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AFN Parliamentary Wrap-up ~ March 18 - 22, 2013

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  • Don Bain
    From: Karen Campbell [mailto:kcampbell@afn.ca] Sent: March-25-13 6:24 AM To: Karen Campbell Subject: AFN Parliamentary Wrap-up ~ March 18 - 22, 2013
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 25, 2013
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      From: Karen Campbell [mailto:kcampbell@...]
      Sent: March-25-13 6:24 AM
      To: Karen Campbell
      Subject: AFN Parliamentary Wrap-up ~ March 18 - 22, 2013
      Importance: High

      Hello all,

      Below you will find an informal update and summary of Parliamentary activities of interest to First Nations for the week of March 18 - 22, 2013. Of note, the 2013 Budget was released on March 21, and an initial summary and AFN release on the Budget are attached. We continue to seek clarity and more information on a number of items and will provide updates as they become available. Also of note, a time limit has been placed on final debates in the Senate on Bill C-27: First Nations Financial Transparency Act so that it can be passed this week. All First Nation citizens are encouraged to contact Senators to let them know how this bill will not improve accountability, and is an inappropriate response of parliament (email and phone contacts for Senators can be found here: http://www.parl.gc.ca/SenatorsMembers/Senate/SenatorsBiography/ISenator.asp?Language=E).

      The next parliamentary update will be sent on Tuesday, April 2, 2013.

      Thank-you, Karen

      Karen Campbell
      Assembly of First Nations

      ph: (613) 241-6789 x. 263
      fax: (613) 241-5808

      Toll-free: 1-866-869-6789

      473 Albert Street, 9th floor
      Ottawa, ON K1R 5B4

      [cid:image005.jpg@01CE293A.813FFF20]<http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en> [cid:image006.jpg@01CE293A.813FFF20] <http://www.facebook.com/AFN.APN> [cid:image007.jpg@01CE293A.813FFF20] <http://twitter.com/#!/afn_updates> [cid:image008.jpg@01CE293A.813FFF20] <http://www.youtube.com/user/afnposter>
      Please print this email only when necessary.


      Updates on Key Legislation pertaining to First Nations

      Please note: LEGISinfo, a website maintained by the Library of Parliament, provides comprehensive information on all legislation: http://www.parl.gc.ca/LegisInfo/Home.aspx?language=E&Parl=41&Ses=1

      Bill C-27: First Nations Financial Transparency Act

      · Completed review by the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and has been passed by the Committee without amendment. The bill began 3rd reading in the Senate on Tuesday March 19, 2013.

      · On Thursday March 21, 2013 a motion to limit debate on this bill to 6 more hours passed.


      · The Act would require First Nations to prepare and publically disclose audited consolidated financial statements AND schedules for remuneration paid to Chiefs and councillors. This information would also be provided on the AANDC website. Failure to prepare or disclose such information could result in withholding of contribution funds or termination of an agreement.

      · Chiefs have affirmed the importance of accountability and transparency to their citizens. This Bill will not address the real issues that challenge First Nation governments and provides new powers to the AANDC Minister.

      Bill C-47: An Act to enact the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act and the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts

      · Introduced on November 6, 2012. Passed at 3rd reading in the House of Commons on March 4, 2013 and has moved to the Senate where it is currently at 2nd reading.

      · Enacts the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act, which implements certain provisions of Articles 10 to 12 of the land claims agreement between the Inuit of the Nunavut Settlement Area

      · Enacts the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act, which implements provisions of certain land claim agreements. In particular, that Act establishes the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board, whose purpose is to resolve matters in dispute relating to terms and conditions of access to lands and waters in the Northwest Territories and the compensation to be paid in respect of that access.

      · Initial analysis reveals it may dilute First Nation participation on environmental assessment boards and land and water boards, and have implications for modern claims agreement and arrangements under territorial devolution. Further analysis is underway.

      · First Nations have informed the committee that this legislation does not have their consent and its impacts on their traditional lands have not been established.

      Bill S-2: Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act

      · Introduced in the Senate on September 28, 2011. Completed review by the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights on November 28, 2011. The report of the Committee was tabled on November 29, 2011 with two amendments and observations on the importance of ensuring First Nations have the needed support and capacity to create their own laws on MRP. The Bill passed 3rd reading of the Senate on December 1, 2011.

      · The Bill was introduced at 1st reading in the House of Commons on December 8, 2011 and underwent debates at 2nd reading on November 1, 2012 and again on November 22, 2012.

      · Matrimonial Real Property and land management is a matter of First Nation jurisdiction and First Nations have repeatedly called on the government to work with us on an approach that will truly ensure First Nation citizens’ access to justice.

      · Some changes to previous versions of bill – notably removal of the verification officer, removal of the voting threshold for ratification and addition of a 12 month transition period.

      · Does not provide the necessary tools and capacity to access justice or to address underlying issues, such as housing shortages, family violence and the need for community-based dispute resolution mechanisms.

      · There are already First Nations that have put their own laws and approaches in place on this matter. These must be respected and a similar approach must be supported for all First Nations.

      · First Nation governments are encouraged to work with their citizens to enact their own laws or codes in this area in advance of this Bill coming into force. A template First Nations matrimonial real property law is available to support this work on www.afn.ca<http://www.afn.ca>.

      Bill S-6: First Nations Elections Act

      · Introduced in the Senate on December 6, 2011. Passed 3rd reading in the Senate on April 24, 2012 without amendments.

      · Introduced at 1st reading in the House of Commons on May 4, 2012.

      · Bill S-6 is opt-in legislation for First Nations who conduct their elections under the Indian Act

      · Extends the election term from two to four years; has provisions for a re-call mechanism; elections can be contested in a court and sets-out offences and penalties in relation to the election of a chief or councillor.

