New Qalipu bill would give feds too much power: Gerry Byrne

A Liberal MP says the federal government has introduced a bill that would give Ottawa the authority to remove people who have been accepted into the Qalipu band.
MP Gerry Byrne says new proposed legislation would allow the federal government to remove members from the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation band. (CBC)

A Liberal MP says new proposed legislation would give federal government too much authority over the Qalipu Mi'kmaq membership process.

Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte MP Gerry Byrne said the new bill would give Ottawa the legal authority to remove members from the Qalipu Mi'kmaq band.

"It also provides the legal authority for the government to protect itself from any litigation, any lawsuits, arising from that action," he said.
Liberal MP Gerry Byrne says the new bill would give too much power to the federal government over the Qalipu Mi'kmaq membership process. (CBC)

"Quite simply put, this is a cover. This is the federal government's way to ensure that what they're doing to the applicants and to the already existing enrolled members of the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation band, they can do it with legal immunity."

Bill C-25, Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Act, was introduced in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

According to Byrne, there are serious implications that come with the proposed legislation.

"This is not the way democracy works, it's not the way a rule of law should work," Byrne said.

"When you actually have to take away someone's basic legal rights to seek redress through the courts when they're wrong, you know you're in trouble and you know that society's in trouble, and that's exactly what this Harper government has done."

Overwhelming interest in band membership came as a surprise to aboriginal leaders and the federal government who initially expected around 10,000 people to apply when the process began in 2008.

Roughly 103,000 applications were received when the November 2012 deadline was reached.