Chief Carolyn Buffalo (Chief of the Montana Cree Nation, Assembly of First Nations):
Thank you, and good morning.
I want to thank the committee for giving me the opportunity to make a presentation today on behalf of the Assembly of First Nations and also on behalf of my own first nation, the Montana Cree Nation, located at Hobbema, Alberta.
I don't know if this is something that's required of me to do, but I just want to make a brief comment. I thought I would just point out very briefly to the committee that I was on the legal team on the Samson and Ermineskin cases, which were heard in the Supreme Court of Canada, and on which there was a ruling on February 13. I just wanted to point that out for your information, although my role in the trial did not extend to the oil and gas part of the case.
The first thing I would like to say on behalf of the Assembly of First Nations is that we believe this bill takes important steps with regard to the sharing of royalties and resource revenues for first nations and also perhaps provides for the employment of first nation workers on projects that are taking place within their traditional territories. The position of the AFN is that these are laudable goals and that this will set an approach for work on related matters in the future.
We also believe that the federal government has taken the right approach in developing this legislation with a thorough process, which was begun over 10 years ago and involved over 130 first nations in dialogue. The bill, as I understand it, was developed jointly with first nation leaders to ensure that the interests of those affected were addressed. The AFN has said repeatedly that this is how federal legislation must be developed. We further note the ongoing responsibility of the minister to consult with affected first nations, set out specifically in proposed section 6 of the bill.
However, having said all of that, the AFN does have a concern about Bill C-5, which we believe can and should be addressed by this committee.
One of the things I also wanted to say to the committee is that in my conversations with other first nations, before I travelled here to Ottawa, I heard that the position of some other first nations was that they would have liked to come here and make presentations to the committee, but that because of the whole process we weren't given a whole lot of time. They still would like to be heard by the committee with respect to their positions on this bill. I just wanted to raise that timing as an issue.
We are also wondering why this legislation is being hurried. At least, that's the way it appears to me and to some other first nations. We're wondering what the rush is. What we would have preferred is that this legislation would have been heard together with the regulations, because as I understand it, we still haven't seen what the regulations pursuant to this legislation will look like. We would have liked the opportunity to review the regulations pursuant to the bill.
I wanted to state that for the record: that there are other first nations that would have liked to come here and make a presentation before this committee.
First of all, with respect to the more technical aspects of the bill, the AFN's position is that where federal legislation purports to speak to the management of the environment or the economy--in this case, oil and gas development and the resulting revenues--it's important to be clear about the relationship between that legislation and any related provincial or territorial laws.
Moreover, as part of fulfilling its responsibility to support self-government by first nations, the federal government must plan for and support the efforts of first nation governments to make laws governing our own communities. This is a very important point for us. The federal role may be to facilitate harmony between first nation and provincial or territorial laws; it cannot be to prevent development by first nations by asserting either its own continuing jurisdiction or importing provincial or territorial jurisdiction into application in first nation communities.
I would direct the attention of the committee to proposed sections in the bill, specifically proposed new sections 4.2 and 4.3, which read in part as follows:
||4.2 (1) Regulations made under subsection 4.1(1) — other than regulations made under paragraphs 4.1(1)(a) to (d), (f) to (r), (v) and (w) — may incorporate by reference laws of a province as amended from time to time, with any adaptations that the Governor in Council considers appropriate.
||(2) Regulations incorporating laws of a province may confer any power or impose any duty that the Governor in Council considers necessary on any provincial official or body, to be exercised or performed on behalf of the federal government in the same circumstances and subject to the same conditions as those governing the exercise of that power or the performance of that duty under the laws of the province.
||(3) The Minister may enter into an agreement with the government of a province, or with a public body established by the laws of a province, respecting the administration or enforcement on first nation lands of any laws of the province that are incorporated by the regulations, including the exchange of information related to administration and enforcement of those laws.
||4.3 Regulations made under this Act prevail over any by-laws or other laws made by a first nation under another Act of Parliament to the extent of any inconsistency between them, unless otherwise provided by regulations made under this Act.
