House of Commons Hansard #53 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cree.

Topics

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on behalf of the Bloc Québécois about Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Energy Efficiency Act.

My colleague from Brome—Missisquoi gave a very fine speech, and the Bloc Québécois will support this bill. However, even though the government presents it as a fight for better energy efficiency, this bill has only eight clauses and three pages, not including the cover pages. The government, especially the Conservative government, tends to exaggerate this fight against climate change.

My colleague compared this bill to a mouse. I would say it is a lead balloon. Obviously, it provides us with an opportunity to initiate a real debate on energy efficiency. My colleague from Brome—Missisquoi tried to show that the government could wage a real battle and set an example by increasing its own energy efficiency if it wanted to, but it has not done so. I will therefore read my text, which describes the scope of the debate.

It seems at first glance that the proposed changes to the Energy Efficiency Act are an improvement because they target unregulated products and toughen the standards for other products.

It is impossible to know, though, whether this is real progress or just the updating of standards already regularly done by the Agence de l'efficacité énergétique.

That is the problem: the government has overstated the impact of this bill to amend the Energy Efficiency Act. All it is doing is updating energy efficiency standards for companies and suppliers that had already begun updating their standards in other countries. It is important that we have a clear understanding of the government's role.

The reaction by industry representatives is understandable:

Industry greeted the proposed regulations with a shrug. A spokeswoman from Sony Canada said they would have little bearing on the company’s line of consumer electronics. “All Sony televisions consume less than one watt of power in standby mode, and Sony is continually developing innovative technologies that improve the energy efficiency of our products,” Candice Hayman said in an e-mail.

This bill also upgrades the standards, to try to achieve a balance that is consistent with the requirements that are increasingly gaining global recognition. This is important. There are Conservative members, as we have just seen, who rise in this House to defend the oil sands, job creation, their contribution to pension plans, and so on. But it has to be said that the Conservative Party supports non-renewable energy and oil. We understand that this creates a lot of jobs in Alberta, but we must never forget that Quebec is the only province of Canada that could have achieved the objectives in the Kyoto protocol. It would have participated in a carbon exchange that is already operating.

Together with the leader of the Bloc Québécois, I attended a meeting with the mayor of Rivière-du-Loup, which could have sold credits on the international market by capturing gas on its landfill site after it closed. He went to the effort of calling the European and American exchanges to tell them he would have credits to sell by capturing carbon and reducing his greenhouse gas emissions. He was told that Canada was not a signatory and was not in compliance with the Kyoto protocol. And so no Canadian company can participate in the European and American carbon exchanges.

This is very difficult to understand. We must never forget that Quebec’s hydroelectric development was carried out without any money from the federal government. Those are the facts. Quebec’s hydroelectric development was paid for entirely by Quebeckers. The federal government contributed nothing, not a penny, to Quebec. And yet it has contributed billions of dollars for oil development in Canada; we need only think of Hibernia or the oil sands. Even though Quebec developed its own hydroelectric network with no federal contribution, Quebec paid 25% of the bill for the oil developments.

Today, we are told that Quebec does not understand the situation. On the contrary; it understands the situation all too well. If Quebec were a country, it could sell credits on the international carbon exchange, and that would benefit its businesses, particularly paper and aluminum mills. Those industries have significantly reduced their greenhouse gas emissions as compared to 1990, the Kyoto protocol base year.

Quebeckers, and especially the Bloc Québécois, which represents Quebec’s interests every week and every day and stands up for the interests of Quebeckers in this House, cannot be blamed for this. Quebec is a society that wants to be a green society. It is open to any green innovation anywhere in the world. Canada, on the other hand, is still bogged down in the oil sands. The oil sands project is currently the biggest polluter in the world. I understand that they want to work on it, they are trying to make efforts and the federal government is offering financial assistance to oil companies in the oil sands to try to make them reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. That is fine. The problem is that during all this time, Quebec is paying 25% of the bill.

