were granted rights in Carter could see those rights upheld because to do so would pose an unacceptable risk to vulnerable persons.
These are important arguments, but they are not new. In fact, they were advanced ably and in great detail before the Supreme Court of Canada. Here is what the court wrote.
At trial [the Crown] went into some detail about the risks associated with the legalization of physician-assisted dying. In its view, there are many possible sources of error... Essentially...there is no reliable way to identify those who are vulnerable and those who are not. As a result, it says, a blanket prohibition is necessary.
I emphasize this:
The evidence accepted by the trial judge does not support Canada’s argument...The trial judge found that it was feasible for properly qualified and experienced physicians to reliably assess patient competence and voluntariness, and that coercion, undue influence, and ambivalence could all be reliably assessed as part of that process....As to the risk to vulnerable populations (such as the elderly and disabled), the trial judge found that there was no evidence from permissive jurisdictions that people with disabilities are at heightened risk of accessing physician-assisted dying....no evidence of inordinate impact on socially vulnerable populations in the permissive jurisdictions...no compelling evidence that a permissive regime in Canada would result in a “practical slippery slope”. accepted by the trial judge does not support [this] argument.
That was the conclusion of the Supreme Court after considering the evidence and arguments raised in Carter, the very same evidence and arguments that were advanced at the joint House and Senate committee, which I was honoured to serve on, and at the justice committee just last week. After considering that evidence and those arguments, the court issued its ruling in Carter, establishing the right to choose medical assistance in dying for everyone inside a carefully measured circle of eligibility.
Quite simply, there was a large circle of eligibility. The government has chosen within that circle to define a smaller class. It simply cannot do that if we believe in the rule of law, if we believe in the fact that the Supreme Court should be listened to in this case.
In conclusion, I simply cannot support moving any further with a bill that would revoke from an entire class of competent adult Canadians rights granted to it by the Supreme Court of Canada.
View Christine Moore Profile
View Christine Moore Profile
2014-06-03 17:16 [p.6119]
Mr. Speaker, if I may, I would like to begin my speech with a quiz. What do the following organizations have in common: Alternatives, the British Columbia Teacher's Federation, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Common Frontiers, the Confédération des syndicats nationaux and the Council of Canadians?
Mr. Speaker, I know that I have the floor right now, but I would hand it over to you if you would like to answer my quiz, or I could give you the answer if you are having a little trouble.
The answer is that all these organizations have given the Canadian government seven warnings. Let me share their concerns. These various civil society organizations in Quebec and Canada are concerned that the free trade agreement currently being debated in the House of Commons will further undermine human rights and democracy in Honduras. That is the answer to the quiz.
Discussions on this free trade agreement began a few days after Juan Orlando Hernández was installed as president. He took power following the highly controversial presidential election in Honduras. Most international observers felt that the electoral results, which were marred with irregularities and obtained in a context of violence, were not valid.
The proposed legislation shows that Canada supports illegitimate governments if doing so serves the interests of the Canadian economy. That makes no sense.
This bilateral trade agreement was signed on November 5, 2013, shortly after that presidential election, in spite of widespread opposition and evidence suggesting that the agreement would exacerbate social tensions and human rights issues.
After the military coup in 2009 that resulted in the overthrow of democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya, the violence and repression reached unprecedented heights. Human rights and women’s rights advocates, members of the LGBT community, the Garifuna, indigenous peoples, union leaders, farmers and journalists were systematically threatened and in some cases, unfortunately, killed.
The unfortunate thing in all that is that Canada is exacerbating social conflict in Honduras. In addition to the free trade agreement, Canadian investments have contributed to social conflict, particularly in the mining and tourism industries and the export sector.
The government of Canada provided technical assistance for the adoption of the General Mining and Hydrocarbons Law in January 2013. The new law ended the seven-year moratorium and imposed a 2% royalty on mining companies to fund state security measures.
The agreement also provided for new mining projects, and this revived social tensions and required a heightened military presence in the communities where the mining projects were located.
According to the Honduras Documentation Center, 52% of the conflicts arise out of the management of natural resources. The best-known example, unfortunately, is the Goldcorp mining company of Vancouver, which operates a gold and silver mine in the Siria valley.
From what we know, the mining project is apparently responsible for contaminating the water, drying up watercourses and causing the emergence of serious health problems in the surrounding communities. Unfortunately, the full extent of these problems has not even been identified.
In the clothing and textile exports sector, Gildan of Montreal, whose factories are located in northwestern Honduras, has come under heavy criticism. Gildan is said to be responsible for numerous work-related injuries due to excessively long work shifts and high production targets. It has allegedly fired workers for attempting to unionize.
In the tourism industry, Canadian investments have resulted in the displacement of indigenous and Afro-Honduran communities, without regard for their culture or their ancestral rights on those lands.
The Canadian government is misleading the public when it says this free trade agreement will result in improvements in the situation in Honduras. In fact, it is going to enormously reduce the capacity of the government to legislate in the public interest, and deal a hard blow to the rights of communities and individuals and to labour and environmental rights.
In the meantime, investors’ rights are taking precedence. Corporations will now be able to sue the government if it makes decisions that run counter to their interests. If the government in power seeks to protect its people and does anything that goes against investors, it will be sued. The Honduran government will thus be inclined to make decisions based on the interests of foreign investors, not those of its own population. That is an enormous risk.
The side agreements on the environment and the right to work include no mechanism to give them force and effect in law. Consequently, by favouring the economic interests of a few privileged investors, this free trade agreement will only force Honduras into even greater crisis and a heightened climate of violence.
I would now like to address the issue of police corruption and the militarization of the state. Police corruption is endemic in Honduras. Some senior officers are involved in criminal activities, and impunity undeniably reigns in the judicial system and law enforcement agencies.
Constantino Zavala, chief of police in the province of Lempira in western Honduras, was recently suspended as a result of drug trafficking allegations.
President Hernández has emphasized a return to military security, specifically by ordering the creation of the Military Police of Public Order funded by proceeds from a new security tax on major corporations.
The new military units will be responsible for patrolling residential neighbourhoods, new developments and public places in order to combat crime. However, human rights advocates in Honduras believe that they are witnessing a return of the death squads that assassinated women, youth and political dissidents in the 1980s.
During the November 24, 2013, presidential election, many Hondurans hoped that the country’s new political face would put an end to the two-party regime, which would be for the better. However, it would appear that, on the contrary, the questionable election of President Hernández has exacerbated the situation. Foreign observers and local human rights advocacy groups have reported widespread fraud in the form of vote-buying, voter registry irregularities, the sale of ballots, military intervention, bullying and even assassinations. Hernández has nevertheless been declared the winner, and that has plunged the country even deeper into crisis.
That is why many organizations are asking that the Parliament of Canada not pass this act respecting a free trade agreement between Canada and Honduras and that the Conservative government review its priorities with Honduras, focusing first and foremost on the welfare of its communities, its population and its workers.
I would like to conclude by saying that this trade agreement is not in Canada’s best interest. The volume of Honduran exports to Canada is much higher than that of Canadian exports to Honduras. This trade agreement does not benefit Canada.
