Thomas Edward SIDDON

SIDDON, The Hon. Thomas Edward, P.C., B.Sc., M.A.Sc., Ph.D., P.Eng., LL.D.

Personal Data

Party
Progressive Conservative
Constituency
Richmond (British Columbia)
Birth Date
November 9, 1941
Website
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Siddon
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=1babc9d3-8d8a-489e-99f2-d360a5ab621b&Language=E&Section=ALL
Profession
author, lecturer, professional engineer, professor of engineering

Parliamentary Career

October 16, 1978 - March 26, 1979
PC
  Burnaby--Richmond--Delta (British Columbia)
May 22, 1979 - December 14, 1979
PC
  Richmond--South Delta (British Columbia)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (October 1, 1979 - December 14, 1979)
February 18, 1980 - July 9, 1984
PC
  Richmond--South Delta (British Columbia)
September 4, 1984 - October 1, 1988
PC
  Richmond--South Delta (British Columbia)
  • Minister of State for Science and Technology (September 17, 1984 - November 19, 1985)
  • Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (November 20, 1985 - February 22, 1990)
November 21, 1988 - September 8, 1993
PC
  Richmond (British Columbia)
  • Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (November 20, 1985 - February 22, 1990)
  • Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (February 23, 1990 - June 24, 1993)
  • Minister of National Defence (June 25, 1993 - November 3, 1993)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 400)


June 16, 1993

Hon. Thomas Siddon (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development):

Madam Speaker, on this important day of adjournment I would like to add a few words in honour of our colleague and friend, the Speaker of the House who cannot be with us today.

John Fraser has represented the riding adjacent to mine for 20 years. He has been a true friend to every

Tributes

member of the House but in particular to those of us in the British Columbia caucus. We came to know him closely and have missed him these past few years as he has presided over the whole House. We have been able to continue to share his friendship. In his quiet and helpful way he was always there for us. I know he has been there for all members of the House.

I remember first learning of John Fraser many years ago when I was organizing a conference on the environment at the University of British Columbia. I learned of this rather strange paradox: a Conservative who cared about the environment. I learned about this great man who was the environmental critic for the Conservative Party at that time but who had also led a great crusade against the proposed damming of the Skagit River between southern British Columbia and Washington state.

John's first love was preserving the waters and the natural resources, the fish and wildlife, and enjoying the outdoors as a true sportsman. It is his compassion and dedication to those environmental values which above all else has made the Speaker a great Canadian and one who has made a great contribution to our children and our way of life.

The Speaker, it may not be recalled, was a candidate for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party in 1976. I am sure he was glued to his television set last weekend as the great national convention unfolded. I am sure but for his larger duties he wished he could have been there on the convention floor in the heat and excitement of that occasion.

Our Speaker as a British Columbian, a Canadian and a great historian would have been proud from his soul to his mind and throughout his being to see a leader selected as the first woman leader and Prime Minister of Canada from British Columbia.

We all enjoyed those warm and cordial times in Mr. Speaker's office. Other members have other recollections. I remember attending a Christmas dinner with Speaker Fraser in his quarters where he invited his larger family. It was a very unusual experience but one that showed his desire to reach out and bring many friends together with his family.

June 16, 1993

Tributes

I remember as a young member of Parliament not being on the aeroplane that the member for Kamloops spoke of, but having the Speaker who was a minister of the Crown at the time carry home my infant daughter and escort my wife to our home in Ottawa because there was no one else there for her but Mr. Fraser. I remember him campaigning for me in my first election and fighting off the hordes that were supporting the Liberal Party. There were not that many left in western Canada but he came to campaign in my riding and ended up suffering from a dog bite because of the way in which he pursued his diligent work on my behalf.

I wanted to say a few words of gratitude because Mr. Speaker cannot be here with us today. We know he has had recent difficulties. To Cate and the family, the daughters, and to John especially, we are very grateful for his fellowship. We wish him good health. This House is poorer today for his absence, but we know that in his heart and soul Mr. Speaker is indeed here with us today and for that we thank him.

Topic:   ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic:   HON. JOHN FRASER
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June 4, 1993

Mr. Siddon:

Mr. Speaker, there has been agreement that there would not be closing speeches. I just wanted to thank all members of the House for their co-operation this afternoon.

