Child welfare bill expected next week but First Nations won’t see it beforehand: source - APTN NewsAPTN News

Child welfare bill expected next week but First Nations won’t see it beforehand: source

Kenneth Jackson
Todd Lamirande
Nation to Nation
The Trudeau government has told a group of First Nations working on new Indigenous child welfare legislation to expect a proposed bill to be finally tabled next week but they won’t see a draft beforehand according to a source.

News of this was shared amongst the working group Thursday morning that’s made up representatives across the country.

Everyone has been waiting for the bill to be tabled since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised it would be done so in the last week January.

That never happened after the working group saw a draft of the proposed bill and realized it didn’t immediately transfer jurisdiction. Instead, First Nations would have to work out a deal with the federal government and again with provinces to get full jurisdiction.

That’s a non-starter for First Nations.

APTN News previously reported several provinces, including Saskatchewan and Ontario, had issues with the bill as it was drafted.

It appears there may still be issues.

“Several provinces are really pushing back on it, especially how First Nations want it amended,” the source said. “I guess they don’t want to give up their cash cow.”

The draft First Nations did see also didn’t provide concrete funding for nations, something the working group asked to be amended as well.

Nations to Nation’s political panel tackled the topic that was recorded before this breaking news.

Either way, the NDP and Conservatives said the Liberals had waited too long to table it.

“We only have one sitting week in March so when are they going to bring the child welfare legislation in and are we going to do our due diligence in two months? I don’t think so,” said Conservative MP Kevin Waugh.

“So it’s a promise broken by the Liberal government.”

Liberal MP Marc Miller said there were reasons for the hold up.

“There is a number of complex issues that exist under the constitution particularly its interplay with provinces. We clearly intend to introduce the legislation during this session because we know of its importance,” said Miller.

NDP MP Charlie Angus didn’t buy it.

“They’ve hemmed and hawed, and they’ve dodged and they’ve weaved. They haven’t done the groundwork. So my sense is this is dead on the order paper,” said Angus referring to how a proposed bill is first tabled, meaning it’s dead on arrival.

Nation to Nation asked Indigenous services to comment.

“Unfortunately I’m limited by parliamentary privilege. I can’t speak to that. But I can say that we continue working with partners (to) ensure their feedback is reflected in the legislation,” said spokesperson Rachel Rappaport.

The panel also wades into the SNC-Lavalin scandal as questions continue and pressure mounts on the Prime Minister’s Office.

I think this scandal has been extremely corrosive for the credibility of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who ran on ‘sunny ways,’” said Angus.

One bill that appears to be sailing through the House is Bill C-91, the Indigenous Languages Act.

It passed second reading and was discussed at the heritage committee.

Conservative MP David Yurdiga asked Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde what he wanted to see in the initial steps.

“What should we do, off the bat? What should we concentrate on?” said Yurdiga.

“Pass this legislation before June,” said Bellegarde. “Make sure it receives royal assent. That’s what this is all about.

If we don’t get it done by June, well, my goodness gracious, we’ve lost an opportunity. We don’t know what’s going to happen in October. Indian affairs, a continuation. There might be a change. We don’t know.”

kjackson@aptn.ca

tlamirande@aptn.ca

 

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