      · Concerns have been expressed about provisions in the Bill that empower the Minister of AANDC to order a First Nation under the Act, including one that conducts custom elections, in the event of a dispute or an election overturned by the Governor-in-Council.

      · Includes opt-out provisions for FNs to transition to custom codes.

      · Legislation results from initiatives of the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.

      Bill S-8: Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act

      · Introduced in the Senate on February 29, 2012. Completed 3rd reading and passed in the Senate on June 18, 2012, without amendment. Bill S-8 was introduced in the House of Commons at 1st reading on June 19, 2012. The Bill underwent debates at 2nd reading on November 1, 2012 and again on November 22, 2012.

      · Bill S-8 was previously introduced in the last session as Bill S-11. Some changes have been made including a commitment in the preamble for First Nation input into the development of regulations, the inclusion of a non-derogation/abrogation clause, and an explicit limitation that the bill does not authorize regulations respecting the allocation of water supplies or issues of permits for the use of water for any purpose other than as drinking water.

      · Creates regulations regarding FN drinking water, but not capacity to comply

      · Early support had been expressed for the changes and this version of the Bill by Alberta and Atlantic Chiefs. However, Alberta Chiefs have since passed a resolution and rescinded their support, as the Government has not met their conditions of acknowledging their Treaty and inherent control over water (including First Nation water supply and allocation laws) or addressed the water infrastructure funding deficit.

      · Consensus remains that investments are needed to support capacity for First Nations in this area, and that First Nations must be directly involved in the development of associated regulations.

      Bill S-16: Tackling Contraband Tobacco Act

      · Introduced in the Senate on March 5, 2013.

      · Creates a new offence of selling contraband tobacco, specifically: “a tobacco product, or raw leaf tobacco that is not packaged, unless it is stamped.”

      · Bill establishes mandatory minimum sentences for repeat (i.e. more than one) offence.

      · This bill raises serious concerns regarding infringement on First Nations’ jurisdiction over trade and sale of tobacco and a legal analysis is underway.

      Private Member Bills

      Bill C-233: An Act to Eliminate Poverty in Canada
      • Introduced on June 20, 2011 by Jean Crowder, Nanaimo-Cowichan
      • Compels the government to eliminate poverty and promote social inclusion by establishing and implementing a strategy for poverty elimination in consultation with the provincial, territorial, municipal and Aboriginal governments and with civil society organizations.
      • Legislation includes special consideration of Aboriginal peoples as follows: “Whereas it is especially imperative to address the living standards and specific historical and structural circumstances of Aboriginal communities so as to empower Aboriginal people and ensure their full participation in Canadian society and the Canadian economy”

      Bill C-260: An Act to amend the Statistics Act (mandatory long-form census questionnaire)

      · Introduced on June 23, 2011 by Carolyn Bennett, St. Paul’s

      · Would reinstate the mandatory long-form census

      Bill C-261: National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day Act

      · Introduced on June 23, 2011 by Rick Norlock, Northumberland – Quinte West

      · Would designate the third day in September “National Hunting, Trapping and Fishing Heritage Day”

      Bill C-267: An Act respecting the preservation of Canada's water resources

      · Introduced on September 19, 2011

      · Would prohibit the removal of water in bulk from major drainage basins in Canada.

      Bill C-279: An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity)

      · Introduced on September 21, 2011 by Randall Garrison, Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca, BC. Passed 3rd reading in the House of Commons March 20, 2013 and introduced in the Senate March 21, 2013.

      · Amends the Canadian Human Rights Act to include gender identity as a prohibited ground of discrimination.

      · Also amends the Criminal Code to include gender identity as a distinguishing characteristic protected under section 318 and as an aggravating circumstance to be taken into consideration at the time of sentencing.

      Bill C-302: Louis Riel Act

      · Introduced on September 29, 2011 by Pat Martin, Winnipeg Centre

      · This Bill would reverse the conviction of Louis Riel for high treason and recognizes and commemorates his role in the advancement of Canadian Confederation and the rights and interests of the Métis people and the people of Western Canada.

      Bill C-428: Indian Act Amendment and Replacement Act

      · Introduced on June 4, 2012, by Rob Clarke, Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River. Is currently under study by the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

      · Amends provisions of the Indian Act including repealing provision which limit bylaw authority and require submission to the Minister before they can come into force; repeals provisions related to residential schools, and repeals provisions that give the Minister authority over the handling of wills and estates on reserves.

      · Sets out in preamble a commitment to develop new legislation to replace the Indian Act and continuing work in “exploring creative options for the development of this new legislation in collaboration with the First Nations organizations that have demonstrated an interest in this work”

      · Establishes a requirement for the Minister to report annually on efforts to replace sections of the Indian Act with modern amendments or legislation.

      Bill C-469: Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

      · Introduced on January 28, 2013 by Romeo Saganash, Abitibi – Baie-James – Nunavik – Eeyou.

      · Requires the Government of Canada to take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and that the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs must prepare an annual report to Parliament for the next four years reviewing progress in implementing this law.

      Senate Public Bills

      Bill S-207: An Act to amend the Interpretation Act (nonderogation of aboriginal and treaty rights)

      · Introduced in the Senate on December 13, 2011 and completed 2nd reading on June 7, 2012. Has completed review by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs and reported to the Senate. It now awaits debates at report stage and 3rd reading.

      · Bill would amend the Interpretation Act (which governs the implementation of all laws) to provide that no enactment shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from the aboriginal and treaty rights recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

      Bill S-212: First Nations Self-Government Recognition Bill
      · Introduced on November 1, 2012 by Senator Gerry St. Germain.

      · Provides for a process for a First Nation to become a recognized as self-governing under its constitution and would recognize a First Nation’s exclusive power to legislate with respect to its lands and persons on those lands.

      Committee Business

      House of Commons Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (AANO)
      The committee has begun study on Bill C-428: Indian Act Amendment and Replacement Act and met in camera with government witnesses on March 5, 2013. First Nations are encouraged to contact the clerk of the committee, Jean-Marie David, if they wish to appear at (613) 996-1173 or aano@...<mailto:aano@...>.

      Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples (APPA)
      The committee is continuing its study on Metis rights.

      Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights
      A study on issues pertaining to the human rights of First Nations band members who reside off-reserve, with an emphasis on the current federal policy framework continues. First Nations are encouraged to contact the clerk of the committee, Daniel Charbonneau, if they wish to appear at (613) 993-4874 or ridr@...<mailto:ridr@...>.

      House of Commons Highlights

      March 8, 2013
      Aboriginal Affairs

      Ms. Lise St-Denis (Saint-Maurice—Champlain, Lib.)<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/intervention/7927359>:
      Mr. Speaker, there has been a lot of talk about women as victims within aboriginal societies, but what about aboriginal women in the criminal justice system?

      Will the government have to build more prisons to house the ever-increasing number of aboriginal women? The reconciliation meetings made it clear that there is a lack of services and support for aboriginal women who are incarcerated. Does the government have plans for rehabilitation programs for aboriginal women in prison?

      Ms. Candice Bergen (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety, CPC)<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/intervention/7927361>: [cid:image011.jpg@01CE293A.813FFF20] <http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=41&Ses=1&DocId=6036116#Int-7927408>
      Now the Liberals are calling for us to build new prisons, Mr. Speaker. I do not know if they know what they want.

      The fact is that our prison systems are working to help aboriginal women. We are a leader. Correctional Service of Canada is a leader in terms of the services we are providing for aboriginal women who are serving sentences.

      We need to look at the whole issue of why women are getting involved and becoming criminals. I think they are in a vulnerable stage. When the opposition is not supporting Bill S-2<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/bill/5138145>, which empowers women on reserve, it is not helping aboriginal women.

      * * *

      Aboriginal Affairs

      Mrs. Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, CPC)<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/intervention/7927516>:
      Mr. Speaker, for over 25 years, aboriginal women living on reserves have been without the legal protections that are available to all other Canadians. In cases of family violence, they are kicked out of their homes with no place to go. First nations women, international organizations and even the Manitoba NDP agree that this must change.

      As today is International Women's Day, would the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/Affiliation/170863?publicationDate=2013/03/08> please update the House on what our government is doing to protect aboriginal women living on reserves?

      Mr. Greg Rickford (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, CPC)<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/intervention/7927519>:

      Mr. Speaker, our government has introduced matrimonial property rights legislation to protect thousands of aboriginal women living on reserves across Canada. In situations of family violence, the bill would allow judges to enforce emergency protection orders and remove a violent partner. Tragically, the NDP and Liberals continue to oppose this legislation.

      The bill is long overdue. We continue to stand up for aboriginal women so they can have the same rights and protections as all Canadian women across the country.

      * * *
      March 18, 2013

      Aboriginal Affairs

      Hon. Carolyn Bennett (St. Paul's, Lib.)<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/intervention/7929418>:
      Mr. Speaker, concerns are being raised by first nations that new federal contribution agreements include a clause that prohibits challenging government legislation through the courts. Surely the new minister understands how completely inappropriate it would be for the government to hold first nations funding hostage to such an undemocratic condition.
      Will the minister confirm today whether any Government of Canada contribution agreements with first nations contain a direct or indirect threat to bar their access to the courts?

      Mr. Greg Rickford (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, CPC)<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/intervention/7929421>:
      Mr. Speaker, these accusations are completely false. Changes to the funding agreements are solely administrative and do not create new obligations for first nations. Our department is in contact with concerned first nations and encourages any first nation with questions and concerns to contact its local regional office.

      * * *

      Aboriginal Affairs

      Mr. Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP)<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/intervention/7929456>:
      Mr. Speaker, Louis Riel was a hero, not a traitor, a father of Confederation, the founder of Manitoba and, many people say, the best member of Parliament that Provencher ever had.
      In light of a recent Supreme Court ruling, will the Prime Minister<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/Affiliation/78738?publicationDate=2013/03/18> or his designate assure this House and assure the descendants of the Métis of the Red River Settlement that the government will uphold the ruling of the court and respect the outstanding terms and conditions of the terms of union, and end and resolve once and for all 140 years of injustice to the Métis people of Manitoba?

      Mr. Greg Rickford (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, CPC)<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/intervention/7929459>:
      Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada has received the decision and is reviewing it.
      Our government has demonstrated its commitment to resolving historical grievances. For instance, we have resolved more than 80 specific claims. We will continue to work with the Canadian Métis to create jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity for all Canadians.

      * * *

      Tabled Answers to Questions on the Order Paper

      Question No. 1126--
      Hon. Gerry Byrne:
      With regard to the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band and the contracted engagement of Mr. Fred Caron by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada: (a) what does this contract say; (b) what are the terms of reference associated with this contract; (c) what are the objectives and the intended consequences arising from work conducted through this contract; (d) what is contained within the approved workplan for the conduct of this contract; (e) on what date did Fred Caron sign this contract; (f) on what date did the contracting authority of the government sign this contract; (g) how long is the engagement anticipated to last; (h) what is the contractor's rate of pay; (i) how much money has been budgeted for his remuneration; (j) how much money has been budgeted for expenses including support services and has any specific mandate been given to this contractor to consult on potential chances to the 2007 Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band Agreement-in-Principle which was ratified and brought into effect on September 26, 2011?

      Hon. Bernard Valcourt (Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, CPC):
      Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), the contract contains standard general and supplementary conditions; provisions regarding the terms of payment; a statement of work; appendices regarding intellectual property and travel expense Information; and an annex regarding security requirements.

      With regard to (b), the contractor is to perform the following core roles to the satisfaction of the departmental representative: lead specific interventions and federal consultations with third parties when issues arise; provide strategic advice; attend engagement activity meetings; resolve deal-breaker issues within mandate; and act as the federal spokesperson for enquiries from the media, when so mandated.

