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.”