House of Commons Hansard #18 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agreements.

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The House resumed from October 27 consideration of the motion that Bill C-14, an act to give effect to a land claims and self-government agreement among the Tlicho, the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Canada, to make related amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act
Government Orders

10 a.m.

Liberal

Roger Valley Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I rise in the House to speak about honouring traditions and building prosperity. I rise in support of Bill C-14, the Tlicho land claims and self-government act. The legislation brings into effect an agreement that respects more than 1,000 years of history and lays the groundwork for Tlicho prosperity well into the future.

The history of the Tlicho is a story of a people who have met successive challenges thanks to a set of ancient principles handed down from generation to generation. These principles help the Tlicho decide when to act and when to react, when to drive change and when to adapt to it. By applying these principles, the Tlicho made wise decisions that allowed them to prosper in a modern world, while ensuring the survival of their people, their language and their culture.

These same principles inform the agreement at the heart of the legislation before us, an agreement that will have a positive impact on the quality of life in Tlicho communities because it is rooted in their rich history and honours the way they have lived for generations.

For centuries, the Tlicho were a nomadic people who occupied and used vast stretches of land in the Mackenzie River and Great Bear and Great Slave Lakes. Their ancestors tracked migrating herds of caribou, fished in waters according to age old patterns, trapped and hunted different species according to the seasons.

It should come as no surprise that the primary Tlicho principle is a respect for the natural environment, for the land, the flora and the fauna that thrive on it. It can be difficult for us to appreciate just how deeply the land resonates through the Tlicho culture. More than a source of sustenance, the land also provides spiritual guidance and shapes Tlicho language and art.

Respect for the land guided the Tlicho in their initial dealings with southerners. In 1921, as oil and gas exploration accelerated in the north, Chief Monfwi signed Treaty 11 on behalf of the Tlicho people, who were then known as the Dogrib. The chief traced the traditional lands of his people on a map and the boundaries he described are nearly identical to the ones included in the Tlicho agreement. In fact, when modern negotiators sought to finalize the boundaries for today's agreement, they turned to Tlicho elders for assistance. Their elders based their input on traditional knowledge of the routes travelled regularly by their ancestors.

The agreement at the heart of Bill C-14 will give Tlicho effective control over 39,000 square kilometres of land, almost 20% of their traditional territory. To ensure that the lands can be used in an effective, sustainable and equitable manner, the agreement enables the Tlicho to participate in several boards that will make resource management decisions in their area.

The second guiding principle at the heart of the Tlicho philosophy and the agreement is to act for the common good. Survival in a harsh environment of the north requires collaboration. The interests of the community are to be respected before those of the individual.

In the modern era, this principle has been evident in the Tlicho's approach to education and social services. The Tlicho moved swiftly and effectively to establish schools, for instance, when it became apparent that their traditional way of life was going to be threatened.

In the 1960s, the Tlicho recognized that a proposed pipeline through the Mackenzie Valley could have serious effects on their culture. The chief at the time was Jimmy Bruneau. He insisted that his people learn to blend northern and southern cultures and study the aboriginal and non-aboriginal traditions. This vision became known as a need to “be strong like two people”, a phrase that later became the mission statement for the Chief Jimmy Bruneau school.

The school opened in 1971 and it still teaches a curriculum that balances ideas from the north and the south, from aboriginal and non-aboriginal perspectives. Today, the Dogrib community services board, Canada's first aboriginal school board, operates five schools. An average of 20 students earn high school diplomas every year.

Modern Tlicho leaders believe that access to higher education is crucial to their people's ability to design and implement the policies that can ensure survival of their culture, their language and their traditions. As a result, the Tlicho invested heavily in post-secondary education. When impact benefit agreements were negotiated with mining companies, Diavik and BHP Billiton, the Tlicho insisted both include contributions to a scholarship fund. The Tlicho also intend to put sizable portion of payments they receive from the agreement toward this scholarship fund.

Today the fund supports more than 130 Tlicho who are pursuing post-secondary education. Once they graduate, these people will likely return to serve their communities as teachers, doctors and tradespeople. Their academic success will provide living proof of the Tlicho principles to the next generation.

