April 26, 2004

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Some hon. members

No.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   International Transfer of Offenders Act
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   International Transfer of Offenders Act
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Some hon. members

Yea.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   International Transfer of Offenders Act
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   International Transfer of Offenders Act
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Some hon. members

Nay.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   International Transfer of Offenders Act
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   International Transfer of Offenders Act
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   International Transfer of Offenders Act
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

For the benefit of those who are watching us, the chief government whip has requested that the division be deferred until tomorrow afternoon, after government orders.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   International Transfer of Offenders Act
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The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-23, an act to provide for real property taxation powers of first nations, to create a First Nations Tax Commission, First Nations Financial Management Board, First Nations Finance Authority and First Nations Statistical Institute and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, as reported (with amendments) from the committee.


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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Here are the rulings, by groups.

There are 18 motions in amendment standing on the Notice Paper for the report stage of Bill C-23. The Chair has been asked to use its discretionary power to select all the motions in amendment under the name of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

I am informed that there has been an understanding between the Minister for Indian Affairs and Northern Development and opposition critics concerning the selection of these amendments. Notwithstanding any reservation the Chair may have, I agree that the motions in the name of the minister should be all selected. The motions will be grouped for debate as follows: Group No. 1, Motions Nos. 1, 2, 11 to 16 and 18; and Group No. 2, Motions Nos. 3 to 10 and 17.

The voting patterns for the motions within each group are available at the table. The Chair will remind the House of each pattern at the time of voting.

I shall now propose Motions Nos. 1, 2, 11 to 16, and 18 in Group No. 1 to the House.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act
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LIB

Bill Graham

Liberal

Hon. Bill Graham (for the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development)

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-23, in Clause 2, be amended

(a) by replacing lines 1 and 2 on page 3 with the following:

““first nation” means

(a) in any provision of Part 5, a band; and

(b) in any other provision, a band named in the schedule.”

(b) by adding after line 4 on page 4 the following:

“(3) At the request of the council of a band, the Governor in Council may, by order, amend the schedule by adding, deleting or changing the name of the band.”

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-23 be amended by adding after line 34 on page 11 the following new clause:

“13.1 Paragraphs 83(1)(a) and (d) to (g) and section 84 of the Indian Act and any regulations made under paragraph 73(1)(m) of that Act do not apply to a first nation.”

Motion No. 11

That Bill C-23, in Clause 141, be amended by replacing lines 21 to 23 on page 60 with the following:

“141. (1) By-laws made by a first nation under paragraph 83(1)(a), or any of paragraphs 83(1)(d) to (g), of the Indian Act that are in force on the day on which the name of the first nation is added to the schedule are”

Motion No. 12

That Bill C-23 be amended by deleting Clause 148.

Motion No. 13

That Bill C-23 be amended by deleting Clause 149.

Motion No. 14

That Bill C-23 be amended by deleting Clause 150.

Motion No. 15

That Bill C-23 be amended by deleting Clause 150.1.

Motion No. 16

That Bill C-23, in Clause 151, be amended

(a) by replacing line 35 on page 62 with the following:

“the Indian Act before paragraph (a) is replaced by”

(b) by replacing line 39 on page 62 with the following:

“province, but subject to section 83 and”

Motion No. 18

That Bill C-23, in Schedule, be amended by adding after line 8 on page 70 the following:

“SCHEDULE

(Subsections 2(1) and (3))”

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act
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LIB

Larry Bagnell

Liberal

Hon. Larry Bagnell (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to speak to the first group of amendments to Bill C-23 at report stage. Although I will be talking just about technicalities in my speech, I know there will be a number of more passionate speeches given later on with regard to the benefits of the bill.

In the previous stages of the bill, a couple of concerns were raised either by committee members or by people not involved in the committee. These amendments basically remove the most strenuous of those concerns. The amendments make the bill optional and they make it quite clear that it is optional. For first nations and aboriginal people who want to buy into the bill, who want to use the institutions, it is totally optional. The bill does not place an onus on first nations that have no desire to collect property taxes to do so. It does not force any first nation to go into debt.