Quebec is developing its hydroelectric network and its wind network at its own expense. The wind network gets a contribution of about 5% to 10% from the federal government. But when it comes to hydroelectricity, the costs are paid entirely by the people of Quebec, through their taxes, their income taxes and the electricity charges they pay every month. Those are the facts.

There are two concepts in Canada. First, there is Quebec's concept, which is one of clean, green energy. Quebec is prepared to meet the Kyoto standard and the post-Kyoto standard. Then there is the rest of Canada's, which is not prepared and relies a lot on non-renewable energy. That is the reality. People can try, as the Conservative Party is doing, to introduce and support bills likeS-3. The government can try to tell us they are fighting hard for energy efficiency. They say they want to be more and more energy efficient, but in reality they are just serving up ideas developed in other countries. Canada is always trailing along behind other countries.

According to what the new American government says, even the United States wants to go green. Canada will be the only delinquent left in the world. That is the reality. Canada leads the list of polluting countries thanks to its tar sands, which are the most polluting industry in the world.

Instead of stridently defending this industry, they should be encouraging Quebec and investing as much as possible there. At least Quebec is close to achieving all the targets. They should invest as much money as necessary to make Quebec an example to the world. What they are doing instead is making the tar sands an example to the world. Nobody is fooled by that. There are big stories in international magazines showing that the tar sands are clearly the dirtiest industry in the world.

The Conservatives would do well to listen to the Bloc rather than stridently opposing it. We agree with Bill S-3 but have a much broader view of the situation. If they want to fight for energy efficiency, they have to start be setting an example. My colleague from Brome—Missisquoi just gave some examples and my colleague from Rivière-des-Mille-Îles also had some fine things to say. He eloquently defended the rights of workers in the automobile sector.

Quebec industries like Kenworth and Nova Bus specialize in building hybrid trucks and buses. But when the government signs contracts for army trucks, it chooses foreign companies. Companies from Quebec and Canada do not get these contracts. We have oil, and so they fall back on conventional ideas and vehicles that consume a lot of energy rather than requiring hybrids. They could, however, have used this opportunity to set an example rather than to sell oil and gas to the army to operate its equipment.

They will always be able to sell oil, but this is a non-renewable industry. It always surprises me to see the hon. members from the west rise to defend the tar sands. They do not understand that some day there will be nothing left. This is non-renewable energy. They are trying to tell us today that this industry is keeping Canada alive. I hope they will be broad-minded enough to realize that there will not be any more oil in 35 or 40 years. They will not have this money any more and will have to find something else. Maybe they will be proud to see that Quebec has new ideas that can help them develop their economy. In the meantime, the government is not investing in hydroelectricity and is leaving Quebec to its own devices. We hope that by then Quebec will be a country that can negotiate equal to equal with the rest of Canada over all the outstanding innovations and technologies we have developed.

The reality is that there are two philosophies in Canada, namely the philosophy of Quebec, which is focused on a green environment, and the philosophy of the rest of Canada, which is based on non-renewable energies such as oil and nuclear energy. They would even have us believe that nuclear energy is clean energy, when they cannot even find a dumping ground for nuclear waste and are considering burying it in Quebec. The fact is that Quebec could shut down its only nuclear facility tomorrow morning. Canada is trying to keep it in operation so that the Conservatives can say that part of all the money they spend in the energy sector they are actually investing in Quebec.

There is nothing for hydroelectricity and only crumbs for wind energy. The Conservative government is investing only in oil and nuclear energy. In Quebec, we simply do not need that. We could shut down our only nuclear plant tomorrow morning, and that would not even affect Quebec's energy capacity. Using our money, we were able to develop a new way to meet our energy needs, and that way is the way of the future. The hon. member for Brome—Missisquoi was absolutely right when he said that the Conservatives and the Liberals, including the Liberal leader, are stridently defending tar sands development. They are looking in the rear-view mirror to see what lies ahead. Instead, they should be looking through the windshield, because it is a good way to avoid accidents. This may explain why the Conservatives are having such a hard time these days. They are looking in the rear-view mirror to see what lies ahead, and run into a problem almost every week.