The Tlicho principle of common good is the central theme of this legislation before us today. Effective self-government, for instance, enhances the Tlicho's ability to improve their communities. The Tlicho government will be able to enact laws to protect culture, language and deliver the social services and manage the resources.

Bill C-14 also incorporates two other Tlicho principles: recognition and representation. Each of the four Tlicho community governments established under the legislation will be run by a chief and a council comprised of a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 12 members. All will be democratically elected. At least half of each council must be comprised of Tlicho citizens. All community residents of legal age can qualify to vote for councillors, although only Tlicho citizens will be eligible to vote for the chief.

The constitution, already ratified by the Tlicho, outlines rules and responsibilities of government and protects the rights and freedoms of those who reside on Tlicho lands. Non-Tlicho citizens, for instance, may be appointed or elected to serve on Tlicho institutions. The constitution also ensures that the Tlicho government is politically and financially accountable to the citizens that it represents. All laws enacted by the Tlicho government are subject to legal challenges.

The final principle I would like to address involves respect for the people. The Tlicho believe that every resident must be accountable to contribute to the community in some way. This is part of the reason the Tlicho negotiators organized dozens of town hall meetings during the negotiations that led up to the agreement. They wanted to ensure that everyone had the opportunity to be heard.

Furthermore, to prepare people for success in the new economy, the Tlicho established a development corporation in 1978. Rather than focus exclusively on making a profit, the corporation's primary goal was to train and employ Tlicho people.

The wisdom of this approach is evident today. There are now two Tlicho holding companies operating several businesses in multiple economic sectors. A logistics company provides services to mining projects and a trucking firm transports goods across this vast region.

The Tlicho also own a local motel and a sporting goods store in Yellowknife. These businesses provide training opportunities and work experience, and give every Tlicho citizen a chance to contribute to their communities.

The Tlicho agreement is a modern expression of the age old principles that have enabled an ancient people to adapt and to change. This agreement has already earned the support of the Tlicho, of the territorial legislature in Yellowknife and now it is our turn in the House. I am convinced that a careful examination of Bill C-14 will lead my hon. colleagues to support it enthusiastically.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act
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10:15 a.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, today we are dealing with Bill C-14, an act to give effect to a land claims and self-government agreement among the Tlicho, the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Canada, to make related amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, or the Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act.

We in the Bloc Québécois are in favour of this bill, as we were moreover of Bill C-31, which died on the Order Paper but has now returned as the bill we are discussing today, Bill C-14.

I have had the honour of meeting with representatives of the Tlicho nation, on October 6 and then again yesterday, along with the Bloc Québécois critic for Indian and northern affairs, the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent. I would draw to hon. members' attention that this gentleman is the first aboriginal person from Quebec to sit in this Parliament. He was a negotiator for the aboriginal peoples for many years. I will not let his age slip. I dated myself yesterday, but I will not do the same to him. I will merely say he was an aboriginal negotiator for many years and is very familiar with the issues. As native elders pass down their wisdom to the younger members of their community, he is passing his knowledge on to me, and I am very grateful to him. It is a pleasure to work with him on this.

The Tlicho who met with us have, moreover, honoured him with the name Barbe blanche. I have not yet been given a name, nor do I yet have a white beard, but I am sure it will not be long until I do.

We also received a letter from grand chief Joe Rabesca on October 22 thanking us for the way the Bloc Québécois has backed his people's claims.

I will just provide some of the background of this bill. The Tlicho agreement comes out of the failure of negotiations with the Dene and Métis nations, a process that ended in 1990. Negotiations with the Tlicho nation resumed in 1994 and concluded in 2003 with the signing of the Tlicho agreement. In this field, patience is a must. The Tlicho have been patient, and I think their patience will soon be rewarded.

On June 26 and 27, 2003, the Tlicho voted 84% in favour of the agreement. It was not a close vote for a referendum, but I will say that we would have unquestioningly accepted the result even if it had been 50% plus 1.

Thus, the passage of Bill C-14 is the final step in recognizing the land claims and self-government of the Tlicho people.