I would like to say to the people of the western Arctic whose interests have not really been addressed today that we are very conscious of their feelings regarding the future.

We are all very grateful to the negotiators who served so well for the two governments of the Northwest Territories and Canada, and especially the representatives of the Tungavik Federation of Nunavut who are here today.

Government Orders

In conclusion I would like to say the following to our guests today.

[Editor's Note: Minister spoke in Inuktitut.]

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   NUNAVUT ACT
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June 4, 1993

Hon. Thomas Siddon (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development) moved

that the bill be concurred in.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   NUNAVUT LAND CLAIMS AGREEMENT ACT
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June 4, 1993

Hon. Thomas Siddon (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development) moved

that Bill C-133, an act respecting an agreement between the Inuit of the Nunavut settlement area and Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada, be read the second time and referred to a legislative committee in the Human Resources envelope.

He said: Madam Speaker, I want to speak this morning to my hon. colleagues about Bill C-133, which would give effect to the Nunavut land claims agreement.

One of the happiest moments of my life as Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development occurred when I joined with the Prime Minister last Tuesday in Iqaluit to sign the Nunavut land claims agreement.

As a result of this agreement there is a new spirit of optimism and a new energy among the Inuit of the eastern Arctic region. I noted the applause of the hon. member for Nunatsiaq. We very much appreciate his support and enthusiastic participation at the event last week.

I was struck by the tears of happiness and joy by the elders who gathered at Inukshuk School in Iqaluit with the children and the people of the eastern Arctic to celebrate this historic signing.

As we listened to Susan Aglukark sing O Canada in Inuktitut we sensed the confidence, joy and pride, especially of the children, as they anticipated a new future relationship with all the people of Canada.

I am personally committed to ensuring implementation of the land claims agreement by guiding this bill through Parliament. I know I am supported in this process by the Prime Minister who has given his unflagging support to this project. He has shown exceptional vision and commitment in addressing aboriginal and northern issues, including the recognition of Nunavut. I am also supported by my cabinet colleagues, who have approved the Nunavut land claims agreement which we debate today.

I am supported by the Inuit of the eastern Arctic. Without their determination, without their commitment to settling this land claim, we would not have reached the critical stage we are at today.

Bill C-133 gives effect to the Nunavut land claims agreement to settle the land claim of the Tungavik Federation of Nunavut which represents Inuit in the eastern Arctic. This agreement, which has been pursued over a period of 17 years going back to 1976, was endorsed last November by 69 per cent of Inuit living in the settlement region, and of those who actually voted 85 per cent approved the land claims settlement. This is an overwhelming show of support and it sends an important message to this House of the commitment that the Inuit wish to make to be partners in Canada.

The TFN land claim is the largest in Canadian history. It encompasses approximately one-fifth of the entire Canadian land mass, an area of some two million square kilometres in the central and eastern Arctic as well as adjacent offshore areas. That is known as the settlement area but is not to be confused with the actual lands to be owned by the Inuit, which are approximately 20 per cent of that amount.

June 4, 1993

Government Orders

This area, as well as the adjacent offshore areas, is the traditional homeland and hunting grounds of some

17,500 Inuit. It is in this area of the eastern Arctic that their ancestors have lived for many thousands of years and in a remarkable way have persisted and survived on the Arctic tundra. Today they wish to continue to live with the freedom to guide and choose their own destiny within Canada.

The Nunavut land claims agreement ensures that the Nunavut region will always be home to the Inuit. It provides lasting protection for Inuit land-based interests as well as the rights and benefits that will enable them to pursue socio-economic development.

The agreement provides Inuit with ownership of more than 350,000 square kilometres of land in the settlement region out of the total area of two million square miles. On more than 10 per cent of the area they will own, the Inuit will also own the mineral rights. In the rest of Nunavut, Inuit will share in the management of wildlife and the environment and in the economic benefits of future development.

The land provisions of this agreement are extremely important not only for Inuit but for all Canadians. By replacing the legal uncertainty of aboriginal claim to title with clearly defined rights to lands and resources, by establishing certainty of ownership and the delineation of those boundaries and by clarifying the rights of natives and non-natives in the settlement region, the Nunavut land claims agreement will open up this huge area of Canada for future orderly development.

