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View Jean Crowder Profile
View Jean Crowder Profile
2013-10-25 13:45 [p.432]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you for the opportunity to pose a question to the mover of the bill.
I am, of course, rising to speak to Bill C-428.
I want to start with a quote from volume 1 of the report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples with respect to recommending a commitment to ethical principles of relations:
To begin the process, the federal, provincial and territorial governments, on behalf of the people of Canada, and national Aboriginal organizations, on behalf of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada, commit themselves to building a renewed relationship based on the principles of mutual recognition, mutual respect, sharing and mutual responsibility; these principles to form the ethical basis of relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal societies in the future and to be enshrined in a new Royal Proclamation and its companion legislation
This report came forward in 1996 and has largely not been implemented.
I read that piece around ethical relations because it would seem to me that those principles of mutual respect and recognition are important when we reform any legislation that has an impact on first nations.
I want to talk a little bit about the Indian Act itself. As the member rightly pointed out, the Indian Act is a paternalistic piece of legislation.
I want to read a couple of pieces from a document, “Like an Ill-Fitting Boot: Government, Governance and Management Systems in the Contemporary Indian Act”.
It says:
Today the Indian Act is the repository of the struggle between Indian peoples and colonial and later Canadian policy-makers for control of Indian peoples' destiny within Canada. The marks of that struggle can be seen in almost every one of its provisions.
It goes on to outline a couple of major problems with the Indian Act. It says:
The Indian Act appears to be a legislative fossil. It reflects administrative and organizational practices that were characteristic of public institutions in the early and mid-twentieth century, but that have been modified and superseded in other governments. The Act relies upon regulation, top-down authorities, fiscal control, and enforcement. Today most Canadian governments and other organizations rely upon collegial decision-making and policy development, policy research, human resource development, management accounting systems, and citizen engagement. The Indian Act does not mention these things, and the basic provisions do not leave much room for them.
The Indian Act has a powerful impact on the quality of democracy in Band governments. Having the force of law and backed by financial power, the Act mandates one particular set of institutions and practices to the exclusion of others. In this way it affects the abilities of First Nations to shape more accountable and democratic governments.
It also says:
Few people are satisfied with the Indian Act, but no one will deny its importance.
This is why it is important to have a very respectful, thoughtful, collaborative process in order to replace the Indian Act.
The author went on to say:
For the individuals to whom it applies, the Act is a basic and specific constitutional document. It defines their rights and entitlements, their citizenship and their relationship to the federal and provincial governments. It provides the mechanisms that include or exclude them from membership in a Band. For First Nations, it creates the framework within which both public and First Nations officials and political leaders must work, profoundly shaping the nations’ political and economic life.
That in itself has been a long-standing argument about why governments of various political stripes should not be doing things piecemeal and taking apart the Indian Act. It has major repercussions and implications for first nations' relationships both among the nations themselves and with the government.
Finally, the author said:
It is obvious that the original Indian Act was not created with the self-determination of First Nations communities in mind. Its original purpose was to permit federal officials to control First Nations and to enable social engineering–the coercive transformation of Indigenous societies and governments to bring them into line with the purposes and visions of the Canadian government.
With that kind of background, it becomes absolutely critical when there are proposed changes to the Indian Act that there be a process put in place which is co-created with first nations. On that point, I want to refer to article 19 in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Article 19 says:
States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.
In that context, with all due respect to the member, he is not the Crown. He is an individual in the House. He does not have the authority or the resources to implement a consultation process. He may well have talked to first nations and other organizations, but that does not meet the test of duty to consult.
With regard to the bill, in April, the committee received a document from Paul Chartrand Consulting. In that document, Mr. Chartrand said:
My first recommendation is a policy that no amendment to the act is to be proposed or introduced in Parliament without first conducting proper consultations with first nations representatives, and that all bills be drafted in consultation with them.
This approach would tend to promote the democratic principle that laws ought not to be passed without the agreement of those who are to bear the burdens or reap the benefits of the legislation. This approach would at least partly remedy the lack of equitable representation and participation of first nations in Canada's Parliament....
In the event that the government struggles with what appropriate consultation would look like, I would like to refer it to its own ministerial representative Wendy Grant-John's report on matrimonial real property. She laid out a process for what consultation could look like. She said:
The Department should develop, as soon as possible, specific policies and procedures relating to consultation in order to ensure that future consultation activities can identify and discharge any legal duty to consult while also fulfilling objectives of good governance and public policy by:
1) Ensuring First Nations have relevant information to the issues for decision in a timely manner;
2) Providing an opportunity for First Nations to express their concerns and views on potential impacts of the legislative proposal and issues relating to the existence of a duty to consult;
3) Listening to, analyzing and seriously considering the representations and concerns of First Nations in the context of relevant legal and policy principles including their relationship to other constitutional and human rights principles;
4) Ensuring proper analyses by the Department of Justice of section 35 issues relating to any proposed legislative initiative are thoroughly canvassed before, during and after consultations;
5) Seriously considering proposals for mitigating potentially negative impacts on aboriginal and treaty rights or other rights and interests of First Nations and making necessary accommodations by changing the government’s proposal
6) Establishing, in consultation with First Nations, a protocol for the development of legislative proposals.
