Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
Issue 43 - Evidence - May 2, 2013
OTTAWA, Thursday, May 2, 2013
The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural
Resources, to which was referred Bill C-47, An Act to to enact the Nunavut
Planning and Project Assessment Act and the Northwest Territories Surface
Rights Board Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other
acts, met this day at 8:32 a.m. to give consideration to the bill.
Senator Richard Neufeld (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Welcome to this meeting of the Standing Senate
Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. My name is
Richard Neufeld. I represent the province of British Columbia in the Senate,
and I am chair of this committee.
I would like to welcome honourable senators, any members of the public
with us in the room and viewers across the country who are watching on
I would now ask senators around the table to introduce themselves.
Senator Seidman: Judith Seidman from Montreal, Quebec.
Senator Lang: Dan Lang, Yukon.
Senator Sibbeston: Nick Sibbeston from the Northwest Territories.
Senator Wallace: John Wallace from New Brunswick.
Senator Massicotte: Paul Massicotte, Montreal.
Senator Patterson: Dennis Patterson, senator for Nunavut.
Senator Unger: Betty Unger, senator from Alberta.
Senator Ringuette: Pierrette Ringuette, New-Brunswick.
The Chair: I would also like to introduce our staff — our clerk,
Lynn Gordon, and our Library of Parliament analysts, Sam Banks and Marc
Bill C-47, an Act to enact the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment
Act and the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act and to make
related and consequential amendments to other acts, was referred to our
committee on April 16.
Senators, you will recall that to date we have had testimony from
representatives from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, the
Governments of Nunavut and Northwest Territories, the Canadian Association
of Petroleum Producers and the Mining Association of Canada.
Today I am pleased to welcome, from Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, Cathy
Towtongie, president; John Merritt, legal counsel; and Richard Spaulding,
I thank all of you for taking time out of your busy schedules to be here.
We appreciate it very much. We will go right to your presentation and then
we will go to questions and answers.
Cathy Towtongie, President, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated:
[Editor's Note: Ms. Towtongie spoke in a native language]
Good morning. Thank you for inviting me. I am "Cathy" in English, but in
[Editor's Note: Ms. Towtongie spoke in a native language]
E31256. I went to school and the grade teacher could not pronounce it. I
ended up with Cathy. It stuck.
Just to ease everyone up, a teacher went to Grise Fiord about three years
ago, and he saw a class of little Inuk kids. It was his first time in Grise
Fiord, top of the Arctic, where there are three months of darkness. He asked
them: "Are you Canadians?" Everyone raised their hands except for two
little boys. The teacher got kind of irritated: "If you are not Canadians,
what are you?" The two little boys, standing up very straight, "Toronto
Maple Leafs." They were not about to budge from their hockey team.
The Chair: They have not fared well yet.
Ms. Towtongie: I really appreciate your invitation. Thank you to
Dennis Patterson. He is one of our hardest working senators from Nunavut. I
truly respect that man.
In speaking of Nunavut, Canada is your country, but I want to be
conscious that Nunavut is our home. When you have a home, you want it clean,
orderly, and a place of rest. Think of Nunavut and Canada as your country,
but Nunavut is the Inuit home. We have survived. We have made houses out of
igloos, the size of your gymnasiums. Igloos that we see today are just
hunting shelters, and that has been proven in a court case. Now it was asked
by one of the mining lawyers when the Government of Canada was giving mining
permits without Inuit consent. Barnabas Piryuaq was questioned. They said, "Those igloos that you have, what size were they?" I was the translator. I
was very young. I thought to myself: "We are sitting ducks. We are going to
lose this court case." We had nothing. We had no money, nothing. All we
knew was the fact that when the helicopters were zooming down, the
adrenaline of the caribou made them not nutritious enough to eat. It was
affecting our nutrition. Barnabas Piryuaq, when questioned, looked at the
size of the gymnasium in the court case — picture yourself in Baker Lake at
the gymnasium — and said to the judges: "What you call igloos are just some
hunting shelters. The ones that were our living shelters, qaggiq were
the size of your gymnasiums, with bedrooms, and another family, the size of
I was fortunate enough to see in Rankin last month to see a qaggiq
made. It was impressive. There were three bedrooms, one room for storing
caribou and about a hundred people in it, school-aged students.
We were told — because I was there — "You have no concept of property.
You are nomads, with absolutely no concept of land property." Barnabas
Piryuaq said in the court case the reason why we were nomads is because the
lichen and the vegetation had to grow, and we would wait for it to grow and
move and migrate to another part of Nunavut, of our boundaries. Once the
lichen and the vegetation grew, the caribou would migrate there and then we
would migrate back.
There is a whole process we are now entering. You as senators and Canada
are now entering into the making of history of the Inuit culture, economic
survival and sustainable certainty as Inuit. Be conscious of that fact.
NTI is a democratically constituted non-partisan organization that
represents more than 25,000 Inuit of Nunavut for the purpose of asserting
and defending our rights under the 1993 Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. Part
1 of the bill before you arises directly from the Nunavut agreement. That
agreement covers 20 per cent of Canada and a larger portion of Canada's
Our agreement is a core building block of the public and private law
regimes that apply to Nunavut. It is also the bedrock of Canadian
sovereignty in much of the Arctic.
Inuit are very conscientious that we are Canadians first and first
Canadians. It is a treaty under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. It
is our job as representatives of Inuit, as we believe it is yours as
legislators, to ensure that Bill C-47 fully respects and implements the
treaty promises made by the Crown to Inuit.
The agreement is the means by which the Inuit of Nunavut intend to
achieve self-determination, consistent with their socio-economic and
cultural goals. The active participation of Inuit in the management of
resources is a necessary element in this mix and is emphasized throughout
The Nunavut Agreement requires that legislation set forth the powers and
functions of the Nunavut resource management boards. The 2002 Nunavut Waters
and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act is intended to fulfill this
requirement for the Nunavut Water Board and surface rights tribunal. For
example, because this bill is very dry, my comments are dry to me. You need
to consider the sexual health of animals, for example, calving grounds. We
cannot automatically fall back to farming vegetation. Sexual health —
calving grounds of animals — is something that is sustainable, and we see it
as an element that needs consideration, including sexual health of species.
Bill C-47 is meant to do the same for the Nunavut Impact Review Board and
the Nunavut Planning Commission. The Nunavut Agreement expressly requires
that such legislation be prepared in close consultation with NTI.
As well, the Supreme Court of Canada has held that the Crown is under a
constitutional duty to uphold the honour of the Crown in dealing with
Aboriginal peoples, and to consult and accommodate Aboriginal peoples where
their rights may be affected.
