Thomas Edward SIDDON

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

Personal Data

Progressive Conservative
Richmond (British Columbia)
Birth Date
November 9, 1941
author, lecturer, professional engineer, professor of engineering

Parliamentary Career

October 16, 1978 - March 26, 1979
  Burnaby--Richmond--Delta (British Columbia)
May 22, 1979 - December 14, 1979
  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
  Richmond--South Delta (British Columbia)
September 4, 1984 - October 1, 1988
  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
  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 2 of 400)

June 4, 1993

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

The hon. member raises a question about the territorial delineation of the treaty's benefiting the Dene people of northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan, but particularly those within his constituency. They are the Denesuline.

Treaty five applies to the Dene and Chipewyan people of northern Manitoba. It clearly specifies that land rights did not extend north of the 60th parallel. The treaties in northern Saskatchewan extending up to what is presently the western Arctic, treaty eight in particular, does not have such a boundary limitation in it.

It has been our view that where a territorial area was established for any of the numbered treaties and where the beneficiaries of those treaties accepted the treaty land quantums that those established the territorial ownership under aboriginal title of those particular signatories to the treaty.

That in itself in no way extinguished other aboriginal rights which might persist. It has always been our position that treaty rights which may later be defined or on which the treaties may not be clear and treaty or aboriginal rights which at some future date might be proven to exist are not foreclosed by the numbered treaties which were signed in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

June 4, 1993

Government Orders

The question of whether treaty land rights persist north of the 60th parallel has been raised before the Federal Court in both a Saskatchewan case last autumn and another case on appeal this year. The Federal Court has found that those treaty rights to land do not persist north of the 60th parallel.

The TFN final agreement specifies that it does not affect in any way aboriginal or treaty rights that may persist, that these bands might have. In addition the agreement has provisions that protect hunting activities, cabin sites, archaeological sites, and other traditional uses that can be demonstrated by proper historical research by any of these parties.

It is for this reason that negotiations first commenced between the Tungavik Federation of Nunavut and the Dene of the northern parts of the provinces. That goes back to 1985. In fact the hon. member may know that an agreement was reached in 1986 by the negotiators for both parties.

Therefore, it is not correct to suggest that this was left to the last minute or that the government has been unaware or inflexible on this issue. We have attempted to bring the parties together to come to an agreement on how this question might be resolved in the future.

Apparently the parties did not ratify the agreement reached in 1986 but there have been ongoing discussions. The member says he became aware of the problem in 1988. In 1990 when we signed the agreement in principle,

I was not approached or made aware of any residual difficulty.

It has always been my view however where the beneficiary of a comprehensive land claim has an unresolved dispute with a neighbouring first nation or people, it is desirable but not essential that those disputes be resolved before the land claim is settled to the benefit of the beneficiary party.

I am delighted that as recently as this week an understanding has been reached by way of the letter the hon. member says he has tabled. As well the department of Indian affairs is providing $75,000 in financial support to the Dene of northern Saskatchewan to further their case before the courts. I wish them well. I am confident, as some of us have observed, the conclusion of the TFN land claim agreement and the Nunavut accord will give

them a stronger case from which to maximize their rights and interests in the TFN settlement area.

Subtopic:   NUNAVUT ACT
Full View Permalink

June 4, 1993

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

that the bill be concurred in.

Full View Permalink

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.

Full View Permalink

June 4, 1993

Mr. Siddon moved

that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Full View Permalink

June 4, 1993

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

that Bill C-132, an act to establish a territory to be known as Nunavut and provide for its government and to amend certain acts in consequence thereof, be read the second time and referred to a legislative committee in the Human Resources envelope.

He said: Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to address the House a second time on this important historic day to deal with the transformation that is under way in our relationship with the Inuit of the eastern Arctic.

