QP – Amendments to the Indian Act
The Honourable Senator Peter Harder, Government Representative in the Senate
October 19, 2017
Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: My question is also to the Government Representative in the Senate.
Senator, the government has needed to ask for two extensions of the Quebec Superior Court following the Descheneaux decision. Although the court denied the third request for extension, the Court of Appeal did grant the government until December 22 of this year to pass legislation in response to the case brought forward and won by Stéphane Descheneaux and Tammy Yantha. I think this will probably be the final extension granted.
As such, it is important that we are given the tools to have an informed debate and time enough to ensure that we give the matter the appropriate amount of scrutiny that it merits.
With December 22 looming, which as you know is also the proposed date of our adjournment for Christmas break, when will the next step be taken in moving this matter forward?
Senator Harder: I thank the honourable senator for his ongoing interest in this matter. The interest is broadly shared in this chamber, as I am acutely aware.
As I said in my answer to the previous question, the government is committed to ensuring gender equality for all women in Canada, including the removal of all sex discrimination from registration provisions of the Indian Act. The government is acutely aware, as the questioner indicated, of the December 22 court deadline.
As I indicated in the previous answer, the government is committed to allowing adequate time for meaningful debate. I am working with the government and interested senators to ensure that the pertinent information is brought forward for the Senate’s consideration in advance of the Senate dealing with the message in whatever form we are in at that point.
Let me just reiterate — because I think it’s important — that I do appreciate the patience and goodwill of all senators on this matter, as we have a shared objective of making sure that we do what is right in the context of the challenge of that ruling and of the message that is before us.