House of Commons Hansard #113 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.

Topics

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

The vote is postponed until tomorrow at 5:30 p.m.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-34, An Act to give effect to the Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Speaker's Ruling
Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

I must first share with the House a ruling by the Speaker on Bill C-34, An Act to give effect to the Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

There are nine motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-34.

Motions Nos. 1 to 9 will be grouped for debate and voted upon according to the voting pattern available at the table.

Motions in Amendment
Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

John Cummins Delta—Richmond East, BC

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-34 be amended by deleting Clause 5.

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-34 be amended by deleting Clause 7.

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-34 be amended by deleting Clause 8.

Motion No. 4

That Bill C-34 be amended by deleting Clause 9.

Motion No. 5

That Bill C-34 be amended by deleting Clause 10.

Motion No. 6

That Bill C-34 be amended by deleting Clause 11.

Motion No. 7

That Bill C-34 be amended by deleting Clause 18.

Motion No. 8

That Bill C-34 be amended by deleting Clause 28.

Motion No. 9

That Bill C-34 be amended by deleting Clause 32.

Mr. Speaker, these motions are important because they address and highlight key flaws in the Tsawwassen treaty, flaws that most residents of British Columbia and most members in the House are not aware of.

There are issues that should not be tolerated in a free and open society and represent an ongoing fiscal commitment of the federal and provincial governments that is not justifiable.

Motions Nos. 8 and 9 address taxes. Treaty negotiators have repeatedly advised Canadians that post-treaty Tsawwassen Band members will pay taxes just like other Canadians. That is incorrect. Post-treaty, all band members resident on Tsawwassen lands will pay income taxes to the band government, not the Government of Canada as other Canadians do.

Post-treaty, all residents of Tsawwassen treaty lands, native and non-native, band members or non-band members, will pay income taxes to the band government, not to the federal and provincial governments.

All GST collected on band lands will go to the band government and half of the PST collected on band lands will go to the band government.

Currently there are approximately 160 band members living on Tsawwassen lands and 500 non-native, non-band members living on the reserve.

The federal government estimates that $1.5 million would have flowed to band coffers in 2007 based on these tax concessions. The government refuses to indicate how much tax revenue the federal treasury expects to lose when all treaties in British Columbia are signed.

Observers conservatively estimate that when all the treaties are signed in British Columbia, the cost of lost tax revenue to the federal government alone would be $100 million annually.

If members vote against the amendment to delete the tax concessions, they will be voting in favour of increasing the tax collected from Canadians by $100 million annually.

Motion No. 2 addresses treaty lands. The treaty approves the transfer of approximately 1,100 acres of prime farm land to the Tsawwassen Band. Approximately half of that land will be moved from the agricultural land reserve and used for a rail marshalling yard, container storage and warehousing area as agreed to in a deal with the Vancouver Port Authority.

Initially, the government evaluated the land being transferred at $26 million. Independent appraisers put the land value at 10 times that. They put it at $254 million and they lowballed the numbers.

If all the bands in British Columbia are given land of equal value, the cost alone to satisfy treaty requirements would top $120 billion. British Columbia and the federal government cannot afford the bill. Furthermore, much of this farmland has served a dual purpose.

As protected farmland, it ensured an economically viable farm economy in the Fraser delta, provided green space for the population of Delta and Vancouver and, perhaps most important, formed part of what is recognized as the most important bird area in Canada by providing forage areas for the millions of migratory birds using the Pacific flyway.

Without the farmers, the area is lost to wildlife and green space for the million or more residents of greater Vancouver and Delta.

An added injustice in the whole farmland fiasco surrounding the treaty is the anticipated taking, for treaty purposes, of an additional 700 acres of farmland at Brunswick Point as the existing farm families are squeezed out.

If members vote against the land amendments, they will be voting to commit senior governments to pay $120 billion to complete the land portion of the treaties remaining in British Columbia and the wanton destruction of valuable farmland and wildlife habitat.