Bill C-132 which has just been read the second time is entitled an act to create the territory of Nunavut. What we will be discussing for the next hour or so is the political development of a new legislative assembly in the eastern Arctic, a commitment that ties to the Nunavut land claims settlement agreement which we have just passed through third reading in this House.

It has long been a goal of the Inuit of Nunavut to have their own territorial assembly or government and not be tied to the government of the Northwest Territories. Article 4 of the Nunavut land claim settlement agreement establishes a commitment on the part of the federal government to recommend to Parliament the establishment of a Nunavut territory.

The land claim agreement and as well the political accord setting out the means of establishing Nunavut have already been signed. Indeed after the ratification vote on October 31 of last year, as we have already recognized in this House, the Inuit of the eastern Arctic ratified the creation of Nunavut by a very strong majority. I think it was 85 per cent of those who voted on that date endorsed the creation of Nunavut.

June 4, 1993

As well the people of the Northwest Territories have held two referenda on this question. This was most recently in the spring of 1992 when the question was put by the decision of the assembly of the Northwest Territories and with the sanction of the government leader and cabinet. The question was put to all the people of the Northwest Territories with respect to the western boundary line of the Nunavut settlement agreement being adopted as a new political boundary to establish Nunavut on the eastern side of that line.

I remember the night here in Ottawa, I think it was December 15, 1991, when we had a long and fruitful discussion about whether the federal government had the will to make this commitment which we are about to endorse today. I remember in a sense taking a risk but I did in fact call the Prime Minister and we decided that we could make that commitment which is reflected in article 4 of the land claim agreement. It led to the negotiation of the political accord which I spoke of a moment ago and the ratification vote by the people of Nunavut.

The legislation before us today will literally redraw the map of northern Canada. As well this bill will provide for a new and improved political and economic future for the Inuit of the eastern Arctic. In so doing it will bring benefit to all Canadians.

I seek the support of distinguished members on both sides of this House today, because I am confident their support will be forthcoming.

I have every reason to believe that my colleagues will have the vision and foresight to approve this bill, so that the Inuit and other residents in the north will be able to build a better future.

The Nunavut political accord was signed on October 30, 1992, and it will become effective once the legislation before the House today, Bill C-132, is passed.

The creation of a new territory, with its own government, has been a fundamental objective of the Inuit of Nunavut for more than 20 years. An act of Parliament is required to make this dream come true.

I would like to point out that Bill C-132 was drafted with the close co-operation of the Government of the

Government Orders

Northwest Territories and the Tbngavik Federation of Nunavut, to ensure that it reflects the objectives and intent of the Nunavut political accord.

Bill C-132 provides for the creation of a new territory, Nunavut, translated in Inuktitut meaning "our land", new institutions of government similar to those of the existing territories and will come into effect by 1999 on April 1.

This legislation provides for a transition process to lead us to that point. This will not be a form of aboriginal self-government in the usual ethnic sense of the word. It will be a public government to be elected and fully responsible to all the residents of the new territory, aboriginal and non-aboriginal alike.

Nevertheless given the Inuit predominance in the region this new public government will naturally reflect and be responsive to their aspirations and ways of doing things.

Bill C-132 is modelled on the Northwest Territories Act which has existed for many years. By this bill the act is modernized and adapted specifically for the needs of the people of Nunavut.

I want to draw members' attention to some of the key features contained in Bill C-132. In keeping with the terms of the political accord, Bill C-132 will provide for the creation of a Nunavut implementation commission. This is an important feature because we are talking about a transitional process.

This commission independent of the governments and of the people of Nunavut through the Nunavut Tbngavik will advise the governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories along with the successor to TFN to be called Nunavut Tungavik on a range of issues.

A majority of the commission's members will be residents of the Nunavut region. I believe it will be six of nine. The governments of Tungavik will share equally in nominating members of the commission with the other governments, the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Canada in establishing the commission.