In light of the political and social situation in Honduras, it would be really ill-advised for Canada to enter into a free trade agreement with this nation. Perhaps we could revisit the matter a few years down the road when a more favourable climate prevails. For now, the government should focus on free trade agreements with emerging countries that offer considerably more trade opportunities for Canada.
View Jean Crowder Profile
View Jean Crowder Profile
2014-06-02 13:14 [p.5977]
Mr. Speaker, I am rising to speak to Bill C-20, the Canada-Honduras free trade agreement. As a number of my colleagues have pointed out, New Democrats are opposed to this agreement, for a number of very good reasons.
Others have mentioned it, but I want to reiterate the three pillars that we think are fundamentally important for Canadians when negotiating free trade agreements and the assessment of those agreements. First, is the proposed partner one who respects democracy, human rights, adequate environmental and labour standards, and Canadian values? If there are challenges in this regard, is the partner on a positive trajectory toward these goals? Second, is the proposed partner's economy of significant or strategic value to Canada? Third, are the terms of the proposed agreement satisfactory? On this last point, the Canada-Honduras agreement is another example of an agreement that was negotiated behind closed doors, so Canadians did not have access to the full details of the agreement during that process.
I am going to focus most of my speech on human rights. I have been in the House for almost 10 years and have had the opportunity to debate other free trade agreements, including, notably, the Colombia free trade agreement, where there were many human rights violations.
One of my colleagues noted that one of the ways Canada could position itself is to make sure there are binding terms within a free trade agreement that talk about human rights and the consequences if human rights violations continue.
We have attempted, a number of times in the House, to have a bill passed with regard to corporate social responsibility. The bill would hold Canadian companies to standards that we hold here in Canada, instead of finding extractive companies in particular doing business in other countries, where they violate all kinds of environmental, social, and human rights standards. That bill has never managed to get through the House.
I want to note one particular person who provided testimony before committee because I am going to focus on the human rights aspect. Ms. Sheila Katz, a representative from the Americas Policy Group at the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, said at the Standing Committee on International Trade, on April 22, 2013:
The Americas Policy Group has recommended that Canada refrain from concluding free trade agreements with countries that have poor democratic governance and human rights records. [...]...Canada's eager recognition of a president who came to power in a military coup in Honduras in 2009. This is another example of Canada prioritizing the trade pillar of its Americas strategy above the rest. Since the coup, hundreds of regime opponents have been intimidated, arbitrarily arrested, disappeared, tortured, and killed. The Americas Policy Group is concerned that Canada has validated this regime by adopting a business-as-usual approach and signing a free trade agreement with Honduras in spite of its human rights record.
I am going to refer to a number of different articles with regard to the Honduran human rights record.
In an article by IWGIA, in The Indigenous World 2010, there was a bit of background, and then it talked about some specifics with regard to human rights abuses in Honduras. It is important to note the number of indigenous people in Honduras and the land mass that we are talking about:
Given the lack of an official census, it is estimated that the nine indigenous and Afro-descendant people living in Honduras number 1.27 million inhabitants.... The territory claimed by the indigenous peoples accounts for approximately 2 million hectares out of a total national land mass of 11.2 million. Only 10% have a guaranteed property title. Each of the peoples retains a degree of individuality, in line with their habits and customs, and this is reflected in their day-to-day practices in terms of, for example, their community councils. Honduras ratified ILO Convention 169 in September 1994. In 2007, it voted in favour of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Apart from Convention 169, there is no case law to protect the rights of indigenous peoples.
I think that is a very important point. The Honduran government is voting in favour of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and yet in the negotiations on this free trade agreement, I wonder whether indigenous peoples in Honduras gave, as noted in Article 19 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, “their free, prior and informed consent”.
I am going to cite a number of cases where there are ongoing human rights abuses with regard to land.
In Honduras, the indigenous peoples do not appear to have the same legal rights in terms of taking it to courts and being protected that way. In Canada, we know that the FIPA has been taken to court by a first nation from British Columbia and that is an example where even in Canada first nations say that Article 19 free, prior and informed consent, is not being respected by the Canadian government when negotiating trade agreements. In the same article it goes on to say:
The indigenous peoples form one of the poorest sectors of society and their marginalisation means that they play no part in the formal economy. Their main source of income lies in maize, beans, coffee, fishing and in the sale of handicrafts.
It went on to say, “When they provide labour to other productive sectors, they are paid around USD 5 for a 10-hour day”. That is pretty stark.
In an article called “Human Rights Violations in Honduras: Land Seizures, Peasants' Repression and the Struggle for Democracy on the Ground” by Jeanette Bonifaz, a research associate at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, she details a number of very serious concerns with regard to human rights. She says:
In Honduras, arguably the most unequal country in Latin America, peasants are the victims of a glaring disparate land ownership structure. In 2009, when then-President Manuel Zelaya attempted to pass legislation that promised comprehensive land reform, he was ousted from power by a coup....
It is the land reform that seems to be at the heart at much of the oppression of the indigenous people.
She went on to say that:
Since the coup, peasants have suffered from increased repression, with death squads threatening and assassinating hundreds of campesinos while palm oil and hydroelectric companies accumulate land by dispossession.... Tragically, there seems to be no end in sight for the repression of land and human rights in the Central American country.
I do not have time in my brief 10 minutes to go through the numerous examples of persecution over land and agrarian reform that have taken place in Honduras and do not appear to be measurably better in this day and age. She goes through a period from the 1960s all the way up until present day. I want to cite something that happened in 2010.
When Porfirio Lobo Sosa, a landowner, became the president of Honduras in 2010, the peasants began to protest and peacefully occupy lands, which only brought more state-sponsored repression against them. As a report from the Canadian Council for International Cooperation points out, “…the coup has provided the context for rolling back important gains in the peaceful and legal resolution of conflicts between peasant groups and powerful landed business interests over access to land titles.”
In her concluding remarks, she said:
Without comprehensive land reform that protects the rights of Indigenous peoples and abides by the ILO Convention 169, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, as well as other crucial national and international agreements and laws, forced displacements and violence will continue to occur in Honduras. In addition, the judicial system needs to be revised, and proper investigations in the case of human rights violations need to take place. As the Inter-American Court of Human Rights asserts, “the State has the obligation to use all the legal means at its disposal to combat impunity, since it fosters chronic recidivism of human rights violations and total defenselessness of victims and their relatives.”
She does cite a specific example of a hydro-electric dam that fuels violence. There has been a long-standing community protest. In fact, I come back to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People on free, prior, and informed consent. The community spoke overwhelmingly against this hydro-electric dam. Instead what happened is the government awarded 47 hydro-electric dam concessions to companies without prior consultation. Once the community spoke up and started to protest, we saw the repression start.
Why is it that our Canadian government, which supposedly supports human rights, would engage in a free trade agreement where the human rights violations are so egregious? I have to ask why.