Motions Nos. 5, 6 and 8 address the fisheries. The treaty ignores the decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada in Sparrow and Van der Peet that rejected aboriginal claims to the trade and barter sale of food fish and the commercial sale of salmon. It creates a treaty right to be enjoyed by at least some members of the band who are not even Canadian and have never stepped foot on the Tsawwassen Reserve.

Using basic calculations based upon the current population of status Indians published by the Department of Indian Affairs and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Pacific Salmon Commission records of the Fraser River salmon run size, it becomes clear that 170% of the total allowable catch of Fraser sockeye would be required if the salmon allocations given the Tsawwassen Indian Band are repeated for bands claiming Fraser sockeye.

Not only are there not enough fish to satisfy Indian claims to similar allocations, there would be nothing for sport or commercial fishermen.

The government claims that only 33% of the total allowable catch would be required to satisfy Indian claims. This unsubstantiated estimate by the Department of Fisheries appears to be based on the findings of a departmental study to assess the coast wide implications in the Nisga'a treaty allocations. That study was based on the Nisga'a treaty allocation of 26 fish per person. The Tsawwassen allocation is 156 fish per person. Clearly, the fisheries' allocations need to be revisited before the treaty proceeds.

If members vote against the fisheries' amendments, they are voting for a fisheries' allocation that is not sustainable and which will make even the delivery of food fish to upriver natives impossible.

Motions Nos. 1 and 9 address the issue of protecting parliamentary supremacy.

The Tsawwassen government, which would be created by this agreement, would have the power to enact laws that would prevail over federal laws and the law-making power of Parliament in approximately 40 specific areas.

Parliament must maintain the supreme law-making power for those matters entrusted to it by our Constitution. Parliament has a responsibility to ensure that laws enacted under these federal constitutional powers respect the rights and privileges historically enjoyed by Canadian citizens.

The Tsawwassen government would have the power to imprison Canadian citizens. It is a government that is not representative or responsive to the Tsawwassen band members who live on the reserve. It is a government that is controlled by off-reserve band members, many of whom are permanent residents and citizens in the United States. It is a government that is not accountable to Tsawwassen residents, is exempted from the scrutiny of Parliament and is a government that can largely act with the knowledge and guarantee that it cannot be held accountable if it acts contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This House must remain the supreme law-making authority so as to protect the rights and privileges of Canadian citizens and the powers entrusted to it by our Constitution.

If members vote against the motion to delete clause 5, they will be voting for a form of government that will prevail over federal and provincial law, a situation that should be viewed as intolerable in an open and democratic society such as Canada.

The Tsawwassen treaty is troubling in the extreme to those of us who have taken the time to study the implications of the treaty. It is troublesome for the reasons I have given but it is also troublesome because it does not recognize individual effort.

Harvey Enchin, in The Vancouver Sun on the weekend, had an outstanding article on Canada's native reserves. He stated that we should:

Abandon the failed socialist concept of collectivism and protect individual property rights.

As Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto has proven in the developing world, formal title (along with a formal system for recognizing it) [that being property rights] is the building block of financial independence. Without title to their assets, aboriginals cannot participate in the mainstream economy; they can't use their property as collateral for bank loans to upgrade their homes or take out equity to invest in or start businesses.

Aboriginal reserves are repositories of what de Soto might call dead capital.

He suggests that:

Unlocking that capital and leveraging it will put aboriginals on the path to amassing individual net worth....

The underlying flaw in this treaty is that it does nothing to remove the dependency on the federal government. It simply shifts dependency on the federal government to dependency on the band leadership, which is fundamentally wrong.

Motions in Amendment
Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat surprised, and in a few minutes, I will explain why. I am stunned and disappointed. My colleague opposite's position is unacceptable, and I hope that other members of his party will vote against these motions that—I will try to choose my words carefully here, but it is hard for me—seem to me to be infused with paternalism, smugness and disrespect despite the fact that not even a week ago—the ink is still wet—the government apologized for what was done to aboriginals in Indian residential schools.