We can see time and time again where legislation is brought forward in the House that does not meet those six criteria, very ably outlined by Wendy Grant-John for the then-minister of Aboriginal Affairs.
There are international conventions around proposals for what consultations should look like in a domestic setting. This is from Convention No. 169 from the International Labour Organization, also known as the ILO. They have a specific section on consultation and participation. It said:
The spirit of consultation and participation constitutes the cornerstone of Convention No. 169 on which all its provisions are based. The Convention requires that indigenous and tribal peoples are consulted on issues that affect them. It also requires that these peoples are able to engage in free, prior and informed participation in policy and development processes that affect them.
The principles of consultation and participation in Convention No. 169 relate not only to specific development projects, but also to broader questions of governance, and the participation of indigenous and tribal peoples in public life.
In Article 6, the Convention provides a guideline as to how consultation with indigenous and tribal peoples should be conducted:
Consultation with indigenous peoples should be undertaken through appropriate procedures, in good faith, and through the representative institutions of these peoples;
The peoples involved should have the opportunity to participate freely at all levels in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of measures and programmes that affect them directly;
Another important component of the concept of consultation is that of representativity. If an appropriate consultation process is not developed with the indigenous and tribal institutions or organizations that are truly representative of the peoples in question, then the resulting consultations would not comply with the requirements of the Convention.
In conclusion, with respect to the member, the process that he has undertaken does not fulfill either domestic or international parameters for duty to consult. I would argue that all members in the House should vote against the bill. The Indian Act changes have far-reaching effects and they must be undertaken in a responsible, respectful manner.
View Thierry St-Cyr Profile
View Thierry St-Cyr Profile
2007-11-16 13:38 [p.1003]
Mr. Speaker, before discussing the content of the bill, I want to say how pleased I was when my Conservative Party colleague thanked us for doing our work in committee.
Members of the Bloc Québécois always take our work very seriously and do a thorough job. However, I would point out somewhat ironically that his colleagues from Quebec have not been saying the same thing when they express themselves in French. Our colleague just said that the Bloc was very helpful in amending the bill and ridding it of all substance. Yet his colleagues, when speaking in French, say that the Bloc Québécois is useless. The members of the Conservative Party should come to some agreement on that.
The truth is that the Bloc is constantly working to defend Quebec's interests. When the Conservatives, Liberals and New Democrats are right, we support them. However, when something is not in Quebec's best interest, we have no problem going it alone if we have to. Therefore I take that as a real compliment concerning the Bloc Québécois' usefulness.
The genesis of this bill is precisely an intrusion, once again, into the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces. For the Bloc Québécois, the original grants program ensured the right to opt out with full financial compensation, for Quebec and any provinces that wanted to do so. We were prepared to examine the terms of this bill in committee, provided, of course, that we maintained this right to opt out will full compensation.
Now, the Liberals' schemes in committee and the amendments made to parliamentary procedure meant that, in the end, we were overburdened by the legislative provisions that would allow this opting out with full financial compensation for Quebec. Clearly, we could no longer support this bill as soon as it became a program imposed by the federal government, when the provinces could no longer withdraw that money and use it according to their own needs.
In Quebec, we have a grants and bursaries program that is quite different from programs found elsewhere. It is unique in Canada. Among other things, it is based on need and on a range of criteria. The program is very generous and produces good results. We therefore do not need another similar grants program, but rather more financial resources to improve the existing system.
In light of this, we could not support this bill and we, along with the Conservatives, tried to throw out the entire bill. The motion in amendment before us today is meant precisely to bring it all back to the House. It was not acceptable to the Bloc Québécois in committee and it is still unacceptable to us here in the House.
It is surprising to see yet again the Liberal obsession with interfering in the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces. Honestly, I have asked myself why, again today, are we debating this issue in the House of Commons, a federal chamber that does not have any constitutional jurisdiction over education? Why do the Liberals still think that “Ottawa knows best” and why do they want to establish a wall to wall Canada-wide program in education? This is unacceptable.
If the hon. member who tabled this bill thought there were improvements to be made to the student loan program in his province, I respectfully submit that he should have run in a provincial election, gotten elected and worked on passing such legislation in his province. Nonetheless, it is certainly not the role of the federal government to do so.