View Wayne Marston Profile
Mr. Speaker, one of the things that is so crucially important here is an understanding of the why, for a trade agreement of this nature. Last summer, as critic for international human rights for the official opposition, I received five delegations of indigenous people from Honduras, Colombia, the Philippines, and Mexico. All of them had generally the same story. That story went along the lines of the following: Canadian mining exploration companies came to their country and shortly thereafter their government started crowding them off their land. No one is suggesting that the Canadian companies have asked them to do this. However, I have told this story in the House before. It is the story of King Henry II and Thomas Becket, when in a drunken rage King Henry said, “Will no one rid me of this troublesome monk?” and two of his knights went out and murdered Thomas Becket. It is somewhat like that. There is an interest that wants to explore for materials and set up extractive companies in these countries. It is facilitated. The government uses its army, or in some countries goes so far as to use its death squads, to remove people. The indigenous people who stand up for their lands are often murdered or disappear.
I have a quote that kind of speaks to this. It says, “...the best way to improve things is by engagement not by isolation”. That was from James Bannantine from Aurora Minerals, I presume an extractive company. That was from testimony received at committee.
Sometimes people will say the trickle-down effect of trade is to improve human rights. There is a false dichotomy out there, presented by the Conservatives at times like this. It is either have free trade or complete isolation with that country. There is a very different reality that allows for people to go to these countries. Witnesses who came to committee on the free trade agreement spoke to having Canada engage with Honduras, but they want that engagement to focus on building institutional, judicial, and democratic capacity. Honduras is a country that has had a government overthrown by coup. It is very clear the military in charge is functioning with almost complete impunity. Normally that occurs when the judicial and other systems are not in place to offer protection to people. Thus it is not held accountable in any form.
From the standpoint of the New Democratic Party, and the members on the other side like to tout the fact we have opposed many of the free trade agreements before the House, there is criteria we look to. Is the proposed partner one that respects democracy, human rights, adequate environmental and labour standards, and Canadian values?
We had a corporate social responsibility bill put before the House, I believe prior to the 2008 election. Sadly, that bill, which would have required Canadian extractive companies functioning in other countries to function in terms of Canada's laws in that country, even if the other country is a failed state that does not have the laws and regulations that Canada does. That bill failed in the House by 12 votes. It just so happens that was one of the many times the Liberal Party chose to leave 15 members out of the House. I have no problem with people standing up in this place and saying what they believe, but I am very disappointed that they chose to abdicate their responsibilities at that time.
Another consideration that we have is whether the proposed partner's economy is of significance or strategic value to Canada. We have heard from other speakers that in this particular instance, in trading terms, our relationship is 104th. That does not sound like it is critical to us. Are the terms of the proposed agreement satisfactory? We believe this particular agreement fails that test. It fails it in many ways.
Over and over we hear the same stories. Honduras is a corrupt country with undemocratic practices, weak institutions and low standards. In terms of strategic value to us, it is not there. We add to that the record of human rights abuses, the murders, the torture and the disappearances.
We understand that trade is necessary to our economy. We favour expanded trade opportunities for our country and we want to support our exporters as well, but we do not want to sacrifice, or be seen to sacrifice, the values of our country in order to reach those agreements.
If we asked average Canadians what they thought of Canada, one of the first things they would talk about would be how they value our view of international human rights. In truth, I suspect many of them have little idea that at this point, Canada's reputation for the last 75 years has been pretty well lost in the world we have today. I am fumbling a little for words, because it is that serious.
I was shocked earlier today when I heard members of the Liberal Party say that they would support the free trade agreement with this corrupt regime. As a young person, I listened very closely to Mr. Pearson when he talked about rights. I also listened to Mr. Trudeau, when he was prime minister of our country, talked about rights. When I hear today that the Liberals favour trade with China, which has a terrible human rights record, and favour this trade agreement and will vote for it, they have abandoned those principles with which many of us, at one point in time, thought they were on the right track as a political party. I did not say I had reached the point of voting for that political party, I want to make that straight, but there were aspects of the structure of the Liberal Party of Canada at that time which I respected.
Honduras is a really poor country. It has that history of repression and undemocratic practices. When the regime was toppled in 2009, the following government actions were well criticized by international observers during the election. They said that it failed to meet the standards of the international community when it came to elections. There was a coup staged by the Honduran army under the pretext of a constitutional crisis. Where have we heard that kind of thing before? From failed nations around the world, whenever the government chooses to take over. If we look at Egypt today, whether people like or dislike the elected president of Egypt, he was deposed. He was elected democratically and deposed by a military coup. Where do we go when we start sanctioning those kinds of things?
I will put aside my notes for a few minutes, because it is so important to look at this, not in terms of trade but in terms of human rights and the fact that governments in many parts of the world are military in nature, dictatorships, where they function with impunity, an impunity that allows them to murder, pillage and to force people off their lands and to do it in the name of dollars.
We need to understand that the only way to change this is to realize that we have to fortify the institutions in that country, help lead them on the path to judicial reform and to democracy. Until we take care of the democracy, the trade we have with that country, to some extent, would be practically shameful. Thus, I am pretty clear that I cannot even begin to think of supporting this agreement.
View Scott Brison Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Scott Brison Profile
2010-06-07 12:44 [p.3453]
Mr. Speaker, I have been disturbed by the amount of misinformation that has permeated and dominated the important and legitimate debate on this issue. I have repeatedly corrected the NDP member of the trade committee when he has made incorrect and false testimony.
At the time of the murder of 12 members of the Awa nation, the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster actually accused the Uribe government of conducting the murders. Then, because the murders occurred when the hon. member for Toronto Centre and I were in Colombia, we were accused of condoning murder. That was the deeply personal and grossly biased and inaccurate type of argument made.
As it turns out, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has reported that the murders of the 12 members of the Awa nation were committed by FARC, because they were living on grounds contiguous with a FARC drug operation. It was not the Uribe government, so I think that the hon. member from the New Democrats should apologize to me and to the Uribe government.
View Peter Julian Profile
View Peter Julian Profile
2010-06-07 12:46 [p.3453]
Mr. Speaker, I am appalled at the ignorance of the members who are not aware that there have been systematic massacres not only of members of the Awa nation in Colombia but of other aboriginal nations. Indeed, the government and paramilitary and military forces have been involved. It is a matter of public record.
I will turn to other issues, because it is obvious that there is not a very high level of understanding of the human rights situation in Colombia. How could there be? Liberals and Conservatives shut off debate on Bill C-2. They refused to hear from human rights organizations in Colombia who asked to come forward. They refused to hear from the Canadian Labour Congress, which asked to come forward. They refused to hear from some of the largest labour activist unions in Canada, which asked to come forward. They refused to hear from the free and democratic labour movement, which is over 90% of the labour movement in Colombia. The Liberals and Conservatives said that they did not want to hear from those organizations. If they had heard from those organizations rather than having cut off debate, their level of ignorance would have been improved.
View Anita Neville Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Anita Neville Profile
2008-05-28 15:46 [p.6172]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to stand today to speak in support of the amended Bill C-21.
Members will recall that the bill was first introduced into the House in the 39th session of Parliament as Bill C-44. It has been re-introduced into the House as Bill C-21 and has gone through a very lengthy committee process. It has now come back to the House in its amended form for final conclusion.
To recap, members will remember that the act would repeal section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which excludes Indians who live or work on reserve from filing human rights complaints with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in respect of any alleged human rights violations that relate to any action arising from or pursuant to the Indian Act.
I want to make it very clear from the outset that this party, this official opposition, has supported the intent of the bill. The repeal of section 67 of the Human Rights Act has been a long time in coming and it is something that we support very much.