I studied Bill C-34 very closely, from all angles. The Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development also studied it thoroughly.

The final agreement covers approximately 724 hectares of treaty settlement land including approximately 290 hectares of former reserve lands. These lands belonged to the Indians, not to the whites, because the Indians were there first. The aboriginals will get 372 hectares of provincial Crown land belonging to British Columbia back, and the first nation will also own in fee simple 62 hectares of waterfront land comprised of the Boundary Bay and Fraser River parcels.

I do not understand what gives them the right to say that the aboriginals, under this agreement that took five years to negotiate, do not have rights to these lands that belong to them. I would really like him to explain that.

Motions in Amendment
Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

John Cummins Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, my friend has raised a number of issues.

He suggested that the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development examined very clearly the bill. That is simply not the case. I think the bill was before the committee for two hours. For an hour the committee members heard from the minister and for an hour they heard from the chief. That is hardly a careful examination of the bill.

What the member does not seem to understand is that there are 160 band members who live on the reserve and the band claims a membership of 360. Most of the band members do not live on the reserve. In fact, they live in Los Angeles, California, the states of Washington, Oregon and Alabama, the province of Ontario, and Winnipeg, Manitoba, yet this treaty gives these people the right to determine what kind of lifestyle the people who are resident on the reserve will have.

Let me provide an example. The family of one of the band members who is opposed to the treaty, Bertha Williams, has lived on the reserve since the land was created. The family has held a certificate of possession of the land which her house sits on and about an additional 50 acres of land. When this treaty goes through and the land use planning is put in place, and remember that all of this happened with the majority of people living off reserve, Bertha's house and property will be in the middle of a rail marshalling yard, in the middle of container storage and warehousing, for whose benefit? It is for the benefit of the port of Vancouver, because that is what this treaty is about. It is about advancing the business enterprise of the port of Vancouver. It is not about--

Motions in Amendment
Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Unfortunately, I must now interrupt the hon. member because this period has now expired. We are resuming debate with the hon. member for Yukon.

Motions in Amendment
Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I have a written speech, but I am not going to use it because the member referred to six points that were wrong with the treaty. He is basically emasculating it with the amendments and they are all wrong. If we refute that, then everyone should definitely vote for this treaty. I will talk about how embarrassing it is to the Prime Minister that a government member would be allowed to totally emasculate a government bill and only relate it to aboriginal affairs. I do not know why other members have not spoken out on other things their constituents have told them to speak about.

The first point the member suggested not to vote for the bill is that taxes would go to the first nations government. I guess if we were to vote for the member's amendments, we would tell all the provinces that they should not be getting money from the federal government, and all the municipalities that they should not be getting infrastructure money and other types of grants from the federal government.

Of course the federal government helps other governments in this country. That is one of the reasons these treaties have been so successful across the country. This treaty would be another one. I think that is why the government has put this forward.

The member's second perceived problem is not a problem. He suggested that there would be new rights to all sorts of unaffordable land for the first nations. First of all, as a Bloc member outlined, this land is traditionally first nations land, since a royal proclamation in 1763. The first nations have never ceded this land.

There are much larger volumes of this land in the tiny corner they have agreed to in this agreement. It is not as though governments are giving this up. First nations still have a legal case to this under the royal proclamation of King George III in 1763 and a negotiated settlement of this tiny portion of land. That does not cost the government. In fact, what the government is gaining is many more billions and billions of dollars of land that were traditionally used by the aboriginal people and on which they are making a good faith agreement with governments, so that they can still continue some semblance of a life that they have always had.

The Conservatives had so much potential to work in the area of farmland and the tiny amount of land related to the environment. Why is it that the only time it is ever raised is in this situation? That is simply not believable. Those points are now refuted.

The next point is related to the commercial sale of salmon. The member suggested that if we extrapolated this, all the sockeye salmon for the other agreements to come and all the sockeye salmon in British Columbia, in fact, more than all the salmon, 170% of the salmon would be gone.