This is a point I have particular issue with.
I would also like to point to clause 2 of the bill, amending former section 6 of the act, by adding the following language, as you know:
||(1.1) The Governor in Council may, by regulation,
||(a) require that a power of the Minister under this Act in relation to first nation lands be exercised only if prior approval of the council of the first nation is obtained, if the council is first consulted or if prior notice is given to the council, as the case may be;
||(b) require that any such power of the Minister be exercised only if prior consent is given by any first nation member who is in lawful possession of the first nation lands; and
I'm reading this really carefully because I'm mindful of the time constraints. There is also a proposed new paragraph 6(1.1)(c), the notice provision.
AFN is of the position that this bill would be stronger and would set a better example for other legislation with two small amendments: in the first line of proposed new subsection 6(1.1) by deleting the word “may” and replacing it with the word “shall”; and under proposed new paragraph 6(1.1)(a) by deleting the word “or” and replacing it with the word “and” .
I don't know that it's necessary for me to read what the text would look like with these changes, but the small changes would greatly improve the otherwise fine work done by the first nations and the federal government in crafting this piece of legislation.
That's what the Assembly of First Nations has asked me to present to the committee.
Other first nations to whom I have spoken have said that they believe there could have been more and better consultation than occurred. Some of the first nations have said that the bill was presented to them as a sort of fait accompli before they even had a chance to speak to the issue or say anything about what amendments they would like to see in the legislation. It was instead given to them already drafted, and there was not a lot of opportunity for the first nations to exercise influence over the content of the bill. I know that some of my friends would disagree, but that is the position of some first nations, and I have been asked to relay it to the committee. Despite the fact that we know there was some consultation, and we are appreciative and mindful of that, the position of some first nations is that there could have been more and better consultation done.
Another issue that some have had is that in the existing legislation and regulations the IOGC already has a number of powers and abilities available to it. The question for some of us becomes this: since these powers already exist but aren't being enforced, we wonder how effective this new legislation is going to be, given that there were powers already available to but not exercised by the IOGC.
The other thing is that Bill C-5 doesn't increase first nation control or input into the decision-making process. That's a key element that we say is missing from this bill.
Since this legislation does not address these concerns from the perspective of some first nations, there's no rush to amend the existing act. Therefore we're asking that you take your time and perhaps do more consultation to make this legislation more effective.
Mr. Eugene Seymour (Coordinator, Independent Lobby to amend the Indian Oil and Gas Act):
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Let me first explain to you how we got here to present a proposal, what we're proposing, how we see our proposal working, and where we're at in the process of having our proposal enacted.
We're certainly grateful to have the opportunity to present an amendment to the Indian Oil and Gas Act for a financial incentive program that will be a stimulus to promote vertical integration and value-added activities in the oil industry, both upstream and downstream, on first nations land.
To tell you how we got here, let me take a moment to reflect back on history.
The Iroquois people sided with the British and made an arrangement that was recognized in the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which is now enshrined in the Canadian Constitution Act of 1982, under section 25 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As such, when the American revolution broke out, the Mohawks and other tribes fought to establish the country of Canada, and then again, in the American invasion of 1812, they successfully defended the country.
In 1867, when the founding fathers confederated the country, there was a recognition established in the Constitution under section 91(24) that Indians and lands reserved for Indians would be the exclusive jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada. Thus, the fiduciary trust responsibility was established between the trustee and beneficiary.
As development moved westward in the late 1800s, oil was discovered on Manitoulin Island and the Indians were boiling it to make a kerosene out of it. In 1898 the first Indian oil and gas mineral surrender was established at the Wikwemikong unceded Indian reservation.
In 1900 a joint Senate and House of Commons study reviewed petroleum deposits in the country and identified Wikwemikong as being one such site. Exploration permits were granted, drilling commenced, and they discovered oil. They capped it in 1905, before there was an automobile and before the auto industry had a market demand for crude oil petroleum products.