What we did not support was the manner in which the bill was brought forward, both in its initial introduction and in its subsequent introduction as Bill C-21. It was brought forward without any consultation with first nations communities. We heard that there were significant concerns about the legislation, but there seemed to be absolutely no will, commitment, effort or respect on the part of the government to address some of those concerns.
I am repeating myself, but I want to make it very clear. I said, at least 18 times, in the House or in committee, as did my colleagues, that we supported the repeal of section 67 of the Human Rights Act. We did not support the process in which the government chose, as one of the chiefs from Alberta said, to ram it down their throats.
We are proud to support the amended legislation. We are proud of the process that went on in committee. We heard from a host of witnesses who came before the committee. I emphasize that this is not a substitute for consultation; it was about hearing witnesses and their concerns. Out of the 21 or 22 witnesses we heard, only 1 witness supported the legislation in its original form. We heard learned presentations from academics. We heard from leaders in the aboriginal community. We heard from individuals in the aboriginal community. We heard concerns from the men and women who the bill would affect.
We were concerned that there was no interpretive clause. We were concerned that there was no non-derogation clause. We were concerned that there was no attention given to the fiscal capacity. We were most concerned that the transition period was very short. We were also concerned that no study or analysis had been done on the impact the legislation would have on first nations communities. We know an analysis was done on what the impact would be on INAC, but no study was done to determine what the impact would be on first nations communities.
The amended legislation was a model of cooperation by the opposition parties, listening to the representations we heard from individuals, working together to amend the bill to make it a stronger, fairer bill for aboriginal people in our country.
Many times we heard in the House that we had gutted the bill. Far from it. Misrepresentations were mailed out to every household in my riding, misrepresenting my position and the position of my party as it related to the bill.
We proposed a number of important amendments to the bill. We proposed and passed through committee, a non-derogation clause, an interpretative clause, an extension of the time for implementation for three years. This is important. The government originally proposed six months. It was willing to extend it to 18 months, but not beyond that. I am pleased to see the government has allowed it to go in at three years now.
The implementation period of three years will allow first nations to determine their capacity and to look at the implications. It will allow them to prepare their communities for the actual final implementation of the bill.
As the House may recall, the government tried at one point, through a point of order, to remove the non-derogation clause and the interpretative clause. We are pleased that it has come back with amendments. Although they are not what we would have preferred, we will accept the amended non-derogation and interpretative clauses in the bill. They deal with the intent and the protection of the collective rights of first nations communities. We do, however, prefer the amendments put forward in committee, but as an expression of good faith and a desire to get the bill passed, we will support the amendments put forward by the government.
With the amendments, we would be able to grant human rights to first nations people in a way that balances their collective rights with individual rights as well as maintaining all existing aboriginal and treaty rights, as recognized under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
With respect to the transition period, first nations will now have an adequate amount of time to prepare for the legislation. In doing so, the government will have a chance to properly consult with all affected first nations peoples. I sincerely hope the government will take advantage of the opportunity to do this. I hope it will not just tell them but engage them in a meaningful consultation process whereby it will listen to them and work with them to implement the bill.
Once the bill comes into effect, first nations will work with the government to undertake the extensive preparation, the capacity, fiscal and human resources required.
The important part of this is the amended legislation, and it was amended not without acrimony or without challenge, is an example of parliamentarians working together to fix flawed legislation and amend it to reflect the best interests of first nations people.
As I said at the beginning, the Liberals have always maintained our support for the repeal of this section. It was not done in a way which we supported. Since the bill is now in front of us, we are proud to say that we improved flawed legislation to reflect the views of first nations communities throughout the country. They will be able to work with this legislation, and we are proud to support it.
View Jean Crowder Profile
View Jean Crowder Profile
2008-05-28 15:56 [p.6173]
Mr. Speaker, this is an important day in the House as we bring back the amended Bill C-21. Specifically, we are dealing with a couple of amendments.
Unfortunately, this bill has been decades in coming. I will share just a bit of history around this bill. Originally in 1977 an exception was provided that first nations living on reserve could not file complaints under the Canadian Human Rights Act against anything in the Indian Act. Part of the history around that so-called temporary exemption from 1977 being put in place was of course that there were discriminatory provisions in existence in the Indian Act.
One of those discriminatory provisions was around the fact that first nations women who married non-aboriginal men were actually excluded from living on reserve or maintaining their status. The report that came out in 2005 from the Canadian Human Rights Commission, “A Matter of Rights”, talked about the impacts on the community. I have a quote from that report about what happens to families:
The effect of this discriminatory provision was the effective banishment of over one hundred thousand women, their spouses, and their children from their communities and traditional homelands. This caused great psychological, emotional and economic suffering. This was especially true in cases where marriages broke down and First Nation women were not allowed to return home.
What we had in place was a system that disenfranchised thousands and thousands of women and their families. Because the department of the day knew this discriminatory provision was in place and was not at that time prepared to deal with that discriminatory provision, it asked for this exemption and it was put in place.
Subsequent to that, this particular part of the Indian Act was repealed and women were granted their status. I am going to come back to that in a minute, because that was Bill C-31 from 1985, which was one of the reasons that so many people who came before committee were so vocal about wanting some of the amendments that were put in place.
I am not going to read all the recommendations from “A Matter of Rights”, but there were five key recommendations. Part of what the Canadian Human Rights Commission recommended in 2005, before legislation was developed, was that consultation take place with first nations and that “an interpretive provision”, which would take into consideration the rights and interests of first nations, be put in place, and that there would be a transitional period of at least 18 to 30 months, and so on. There were a number of other recommendations.
However, part of the challenge that this House and the committee faced was that when the piece of legislation came before the committee, it was of course a very simple piece of legislation and did not include any of those elements. The bill was developed without consultation with first nations communities.
Therefore, to the Conservative government's surprise, there were a number of concerns raised by witness after witness who came before the committee. People were saying that in the past governments have passed bills in the House that have had some unintended consequences, and they did not want to see that happen.
The committee listened quite respectfully to the witnesses and subsequently proposed a number of amendments, which included an extended transitional period for 36 months. They included an interpretive clause and a non-derogation clause. The amendments we are dealing with today have done some refinement on the non-derogation clause and on some additional wording around gender principles.
I want to come back for a moment to the Canadian Human Rights Commission and why the committee faced some challenges around needing to hear so much more information, because the report of the Canadian Human Rights Act Review Panel, “Promoting Equality: A New Vision”, made a number of specific recommendations with regard to the repeal of section 67.
The panel said specifically,“Any effort to deal with the section 67 issue must ensure adequate input from Aboriginal people themselves”. We saw what happened when that did not happen: it took months for us to get to the place where there was some agreement in getting the bill back in the House.
The panel talked about resources. To go back to Bill C-31, one thing was very clear in Bill C-31, and in a minute I will quote the Native Women's Association of Canada. What was very clear under Bill C-31 was that there were inadequate resources once women regained their status in their communities. There was not enough housing. There were not enough other support services for women who could have returned to their community.
Therefore, one of the things that the Human Rights Commission recommended was that these resources be put in place. It said that resources must be put in place so that people actually have access to any redress mechanisms that might be deemed suitable once a complaint was filed.