With respect to the terms of the agreement, just to remind the House what it is about, the agreement will give the Tlicho the largest contiguous block of land belonging to a first nation in Canada and will set up new forms of self-government for the Tlicho. The agreement will clarify the rights, titles and obligations of the Tlicho nation. The agreement does not interfere—and this is important—with ancestral or treaty rights of other aboriginal groups. The Tlicho government will own a territory of almost 40,000 square kilometres and it will receive slightly more than $150 million over 14 years. It will have specific legislative jurisdiction over its land and over Tlicho citizens, including those not living on Tlicho land. The most important point in this bill is that the agreement gives the Tlicho nation the tools it needs to achieve financial self-sufficiency, to protect its way of life and to improve its economic growth and the well-being of the whole community. Those principles and values are very dear to us.

The Tlicho have been waiting for 14 months now, since the agreement was signed, for self-government. The Bloc Québécois is 100% in favour of the right to self-government for the aboriginal peoples, their right to govern themselves autonomously. The agreement before us is an excellent example of self-government.

Since it first arrived on the federal political scene, the Bloc Québécois has recognized aboriginal peoples as distinct peoples. We think that aboriginal peoples have a right to their languages, their cultures and their traditions.

Aboriginal peoples unquestionably have the right to decide how to develop their own identity. Therefore, we endorse most of the recommendations of the Erasmus-Dussault royal commission on aboriginal peoples. They called for an approach to the concept of self-government based on the recognition of aboriginal governments as a level of government with jurisdiction over governance and the welfare of their people. We feel that this agreement reflects this approach.

In Quebec, if I can make a comparison, we have long been advocating this type of agreement, in which mutual respect is paramount. As early as 1985, René Lévesque and the Parti Québécois government in office at the time recognized Quebec's aboriginal nations. The Quebec people recognizes that diversity is not a threat, but an asset.

In Quebec, the year 2002 was also a turning point in this regard. It was once again a sovereignist government—what a coincidence—the PQ government of Bernard Landry, which signed the peace of the braves agreement and the joint agreement. The peace of the braves was signed on February 7, 2002, by then Quebec premier Bernard Landry, and the Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees, Ted Moses.

This historic 50-year agreement marks the beginning of a new era in relations between Quebec and the Cree. The agreement concerns the establishment of a new relationship between the two nations. It provides, I should point out, for greater empowerment for the Cree regarding their economic and community development and for hydro development projects in James Bay. It also provides for the harmonization of forest activities with traditional Cree activities.

What a fine example of nation to nation negotiations. Soon, a sovereign Quebec will also be negotiating nation to nation with Canada, and the earlier the better. During the last election campaign, the Bloc Québécois reminded the federal government that the peace of the braves agreement was the example to follow. The Cree nation deserves as much consideration as the Tlicho nation. The peace of the braves has demonstrated that major development projects have to be negotiated with mutual interests in mind. The Bloc Québécois supports the first nations in their fight for emancipation. That is why we are asking Ottawa to follow this example to negotiate a similar agreement with the Cree.

As for the joint agreement, in 2002, the Parti Québécois government of Bernard Landry signed with the Inuit of Nunavik a 25-year agreement to accelerate economic and community development in Northern Quebec. This joint agreement enables the Inuit to assume responsibilities in economic and community development formerly held by the Government of Quebec.

This agreement is opening up bright new horizons by accelerating hydro development in Nunavik, promoting more control for the Inuit over their economic and community development, simplifying and increasing the efficiency of the financing for the Kativik regional administration and northern villages, and providing funding for priority projects.

To conclude, there are two historic agreements, both signed by a sovereignist government. Those who believe that we, sovereignists, want to close borders do not know what we are about. Those who believe that we do not treat our minorities right do not know what we are about. A sovereign Quebec will work in partnership with other peoples.

I reiterate the Bloc Québécois' support for the principle of self-government for aboriginal peoples. This agreement actualizes the right of the Tlicho to govern themselves. I might add that the Tlicho nation clearly indicated its desire to self-govern, and we support this democratic desire.

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10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Roger Valley Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently for a question but what I heard was a lot of praise for the work done by the government and the negotiators. A few points were made on how it took too long, but it was important to get it right. The government had to make sure the Tlicho people were satisfied with the agreement. I think it was incumbent upon us, as the government, to make sure everyone was heard. During my comments I explained some of the details.

I would like to take a minute to bring forward some of the many areas which I meant to do during my speech. This is a very comprehensive agreement and the areas I want to touch on are areas which many of us would not realize.

