.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.