No first nation has to use the institutions created by the bill, but these institutions have been developed over the years by first nations people themselves to help them in the financial area after their experience with section 83 of the Indian Act relating to property tax and their difficulties in getting large loans to build infrastructure at reasonable rates. They were also developed to provide first nations with a financial institution to provide them with financial consulting, and there was as well a lack of sufficient statistics to help them in their work.

Certain first nations have been working for years to develop these institutions that would perform these functions. They would be managed by first nations people. Once again, let me say that they are totally optional. No one has to use them or buy into them or be involved with them in any way. In fact, sections 83 and 84 of the Indian Act are being left in because a number of first nations are now quite successfully collecting property tax through these sections. They are welcome to keep using them as opposed to this new, more transparent method.

I will now talk about the technical points of the amendments.

Motion No. 1 relating to clause 2 is one of a series of motions to amend the bill to limit its application to just those first nations whose councils have requested that the governor in council include the name of their band on the schedule attached to the bill.

This amendment does two things. First, it limits the application of the term first nation in all parts of the bill, except part 5, to just those first nations who appear on the schedule attached to the bill.

Part 5 of the bill outlines the scope of the work of the statistical institute in the collection, analysis and dissemination of data relating to first nations and other aboriginal groups. Had the term first nation as applied to this part been limited to only those first nations on the schedule, the statistical institute would have been prevented from working with data pertaining to any first nation not on the schedule. This would have seriously limited the effectiveness of the institute.

Second, the amendment provides authority for the governor in council, upon the request of a council or first nation, to add the name of the first nation to the schedule, to delete its name from the schedule, or to change the name as it appears on the schedule. Any first nation can buy in at any time or can leave at any time. It is through an order in council that they would be added to the list, so it would be transparent for everyone to see.

Motion No. 2 in relation to clause 13.1 is one of a series of motions to amend the bill to limit its application to just those first nations whose councils request the governor in council to include the name of their band on the schedule attached to the bill. It is also proposed that the provisions of section 83 of the Indian Act, which deal with real property taxation, be retained in order to provide first nations with a choice to undertake property taxation under Bill C-23 or under the Indian Act. This amendment is required to clarify that should a first nation opt to tax under the bill, the property tax provisions of sections 83 and 84 of the Indian Act would not apply to that particular first nation.

Motion No. 11 amending clause 141 is one of a series of motions to amend the bill to limit its application to just those first nations whose councils have requested the governor in council to include the name of their band on a schedule attached to the bill.

It is also proposed that those provisions of section 83 of the Indian Act which deal with property taxation be retained to provide first nations with a choice to undertake property taxation under the bill or under the Indian Act.

This amendment modifies the current wording of clause 141 so that the property tax bylaws of a first nation made under section 83 of the Indian Act would be deemed to be laws made under clause 4 of this bill on the day the name of the first nation is added to the schedule of the bill. This supports the smooth transition of first nation property tax bylaws from one act to another.

The next amendment is Motion No. 12 on clause 148. This is one of a series of motions to amend the bill to limit its application to just those first nations whose councils have requested the governor in council to include the name of the band on a schedule attached to the bill.

It is also proposed that those provisions of section 83 of the Indian Act which deal with real property taxation be retained to provide first nations with the choice to undertake property taxation under this bill or under the Indian Act.

The current wording of clause 148 of the bill removes the reference to section 84 of the Indian Act from section 4.1 of that act. This amendment deletes clause 148 of the bill, thereby ensuring that the reference to section 84 is retained.

Next is Motion No. 13 on clause 149. This again is one of a series of motions to amend the bill to limit its application to just those first nations whose councils have requested the governor in council to include the name of their band on a schedule attached the bill.

It is also proposed that those provisions of section 83 of the Indian Act which deal with real property taxation be retained to provide the first nations with a choice to undertake property taxation under this bill or under the Indian Act.

This amendment would delete clause 149, which would otherwise have repealed the authority for the governor in council to make regulations for empowering and authorizing the council or the band to borrow money for band projects under paragraph 73(1)(m) of the Indian Act.

