The Senate

Article excerpt

During the spring session, two bills relating to Aboriginal Peoples and the subject matter of another were the object of debate. One, Bill C-16, which was granted Royal Assent on March 4, gives effect to the Governance Agreement with Sioux Valley Dakota Nation. The purpose of the bill is to provide this community greater control over its affairs in a way that is more transparent, accountable and responsive to local needs. This is to be done by promoting better living conditions and by fostering a positive climate for investment and economic development.

The second legislative measure, Bill C-15, deals with the transfer of resource control and management in the Northwest Territories, specifically through devolution of land and resource management from Ottawa to the Government of the Northwest Territories, and the improvement of the regulatory regime in the Northwest Territories. This will be achieved by removing barriers to private investment, enhancing environmental stewardship, and investing in programs to support economic growth and provide opportunities for Northerners. This bill received Royal Assent on March 25. On April 10, the Senate adopted a motion to allow for the pre-study of a bill still before the House of Commons.

The First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act (C-33) that involves education standards for aboriginal communities was sent to the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples.

The pre-study of a bill that is still in the Commons, is a Senate practice that was commonly used in the 1970s and it has once again become an option of interest to the government. In addition to the pre-study of Bill C-33, the Senate authorized the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs to pre-study Bill C-23, the Fair Elections Act and the committee issued an interim report on the bill on April 15 with proposals for nine amendments. Another pre-study motion was passed on April 9; this one, dealing with the budget implementation bill (C-31), was sent to the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance while portions of the bill was sent to five other committees for the purpose of the pre-study. Also, on the financial front, the usual supply bills were studied by the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance and passed by the Senate in March.

Committees

In addition to the three pre-studies of Commons' bills, the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages issued its third report, entitled: CBC/Radio-Canada's Language Obligations, Communities Want to See Themselves and Be Heard Coast to Coast! …