That will mean jobs for Canadians, including Inuit and other aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples living and working in northern Canada and throughout Canada. It will mean additional wealth and prosperity for northerners and other Canadians as we replace uncertainty with a stable and predictable economic and legal framework.

The Nunavut land claims agreement will bring enormous benefits to the north in the form of new investment, an improved standard of living and a brighter outlook for the youth of the region.

The agreement also includes significant financial benefits for Inuit of the settlement region. Over the next 14 years capital payments totalling $580 million in 1989 dollars will be made to the Nunavut trust, which will manage the money for the benefit of Inuit.

I should indicate that in comparison, the government through the programs of financial assistance to Inuit is presently spending hundreds of millions of dollars to support the eastern Arctic. We want to replace welfare with self-reliance. That is the purpose of this settlement payment and the land base and the accompanying public government which we will speak of when we debate Bill C-132 later today.

The Nunavut land claims agreement foresees the day when resource developments will generate significant revenues in the settlement region.

Inuit interests are well protected in that each year they will receive 50 per cent of the first $2 million in royalties paid to the government on any resource development for which royalties accrue within the Nunavut area. They will receive 5 per cent of all royalties in excess of $2 million on the public lands which are outside of land owned by the Inuit.

This agreement is about much more than land ownership and capital transfers. It is about acknowledging the special needs of the Inuit. It is about protecting their traditional lifestyles and pursuits.

One of those needs is employment training. To ensure that the Inuit can play a full and meaningful role in the institutions of government and in the private sector economic initiatives, a $13 million training trust fund is to be established under this agreement.

It is a great misfortune that much of the work done in the administration of projects in the eastern Arctic is done by southerners, non-Inuit. We want to make a visible change to provide much greater opportunity for Inuit to be involved in the architecture and production of their own destiny.

As well, Inuit employment by government will be increased. Firms owned by Inuit will be assisted in competing for government contracts.

As hon. members know, a common feature of land claim settlements is to guarantee the aboriginal claimant group a central role in wildlife management. The Nunavut land claims agreement is no exception. Inuit will have equal representation on a board that will be established to oversee wildlife harvesting in the settlement region.

June 4, 1993

Inuit will be guaranteed specific wildlife harvesting rights, including the right to harvest their basic needs as they have for thousands of years. Inuit will also have economic opportunities related to guiding, sports lodges and the commercial marketing of wildlife resources.

The Inuit of the eastern Arctic are perhaps more dependent on traditional pursuits than any other group of aboriginal people in Canada. Therefore, the agreement recognizes this dependence and safeguards Inuit interests.

Inuit will be entitled to compensation where developers cause provable damage to property or equipment used in harvesting wildlife. They will also be compensated when development projects cause loss of harvesting income or loss of wildlife harvested for personal use.

In addition to their role in wildlife management, the agreement ensures equal Inuit participation on boards responsible for land use planning, environmental and socio-economic reviews of development projects and water management.

Finally, I am pleased to inform hon. members that the Nunavut land claims agreement will help the government achieve one of its key green plan objectives. That is to complete Canada's system of national parks. Following consultations with Inuit and other local residents, at least three national parks, one in each of the three regions of Nunavut, will be established in the settlement region within four years of proclamation of this agreement.

I want to emphasize that the Nunavut land claims agreement and Bill C-133 which will implement it do not affect or diminish any rights of other aboriginal peoples guaranteed under section 35 of the Constitution Act. In fact, the final agreement explicitly protects the traditional livelihood and hunting activities of all other aboriginal groups on lands within the Nunavut settlement area. This was a key objective of the government.

As a sign of their commitment to accommodate the interests of other aboriginal groups, the Nunavut Inuit have negotiated overlap agreements with the Inuvialuit in the western Arctic and the Inuit of northern Quebec.

Government Orders

Negotiations are also proceeding with the Sahtu Dene-Metis in the western Arctic.

We are pleased that similar agreements have now been negotiated with the Dene of northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba, who also claim traditional use of certain lands north of the 60th parallel.