It talked about the fact that there should be cultural recognition and said:
At the same time, the Act should permit a balancing of the values of the Aboriginal people and the need to preserve Aboriginal culture...These points raise huge questions about the social and economic structure of Aboriginal life and its legal underpinnings. Such matters deserve far more study than we have been able to give them. So again, there is a need for adequate consultations.
It talked about the balancing provision and stated:
The Panel believes it is highly important to balance the interests of Aboriginal individuals seeking equality without discrimination with important Aboriginal community interests. A balancing provision means that a Tribunal would actually hear evidence and representations on the issue of whether the interests of the individual and the community are properly balanced.
It talked about self-government and said:
The Panel believes something more should be done in order to ensure greater say in the human rights roles that apply to Aboriginal governments. This would be consistent with the principle of self-government.
Thus, the Canadian Human Rights Commission itself acknowledged the fact that there needed to be a number of other mechanisms put in place in order to make sure that this piece of legislation did not have the same kind of impact that Bill C-31 has had. Bill C-31 has had some difficulties in terms of the fact that when women were reinstated there were not the resources that I referred to, but there is also a second generation cut-off.
The second generation cut-off means that people whose parents were not both first nations could end up losing their status by the time the second generation is born. That is an unintended consequence. A report did some analysis on key reserves across the country and did some estimates on when the last status person would be born on those reserves. Some would say that quite cynically the government is not dealing with that provision because then first nations people would come under the guidance of the provinces rather than the federal government.
Bev Jacobs, president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, said in a press release:
Twenty-five years after having the Charter, NWAC is well aware that having rights on paper does not guarantee the ability of all individuals to exercise those rights. NWAC believes that consultation with Aboriginal peoples and specifically, Aboriginal women, is necessary to ensuring the rights are meaningful and exercisable. We are also well aware that membership provisions under Bill C-31, off-reserve rights, health, housing and education policies as well as the continuing lack of a matrimonial real property law regime that applies on reserve are issues that the federal crown will most likely see complaints filed about.
She goes on further in that press release to say:
--It is important for both the CHRC and First Nations communities to have the resources to build a relationship that acknowledges and respects human rights.” This is the only way equal rights for all can be promised.
We know that this very important piece of legislation, the repeal of section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which does provide the right for first nations people on reserve to file complaints under discriminatory provisions under the Indian Act, in itself will not guarantee human rights unless there are resources in place.
The Native Women's Association of Canada talked about resources around education and housing. We know, of course, that the children from Attawapiskat are here on the Hill today, talking about how their human rights are being violated by the fact that they do not have access to a school. They do not have access to the education that every other Canadian child off reserve expects as a fundamental human right. When Ms. Jacobs from the Native Women's Association of Canada talks about this, she knows full well that many communities simply do not have those resources that would make sure that their human rights were not violated.
In a brief that the Native Women's Association put forward to the committee on the repeal of section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, it talked about the fact that governments, both the current Conservative government and previous Liberal government, should not have waited so long, and again quotes the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which said:
However, the Commission would prefer that the Government take a proactive approach to preventing potential discrimination and not wait for complaints to be filed and potentially lengthy proceedings to take place. The Commission, therefore, urges the Government, in consultation with First Nations, the Commission and other relevant bodies, to review provisions of the Indian Act and relevant policies and programs to ensure that they do not conflict with the Canadian Human Rights Act and other relevant provisions of domestic and international human rights law. Such a review should focus in particular on the impact of Bill C-31....
In conclusion, I am very pleased that the House has decided that it would support Bill C-21, the repeal of section 67, and I urge the government to ensure that the resources are put in place to deal with potential human rights complaints and also to ensure that the resources are available to the Canadian Human Rights Commission so it can go out and work with first nations governments to ensure this understanding is in place.
View Royal Galipeau Profile
View Royal Galipeau Profile
2008-05-16 12:51 [p.5981]
There are two motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-21. Motions Nos. 1 and 2 will be grouped for debate and voted upon according to the voting pattern available at the table.
I will now put Motions Nos. 1 and 2 to the House.
View Lawrence Cannon Profile
View Lawrence Cannon Profile
2008-05-16 12:53 [p.5981]
Motion No. 1
That Bill C-21, in Clause 1.1, be amended by replacing lines 6 to 20 on page 1 with the following:
“1.1 For greater certainty, the repeal of section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act shall not be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from the protection provided for existing aboriginal or treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada by the recognition and affirmation of those rights in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.”
Motion No. 2
That Bill C-21, in Clause 1.2, be amended by replacing line 3 on page 2 with the following:
“ests against collective rights and interests, to the extent that they are consistent with the principle of gender equality.”
View Harold Albrecht Profile
View Harold Albrecht Profile
2008-05-16 12:53 [p.5982]
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to the government's motion to amend clause 1.1 of Bill C-21, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act, standing in the name of the member for Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and the Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians.
As hon. members will know, Bill C-21 proposes to repeal section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, and in the process, eliminate a source of injustice that has existed for more than three decades.
The repeal of section 67 has been a cornerstone of this government's aboriginal agenda throughout its mandate. Our government first committed to the repeal of section 67 as part of our electoral platform. In December 2006, Bill C-44, the precursor to Bill C-21, was introduced. Although Bill C-44 died on the order paper when Parliament was prorogued in September 14, 2007, our government committed to its reintroduction in the Speech from the Throne delivered on October 16, 2007.
In November 2007, Bill C-21, identical to former Bill C-44, was reinstated. There is ample evidence of strong support among key stakeholders for the repeal of section 67. In the 17 committee hearings devoted to Bill C-44 of the previous session, testimony came from dozens of witnesses, chiefs, members of band councils, representatives of national and regional aboriginal groups, legal specialists and public servants. Although these men and women came from remarkably diverse backgrounds and represented a broad variety of interests, the support for the repeal of section 67 was virtually unanimous.
While this government took a clear and unambiguous approach to the repeal of section 67, on February 4, 2008 the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development reported Bill C-21 to the House of Commons with several amendments. They included the addition of a broad non-derogation clause, clause 1.1, and an interpretive clause, clause 1.2.
Other proposed amendments included: a new requirement for the Government of Canada to undertake with organizations representing first nations a study to address the fiscal capacity and resource requirements of first nations associated with the repeal of section 67; a change to the review of the effects of the repeal within five years so it could be conducted by the Government of Canada working with organizations representing first nations rather than a parliamentary committee; and finally, an extension of the transition period for the application of the repeal to first nations to 36 months, rather than the 6 months originally proposed by government. These amendments do not affect the immediate application of the repeal of section 67 to the federal government upon royal assent.
This government's preference remains a clear approach to the repeal of section 67. However, in light of committee testimony in which most, if not all, groups expressed concern about how the repeal will be implemented and called and for a further extension of the transition period, the government will support all of the committee's amendments, with the exception of clauses 1.1 and 1.2, the subject matter of today's debate.
Clause 1.1 is a very broad non-derogation clause. As hon. members will know, a non-derogation clause is a statutory provision that indicates the statute is not to derogate or abrogate from the aboriginal and treaty rights as protected by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. In our view, such a clause is unnecessary given that the Constitution takes precedence over all other federal laws. Previous governments have supported the inclusion of a non-derogation clause which clauses are currently found in several federal statutes. Clause 1.1, however, is much broader than any of those existing clauses.
