Joint submission on Bill C-58, an Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act

Bulkley Valley organizations and individuals included as signatories concerned about consultation.

Dear Members of the Standing Committee,

Please accept this submission and attachments by the National Claims Research Directors pertaining to your review of Bill C-58, amendments to reform Canada’s Access to Information Act. Our submission outlines our grave concerns about the content of Bill C-58 and provides reasons why we strongly oppose the bill as currently drafted.

The National Claims Research Directors is a national body of technicians who manage over thirty centralized Claims Research Units, representing over 400 First Nations. Much of our work is focused on the development of claims against the Government of Canada related to its breach of lawful obligations against First Nations, pursuant to the federal Specific Claims Policy and the Specific Claims Tribunal Act, as well as on other disputes related to Treaties and Aboriginal title and rights. We work closely with First Nations communities, legal counsel, funding administrators, Canada’s Specific Claims Branch of Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAC), claims negotiators, and the Specific Claims Tribunal. In our work, we must routinely access information from federal government departments and agencies.

Bill C-58 has been developed unilaterally, without any effort to consult First Nations, contrary to Canada’s commitment to a Nation-to-Nation relationship and to working in equal partnership with First Nations. Bill C-58 and the unilateral process through which it has been developed clearly violates several of the Principles respecting the Government of Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples announced by Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould in July 2017, and contravenes the Government of Canada’s commitment to reconciliation with First Nations.

Bill C-58 will greatly impair the ability of First Nations to document their claims, grievances, and disputes with the Government of Canada and will significantly impede First Nations’ access to justice in resolving their claims. The Bill will obstruct efforts by Canada to meet the standards of redress for historical wrongs articulated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), as it significantly undermines First Nations’ existing rights of access to information.

The Office of the Auditor General of Canada (OAG) recently conducted an audit of Canada’s specific claims process. The OAG’s report, released in November 2016, concluded that Canada’s department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs introduced numerous barriers that hindered the resolution of claims, including by restricting information.

Yet if passed into law, Bill C-58 will impose substantive new barriers to the resolution of First Nations’ claims. It will also provide legislative authority for the suppression of evidence which First Nations require to pursue their claims against Canada. Revisions to the Act will enshrine into legislation overly prescriptive and inappropriate requirements for applicants seeking records, as well as providing legislative grounds for government bodies to deny access to records vital to First Nations.

In keeping with Canada’s commitment to reconciliation, the UNDRIP, and access to justice for First Nations, we call on the committee to withdraw Bill C-58 and engage in full and meaningful consultation with First Nations regarding legislative reforms to access to information. We also fully endorse the recommendations to improve Bill C-58 made by the Information Commissioner of Canada in her September 2017 report.

Please direct questions or comments to Jody Woods, Research Director, Union of BC Indian Chiefs, via email (jwoods@ubcic.bc.ca) or phone (604-684-0231, ext. 241).

CONTRIBUTORS AND SIGNATORIES

First Nations and Tribal Councils

Adams Lake Indian Band – Chief Paul Michel, Councilor Ronnie Jules, Councilor Gina Johnnie

?aqam First Nation – Chief Joe Pierre, Councilor Brandy Jules, Councilor Norma Manuel, Gary Witzky,

Aitchelitz First Nation – Chief Angie Bailey

Algonquins of Barriere Lake – Chief Casey Ratt,

Beardy’s and Okemasis’ Cree Nation – Chief C. Roy Petit

Carrier Sekani Tribal Council – Tribal Chief Terry Teegee

Cheam First Nation – Chief Ernie Crey

Coldwater Indian Band – Chief Lee Spahan

Cooks Ferry Band – Chief David Walkem

Cowichan Tribes – Chief William C. Seymour

Deh Gah Gotie First Nation – Chief Joachim Bonnetrouge

Dzawada’enuxw First Nation – Chief Willie Moon

Esk’etemc First Nation – Chief Charlene Belleau

Fort Nelson First Nation – Chief Harrison Dickie

Gingolx Village Government – Chief George R. Moore

Gitanmaax Frist Nation – Deputy Chief Councillor Veronica Green

Gitanyow Band – Chief Tony Morgan

Gitwinksihlkw Village Government – Chief Charles Morven

Gitxaala First Nation – Chief Clifford White

Gitxsan Chiefs Office, Director Cliff Sampare Sr.

Glen Vowel Indian Band – Chief Robert Sampson

Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) – Bill Namagoose, Executive Director

Halfway River First Nation – Chief Darlene Hunter

Heiltsuk First Nation – Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett

High Bar First Nation – Chief Larry Fletcher, Councilors Yvonne Smith, Derek Fletcher, Justin Kuzyk

Kanaka Bar Band – Chief Patrick Mitchell

Kebaowek First Nation – Councillor David McLaren for Chief Lance Haymond

Katzie First Nation – Chief Susan Miller

Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation – Chief Bob Chamberlin

Kluane First Nation – Nichole Williams, Governance Analyst

Lake Babine Nation – Chief Wilf Adam

Laxgalt’sap Village Government – Chief Henry Moore

Lyackson First Nation – Hereditary Chief Richard Thomas

Lytton First Nation – Chief Janet Webster

Metlakatla First Nation – Councillor Alrita Leask (for Chief Harold Leighton)

Mohawk Council of Akwesasne – Grand Chief Abram Benedict and Kawehnoke District Chief Troy Thompson

Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation – Chief Jerome Jack

Nak’azdli Whut’en First Nation – Chief Alexander McKinnon

New Aiyansh Village Government – Chief Keith Tait

Neskonlith Indian Band – Kukpi7 Judy Wilson

Nicomen Indian Band – Chief Donna Aljam

Nisga’a Lisims Government – Executive Chairperson Brain Tait and President Eva Clayton

Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal Council – Chair Grand Chief Bob Pasco

Okanagan Nation Alliance – Pauline Terbasket, Executive Director

Okanagan Indian Band – Chief Byron Louis

Osoyoos Indian Band – Councillor Tony Baptiste

Simpcw First Nation – Chief Nathan Matthew

Six Nations of the Grand River Territory – Elected Council Chief G. Ava Hill

Skuppuh Indian Band – Chief Doug McIntyre

Songhees First Nation – Chief Ron Sam

Sq’éwlets First Nation – Chief Andy Phillips

Stellat’en First Nation – Chief Archie Patrick

Sumas First Nation – Chief Dalton Silver

Timiskaming First Nation – Chief Wayne McKenzie

Toosey First Nation – Chief Francis Laceese

Tseshaht First Nation – Chief Councillor Cynthia Dick

Tsuu T’ina Nation – Chief Sidney Crow Child

Tzeachten First Nation – Councillor Loren Muth

Upper Nicola Indian Band – Chief Harvey McLeod

Wet’suwet’en First Nation – Chief Vivian Tom

We Was Kai Nation – Chief Brian Assu

Williams Lake Indian Band – Chief Anne Louie

Wolf Lake First Nation – Chief Harry St Denis

Yakweakwioose First Nation – Chief Terry Horne

Indigenous Representative Organizations

Assembly of First Nations – National Chief Perry Bellegarde

BC Assembly of First Nations – Endorsed by Resolution

Anishinabek Nation – Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee

First Nations Summit – Grand Chief Edward John, Cheryl Casimer, Robert Phillips

Union of BC Indian Chiefs – Grand Chief Stewart Phillip

Members of Parliament

NDP Critic for Ethics, Democratic Reform, and Deputy Critic for Finance – Nathan Cullen, MP

NDP Critic for Intergovernmental Aboriginal Affairs, and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, Romeo Saganash, MP

Research Directors/Claims Research Units

Algonquin Nation Secretariat – Peter Di Gangi, Director, Policy & Research

Alliance of Tribal Nations – Grand Chief Clarence Pennier

Anishinabek Nation – Alicia McLeod, Treaty Research Coordinator

Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq – Tim Bernard, Director, History & Culture

Conseil Tribal Mamuitun – Research Director Denis Brassard

Cowichan Tribes – Dianne Hinkley, Research Director

Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations – Jayme Benson, Research Director

Grand Council Treaty No. 3 T.A.R.R. – Andy Sky, Research Director

Lesser Slave Lake Indian Regional Council – Peter Havlik, T.A.R.R. Research Director

Mi’kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. – Tammy MacDonald, Research Director

Mohawk Council of Akwesasne – Dwight Bero Jr., Researcher, Aboriginal Rights and Research Office

Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke – Rose-Ann Morris, Office of the Council of Chiefs Project Coordinator

Nishnawbe-Aski Nation – Luke Hunter, Research Director

Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal Council – Debbie Abbott, Executive Director

Six Nations Council – Lonny Bomberry, Director, Lands and Resources Department

Specific Claims Research Centre – Mona Donovan, Research Coordinator

T.A.R.R. Centre of Manitoba, Inc – Cam Stewart and Patricia Myran, Directors

T.A.R.R. Centre of NS, Inc. – Jim Micheal, Research Director

Stoney Nation – Ken Christensen, Acting Tribal Administrator

Treaty 8 Tribal Association – Diane Calliou, T.A.R.R. Director

Tsuu T’ina Nation CRU – Jim Big Plume, Research Director

Union of BC Indian Chiefs Specific Claims Research Program – Jody Woods, Director

Like Minded Organizations

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) – Duncan Pike Co-Director,

Reconciliation Canada – Chief Robert Joseph

BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA) – Vincent Gogolek, Executive Director

BC Specific Claims Working Group ­- Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Chair

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – Seth Klein, Director, BC Office

Indigenous Bar Association – Scott Robertson, Vice President

Like Minded Individuals

Dr. Gwendolyn Point, Elders Representative – BC Assembly of First Nations

Benoît Amyot Cain Lamarre Advocats et Notaries

Cindy Blackstock, Professor, McGill University School of Social Work

Dr. Keith Carlson, Professor of History, Research Chair in Indigenous & Community-engaged History University of Saskatchewan

Dr. David Shanahan, Historian Anishinabek Nation

Dr. Pamela Palmater, Chair in Indigenous Governance, Ryerson University

Dr. Gwendolyn Point, BC Assembly of First Nations

Ellen Gabriel, Activist

The Honourable Stephen O’Neill, Ontario Superior Court of Justice (retired)

Kevin Walby, Associate Professor and Chancellor’s Research Chair, University of Winnipeg

Department of Criminal Justice

Laurie Leclair, Principal – Leclair Historical Research, Toronto

Léonie Boutin, Cain Lamarre Advocats et Notaries

Mike Larsen, Faculty and Co-Chair, Criminology Department, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

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