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Results: 1 - 15 of 2867
View Marco Mendicino Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Marco Mendicino Profile
2020-02-24 11:03 [p.1399]
moved that Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's call to action number 94), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I begin by acknowledging that we are on the traditional territory of the Algonquin nation.
Today, I have the privilege of speaking to Bill C-6, which is an act to amend the Citizenship Act. When passed into law, this legislation will amend the oath of citizenship to ensure indigenous peoples have their right place within the solemn declaration made by newcomers as they are welcomed to the Canadian family.
The purpose of this bill is to continue to fulfill our government's commitment to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action, specifically call to action number 94. As members will know, identical legislation was tabled in the last Parliament; however, we were not able to advance it before dissolution.
I want to explain why I think it is important to highlight this. The government proposed this amendment some time ago, almost a year ago, in fact, as part of our overall efforts to significantly advance reconciliation.
This is hard work. The renewal of the relationship with indigenous peoples must be based on a recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership. We have wed ourselves to these principles to foster collaboration in the creation of new laws and policies that will, among other things, protect indigenous languages, traditions and institutions.
Do these advancements mean our work is done? Of course not. Recent events illustrate that the issues that remain to be resolved are both complex and urgent. Equally, we cannot allow ourselves to go backward.
I hope we will use this moment as an opportunity to have a constructive debate on this bill, starting with an all-party agreement that the amendments it proposes to the Citizenship Act are one more vital step towards reconciliation.
Before discussing the substance of the legislation, I believe it is important to provide the historical context that gave rise to call to action number 94.
As was said at the time of the initial publication of the TRC report, too many Canadians know too little or nothing at all about the tragedy of the residential schools. This deficit of public awareness regarding the systemic way in which indigenous children were forcibly torn from their families has had serious consequences. Previously shamed into silence, thousands of survivors painfully shared their residential school experiences with the commission. This helped to start an important dialogue about what is necessary to heal.
We, as Canadians, have much to learn from listening to their voices. It is in this spirit of sharing, knowledge and learning that we put forward this bill to ensure that new Canadians begin to understand the history of indigenous peoples as a part of our country's fabric at their inception as citizens. The stories of first nations, Inuit and Métis are the story of Canada itself.
That is why the approach we are taking with this new oath is so important. The action we are proposing today is one more step towards rebuilding a once harmonious relationship.
As Senator Murray Sinclair said:
Actions speak louder than words. The reality is that we're...looking for action that shows leadership, that causes people to sit up and take notice and recognize that there is an important process under way here that they have to be part of.
With this bill, we are taking a step to respond to Senator Sinclair's exhortation by modifying the oath of citizenship to be more inclusive, and to help fundamentally transform the nature of our relationship with indigenous peoples.
For hundreds of years, even before the residential schools, indigenous peoples faced discrimination in every aspect of their lives. Our government firmly believes that we must acknowledge the injustices of the past and envision a new relationship based on the inherent rights of indigenous peoples. The bill we have put forward today helps to lay the foundation for that journey.
Once adopted, the new oath of citizenship will read as follows:
I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.
In arriving at this language, I would note that the government engaged indigenous leaders, including the national indigenous organizations. My department began consultations in 2016 with the Assembly of Fist Nations, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council. In addition, we also engaged with members of the Land Claims Agreements Coalition, an organization that represents indigenous modern treaty organizations and governments in Canada.
While all three organizations generally support the intent behind the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's call to action, it was clear that further efforts were needed to make the oath as precise and inclusive as possible.
In summarizing our consultation, there were diverse views with regard to language. However, it is our sincere belief that the wording put forth in this bill reflects our best efforts to be inclusive of first nations, Inuit and Métis experiences, responding not only to call to action number 94 but to the substance of what my department heard throughout our consultations. In so doing, we put forward to the House today a proposed oath of citizenship that introduces and instills the principle of reconciliation among our new citizens.
Canada has been shaped by the contributions of immigrants over many generations. Travelling this country far and wide, one would be hard pressed to find a family whose journey did not start abroad. For many, becoming a citizen is a significant milestone on this journey. Indeed, nearly 85% of newcomers become citizens. Over the last decade, Canada has welcomed nearly 1.7 million new citizens. In my short time as minister, I have already had a number of opportunities to participate in citizenship ceremonies right across Canada, and I can tell members that is among the most emotional, moving and special functions I get to engage in.
I get to see the pride on the faces of new citizens and how this oath represents a major commitment as part of their journey to settle in a new country.
The oath is a very public declaration and an integral part of the citizenship process. It consecrates a commitment to equality, diversity and respect within an open and free society. In addition, by taking the oath, new citizens inherit the legacy of those who have come before them and the values that have defined the character of Canada. When a newcomer becomes Canadian, our history becomes their history and their history becomes part of ours. Now, that shared history will also ensure that newcomers recognize and affirm the rights and treaties of indigenous peoples. The histories of indigenous peoples in Canada are diverse and an integral part of Canada's past, present and future.