I would like to share something with you. I mean this as a joke. My
husband and I have a very good Cree friend, and he was very concerned: "Oh,
Harry, Cathy, our people had chiefs. What did your people have?" My husband
looked up to him and said "kings." Think of us as your kings in Nunavut.
These duties logically extend to the Crown, acting as part of Parliament,
so that these principles should also be respected and applied by this
committee. The core features of Bill C-47 are the result of the
consensus-based process by which it was developed, and in which the
Department of Indian Affairs, NTI, and the Government of Nunavut, including
the Nunavut Planning Commission and the Nunavut Impact Review Board, all
At the same time, NTI did not draft this bill, nor did it directly
instruct the legislative drafters. Therefore, NTI cannot warrant that the
bill complies in all respects with the Nunavut Agreement.
As provided in the agreement, in the event of any conflict, the Nunavut
Agreement will prevail. In fact, NTI has proposed a number of amendments to
the bill, which are contained in our written submission to the committee.
While these changes address points of detail, they are needed to deliver
certainty respecting the bill's compliance with the Nunavut Agreement and
improve the bill's efficiency.
Therefore, we ask the committee to make these amendments.
I am going to devote my time to two crucial funding issues. It is not an
exaggeration to say that it was the Government of Canada's failure, over the
many years, to fund adequately the Nunavut resource management system, and,
therefore, the success of Bill C-47 and, indeed, of resource development in
Nunavut. The planning commission and the Impact Review Board gave evidence
to the House of Commons standing committee on Bill C-47 that they are
Mining industry representatives also spoke to the boards being
underfunded and stated that this problem has the potential to impede
resource development in the North. We urge you to review those transcripts.
In 2006, NTI commenced legal action against the Government of Canada for
failing to adequately implement the Nunavut agreement. Central to that
litigation is the fact there is a critical lack of funding for the Nunavut
resource management boards.
NTI was recently granted a $14.8 million interim award in that case, as
damages for the federal government's failure to develop a general monitoring
program. You are actually dealing with Inuit lives. It is not just about the
bill. We need the monitoring system in place and the funding system in
place, because the monitoring program is required by the agreement to assist
the planning commission and other resource management bodies to do their
jobs properly. In its decision, the court described the Government of Canada
as "indifferent" to its solemn obligations.
With increasing volume and frequency, Nunavut's resource management
boards are sounding an alarm that critical underfunding threatens their very
ability to keep their doors open. This raises the question of legal and
financial risk, environmental liability, and interference with Nunavut's
Elizabeth Copland, the Nunavut Impact Review Board chair, gave evidence
to the house committee that "the board's core capacity is already stretched
to the breaking point," even without taking into account the board's
significant new responsibilities under Bill C-47.
As the board explained, the funding levels for the Nunavut bodies were
set back in 1992, before the boards were established, and are based on
hypothetical assumptions that simply do not apply to 2013 requirements and
mining activity levels.
As one example among many, a recent board submission to the Nunavut
implementation panel states that the board currently has a staff of 20,
while 1992 assumptions allowed for fewer than half that amount, yet the
federal government continues to fund the boards based on 1992 levels with
only modest increases.
The Impact Review Board and the Nunavut Water Board both recently
reported to the panel on specific details which reveal that insufficient
core funding levels are creating risk and instability.
For example, in most cases, the salaries of core staff required to
conduct day-to-day operations have for some time now been funded through an
ad hoc and unpredictable hearing funding, rather than through annual
In the case of the Impact Review Board, this is the case for salaries and
benefits of nine core technical positions, a patently unsustainable
Especially important for our purposes today, Bill C-47 gives the
commission and the board a number of new or expanded functions.
I am looking at the time, Mr. Chair. Can I be given a few more minutes?
The Chair: Yes. Carry on.
Ms. Towtongie: Thank you. For example, both bodies will have
extensive public registry responsibilities that exceed current federal
recordkeeping requirements. Functions such as these naturally require the
allocation of appropriate levels of new funding.
As well, with anticipated increases in the number of exploration projects
and mines in Nunavut, the capacity needs of the boards will expand
Land and water inspection in Nunavut is already overtaxed, and adequate
funding for these functions is long overdue. If you look at Mary River,
which is at the top of Baffin Island, we are looking at one mountain to
start with, but it will be nine mountains, and the Nunavut Impact Review
Board has to deal with situations like that. Iron is top core, as well as
uranium and diamonds. There are resources in Nunavut, and if Nunavut is
adequately developed, it will produce 10 per cent of the gross domestic
Bill C-47 appropriately contains strengthened monitoring, inspection and
enforcement provisions. Therefore, we have no assurance that sufficient
funding will be allocated to implement the new act.
In fact, a department official testified before the house committee that
the department has not done any analysis whatsoever of the incremental costs
of the bill as of this time. Arctic ecosystems are fragile. This is an
urgent priority, and it requires an appropriately funded regulatory system.
Therefore, NTI requests that you ask the federal government witnesses to
identify specifically how and when the federal government intends to
adequately address the boards' core funding needs and how and when the
necessary additional funding to implement this bill will be made available
to the boards and to relevant federal offices.
NTI further requests that you satisfy yourselves as to the adequacy of
funding before concluding your deliberations on this bill.
The second critical funding issue relevant to Bill C-47 was also
discussed at length in the house committee's proceedings. This is the need
for a robust and mandatory participant funding program. Participant funding
programs are required under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and
other federal environmental assessment legislation. These programs have
proven to be key to ensuring public awareness, participation and support for
development across the country.
In Nunavut, local people arguably — I think we can argue if you pay for a
$200 turkey at Arctic Bay — are more reliant than Canadians elsewhere on
lands and waters to fulfill their basic needs, are more directly affected by
development projects, and generally have significantly less means to
independently participate in land use planning and environmental assessment
Importantly, a central stated objective of the Nunavut Land Claims
Agreement is to provide for "rights for Inuit to participate in
decision-making concerning the use, management and conservation of land,
water and resources."
The failure to provide for mandatory participant funding to enable local
Inuit organizations to take part in land use planning and project
assessments endangers the ability to meet land claims objectives through
this bill. In the absence of funding for the participation of local Inuit,
the approval processes for mines and other development will take longer and
be far less reliable.