I find it amusing, because even though there are many Conservatives on board, 140 to be exact, not one of them has figured out that they should be looking ahead. Some people in Quebec support the Conservatives. There are certain things in politics that are unfathomable and this is one of them. How can some Quebeckers vote for the Conservative Party? Still, we accept that. In time, they will figure out who is looking through the windshield, not the rear-view mirror, and we will see how many Conservatives are left in Quebec after the next election.

The political choices made by the Conservatives are always bad choices, and this bill is a prime example. They did not really seize the opportunity provided by this legislation. The title is interesting. It is “An Act to amend the Energy Efficiency Act”. People who do not read the three pages of that bill may think that the Conservative government has really decided to move forward on this issue, but that is not the case.

There are examples of what it could have done. While dealing with energy efficiency, the government could have used this opportunity to at least try to make up for the pollution that is occurring in the oil sector, and for greenhouse gas emissions generated by the development of tar sands. However, the government did not even take time to do a thorough job and to come up with innovative measures that would have allowed Canada to distinguish itself by increasing its energy efficiency. No, that is not important for the government. What is important for it is to develop the oil and nuclear sectors. The rest is not worthy of its attention.

That is disappointing because the Bloc Québécois has always been very aware of the problem and has proposed some very good solutions. In both of our economic recovery plans, we allocated specific moneys to targeted interventions. The green economy is all about economics. It creates jobs. That is a fact. Both the Conservative members and the Liberals need to understand that the environment is no longer just an expense. It used to be an expense because it required investment, it was new, and so on, but now the environment is an industry. It creates jobs, and it brings in tax revenues. They have to understand that. But it is clear that the Conservatives and the Liberals just do not get it.

And that is not for lack of trying on the part of the former leader, the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville. He proposed a green shift, but his party members did not get on board. But that is what we need. This goes to show that the Liberals are still bogged down in the old ways. That is disappointing.

The Conservatives have always been bogged down in the old ways, but the fact that the Liberals are hesitant to get behind new technologies is worrisome. The Liberals have done their best to promote liberalism the world over. I attended their convention, and I saw the huge posters promoting liberalism. Once again, what the party has become has more to do with old-fashioned liberalism than with anything else. The party has reshaped itself in the image of its new leader, a man who compares himself to Mr. Trudeau. That is the past. The Liberals have decided to do things the way they used to be done. That suits us just fine. We can handle another election campaign any day. They want to live in the past. They will soon see that Quebeckers do not. We have decided to move toward the future.

This is a sad situation. We could laugh, but it is really not funny. It is obvious that renewable energy and anything to do with sustainable development have no place in the consciousness of this House. This is of great concern for us, but even more so for our children and grandchildren.

There is one big question still in my mind. Politicking is going on, pressure from political lobbies. I understand the Conservatives and Liberals because often power leads to madness. Not naming any names, I will just say the signs are already there in certain people. It is sad, nevertheless. We are here and we should be thinking of no one except the people who sent us here, and the generations to follow. This is the best legacy we can leave them.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Edmonton Centre
Alberta

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, again I listened with interest to the cluelessness and lack of true knowledge of what is going on, or maybe the member just does not care.

Is my hon. colleague aware that it takes less than half of the water to generate a barrel of oil today than it did about 10 years ago? Is he aware of the billions and billions of dollars the companies themselves are spending to develop new and cleaner technology and better ways of extracting oil out of the ground or does he simply not care? Is he aware that the greenhouse gas emissions from the oil sands account for less than 5% of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions or does he just not care?

The resources in Canada are an accident of geography. Alberta and Saskatchewan have large oil and gas reserves. That is an accident of geography. All of Canada benefits from that. Quebec has hydroelectric power. That is an accident of geography. All of Canada benefits from that.

One thing I would like to see is oil and gas discovered in Quebec. I wonder how long the attitude of self-righteous pomposity would last if that happened.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I find this surprising. First of all, my colleague does not get it, that the entire oil sands industry is the most polluting industry in the entire world. I hope he reads international publications, as we do.