When the Leduc oil field was discovered in 1947--and shortly thereafter the Bonnie Glen field on the Pigeon Lake reserve owned by the Hobbema band--mineral oil and gas surrenders were established. The leases were made in accordance with regulations under paragraph 57(c) of the 1951 Indian Act.
Then in the 1960s John Diefenbaker gave the Indians the right to vote in Canada and Pierre Elliott Trudeau became the Minister of Justice. The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Act was established in 1967 and Jean Chrétien became the first Minister of Indian Affairs. He reached out and engaged first nations people in consultation and discussions, which were turbulent at first. As Mr. Chrétien said in his infamous speech of 1968 at Queens University, “The paths to hell have been paved with the good intentions of do-gooders from within the department.”
In the early 1970s, under contract, the Indian Association of Alberta initiated a review of the 1951 Indian Act in its totality. At that point, the oil industry, concerned about their lease holdings on Indian land, pressured the government to establish free-standing legislation. The oil-producing bands were only getting a 12.5% royalty under the regulations, and, combined with the other interests, brought about the establishment of the Indian Oil and Gas Act of 1974, which you are presently amending today. It wasn't until 1978 that amendments to the regulations provided increases in royalty rates to the bands.
Then in 1987 the Indian Resource Council was established and for the first time the oil-producing bands were able to collaborate and bring forth their concerns to the government so that in 1999 they initiated the revision to the Indian Oil and Gas Act.
In 2002 Roy Fox, of the Indian Resource Council, came and met with us at Akwesasne on Cornwall Island and reached out to the downstream operations and retail gas stations.
At that point we launched this amendment for a financial incentive program for vertical integration and value-added activities. We petitioned other groups and got their support and then presented it to the Department of Indian Affairs. Their immediate reaction was to do what we were proposing as a major policy change. Our rebuttal was swift: That's exactly what is required to make major changes in the quality of life in first nations communities today.
We continued discussions with them on this matter, and they had an organizational problem at that time dealing with our proposal, namely that Indian Oil and Gas Canada is set up just to deal with the fiduciary trust responsibility in issuing oil leases under the Indian Oil and Gas Act. What we were proposing was economic development promotion, and they were not in a position to deal with that. Another department, economic development, would be more likely best suited to deal with that. In September 2008 they resolved that internally. They amalgamated into one branch under economic development, Indian oil and gas, and Indian lands and reserves and trusts, all in one, because somebody in the department, in their wisdom, realized that economic development on Indian land involves land tenure to a large extent, whether it be mineral rights or whether it be surface leasing and construction in some form.
We come to you today at this point to present this amendment as such. In the amendment this is what we're talking about in terms of vertical integration. We would like to have the government provide an incentive to allow the retail outlets on first nations land to purchase oil directly from the oil-producing bands, and we would like the government to provide incentives for oil-producing bands to joint-venture and participate in oil refinery construction and operation. Downstream we would like to be looking at bulk storage capacities. First Nation Independent Fuel Handlers Co-Op Ltd. of Ontario did an extensive study a few years back, and the economic opportunity is there throughout Ontario for such a venture.
On value-added activities, we can show you from example that we're not talking about just a simple gas station. A gas station can turn into a gas station-restaurant-motel-banquet hall, or gas station-convenience store-coffee shop, or home heating fuel operations. That's what we're talking about in terms of vertical integration and value added.
How we perceive this amendment working is we start with a premise that you do not throw money at the problem. I've worked in the department for four years in a program where we had money, but we had a sunset clause on our money and we had to distribute the money. We funded certain projects and we had auctions to call to get the money out. But the way we've structured this proposal is that you give an authorization as a stimulus to promote within first nations communities and you wait until they make applications accordingly, and then you measure their capacity as part of a business incentive.