Moreover, even though our discussions in this House revolve more and more frequently around interference in provincial jurisdictions, yet the federal government is not even capable of handling all of its own constitutional duties and responsibilities. If everything were going well in the federal government's jurisdictions and it had nothing better to do, then perhaps it could take care of provincial matters, but that is not the case.
I would like to raise a few points that still have not been resolved and are the responsibility of this House. Earlier today I was talking about the issue of regulating train noise. CN is a federally-chartered company that historically has been a responsibility of the federal government. Furthermore, legislation on transportation is a federal jurisdiction.
Amendments were made in this House and in committee to give the Canada Transportation Act more teeth and to protect our communities from the excessive noise caused by transportation companies, including CN. I am talking about CN because it relates to my riding. This issue was sent to the Senate, which studied it and only called as witnesses people from railway companies who told us we did not need these changes. In the end, the Liberal and Conservative members pathetically caved in to the senators and passed the Senate amendments that consisted essentially in going back to the original version, destroying in a single stroke all our amendments and all the work we had done.
We now find ourselves in an odd situation. The Conservatives argued that they did not have the time to return the bill to the Senate, even though the latter was saying that, if we persisted, they would give in. It said in its own discussions that it did not have the time to look after that. Why do we always have the time, in this chamber, at least in the case of the federalist parties, to interfere in areas of provincial jurisdiction? But when the time comes to look at a real issue that truly has to do with federal jurisdiction, it is not important enough and there are other things going on? There is something wrong here and it is a real problem with Canadian federalism.
This could also apply to the situation of aboriginals in Canada. We frequently see in the news and media reports, or if we have the opportunity to visit Indian reserves, the difficult conditions in which these individuals live. We see that the federal government is moving at a snail's pace, that no progress is made, that it hesitates, doubles back and looks after a lot of other things whereas that is clearly a responsibility within its jurisdiction. If it would at least look after that issue first.
This is also the case for international trade. Companies are waiting for the federal government to intervene, to defend them, to stand up for them and to ensure that international agreements and the decisions of the Canadian International Trade Tribunal are upheld. It does not have the time for that, it is not glamorous enough for federalist members. However, they always find the time to meddle in education when that is not at all their job.
I would like to conclude by giving another example of the fiscal imbalance, which still has not been corrected. Why has it not been corrected? What is the best proof that it still exists? The government is still able to spend money in provincial jurisdictions. Is the fact that the federal government has to spend money in the provinces' jurisdictions not the best illustration that it has too much money for its own jurisdictions and responsibilities?
If the government really wanted to correct the fiscal imbalance, it would transfer a portion of the tax base, such as the GST, from Ottawa to Quebec and the provinces. This would give Ottawa and the provinces the resources they need to look after their jurisdictions. We would have all the time we need to address the issues that come under our jurisdiction. Perhaps we would have a federation that worked better and there would be people in the provinces to look after health and education. We could look after aboriginal peoples, noise caused by trains, international trade and foreign affairs, as provided for in the Constitution.
It is slightly ironic that only the Bloc Québécois is calling for compliance with the Constitution.
View Ken Boshcoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ken Boshcoff Profile
2007-11-16 13:58 [p.1006]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to the benefits of Bill C-284.
My mother was a janitoress and I was the first one in our family ever to go to university. I could not have done it without a student loan. Perhaps that is why I have spent so much time listening to student leaders about their concerns.
When I see so many earnest young Canadians working to convince the government that their concerns are valid, I am frustrated by the government's refusal to respond to such a legitimate and well-documented case.
In Thunder Bay, Confederation College student union president, Jon Hendel, has forwarded the document “Sleepwalking Towards the Precipice”, which was researched in partnership with many provincial and national student alliances.
One of their main concerns is the looming $350 million cut to financial aid. The mandate of the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, which distributes $350 million in student aid annually, is set to expire in 2009. The foundation was established in 1998 by the Liberal Government of Canada with the mandate of improving access to post-secondary education.
Eliminating $350 million from the Canadian financial aid system will have a disastrous impact on the accessibility and affordability of a post-secondary education. Currently, the foundation provides assistance to over 100,000 students annually, making it responsible for about 30% of all non-repayable grants awarded in Canada.
To avert disaster requires immediate action. The federal government must continue to provide a commitment equal to or greater than the foundation's original endowment in non-repayable student financial assistance. This would require the government to provide, at a minimum, a $2.5 billion base endowment to the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation. The endowment must also be indexed annually, starting from 1999, to account for inflation and enrolment growth.
Andrew Kane, the manager of financial aid at Confederation College, tells me that over $5 million has been directed to the college since the program began. This is quite a significant amount. He is deeply saddened that this program will be cancelled since it is a direct investment in the students who need it most.