The Tlicho agreement contains 27 chapters and includes some of the following topics, among others, which will show how broad the negotiations were: enrolment, Tlicho government, Tlicho community governments, Tlicho lands, access to Tlicho lands, wild rice harvesting rights, wild rice harvesting management, land and water regulation, subsurface resources, mineral royalties, protected areas, heritage resources and economic measures. Those are just some of the many things that were looked after and everyone was in agreement.

I would point out to my hon. colleagues across the way that when the job is done right and everyone has patience and we make sure that we cover all our bases, we can get results, like 84% in a vote of confidence. The member mentioned that he would accept 50% plus one, but I believe most of Canada would like to see a rate of 84% or higher if there is going to be a decision made in Quebec.

I think they can learn from the Tlicho and learn to do things right. We can all live together. I think it is very good news for Canada.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act
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10:25 a.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are in a place where we talk about democracy. That is the link I wanted to make with the agreement being presented in this House.

In a future referendum in Quebec, I would like the result to be 84% in favour of Quebec's sovereignty. We are going to work very hard to achieve that.

I can assure my colleague that when this happens, we will be as direct and frank in our negotiations as the Tlicho were with the Northwest Territories and the Government of Canada.

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10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, the last member indicated that he thought the negotiations that were done with the Tlicho were great. However, the member from the Bloc talked about having its own sovereignty and dealing with the federal government, plus having borders for the Cree.

How are they going to all work together because we are dealing with several levels of government? What type of government is going to be set up with all of these little autonomies? Will we have a level of government that has the powers of the federal government? Will they be partners with provinces? Will they be municipal governments?

What vision does this member have for all of these different autonomies because I see very many right now, the Tlicho, the Cree and the separate Quebec borders?

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act
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10:25 a.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her question. Do I have a couple of hours to give her a course on Quebec sovereignty? I do not think so, unfortunately. It is no surprise that we are here. We have been here since 1993. In our speeches we often draw parallels with sovereignty in Quebec.

As far as how it would work is concerned, it is not so complicated considering this agreement was established on the same principle as the agreement with the Nisga'a. I know her party was against that agreement.

We agree completely with aboriginal self-government. We will not flip-flop on this, because of some alleged administrative problems. Quite the contrary, we know that, while Nisga'a agreement was not supported by her party, it is working quite well. In Quebec, the agreements with the Cree and the Inuit are also working quite well.

The federal government needs to look at these agreements and use them as examples. In the case of the peace of the braves, the problem still has not been resolved with the federal government. We are asking the federal government to draw on this agreement with the Tlicho and to do the same with the peace of the braves and the agreement with the Quebec Cree.

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10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to make a couple of comments.We would like to support the spirit of the agreement. Clearly, the Conservative Party agrees that the settlement for the Tlicho land claim should happen. Negotiation of any aboriginal self-government agreement is something we support.

The problem that I have with this agreement, and I would like to question the hon. member on a couple of points, is that it is poorly drafted. There are a number of inconsistencies and flaws in the agreement that should be addressed before we pass this legislation.

The agreement does not recognize Canada's official languages. The Tlicho constitution recognizes the official language of the Tlicho nation to be Tlicho and English, but it does not recognize Canada's other official language, French. I wonder what the hon. member for Richmond--Arthabaska would say with respect to that. Does he feel that this is something that should be included in the agreement or is he satisfied with the terms of language provision the agreement calls for?

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10:30 a.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are of course going to look into what the hon. member says. Obviously, this may merely be a technicality that will have to be checked in committee.

At this point we are totally in agreement with the principle of this bill. This has been pointed out by the Bloc Québécois Indian and northern affairs critic. The Bloc has always been in agreement with the bill, even when it went by another name and died, unfortunately, on the Order Paper during the last session.

We are going to look into what the hon. member has said. There is nothing to prevent certain amendments from being made in committee, as required. We will pay careful attention to the bill, while delaying its examination as little as possible.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act
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10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, that is one of many flaws that I believe is contained in this agreement.

