Backing up changes to the Indian Act as outlined in Bill C-45, Prince Albert MP Randy Hoback commended parliamentary secretary and fellow Conservative MP Greg Rickford on Thursday.
On the table was NDP MP Jean Crowder’s request for an emergency debate on Bills C-38 and C-45 -- particularly how they will impact aboriginal people.
Crowder made the request on Monday, noting that it was the first chance to for MPs consider the matter since nationwide rallies began on Dec. 10.
“International attention has been brought to these matters, with support for the protests from six continents,” she said on Monday, as recorded by federal Hansard.
“The continued disregard for the concerns being expressed at the grassroots level puts at risk Canada's economic security and the constitutional rights of its citizens.”
With time allotted on Thursday for the emergency debate, Rickford was first to delve into the issue, highlighting the Tories’ commitment to the economy.
“We are focused on removing barriers to economic development on reserve, helping aboriginal people develop the skills they need to enter the workforce and providing First Nation communities and the regions they are located in with greater autonomy to manage their own land and resources,” he said as part of a lengthy speech toting the merits of the two omnibus bills.
As for changes to the Indian Act within Bill C-45, he said it will allow “First Nations to more quickly pursue economic development opportunities through leasing portions of the reserve land while retaining full ownership of their lands.”
I really appreciate his personal commitment to making the lives of aboriginals better. - Prince Albert MP Randy Hoback, on parliamentary secretary Greg Rickford
Hoback has spoken in favour of this component in the past -- something he reiterated in an indirect way on Thursday.
The Prince Albert MP started his brief response by commending the “hard work of the parliamentary secretary.”
“I really appreciate his personal commitment to making the lives of aboriginals better,” Hoback said.
“My question is in regard to the streamlined designations in the provisions of the Indian Act. Could the member please explain the importance of land designations to us tonight?”
“Lands designations allow first nations to collect property tax, lease land to third-party businesses and develop their mineral and oil and gas resources,” Rickford responded.
Citing a handful of financially successful First Nations in Canada, he added: “The recent amendments to lands designation will make it easier for communities interested in pursuing these kinds of commercial and industrial economic development opportunities.”
Backing Rickford’s assessment, Desnethé Missinippi Churchill River Tory’s MP Rob Clarke said that when First Nations communities get involved in the First Nations Land Management Act, it gets rid of one-third of the Indian Act.
“Economic opportunities improve in business up to 40 per cent with willing partners and communities on First Nations reserves,” he said.
A lengthy debate followed, lasting until time had run out. Additional House of Commons debate has ben deferred until Tuesday.