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View Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. Good morning, Mr. Faille.
My university studies in company law dealt a lot with white-collar crime and the effect it has on first nations' economic development across the country. As you will see, that will be the focus of my questions this morning.
I understood your presentation completely. The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business has a program that certifies aboriginal businesses. But there is one aspect that I have a little difficulty grasping. The tax rules apply to status Indians pursuant to the Indian Act. Other than a company owned by one individual, I have difficulty seeing how a company can become certified as aboriginal.
What do you understand by the term “aboriginal business”?
View Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Profile
NDP (QC)
So it can be one individual, or several.
View Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Profile
NDP (QC)
Okay.
In your document, you use the phrase “51% or more owned by an aboriginal person”. Are we talking about voting shares as part of the distributed share capital or 51% of the shares issued?
You know as well as I do that the power lies in the hands of those owning the voting shares. That is basically the crux of the issue. North of 50, we see that trick a lot, including in my own community. I feel that it is currently a considerable brake on economic development and progress.
View Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Profile
NDP (QC)
In the form of voting shares. Okay.
The TD Bank Financial Group has a program called “Aboriginal Trust and Investment Services”.
Mr. Davis, trust accounts are fine, but at what point do they come into play and how relevant are they, for example, in remote communities? What trust services do you offer to communities?
View Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Profile
NDP (QC)
When first nations constituents come to my office and tell me that the band council is robbing Peter to pay Paul by dipping into money intended for education in order to fill up another pot with less money in it, my reply is often that a practical solution would be to set up a trust account. Money would then simply go to the intended purpose and there would be no more robbing Peter.
Do you offer services like that? Do you think it would be possible to turn everything over to an independent administrator who would guarantee the final destination so that people could be sure that the money would be applied to the area for which it was originally designated?
View Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you.
Mr. Faille, do you have anything to add on that?
View Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Profile
NDP (QC)
View Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Profile
NDP (QC)
Good morning, gentlemen.
The document drafted by the Library of Parliament to prepare us for your testimonies this morning mentioned the First Nations market housing fund, which is overseen by nine trustees. When constituents who are members of a First Nation visit my office in Uashat and tell me that the funds, which are supposed to be managed by the band council and used for housing, have been used for other purposes, I often suggest the following solution: create a trust. I would like to hear what you could tell us about the advantages or specifics of managing a housing-related trust.
View Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Profile
NDP (QC)
The question is for anyone who is in charge of or has information about housing-related trusts.
View Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Profile
NDP (QC)
To come back to the First Nations market housing fund, I know that the First Nations' proven ability to manage its finances, loans and housing is assessed.
What tests would make it possible to assess how a band is managing its housing-related finances and loans? How could we determine whether a First Nation is managing its finances, loans and housing adequately?
View Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Profile
NDP (QC)
View Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Profile
NDP (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good morning, Mr. Vincent.
As I mentioned in our previous discussion, I looked at your biography, which dates from 2009. It says that your organization provides financing under commercial conditions to start or expand businesses that are under majority aboriginal control. I imagine that is still the case today.
I studied commercial law in law school. So I can decipher and read a share-capital document. But it does require some special training, which is why most of my constituents are not able to look at the breakdown for any given company.
In my constituency, one of the key aspects of my mandate for the past four years has been the requirement to deal with white-collar crime. We have to call it for what it is. Because of the Plan Nord and the economic boom, a number of companies have been started in my riding in the last four years. The truth is that they are fraudulent; they are shell companies. They use aboriginal people for tax purposes, for income tax. You are aware of the specific rules that apply to an entity that claims aboriginal status.
Some turnkey companies have appeared in the Manicouagan region. They work mostly in natural resource extraction and construction. I am thinking about the La Romaine project, for example. A number of corporate entities popped up overnight. You just have to glance at their share-capital to realize that the leadership, the steering wheel, is not really in the hands of First Nations communities or individuals.
Another situation was brought to my attention by the economic development officers in Manicouagan. In their view, First Nations' participation is often limited to being given tokens—I am not familiar with the concept—that allows them to attend board of directors meetings and even Montreal Canadiens' games, if you can imagine. That is where their participation ends. When these shell companies no longer need their token Indians, if you will excuse the expression, they simply cast them aside. Then it's game over for the company that claimed to be aboriginal when it started.
Mr. Vincent, what protections does your organization have in place in order to keep that kind of embezzlement, those kinds of shell companies, out of your activities?
View Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Vincent, I would just like to emphasize that you are one of the only witnesses to have directly addressed this issue in recent years. Thank you for that.
View Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Profile
NDP (QC)
Good morning, gentlemen.
Mr. Calla, in your presentation, you talked about the social impact of natural resource development. That opens up the door to questions.
The documents supporting your presentation indicate that natural resource development plays a role in community development and economic development.
Mr. Calla, although there have been agreements and partnerships related to the media coverage of First Nations, how do you explain that the breakdown of the social fabric is all too often associated with natural resource development? Ultimately, that is being done at the expense of the Aboriginal communities that are close to natural resource development sites.
View Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Profile
NDP (QC)
That explains things, Mr. Calla. Thank you very much.
The documents submitted to my attention refer to superior internal governance standards in relation to the program you are promoting today. Do those superior internal governance standards for First Nations also include the redistribution of monetary benefits from resource development to band members?
Does your plan ensure that each member of the community will benefit from that, not just the few elected under the Indian Act? Is that part of the superior standards?
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