May 13, 2008 (39th Parliament, 2nd Session)


Roy Cullen


Hon. Roy Cullen (Etobicoke North, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I listened very intently to the remarks of my colleague from Scarborough—Rouge River. I can imagine that there are not that many aboriginal or first nations people in his riding as there are not in my riding either of Etobicoke North. I was quite impressed with his knowledge of the landscape of this particular bill.
I have been following the debate on the bill and I think it is a very important piece of legislation. I am surprised that a bill dealing with matrimonial interests and rights does not seem to have the support of aboriginal women in Canada nor does it seem to have the support of the Assembly of First Nations. I find that rather shocking and perhaps if the bill goes to committee there will be ways to improve and enhance the bill.
However, I am surprised that the Conservative government would table a bill that does not seem to even remotely have the support of some of the key stakeholders that would be involved.
I know that my colleague from Scarborough—Rouge River is a very accomplished lawyer. I wonder if he could expand on some of the jurisdictional issues that he touched on and that I have become aware of in following this bill and the debate that is going on.
It is my understanding that the Supreme Court in 1986 ruled that when a conjugal relationship breaks down on reserve, the courts cannot apply provincial and territorial family law because reserve lands fall under federal jurisdiction. So, although on the face of it that seems fairly straightforward, I wonder if the member for Scarborough—Rouge River would speak about some of the constitutionalities of those issues.
These provisions, which I gather if this legislation would come into force, would be an interim measure and would be a bridging measure that would suffice until the various first nations communities brought in their own laws. Indeed, we have been moving toward self-governance among the aboriginal people of Canada.
Currently, how are these problems resolved in the absence of this legislative framework and how does he see it moving in transition from this legislation to a world where there is more self-governance within the aboriginal communities?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act
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