As two recent cases in point, in December 2012, then Minister Duncan, in
his discretion, denied the request of the boards for participant funding in
support of the review of the Back River gold and silver project proposal,
while noting in the same letter that the proposal is one of the many
proposed or existing mines in the region, that "a thorough cumulative
impact assessment will be very important" and that the proposal may have
significant adverse effects on the ecosystem, wildlife habitat or Inuit
harvesting and will cause significant public concern.
In April 2013, Minister Valcourt also denied the request of the boards
for participant funding in its review of the Izok Lake Corridor zinc and
copper project, although the minister stated in the same letter that this
project, in combination with others in the area, "could result in
cumulative effects to barren-ground caribou due to habitat loss, disruption
of migration patterns and habitat fragmentation," which "could also result
in corresponding socio- economic impacts" on Aboriginal peoples who depend
on these resources.
In both of these cases, the minister passed the responsibility to the
board to ensure adequate Inuit participation in the process through hearing
funding. However, as I have described, by necessity, the board is already
stretching its hearing funding to cover core staff salaries and benefits,
and the board and other Nunavut bodies have put the federal government on
notice that their financial situations are desperate and they cannot
continue to perform their functions without significant risk.
Similarly, as the board told the house standing committee, no participant
funding whatsoever was made available for its review of the massive Baffin
Island iron ore project, despite there being 18 communities potentially
impacted by this project.
Clause 228 of Bill C-47 provides that the Governor-in-Council may, on the
recommendation of the minister and following appropriate consultation, make
regulations establishing a participant funding program. NTI requests the
committee to recommend, in the strongest terms possible, that a participant
funding program be established at the time of the coming into force of the
[Editor's Note: Ms. Towtongie spoke in her native language]
The Chair: We have two previous premiers in our midst.
Senator Massicotte: Could we get a copy of proposed amendments
that was apparently submitted to us? I do not have a copy.
Senator Patterson: I would like to welcome the witnesses. You
said, madam president, that the bill was developed on a consensus basis with
the Department of Indian Affairs, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern
Development, Nunavut Tunngavik, the Government of Nunavut, the Nunavut
Planning Commission and the Nunavut Impact Review Board. I think the mining
industry was also represented in the consultations on the bill.
Could you describe in a little more detail how extensive the consultation
was vis-à-vis NTI and perhaps how long NTI has been involved in the
development of this bill, please?
Ms. Towtongie: Thank you, senator. I will refer that question to
Richard Spaulding, Legal Counsel, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated:
Thank you. There was a working group established by Aboriginal and Northern
Affairs consisting of officials from the Government of Nunavut, NTI, and the
two boards affected by the bill: the planning commission and the impact
review board. The process of consulting industry was a separate one.
Industry was consulted directly by government.
The working group I mentioned has been meeting on a regular basis between
about 2002 and the time that the predecessor to this bill was introduced in
the House of Commons, which would be two or three years ago. Once the first
version of this bill was introduced in the House of Commons the working
group did not continue to function, but NTI did continue to be consulted by
departmental officials on a fairly regular basis in an attempt to iron out
outstanding differences. The proposed amendments before you identify
essentially the differences that NTI and the department were not able to
John Merritt, Legal Counsel, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated: To
supplement those comments, the emphasis on consensus is the reason why so
much of this bill got it right. What NTI is saying today is that it did not
get it all right, and there are still some issues associated with making
this bill fully conform to the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.
One of the operating rules in that working group when it was first struck
was that the resulting legislation should fully respect and reflect the
Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. We return to that principle as we adhered to
it during the work of that group and are alerting the Senate committee, as
we did the House of Commons committee, that there is still work to be done
to ensure this bill fully conforms and delivers the promises made in the
Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.
Ms. Towtongie: I would like to go back to subsection 102(5) of
Bill C-47. I have issues with that because it says, "confidential,
personal, business proprietary or privileged information." I would
recommend that business propriety information be removed as an independent
ground foreclosing an otherwise public hearing. It is in Bill C-47, and that
is one specific area.
Bill C-47 essentially is a good bill, it just has to be tweaked to ensure
that Inuit concerns are addressed, and that is one clause of the bill. As
president of NTI, I would have problems where business propriety information
can close down a public hearing. Thank you.
Senator Patterson: Thank you. This is on the amendment process,
and I asked the same question of the mining industry when they appeared
before our committee earlier this week: Would it be fair to say that the
consultation process was a process of give and take vis-à-vis the parties,
as you have described? There was a lot of give and take over the 10 years or
more that it took to develop this bill and concessions were made by all
Would it be fair to say that NTI got some or maybe most of the things
they wanted but not everything they wanted? I think you are saying the bill
is not perfect, but we support the bill overall and it should go ahead. Is
that a fair summary of your position?
Mr. Merritt: It might be a summary in the minds of some of the
people who participated in that process as to what was happening and should
have been happening. However, NTI's position, as you would expect, is that
respect for constitutional rights should not be a matter of give and take.
Respect for constitutional rights should be a matter of first order
priority, in that, insofar as a piece of legislation falls short of what
amounts to a full, fair and constructive interpretation and implementation
agreement, that is not an area where parties should be looking for
Land claims agreements and treaties are compromises, in and of
themselves. Aboriginal peoples make compromises to get those treaties. It
seems rather jarring and unhelpful to imagine that when you get to the
implementation stage there is some kind of expectation that there should be
compromises made on top of compromises.
There are areas, it is true, senator, where a bill of this size goes into
territory and addresses topics that are not dealt with in what would be too
narrow articles of the agreement. There is a capacity to build on treaties,
to add details which are advantageous to Aboriginal treaty parties, mining
companies and the general public. Certainly NTI and the other participants
in that working group tried very hard to add value to, in effect, use the
Nunavut agreement as a floor and to build on that floor. There are some
useful features of the bill that we think deliver better results for
However, on the core areas of compliance with the solemn promises made to
Inuit, we believe it is not appropriate to invite Inuit to make further
Ms. Towtongie: The reason I brought you to that section of
including business propriety information to close down a public hearing is
it is not appropriate for an environmental review body to close a public
hearing in order to protect business propriety information that is not
confidential, privileged in law or harmful to a witness.
The public interest, in this case Inuit, outweighs consideration of
competitive advantage in this type of proceeding where direct substantial
harm to a witness would not be caused by disclosure. That is one area of the
bill. Otherwise, the bill is decently balanced. We just want it to be in
line with the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, as Mr. Merritt pointed out.
Senator Patterson: With regard to Mr. Merritt's response, I
believe that the main recommendation of NTI this morning is relating to
funding and the implementation of the bill and is directed to recommending
that there be a participant funding program established, as provided for in
the regulatory powers under the act.