Given the broad and unprecedented nature of clause 1.1, our view is that it has the potential to reintroduce some of the sheltering of discrimination provided by section 67.
In fact, in its most recent report entitled “Still a Matter of Rights”, in which the Canadian Human Rights Commission reiterated its call for the repeal of section 67, the commission indicated concern that clause 1.1 could “have the unintended consequence of shielding first nations, in whole or in part, from legitimate equality claims, thus reinstituting section 67 in another form”.
It would be illogical for the opposition, who, on principle, favour repeal of section 67, to intentionally support the inclusion of a provision that would have the unintended effect of sheltering discrimination. As a result, we cannot support clause 1.1, as adopted by the standing committee.
Therefore, notwithstanding our concern for non-derogation clauses, generally, we propose to replace clause 1.1 with the non-derogation language most recently used in existing statutes, namely, the same that was added to the First Nations Oil and Gas and Moneys Management Act.
Regarding Motion No. 2, clause 1.2, our government shares the view that the Canadian Human Rights Act should be applied in a manner that is sensitive to particular circumstances of first nations communities. However, the fact is that it is difficult to find fail-proof language that would address all of the competing considerations for handling a Canadian Human Rights Act complaint in such a context.
This was the basis for our decision not to include an interpretive provision in Bill C-21. We have always maintained that the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which is the expert in administrating the Canadian Human Rights Act, is best placed to develop an interpretive provision jointly with first nations outside of the Canadian Human Rights Act. This could be done by way of guidelines, a directive, or regulations, which would be binding on the commission.
In spite of these concerns, the committee chose to insert an interpretive clause in the bill. We recognize that many witnesses called for such a clause, so we are willing to accept this provision.
However, as with clause 1.1., we have concerns with the broad language of the interpretive clause adopted by the committee and the potential for discrimination to be sheltered. We are particularly concerned that women might inadvertently be discriminated against as a result of this clause.
Therefore, we are proposing to include a provision to ensure the principle of gender equality applies to this clause. Such an amendment would be in keeping with the 2000 Canadian Human Rights Act review panel report, which noted, specifically, that an interpretive provision should not justify discrimination on the basis of sex or condone other forms of discrimination.
As well, the previous government's last attempt to repeal section 67 included an interpretive clause with a similar provision related to gender equality.
The government is committed to improving the lives of aboriginal Canadians and to the repeal of section 67. We are committed to creating, for the first time since the Canadian Human Rights Act was enacted 30 years ago, a right of complaint for first nations in relation to the Indian Act.
Therefore, I urge members to vote in favour of these necessary motions.
View Pat Martin Profile
View Pat Martin Profile
2008-05-16 13:01 [p.5983]
Mr. Speaker, my question for my colleague is about the difference between the non-derogation clause that is recommended by his government and the one put forward by the standing committee. It must have contemplated other boilerplate versions of non-derogation clauses that exist in many pieces of legislation pertaining to first nations. I did not understand, in his speech, the difference between the language put forward by the committee and the language that his government would prefer to see. Perhaps he could explain it in a little more detail.
If a non-derogation clause is to ensure that nothing in the bill abrogates from or derogates from aboriginal treaty rights under section 35, why is this additional nuance important to the government he represents?
View Harold Albrecht Profile
View Harold Albrecht Profile
2008-05-16 13:02 [p.5983]
Mr. Speaker, first, it is important to recognize that at the heart of the bill is a desire to see the lives of aboriginal Canadians improved.
As I pointed out in my statement, section 67 has been with us for over 30 years. It was introduced, at that time, to be a temporary measure so it would not conflict with the Indian Act. Over the course of this government's time in government, we have taken a number of steps to improve that.
The basic answer to the question is the way it currently exists in clause 1.1, it is a very broad description of the kinds of things that could lead to dispute. For example, in clause 1.1, as it is currently written, before the amendment, it talks about other rights and freedoms, including any rights or freedoms recognized under customary laws or traditions of first nations people of Canada. Right now, parliamentarians, courts, the Human Rights Tribunal itself would be unable speculate as to what those other rights might be. Therefore, it is important that we tighten that up to define what those other rights are.
View Ed Fast Profile
View Ed Fast Profile
2008-05-16 13:04 [p.5983]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my Conservative colleague for his support of extending human rights legislation to our first nations, ensuring we have equality across the country.
It is really a sad comment on our country that we have delayed so long in extending human rights legislation to the first nations of our country.
I am glad he raised the issue of the non-derogation clause. The one included in the amendment is much broader, as he has already mentioned, than the “standard” non-derogation clause normally used in legislation of this kind.
Would he expand a little on that? Could he also explain how, in some practical ways, the legislation would enhance human rights on our first nations reserves?
View Harold Albrecht Profile
View Harold Albrecht Profile
2008-05-16 13:05 [p.5983]
Mr. Speaker, it has been clear, through my time in Parliament and my time serving on the committee for aboriginal affairs and northern development, that all members of our committee share the same commitment to improve the lives of aboriginal Canadians.
We may differ, as my hon. colleague commented in her former speech regarding the Tsawwassen claims. We may differ in our approaches as to how to achieve that, but there is no question in my mind that all members on all sides of the House are committed to bringing this improvement to the lives of aboriginal people.
It is important that we, as the government, take leadership of this so people are not discriminated against unfairly, for example, if a person is discriminated against on the basis of gender, or race or any of the other 10 or 12 things that are included as the basis for complaint against human rights enactment. It is important we have the tools in place so people in first nations communities have the same rights that other Canadians have enjoyed ever since the act was implemented.
View Nancy Karetak-Lindell Profile
Lib. (NU)
View Nancy Karetak-Lindell Profile
2008-05-16 13:06 [p.5983]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-21. This has been very contentious legislation, as short as it is.
We have said many times that the Liberal Party supports the repeal of section 67. It is how the bill was drafted, how it was put forward without including the amendments that were proposed by the many witnesses who came before our committee. We have a great deal of trouble with that.
We have made many attempts in the years that I have been here to try to repeal section 67 of the Human Rights Act. Maybe part of the difficulty was that it was put in with other items, for example, in Bill C-6, with which the communities had great trouble. I want it to be on record that we were never against the repeal of section 67, as some of the press coverage has made us out to be.
The two pieces of legislation we are dealing with in the House today brings to light again the very statements of many aboriginal members. We tend to forget there are basic rights that we take for granted in our country, to which people in aboriginal communities do not have access. However, our party will support the two motions that have been put forth.
The point I want to make is there should have been a non-derogation clause in the legislation in the first place. If the Conservative government had put forth this legislation in the same way it did with the specific claims, with cooperation from the Assembly of First Nations, the bill would have been passed in the House by now and would have been put into practice already.
When the minister introduced Bill C-30, he talked about the great cooperation between the Assembly of First Nations and the government to put forth that bill. Again, if the Conservatives had that same kind of consultation and reaching out, the bill probably would have been in better form. As I said, our party will support both Motion No. 1 and Motion No. 2.
