Parliamentary Wrap-Up For The Week of May 11 – May 15, 2015
PARLIAMENTARY WRAP-UP FOR THE WEEK OF MAY 11 – 15, 2015
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&Mode=1&ParliamentSession=41-2
Bill C-32: Canadian Victims Bill of Rights Act
- Passed 3rd reading in the Senate on April 22, 2015, Received Royal Assent on April 23, 2015.
- The Bill creates a Victims Bill of Rights that outlines specific rights for victims of crime, including accessing information about the criminal justice system and programs and services, information about the status of investigations and criminal proceedings, protection from intimidation and retaliation, right to have views considered, the right to present a victim impact statement and to make a restitution order.
- The Bill amends sentencing principles in the Criminal Code, including s. 718.2(e) that directs consideration to the unique circumstances of Aboriginal offenders. There is concern that this proposed amendment would be confusing and would interfere with the intention of flexibility in sentencing for Aboriginal offenders particularly coupled with recent introduction of mandatory minimums.
Bill C-33: First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act
- Passed 2nd reading on May 5, 2014. The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development announced that the bill will be held pending clarification of the position of First Nations. The pre-study initiated by the Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples has also been put on hold.
Bill C-46: Pipelines Safety Act
- Completed 2nd reading in the Senate on May 14 and has been referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources for study.
- The AFN provided a written submission to the House of Commons Committee outlining impacts on First Nations’ rights (available on afn.ca).
- The Bill introduces absolute liability for all NEB-regulated pipelines, meaning that companies will be liable for costs and damages irrespective of fault — up to $1 billion for major oil pipelines; companies continue to have unlimited liability when at fault or negligent; provides the NEB authority to order reimbursement of any cleanup costs incurred by governments, communities or individuals; and provides the NEB authority and resources to assume control of incident response if a company is unable or unwilling to do so (i.e., in exceptional circumstances).
Bill C-51: Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015
- Completed 2nd reading in the Senate on May 14, 2015 and was referred to the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence. This committee has already completed a pre-study of the Bill.
- Small amendments at the House of Commons committee included removing the word “lawful” from the greater certainty clause under the Definitions in Part 1, which now reads: For greater certainty, it does not include advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression.
- National Chief Bellegarde presented to the committee on March 12, 2015 and a written submission has been provided to the House of Commons and Senate committees. These are available on afn.ca.
- Under Part 1 of the ATA 2015, an “activity that undermines the security of Canada” includes: (a) interference with the capability of the Government of Canada in relation to intelligence, defence, border operations, public safety, the administration of justice, diplomatic or consular relations, or the economic or financial stability of Canada; (b) changing or unduly influencing a government in Canada by force or unlawful means; (d) terrorism; (f) interference with critical infrastructure. This definition could be problematic for First Nations who have marched across or set up blockades at the border of the United States and Canada, First Nations who have called for action on a specific file by setting up a blockade along a major highway, or who block access to a road or railway.
- There is also a concern that that Bill C-51 would criminalize speech and intent, not just action; lower the requirement to detain people without due process; and allow security agencies unrestricted access to Canadians’ tax records, online communication, and travel plans.
Bill C-59: Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1
- Omnibus bill to implement provisions of Budget 2015; currently at 2nd reading in the House of Commons and pre-study at Senate Standing Committees.
- Division 16 amends the First Nations Fiscal Management Act – many of these amendments have been proposed by the First Nations Financial Management Board, the First Nations Tax Commission and the First Nations Finance Authority. An assessment of the impacts of these changes is under way.
Bill S-6: Yukon and Nunavut Regulatory Improvement Act.
- Completed study by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples and Northern Development and reported to the House of Commons with no amendments. Is scheduled to begin debates at Report Stage on May 25, 2015.
- Amends the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act to provide that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 does not apply in Yukon, to allow for the coordination of reviews of transboundary projects, to establish time limits for environmental assessments and to establish a cost recovery regime.
- Yukon First Nations have assessed that the Bill infringes their Treaty rights and has been imposed without Crown consultation and accommodation.
Private Member Bills
Bill C-628: An Act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and the National Energy Board Act (oil transportation and pipeline certificate)
- Defeated at 2nd reading in the House of Commons on April 1, 2015.
- Would amend the National Energy Board Act to ensure that consultations must take place between the Government of Canada and First Nations whose lands or waters will be affected by a pipeline.
Bill C-639: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of critical infrastructures)
- Introduced December 3, 2014 by Wai Young (Vancouver South)
- Act would create an offence of damaging any part of critical infrastructure, with a minimum fine of $3,000 and maximum imprisonment of 10 years. If such damage is deemed to cause a danger to life, it could result in life imprisonment.
- Critical infrastructure is very broadly defined as: “privately owned facility, network, service or asset that provides or distributes services for the benefit of the public, including services relating to energy, telecommunications, finance, health care, food, water, transportation, public safety, government and manufacturing, the disruption of which could produce serious adverse economic effects or endanger the health or safety of Canadians.”
- This Act could be used to target First Nations engaging in civil disobedience, lawful protest or blockades.
Bill C-641: United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act
- Defeated at 2nd reading in the House of Commons on May 6, 2015.
- Would require the Government of Canada to take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and for the Government to table a report on its progress between 2016 – 2036.
- 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.
Read More: http://nationtalk.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/parlimentary_wrap-up_may_11_-_15_2015.pdf