Debates of the Senate  
1st Session, 41st Parliament, Volume 148, Issue 126
  Wednesday, December 5, 2012
 
Question: Bill C-45 (Budget Implementation Act II)

.Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: As all honourable senators know, the Assembly of First Nations is holding its Special Chiefs Assembly across the Ottawa River in Gatineau. Yesterday, the chiefs were on the Hill because they were so upset about what is happening with regard to the proposed legislation concerning First Nations. I had the opportunity this morning of speaking for a few minutes to Chief Wallace Fox, who also sent a letter to the members of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples regarding Bill C-45. We talked a bit about education, which was the theme of my questions in the Senate yesterday. Before I get to that, I want to indicate what Chief Fox said. I will quote his letter on Bill C-45:

We have been silenced by the Parliament process. We cannot make any oral intervention. As a result, we are submitting our written statement. We want the sections 206 to 209 removed from the Omnibus legislation and a process that respects our relationship developed so as to meaningfully discuss the proposed changes

The letter also stated:

We are being silenced by the parliamentary process in a manner that can only be considered undemocratic.

My question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate is: How can this government continue to proceed with bill after bill when all First Nation chiefs have told us that they are not satisfied with the bill, no amendments are being made and their voices are not being heard?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, the bill has been before Parliament for some time and was voted on last night. It will be received in the Senate within the next day or so. There were ample opportunities for witnesses to appear at committees, both in the House of Commons and in the Senate, on the bill, which was part of the budget announced last March. I believe, honourable senators, that there was ample opportunity for all people to express their views and be heard on the subject matter of not only the main budget but also the two budget implementation bills.

Senator Dyck: I do not think there was sufficient time for witnesses to appear. There is always pressure with budget bills to pass them at the end of a session. I do not think it is quite fair to say that. Nonetheless, I will move on with questions regarding education, which I also spoke to Chief Fox and others about this morning.