Posted on May 31, 2016

Questions for the Minister of Indigenous Relations Regarding Consultation of First Nations

Ms Babcock: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have heard from many First Nations citizens that they’re dissatisfied with the consultation process historically in Alberta. Given that many First Nations feel that the current consultation policy does not meet the needs of their communities or respect First Nations’ constitutionally protected treaty rights, to the Minister of Indigenous Relations: what action is this government taking to improve First Nations consultation in Alberta?

The Speaker: The Minister of Indigenous Relations.

Mr. Feehan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the hon. member for the question. Well, last week, we’re very happy to say, royal assent was given to Bill 12, which repealed the previous government’s Aboriginal Consultation Levy Act. One of the big problems, of course, with the previous bill, Bill 22, was that First Nations weren’t adequately consulted at all, the irony of which has been remarked on many times in this House: a consultation without consultation. We look forward to working with the First Nations community to restore respect to the process.

The Speaker: First supplemental.

Ms Babcock: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’m pleased to hear about the government’s plans to revisit consultation. To the same minister: what is this government doing to ensure the participation of First Nations in this important review?

The Speaker: The hon. minister.

Mr. Feehan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the hon. member for the question. Our approach will welcome and encourage the full participation of First Nations as well as the participation of industry and other stakeholders. I have of course met with First Nations all across the province and with industry stakeholders both here and in Calgary, representing Fort McMurray as well. We believe that that consultation will lead to something meaningful, which did not happen in the past. The budget in 2016 includes $750,000 for enhanced consultation. We look forward to working with the First Nations communities in the future.

The Speaker: Second supplemental.

Ms Babcock: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Given that respectful dialogue is a central pillar of proper consultation and that this was clearly lacking in the previous legislation, what steps is our government taking to ensure that we avoid the problems created by Bill 22?

The Speaker: The hon. minister.

Mr. Feehan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the member for the question. We have already initiated a process where I have had an opportunity to meet with the grand chiefs of treaties 6, 7, and 8 and engage in the process of moving forward. We’re taking to heart the words of Senator Murray Sinclair, who called the old bill a charade. As Senator Sinclair said, if consultation is to have meaning, it has to have consequence. That is what we are seeking to achieve. We’re committed to the new legislation. We’re committed to aligning it with the United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples. I look forward to updating the Assembly on progress in the future.

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