The Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development began its study of Bill C-25 in Ottawa on Tuesday, and Gerry Byrne plans to try and have his name added to the witness list.
Bill C-25, an Act respecting the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band Order, was introduced in the House of Commons in late February and the federal Conservatives tabled a motion of closure on it on March 6 and sent it to the committee stage.
“It’s not unheard of for an MP to present to a committee, especially when he has a certain knowledge base of an issue,” said Byrne, the Liberal MP for Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte, from Ottawa on Tuesday.
According to the committee website a meeting on Bill C-25 was scheduled from 3:30 to 5 p.m. (EDT) and Byrne said he has learned that Aboriginal Affairs Minster Bernard Valcourt and the Federation of Newfoundland Indians and their lawyer would be the first witnesses.
Outside Tuesday’s meeting, Byrne said no other meetings had been scheduled.
But when they are, he wants to be included.
“One of the things that I would explain to them, is if the purpose of maintaining the integrity of the enrolment process is paramount, the new process the government and the Qalipu/FNI have established does not meet that objective.”
Byrne said once the process is complete there will be people enrolled in the band who did not practice the Mi’kmaq way of life and who lived outside Mi’kmaq community.
“The only difference is they signed their application before Sept. 21, 2011 and you’ll have another group that signed afterwards.”
Byrne also claims that it was the FNI that reached out to get applicants from outside the province to apply.
He said a requirement in the agreement said that if 50 per cent of the original number of members of FNI did not enroll within one year of the date of signing of the agreement that the agreement could be null and void.
“So there was an actual incentive, there was an imperative for the FNI to start signing up people.”
He said those same people are now being described as inappropriate for membership in the band.