Sunday, May 23, 2010

URGENT: Non-status Indians -Women's groups are poised to kill C-3, the Sharon McIvor Bill

Bill C-3 aka the Sharon McIvor Bill is being threatened from an unlikely source: First Nations women, particularly Sharon McIvor and the Native Women’s Association of Canada. They have been lobbying MPs hard to kill C-3, sent every MP a letter and it looks like they have the support of the BQ and the Liberals to defeat C-3. Read Sharon's letter here.

While I have long supported Sharon McIvor, I do not agree with these latest actions. So many of our people have been watching this Bill with hope and excitement. I cannot support any action that puts their chance to finally regain status at risk. Read my analysis, if you agree with me, you'd better start emailing MPs and fast. (I have email addresses at the bottom of this post.)

If you remember this bill is the government’s response to the McIvor court decision forcing the government to remove gender discrimination from the Indian Act. An estimated 45,000 individuals could gain status and see their rights restored. However Bill C-3 is not perfect. It does not end all gender discrimination in the Indian Act. For example issues of unstated paternity remain, and there are other limits as well, see Sharon’s Testimony here, and the Quebec Native Women Association’s analysis here.

Sharon and several other witnesses brought these issues to the attention of Parliament's Aboriginal Affairs Committee, however Parliamentary rules restrict how far a committee can amend a bill. Several changes the committee would have liked to make to address Sharon's concerns were ruled out of order.

So Bill C-3 would restore status to at least 45,000 individuals, but it's not perfect and because it's not perfect McIvor and NWAC want it killed. My understanding is that if it is killed Parliamentary rules will prohibit the conservatives from introducing a similar Bill. This means those 45,000 who were hopeful of regaining status will be delayed indefinitely and could lose their chance all together.

Some speculate that killing C-3 would even create a doomsday scenario allowing no new people to register as Status Indians at all until a remedy is found.

It's my opinion that trying to kill C-3 is a dangerous game and that too much can go wrong. I do not believe that the 45,000 people poised to gain status would support killing C-3. But some MPs I have contacted told me I am the very first person to email them in support of the Bill, and unless they hear from others they will do what NWAC and McIvor are asking and kill it.

My two cents: I know Bill C-3 is not perfection… but too many people have waited too long for their rights to be recognized for us to gamble on their chance for justice. We can continue to fight for our other brothers and sisters through other means. If you agree (or I suppose even if you disagree) here's who you can email at Parliament. You don't have to email them individually, one massive email telling them where you stand should be enough.


Jean Crowder, NDP Indian Affairs Critic:
Jack Layton, NDP Leader

BQ :

Marc Lemay. Bloc Québécois Indian Affairs critic. EMail: Lemay.M@parl.gc.caGilles Duceppe, M.P.. Chef du Bloc Québécois

Liberals :

Indian Affairs Critic Todd Russell

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Party leader Email:

Conservatives :

Minister of Indian Affairs Chuck Strahl :

Prime Minister Stephen Harper:

Other Posts on this topic include:

  • Wednesday November 3, 2010 Another McIvor Update
  • Wednesday, April 7, 2010 More on McIvor- Canada Given 3-Month Extension to Implement McIvor decision
  • Thursday, March 11, 2010 McIvor update!!!! How Do the New Legislative Changes to the Indian Act Affect Me?
  • Saturday, March 6, 2010 Update on McIvor/Indian Status.



    Unknown said...

    Bill C-3, an opportunity for 45,000 indians to regain their lost status. BUT Bill C-3 is leaving out 125,000 MORE that could regain status is Sharon McIvor kills this Bill, and gets what she has been fighting for for 22 years.... she could accept the Bill, so her family could regain their own - but she will not. The Bill is still discriminatory.

    Ward of the State said...

    Hi Delarosa777, thanks for posting on our humble blog.

    I find the 125,000 number a little high, not sure how you arrive at that number?

    Having said that, I understand exactly what Sharon and NWAC are trying to do. I had hoped that was clear in my post. However, the point I am trying to make is that it's a huge risk and I do not believe that killing Bill C-3 will achieve what they hope. In fact I believe the opposite. It is my opinion that her actions could leave people worse off. And while I believe her objective are noble, I believe that the people impacted by this gamble, my family included, have a right to decide if we want to be placed at risk. That decision should not be made on our behalf.

    Let me explain a little further what I mean.

    1) It’ a little naïve to imagine that if Parliament kills C-3, the Conservatives are going to write a new Bill that is exactly to Sharon’s liking. And as I wrote in my blog, it’ not even certain they can – there are rules against introducing legislation more than once.
    2) Killing the Bill provides the government an excuse to return to court and further narrow the decision or to stall any changes. I believe any strategy that provides the Harper government with an opportunity to hamper or stall human rights is a poor one.

    Sharon and NWAC are, thus, putting the 45,000 at risk, with very little hope that the government will introduce the broader legislation thy want. They are also putting at risk all those who need to register their kids from this point on because killing C-3 creates a legislative vacuum.

    But let's go a little further down this path of hoping for "perfect" legislation. Let's imagine Bill C-3 contained everything Sharon is asking for. The Bill still wouldn't be perfect.

    1) It would recognize a number of people who can prove ancestry, but are not culturally part of our people.
    2) There is still a cut off generation, and thousands upon thousands of people who SHOULD have status would STILL NOT be recognized, even if C-3 contained everything Sharon was asking for.
    3) The Bill would still be colonialist because the federal government retains power over citizenship, a power that properly belongs in the hands of our own people.
    4) The Bill would still be racist and colonialist because it would still be based on 18th Century Western European concepts of blood quantum rather than our traditions.

    So here's my question. If we're going to wait for a perfect piece of legislation, logic would dictate that we should not support Sharon’s ideal Bill either. It’s easy to find reasons to disagree with any legislation. I think we all really need to look at the reasons we should support C-3.

    So to sum up my points :
    1) I don't believe her strategy of killing the Bill will work
    2) We should not put people at risk because the Bill is not perfect. We should let those who can get through the door in, and start work on opening the next door for the others.

    Anonymous said...



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