First Nations Elections Act

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I listened to the parliamentary secretary’s speech carefully to hear when he would explain why in a bill, where I agree with him overall, it was about first nations opting in. Overall, it originally came from the Atlantic Policy Congress and the Assembly of First Nations Chiefs of Manitoba. However, without consultation with those first nations, or any other first nations in Canada, we have these two provisions, which I note that my hon. friend from Vancouver Island North, when he was the minister responsible, said that he would not use these provisions.

Why on earth does the bill contain 3(1)(b) and (c), which states that the minister may at his or her own volition, without consultation, force a first nation to operate under this scheme if it believes the minister comes to the conclusion there is a protractive leadership dispute or if cabinet has set aside an election claiming corrupt practice which is not defined.

These are imposition terms that even apply to first nations currently operating under customary practice. I would agree with every word the parliamentary secretary spoke, except that he omitted explaining sections 3(1)(b) and (c).

Mark Strahl: If I had had more time, Mr. Speaker, I would have been happy to talk about that.

The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development currently has the power, under the Indian Act, to take a first nation that is operating under custom code elections and put it back into the paternalistic Indian Act system. This is not a new provision. He has that power, currently, to move a first nation from the custom code into the Indian Act system if there is a protracted leadership dispute.

The member is right. The former minister from Vancouver Island North is correct. This is rarely used. This provision to move a first nation from a custom code back to the Indian Act system has been used three times. This is not a new provision. It is used extremely rarely, only when all other options are off the table and when there has been a protracted leadership dispute.

This is not a new power, and it is used with extreme reluctance, but when the grassroots people of a first nation are not being served because of a protracted leadership dispute, the minister, under the current system, will act.

This provision would allow him to move a first nation from a custom code into this new, improved act instead of putting it back into the flawed Indian Act system. Bill C-9 would allow for that transparency, that robust electoral process, instead of putting the first nation back into the paternalistic and flawed Indian Act.