Once again, there is a saying that for every complex problem there is a simple answer, and it is wrong. That is a simple extrapolation of the same numbers per person, as if every first nation in British Columbia ate the same food, had the same access to the one species and that they were all the same, which of course is not true. The first nations people who are inland have different food sources, access to different types of fish and obviously more access to land mammals such as moose. Each agreement would be negotiated separately. There would be different amounts of sockeye salmon and any other species.

I think that no one in his or her right mind would ever believe that thinking, rational people would ever sign away 170%. In fact, of the fisheries that are there, they are still based on conservation. If there is a conservation problem in numbers, they can be cut back. It is abundance based and it is a sliding scale. The Minister of Fisheries can still cut back when there is a conservation problem. I do not know if the member was referring to the commercial licences. Those are provided from retired licences. Therefore, that does not put more pressure on the situation.

The fourth suggested problem is not a problem. We should look at the bill itself and all the precedents where agreements such as this one have been so successful. The member said there would be laws that would prevail over federal laws in a number of areas. I think the member has analyzed 40 situations, and I congratulate him for doing that in-depth analysis, where it would prevail over other laws. Of course, different levels of government have responsibilities to make laws and to ensure that they do not conflict with those of other governments. Ontario can make laws. If we were to vote for this amendment, we would be saying that all governments in this country cannot have their own laws in their own areas of jurisdiction.

It would not override Parliament because the whole issue we are discussing is a federal law that the federal government is making and can change. One of the keys to the success of these agreements that have been established so far is that when one has self-determination, whether it is a municipality, province or a first nation, and is responsible for things in one's own jurisdiction, there is a remarkable increase in success rather than when it is someone else's responsibility to take care of it.

The fifth suggestion was that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not apply. Of course it does. It is in the agreement.

The last fallacious suggestion was that people cannot start a business or have any self-sufficiency. Once again, that is not true. It is telling first nations and their governments, just like the Government of Canada, the government of Vancouver or the government of British Columbia, that they own land and it is up to them what they do with that land. The first nation will have its land, as I said, a very tiny parcel of land compared to what is being freed up for everyone else in the agreement with the other two governments, and it is up to the first nation how to deal with the land. A first nation society is more of a collective society and there have been tremendous success stories, as I have said, with these particular agreements.

There is one in my area that owns half of the local airline, a success story at a time when airlines are not doing very well. There are different arrangements. Obviously it is not always the simple type of arrangement that the member has talked about. It is not that it is out of the control of the first nation. It is that it has chosen not to go that way so that the land, which is so important to the first nation as a society, is not eroded and will be used for its businesses.

I think the member mentioned a number of businesses and economic revenues, over and above the taxation revenue, that will come from the land to the first nation. In British Columbia there are a number of first nations with very innovative businesses and success stories. In relation to taxation, the first nation will also have its own source revenues, as every government needs, to fulfill the obligations that it did not have to fulfill before but now has to under this agreement.

None of the member's concerns are valid. They do not stand up in law. They do not stand up in precedent. They do not stand up in the failures of such previous agreements which, by and large, in many cases moved the first nations so far ahead.

It is very distressing that the Prime Minister, who has tight control over everything the party does--which is fine; that is his way of operating--in this one exception would allow two members to put forward a bunch of amendments that, first, are not true and do not match his government's analysis of them, and second, would totally emasculate a government bill. That is very distressing. It must be distressing to Conservative voters who did not want their members to vote for certain things but their members had to vote for. Now in this one particular case, they do not have to.

We should continue with the strong support that a vast majority of members of the House of Commons showed on the first vote. It was negotiated among three governments. We should let it stand and go ahead.

Motions in Amendment
Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, Federal Protected Areas; the hon. member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, Manufacturing Sector.

Motions in Amendment
Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

John Cummins Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened with some interest to my friend's comments. I always find that when people go on the attack and suggest that other people do not know what they are talking about, they certainly leave themselves open to that criticism. However, what I would say, given the member's comments, is that it shows to me the reason why there should have been a more open debate on this.