      With regard to (c), the contract’s stated objective is to engage with the Chief and Council of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation to amend the agreement for the recognition or, if necessary, negotiate a new agreement; to tighten the current enrolment process; and to adopt a new process and criteria in light of the surge in the number of applications for membership and the concerns regarding how the criteria have been applied.

      With regard to (d), the outputs and deliverables of the contract include the following: barring circumstances beyond the control of the parties to the agreement, delivery of amendments to the Agreement for the Recognition of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq Band, or the conclusion of a new agreement, addressing Canada’s concerns with respect to the enrolment process; submission of short written reports on activities, meetings, briefings, media interviews and inquiries from key stakeholders, upon request; provision of proposed key accomplishments and plans for the next month in the written monthly activity report, upon request; provision of monthly invoices; and completion and submission of a Federal Negotiator or Representative Performance Report--Part 1, Contractor’s Self-Evaluation on Results to Date, as part of the Annual review of negotiation tables process, upon request.

      With regard to (e), Mr. Fred Caron signed the contract on December 3, 2012.

      With regard to (f), Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada signed the contract on December 3, 2012.

      With regard to (g), the contract is in effect to March 31, 2013. With regard to (h), (i) and (j), all contracts are subject to the application of the Treasury Board contracting policy.

      For information on the mandate, members may refer to (c) above.

      Question No. 1128--
      Hon. Gerry Byrne:
      With regard to the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band and the enrollment process of individual applicants into the Band that were received by the Enrollment Committee of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band prior to the November 30, 2012, deadline for such submissions: (a) what provisions have been made for the consideration of any such applications after the Enrollment Committee's mandate expires as per the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band Agreement; and (b) does Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada intend that all such applications will be assessed by federal representatives on the Enrollment Committee in the same manner and using the same precedents for decision-making as those applications for enrollment that were received by the Enrollment Committee prior to December 31, 2009?

      Hon. Bernard Valcourt (Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, CPC):
      Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), the agreement provided for the enrolment committee to cease reviewing applications at the end of December 2012. Owing to the initial objectives of the agreement, the Government of Canada and the Federation of Newfoundland Indians have agreed to work together to discuss next steps regarding the consideration of applications and the appropriate implementation of the Agreement for the Recognition of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq Band. The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development has asked Mr. Fred Caron to work with the leadership of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation on an approach to address the situation.

      With regard to (b), the assessment of applications after the end of December 2012 will be guided by the outcome of the ongoing discussions between the Government of Canada and the Federation of Newfoundland Indians.

      March 19, 2013

      Jeannette Pilot

      Mr. Jonathan Genest-Jourdain (Manicouagan, NDP)<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/intervention/7934203>:
      Mr. Speaker, today I would like to bring to your attention the efforts of one of my constituents, Jeannette Pilot, an Innu woman from Uashat-Maliotenam, who has been on a hunger strike for over 75 days and who, just recently, decided to stop drinking fluids to protest the plight of First Nations peoples.

      In a letter written last week, Ms. Pilot said:

      I oppose the Harper government's Bills C-38 and C-45. This legislation and all others that impact the aboriginal peoples of Quebec were passed without consulting the peoples concerned and are a continuation of colonial measures that have been in place for too long.

      Ms. Pilot has lost 43 pounds so far, and she has said that she is prepared to see it through to the end.

      It is disgusting that in this country, in 2013, people have to go to extremes to be heard by those in power. She is the voice of despair for a people who, for over 400 years, has experienced a particularly appalling form of apartheid.

      I sincerely hope that this government will have enough integrity to the grievances of my constituent as soon as possible. Otherwise, it will have to bear the blame for the death of a woman who is determined to save what is left of our identity.

      * * *

      March 22, 2013

      The Budget (Debates)

      Ms. Peggy Nash (Parkdale—High Park, NDP)<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/intervention/7943287>:
      Canadians want to do better and they deserve a government that is committed to doing better too. We need a government that is willing to aim higher, not one that is content to simply say that all is well. We know the Conservatives get their policy ideas from just a select few, even though the finance committee undertakes pre-budget consultations every year. I will tell members what we heard from Canadians about their priorities for 2013.

      The Assembly of First Nations told us that:

      —investments in First Nation education systems become even more crucial to ensuring that First Nation citizens can take advantage of existing and projected opportunities. Canada requires a well-trained workforce, especially in the booming resource extraction industry, and First Nation entrants into the labour market will be crucial in filling current and future labour market requirements in all sectors, skilled trades and professions.

      However, budget 2013 not only fails to address the specific challenges faced by aboriginal people, it actually introduces a regressive new workfare program for first nation communities. Conservatives are touting their goal of having an education act in place by 2014 and claim to be committed to consultation with first nations, but the Assembly of First Nations has opted out of this process already due to the Conservatives' stubborn piecemeal approach.

      Instead of building a new, more respectful relationship with first nations, the measures in budget 2013 reveal an insulting, in fact, even a paternalistic approach. Despite supporting the NDP motion on Shannen's Dream for equitable funding for first nation students, the Conservatives are failing to provide any additional funding to close the 30% funding gap for students in first nation communities. Shannen's Dream remains just that, a dream. We need action from the Conservative government.