I remind hon. members that the Federal Court has ruled that the Nunavut land claims agreement protects any interests that the Saskatchewan and Manitoba Dene bands may have in the Nunavut settlement area. In fact this agreement may even give them legal rights they do not currently enjoy under treaty. Thus the Manitoba and Saskatchewan bands have agreed that they will not oppose ratification of this agreement. I compliment the hon. members who helped to facilitate that agreement.

Article 4 is a key element of the Nunavut land claims agreement. It requires the Governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories and the Tungavik Federation of Nunavut to negotiate a political accord to divide the Northwest Territories into two parts and to establish a new territorial government, a public government, in the eastern Arctic.

In this way Bill C-133 will lay the foundation for a new partnership between Inuit and Canada in the creation of Nunavut. It will enable a proud and self-reliant group of aboriginal Canadians to achieve long sought economic and political goals in the north.

It builds on the traditions and culture of the elders whose ancestors survived in that Arctic barren land for so many thousands of years. Yet this agreement passes on a lasting legacy to the children of the Inuit of generations to come.

It will guarantee Inuit a land base and give them the means and the rights to continue traditional pursuits that are at the very heart of their culture and to do it in harmony with all other Canadians.

Therefore, I urge all of my hon colleagues to give this bill their firm and decisive support. In that sense, Madam Speaker, I think you will find consent to move through all stages of Bill C-133 today, including Committee of the Whole, so that we might complete consideration of this bill.

June 4, 1993

Government Orders

This debate is being witnessed by Inuit members of the executive of the Tungavik Federation of Nunavut and others. They dearly hope that the members of Parliament will show the commitment they seek from us today.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   NUNAVUT LAND CLAIMS AGREEMENT ACT
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June 4, 1993

Hon. Thomas Siddon (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development):

Mr. Speaker, I certainly respect

and have listened carefully to the comments of my colleague from Annapolis Valley-Hants on this issue.

The clock is running under the provisions of the motion adopted earlier this day under Standing Order 78(1). However this would be the appropriate point at which to respond to the concern the hon. member has expressed about the shortness of time.

This land claim agreement has been under negotiation for about the same length of time the hon. member has sat in the House. Perhaps he has not been here quite that long. In that period he has witnessed many debates on aboriginal issues and has seen the passage of important land claims legislation in the past.

The first point I would submit is that it would be a tragedy if Parliament could not complete the work begun so many years ago, in particular given the will and the dedication not only of the TFN and the Inuit people but of the territorial government and the federal government to settle this matter now.

I understand the hon. member's concern about the shortness of time, but the life of this Parliament is very short and there is also important business to be transacted in the next few remaining days. With the co-operation of the two official opposition parties, the majority of the members in this House has expressed the will to have this piece of business done.

While I respect the view of the hon. member I would point out it was three years ago on April 30 that I signed the agreement in principle. All members of the House through parliamentary committees have had a chance to follow the development of this legislative package. I appeared before the standing committee in the month of February and was questioned extensively. Some members present were there for over three hours while we went through the elements of this agreement.

The Inuit ratified the agreement last November. Drafting and language translation were required, but I must point out to the hon. member that it was only on Tuesday of this week that the final overlap matter was resolved with the co-operation of some members of the House. It was only last Tuesday that it was possible for the Prime Minister to sign because there was a matter before the courts until three weeks ago.

June 4, 1993

It is not simply a matter of saying we should have done this earlier or we might lake a little longer. Time has run out. A large group of people in the gallery feel it is now time for the Parliament of Canada to do its duty and adopt Bill C-133 and the companion legislation which we will come to momentarily, Bill C-132.

I would plead with the hon. member to understand that this is an extraordinary circumstance, but it is an extraordinarily wonderful opportunity for the people of Canada to do something good; to reach out to the Inuit who, after all, for thousands of years have managed and husbanded that wonderful territory, their land they call Nunavut; and to accommodate that in this legislation.

I might point out the hon. member has had since last Friday when first reading occurred and the bill was tabled to study this bill. He was offered briefings. He was given a briefing, I gather, by the Tungavik Federation of Nunavut in recent days. I hope he will be prepared to focus on the essence of the bill so we might get on with passing it and Bill C-132 today.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   NUNAVUT LAND CLAIMS AGREEMENT ACT
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