INAN - Member Biographies – Jan 28, 2021

Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAN)

PC

BQ

Sylvie Bérubé

NDP

Rachel Blaney

LPC

Immigration Critics

PC

Raquel Dancho

BQ

Christine Normandin

NDP

Jenny Kwan

Cathy McLeod, (Kamloops – Thompson – Cariboo, BC), Vice Chair, Shadow Minister for Crown Indigenous Relations

Immigration Topics of Interest

Parliament

MP McLeod has recently taken to speaking up about the water crisis in the Neskantaga First Nation community, critiquing the government’s handling of drinking water advisories in Indigenous communities. Recently, MP McLeod has also inquired about rapid COVID-19 testing in the North and stressing the need for this, seeing as doctors often fly in to remote northern communities to treat patients but are challenged by the long wait times in self-isolation.

She has also made statements critiquing the government’s action plan for murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls recently stating “Mr. Speaker, the government has blamed COVID-19 for its failure to deliver on an action plan for murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. Do those members not realize that domestic violence is increasing during this pandemic and lives are at risk every day?” (INAN, Nov 5th, 2020).

MP McLeod has also spoken about the amendment to the Oath of Citizenship stating: “Madam Speaker, I again want to reflect on the enormous privilege it is for a Member of Parliament to attend citizenship ceremonies. I have not been to one where I have not been incredibly moved. I feel quite emotional as I look at the people who are participating. More specifically to the member’s point, this was a very simple call to action. The government did not even introduce it in the last Parliament until a week before Parliament dissolved. The government knew it was not going to move forward. We have water systems that we need to deal with. We need an action plan for murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. If it takes the Liberals 6 years to put 19 words in the Oath, I really fear for the things that are going to make a huge impact, such as an action plan for murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls.” (Hansard, Nov 2nd 2020). Also stating: “Mr. Speaker, the Minister stated that this is part of the path to trust and healing. We are talking about a change to the Oath of Citizenship that I think is very appropriate and supportable. We talked about a statutory holiday as well. However, in the meantime, the things that are actually making a difference for Indigenous people, such as clean drinking water and an action plan on murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls, are missing. The Liberals have completed 10 calls to action, so this may be a step, but does the minister not believe that trust and healing would come with following through on other commitments, such as clean drinking water?” (Hansard, Nov 2nd, 2020).

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Gary Vidal (Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK)

Immigration Topics of Interest

N/A

Parliament

MP Vidal has participated in discussions regarding First Nations policing stating: "Would you agree that, in the context of that percentage of Indigenous people living off reserve in urban centres, declaring First Nations policing as an essential service may not represent the needs of that population as well as it would for some of the people who live out in the reserve settings?" (SECU, Jul 24th, 2020). He has also commented on COVID-19 and its effects on Indigenous communities particularly Indigenous businesses stating: “The standard model for First Nations in Canada to carry on business is through the use of limited partnerships. These limited partnerships operate businesses in all parts of the Canadian economy, including forestry, mining, manufacturing, construction and consumer sales. The effect of the COVID crisis on these companies mirrors that of the general Canadian economy. The brief indicates that this business model will not qualify for either of the amounts of the wage subsidy programs. If First Nations businesses, through their limited partnership models, are excluded from these benefits, I see this as a huge gap in the creation of this wage subsidy.” (FINA, Apr 8, 2020). MP Vidal also takes interest on Indigenous mental health. MP Vidal spoke about the amendment to the Oath of Citizenship stressing the importance of other Indigenous issues: “In my comments, I am not undermining the importance of the Oath of Citizenship. What I am saying is that we need to go to the place where we are fixing real problems for real people on the ground in these northern communities.” (Hansard, Nov 2, 2020) When debate at second continued, Mr. Vidal continued to convey similar messaging, he asked, “how important it is for us to get to those solutions beyond these more symbolic ones?” (Hansard, Nov 23, 2020)

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Background

Mr. Vidal was elected to the House of Commons for the first time in 2019.

Arnold Vierson (Peace River—Westlock, AB)

Immigration Topics of Interest

N/A

Parliament

MP Vierson has expressed his interest in advocating for Indigenous businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic asking the government to procure more contracts with Indigenous suppliers for personal protective equipment. He has also spoken up about human trafficking and particularly how this relates to the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

During debate at second reading on Bill C-8, Mr. Vierson expressed his support for the Bill while citing issues faced by Indigenous peoples that need to be addressed, “While the bill is an important one, it will not necessarily bring the tangible results we are looking for on some of these major issues around employment in First Nations, around drinking water on reserve and around whether the Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies on reserves. […] With that, I would like to put on the record that I will be supporting this bill. I look forward to its passage and I want to thank the House for recognizing me today.”