So I do not take up all of the time of the member opposite, as there are only five minutes left, let me approach the issue of the salmon. The member suggested that somehow I had it all wrong.

The salmon issue is fairly clear. All of the bands up the river and down the coast have stated a desire to share in the commercial harvest of salmon, over and above their food fish allocations. The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that there is no entitlement to a commercial allocation, but in this treaty the ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada has been ignored.

In fact, the government has entered into three treaties in the last two years. There is the Tsawwassen treaty. The first one that the government entered into was the Yale treaty. The Yale band is located just at the western entrance of the Fraser Canyon. It is a small band, yet it got an allocation very similar to the allocation of the Tsawwassen band.

The second treaty is the Lheidli T'enneh treaty. That band is resident and its lands are adjacent to Prince George, which is 500 miles up the river. That band has never had a commercial harvest of salmon. In fact, I would suggest that by the time the salmon have reached 500 miles up the river, they are not fit for commercial sale. Yet the band was given, although it rejected the treaty, a commercial allocation of salmon similar to the allocation given to Tsawwassen.

The member talked about precedents. Given the precedents, it is not outrageous for me to say these are the populations of these various bands and if they are given the same allocation as the Tsawwassen band, we are going to end up with a--

Motions in Amendment
Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

I must interrupt the hon. member. Even at that, the hon. member for Yukon will not have equal time if he responds to every point. The hon. member for Yukon has the floor.

Motions in Amendment
Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I think it was really only one point that the member was making, which basically is related to commercial salmon and aboriginal rights to have a commercial salmon allocation.

He is very right to point to the court case. Of course, I do not imagine a federal government negotiator or the Department of Justice would allow a provision that was against a court case that had just been ruled on, and they have not. The salmon in this treaty is not a section 35 right to a commercial salmon allocation because, as the member quite rightly pointed out, the Supreme Court did not allow in several cases that commercial catch could be an aboriginal right. What has been done here is a side agreement that is not protected under section 35, with some commercial allocation.

Of course, the lifestyle here is very dependent on this. This is provided through the purchase of retired licences for that fishing area so that it does not increase the harvesting pressure. It is an opportunity with no specified catch limits, as is not the case for other vessels in the commercial fleet. The Tsawwassen First Nation can be out only when everyone else is out. Tsawwassen has to follow the same rules.

With regard to the fish, I am surprised that the member said the fish could not swim 500 miles, because they come 2,000 miles to my riding and are still in fine shape. However, the point is that the first nations in other areas have more access to other forms of harvest. The negotiators have made it quite clear that they will not be allowing the same percentages of sockeye per person in all cases.

Motions in Amendment
Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement Act
Government Orders

June 16th, 2008 / 4:30 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak about the present file and particularly about the amendments proposed by the member for Delta—Richmond East.

From the outset, I should say that the Bloc Québécois will not support these motions, and I hope that all of the members in the House, with the exception of the two Conservative members, will vote against these motions. The two Conservative members—the member for Delta—Richmond East and his colleague—will perhaps be the only two in the House to vote against an agreement that has been reached between aboriginals and the governments of British Columbia and Canada.

Why is this bill so important for the Bloc Québécois? Because it talks about autonomy and negotiation between nations.

I think that my colleague, the member for Delta—Richmond East, missed some history classes. If he thinks that the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, for which I am the Bloc Québécois critic, did not adequately study this bill, I must tell him that not only did we study it very carefully, but we also received documents to prove what I am about to say. I am sure that my colleague was not alive, nor was his grandfather, nor his great-great grandfather when, in 400 B.C., reference was made to Tsawwassen being in the Vancouver delta. I think that they have a right.

