First Nations Elections Act

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I am very indebted to the hon. member for Nanaimo—Cowichan, and to know that the official opposition, like the Green Party, feels compelled to vote against Bill C-9, even though it initiated with consultations, as she quite rightly pointed out, on two key points, narrow points, of lengths of terms and timing of elections. We have seen the bill morph, thanks only to paragraphs 3(1)(b) and (c), into something that shows a disrespect for bottom-up control, and a disrespect for section 35, the inherent rights of first nations.

As the official opposition attempted to do in committee, as I attempted to do earlier this morning at report stage, would the hon. member share with me any insight she has as to why, with such good intentions from the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations and the first nations chiefs of Manitoba, we could not just get the changes that the first nations themselves requested so that we could vote for it, instead of having this imposition of ministerial discretion on what should be inherently first nations self-government?

Jean Crowder: Mr. Speaker, it is puzzling. I believe that it just continues with the approach the current government has consistently taken with regard to first nations, which is lack of recognition around inherent rights, lack of movement on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, continued lack of appropriate consultation. This has clearly been outlined by the Supreme Court. We have seen it in the first nations water bill. We saw it in the matrimonial real property bill. We are now seeing it in the elections bill that is before the House and we are seeing it in the first nations education act.

We could always remain eternally optimistic that during this comment period where first nations, schools, parents and organizations across this country have an opportunity to comment on the first nations education act, that the proposed piece of legislation that is before first nations would substantially change, based on that input, but that is not the track record of the government.

Once again, first nations have come to the table in good faith. The AMC, the APC, came to the table in good faith, yet they end up with a piece of legislation that at least the AMC cannot support.