The department in its letter.... Here's where we're at with the department. I asked the clerk to distribute copies of the department's letter to you. They said they have business centres set up. They just initiated that, and that is very fine and works well with this initiative because those business centres should have the capacity to provide professional consultative services to first nations people to help them organize and make applications that would coincide with our proposal. That way you would get value for your dollar.
At that point, Mr. Chairman, thank you for your time.
Mr. Todd Russell (Labrador, Lib.):
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good morning, Chief Buffalo, Mr. Seymour, and Ms. Back-Skidders. It's good to have you here.
Chief Buffalo, you began your presentation by saying there is general agreement around this particular piece of legislation, but then when I listened to the rest of the presentation there seemed to arise some substantive concerns around this particular piece of legislation. You can correct me if I'm wrong, but I heard that there were concerns about the legislation being hurried, that there could have been more consultation, that from the AFN's perspective you want to see the regulations that pertain to this particular piece of legislation. I mean, the legislation enables the regulations to be made and incorporated. There were also concerns around the environmental protections, as I heard, and the incorporation of provincial laws being applied on reserve lands. The comment was made that it does not increase the first nations control or management substantively.
These would not seem to me to be unsubstantive or not important. They seem to be rather weighty types of concerns that have been expressed.
I'm just looking for some direction from you as to where we should go, because I'm sure you're aware that according to our schedule, we had intended to go to clause-by-clause today. I gather that's what was on our schedule. This certainly seems to be a little bit inconsistent with what the IRC has been making presentations about, certainly in my meeting with them. They seem to say that this legislation is not perfect, it is not everything that they wanted, but it's certainly something that they need and something they want to move forward on in a fairly expeditious manner. That is what they have said to me personally at meetings that I've had with them, and what they also said at committee. I would just like to see if there's some way we can reconcile these two different positions, if you can help me with that.
My second question is for Mr. Seymour. I have read what you presented to the committee, a financial incentive program. Is there anything in this legislation that would prevent the government or first nations that have an interest in oil and gas development from working together to implement this program, even though it's not incorporated in the legislation? Is there anything that would prevent this?
This seems to make common sense, to be able to allow first nations to gather the most out of their resources and to benefit in a broad way from oil and gas development on reserve, both, as you say, downstream and upstream. Is there anything that would prevent this program from going ahead if this weren't incorporated?
I'll just go to Chief Buffalo first, and then ask Mr. Seymour to answer secondly, if that's okay.
Chief Carolyn Buffalo:
I do apologize. I should have had a written text submitted to this committee prior so that you would have had an opportunity to review it in both French and in English. So I do apologize for that, and I will endeavour to get this text over to you as quickly as I possibly can.
Although the changes, I believe, would be very beneficial to the bill, they're not that cumbersome. I don't think they will take that long to consider, but I think they would improve the legislation.
As far as what the IRC has presented, they have spoken with some first nations and they have canvassed opinion from various first nations. But, as I said, many first nations are not of the view that this consultation was very meaningful. Even though there are substantive issues with respect to the legislation, for example, the incorporation, by reference, of provincial laws, which is going to lead to a patchwork of laws across the country, because provincial laws are different...those kinds of things are not insignificant, but they will affect us. The form of consultation that took place was more of a “Here it is”. From the perspective of some of the first nations I have spoken to, they didn't think it was adequate and meaningful enough.
I know that my friends on the IRC would disagree, but that is the position of some first nations I have spoken to.
Ms. Jean Crowder (Nanaimo—Cowichan, NDP):
I'm going to continue in the vein of my colleagues. I'm referring to issue paper number 4, “Outreach and Communications”, which you may not have. I'm not going to read the whole thing, but I just want to go over the consultation process that was outlined for us. I have no reason to believe this isn't accurate.