      Mr. Romeo Saganash (Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, NDP)<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/intervention/7944250>: [cid:image012.jpg@01CE293A.813FFF20] <http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=41&Ses=1&DocId=6057563#Int-7944248>
      Mr. Speaker, the member for Acadie—Bathurst<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/Affiliation/170451?publicationDate=2013/03/22> is always a hard act to follow no matter the topic. I thank him for his passion and inspiration. I would also like to thank the other members of all parties who have taken part in this debate so far.
      The Prime Minister<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/Affiliation/78738?publicationDate=2013/03/22> likes to refer to his Minister of Finance<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/Affiliation/78777?publicationDate=2013/03/22> as the best finance minister in the world, but in fairness, he also likes to call Peter Penashue the best MP that Labrador has ever had. Maybe he has a different definition of the word “best” than the rest of us because the facts do not seem to support his claim about his finance minister. Members should remember that he missed his economic growth target for 2012 by 35%. A lot of people have mentioned that and I think it is important to repeat it.
      This budget contains some good measures, such as those to combat tax evasion, but it also contains problems too numerous to ignore.
      Of the initiatives that the Minister of Finance<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/Affiliation/78777?publicationDate=2013/03/22> has brought forward, there is one in particular that jumped out at me. It is stunning in its insensitivity. In the budget, the Conservatives introduced a new measure aimed at first nation youth.

      All members in the House know about the substandard education that exists among first nation communities. Statistics show special needs identification and placement rates in first nation elementary and secondary schools. Approximately 47% of first nations currently need a new school. Approximately 74% of first nation schools currently require major repairs. Only 46% of first nation schools have a fully equipped gym and so on. On top of that, 32% of schools have an issue with access to clean drinking water. With all that, between 2004 and 2009, the graduation rate on first nations was approximately 36%, compared to the rate of 72% in the general population.

      During the Prime Minister<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/Affiliation/78738?publicationDate=2013/03/22>'s meeting with first nation leaders in January, he promised again to renew the government's approach to issues such as these. However, in this budget, there is no new money for first nation schools. They still face a 30% shortfall for another year. Children fighting for an education in communities such as Lac-Simon or Lac de l'Orange will receive considerably less than other students in provincial schools.

      On the other hand, the government decided to introduce training funds for aboriginal youth, but with one major caveat. To qualify, first nation communities have to agree that recipients of income assistance programs undergo specific job training.

      The budget states:

      —to effectively support and ensure compliance among on-reserve Income Assistance recipients. Funding will be accessible only to those reserve communities that choose to implement mandatory participation in training for young Income Assistance recipients.

      This means that in order to get access to these funds, communities must agree that youth between the ages of 18 to 24 cannot collect welfare without taking job training. That is unfair.

      I know my time is up, but I hope I can come back to these issues next time.

      World Water Day

      Mr. Fin Donnelly (New Westminster—Coquitlam, NDP)<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/intervention/7943357>:
      Mr. Speaker, 70% of our planet is covered by water and 70% of the human body is also made up of water. Today is World Water Day, and communities around the world are celebrating the importance of fresh water. Water is increasingly seen as blue gold, and today is an important reminder of the need to advocate for sustainable use of fresh water.

      While Canada has 20% of the world's fresh water, only 7% of it is usable by humans. Many communities in Canada, including too many first nations, lack adequate water services. The protection of fresh water and the economies that depend on it are under attack by the Conservative government, which removed protection from 99% of Canada's lakes and rivers, closed the ELA, gutted fisheries protection from the Fisheries Act and scrapped thousands of environmental assessments from massive pipeline projects. Just yesterday, we learned that the government will slash another $100 million from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

      I call on the government to immediately change course and for once stand with Canadians to protect our fresh water.

      * * *

      Schools on Reserves

      Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims (Newton—North Delta, NDP)<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/intervention/7943381>:
      Mr. Speaker, I recently received letters and had the pleasure of meeting students from Tamanawis Secondary School in Surrey, B.C. These students are concerned about the state of education and schools on reserves in Canada.

      These high school students are upset that first nations students attending schools on reserves receive a lower standard of education than students in the rest of Canada. These students recognize how important education is to their own future successes and want to make sure that the same opportunities are available for all young people in Canada.

      We must ensure that equal per-student funding is available so that students are treated equitably no matter where they live in this great land.

      I want to thank the students of Tamanawis for sharing their thoughts with me, but most of all I want to congratulate their parents, their teachers and the young people in Newton--North Delta for the love, hope and optimism they provide in an often dismal world.

      * * *

      Intergovernmental Relations

      Mr. Nathan Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley, NDP)<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/intervention/7943416>:
      Mr. Speaker, rather than explain this budget to Canadians, this minister scooted off to China to try to sell this gong show budget.

      Yesterday's budget made it clear that Conservatives have run out of steam. They are continuing last year's cuts to health care and to pensions, adding Mike Harris-style mandatory workfare for first nations and playing a shell game with skills training for Canadians. Their smoke and mirrors cannot hide these facts.

      When will the Conservatives admit that they are downloading billions and billions of dollars onto the backs of the provinces?

      Hon. John Baird (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC)<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/intervention/7943418>:
      Mr. Speaker, the budget presented yesterday would give a 6% increase in health care funding to the provinces and territories. The budget yesterday would increase support for post-secondary education by 3%. The budget yesterday is squarely focused on what matters to Canadians: creating jobs, economic growth and securing our long-term prosperity.

      Will the New Democrats, for once, put aside their blind ideology and support the Canada job grant and new measures for apprentices? Why do the New Democrats not stand up for people looking for work?

      * * *

      Aboriginal Affairs

      Ms. Jean Crowder (Nanaimo—Cowichan, NDP)<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/intervention/7943474>:
      Mr. Speaker, every young Canadian deserves an equal chance in life, but first nation students attending on-reserve schools receive 30% less funding than their peers in provincial schools. The budget does nothing to close this gap, not one extra dollar for first nations' K to 12 education. Instead, first nations get a punitive workfare program to which no other Canadians are subject.

      Why are Conservatives ignoring the real need for education?

      Mr. Greg Rickford (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, CPC)<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/intervention/7943476>:
      Mr. Speaker, yesterday, not only did our government reaffirm our consultations and our process through the first nation education act, we also committed to new resources for scholarships, bursaries and training for aboriginal students.