Next is Motion No. 14 on clause 150. It is one of a series of motions to amend the bill to limit its application to just those first nations whose councils have requested the governor in council to include their name of their band on a schedule attached to the bill.

It is also proposed that those provisions of section 83 of the Indian Act which deal with real property taxation be retained to provide the first nations with a choice to undertake property taxation under this bill or under the Indian Act.

This amendment would delete clause 150, which otherwise would have repealed those provisions of section 83 of the Indian Act concerning the making of first nations property tax bylaws.

Motion No. 15 relates to clause 150.1. It also is one of a series of motions to amend the bill to limit its application to just those first nations whose councils have requested the governor in council to include the name of their band on a schedule attached to the bill.

It is also proposed that those provisions of section 83 of the Indian Act which deal with real property taxation be retained to provide the first nations with a choice to undertake property taxation under this bill or under the Indian Act.

This amendment would delete clause 150.1, which would otherwise have repealed section 84 of the Indian Act, which deals with the recovery of property taxes pursuant to a bylaw under section 83.

Motion No. 16, the second last one in the group, is on clause 151. This is one of a series of motions to amend the bill to limit its application to just those first nations whose councils have requested the governor in council to include the name of their band on a schedule attached to the bill.

It is also proposed that those provisions of section 83 of the Indian Act which deal with real property taxation be retained to provide the first nations with a choice to undertake property taxation under this bill or under the Indian Act.

This motion would amend clause 151 to clarify that provisions of section 87 of the Indian Act dealing with tax exemptions would not apply both in the case of laws made under clause 4 of the bill and in the case of bylaws made under section 83 of the Indian Act.

The last amendment, Motion No. 18, is about the schedule. This is the last of a series of motions to amend the bill to limit its application to just those first nations whose councils have requested the governor in council to include the name of their band on a schedule attached to the bill. This motion would add the schedule to the bill.

In summary, we have ensured that the Indian Act provisions related to property tax in sections 83 and 84 can carry on, but if people want this new system to help them obtain loan financing at lower rates, to have management, and to have a transparent property tax system, they can utilize this bill.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Before we continue the debate, pursuant to Standing Order 38, it is my duty to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, Quebec City Airport.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act
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BQ

Claude Bachand

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Claude Bachand (Saint-Jean, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to the bill before the House. It goes back to my first love.

Are you signalling me, Mr. Speaker?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I think there has been a mix up. I thought the hon. member for Vancouver Island North wished to speak, but he did not stand up.

Is it the case now that the hon. member wants to speak to this bill?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act
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CA

John Duncan

Canadian Alliance

Mr. John Duncan

Mr. Speaker, I thought you were reading a separate intervention and then you were going to call for resumption of debate. I never heard you resume debate, so that is why I did not stand up.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Just to solve the problem, the hon. member for Vancouver Island North has the floor.

The hon. member for Saint-Jean.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act
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BQ

Claude Bachand

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Claude Bachand

Mr. Speaker, when I saw that no one had stood up I naturally did so, and you gave me the floor.

Am I to understand that you are now taking it away and giving it to my colleague, and that my turn will follow?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

That was my intention in order to be fair to everyone, but the hon. member for Vancouver Island North has just informed me that he will allow you to finish your speech and he will speak afterward.

The hon. member for Saint-Jean.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act
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BQ

Claude Bachand

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Claude Bachand

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from the Conservative Party for his generosity.

As I was saying before we ran into a procedural problem, I am coming back to my first love. I had the honour of being the Indian affairs critic for seven years and, I must admit, it warms my heart to talk about aboriginal matters again. It is an area where there are always marvellous new developments.

I have made a lot of aboriginal friends across Canada. I recall the debate about the Nisga'a, the debates about land claims and self-government. This is an area that I greatly enjoyed. Since my colleagues were unable to attend today's debate on the bill before us, I was delighted to stand in for them.

There was something else I noticed when I was the critic for this area. Whenever a series of bills about aboriginal peoples was introduced in the House, it was often because there was nothing left on the legislative agenda. I always deplored this. When talking about aboriginal peoples, if we recognize that they are nations, I believe they must be accorded a little more importance, rather than simply using them to fill in the gaps when the government has no bills left.