One of the larger problems with this agreement and the way it is drafted right now is the fact that there is no finality to this agreement. Chapter 27.6.1 provides that the Tlicho will receive equivalent benefits to those granted in the future to any other aboriginal group in the Northwest Territories, whether by land claims agreement, self-government agreements, taxpayer exemptions, et cetera.

This agreement is not a final agreement at all. One of the basic premises of any agreement is finality. This agreement, in the way it is currently drafted, does not call for finality to be enacted. This agreement could be reopened for future negotiations. I do not believe that is what we want to see in any agreement of this sort.

We want to see a document and a piece of legislation that is properly crafted and properly worded so that all partners in this assembly can agree, or at least agree to disagree, on the wording. The biggest problem I have is that there is no finality to this agreement. It cannot be a proper piece of legislation unless there is a finality contained in the language of this document.

I would ask questions of both the hon. members who have just spoken. What would they do to ensure--

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act
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10:30 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member is only able to direct his question to the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska.

That member now has an opportunity to give a brief reply.

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10:30 a.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I cannot respond on behalf of my colleague, of course. The hon. member has submitted a long list of problems he feels are in the agreement. All I can say is that he is entitled to his opinion, but I do not share it.

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10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Michael John Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague from Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca.

It is a special honour for me to rise today and encourage my hon. colleagues to support Bill C-14, the Tlicho land claims and self-government act. The act would make possible boundless improvements in the lives of the Tlicho people. It would serve throughout Canada and around the world as an example of visionary advancement of the principles of ethical fairness, social encouragement, and legislative support for aboriginal communities. Moreover, it would most assuredly have a positive and sustained effect on Canada's economy as a whole.

In the modern age, the keys to the long term business success of a corporation and the keys to economic prosperity of a whole society are in many ways similar. The requisites are creativity, honesty, hard work, persistence, and now above all else, effective partnerships.

Buyers need sellers, retailers need wholesalers, distributors need manufacturers, and producers need suppliers of raw materials. In the development of social economic structures the pattern of interdependence is the same. Communities need support, individuals need encouragement, leaders need wise counsel and organizations need allies.

Before any of this can happen local communities need the full understanding and support of provincial and territorial authorities. All levels of government need the clarity of well considered legislation from which they can seek, build and sustain the partnerships that will lead to prosperity.

In my opinion, Bill C-14 would provide the Tlicho people with the tools they need to establish new and effective partnerships. The Tlicho have already demonstrated a remarkable ability to negotiate mutually beneficial agreements with private companies. Consider for example the resourceful approach the Tlicho took to two of the diamond mining projects now underway in the Northwest Territories. Before the projects went ahead impact benefit agreements were completed that guaranteed valuable benefits for Tlicho communities. These agreements made with Diavik and BHP Billiton respectively have generated jobs for the Tlicho people, service contracts for Tlicho owned companies, and post-secondary scholarships for Tlicho youth.

The Tlicho have recognized that most mines are productive only for a finite period and that once this time elapses many of the well negotiated jobs and contracts will then dry up. To maximize the potential long term benefits associated with diamond mines on their traditional territory, the Tlicho people sought the help of a business partner. Several years ago the Tlicho began an association with ATCO Frontec, a logistics firm that follows a unique and successful business model based on collaboration with aboriginal groups.

Beginning in the late 1980s, ATCO established a series of partnerships with aboriginal groups across the north. As an example, the Uqsuq Corporation, which stores and distributes fuel, is jointly owned with the Inuit Development Corporation of Nunavut.

The Inuit of Labrador are partners with ATCO in Torngait, a company that provides support services to a range of industries. In B.C., the Northwest Territories and Yukon, Northwest Tel operates and maintains microwave towers thanks to agreements ATCO has made with several aboriginal development corporations.

Each one of these partnerships with ATCO is based on a similar business model, one that stresses the building of capacity within aboriginal communities. While contacts may come and go, industrial and business capacity has an enduring market value that can be adapted to suit new opportunities.

This capacity based business model appealed to the Dogrib Treaty 11 Council which then partnered with ATCO Frontec to create Tli Cho Logistics. The business model is pretty simple. The Tlicho own 51% of Tli Cho Logistics and ATCO Frontec controls 49%. The company provides a range of services to the Diavik diamond mine and to the remediation project underway at the Colomac gold mine. Today more than 130 people work for Tli Cho Logistics, 50 of whom are members of the Dogrib Rae band.

