Canada's Original Think Tank

Indian Act—Elimination of Sex-Based Discrimination

Indian Act—Elimination of Sex-Based Discrimination

Indian Act—Elimination of Sex-Based Discrimination

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: 

My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate.

Colleagues, on January 16, 2019, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada launched an online survey as part of the collaborative process on Indian registration, band members and First Nations citizenship.

This survey was announced as part of the department’s strategy to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to provide input into the collaborative process on the full implementation of Bill S-3. The first question of this survey asks: Do you think that the removal of the 1951 cut-off from the Indian Act is a positive or a negative thing for First Nations?

Senator Harder, this survey question is not consistent with what you said during your speech on November 7, 2017. You said:

Colleagues, let me be clear: These consultations are about how to remove the 1951 cut-off, not whether to do it. Consultations will be focused on identifying additional measures or resources required to do this right and working in partnership to develop a comprehensive implementation plan.

So, Senator Harder, could you please explain why this online survey is asking for views about whether removing the remaining sex-based discrimination from the Indian Act is a good or a bad thing, when this consultation is supposed to be determining how best to eliminate sex-based discrimination?

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Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for her question and for her vigilance on this matter. I obviously stand by the statements I made to which the honourable senator refers.

With respect to the online survey, I will make inquiries and seek a response from the appropriate minister.

Senator Dyck: The presence of this question on the survey creates serious doubts about the intention and goals of the consultation process and, of course, causes great concern to the people affected. Will you ask the government to amend the survey to remove the first question?

Senator Harder: I thank the honourable senator for her question. I’m reluctant to make that commitment until I’m fully informed of the intentions that the government had in respect to the survey. I want to assure the honourable senator that I will remind the officials in the government, including the minister, of the commitments I made on behalf of the government to which the honourable senator has referred.