Would it be fair to say that this concern that you have expressed this
morning is about the funding to implement the act rather than the act
itself? The funding, of course, is a function of government and the
regulatory authority would not be provided in the legislation itself.
You mentioned the general monitoring program. First, is it correct that
the $14.8 million interim award in litigation under way has been appealed by
the Government of Canada; and, second, that since the litigation started,
the Government of Canada has implemented a general monitoring program in
collaboration with NTI?
Ms. Towtongie: I have always admired Senator Patterson's legal
There is funding and there is the bill; let us not confuse the two. The
bill in itself has to come alive, but without the adequate economic sources
to be provided with it, it is just going to be another document that you
have gone through. As for the appeal, yes, the $14.8 million interim award
has been appealed by the federal government, but we have good grounds to say
that we can back up what has been occurring with data.
I brought those sections because in clause 103 of the bill, NTI would
recommend that you consider either documented traditional or community
knowledge. You are dealing with economics as we understand economics in the
Canadian sense; however, the prevailing authority that exists in the Inuit
mind is the informal economics. We rely on wildlife, so we have to consider
the impact of the bill and how the board must take into account any
traditional knowledge or community knowledge and make reasonable efforts
that any such knowledge is available to it in documented form. The
institutions recognize economic survival, but the Inuit informal knowledge
of economics is something that exists in the Inuit prevailing authority. We
need to consider the bill from that aspect. When I speak about
sustainability, I am not talking just of sustainability in terms of economic
survival. I am talking about sustainability in terms of the informal economy
that Inuit rely on. I will give it over to Mr. Merritt now.
Mr. Merritt: On that last question about whether the federal
government is now implementing a general monitoring program, the answer is
yes. Interestingly enough, the trial judge on that motion used the amount of
the money allocated in the 2010 budget to finally introduce a general
monitoring program — $2 million a year was set aside — to calculate the
damages as to the absence of such implementation for the period 2003 to
2010. He said I am relying on that assessment of what the appropriate level
of funding should have been back to the 2003 period; that is, when he
concluded that, even with the lapse of time from 1993, the program should
have been up and running. Interestingly enough, the government's final
efforts were welcome, but the government's final efforts in terms of
allocating a budget were the basis on which the judge awarded damages,
saying that is the effort that should have been there from the beginning.
Senator Sibbeston: I had a chance to review and read the written
submission provided to our committee. It deals with amendments. I understand
there are 50 or so amendments when they are all counted. The matter is
significant in the sense that the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement and the act
that puts it into effect are constitutionally protected. There is a
provision in there that says that "the land claims agreement and act
stipulate that any legislation that is inconsistent or in conflict or
inoperative as far as the inconsistency. . ." If they are in any way
inconsistent with the Nunavut act, the claim itself and the act would be
inoperative. I think it is tremendously important that, as a Senate
committee, we review it to be sure that it does comply with the act.
I would ask the legal advisers this: Of the 50 or so amendments, which of
those do you think would be contrary to the act? Parliament can pass it, but
the reality is that they would be inoperative when it is put in contrast to
the land claim agreement, so it is significant.
Mr. Spaulding: Thank you, senator. As Ms. Towtongie explained in
her opening remarks, the amendments point to two concerns that NTI has with
the bill. One is to make sure it is effective and workable. That concern is
not necessarily one that involves conflict with the land claims agreement,
but the second is to ensure, as you have emphasized, that the bill does
comply in every respect with the agreement.
If I can give you an example of the first type of amendment, there is an
amendment proposed to paragraph 141 of the bill and related provisions
regarding what happens in the process when the description of a project
changes mid- stream while it is being assessed, either by the planning
commission or by the impact review board. That is a common occurrence in
Nunavut; it is a common occurrence with any mining development, due to
finances and any other number of reasons. The land claims agreement itself
does not provide for a process to deal with changes in the project as it is
being assessed. The proposals being put forward on that front in the
amendments are to make sure that the bill will be effective in dealing with
On the other side, in terms of compliance, there are several amendments
that are there because NTI is very concerned that there is an outstanding
risk that the bill could be construed inconsistently with the agreement. In
that sense the objective of the bill is to introduce regulatory efficiency,
which is a priority of the government in this project, could be falling
short in the sense that litigation may be required in order to figure out
whether there is a difference between the bill and the agreement and, if so,
what to do about it. Similarly, on NTI's side, if there is a real risk that
the agreement is not being complied with then there is a question that if
the bill does not get it right, then what is the proper process; how should
the system operate?
There are several examples of that in the amendments. For reasons that
the department's lawyer has spoken to in the committee previously — I do not
think he spoke to it in the Senate committee — and for reasons that the
drafter perhaps is best positioned to explain, instead of using the word
"judgment" or "determination" where that is the step in the process that
the land claims agreement describes, the bill tends to use the word "opinion,
"which is an obvious difference in plain language. NTI is very
concerned that there is a real potential there, even if unintended, that the
bill could be read differently; that the function of the commission, when it
is making a determination, or the impact review board, could be
misunderstood to be simply advisory, when it is not intended to be.
Going to the harder question, is there any place in this scheme where NTI
senses that there is noncompliance — not just a risk of noncompliance but
noncompliance with the agreement, there is only one place. Ms. Towtongie
explained that there have been several core features of the bill developed
and that there has been consensus on most of those. If you think of it as a
building project, there is a foundation in it, there are supporting walls
and then there is detail beyond that.
There are many core features of the bill that NTI is fully satisfied
with. We think it is essentially a good system. However, when the planning
commission determines that an initiative to establish a conservation area
conforms to the land use plan, as it is mandated to do under the agreement
and the act, and when the body responsible to establish that conservation
area is not a government department and not a minister per se but the
Governor-in-Council, then there is a gap in the scheme. There are several
examples in legislation where it is only the Governor-in-Council who is
responsible to establish a conservation area or a park. The National Parks
Act is one. The Canada Wildlife Act, in the case of marine protected areas,
is another. There are other examples referred to in our written submission.
In those cases, what you have in the bill right now is a road to nowhere.
You have an assessment process mandated by the agreement and mandated by the
bill. You have a determination by the commission as to whether or not the
initiative conforms to the land use plan. Where is the duty to implement it?
Where is the duty to implement the commission's determination? Well, it is
not in the bill; it is missing. We are very concerned about that.
