DEFENDING OUR SOVEREIGNTY

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Current Status of Bill C-3

Bill C-3 - An An Act to promote gender equity in Indian registration by responding to the Court of Appeal for British Columbia decision in McIvor v. Canada (Registrar of Indian and Northern Affairs)(Gender Equity in Indian Registration Act).

This Bill was introduced in the House on March 11, 2010. Debates at second reading were on March 26 & 29, 2010. The Bill was then studied at the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (AAON) from April 1st-29th, 2010.

During Committee, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Justice Canada and Aboriginal groups and individuals gave evidence about Bill C-3 and how it would or would not address gender inequality under the registration provisions of the Indian Act in response to the McIvor case.

Most of the witnesses recommended amendments to the Bill as drafted. The Committee was struck by the unanimity of the witnesses on the point that Bill C-3 as originally drafted not only does not remedy gender inequality within the Indian Act, it does not even address the McIvor case. Therefore, the Committee made several amendments to Bill C-3 in order to more fully address gender inequality for Indian women and their descendants.

The Committee submitted their report to the House with a revised version of Bill C-3 that contained the amendments. As a result, the Conservatives made a motion asking the Speaker of the House to rule the amendments out of order. Submissions were made by the parties on this point in the House arguing that the Speaker should not rule these amendments out of order.

Howver, on Tuesday, May 11, 2010, the Speaker of the House ruled the amendments relating to status and the title of the Bill out of order and ordered that the Bill be reprinted. The amendments that remain within the Bill is the removal of section 9 (the clause which granted Canada and the Bands immunity from claims) and the new section advanced by the Bloc which requires INAC to provide a report in two years.

The next stage is the official report stage. This cannot happen until at least the week of May 24 because the House has a break next week. At the report stage, the House can consider the Bill as it is reprinted.

They also have a chance to make further amendments to the Bill. However, it is not possible to reintroduce the same amendments that were ruled out of order. Similarly, even if different amendments are suggested, it is still possible for the Conservatives to ask the Speaker of the House to rule them out of order.

It therefore extremely important that the opposition parties work together to select strategic amendments that will address gender inequality within the Indian Act, but ensure that what they advance is not so large as to run the risk of being considered out of scope. I am hopeful that the parties will continue to work with Aboriginal groups and individuals to achieve this goal.

Once the Third Reading has been completed, the Bill, including any additional amendments, will go to the Senate to start the process all over again from the Senate side of the House.

Several of the submissions made by the witnesses can be found on AFN's website. I have also included various submissions on my website - http://www.nonstatusindian.com/ under Current Issues and Bill C-3.

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