      These investments build on last year's budget investments in new resources for new schools, literacy programs and administration of aboriginal education. The opposition members voted against all of these. I urge them to stop voting against improvements for aboriginal education and vote in favour of this year's budget.

      Ms. Jean Crowder (Nanaimo—Cowichan, NDP)<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/intervention/7943479>:
      Mr. Speaker, the NDP will continue to vote against budgets that do not get the job done.

      The workfare program for first nations people is not only insultingly paternalistic, it is a waste of taxpayer money. The government would spend more money enforcing compliance than on the actual training. This sounds like more bureaucrats in Ottawa, not more jobs on reserves.

      When will the minister start providing first nations with the education that they need and the respect that they deserve?

      Mr. Greg Rickford (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, CPC)<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/intervention/7943483>:
      Mr. Speaker, we want to ensure that young aboriginal Canadians have access to personalized job training to help them secure a job. Provinces have been doing this kind of programming successfully for many years.

      The outrageous comments by the Leader of the Opposition<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/Affiliation/181199?publicationDate=2013/03/22> yesterday remind us how out of touch the NDP is with the potential of the aboriginal workforce and the Canadian economy. While the NDP betrays Canada's interests at home and abroad, we are creating jobs and growth for aboriginal Canadians.

      Mr. Jonathan Genest-Jourdain (Manicouagan, NDP)<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/intervention/7943485>:
      Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives promised to make aboriginal issues a priority in the 2013 budget.
      Although the word “aboriginal” is used a lot, there is no real commitment. Once again, these are broken promises.

      The money announced for the first nations infrastructure fund will not be enough to address the housing crisis and the lack of drinking water in the communities.

      When will the Conservatives keep the promises they made to aboriginal peoples and treat them as equal partners?

      Mr. Greg Rickford (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, CPC)<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/intervention/7943488>:
      An interesting question, Mr. Speaker, because every time we make substantial moves forward with our aboriginal partners and communities and leadership, the NDP votes against.

      We have been focusing on education. We have been focusing on water and waste water treatment on reserves, the ability to have the capacity to maintain these state-of-the-art facilities, continuing to replace infrastructure and bringing forth the kind of legislation that deals with these major infrastructure commitments and shared priorities with first nation communities.

      Mr. Romeo Saganash (Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, NDP)<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/intervention/7943490>:
      Mr. Speaker, $132 million to manage a $109 million program. Only the Conservatives can come up with that.

      What we do see in this budget is the frequent use of the word “aboriginal”, but no real investments.
      Aboriginal peoples reached out to the government and were hoping for real change.
      Instead, they are offered insulting, paternalistic measures with not enough funding to attack the problems they are facing.

      When will the Prime Minister<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/Affiliation/78738?publicationDate=2013/03/22> establish a respectful relationship? I can tell the House that we are not waiting.

      Mr. Greg Rickford (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, CPC)<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/intervention/7943494>:
      Mr. Speaker, we have to ensure that aboriginal youth have access to personalized training that will help them find work. That is exactly what the provinces have been doing successfully for many years.

      Yesterday's comments by the Leader of the Opposition<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/Affiliation/181199?publicationDate=2013/03/22> demonstrate once again how out of touch the NDP is with the Canadian economy and the potential of the aboriginal workforce.

      While the NDP betrays Canada's interests at home and abroad, we are creating jobs and prospects for the future.

      * * *

      Aboriginal Affairs
      Hon. Carolyn Bennett (St. Paul's, Lib.)<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/intervention/7943566>:
      Mr. Speaker, budget 2013 is an uneconomic inaction plan for aboriginal people.

      Only one third of aboriginal children are finishing high school, yet budget 2013 fails to provide one new dollar for first nations' K to 12 education. One cannot benefit from skills training without basic math and reading skills.

      Will the government remove the funding cap and close the funding gap for first nations education, or will it continue to deprive the fastest growing part of our population from fully participating in Canada's economy?

      Mr. Greg Rickford (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, CPC)<http://data.parl.gc.ca/widgets/v1/en/intervention/7943568>:
      Mr. Speaker, yesterday, not only did our government reaffirm our commitment to consult with first nations across Canada on the development of a first nations education act to improve outcomes for aboriginal children in K to 12, we also committed new resources for scholarships, bursaries and training for aboriginal students. These investments build on last year's investments and new resources for new schools, literacy programming and administration of aboriginal education on reserve.

      That member, her party and the official opposition voted against it all.

      * * *

      Highlights in the Senate

      March 19, 2013

      First Nations Financial Transparency Bill
      Third Reading—Debate Adjourned

      Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson moved third reading of Bill C-27, An Act to enhance the financial accountability and transparency of First Nations.

      He said: Honourable senators, it is an honour to stand here today to speak in support of Bill C-27, the proposed First Nations Financial Transparency Act.


      In recent weeks we have heard powerful testimony from many witnesses at the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples. These witnesses strongly support Bill C-27.



      They believe, as this government does, that those elected must be accountable to the citizens they represent. However, currently there is no legislated obligation under the Indian Act that compels First Nations elected leaders to make basic financial information publicly available. First Nations governments are currently the only governments in Canada that are not required to make the salaries and expenses of elected leaders publicly available. This must be corrected, and this is what this bill will do.

      It has been suggested by my Liberal colleagues that this legislation is not necessary as it will not improve the current situation and will do nothing more than what is currently possible pursuant to funding agreements. Honourable senators, I could not disagree more. The fact is that Bill C-27 goes beyond thestatus quo in a number of important ways. Bill C-27 will ensure that First Nations leaders are held to the same standards of accountability and transparency as other levels of government in Canada. It will also empower First Nations community members by providing them with access to the information they need to make informed decisions about their communities.

      Even witnesses who do not support the bill acknowledge the difficulties some First Nation members have in accessing the most basic financial information. A representative from the Assembly of First Nations confirmed that the problem of band members being denied access to this basic information by their chiefs and councils is a reality. A representative from the Idle No More movement who appeared before the committee noted that there are "... people who are scared to come forward to address these issues."