There have been discussions with government. We have listened carefully
to the government's argument. They essentially make two points. They say,
first, that they are not convinced that the land claims agreement intended
to catch cabinet in its description. Well, the agreement says the land use
plan shall be implemented on the basis of jurisdictional responsibility. It
is clearly intended to be an inclusive scheme. The government's argument is
that since cabinet is not named specifically in the clauses in the land
claims agreement, the negotiators missed that. They read the agreement as
intended, in the case of these particular types of areas, not to require
duty to implement. However, they then say there is a hope, and NTI can only
describe this as a hope because we do not see it anywhere in the bill, that
when a national park is being established and trouble is taken to go through
the planning commission or the impact review process to ensure that the
values that Ms. Towtongie has described are reflected in the process, they
say that it will be expected that the advisers to Canada, the officials
making recommendations to cabinet, will ensure that the decisions of the
commission and impact review board are satisfied.
Well, that is not in the bill. That cannot be read into the bill. The
bill operates on the basis that the body that has the power to take a
measure that must comply with the land use plan or the project certificate
coming from the review board is the body that has the duty to act in
accordance with the land use plan or the review board's determination.
Perhaps I have gone on a bit long, but that is one instance where there is a
substantial concern that the bill gets the land claims agreement wrong.
Senator Ringuette: I have two distinct questions. I understand the
legalities and the fact that the substantive documents that you provide us
with regard to amendments that would be needed in order to comply with the
1993 agreements, if your proposed amendment to comply is not included in
Bill C-47, I guess that you will be moving to court challenges. Whenever
someone talks about court challenges, we are looking at two to three years
in delay and uncertainty with regard to potential development and potential
conservation. I fully understand the importance of that section.
I have one question with regard to funding. Do you collect any kind of
royalties or fees with regard to the permit issuance for prospectors or
developers of all the different minerals that you have in the territory?
Ms. Towtongie: Those are very good questions. Inuit's stance has
been litigation, legal processes, as the final step. However, the bill
excludes the Governor-in-Council from the list of bodies responsible to
implement terms and conditions of these projects. As an Inuit, the Inuit
leadership will have to consider if we go to that stage of legal steps. In
the meantime, we would like to work with the process. It would be the final
Our land claims agreement is not just with the land use departments,
environmental departments or DIAND; it is with the whole Government of
Canada. It was intended so institutions like the Senate and the government
will put the Inuit thought process into the legislation across Nunavut so
that we can be included in defining within the legislative process how we
want to work with you, making it very simple.
As to the question of royalties and fees, I will leave that to Mr.
Mr. Merritt: Inuit own a lot of land as a consequence of the
treaty so, insofar as the Inuit are landowners, as all landowners, they can
collect fees, licence payments and rentals on the management of their own
lands, just like the Crown does with Crown land. The two building block
institutions we are talking about here, the planning commission and the
impact review board, are not being financed by an application fee system.
They are essentially part of the public process. There is no attempt in this
bill or in the thinking of government as a policy matter, as far as I know,
to essentially start asking proponents of development to start paying fees
in order to get their projects processed in terms of conformity with
planning or getting the appropriate paperwork by way of a project
certificate. There is not really a connection drawn by this bill or by
existing law between ownership of land, for example, and the environmental
assessment or planning review approach. I hope that answers your question.
Senator Ringuette: Partly. In your view, does Bill C-47 open the
opportunity to collect fees and charges for the work that has to be done?
Ms. Towtongie: Under our land claims agreement, we have what is
called public institutional bodies: Nunavut Impact Review Board, Nunavut
Water Board, Nunavut Wildlife Board. These are institutional bodies.
According to our agreement, it is the federal government's responsibility,
clearly written out in this agreement, to fund those public institutions.
Senator Ringuette: I want this to be crystal clear. If we had
responsibility through this bill, through the Nunavut governing bodies, that
will add additional responsibility and oversight, then I certainly agree
with you that funding has to be adequate in respect of the 1993 agreement.
Ms. Towtongie: Just to put things in context or into a framework,
one mine in the Keewatin region produced $10 billion to Canada, its
top-quality mine. When we are asking the Government of Canada to fund these
public institutions, it is for their benefit. It is not for the benefit of
the Inuit but for the benefit of Canada's economy. It is only fair that
funding be provided adequately today.
Senator Lang: I would like to deal with the financing so that we
have a clear understanding of exactly what we are speaking of here.
First, how many dollars were allocated in 1992 as a result of the
agreement for the purpose of these planning commissions? How much has been
allocated for 2012, so that we can see the comparison of the amount of money
that the taxpayer has provided to these boards and for their operations?
Second, how many assessments are presently under way in respect to the
money that has been allocated?
Third, how many of the proposed mining projects are on land owned by your
organization? The reason I ask that is, obviously, it puts your organization
in a position to collect royalties and to get significant financial
compensation if a mine were to go ahead, not unlike the Government of
Canada. I think we should get a clarification here. It is one thing to talk
in generalities but another thing to talk in specifics.
Ms. Towtongie: We could provide a map of the mining assessments.
However, I did not bring it. I will refer that question to Mr. Merritt.
Mr. Merritt: I do not have the schedules with me that were
attached to the implementation contract for the initial 10-year funding for
those boards, so I could not give you those answers now. We can find that
information for you.
We have, of course, as NTI, relied heavily on those two boards, making
their own presentations known, making their own budgets by way of proposals
as to adequacy. They conduct their own negotiations by way of proposals when
it comes to both the current situation and projections into the next
ten-year planning period.
In terms of order of magnitude, and this is anecdotal, so it will not
satisfy in terms of giving you a complete picture, I note that the Impact
Review Board in its submission, which I do have with me, indicated that it
is getting for the next five years a budget level of $2.7 million. The
Impact Review Board has said it will need appreciable incremental funding in
order to take on additional responsibilities to implement this new bill. I
do not believe the Impact Review Board has tried to put a precise figure on
that. It is my understanding that the Impact Review Board is saying that, at
a global level, it will need essentially twice as much funding in the next
10 years, driven not just by this bill but also by the uptake and activities
that has occurred since 1993. I would be reluctant to say more than that
just by way of anecdote because I am not working for them, it is not my
budget and I know they have wanted to present their own case in their own
terms with as much detail as you or any other parliamentarian would want.
With respect to the planning commission, which is the other body
associated with this bill in terms of focused detail, I believe the planning
board has projected that in order to implement this bill, by way of its
responsibilities, it would need something in the order of an additional 10
person years, with anticipated costs of approximately $3 million associated
with that additional staff.
I am not giving you the precision you were looking for, and I am aware of
that, but I think both these boards are essentially saying that in order to
implement this bill, they will need appreciable but not off-the-wall
increases in their budget levels, given the scale of developments taking
place. Their budget levels have not increased substantially except by way of
inflation adjustments, since a number of adjustments were made in 2006, and
those 2006 numbers were very much anchored in the 1993 numbers.
