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Questions to the Minister of Sustainable Development on Bill 29–The Wildlife Amendment Act (Safe Hunting and Shared Management)

To better understand the extent of consultations and whether the shared management committees are adequately considered, I asked the Minister of Sustainable Development about these aspects of Bill 29 which addresses night hunting and co-management of wildlife decisions.  My questions and the Minister's responses [from Hansard] are below:

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Yes, I would ask the minister if she can provide a list of the chiefs and councillors from–that she consulted as part of this process.

Ms. Squires: I could provide a list of every chief in the province of Manitoba that we had reached out to and consulted with, but I'm sure the member opposite knows who they all are.

Mr. Gerrard: Yes, I wonder if the minister would be prepared to table the list of the people she's actually talked to and consulted.

Ms. Squires: We sent letters out to every chief in Manitoba. We held 21 meetings throughout the province in a variety of different regions. And we had direct consultation with well over 1,000 indigenous community members.
      That doesn't include the members of the indigenous community who I met with personally in my office. I did not–that was not consultation. That was engagement. That was building meaningful ongoing dialogue. That engagement continues to date, where we are working with them on shared management of our iconic species in the province of Manitoba.

Mr. Gerrard: The bill provides that the minister may have some sort of a committee or council that would provide advice. Would it be the minister's objective to have one for the whole province or would they be different ones in different areas of the province?

Ms. Squires: In regards to the shared management committee, I am certainly open to suggestions. Our government is a listening government, and if there is more of a need to look at it regionally, that would be something we would certainly consider. Our requirement right now is to make sure that we have 50 per cent indigenous representation on that committee.

Mr. Altemeyer: The legal opinion, which the minister is saying she complied with but refusing to provide so far, was it received from in-house counsel or did they seek outside legal advice to provide that opinion to them?

Ms. Squires: Well, I would encourage the member to read our bill, which is reflective of the legal opinion that we have received in regards to this legislation. We have–our government has always acknowledged that the rights–indigenous rights to hunt for subsistence needs to be acknowledged.
      We also recognize that the constitution of   Canada, that section 35 consultations are a requirement whenever we're going to be looking at how we're handling resources and how we're balancing public safety with indigenous rights to hunt. And we have worked on that. We have an opinion on that. And it is reflected in this legislation.

Mr. Gerrard: I would ask the minister: For the shared management committee or committees, what is the range of matters that the minister would be prepared to listen to advice on from those committees?

Ms. Squires: That is a really good question. And we are beginning a journey towards shared management with all of our indigenous partners, which would include the management of our iconic species, referred to oftenly as big game species.
      We're looking at working with them in collaboration on enforcement issues and collab­orating with them on sustainability issues relating to all of the iconic species here in Manitoba.

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