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Parliamentary Wrap Up March 30 – April 2, 2015
PARLIAMENTARY WRAP-UP FOR THE WEEK OF MARCH 30 – APRIL 2, 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:
- Bill C-32: Canadian Victims Bill of Rights Act
Currently at 3rd reading in the Senate – completed review by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs and reported to the Senate with no changes.
- The Bill would create 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 would amend 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
- Introduced December 8, 2014 and has been referred to the House of Commons Standing
Committee on Natural Resources. The Committee set out very limited timelines for review of the Bill, designating one meeting on Tuesday March 31, 2015 to hear from witnesses in advance of the 2 week break, and moving to clause-by-clause review on April 21, 2015.
- The AFN provided a written submission outlining impacts on First Nations’ rights (attached).
- 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
- Bill C-51: Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015
Completed review by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and
- National Security and is at Report Stage with four amendments, including 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.
- Currently under pre-study by the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence.
- National Chief Bellegarde presented to the committee on March 12, 2015 and a written submission has been provided to the committee (attached).
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.
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