It has been a long road, and we still have a lot of work to do. The purpose of bill is twofold. First, our goal is to ensure that new Canadians recognize indigenous peoples' significant contributions to Canada. The government is also reaffirming its commitment to reconciliation and a renewed relationship with indigenous peoples.
We must keep moving forward together.
We have listened and learned. We are working together to take concrete measures to build a better future and a new relationship, and that includes recognizing indigenous peoples in the citizenship oath.
Our goal is to achieve a fundamental and profound shift in the relationship with indigenous peoples. However, this transformation will take mutual respect, determination and patience.
It will mean listening to and learning from indigenous partners, communities and youth, and acting decisively on what we have heard, which is to build trust and healing. It will also mean doing everything we can to support the inherent right to self-determination of indigenous peoples that will lead us all to a better future.
We can and will build a better Canada together, but we can only do this in full, honest partnership with indigenous peoples who truly know best when it comes to their own communities.
I want to end by acknowledging that this has been a challenging time. However, this legislation represents a significant opportunity to find a better way forward.
I look forward to working with all members of the House. It is my sincere hope that we will find a common cause to support this legislation, which represents an important and modest step forward on the path to reconciliation.
View Marco Mendicino Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Marco Mendicino Profile
2020-02-24 11:15 [p.1401]
Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for her work and for her advocacy. When it comes to reconciliation, it is well known.
I also want to express my gratitude to her for her support of the bill. It is my sincere hope that she will be able to encourage all members of the House to support this legislation. Her voice matters.
With regard to the member's comments around the provision of health care to indigenous children in particular, my colleagues the Minister of Indigenous Services and the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations are making progress on that front. Clearly, there is more work to be done.
With respect to the timing of the bill, as I reflected during my remarks, this legislation was introduced some months ago. The foundation for today's debate has been laid. Obviously, the passage of the bill is long overdue and it is my hope that we will take a step forward to achieve that goal throughout the course of today and in the coming weeks and months.
View Marco Mendicino Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Marco Mendicino Profile
2020-02-24 11:17 [p.1401]
Madam Speaker, I do appreciate the sense of urgency in the tone of the member's question. He is quite right. There is no time for us to move backward. We must continue to move forward.
That is why, among the very first initiatives that I have taken in the short time since being sworn in as minister, I have put the bill forward. It is not to be seen as a panacea or as a cure-all but as a step forward. I am encouraged by the member's comments around support for the bill. I would continue to encourage him to exhort others to come around to expressing their support for this legislation, because the sooner we can hear those voices come to this floor, the sooner we can pass it into law. That is definitely my intention.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-02-24 11:18 [p.1401]
Madam Speaker, I want to thank the minister for recognizing the importance of the call to action. There were 94 recommendations that came forward. When I reflect on the last four or five years, we have seen the Government of Canada take action on a number of them.
The previous question made reference to your ministry. We have seen the language—
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-02-24 11:19 [p.1401]
Madam Speaker, was it a beginner's mistake?
At the end of the day, the government has taken substantial action on the calls for action for truth and reconciliation. We have the language heritage bill. We have had legislation dealing with the thousands of children who are in child custody. Now we have yet another piece of the puzzle, if I can put it that way.
Could the minister reflect on how important it is for us to take a look at the bigger picture and how the government has, virtually from day one, treated this issue very seriously? Does he think this is just one piece of the puzzle toward reconciliation?
View Marco Mendicino Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Marco Mendicino Profile
2020-02-24 11:20 [p.1401]
Madam Speaker, there are few among us who think that my hon. colleague is a beginner.
I appreciate his comment because it allows me to expand for a moment on the broader context here, which I think is important for us to remember.
The bill would ensure that new Canadians are able to begin to fully appreciate the right place of indigenous peoples as part of the fabric of this country. This is a direct response to call to action no. 94, which our government committed to implementing along with all of the others that were released in 2015.
As my colleague pointed out, progress has been made in some other areas, particularly with regard to the protection and revitalization of indigenous languages and with legislation that will ensure that the best interests of indigenous children are reflected in the family court system. That has been incredibly important, along with other progress made around ensuring that indigenous communities have access to safe and clean water.
This is one step. It is part of many steps that have to be made, which we will achieve together toward reconciliation.
View Marco Mendicino Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Marco Mendicino Profile
2020-02-24 11:22 [p.1402]
Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague makes a good point in that there is a distinction between the language used and the exact language that was put forward in call to action no. 94, but it is far from freelancing.