Judging by the questions I heard in our committee from some of the government members, they seemed to have great difficulty with understanding collective rights versus individual rights. We asked opposition members that there be some consideration of collective rights. Some people have interpreted that to mean we are giving the bands and, in some cases, the chiefs an out from what repealing section 67 would do.
I beg to differ. As I said in committee and in an earlier speech today, we are quick at looking at the negative of these initiatives, instead of looking at the positives. There could be different considerations that would actually be more beneficial and more appropriate to the people whom this legislation will serve.
One example I used was how we treated our elders. Because I come from a different community, I am not first nations but one of the Inuit from the first peoples of our country, we have very stated understandings in our culture. We respect the elders and we do certain things that cater to elders, which might not be considered in other cultures.
I remember giving one example at committee. When we check in at the airport we see all these different aisles for business class, for people with no baggage and for the regular lineup. I could see in one of our communities that we would have a lineup specifically for elders so they do not have to wait for 20 people ahead of them when they are trying to check in at the airport.
I give that example to show that when we look at different cultures and different ways of doing things it does not always have to be in a negative light. We do have some practices that I think would bring about better communities across this country if they were practised.
We have not survived as a people in some of the harshest climates in this country by not working together. We do many things that are good for the whole community. I know that is a very different understanding from that of a municipality divided into lots where everyone individually owns the lot their house is on. That is not always the case in our communities.
We have to understand that in many ways we think of ourselves as one group of people, not as individuals. Of course, we have come to appreciate the individual rights that we are learning along the way, but again I am stressing that when we look at situations that concern individual rights versus collective rights, all we are asking for is a certain understanding.
We are not saying that we should always rule in favour of collective rights. What we are trying to point out is that there should be some consideration when people come before the tribunal such that the tribunal tries to fully understand the makeup of the community, the customs of the people and the way things have been done traditionally.
I have stated before, and I will state it again, that just because we extend certain rights to people it does not mean they will all exercise them. There needs to be a transition phase that is respectful. In this case, I am very pleased that we were able to see the 36 months. The transition phase needs to educate people on what this means for them.
I live in a community where we can put cases before the tribunal, but we do not always see people taking advantage of that because we have not fully educated the people to let them know what their rights are. That is an ongoing process.
I am very supportive of people being given that opportunity in the first nations communities, just as we are trying to do with other pieces of legislation we are putting forth in the House to improve lives on reserves and in other aboriginal communities to get them to a level playing field.
In the other debate that I was talking in, I could not stress enough that in most cases we are looking for basic needs. We are looking for very basic things that other people take for granted. We want to make sure that first nations are able to participate in those same democratic processes that we have in this country.
I would very much like to see this legislation pass. I know that our party will be supporting it.
View Harold Albrecht Profile
View Harold Albrecht Profile
2008-05-16 13:15 [p.5984]
Mr. Speaker, I want to go on record as saying that I have the honour of working with this member on the aboriginal affairs committee. I applaud her efforts to improve the lives of aboriginal Canadians. I know that she herself has a very incredible story of perseverance and of dedication, not only to her people but to the country of Canada.
I want to thank her as well for clarifying her understanding of the tension between collective rights and individual rights. I think we probably will never totally and completely have exactly the same basis of understanding. I appreciate her attempts to clarify that.
I am wondering if she could expand a little on her support for the clause 1.2 amendment, which adds the words “to the extent that they are consistent with the principle of gender equality”. I think this possibly gets to the heart of some of our concerns in terms of collective versus individual rights.
View Nancy Karetak-Lindell Profile
Lib. (NU)
View Nancy Karetak-Lindell Profile
2008-05-16 13:17 [p.5984]
Mr. Speaker, I have no difficulty with the amendment that has been added to clause 1.2. I believe the line was “with the principle of gender equality”. Of all people, I will not have any difficulty with gender equality. I think this may alleviate some of the difficulties that some people were having with the amendment that we put forth in our committee.
As I said, we will be supporting these motions. I look forward to seeing how this plays out in the communities.
Unfortunately, I probably will not be in this House to see how that actually is implemented in the communities, but I will certainly be keeping an eye on it. I think that once we pass legislation in the House we should always take a look at some of the agreements that we have done and the legislation that we have passed. We should take the time to take a snapshot picture or see how it has affected the lives of the people in the communities affected by the legislation and policies that we pass.
View Pat Martin Profile
View Pat Martin Profile
2008-05-16 13:18 [p.5985]
Very quickly, Mr. Speaker, I can illustrate the problem between the non-derogation clause put forward by the committee and the non-derogation clause contemplated by the government and put forward here today.
In regard to when any reference to customary laws and traditions is eliminated, I will give one example. I was part of the 1992 Charlottetown accord aboriginal rounds. We met with some aboriginal elder women. They did not want us to support the Charlottetown accord. One elder gave us an example. She said, “In my community, the women are not even allowed to run as chief”. We all shook our heads and said that sounded terrible. Then she said, “But the men aren't allowed to vote”.
I am trying to illustrate the Eurocentricity of some of what we do here. In their way, they had found a way to make sure there was gender balance. Yes, the women could not be chief, but the men were not allowed to vote. That would not pass the human rights commission today.
If we go for strict gender equality we are ignoring the customs and traditions of at least that first nation and maybe others. There are going to be these inherent conflicts between our Eurocentric view of human rights and equality and the culture, tradition, heritage and traditional customs of many first nations. That is the problem with the non-derogation clause being proposed here today as opposed to the one that was carefully crafted in a very sensitive way by the committee.
View Nancy Karetak-Lindell Profile
Lib. (NU)
View Nancy Karetak-Lindell Profile
2008-05-16 13:20 [p.5985]
Mr. Speaker, I do not think this will ever cease to be a topic of discussion. One of the difficulties people might have is with the definition of customary laws or traditions. When we make laws in this country, they apply to everyone in the country. What we understand in one area might be different in other parts. For the sake of getting this legislation through the House, I think we are going to have to agree with the new non-derogation clause that has been put forth.
As I tell students when I speak with them, sometimes we have to pick and choose what fights we want to fight and what we want to die on. I have to say that we will agree with this new non-derogation clause for the sake of getting the legislation through.
View Mario Laframboise Profile
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak on behalf of the Bloc Québécois about Bill C-21, which seeks to repeal section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.
First, I would like to thank my colleagues who sit on the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue and the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, who have worked very hard and provided some background on all the various stages Bill C-21 has gone through before reaching this House today.
After first reading in this House, Bill C-21 was referred to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development on November 13, 2007. It is identical to Bill C-44, which died on the order paper when Parliament was prorogued on September 14, 2007.
Bill C-44 was referred to the committee after second reading in February 2007. From March to June 2007, the committee met 16 times to review Bill C-44 and hear witnesses. My colleagues from Abitibi—Témiscamingue and Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou worked very hard on this.
The witnesses the committee heard almost unanimously supported the repeal of section 67, but nearly all the witnesses except those from the government, including national, regional and local first nations organizations and communities, the provincial bar associations and other legal experts, also expressed various reservations about one or more aspects of the implementation process and the substance of the bill.
The main sources of concern were the shortcomings in the consultation process preceding the drafting of the bill, the lack of an interpretative clause, the short transition period preceding implementation of the bill and uncertainty over the resources that would be assigned to implementing the bill.