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Born in Barrhead, AB, Mr. Viersen was first elected to the House of Commons in 2015, and again in 2019.

Eric Melillo (Kenora, ON) Shadow Minister for Northern Affairs and Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Immigration Topics of Interest

N/A

Parliament

MP Melillo is particularly interested in Northern Affairs discussing issues that citizens of the North face: “Many Canadians in my riding, across the territories and in other parts of northern Canada struggle with housing shortages, transportation difficulties and higher costs of goods and services. The North needs serious upgrades to infrastructure and transportation routes to ensure food security and lower the cost of living.” (Hansard, Sep. 25, 2020). He also advocates for Northern Businesses “The Province of Ontario has announced $20 million to support northern Ontario businesses impacted by COVID-19, but FedNor is nowhere to be found […] how has the government completely forgotten about northern Ontario?” (Hansard, Sep. 29, 2020).

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Background

Mr. Melillo was first elected to the House of Commons in 2019.

Sylvie Bérubé (Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou) Vice-Chair of the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Committee

Immigration Topics of Interest

Parliament

MP Bérubé has previously expressed concern with accessibility of health care services for Indigenous peoples. She is the Sponsor of Private Members’ Bill C-223, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (adequate knowledge of French in Quebec).

During debate at second reading on Bill C-8, Ms. Berube was critical of the words chosen to amend the Oath stating, “As we can see, the wording of the Oath in the bill is different from that suggested by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The minister’s reason for this is that the stakeholders did not agree on the wording and therefore the minister chose a text that better reflected, from the government’s standpoint, the experience of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. This is another good example of the government thinking that it knows better than First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.” (Hansard, Nov 2, 2020) She also was critical about the current version of the Discover Canada study guide, “The guide ignores the fact that Indigenous peoples are a source of law for Canada and states that the Canadian tradition of ordered liberty can be traced back to England, and not at all to the Indigenous peoples of Canada who welcomed European explorers, helped them survive in this climate, guided them across the country and signed treaties with them to share their territories with the newcomers from Europe.” (Hansard, Nov 2, 2020) Although she supports the Bill, she believes there is more work to do with regards to reconciliation, “The Bloc Québécois supports Bill C-8 because we pledged to be an ally of First Nations. This bill is a step toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. The established relationship of inequality has stripped Indigenous people of the means to control their own destiny and fostered distrust for public services and the government.” (Hansard, Nov 2, 2020)

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Background

Ms. Bérubé was first elected to the House of Commons in 2019.

Rachel Blaney (North Island–Powell River, BC) NDP Whip and Critic for Veteran Issues

Immigration Topics of Interest

N/A

Parliament

MP Blaney has expressed concern about systemic racism faced by Indigenous peoples in the health care and justice system. She has called on the Government to implement a national housing strategy for Indigenous communities.

During debate a second reading Bill C-8, she criticized the Government for taking more significant action toward reconciliation, stating, “[…] one of the biggest challenges we face when we look at this piece of legislation is we are still not seeing a government taking an active role and actually implementing the calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Here we are again with another small step, but we still do not see substantive support to move forward in a way that is really about reconciliation. I am wondering if the member could talk about why Indigenous communities are being asked to wait, government after government, and when we are going to actually see action, and what would that action look like?” (Hansard, Nov 23, 2020)

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Background

Born Ms. Blaney was first elected to the House of Commons in 2015, and again in 2019.

Gary Anandasangaree (Scarborough – Rouge Park, ON)

Immigration Topics of Interest

N/A

Parliament

MP Anandasangaree has been vocal about issues pertaining to racism and policing stating: “Commissioner Lucki, I think that within the last six months and since your last appearance, we’ve seen a continuing issue with racism permeating the RCMP. One of the conversations that I’ve had over the last several weeks is about why is there one set of rules for people who are racialized, Indigenous or black, and a certain other set of rules for others. We saw that clearly in the way the RCMP handled the issue of the fisheries in Nova Scotia. […] When can we expect direct and concrete action on racism?” He also advocates for the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the preservation of Indigenous language.