As I indicated, my department engaged in consultations with national indigenous organizations and indigenous leaders across this country. Through the exchange of those perspectives, we felt the revised language that I read into the record today, which is reflected in the text of the bill, would ensure more inclusivity when it comes to the experiences of first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Obviously, those efforts were made with the best of intentions, and I look forward to debating it.
Certainly my hope is that the member and his party will come around to supporting the bill.
View Marco Mendicino Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Marco Mendicino Profile
2020-02-24 11:23 [p.1402]
Madam Speaker, as I acknowledged, we are indeed in a difficult situation right now. It goes without saying that we all want a peaceful de-escalation when it comes to the blockades. At the same time, however, this government has continued to make efforts to engage in constructive dialogue with indigenous peoples. The Prime Minister and ministers have engaged with our partners right across the country.
We also have to bear in mind that there are serious concerns, as long as these blockades continue, with regard to the safety of indigenous peoples and Canadians right across the country, with regard to ensuring we resume shipments of essential resources and, finally, with regard to jobs.
I certainly hope that I can count on my colleague to come around to support the bill, as it is one step in creating a space to advance meaningful reconciliation.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-02-24 11:42 [p.1405]
Madam Speaker, I must say I am a little surprised at the position the Conservative Party seems to be taking on this.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission report has 94 calls to action. The very last call was to make this change. The member is right. This is, in essence, what this legislation is proposing to do.
It has taken a great deal of resources and efforts from every region of the country. We have a report. The Liberal Party made a commitment in the last two elections to deal with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report and support those 94 calls to action.
Just so that we can be very clear, is it the Conservative Party's position that it does not support call to action 94?
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-02-24 12:11 [p.1409]
Madam Speaker, I am glad New Democrats are going to be supporting Bill C-6. It is a pretty straightforward piece of legislation. It does respond to the Truth and Reconciliation call to action number 94. That is encouraging. What is discouraging is that a good portion of the member's speech is completely inaccurate. When we look at what this government has been able to accomplish, I would challenge the member to demonstrate clearly what any other federal government has done in the previous 20 years.
While she is reflecting on that statement, we could talk about the hundreds of millions of additional dollars that have been invested. We could talk about legislation that has been brought forward. We could talk about several calls to action that have been acted upon to date.
Maybe she can reflect in terms of NDP governments, the Government of British Columbia, for example, and its role in the Wet'suwet'en situation. We could talk about the horrific regime where we saw 15 years of NDP government in the province of Manitoba and what the indigenous children had to endure.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-02-24 12:32 [p.1412]
Madam Speaker, it bears reminding members that there are 94 calls to action. This is the 94th. There are a number of calls to action which the government has acted on over the last few years. However, the total number of 94 are not just for the federal government. Many of those calls to action involve the federal government's working with other jurisdictions. Some of those calls to action have nothing to do directly with the federal government. Some of the calls to action have to take into consideration non-government agencies.
I wonder if my colleague would emphasize for all those stakeholders and partners working to improve reconciliation that we all have an important role to play and this bill we are debating today is just one important aspect.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-02-24 12:48 [p.1413]
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the position of the Bloc on this legislation, and I want to echo some thoughts regarding the importance of the true value of incorporating call to action number 94 into that oath.
Has the member ever participated, as an observer or anything of that nature, in the witnessing of Canadians being sworn in?
View Jaime Battiste Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Jaime Battiste Profile
2020-02-24 12:50 [p.1414]
Madam Speaker, I would like to acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of the Algonquin nation.
I would just like to take the time to say that I will be sharing my time with the member for Surrey Centre.
I stand here today to discuss the amendments to Canada's citizenship oath that our government is proposing. The citizenship oath is sworn by each and every immigrant as they become Canadian citizens. The oath defines the responsibilities, duties and loyalties that each of them acknowledges as a proud new Canadian.
How many new Canadians are aware that our country was built upon the mutual friendship, respect and obligations created by treaties? My ancestors, and others' ancestors, signed these treaties as a basis for shared understanding of how we could coexist. In Canada, that means that we are all treaty people, and we are all in this together.
In the famous words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now.”
On Cape Breton Island, where I am from and whose communities I represent, immigration to Canada is not an abstract national statistic. It is fundamental for our future. My constituents rely on immigration for a strong local economy, which is facing the mounting twin pressures of an aging workforce and an exodus of young Cape Bretoners. Put simply, my riding needs immigration to thrive, to keep local businesses selling goods, to fill local businesses' workforces and to generate a tax base to fund local services. In fact, for every 1,000 new immigrant families choosing to settle in Cape Breton, our communities will directly generate 73 million dollars' worth of new expenditures. This is important money being spent in Cape Breton.
In 2019, Cape Breton University had the third highest number of international students among all universities in Atlantic Canada. When these students were polled, 88% of respondents were planning on applying for post-graduate work visas, and 35% of these respondents would like to open their own business in Cape Breton. These are new Canadians, drawn to Cape Breton, who want to continue to live, work and put down roots on our island. I welcome them.