It says that:
||...it was recognized that there was a need to modernize the Indian Oil and Gas Act and Regulations. This decision was based on informal discussions that began in 1998 with the Co-management Board of Indian Oil and Gas Canada to ensure that Canada had a modern regulatory regime—
—and so on.
||In mid-2000 a set of “guiding principles” on how the department will reach out to stakeholders was developed by the co-management board and tabled in September 2000 at the annual meeting of the oil and gas producing first nations in Regina. By 2001 discussions on the proposed changes to the act and regulations had been held with tribal chiefs associations in central Alberta as well as with over 50 first nations in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. As a result, first nations overwhelmingly supported the “guiding principles” and the process of modernizing the regime.
There's a lot more detail in here. It goes on to communication with stakeholders:
||In 2002 the initiative begun to modernize the Indian Oil and Gas Act was established. A partnership between the department and the Indian Resource Council was formed to focus on the proposed changes.
A stakeholder involvement package was done and there was outreach done. In 2006 the IRC and the minister agreed to resume the work initiated. It went to the Indian Resource Council annual general meeting in 2006. A resolution was passed unanimously providing support to the process relating to the proposed changes. In 2007 it went to the AGM, and so on and so on and so on.
It seems to me that this process began in 1998, so I too am struggling with a process that has been going on for 11 years to suddenly find out, just before we're going into clause-by-clause, that there are proposed amendments. I think you've already talked about that. But we've only had one letter. And that's an option for people who want to communicate with the committee, to provide a written brief. We don't always need witnesses to appear. There has been over a year for people to start signalling their dissatisfaction with the bill and we've had one written brief—aside from Mr. Seymour's, which is a bit different, and I'm going to come to you in a minute—that expressed some concerns.
So I'm concerned that this information has been out here and at the last moment we're getting requests for amendments to the bill. I would urge anybody who's listening and paying attention to the committee, get your information in within the next 48 hours. If you've had concerns, you've obviously had time to work them up.
I want to come to Mr. Seymour for a minute.
I don't disagree at all with what you're presenting. However, there is an “and”. The notion of vertical integration in value-added I think is a very valuable aspect of economic development, capacity-building, business development for first nations. I'm not sure that this bill is where it belongs. It seems to me that part of what you're suggesting could be part of the economic development proposal the government has put forward. Despite the fact that I vehemently disagree with their Bill C-10, they have put forward initiatives in the bill around first nations economic development. My understanding of part of what you're asking for is that it could be integrated into the economic development package that has been proposed. So I'm not clear why it would need to be an amendment in this bill, and maybe you could explain that.
Mr. John Duncan (Vancouver Island North, CPC):
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to the witnesses this morning.
For Chief Buffalo, I have to say that the words from my colleagues in the opposition parties resonate, from the standpoint that we've had consultations that have gone on for ten years. We had witnesses before the committee earlier this week and it became very apparent that, of the 130 first nations that either are producing or are potential producers, essentially all of them would choose to opt for this piece of legislation.
This is a serious piece of business and we're trying to have some sense of urgency. We don't want the same thing happening that happened previously with this bill. It got introduced and then, for one reason or another, ended up not getting through the legislative process. There is some sense of urgency and there's a feeling that real progress, real economic development opportunities and possibilities, are missed as long as this regime is not in place. That's coming directly to us from earlier testimony.
So I guess my question is this: when does consultation end? If you put another set of amendments forward, technically and theoretically you could argue, all over again, in another round of consultations. We've had people who were actually very complimentary about the degree of consultation that has gone into this specific piece of legislation. That's where my question would lie.
For the other witness, Mr. Seymour, the question I have is that I'm having some difficulty understanding actually who you represent and understanding whether you're a registered lobbyist. Exactly what is it?
I'd also like to point out that 25% of the businesses associated with this industry that would fall under the Indian Oil and Gas Act are already first-nations-owned. As recently as yesterday, I had discussions with Indian interests that are very serious about a refinery venture. They are completely oblivious to this bill. This bill makes no real difference in what they are attempting to do.