When the company was founded five years ago ATCO handled nearly all the company's administrative and managerial work while the unskilled jobs went to the Tlicho people. During the past few years however ATCO has helped the Tlicho acquire the skills needed to manage and to administer that company.

This incremental transfer of technical skills is why the Tlicho were and continue to be keen to partner with companies like ATCO Frontec. Tlicho leaders recognize that management skills acquired on mining projects can be readily applied to other ventures as well. In other words, the Tlicho will be better able to initiate, to manage and to operate other projects as a result of experience gained from these diamond mines. This, my hon. colleagues, represents community capacity building in its purest form, and all Canadians stand to benefit from it and should be proud of it.

When Canadians want to do business they must make and seek investment. These days attracting investment is tricky. Investors everywhere have been burned. They look for security, for solidity and for mitigated risk. In short, they look now more for a secure return on investment rather than a large or perhaps uncertain quick return on investment. Managing risk is often now the act of avoiding it altogether.

Now look at the challenges facing the first nations, the Inuit, the Métis and northern communities attempting to attract the financing necessary to move a business ahead in their communities. These communities are often frozen in their progress by factors such as limited access to venture capital, a shortage of private sector partners and a lack of infrastructure. In this environment, what security can they offer investors? What factors must be addressed? What conditions must be changed to show investors that those who are in charge are ready, willing and able to make the kind of business decisions that generate results? This, I believe, is where Bill C-14 shines through.

Today land claims and self-government agreements are opening up the business environment by finally clarifying the ownership of resources. In the north, one of the world's greatest storehouses of natural resources, first nations, Inuit, Métis and northerners play a major role in growing the local and Canadian economies.

With such certainty affirmed by law, aboriginal groups, such as the Tlicho, can move resolutely, creating businesses. Instead of going cap in hand to investors, they can say, “Something big is about to happen, are you in or are you out?”.

I believe many Canadians have not yet appreciated the tremendous impact that first nations, Inuit, Métis and northerners will have on our national economy in the decades to come. Theirs is a community of communities where the population is rapidly growing, a sure sign of economic potential. The Conference Board of Canada has been warning Canadian corporations to “ignore the economic potential of aboriginal people at their own risk”.

With Bill C-14 we can give one group the certainty it needs to push ahead and to make its mark. This is a positive step in improving our nation's health. Our legislation must give people the tools they need to press ahead. The ability, the drive and the opportunity are there. With Bill C-14 and others like it, we can at last make sure that the certainty is there.

We have before us an opportunity to send a clear and powerful message to first nations, Inuit, Métis and northerners across our country, that the Government of Canada is ready to remove the remaining barriers to economic development in aboriginal communities. I urge my hon. colleagues to support Bill C-14.

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10:40 a.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague opposite made some very good points in terms of needing to have some certainty on a lot of these investment issues so that when companies do go in and make the large capital investments, they do have that certainty throughout a time period.

This week I was at the Energy Council dinner where they honoured Nellie Cournoyer from the north for all of her actions and what she has done to really bring prosperity to the north.

One of the questions I do want to ask my colleague is on the issue of jurisdiction. Which level of government has jurisdiction? One of the things we found in our reading of the legislation was that it is a little confusing over which jurisdiction is paramount. Is it the provincial government, the federal government, the agreement itself or Tlicho law?

Could the hon. member identify which level of government has paramountcy in terms of jurisdiction? Could he point to either the agreement or Bill C-14 legislation where it identifies which level of government is paramount.

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10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Michael John Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, the area of economic certainty applies to many places in Canada. It certainly applies to the part of Canada where I live, which is Atlantic Canada, where we have had not as dramatic but similar lacks in terms of access to venture capital and to resources that they have had in the north.

One of the great benefits in the Northwest Territories with this treaty is that it provides certainty and clarity with the ownership and management of land and resources. That is very key. How does this treaty make it easier for the first nations people in northern Canada, and in particular the Tlicho nation, to take advantage of the great resources that lie beneath them? I think this provides a lot of clarity around that, provides certainty about the ownership and management of land and resources, and will create a much more predictable decision making environment so that people who are looking to make investments can be certain about their returns.