      In addition, one of my colleagues who serves on the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples spoke about difficulties in getting information from her band.


      Putting this financial information on the Internet will enable people to access this information anonymously, which will help lessen the cases of intimidation that some First Nations have told us they have experienced as a result of trying to access this information from their leaders.

      I also want to remind honourable senators that the minister can release this information to verified band members upon request. However, privacy legislation currently prohibits the minister from publishing the financial or salary information of bands. At present, approximately 40 per cent of bands control their own membership lists with no departmental involvement. Therefore, a band member seeking financial or salary information from a band that controls its membership list must have his or her identity verified by the band itself before the department can release this information to the requesting band member. This bill would eliminate this problem and ensure that First Nation members no longer have to go through the minister to access information, which should be coming to them directly from their local leaders. This is also important for off-reserve members.

      Ron Swain, National Vice-Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, an organization that speaks for off-reserve members, commended the government for taking the necessary steps to move forward with Bill C-27. He told members of the committee how the legislation will make it easier for off-reserve members to access information relating to their First Nation.


      Bill C-27 also strengthens existing enforcement measures by allowing First Nations members to apply to a superior court to have their band's financial information published if the band refuses to release the requested information. Witnesses also noted that setting out the enforcement requirements in the legislation establishes real consequences for bands that do not comply.


      I would also like to take this opportunity to respond briefly to some of the criticism — often misinformation — that this bill has faced at committee.

      First, I would like to point out that concerns that this legislation will increase the reporting burden for First Nation governments are completely unfounded. Experts have said as much. When asked if the bill would increase the reporting burden, Alan Mak, a forensic accountant and principal of Rosen and Associates Limited, said that: "contrary to what has been claimed, I do not believe this bill creates unusual or onerous reporting obligations when compared to other reporting standards in Canada."

      Several other experts echoed this opinion, including Harold Calla, Chairman of the First Nations Financial Management Board. It is also important to understand that, if passed, Bill C-27 would not demand that each individual business owned by the band publish detailed financial statements.


      The legislative measures will not make First Nations less competitive, because revenues, expenses, assets and liabilities will be very highly aggregated and summarized, in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.

      Harold Calla said this when he appeared before the committee:

      Even in the private sector, in publicly traded companies, all of this information must be made available. I do not see that as being an infringement at all. I think it is being accountable; it is being transparent.

      I do not believe that on a consolidated basis there is going to be a significant risk of being compromised commercially.


      Finally, there is concern that there should be enforcement provisions in the bill. Honourable senators, the strength of this bill is that it will publicly shine the light of transparency on salaries, expenses and financial statements. It does not dictate or prescribe salaries. However, I am confident that the bill will have an impact in the exceptional cases where there are excesses, without the need for coercion. This will happen because the bill will give band members additional tools to demand accountability of their governments.


      Honourable senators, this bill does have strong support from First Nation members, organizations and the general public. It reflects democratic principles. I urge my fellow senators to support this legislation, which will provide First Nations with the same level of transparency and accountability from their leadership as Canadians expect of their federal, provincial and municipal leaders.

      Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Would the honourable senator take a question?

      Senator Patterson: Yes.

      Senator Dyck: Could the honourable senator give us an indication of how widespread the problem is with respect to how many First Nation bands there are across the country where band members cannot get information from their band? How many First Nation bands are not providing information to their members?

      Senator Patterson: Honourable senators, we did have information from the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. I am relying on my imperfect memory when I say that the minister received something like a couple dozen complaints from band members asking for information that they were unable to get from their own band leadership.

      However, I think it is also important to note that there was significant evidence from members of First Nations, and I think of witness Phyllis Sutherland as one who has led an unsuccessful crusade within her band to get financial information. There has been evidence of intimidation and acts of reprisals against band members who sought that information. The fact that there are not a lot of band members standing up, speaking up and asking for this information does not mean that there is no concern or that people are not frustrated by not being able to get the information and feeling powerless to stand up and ask.

      Senator Dyck: The bill itself does not actually say anything about coming into force. I believe that at one of the committee meetings the honourable senator said something about when the bill would come into force. Could Senator Patterson tell us again when he expects the bill to come into force, presuming it is passed within the next two weeks, before the end of the month?

      Senator Patterson: The intention of the government is that a full year's notice will be given to bands to adjust their affairs and practices, beginning in the forthcoming fiscal year, April 1, 2013, before the bill is actually brought into force.

      To be precise, the bill will not come into force upon passage before the end of this fiscal year, before the end of March, which is the government's intention. There will instead be a full year to allow bands to adjust to the new regime, and then it is expected that the bill will actually come into force and be implemented in the fiscal year 2014.

      Senator Dyck: The reason I asked that question is because, as the honourable senator well knows, Aboriginal Affairs is going across the country right now and bands have to sign their new funding agreements. There is great concern that the new funding agreements may have reference to this bill. I think they are meeting with the department right now because they are concerned that the provisions of this bill might be imposed upon them starting April 1 of this year. However, in the honourable senator's answer, he indicated that is not the case. Is it true that it is not the case?

      Senator Patterson: Honourable senators, the existing contribution agreements with bands and the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development do require that information about salaries, expenses and financial statements beprovided to the government. That will not change. That is the case now, and it will be the case following the passage of this legislation. Arrangements are continuing as usual, without change.

      However, I would like to make it clear that what is different is that the provisions in the legislation will allow the minister to publish information on a departmental website when bands are not willing to do so on their own website or are not able to do so on their own website, and the requirement that information be otherwise disclosed publicly. The Privacy Act provisions that prevent the publication of that information will be changed by this legislation.

      The reporting requirements themselves between the band and the department will substantially be the same.

