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Question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate on the Indigenous Status Registery

1st Session, 42nd Parliament, Volume 150, Issue 134

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

As you know, Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Indian Act (elimination of sex-based inequities in registration), is now before the House of Commons. Under previous legislative attempts to remove sex-based discrimination from the registration provisions of the Indian Act, each amendment to the Indian Act added more status Indians to the registry.

In 1985, under Bill C-31, approximately 130,000 people were added to the registry. In 2010, under Bill C-3, another 45,000 people were added. And now, with Bill S-3, when it includes Senator McPhedran's amendment 6(1)(a) "all the way," the government has thrown out a broad estimate for the number of potential new entitled registrants. This estimate, as the minister admits, isn't based on any good, concrete data. It's maybe 80,000, but it is certainly not the 2 million figure she put out. As our colleague Senator Sinclair said at committee, that range is like fearmongering.

Why is it that the government's view that adding more status Indians to the registry is something to be afraid of?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for her question and want to assure her that that is not in any way a motivation of the Government of Canada.

The motivation of the minister and the government with respect to Bill S-3 is to ensure appropriate and adequate consultation in the true sense of nation-to-nation consultation.

As the honourable senator referenced, Bill S-3 is now in the other place and has not yet begun third reading debate. It would be preemptive of me to determine or suggest how the other place ought to treat it. Should the other place send us a bill, there will be ample opportunity for us to debate it in this chamber.

Senator Dyck: When 130,000 new status Indians were added in 1985, that's far less than the 80,000 predicted currently under Bill S-3. When those 130,000 new status Indians were added to the registry, were there any drastic consequences? Did the sky fall, as Chicken Little feared? What happened after the 130,000 were added?

Senator Harder: As the Government Representative in the Senate, I will take those as questions to ask the minister, but I suggest the honourable senator probably knows the answer: The sky did not fall.

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