That is what is going on right now. We are about to debate a bill concerning the financial administration of the first nations because the government has nothing left to introduce. This is what happened in 1993, the year I was first elected, and I see that it is much the same thing today.

I must also admit that a bill on financial administration, if these people are recognized as nations and peoples, should ordinarily be between equals. We in Quebec are rather sensitive to this issue because we are in somewhat the same situation as the first nations. We recognize ourselves as a people; we recognize ourselves as a nation.

When the federal government shows its intentions to control the first nations with a bill such as we have before us today, we are quickly inclined to take the side of those who are to be controlled.

We must show them some respect. My vast experience in this field tells me that these people are perfectly able to govern themselves. Of course, government money is involved and such money should be monitored, but not to the extent suggested in Bill C-23; we think that is going too far. That is why we have objected to this bill from the beginning.

Thus, we can empathize with a nation that the central government is trying to control. I am not saying that it does not have the right to control it, because the Indian Act is quite clear. The aboriginal peoples have very little to say about the way they are governed. We see it otherwise. Until they attain self-government and until the land claims are settled, it will be difficult for them to catch up. They are reliant on the Indian Act and the sums of money given to them each year.

To this end, I think that the balance has not been attained between the respect we should have for the fact that they are self-governed and the fact that they are also accountable to Parliament, which determines the funds they receive.

These bills are not new. Piecemeal legislation is constantly being introduced. However, important commissions considered this issue, such as the Penner commission, which examined the new relationship and how it could be changed since there was still a relationship of dependency. People wanted to change all that. Now, what we are seeing is the same old pattern along the lines of the philosophy in the Indian Act, which has been condemned by many people.

The Erasmus-Dussault commission did a great deal on work on this. I can only remind the House of its efforts. It cost taxpayers $70 million and today, the report is collecting dust on a shelf somewhere in the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. However, the report made several extremely important points. At the time, there was a desire to totally change the relationship and ensure greater respect for aboriginals.

In fact, much effort was made and a great deal of emphasis was placed on self-government and land claims. There can be no self-government without sufficient resources and an adequate land base.

I think that the Erasmus-Dussault commission did an excellent job on this. It is too bad that its work is not reflected in the legislation now before Parliament.

This bill is along the lines of the philosophy behind the Indian Act. The Bloc Quebecois considers that keeping aboriginals dependent is taking a step in the wrong direction. This bill is, in our opinion, also a step in the wrong direction.

Consultation with the aboriginal nations is highly debatable, because the Assembly of First Nations spoke out about this. Yes, consultations were held, but the vast majority of those consulted voiced their objections.

Why is the federal government stubbornly introducing legislation on the first nations nonetheless? If we want to respect these nations and give them some measure of autonomy, we should not tell them that the Canadian Parliament will make all their decisions, as the Indian Act has done for over 100 years now, nor should we tell that we will now enforce legislation on financial administration that they must respect.

First nations have objected, and now we are talking about methods they will have to use without taking into account their self-governance and land claims, ignoring the treaties signed at the time, and imposing something new, somewhat as we did when we imposed the Indian Act. In my opinion, the federal government is headed in the wrong direction with this.

The government should have taken this consultation into account. Aboriginals have said that the bill is so terrible that even amending it would do no good. Today 18 amendments are being put forward. To us that is not enough because the fundamental philosophy underlying this bill is flawed.

We must recognize the autonomy of the aboriginal peoples and talk with them equal to equal. We should be able to tell such a nation how we could administer with them the money they are sent and how it would be acceptable to them. Unfortunately, this was not done, and that is why we are saying that this discussion between equals does not exist and has not existed. The concept of nation to nation does not exist either.

As I was saying, and I will conclude with this, as Quebeckers we consider ourselves to be a people and we would not want the same thing done to us, which is why we resist every time the federal government tries. Accordingly, we understand perfectly why the first nations are again resisting intrusion and a lack of respect toward them. Discussions are not being held equal to equal or nation to nation. They are having a bill imposed on them that they do not want. The Bloc Quebecois is on the side of aboriginals. We will vote against this bill.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act
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April 26, 2004