June 4, 1993

Government Orders

We intend to establish the commission in the near future. Indeed the bill provides that it must be established within six months of granting royal assent. The commission will continue its critical role until it is disbanded no later than three months after the creation of the new territory. When Nunavut is created it will have a commissioner as is the case in Yukon and the Northwest Territories. That would be after 1999.

In the past commissioners for the territories have often wielded considerable powers. In recent years as responsible government in the north has grown the office of the commissioner has become largely symbolic. Some would say it has evolved to a lieutenant governorlike function.

This new role is reflected in the Nunavut bill. Bill C-132 also provides for the creation of an executive council for Nunavut. This council will be similar to a provincial executive council or cabinet and will be appointed by the commissioner on the advice of the legislative assembly of Nunavut. This is a reflection of the way in which the cabinet is currently appointed in Northwest Territories.

The new territorial government will have a comparable range of law making powers now enjoyed by other territorial governments. In addition the Nunavut act specifically provides that the Nunavut legislature may pass laws to implement the Nunavut land claim agreement and to preserve and enhance the Inuktitut language.

Nunavut will have the authority to enter into agreements with the federal and provincial governments and will be authorized to manage and sell public lands that are under the care of the commissioner.

I should also point out that there will be an interim commissioner established during the transitional period to begin to prepare for the establishment officially of the office of commissioner after 1999 and to begin to exercise commissioner-like authorities in the transitional period.

Hon. members should also be aware that Bill C-132 makes necessary consequential amendments to other federal legislation. These are essentially housekeeping amendments to reflect the division of the current Northwest Territories into two separate territories.

Bill C-132 will also move the government down the road to achieving its vision for the north, a vision of social and economic development that respects the

environment and that first and foremost brings benefit to the residents of Nunavut.

There have been questions about the costs and the necessity of this government. Perhaps we will have an opportunity to discuss that during the Committee of the Whole. I would like to suggest that there is always an appropriate form of government to be found which best suits the needs of a people.

It seems rather obvious to me that a government in Yellowknife or Ottawa comprised of non-Inuit people is not the best government located 2,000 or more miles away to serve the interests and purposes of the Inuit people.

There is an appropriate structure of government to be established within our traditions of Parliament, a government which will be largely comprised of Inuit people who are the majority in that area and whose children will become the architects and the beneficiaries of the authorities which that government will exercise into the next century.

This legislation provides for initial powers to be established in 1999 involving a territorial assembly, a-forgive me the word-bureaucracy and a court. Over the period between there and the year 2008 there will be other powers and authorities added as it becomes appropriate to devolve or relocate those powers from Yellowknife or Ottawa where they presently reside.

I think this is an eminently logical approach. I should say, in regard to the question of cost, Canadians cannot afford to continue the cost of an insensitive system which is remote from the needs of the people. Canadians cannot afford not to support the creation of Nunavut. I believe with the kind of wisdom, the persistence and the practical creativity of the Inuit people who have existed all of those centuries in Nunavut, we will see an appropriate form of government established which will not be a burden to other Canadians but indeed something which we can all celebrate.

Before I sit, I should pay a debt of gratitude to the negotiators who served the federal and territorial governments so well. I will not name them right now, but perhaps there will be a moment toward the end of the debate. However, I do want to name here and to recognize in the gallery Mr. Paul Quassa, Mr. Louis Pilakapsi, Mr. James Eetoolook and other members of the Board of the Tbngavik Federation of Nunavut, together with those who have guided this process in other ways such as John Amagoalik, Jack Anawak, if I might be permitted to name a member, Thomas Suluk, Rosemary Kuptana, Dennis Patterson, Titus Allooloo.

June 4, 1993

The people of Nunavut have been the architects of this transformation.

While it might be unconventional I would like to ask Mr. Quassa and Pauloosie Keyootak, the representatives here today, to stand and be recognized by the House of Commons in view of their wonderful contribution in a new partnership with Canada.

Subtopic:   NUNAVUT ACT
Full View Permalink