Better yet, there is more, because my colleague thinks that all rights are to be taken for granted. He thinks that because white people came along, the Indians should make way. That is what my colleague opposite wants. In 1851—and I did not make this up, this is from the research results we were given, results that were double-checked—Tsawwassen territory was split in two by the establishment of the Canadian territory and the United States. That predated 1867 and, unfortunately for my colleague opposite, unfortunately for the member for Delta—Richmond East, that was long before he, his parents, his grandparents, or his great-grandparents came into this world. So I think that the aboriginals have some long-standing rights.

The Tsawwassen reserve was created in 1871. That was four years after Canada became a country. To my knowledge, British Columbia did not even exist then. See how the facts have been twisted. When talking about what is going on now, we have to remember that in 1874, the reserve included 490 acres in the Vancouver port and the delta.

The surprising thing is that they are now telling us that it does not exist, that the Indians can be shoved aside. That is bizarre because in 1906, the chiefs went to England—there is evidence supporting that—to ask for their traditional lands back. How would the member for Delta—Richmond East solve the problem? He would solve it by sticking the Indians in the lake or the river, anywhere at all, as long as he could get rid of them and make room for nice white people. He should be ashamed.

The member is part of the government. His government is responsible for this bill. The member is taking issue with a bill introduced by his own government. Not only is he challenging it, but he is introducing amendments that, if passed, would rob Bill C-34 of everything that was agreed to, of everything that was discussed and addressed in the treaty between the Tsawwassen and the governments of Canada and British Columbia. So much for self-determination. Bizarre actions like these lead us to believe that his government's apology was nothing but lip service. The member for Delta—Richmond East is part of the government that apologized just last week.

The ink on the documents is not even dry yet. It was only a week ago Wednesday that the government issued a formal apology for the ethnocide of aboriginals. It was indeed an ethnocide, that is, causing a people to lose their status, thus destroying their culture. That is exactly what was done to aboriginals on reserves who were sent to residential schools. It would certainly make things easier for the member if we could do the same thing to the people of Tsawwassen. If we could get them out of the way, that would take care of the problem. It would done with, one could say.

But my hon. colleague should know that aboriginals, especially with this treaty, will probably take much better care of the salmon. Actually, he seems to care more about the salmon issue than he does about first nations. That is not to say that I am not concerned about the salmon. In fact, with this agreement, the first nations peoples will be able to take much better care of the salmon than the white people that some would like to replace them with.

Furthermore, the agreement also proposes that the Tsawwassen nation, which negotiated nation to nation with British Columbia and Canada, be able to sit at the same table as the regional committee in the Delta and Vancouver area, in order to allow the same developments.

I saw the stocks. I went to see for myself. I find it exceptional, and I say this out of respect for the current government. Once again, I would like to repeat to my hon. colleague from Delta—Richmond East that negotiations began on this agreement in 2003. It has not been merely a couple weeks or a couple months. They have been going on since 2003 and even earlier. An agreement was reached with British Columbia and Canada around 2003 and, since that time, people from the Tsawwassen nation have come to Ottawa several times. They have met with the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development several times to move this file forward.

For once, a file is finally making some progress in this government and I find it appalling that a member—a government member, at that—would put forward such a proposal to destroy his own government's bill. It makes no sense.

It is important to look at what they are claiming. At first, I thought they wanted half of British Colombia. I thought to myself that this made no sense. But no, it would give them 724 hectares of land. Sure, maybe the land is a prime location, in a commercial area. It is true that the Vancouver port will perhaps not be able to expand as it wanted to. It will just need to come to an agreement with the Tsawwassen First Nation. That is it. Finally, they can deal with each other as equals. The objective of the agreement, of the treaty, is to be able to negotiate as equals, as nations.

That is why the Bloc is in favour of this. The Tsawwassen agreement is the first of its kind below the 60th parallel. We think it could have a significant impact on other land claims.

I realize I am running out of time. I urge all of my colleagues in the House to vote in favour of this bill, with the exception of those two members. I would like to teach them a lesson so that they understand once and for all. I would like us to all vote in favour of this bill. Thus, the aboriginals of Tsawwassen will be able to finally reclaim their land, to get back what is rightfully theirs.