      Senator Dyck: I do not think the honourable senator answered the question clearly, and I will return to it. With regard to the information that bands are getting now, they have a funding agreement, which is something like 48 pages long, and an amending agreement, which is something like 31 pages long. As I understand it, in the National Funding Agreement, I believe, there is a clause that says that section 14.14.1 of the federal funding agreement presumes that all references to legislation and particular government publications that are in force or issued at the time of such an agreement and include any subsequent amendments or replacements thereof. It sounds, from this passage, that once this agreement is signed this year, whatever provisions were in place before are no longer in effect and one is bound by whatever we pass now. That is the concern.

      Will this bill be in effect on April 1, 2013, or will it be in force in 2014, a year later?

      Senator Patterson: My understanding is that the bill, even though passed, will not be proclaimed, nor will it become effective, until fiscal year 2014.

      Senator Dyck: My next question would be why, then, are we pushing this bill through? Why did we not take more time to study it at committee? Why are we not taking more time and more sober second thought if there is no need to implement it by April 1, 2013?

      Senator Fraser: Good question.

      Senator Patterson: Honourable senators, the reason the bill needs to be passed before the end of this fiscal year is so that First Nations across Canada will be given notice of the new law that will apply to them in the new fiscal year beginning in 2014. If we delay the bill or set it aside, bands will not feel that they need to prepare to meet the new disclosure requirements. Therefore, it is necessary to pass the bill so that bands will know that the law is approved by Parliament — it has been approved by the House of Commons and will be approved by the Senate — and that they will have to meet those expectations.

      Frankly, we are expecting there will be some bands — and I want to emphasize they are not the majority — that are paying excessive salaries and will reconsider whether those salaries are appropriate and will take the coming year to make the changes. Inthis way, when they are required to fully disclose and publicly reveal their salaries and expenses and financial statements in 2014, we will not see as many or any of the excesses that have been the subject of concern.

      Senator Dyck: I appreciate the honourable senator's comments about what he expects the bill to do. However, that is an expectation, and we disagree on whether or not that will actually happen.


      The question I really want to get to is with regard to the funding agreement models. If you go to the AANDC website, you can find the First Nations and Tribal Councils National Funding Agreement Model for 2012-2013, which is 46 pages long. Under section 6, which is about two and a half pages long, there is a huge section on council's accountability to members: transparency and redress, disclosure to members of financial information, disclosure of personal information, disclosure of confidential information to band members. It is all covered in these national funding agreements.

      Yet, those provisions, as I said, two and a half pages long, which direct the council to be responsible and accountable to their band members, are not in the bill. Those are the things that are not in the bill, and we are talking about the transparency and accountability to band members. Although they are in this 46-page document on funding agreements, they are not in this bill. Why are they not in the bill if we are trying to make council accountable to the band members? It seems to me a gross oversight.

      Senator Patterson: Honourable senators, I think the point has been made in discussing the bill that it is not imposing onerous reporting requirements on First Nations because the reporting requirements they are presently required to meet will continue administratively, this year and next year, when this bill is in force. The level of accountability that is required to date between the band and the minister will not change. What will change, however, honourable senators, is that the minister will now have the authority to release information publicly upon request from band members without having to go back to the 40 per cent of bands that control their own membership lists to verify that a person asking for information is a member of that band. That process identifies that individual to the band, and in the cases where bands are reluctant to provide that information or, worse, will exert reprisals or intimidation against band members who ask those questions, the band members will now have an option to look on the departmental website or the band website and get that information without having to identify themselves and expose themselves to intimidation.

      The transparency is the same, but the minister will now have authority to release the information publicly, authority that he does not presently have.

      Senator Dyck: One other question for clarification: The honourable senator is talking about bands that control their own band membership list. There are actually five or six different categories of being Indian according to the Indian Act. There isthe official registry here in Ottawa. There are also people like myself who were allowed to claim back their status, and my band membership may be controlled by the band.

      When we talk about "band member" in the bill, are we talking about band member or someone who has Indian status? You could be a band member and have different categories of Indian status. Maybe we are confusing the whole issue by bringing up who controls the band membership list.

      Senator Patterson: I would not want to confuse the issue, honourable senators. To me, it is very simple. Band members are defined clearly in the bill, and I think the definition of a band member is well understood by First Nations across the country.

      In the interest of devolving authority to bands and encouraging self-government, the department has given the maintenance of and control over band membership lists to First Nations, as they should be, as self-governing entities. I am told that about 40 per cent of the bands do control their own membership lists with no departmental involvement whatsoever. I am not sure about the categories that the honourable senator has described. I am afraid that is outside my knowledge base.

      However, clearly the band membership lists are controlled by a significant number of bands, and that can be an obstacle for regular band members seeking information from the department. They are concerned that they will be identified when the department goes to the band to verify that they are a member, and this bill gives them another avenue, additional tools, to get that information without having to go that route.

      Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: I wonder if the honourable senator would take a question. I am not clear on the honourable senator's answer to Senator Dyck with regard to the funding agreement that she mentioned, and I think it was an appendix attached to it that said that pending legislation would be considered to be in effect. I think that is what she said. If this bill is to pass as it now is, does that mean that in the fiscal year beginning April 1, 2013, this bill would be deemed to be in effect, even though it is not proclaimed, and that the parties would be responsible to respond to it?

      Senator Patterson: I thank the honourable senator for the question. Honourable senators, I am told that the government's and the department's clear intention is that the requirements of the proposed bill will not be imposed on bands in the coming fiscal year, April 1, 2013, to March 31, 2014. There will be a period where the requirements of the bill will not be imposed on those bands in order to allow them to prepare for the new regime, which will come into effect in the fiscal year April 1, 2014.

      To answer the honourable senator's question: No. Whatever the agreement says, the department's intention is clearly not to impose the provisions of the bill on bands for a full year following its passage before the end of this fiscal year.

      Senator Moore: I heard the honourable senato<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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