On June 19, 2007, the committee adopted a Bloc Québécois motion proposed by the members I mentioned earlier, recommending that the debate on repealing section 67 be suspended for up to 10 months to allow the government to hold extensive consultations on the matter and that the debate then resume, but that first nations representatives be allowed to testify on the results of the consultations.
On July 26, a majority of the members attending the special midsummer meeting for a clause by clause study of the bill voted to have the committee suspend the study until the government held the consultations called for in the June 19 motion.
The motion was overridden by the committee's November 20 decision to begin a clause by clause study of the new Bill C-21 on December 4, 2007.
Despite the concerns expressed by the witnesses during the study of Bill C-44, the government reintroduced the very same bill, which is now known as Bill C-21. In December 2007 and January 2008, the committee completed its clause by clause study of Bill C-21 and the opposition made five significant amendments to it in response to first nations' demands.
Once again, aboriginals can be proud of the work of Bloc Québécois and other opposition members because the government had reintroduced the bill despite the generalized protest, criticism and scathing comments of witnesses appearing before the committee.
The government insisted on reintroducing the same bill with no amendments. Opposition members worked hard. My colleagues from Abitibi—Témiscamingue and Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou worked very hard, along with other opposition members, to propose five significant amendments.
The Bloc Québécois supports each of the amendments agreed to in committee because they are in line with specific demands of the first nations and of most of the witnesses who appeared before the committee.
In principle, repealing section 67 would give aboriginal people access to all of the rights guaranteed under the Canadian Human Rights Act. However, merely repealing the section could result in the loss of first nations' traditional rights and could be onerous for the Canadian Human Rights Commission because of the anticipated high volume of complaints against band councils and the federal government, which have not previously been allowed.
That would be a good thing when it comes to access to clean drinking water, for example. That is very hard to understand. I hope that all members of this House realize that, as we speak, some aboriginals still do not have access to potable water. That is astonishing.
We hope that once all these amendments have been adopted, these citizens protected by the charter of rights will have access to safe drinking water and will be able to ensure their quality of life.
To guarantee this, the committee suggested other amendments to Bill C-21. That was the Bloc's objective. With the help of the other opposition parties, we managed to introduce amendments that, once the bill is passed, will ensure that aboriginal men and women and people who live on aboriginal territories have direct access to safe drinking water.
It is important to note that the government proposed two amendments, which are now before the House. Many representatives from first nations and other groups who appeared before the House committee said that, despite the two amendments, Bill C-21 needed to be changed to take into account the real situation of first nations.
The Bloc Québécois, along with the other opposition parties, helped improve Bill C-21. The amendments proposed by the government today will also receive the support of the Bloc Québécois. Nevertheless, it is important to understand that we must pass a comprehensive bill, including the amendments adopted in committee, proposed by the Bloc Québécois and the other opposition parties, to ensure that aboriginal men and women will be entitled to the same protection as provided by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
We specifically suggested adding an interpretive clause that would balance individual and collective rights and interests in cases where a complaint was filed against a government or first nations authority under the Canadian Human Rights Act. A number of witnesses also wanted to add a non-derogation clause to Bill C-21, so that the repeal of section 67 would not end up abrogating and violating the ancestral and treaty rights of aboriginal peoples protected under the Constitution.
Consequently, the Bloc Québécois voted in favour of the following amendments. The first is:
1.1 The repeal of section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act shall not be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from any aboriginal, treaty or other rights or freedoms that pertain to the First Nations peoples of Canada, including
(a) any rights or freedoms that have been recognized by the Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763;
(b) any rights or freedoms that now exist by way of land claims agreements or may be so acquired; and
(c) any rights or freedoms recognized under the customary laws or traditions of the First Nations peoples of Canada.
The second amendment we are supporting is:
1.1 In relation to a complaint made under the Canadian Human Rights Act against a First Nation government, including a band council, tribal council or governing authority operating or administering programs and services under the Indian Act, this act shall be interpreted and applied in a manner that gives due regard to First Nations legal traditions and customary laws, particularly the balancing of individual rights and interests against collective rights and interests.
As everyone knows, Bill C-21, introduced by the government, is identical to Bill C-44, parts of which were criticized by the aboriginal peoples themselves. That bill, whose text was very limited, was eventually improved, specifically by the two paragraphs I just quoted.
The work done by the Bloc Québécois, with the help of the other opposition parties, definitely added some scope to this bill. The bill seeks to protect aboriginal rights, while guaranteeing all aboriginal men and women individual protection under the Canadian Human Rights Act, in order to improve their lives.
View Peter Milliken Profile
Lib. (ON)
Order. It appears we have a few moments and to save time later I will inform members of something they are just aching to hear about now.
As hon. members know, our Standing Orders provide for the continuance of private members' business from session to session within a Parliament.
The list for the consideration of private members' business established on April 7, 2006, continues from the last session to this session notwithstanding prorogation.
As such, all items of private members' business originating in the House of Commons that were listed on the order paper during the previous session are reinstated to the order paper and shall be deemed to have been considered and approved at all stages completed at the time of prorogation of the first session.
Generally speaking, in practical terms, this also means that those items on the Order of Precedence remain on the Order of Precedence or, as the case may be, are referred to committee or sent to the Senate.
However, there is one item that cannot be left on the Order of Precedence. Pursuant to Standing Order 87(1), Parliamentary secretaries who are ineligible by virtue of their office to be put on the Order of Precedence will be dropped to the bottom of the list for the consideration of private members' business, where they will remain as long as they hold those offices.
Consequently, the item in the name of the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, Motion M-302, is withdrawn from the Order of Precedence.
With regard to the remaining items on the order of precedence let me remind the House of the specifics since the House is scheduled to resume its daily private members' business hour starting tomorrow.
At prorogation, there were seven private members' bills originating in the House of Commons adopted at second reading and referred to committee. Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 86.1:
Bill C-207, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Finance;
Bill C-265, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (qualification for and entitlement to benefits), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities;
Bill C-305, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (exemption from taxation of 50% of United States social security payments to Canadian residents), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Finance;
Bill C-327, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act (reduction of violence in television broadcasts), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage;
Bill C-343, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (motor vehicle theft), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights;
Bill C-377, An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change, is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development; and
Bill C-428, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
Furthermore, four Private Members' bills originating in the House of Commons had been read the third time and passed. Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 86.1, the following bills are deemed adopted at all stages and passed by the House:
Bill C-280, An Act to Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (coming into force of sections 110, 111 and 171);
Bill C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord;
Bill C-293, An Act respecting the provision of official development assistance abroad; and
Bill C-299, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (identification information obtained by fraud or false pretence).
Accordingly, a message will be sent to inform the Senate that this House has adopted these four bills.
Hon. members will find at their desks an explanatory note recapitulating these remarks. The Table officers are available to answer any further questions that hon. members may have.
I trust that these measures will assist the House in understanding how private members' business will be conducted in this second session of the 39th Parliament.
Aboriginal peoplesAdoption at all stagesAllegations of fraud and fraudAuto theftBigras, BernardBouchard, RobertC-207, An Act to amend the Income Tax Ac ...C-265, An Act to amend the Employment In ...C-280, An Act to Amend the Immigration a ...C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna AccordC-293, An Act respecting the provision o ...
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