Further, I'd like to say that every lobby group from every sector would love to have their funding envelope put under statute, but government can't operate that way. I think what you're requesting is rather extraordinary and is not a direction that governments want to go in. I'd like you to comment on that.
Those are my questions.
Hon. Geoff Regan (Halifax West, Lib.):
To Mr. Seymour, I'm not a regular member of this committee. I'm our critic for natural resources, which of course is certainly related. But the bill is about royalties and ensuring that the ability of the government to make sure that first nations receive the royalties they should is in the regulations--calculating that, and all those kinds of things. It's not about the kind of economic development you're proposing, yet I'm not aware of anything in the present law that impedes that.
We saw the letter from Minister Strahl talking about centres of excellence. I think you're saying you'd rather have that enshrined in legislation. I don't see how this is the right place to put it.
As to Chief Buffalo, the fact that you're here indicates that you are entitled to come here and bring forward your concerns, which you're doing today. The point that members have been making is that in deciding what we're going to do about that, we each take into account the fact that this is the first we've heard of proposed amendments of this nature after this has been before Parliament--or the identical bill previously--for a year now. Those are concerns.
When I look at subsection 6(1.1), it seems to me that enabling the government to do this is a positive step. But regardless of this provision, when a government makes regulations there are at least 90 days before that comes into effect. During that time there can be consultation, you can react, you can create media about this and get reaction to it.
We have the process of the joint committee on scrutiny of regulations here in Parliament that examines regulations and can challenge them if they're problematic. So there are a number of other means to react to whatever regulations come forward. But the fact that you're putting into legislation something that at least provides another incentive, another reason to make sure there's consultation, seems to me to be a positive step.
Mr. Harold Albrecht (Kitchener—Conestoga, CPC):
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I thank our witnesses for being here today.
I want to follow up on your positive overall view. You indicated these are laudable goals and the employment and economic opportunities for first nations people will be advanced and generally it was the right approach. You then went on to point out it's been in process about ten years.
My concern is that you come here and suggest it's a hurried process now and that you would like to have seen the regulations first. My position would be this would further bog down any potential progress and in effect reduce the opportunities for economic development. I just want to get that on the record.
The other thing you mentioned is that some of the first nations are not in agreement. With due respect, I think I can understand that, but my position is that today you're speaking on behalf of the AFN, and it would have been good for me to know the position of the AFN after having done all their consultations at their level. To me, it would seem it's their responsibility to bring their position here for us to grapple with. We cannot take into account every single first nation person's input in terms of giving them what they want. We listen to them, yes, the same as my constituents. They don't agree with everything I vote for, but I have to listen to them to arrive at my final position. You would have helped me today by coming here with the official position of the AFN. We heard from the IRC and we heard their position. As has been pointed out by my colleagues, virtually 100% of the 130 first nations communities that have oil and gas, or the potential, support what we're doing. I encourage you to be here, but it would have been good for me to hear the official position of the AFN, as you're the spokesperson.
Mr. Seymour, you point out the need for vertical integration and value-added activity. I would like to ask you if the proposals that Minister Strahl and Mr. Fox commented about, the centres of excellence for business development, and also proposed paragraph 4.1(1)(v), where it talks about
|requiring, to the extent that it is practicable and reasonably efficient, safe and economical to do so, an operator to employ persons who are resident on reserves that include first nation lands on which the exploration or exploitation is being conducted.
It seems to me those two proposals in the overall material that we have here address many, if not all, of the concerns you're bringing to us. Can you comment on that?
Mr. Eugene Seymour:
No, they don't, but they're going in the right direction.
When you put together a consultative agency like a business centre, that's not going to have a cashflow from the crude oil coming out of the ground to the retail sale and retail gas station outlet right away. It's going to have people there to provide professional services and training for first nations people to learn how to run their own exploration drills.