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Background

Mr. Anandasangaree was first elected to the House of Commons in 2015, and again in 2019.

Jaime Battiste (Sydney—Victoria, NS)

Immigration Topics of Interest

Parliament

MP Battiste has been extremely vocal regarding Mi’kmaq Treaty Fishing Rights and their need to be implemented and enforced. MP Battiste has also spoken about their support for the amendment to the Oath of Citizenship stating: “The Truth and Reconciliation Commission points out that many of the education systems in Canada have not had the same education as those on reserve. They learned about their rights, their history and the legacy of the residential schools. It is important that we look at and focus on ways we can move the bar further on this long journey of reconciliation. We are talking about immigration and new immigrants to this country. There have been new immigrants welcomed by Indigenous people for more than 400 years. For 400 years, we have shared resources, our values and our ways of surviving, and that is an important part of this. We hope that with the passage of the bill, we will be able to look at new ways for new immigrants to hear from Indigenous people about how we have kept the country and our resources plentiful for the past seven generations and how we plan to do it for seven more generations.” (Hansard, Nov. 2, 2020).

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Background

Born in Potlotek First Nation, NS, Mr. Battiste was first elected to the House of Commons in 2019.

Bob Bratina (Hamilton East – Stoney Creek, ON) Chair

Immigration Topics of Interest

N/A

Parliament

Mr. Bratina has previously spoken about the Wet’suwet’en Protests and the RCMP, stating, “All communities should benefit from policing that is professional and dedicated, and Indigenous communities are no exception. That is why we will co-develop a legislative framework for First Nations policing and expand the number of communities served by the First Nations policing program. We will ensure police officers and services have the necessary tools and resources to protect the vulnerable and increase community safety.” (Hansard, Feb 20, 2020). He also spoke about clean drinking water for Indigenous communities, “We can no longer take a reactive approach to combatting lead pipes and drinking water quality. The time has come for the federal government to work together with its provincial, territorial, municipal, and Indigenous partners to create a unified cross-country solution to eradicate these issues, which affect the very young more than the old, and low-income families more than the affluent. Children in older, poorer neighbourhoods should not be exposed to a serious health hazard because of where they live or their family’s economic status.” (Hansard, Feb 7, 2017).

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Background

Born in Hamilton, ON, Mr. Bratina was first elected to the House of Commons in 2015, and again in 2019.

Marcus Powlowski (Thunder Bay – Rainy River, ON)

Immigration Topics of Interest

N/A

Parliament

MP Powlowski often provides comments on Indigenous health concerns in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic such as: “[…] The ultimate concern with COVID-19 is the proportion of people who have more serious illnesses. The answer to that, if you’re in one of the northern fly-in communities, is to fly them out. In the case of an epidemic, you’re probably going to need more planes, better transportation systems. Is that being considered and prepared for?” He has also spoken to the house about the Wet’Suwet’en protests.

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Background

Born in Fort William, ON, Mr. Powlowski was first elected to the House of Commons in 2019.

Adam van Koeverden (Milton, ON)

Immigration Topics of Interest

N/A

Parliament

MP van Koeverden has shared his support for Indigenous self-governance. He also advocates for better broadband connectivity in rural communities, asking: “How will the investments that are in these supplementary estimates go to connecting people living in the North and remote communities across Canada so that they can achieve better outcomes in health and education through telehealth and telelearning?” (INAN, Jun 16, 2020). He often inquiries about Indigenous youth and strongly supports Indigenous inclusion and representation.

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Background

Born in Toronto, ON, Mr. van Koeverden was first elected to the House of Commons in 2019

Lenore Zann (Cumberland—Colchester, NS)

Immigration Topics of Interest

N/A

Parliament

MP Zann has addressed their support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the importance of the government’s commitment to self-determination stating: “I’m curious as to when in fact we will be introducing, for instance, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I believe that this will reconfirm our commitment to ensuring self-determination for the First Nations, the Inuit and the Métis, and how central that is to our nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown and government-to-government relationship.” Ms. Zann is also committed to combating systemic racism and environmental racism in Canada. She has also provided input on the Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova Scotia.

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Background

Born in Sydney, Australia, Ms. Zann was first elected to House of Commons in 2019.

Raquel Dancho (Kildonan—St. Paul, MB) Vice Chair of Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration Shadow Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Immigration Topics of Interest

Parliament

MP Dancho was previously the Opposition Critic for Diversity, Inclusion and Youth and an active member of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women.