I welcome new Canadians just as 400 years ago, on the south shores of Nova Scotia, our Mi'kmaq Grand Chief Henri Membertou welcomed French newcomers to Port Royal. Our grand chief took the French settlers under his wing and showed them how to survive and thrive in their new surroundings. Many other indigenous leaders across Canada created alliances with newcomers all across this great land we call Canada today.
It is important to create awareness of our shared history and how indigenous peoples helped shape our great country. Within the Canadian Constitution, we recognize three distinct groups: first nations, Inuit and Métis. Reconciliation with indigenous peoples remains a central priority for the government, and we will continue to move forward as a committed partner.
It is time to acknowledge the contributions that indigenous people have made in building a strong, inclusive Canada. It is time that we create awareness of our shared history in Canada, and the fact that our country was based on principles of harmony and co-existence, and that we are stronger when we work together.
The Truth and Reconciliation calls to action are important to guiding Canadians along the journey of reconciliation. With 94 calls to action in mind, we strive to create more awareness and a stronger, more united Canada.
This brings us to the changes that the government has proposed to the current wording of the oath of citizenship. With this bill, our government is addressing one of the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action that pertains to immigration, refugees and citizenship candidates' mandate.
Call to action number 94 calls on the Government of Canada to amend the oath of citizenship, to add reference to including treaties with indigenous peoples. Our consultations with national indigenous organizations clearly indicate that the phrase “treaties with indigenous peoples”, as recommended by the commission, can be expanded to be respectful and inclusive of all indigenous peoples.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has consulted with other government departments and national indigenous organizations on the wording of the oath of citizenship. Therefore, to address the commission's call to action, as well as commitments made in the 2019 Speech from the Throne, and the hon. Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship's mandate letter, the bill would modify the wording of the oath of citizenship as follows:
I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.
The revised text of the oath uses wording that recognizes a broad range of rights held by indigenous people. Any changes to the oath of citizenship require amendments to the Citizenship Act, and are subject to the parliamentary process.
As mentioned in the minister's mandate letter from the Prime Minister, the government is committed to completing legislative work on changes that reflect the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action. A great deal of work has been done by the commission, from coast to coast to coast, with thousands of indigenous Canadians. The TRC calls to action are an important blueprint for reconciliation in Canada. This is the fundamental reason why we propose these changes today.
Let me close with these thoughts for my hon. colleagues to consider.
The histories of indigenous people in Canada are rich and diverse. Since time immemorial, meaning since before oral or written history, indigenous people have welcomed new Canadians. The story of Canada is the story of first nations, the story of Inuit and the story of Métis.
Indigenous people helped create the Canada we know and love today and will have an important part in the role of Canada in the future.
I would impress upon my hon. colleagues that we need to take this opportunity to both acknowledge our country's past and move toward a future of renewed relationships with indigenous people based on the TRC calls to action. The changes to the citizenship oath would be an important step in this pursuit.
Through this and other actions, all Canadians can continue to move forward together on this journey of reconciliation so we can leave a proper legacy for future generations.
View Jaime Battiste Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Jaime Battiste Profile
2020-02-24 13:00 [p.1415]
Madam Speaker, it is important to recognize the Constitution. There were many first nations who were a part of the dialogue moving forward in determining the Constitution. My father was a legal adviser for the Mi'kmaq grand council and he advocated for section 35. Within section 35 they recognized three nations: first nations, Inuit and Métis. That is important for us moving forward. It was also important that section 35 recognized that these laws were the supreme law of Canada as part of section 52.
When we are looking at treaties and inherent rights, we must make sure we are understanding that what we are recognizing is that this country agreed to peace, friendship and coexistence as a founding principle of the Constitution. Moving forward, that is important for all of us to remember and recognize.
View Jaime Battiste Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Jaime Battiste Profile
2020-02-24 13:03 [p.1416]
Madam Speaker, I believe that all across Canada the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a blueprint for reconciliation. However, within that blueprint, it is not just the federal government doing its part.
I was a treaty education lead for five years before I became an MP and I can guarantee we looked at the calls to action. In Nova Scotia, in every grade, every class and every school they are beginning to learn the history of indigenous people as put in section 10 of the TRC calls to action.
I was also part of the Aboriginal Sports Circle. It is looking at implementation of calls to action 87 to 91, which speak to sport.
It is happening all across Canada. Not just the federal and provincial governments, but also sports bodies, schools and other jurisdictions across Canada are looking at these calls to action and recognizing these are important blueprints to move forward on reconciliation.
Our government is doing its part. We are taking those steps toward reconciliation. It is important we continue to do so step by step or action by action.
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