I cannot understand that he does not get the point: if the Government of Canada put as much money into hydro-electric or renewable industry as it does for polluting and non-renewable industry, we would have some hope for the future.

Quebec invests in clean energy, without a single cent from the federal government. The Government of Quebec footed the whole bill for its hydro-electric development, and the federal government has not invested a cent. Imagine what a strong position Quebec would be in if Canada had given it the same amount as it put into non-renewable energy. We would be a force in the world. We would have electric batteries, electric cars, but no, the federal government has always opted for investing in non-renewable energies. That is the harsh reality.

Today we are getting lectures from westerners, but I will never accept that, for the pure and simple reason that we paid for 25% of their development and they are not even capable of giving us a thank you.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

11 a.m.

Bloc

Luc Desnoyers Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel for his excellent speech on the important role of the federal government in developing green energy. Unfortunately, the government is not forward thinking, as my colleague was saying, and it continues to look through the rear-view mirror. Americans have embraced the green shift and this will lead to the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs—the jobs of the future. As my colleague pointed out, oil is a non-renewable energy source and, in the not too distant future, there will be none left. That may be the fate of the Conservatives. They may not be around to see the disaster they have caused.

We did not support their last budget because there were not enough measures in support of sustainable, green energy. I would like to hear what my colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel has to say about developing these energy sources and the jobs that would be created.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

11 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.

He just gave a very good example when he posed a question to our colleague from Brome—Missisquoi on trucks. I know my colleague has been working very hard to keep jobs in Quebec. Companies such as Paccar and Nova Bus are going green. Quebec companies have developed hybrid trucks and buses.

My colleague mentioned that when the Conservative government decided to purchase military vehicles, it chose traditional, gas-guzzling vehicles rather than vehicles of the future that use renewable energy sources. We cannot remain indifferent because Quebec picks up 25% of the tab. In Quebec, we have companies that can build the equipment of the future. But they did not go that route. The Conservatives did not think to include it in the specifications and that is unfortunate because it could have led to the creation of jobs in Quebec and Canada and tax revenue. In fact, the vehicles were not even built in Canada.

Once again, I thank my colleague from Rivière-des-Mille-Îles for raising this issue. I appreciate his experience and his disappointment with respect to the government's decisions.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

11 a.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I also want to thank my colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel on his brilliant speech, in which he demonstrated how much Quebec has contributed to Canada to develop energies outside Quebec, whether Atomic Energy of Canada or Hibernia's oil fields. Quebec never got a red cent, though, to develop its own industry, even though it is cleaner than all the others. That is a good point my colleague made.

In response to what my colleague said, we were told by members on the other side that the Alberta oil industry creates lots of jobs in Quebec. I would like my colleague to tell us about all the jobs created in Quebec when the rising price of oil caused the Canadian dollar to soar and reduced Quebec’s exports.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Drummond is quite right. In regard to the Borden line, I hope that you and the people listening to us realize that not one litre of western oil is sold in Quebec. We are buyers and therefore importers of oil. When the price of oil rises, our companies all suffer the consequences and we do not benefit. The provinces that benefit are Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta and Saskatchewan, but not Quebec.

My colleague pointed out that we developed our hydroelectricity on our own, without any federal funding. Just think of Hydro-Québec, which worked on electric batteries for all its equipment but had to sell the concept to the Europeans because it did not have the means to develop it further. No federal politician dared hope or say that this might be a very good idea. Instead of investing in oil, they could have helped Hydro-Québec develop this battery, which would have been the battery of the future. The day a battery is developed that can power vehicles is the day we will have beaten greenhouse gases. But no, there was not one red cent. No federal politician ever rose to say that this technology was developed in Canada and that we should invest in it, rather than selling it to the Europeans. Once again, Hydro-Québec was abandoned and Quebec alone paid. No one here ever wanted to do that. This is the reality. This is why, as we said earlier, Canada is still looking at the future in the rear-view mirror rather than through the windshield. There was every reason to sit down with Quebec, but they did not do it because all the money and tax credits were taken. They are still giving tax credits to the oil industry while there is nothing for the energy that Quebec develops, especially hydroelectricity with all its advantages. That is the bitter truth for Quebeckers, who pay 25% of the cost of developing the nuclear and oil industries but do not get any help with their hydroelectricity.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Is the House ready for the question?