Senator Lang: Mr. Chair, one of the questions I asked was about
the number of mining prospects that have been identified. Senator Patterson
has spoken numerous times in respect to the very bright future that Nunavut
has, if everything can come together in respect to the economy there with
the mining prospects.
I wanted to get a clear understanding of how many of the identified
mining prospects are on the land that has been transferred to your
organization because it would give some sense of what was going on in
respect of the mining community. Do you have that with you?
Ms. Towtongie: Mr. Chair, we can provide that in writing, in terms
of revenue resourcing policy. With respect to the first question you asked
about royalties coming in from the mines, I will be very clear. We are an
indigenous group that has extinguished all title to lands, so we have
produced a revenue resource sharing policy with an endowment fund, and that
endowment fund is for our unborn children in the next decade. We have a
strategic plan in place. We have gotten royalties from Agnico Eagle at $2.2
million. However, a wolverine went into their kitchen and got the electrical
wiring all mixed up, so they had to build a kitchen. That kitchen cost $18
million to one mine at Agnico Eagle, if you compare that to the royalties we
are receiving today, $2.2 million and another one that is coming at
Senator Lang: Could I interject?
The Chair: Let us let the witness continue.
Ms. Towtongie: The Inuit leadership has put itself in a situation
where we strategically plan how to economically survive once the resources —
the minerals — are taken out of Nunavut — the will is taken out. In terms of
long-term sustainability, we have hired Heenan Blaikie out of Toronto to
come up with a draft, and we have decided that if it reaches $100 million,
we will vote in 2016 on how we want to spend that money. At this time, we
have put it into a trust. No one can touch it.
Senator Lang: Mr. Chair, I want to say that the witness should be
given many accolades for putting that in place and looking ahead.
My question was — perhaps you could provide the answer later — in respect
to the actual mining prospects and how many of them are actually on your
land, so that at least we have a clear understanding.
Senator Patterson: Most of them.
Mr. Merritt: We can easily supply that to you. To be clear about
your question, you wanted to know about the number of companies that are
currently actively exploring for minerals on Inuit lands?
Senator Lang: Yes, that is right.
I understand to some degree your concern about the legislation, but it
has taken years to get to where we are. Once you start amending a bill and
having to go through the legislative process even further, that is more time
that is involved in respect to both houses, the Senate and the House of
Commons. As you well know, having been involved as long as you have, if we
go back, all of a sudden it will be another year or six months or who knows
how much longer before this bill actually becomes law.
Section 3(1) clearly states that in the event of any inconsistency or
conflict between the agreement and this act or any regulation made under it,
the agreement, which is your Nunavut land claim agreement, prevails to the
extent of the inconsistency or conflicts.
What I am asking is the following: In respect to the bill itself and the
fact that it clearly recognizes your constitutional legislative base taking
precedence, I do not quite understand the concerns with some of the minor
aspects of the bill because if it becomes an issue, you obviously will have
the authority, at the end of the day, contained in your agreement.
Mr. Merritt: Thank you, senator. You are pointing to the
paramountcy provision in the bill. That paramountcy provision in the bill
reflects the paramountcy provision in the treaty. That is a treaty right of
Inuit to have their treaty prevail in the event of any conflicting law. What
you see in the bill reflects that, as it should; appropriately so. That
provision obviously offers some comfort, but I think there are practical
limitations as to how much comfort you can imagine Inuit secure through
that. That provision only comes into effect if there is a conflict out there
between the treaty and an implementing piece of legislation.
I think we would all agree it is a better world if you do not have those
conflicts because you do not have misunderstanding; you do not have
confusion; you do not have practical problems in terms of administration of
this act; and you do not have the potential for litigation. Even though NTI
as an organization has been willing to go to court when it has to, it does
not relish that prospect. It is not the best use of time and money. It
creates conflict and undermines public confidence in the system, and
lawsuits in relation to a piece of legislation freshly made to implement the
treaty would be unwelcome on all fronts. I do not think industry wants that
kind of political uncertainty. These treaties were intended to remove as
much uncertainty as possible. We take the view that it is not a good idea to
create conflicts and then rely on paramountcy. It is some insurance but it
is not where you want to go. It is the kind of insurance policy you try to
cash in when something unpleasant is happening. From our perspective, it is
much better to design new legislation to avoid those kinds of things.
You are saying that making amendments requested by NTI would potentially
slow up this legislation. I would make a more general observation. We can
anticipate that with treaty making in Canada, there will be many more
occasions when Parliament has an opportunity to implement aspects of the
treaty. There will always be difficulties in how you convert a treaty into
the more detailed language of legislation. It seems to me Parliament, the
Commons and the Senate, has an opportunity to communicate back to the
federal departments that prepare these bills that they have to get it right;
that the development of that legislation has to be done on the basis of
genuine partnership; and that you expect full conformity with
constitutionally protected rights. You will not settle for anything less.
You do not want compromises being made on compromises. Maybe if you send a
signal to that effect early on a piece of legislation of this kind, you are
sending a signal that the executive branch of government takes on board
seriously and you will not be facing a succession of these bills, not just
in Nunavut, but in the Yukon, if there is any implementation legislation
left; or in B.C. You will not be facing these things all down the road if
you provide the right signals now.
Senator Massicotte: Thank you for the presentation, which was very
Did I understand correctly that you do not want us to pass this bill
without the amendments?
Mr. Merritt: As I understand the president's presentation on
behalf of NTI, we are recommending you adopt the bill with the amendments
that we are recommending.
Ms. Towtongie: With the funding process clearly outlined.
The other thing is that I was never able to understand why they would
have pictures of mountains with trees. They destroyed that picture for me.
Nunavut is without trees. It is naked and beautiful. By changing the
landscape through Bill C-47, it will have consequences to the Inuit, because
we take our direction from the snowdrifts, what we call uqaluraq,
their shapes, if we are lost and the North Pole is too close, we cannot use
the navigational charts. When you scar the land — and there is a lot of
scarring with Agnico Eagle — we go out, but the snowdrifts change. The
glaciers are formed from the North, so the snow is usually formed from the
North. When those mines operate, we cannot hide them with the trees. It is
open. So we have to ensure for ourselves how we can use the snowdrifts in
the new society we are forming. Bill C-42 has to give us confidence that our
lands, Inuit-owned lands, are developed properly and with adequate funding
sources. The extraction will be costly to us, both in terms of economics and
money, and also in other ways.