With regard to moving in the right direction--and what we're proposing would be far too broad a range to be addressed by this committee--I submit to the committee that maybe a name change would be appropriate. Call it the Indian Energy Act, with oil and gas as part of it, vertical integration and financial incentive programs another part, and alternative energy another part. You fully involve the first nations in opportunities on their lands, as opposed to the narrow scope that was established over a century ago in 1898 to get the first nations person to surrender his mineral rights and then lease it to somebody in the oil industry. In over a century we have to start modernizing. If we're modernizing, let's modernize our whole methodology and allow the Indian to sell oil and gas directly from his land.
Dr. Lorraine Ruffing came to the Department of Indian Affairs in the 1980s recommending, after her study on leasing agreements in the Navajo reservation, that you're far better served, instead of getting this surrender leasing arrangement, to get into a sales contract agreement. I was terminated from the Department of Indian Affairs, the Indian mineral section, in 1970 for suggesting the band not surrender anything to lease, but instead sell in a sales contract. They asked how the band could do that. They don't know how to take it out by contract. In the contract it's still a mandatory employment clause and on-the-job training.
Chief Carolyn Buffalo:
Thank you for your questions.
On the specific amendments I read out, that is the position of the AFN. Those are the amendments of the Assembly of First Nations. They asked me to speak here today. They said that was their position.
As I said before, these are laudable goals, and we're thankful to the committee for all your work on this, but there are still some outstanding issues.
With respect to the second part of the question, about which communities, as far as some of our specific more technical and substantive issues are concerned, I'm speaking directly on behalf of my first nation, but I've also spoken with those who are involved with the Stoney-Nakoda nations.
Hon. Geoff Regan:
That's right, (1.1), there.
The question I'm asking about is about the “may”, that the Governor in Council “may”, by regulation. There's also the proposal about the “or” now being changed to an “and”, but my first question is about the “may”.
As it stands, saying “shall” says the minister has to make regulations, and I guess in relation to each one of these developments the minister, before exercising power under this bill, would have to either have prior approval of the council, or consult with the council, or at the very least give prior notice to the council. What's being posed also of course is we change the “or” to an “and”, which would instead mean that he has to do all three. Once you say “and” there, it changes the meaning entirely. But sticking with the “or” for the moment, my question was wouldn't the minister, at any rate, have to do one of those things?
Members, essentially, I don't have any other speaker requests at this point. We have about 12 minutes left in the meeting today. I should point out, in reference to a couple of issues that did arise today—and we are essentially at the end of orders of the day—that if you wish to commence clause-by-clause consideration of the bill, we can commence that today, although there's very little time.
One thing should be pointed out, however, and I have circulated this to the subcommittee: the question of the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, whose concerns were circulated to you all in a letter on February 19, I believe. We had undertaken to provide them with an opportunity to come before committee today. Unfortunately, due to the late time.... We had a request from them to appear officially to the committee on February 26, but by the time we got back to them, the only spot that was open was today.
If it is the wish of the committee, there is another option. Tuesday is booked for Minister Strahl, on supplementary estimates C, as well as one hour on clause-by-clause analysis of Bill C-5. That's currently the schedule for Tuesday, and as you know, Thursday has been reserved for our discussions in terms of future study. So the only opportunity for consideration of testimony, if members wish, would be to ask them if they wish to give testimony by video conference on Monday, March 9, to members, perhaps through a reduced quorum, if members are available. I really pose that as a question, if you wish to. You have received, of course, the concerns from the Stoney Nakoda First Nation in the form of a letter, and so that's your perogative, if you wish.
Outside of that, the other thing I wish to point out today is that, following up from Tuesday's meeting, Minister Strahl made a commitment to circulate his letter to the IRC in respect to the question of regulations. He referred to it as a comfort letter expressing his wishes around the continuing evolution of the regulation-making aspects of this bill. So that has been circulated to you today in both official languages.
That's it, members. If you want to start today, that's fine, or we can adjourn and resume our consideration for clause-by-clause examination on Tuesday, as scheduled.