Overall, MP Dancho is critical of the governments’ immigration policy particularly how it has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. She takes interest in the barriers affecting family reunification. She is also interested in backlogs and processing times for various lines of business, including for PGP, spousal sponsorship, and temporary resident visas as well as how these delays affect families and international students.

Recently, MP Dancho has shown her support for amending the Oath of Citizenship. During debate at second reading on Bill C-8, Ms. Dancho gave remarks that focused on the importance of the wording of the Oath, stating, “By including the historic amendment to include Indigenous and treaty rights in our oath of citizenship, it elevates and signifies the inherent dignity of Indigenous peoples and the agreements that were made with them. It informs newcomers of the Canadian commitment to both our national duty and allegiance to the Queen of Canada as well as our commitment to truth and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.” (Hansard, Nov 2, 2020). She spoke broadly of issues faced by Indigenous peoples and the Government’s role, “The Conservatives believe that the fundamental obligation of the federal government is to improve the living conditions of aboriginal Canadians, including the Inuit, in terms of economic opportunity, health, education and community safety.” (Hansard, Nov 2, 2020). She believes that the use of language such as Aboriginal vs Indigenous, amongst other things, should be studied in committee. She expressed support for the Bill, “If passed into law, the new Oath of Citizenship would elevate and promote Indigenous rights, including treaty rights, as well as the inherent dignity of Indigenous peoples, a dignity that for so long was denied.” (Hansard, Nov 2, 2020).

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Christine Normandin (Saint-Jean, QC) Deputy House Leader of the Bloc Québécois Critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Immigration Topics of Interest

Parliament

Overall, MP Normandin has criticized the immigration request process and its impacts on those working frontline jobs, international students, as well as family reunification. MP Normandin states that “the Bloc Québécois has been criticizing the delays in processing immigration applications for a long time now. What was already an issue is now taking a major human toll, especially in the context of the current crisis.” They stressed the importance of frontline workers during this pandemic and called for changes that would reduce the processing time for frontline workers.

Recently, MP Normandin has stated the BQ’s support for amending the Oath of Citizenship and has heavily criticized the government on how they’ve implemented the calls to action. She stated, “It should come as no surprise that the Bloc plans to vote in favour of the bill. The Bloc Québécois has already made it very clear that we want to be an ally to First Nations. […] Amending the Oath of Citizenship to include a promise to recognize the rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples is a step in the right direction toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. First Nations peoples are absolutely right to ask for a reference to Indigenous rights in the Oath.” (Hansard, Nov 2. 2020). She also stated that “Indigenous peoples will be equal founding peoples” when Quebec becomes independent.

She also spoke about the difference between the language that has been proposed in the Bill and the recommendation of Truth and Reconciliation Commission and claimed that the Government does not understand Indigenous people and how Discover Canada does not include the fact Indigenous people are a source of law for Canada, it asserts that the Canadian tradition of orderly liberty is due to England and not to Indigenous peoples of Canada who welcomed European explorers. She also raised concerns about the Oath being implemented before implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, stating “What message does she think it sends to recognize these rights in the Oath when we are still not on track to implement UNDRIP?”

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Jenny Kwan (Vancouver East, BC) Critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Immigration Topics of Interest

Parliament

Recently, Ms. Kwan has been interested in asylum seekers deemed ineligible and processing levels by stream, and has shown support for amending the Oath of Citizenship.

In light of the pandemic, Ms. Kwan has criticized the immigration process and how it affects family reunification, particularly how it affects spousal sponsorship and caregivers. In addition, MP Kwan has questioned the actions the minister plans to take on addressing the living and working conditions of migrant workers during the pandemic. She brought forward the issues international students face due to the visa processing for temporary residence visas. Ms. Kwan has also been discussing the situation in Hong Kong.

During debate at second reading on Bill C-8, Ms. Kwan stated that the NDP will be supporting the Bill, but that Canada is failing to meet its obligations with Indigenous peoples. She also spoke about ongoing issues facing Indigenous peoples, such as the Mi’kmaq’s right to fish and the unresolved disputes in Nova Scotia; the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline; housing challenges; and the discontinuation of boiling water advisories in March 2021. During the questions and comment period, the NDP member received several questions regarding the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), to which she responded by urging the Government to introduce a new Bill for UNDRIP and stated the NDP would support such a Bill.

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