Senator Massicotte: As far as funding is concerned, I quite
understand your position and I find your examples very clear. However, you
probably know that many organizations come here to tell us that their
funding is insufficient. I do not remember having ever heard a witness say
that he had received too much money.
This debate about funding is a recurring one because everyone always
believes that their funding is insufficient. However, funding for recurring
expenses is never provided for in government bills, as a matter of policy.
Those expenses are funded through annual budgets because the government
would not want, obviously, to make a commitment to fund an unlimited
discretionary project discretionary project.
This is more an operational than a legislative debate. I understand the
statutory amendments you have proposed relating to your rights but I have a
hard time finding a solution. It is not the standard process, it is not a
commitment, it would be forever. What do you think could be the solution?
Mr. Merritt: Certainly NTI understands that you must have lots of
people appearing in front of you and seeking budget increases, here, there
and everywhere. I will point out a couple of things about our presentation.
NTI is not, of course, coming here asking for budgeting for itself. We
are not an NGO seeking a government grant. We are seeking funding on behalf
of two public bodies, so we are kind of in an odd situation. We are saying
to you that we encourage you to help fund properly two public bodies. Half
the people who sit on these bodies are appointed by governments, federally
and territorially. We are in a situation where these are institutions in the
public realm. They are not Inuit bodies that we are seeking budgeting for. I
emphasize that because I think that is consistent with us hoping to have
certain objectivity here. This is not just trying to fund ourselves; this is
trying to get funding for processes that have to work for the public as well
as for Inuit in Nunavut and that serve a variety of interests, industry's
interest and the environment's interest. This funding is critical. We are
saying we are not coming to the conclusion that the funding is terribly
inadequate, at least not directly. We are saying those bodies themselves
have appeared before parliamentary committees and essentially said they are
at the edge and that they cannot take on these additional responsibilities.
We do not necessarily claim to know their numbers backwards and forwards. We
are not their accountants; we are not auditors. We are saying they are
telling us and you and everyone they cannot do the job they will be asked to
do. If there is a breakdown in the public process, that affects Inuit and
all Canadians. I think that adds maybe a slightly different level of
credibility or at least a level of motivation to what we are talking about
as to our comments on money.
In terms of what the Senate can do, we realize the Senate is not the
source of funding bills, and so you cannot just initiate commitments on
behalf of the Crown inside an amended piece of legislation. You have a
better sense of the tools you have available. You have the ability to pass
resolutions. You have the ability to communicate by way of correspondence
and to make public statements. If you choose to take the time to make our
amendments, then this process will be somewhat longer and you have a window
in which you can try to secure those funding assurances from the executive
Without being entirely disrespectful, you have a much better sense of
your own process and options than we do, but we think you do have an ability
here to make your views known forcefully and effectively that you want to be
satisfied, before you adopt this new law, that there will be funding
available to implement it properly. A new law without a budget to implement
it is a deception to the public, and it certainly will not create additional
Senator Massicotte: You understand that financing is not included
as such in the bill. It may be an informal process or another means of
communication but it is not possible to state in a bill that funding will be
eternal and to your satisfaction. That would be impossible. It is a matter
of judgment. Two reasonable persons could disagree on the proper amount. It
would be impossible to provide for such funding in a piece of legislation, I
want to be sure that you understand that.
Mr. Merritt: Yes.
Senator Seidman: If I can continue with the funding issue, it is
my understanding that the funding levels and activities laid out in the
implementation contract are determined on a tripartite basis so that Canada,
Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, that is NTI, and the Government of Nunavut
negotiate funding, and indeed the parties are working toward commencing a
negotiation process to renew the implementation contract for the period of
2013 to 2023. Is that indeed correct information?
Mr. Merritt: It is correct, senator, as far as it takes you. The
Nunavut agreement anticipated that, every 10 years, Inuit, through NTI and
the Crown, would renew funding levels for the various bodies that play a
joint management role. The first 10 years was 1993 to 2003, and the next
period was 2003 to 2013. That period will expire in July. Unfortunately,
there has not been a successful renewal of the funding levels associated
with the implementation of the Nunavut agreement.
In 2006, Justice Berger was brought in as a conciliator. He filed a
report. His report concentrated on issues other than IPG funding, but
nonetheless there is a report that still awaits a definite federal
government response. NTI has offered to take a number of these issues to
arbitration. Those offers have all been rejected.
Our president mentioned that part of the litigation that NTI started in
2006 when the current 10-year funding could not get renewed on a consensus
basis involves establishing fair levels of funding for these boards. We have
tried on a bilateral basis to exercise treaty rights, to negotiate on a
consensus basis adequate funding for these boards. We have not been
successful. That is why we are in court. We have been unable to do it, and
we are definitely encouraging the Senate to step up and say, "Given that
there does not seem to be consensus of the treaty partners themselves, we
have a responsibility in contemplating new law to make sure the new law will
You mentioned the attempt to renew funding for the period starting 2013.
We do not have a federal negotiator. Our treaty said that the Government of
Canada and NTI were supposed to appoint negotiators in July 2012 to spend a
year to renew the 2013 to 2023 funding levels. Notwithstanding
correspondence from our president, it is now May, we are now 10 months into
a 12-month negotiating window and the federal government neither has a
negotiator nor has equipped anyone with a mandate to negotiate.
As you can imagine, that does not make us very happy or confident that
our best intentions to try to work these things through bilaterally will
come to some successful conclusion. Unfortunately, that puts the problem
back with, among other people, this committee.
Senator Seidman: Besides this serious funding issue and agreement
that you are talking about now, you also mentioned in your submission to us
many amendments and, in the discussion before us, areas where you feel the
bill can be improved. One, in particular, where you said the act and the
agreement are not consistent, in your opinion. That was during Mr.
Spaulding's presentation. I would like to know if you discussed these
aspects with the officials during the development of the bill and, if so,
did you receive a response as to why these things were not accommodated?
Mr. Spaulding: Yes, we did discuss them and we did receive
responses. When I explained the issue with regard to the omission of the
Governor-in-Council, I tried to explain to you our understanding of counsel
for the department's response. I do not know if they are coming back before
you again. There have been exchanges, and I think it is fair to say that, on
the issues that are included in our written submission, an impasse was
reached. It is for Parliament now to make decisions.
