Byrne calls Conservatives' motion of closure on Bill C-25 an intimidation tactic

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Diane Crocker
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Gerry Byrne

With the federal Conservatives tabling a motion of closure on Bill C-25 Thursday, Gerry Byrne said the time has come for people to really speak out on the issue.

Bill C-25, the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Act, was introduced in the House of Commons last week. The proposed legislation reflects the original intention of the parties with respect to the creation of a Founding Members list for the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band and supports the implementation of the 2013 Supplemental Agreement, which was meant to clarify how to apply certain clauses of the original agreement reached in 2008.

The bill essentially has two clauses of note — the first, clause 3, gives the federal government permission to amend the original agreement and the second, clause 4, states that the federal government cannot be held liable by people who are not included in the formation of the band.

Byrne, the Liberal MP for Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte, said the motion of closure effectively ends the debate on the bill at second reading.

“That is the most important period for debate in the house,” said Byrne, who called closure motions undemocratic.

“The purpose of Parliament is for the people through their representatives to debate important issues. A piece of legislation that denies people certain legal rights is something that should be talked about on the floor of the House.”

But, Byrne said the government obviously doesn’t think so.

Since it was tabled last week, Byrne said Bill C-25 has been going on “at a rocket’s pace.”

That according to Byrne is despite the fact it is not time sensitive as final decisions around membership won’t come until late 2015, early 2016.

As far as he’s concerned the government just wants the bill through without any debate.

“It’s an intimidation tactic,” said Byrne. “It’s to try to create a sense of hopelessness for applicants and for members.

“This is sending a message — don’t bother trying to organize cause we’re gonna cut the legs out from underneath you before you even get started.”

But Byrne said people should take the opposite view.

“This really needs to become a national issue.”

Organizations: Conservatives, House of Commons

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Recent comments

  • Talking Smoke
    March 07, 2014 - 14:46

    Henry.. I agree with many opinions on this matter. I also disagree with many. It is a Catch 22 situation. I believe and I stand 100% by my next statement, that every person in Canada who has proof that he or she is of aboriginal descent should without any dispute be granted full status and be provided every benefit entitled under the treaties ensuring our rights. However, we are dealing with government that has a mandate to administer the treaties but fails to do so fairly to all those who fall within the parameters of the treaties. The implementation of this agreement was and continues to be a total disregard and absolute disgrace to the Mi'Kmaq people. And what makes this more deplorable is the fact that the so called leaders have not at any time initiated discussions with the the feds regarding any inclusion clauses to bring those who should fall under the umbrella of the Qalipu band. We are all one people and should have been treated as one people regardless of where we live. There are also many opinions that the members of Qalipu DO NOT care about those who are being denied. Well there are likely many who do not care but I can assure you that there are more who do care. We have been hogtied and led to believe many things that are wrong and now that the dust is starting to settle more injustices are coming to the forefront. The Mi'Kmaq People were inclusive to our people and when leadership fails us then we become exclusive as many have been placed with this process.... I am MI'kmaq.. I am not a member of Qalipu. I will be because I happen to meet all the criteria that has been shoved down my throat. I can assure you that the taste is not setting well and I hope that those of us who dislike the taste regardless of having membership in Qalipu or not will at some point spit this garbage back in the faces of the government and the leadership that that placed our people in this ridiculous position....

  • Talking Smoke
    March 07, 2014 - 09:24

    In 2008 an agreement was signed in principle between the Federal Government and FNI. Because there were 4 other Mi'Kmaq groups in this province outside of Conne River these Mi'kmaq groups were united to form the Qalipu Mi'Kmaq First Nation. The total membership, meaning registered members of these 5 groups in total was and still remains at approximately 23,000. Again the agreement was between the Federal Government and the members of these 5 groups. If you were not a member of one of these 5 groups then you were not part of the agreement and therefore are not entitled to become members of Qalipu First Nation. It is the same as a union. If you were not part of a union during negotiations and the union has a closed shop then you cannot become part of the union regardless of who is in the union. It really isn't that complicated to understand. So if you were never a member of one of the original 5 organizations that has entered into this agreement then you should not be part of Qalipu. So create an organization; develop a membership and then fight with the feds for the next 20 years or longer to get recognized and get your status. Or apply directly to the feds for your status....

    • Henry
      March 07, 2014 - 13:35

      Talking Smoke, their are many compelling opinions on who and or who can't be part of this band. It appears to me the original agreement was changed last June in favor of the Band and the Federal government to keep the membership low.. Under the initial agreement I stood an excellent chance of having my family application accepted but as it stands the band and federal government changed all that with the amended agreement and made it much more difficult or impossible to be accepted in the band. Now the government has created legislation to take away any legal challenges to the agreement by new applicants. If your opinion is correct then it should withstand any legal challenge in a court of law. Is it possible the band and government could lose a court challenge presented? I say yes... Therefore the amendment completed last year could be flawed. In my opinion this is about aboriginal rights in this country. The federal government should be held to a high standard when dealing with aboriginal issues. Ancestry is a very important fact to determine this. I know a family who have biological sisters registered however because the brothers did not become members of Fni then they may be precluded. The brothers proven ancestry is thrown aside as a non issue. Talking Smoke I don't know if you are right or wrong with your opinion but I do know to take away the legal challenges for any person refused admission is not democratic. I believe these types of unfair decisions were done many times with aboriginals. What a shame when the very band that should be representing you turns its back on you in favor of their own misguided self interest.

  • Henry
    March 06, 2014 - 19:07

    I can assure you the progressive Conservative hate party will pay a price in the next election. What else do you expect from a Government who neglects its veterans and takes away the legal rights of ordinary Canadians through undemocratic legislation. Very gutless Mr. Harper!!!!! As for Chief Brendan Sheppard he must be happy over this latest development.... some Chief!!!!! helping the Federal government deny rights of potential members of this band.

  • Stephenharperhater
    March 06, 2014 - 17:40

    Harper is like a Sudam Hussain, B,sheppard is not much better, their day is coming........

  • Indigoskeye
    March 06, 2014 - 15:32

    I am absolutely horrified at the strong arm tactics this government is using with regard to this issue. If Bill C-25 is passed, there will be far reaching implications for all Canadians, not just the aboriginal population.