I have received a diploma myself from Confederation College, as well as a master's from York and a B.A. from Lakehead University, and I am proud to have those as my alma maters.
Thunder Bay's Lakehead University student union president, Richard Longtin, confirmed in a recent meeting some amazing statistics. Since 1999, 5,832 Lakehead University students have received $17,528,482 in scholarships and bursaries. In this past academic year alone, 926 students received $2.745 million. Those obviously are a significant set of numbers.
Lakehead University's financial aid administrator wrote to me and said:
It is easy to see that the impact of this program on students at Lakehead University is immense. I have no doubt that these programs have provided the opportunity for many students to attend Lakehead University who otherwise might not have been able to afford a post-secondary education.
The College Student Alliance adds strength to the debate for inclusion. It recommends investment in more non-repayable grants targeted at unrepresented students from low income families, aboriginal communities, first generation and persons with disabilities.
The Canadian Federation of Students met with me regarding the need for a national system of needs based grants. Just yesterday, the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, CASA, articulated its issues in its education policy brief entitled, Strengthening Canada's Future: Real Solutions From Canada's Students.
It is very inspiring to meet with such intelligent and motivated young leaders, especially those who so thoughtfully propose reasonable and workable solutions. Of note, they advise that the government must ensure that post-secondary funding is truly dedicated funding. The government must work with the provinces to develop objectives for post-secondary education funding as well as mechanisms to ensure funding is directed toward meeting those goals.
Additional federal transfer funding for post-secondary education must not displace existing funding. Federal transfer funding for post-secondary education should be increased to a minimum level of $4 billion in annual cash transfers and increased annually according to inflation and demographic growth.
The Vancouver based Coalition for Student Loan Fairness has prepared a comprehensive report, entitled “An Eight-Point Plan for Reform”. This reform addresses all levels of concern that constituents have discussed with me.
Point one recommends that the federal government significantly reduce or eliminate the interest rate on student loans. With interest rates of 8.75% to 11.25%, borrowers end up paying interest of over 35% over the lifetime of the loan.
Point two calls for improved access to grants, interest relief and debt reduction. This would include promotion to ensure that all borrowers who need this are aware of it.
Point three calls for the creation of a student loan ombudsman's office which would have the power to prescribe resolutions to service providers, including banks and credit reporting offices.
Points four, five and six speak to creating efficiencies with the recording and payment of student loans. Graduates would be able to expect one integrated loan and one payment with real-time access to statements.
Often, bad things happen to good people through no fault of their own. Points seven and eight address some of those remedies, including the provision of hardship relief.
How serious is student debt? Currently, Canadian students owe the federal government about $800 million in defaulted student loans. The coalition says that nearly $98 million of that amount is interest.
Under an access to information request, the group has also determined that Ottawa is spending more money collecting defaulted loans than in ensuring its interest relief and debt reduction programs are accessible to students. Clearly, changes are needed.
The goal of Bill C-284 is to break down barriers to higher education.
The Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation study on Canada's tuition and education tax credits is clear proof that providing an $80 tax break on books is bad policy. The incompetence that took us billions of dollars into debt in the early 1990s and late 1980s, and that the Liberal Party dug us out of, continues. As an example, the move last year to kill thousands of jobs created under the summer career placement program has ended up being nothing short of a disaster for students.
I strongly support CASA's support of the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation. We know that 95% of the money goes to targeted needs. All provinces and territories belong. It operates with a very efficient 4% overhead compared to 28% for the Canada student loans program.
Let us stand up for our students and tell the government that it should be listening to our student leaders and implementing these proposals immediately.
View Paul Martin Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Royal Galipeau Profile
View Royal Galipeau Profile
2007-02-15 17:17 [p.6915]
Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Royal Galipeau): All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
Some hon. members: Yea.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Royal Galipeau): All those opposed will please say nay.
Some hon. members: Nay.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Royal Galipeau): In my opinion the yeas have it.
And five or more members having risen:
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Royal Galipeau): Pursuant to Standing Order 98, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, February 21, 2007, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.
View Paul Szabo Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Paul Szabo Profile
2007-02-15 17:17 [p.6915]
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. We have had discussions with the Chair in the past about the anomaly of the third hour of private members' business being report stage and third reading. The members should be aware that what they have just done is eliminated one hour of the two hours of debate on an important item, being the plight of aboriginal Canadians.
It is outrageous that this has happened. I would ask for the unanimous consent of the House to proceed with the debate at third reading.
View Royal Galipeau Profile
View Royal Galipeau Profile
2007-02-15 17:18 [p.6915]
I thank the hon. member for Mississauga South. It is my understanding that he has already had discussions with the Speaker on this matter. The decision of the House stands. The vote is deferred until February 21, as stated earlier.
It being 5:20 p.m., this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 5:20 p.m.)
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