However, I think it is important for NTI to be clear that NTI is not
saying that there has been a failure to consult here or a shortcoming in
process. The issue of Governor-in-Council came up quite late, just prior to
the introduction of the first bill. As the definitions evolved, it emerged
as a problem. Looking back at it, we might have handled it better had we
anticipated it earlier and perhaps found a solution. We did try and were not
able to do so. Recognizing Senator Lang's concern, NTI did want the bill to
go into Parliament, and we are seeking decisions from Parliament.
Senator Wallace: Ms. Towtongie, as you point out, the
circumstances of the Inuit people are very special and unique in Canada.
Landownership issues that are common to us in the southern part of the
country are quite different to the Inuit people, and you described that very
One of the main purposes of Bill C-47 is to provide additional protection
to the environment of the North, and obviously that is of immense importance
to the Inuit people. Could you give us some sense, as a practical matter,
about how Bill C-47 would provide additional protection to the environment
as compared to what exists today? Does it move protection forward, and in
which ways? I am thinking in practical terms. There is obviously a lot of
detailed information, and we have lawyers who can describe the technical
part but, as a practical matter to the Inuit people, how does it provide
additional protection to the environment?
Ms. Towtongie: That is a very in-depth question. With the habitat
and the social and ecological situation, the prevailing authority that
exists in the Inuit mind is whether our environment is changed such that we
can no longer use our boundaries, such as inukshuks. They identify for us
where there are pointers. If you get on an island and there is inukshuk in
the middle of the island, if you take five steps and you hit the ice, there
are fish there. We are changing the landscape of where there are identifiers
or what we call pointers for surviving. Pointers on lakes can identify these
things for you. A red rock will identify for you where there are goose eggs.
It is a special type of rock. Two pointers will identify for you whose
boundaries are there. I am of the people of the walrus, and there are
specific boundaries for the people of the seal.
When we are talking about the land use occupancy in Bill C-47, we are
opening ourselves to adopting a whole new thought process of the connection
to the land on which we have survived by these inukshuks. There are
inukshuks built that are different. You place them on top of a rock and you
leave them for people behind you so if they are caught in blizzard
conditions, they can get that game.
In terms of Bill C-47, we are trying to move ahead in a whole new way, a
holistic way, but the omission of the funding duty in the bill will create
unnecessary confusion about Parliament's intention. Our land claim agreement
states that it is the responsibility of the Government of Canada to fund
these public bodies that we have agreed to. We want to be certain that the
Government of Canada has the jurisdiction to fund Bill C-47. We want that
certainty, and we want the funding duty expressly set forth in clause 39.
That is what we want; it is very clear.
Senator Wallace: The funding, obviously, is a critically important
I want to be clear on this: In terms of environmental protection, would
you see the ability to protect these points on the land, which are so
important to the Inuit, being enhanced as a result of Bill C-47? Would
having these processes in place enhance what exists today, in particular
given all the development taking place in the North?
Ms. Towtongie: In some aspects it will be enhanced, if traditional
knowledge is included. At the same time, there are lots of documents about
our traditional knowledge. However, with industry moving into Nunavut, we
realize and recognize that we have to make changes. We cannot rely on our
ancient culture. We are trying to figure out how we can maintain aspects of
it and create a balance with the bill. We have to release some of our lands
so we can move forward. In terms of environmental protection, we are also
facing climate change. The ice conditions are changing. It is beyond our
control. This bill would give us a little bit of control, but we are
watching international economic changes closely.
Senator Wallace: Bill C-47, as I understand it, attempts to create
a balance between trying to enhance the economic well-being of the North and
the Inuit people, in particular, and trying to provide enhanced protection
of the environment. That is the balance; but it is not an easy one.
Ms. Towtongie: With the amendments we have proposed, we have to be
rational and logical. We are proposing that the Senate look at them. I do
not think I could survive in Parliament. It is too emotional; they attack
The Chair: That brings us to an end as another committee is ready
to begin. I will take one question but it has to be quick.
Senator Massicotte: For the next presentation, could we ask
government officials to respond in writing to the proposed amendments for
The Chair: Is that before we meet again?
Senator Massicotte: It could be for the next meeting or the
subsequent one, before we decide on the proposed amendments.
The Chair: Yes, we can probably do that. We will look at that.
Some things have been brought forward to us here that we should deal with;
but we have to talk about them. We will do that, senator.
Senator Sibbeston: The matter of making amendments is serious, so
I was going to move that a subcommittee be struck of Senator Patterson,
Senator Sibbeston and the Chair of the Committee to review the proposed
amendments provided by NTI and report its findings to the committee. That is
my motion. Obviously, we have not had much time to look at the amendments;
and we need to do that in depth. It is a serious matter as Aboriginal rights
are in question and there is the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. If some of
these provisions go ahead, they could be inoperative or could be ultra vires.
It is a serious business. That is why I think we should take the time to
look at these suggested amendments and report back to the committee.
Senator Massicotte: Would that be within two weeks?
Senator Sibbeston: Yes, we can set a time.
The Chair: There are some other options. Steering can look at some
of the amendments. That includes Senator Patterson, Senator Mitchell and me,
instead of creating another subcommittee. Certainly, we will do that in
steering, if that meets with your approval.
Senator Wallace: In my time here, I do not think we have had a
bill where amendments have been proposed that inconsistency and legal issues
have not been argued. We hear that.
I would rather see those issues addressed by legal officials from the
department. It is legitimate to put these questions. They are very well
articulated, so I would rather hear their responses as opposed to a group of
two or three of us. Each of us is accountable for the decision, so I would
The Chair: We should discuss at committee taking a bit more time
to deal with this. We could ask officials to come back and talk to us. We
still have the minister coming, but we could ask for the officials to come
back and the minister at different times. That is possible, because we have
the time to do that.
Senator Massicotte: It is a good next step.
Senator Sibbeston: I withdraw my motion.
The Chair: Thank you, Senator Sibbeston.
Ms. Towtongie: Mr. Chair, why is he withdrawing his motion? It has
been our experience that instead of senators and legislators making the
decisions, the administrative part of the government, the bureaucracy,
starts to think. We have seen the administration of civil servants running
the government instead of you people. Look at the amendments. That is an
experience we have come up with as Inuit. The administration is little
people. You are the people that we turn to for decisions. Think about that.
The Chair: Thank you. Senator Sibbeston withdrew his motion
because we have a little more time. The whole committee will review your
amendments in fullness instead of just a committee of three. That would
probably be much more wholesome for everyone. As Senator Wallace pointed
out, everyone is responsible. Rather than just three of us trying to make
those decisions, it would be better if we all were to do that.
Thank you very much for your presentation, Ms. Towtongie. We appreciate
(The committee adjourned.)