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Energy Efficiency Act
Government Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

(Motion agreed to, bill read a third time and passed)

Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act
Government Orders

May 7th, 2009 / 11:05 a.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon
B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

propose que le projet de loi C-28, An Act to amend the Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

He said: Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to rise today to begin the debate at second reading of Bill C-28, An Act to amend the Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act.

The amendments to Bill C-28 hold important consequences for our country, for the province of Quebec, and most significantly for the Cree of Eeyou Istchee, the people of the eastern James Bay and southern Hudson Bay region of northern Quebec.

Bill C-28 helps settle long-standing differences between the Government of Canada and the Cree of Eeyou Istchee, resolving disputes. Perhaps most importantly, the bill sets the stage for a revitalized relationship between the federal government and the Cree of Eeyou Istchee.

I will explain the provisions of this legislation and provide some detail of how Bill C-28 will encourage greater prosperity, social development and self-determination for the Cree of Eeyou Istchee. First, let me take this opportunity to tell the House a little about these people and how we have moved forward to this important step here today.

On February 21 of last year, I was in Mistissini, Quebec to sign the new relationship agreement with the Cree of Eeyou Istchee. Mistissini is located about 850 kilometres due north of here, in some of the most breathtakingly beautiful natural surroundings anywhere in the world.

Mistissini is one of nine Cree communities in northern Quebec. Some 30 years ago, residents of these communities expressed their deep disagreement with plans by the Government of Quebec to build and expand hydroelectric developments on their traditional lands.

The Cree of Eeyou Istchee and the Inuit of Nunavik thought this project, one of the most ambitious civil works projects ever considered in Canada, threatened their traditional way of life. To address the concerns expressed by the Cree of Eeyou Istchee and the Inuit of Nunavik, the Quebec and Canadian governments entered into negotiations with those peoples.

The result of these negotiations was the James Bay and northern Quebec agreement. Signed in 1975, the agreement is the first modern treaty reached in Canada, resolving land claims that date back to the late 1800s. It also accommodated the interests of the Cree of Eeyou Istchee and the Inuit of Nunavik on the development of natural resources on their traditional lands. In 1978, the Naskapi people of the region reached a similar accord, the northeastern Quebec agreement.

Together, these two agreements facilitated development of hydroelectric dams and related infrastructure in northern Quebec and ushered in an era of unprecedented economic development, not just in the James Bay region but throughout northern Quebec. At the same time, the agreements established new governance regimes to manage the delivery of social services to Cree communities in the region and administer the growing relationship between Cree authorities and provincial and federal governments.

There was one problem, though. These agreements were struck without the benefit of a coherent policy backdrop, such as the comprehensive claims policy and the inherent right policy, which we have today, and without detailed implementation plans, essential components of the claims process that negotiators, policy-makers and legislators rely on today.

Because the agreements lacked the precision we now expect from such accords, challenges arose. The parties to the agreements, the federal government, the provincial government, the Cree of Eeyou Istchee, the Inuit of Nunavik and the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach encountered substantial difficulties interpreting and then acting upon obligations outlined in the agreements.

In 1984, the Government of Canada adopted the Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act. The act is the first piece of self-government legislation adopted in our country. It was an obligation under the James Bay and northern Quebec agreement and under the northeastern Quebec agreement. The landmark law set up a system of land management and recognized the authority of local Cree and Naskapi governments to make bylaws to protect the environment, manage natural resources and provide health services to band members. Provisions of the act also enabled the federal government to further address the needs of the Cree Eeyou Istchee and the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach through government programs, sectoral funding agreements and joint action with the government of Quebec.

