Ministerial Question Period: National Council for Reconciliation Act

By: The Hon. Pierre Dalphond

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Red River, Winnipeg

Hon. Pierre J. Dalphond: Welcome to the Senate, minister. My question is about Bill C-29, which was introduced in the House of Commons just before the summer recess. This bill responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action 53 to 56. The purpose of the bill is to have the government monitor and implement the commission’s Calls to Action. This includes Bill C-15, which aims to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

How do see you this new council and government action working together to implement the UN declaration? Will this council be a sort of oversight body for government activity?

Hon. Marc Miller, P.C., M.P., Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations: It will be about monitoring, independence and accountability, all led by eminent leaders in the Indigenous community, such as Willie Littlechild, Rosemary Cooper, Édith Cloutier and Mike DeGagné, who are all well known across Canada.

The objective is obviously to inform the government on where we stand with the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This bill was introduced in response to the Calls to Action themselves, including 53 to 56, which call on the government to create an independent, non-political organization that is funded and monitors progress made by the Government of Canada and the other institutions that have been called to action.

This will break the government’s annoying habit of saying that it is responding to a certain number of Calls to Action without having the claim be corroborated and verified independently, in particular by Indigenous people.

We have responded to a lot of Calls to Action and continue to do so, but we need a well-funded independent organization, regardless of what kind of government is in place. It goes without saying that this bill is a priority for this government. I hope that the Senate will pass it. I look forward to your feedback, because there may be some aspects that need to be polished. This bill is very important to reconciliation and to the independence of the process.

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