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

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I do not doubt for one moment the intention my friend from Vancouver South brings to this is to right a wrong.

My problem is that I have looked at the briefs and talked to women in first nations communities who do not think the bill would accomplish its end, and they see significant problems.

Because she is not on the floor of the House to say this, my friend Ellen Gabriel from Kanesatake in her brief said that the areas of concern for the bill, the problems, include, one, the incorrect assumption that the bill was accompanied by a consultation process. She was clear that it was not. Two, the lack of inclusion of the Constitution Act that protects and affirms inherent treaty rights of aboriginal peoples; three, the lack of resources for communities’ implementation of the bill and problems with potential court orders; four, non-legislative matters and lack of access to justice; five, financial burdens placed on women who pursue these issues and are reliant on their spouses; and six, jurisdictional issues of provincial, federal, common law, civil law and indigenous customary laws.

Native women’s associations of this country are not supporting the bill, and I ask my hon. friend from Vancouver South if we cannot step back and ensure that any bill we pass can work.

Wai Young: Mr. Speaker, I am indeed shocked that someone of the member’s stature, being a lawyer herself, does not recognize the fact that we need to start somewhere. By starting somewhere, we need to have the legislative framework to do so.

My short answer is, without the bill, women and children have no rights on their reserve. There is nowhere to start in terms of any of these programs and services.

The hon. member knows that consultation has occurred extensively across this country.