Despite these constructive efforts, the Government of Canada continued to bear the brunt of criticism for its alleged failure to implement its obligations under the James Bay and northern Quebec agreement and the northeastern Quebec agreement in an adequate and timely manner.

However, in 2002, a new dawn began to break in the relationship between the Cree of Eeyou Istchee and the provincial and federal governments. In February of that year, the Cree of Eeyou Istchee and the government of Quebec signed the “Paix des braves”. Under the terms of this agreement the Cree of Eeyou Istchee agreed to assume major provincial obligations with regard to socio-economic development and community infrastructure in Cree communities.

In exchange, the government of Quebec made three commitments: first, to pay $3.5 billion over 50 years to a new Cree development corporation; second, to provide ongoing funding for Cree health, policing and justice regimes; and third, to share with Cree communities the revenues and contracting and employment opportunities generated by natural resources development on traditional Cree lands.

Cree leaders then approached the Government of Canada and proposed a similar arrangement to resolve their outstanding differences. After close to six years of rigorous study, consultation, negotiation and ratification, we signed the agreement concerning a new relationship between the Government of Canada and the Cree of Eeyou Istchee, a landmark accord that does what its title suggests; it establishes a new relationship between the Government of Canada and the Cree of Eeyou Istchee.

I was deeply honoured to participate in that signing ceremony in Mistissini in February 2008. I was proud to join hundreds of residents and more than a dozen current and former elected leaders of the region's nine Cree communities to celebrate the beginning of a revitalized relationship between the Government of Canada and the Cree of Eeyou Istchee.

Today, more than a year after that memorable event, we are gathered here in this House to consider Bill C-28 and enshrine in Canadian law a crucial part of the new relationship agreement between the Government of Canada and the Cree of Eeyou Istchee. But what is in that agreement, and by extension, in the bill?

With regard to its second goal, funding and ongoing financing, the new relationship agreement calls for the federal government to provide $1.4 billion in compensation to the Cree of Eeyou Istchee. This funding is divided into three parcels. The first portion is a cash payment of $1.1 billion. These funds have been transferred when the agreement was signed and put an end to significant lawsuits initiated by the Cree of Eeyou Istchee against the federal government.

The federal government will provide the Cree Regional Authority with an additional $100 million within 30 days of Bill C-28, this bill, receiving royal assent. A third payment of $200 million will be made within 30 days of royal assent being given to a future bill that sanctions a distinctive Cree Nation government.

Equipped with this new funding and ongoing financing, the Cree of Eeyou Istchee are poised to take on a number of essential regional functions, including policing, sanitation, firefighting services and several vital economic development initiatives such as job training, recruitment and placement.

This is where Bill C-28 comes in. The Cree Regional Authority must be granted the legal authority to carry out these functions. Accordingly, Bill C-28 amends the Cree-Naskapi of Quebec Act to provide the Cree Regional Authority with by-law making powers, similar to those now enjoyed by the eight local Cree governments.

As its name suggests, the Cree Regional Authority is the governing body that regulates affairs throughout the entire region, and Bill C-28 provides the Cree Regional Authority with powers that truly correspond with its title. The bill also incorporates a ninth Cree band, the Oujé-Bougoumou, and brings it under the jurisdiction of this regional governing body.

These forward-thinking provisions dovetail perfectly with the third goal of the new relationship agreement, modernization of Cree governance. Upon passage of Bill C-28, the agreement pledges the Government of Canada to work with the Cree of Eeyou Istchee, to continue to transform their current governance regime. This modernization process will involve development of a Cree constitution and establishment of a Cree Nation government.

Indeed, Bill C-28 serves as a stepping stone for the Cree of Eeyou Istchee as they continue their journey toward genuine, full-fledged self-government. Through the agreements they have concluded with the governments of Canada and Quebec, they have shown their willingness to take greater control of their lives, establish high quality social services in their communities, safeguard their culture and chart a clear, self-sufficient course for their future. In doing so, the Cree of Eeyou Istchee have earned the respect and admiration of all Canadians, aboriginal and non-aboriginal alike.

At the same time, the names of distinguished Cree leaders have earned an honoured place in the history of our country. Grand Chief Billy Diamond signed the James Bay and Northern Quebec agreement and then used the agreement as a springboard to launch his people along the road to greater economic prosperity, social development and cultural preservation.

Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come fought to ensure that his people were assured a fair share of the wealth generated by the natural resources found on Cree lands.

Grand Chief Ted Moses helped develop and then sign La Paix des Braves with the government of Quebec, and was a powerful force in enabling his people to gain formal recognition as a consultative, non-government organization at the United Nations.

Now, as a signatory of the agreement, current Grand Chief Matthew Mukash takes his rightful place alongside these great Canadian leaders. I salute Grand Chief Mukash for his inspired leadership in shepherding the agreement through to ratification, and thank him for the enormous contribution he has made, not only to the life of his community but also to the prosperity and vitality of our country.

I also take this opportunity to salute Bill Namagoose, the chief negotiator of the Grand Council of the Crees, and Raymond Chrétien, the chief negotiator for the Government of Canada. These wise, skilful and patient men played indispensable roles in helping us strike an agreement and forge this new relationship. Simply put, without their diligent effort, firm commitment and determined leadership, an agreement would not have been reached and Bill C-28 would not be before us here today.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the indispensable role played by the Cree of Eeyou Istchee themselves. During a referendum held to cast judgment on the agreement, they voted overwhelming in favour, some 90% of all ballots cast, and in doing so, expressed their deep faith in the value of and their firm desire to establish a revitalized relationship with the Government of Canada.

In the same spirit of optimism, partnership and trust clearly demonstrated by the Cree of Eeyou Istchee, I ask my colleagues to do their part.

I encourage my colleagues to adopt Bill C-28 and enshrine in the law of our land a vital element of the new relationship agreement. I encourage all members to play their part in revitalizing the relationship between the Government of Canada and the Eeyou Istchee, to play their part in helping usher in a new era in that people's distinguished history, an era of greater prosperity, self-determination, fulfillment and harmony for us all.

Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act
Government Orders

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will have the opportunity to tell the minister what the Bloc Québécois thinks in a few minutes. I can assure him that he will have our support on this issue, which we feel is extremely important. Not only will he have our support, but we will cooperate to make sure that things move forward even faster and that this bill is studied quickly in committee. I will elaborate on this shortly, but it is important to the Cree and Naskapi communities, especially the Cree community of Oujé-Bougoumou, that this issue be addressed once and for all.

But there is something that concerns me, and I would like the minister's reassurance. What is happening with regard to the Naskapi? Without going into detail, there is some fluidity in determining land boundaries and related rights. I would like to know whether the department has found common ground with the Naskapi community, which is closely related to the Cree community near Kawawachikamach. If not, are discussions underway to that end?

Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act
Government Orders

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, BC

I thank the member for supporting this bill. It will be very important to the Naskapi people, the Cree of Eeyou Istchee and ourselves.

An agreement that establishes a new relationship between these peoples and ourselves is necessary, but it is even more important to have a good overall agreement.

The issue with the Naskapi is an important one and people should be aware of this. There have been consultations with the Naskapi as we put this bill together. Their issues are somewhat separate. They are not covered under this bill. We want to be clear that there are other issues that are outside of this. The Naskapi, the Cree of Eeyou Istchee, the Inuit of Nunavik, all understand those issues must be settled and that we must proceed as quickly as possible to find a way to address those issues. There is not a bill to cover this but there is an understanding with the Naskapi that those issues they have raised will be addressed.

In the meantime, it is important that the bill goes ahead in its current form because it addresses most of the issues that are important to the Cree, but that certainly the Naskapi issues, if I can call them that, must be addressed. They are separate issues and all parties to this agreement understand that we need to work together in order to address them. Whether they are boundary issues, issues of leasing, issues of referendum or other issues that are important to the Naskapi that they have raised repeatedly, we all agree we must move together to settle them as quickly as possible.