Mr. Speaker, I also rise today to speak to C-222. I want to thank the members for their comments earlier on this evening.
I believe I understand the intent of the bill. Like many others who have spoken, I also have some concerns. I want to thank the member for Fundy Royal for the clarification on many points and for his speech.
I would like to take some time to honour those who live off the land by way of hunting, fishing and trapping. These are an integral part of the lives of people in northern Saskatchewan and definitely a part of our identity back home.
I have many cherished memories of growing up in Pelican Narrows. Hunting, fishing and trapping were always an important part of my family's life as well as our community's life. I was taught many skills that allowed myself and many others to learn how to live off the land.
I had an opportunity to take part in student exchange trips to northern Quebec and Ungava Bay and to the Queen Charlotte Islands and Massett in particular. I was able to participate in the traditional pursuits of the Inuit and the Haida people. I have got to know, quite well, how important these pursuits are and how strong the aboriginal peoples' connection is to the land.
I agree that the economic benefits of hunting, fishing and trapping are very real. Many people are employed in hunting, fishing and trapping directly or indirectly, whether they are supplying goods and services that are important to these pursuits. These traditional activities are part of the economic subsistence for many northern people and communities.
Tourism also brings wealth and opportunity. As members have said, many people travel into the beautiful and pristine country in the north to participate in hunting, fishing and other activities, which greatly contribute to the fabric of our country.
However, I have concerns with the text of the bill and how the bill could potentially impinge upon hard won aboriginal rights and treaties in unintended ways. It perhaps does not address many concerns and challenges to hunters, fishers and trappers as well.
Trapping, fishing, and hunting is central to the aboriginal people and their way of life. It is part of their culture and their identity. It is an inherent right and their traditional way of life. Treaties have enshrined this, holding land use as a foundational part of those sacred agreements.
This is why, as other members have mentioned, section 35 is enshrined in the Constitution, to acknowledge our rights and affirm them. However, protecting these rights and having governments acknowledge these rights have been a hard ongoing battle. Many Supreme Court decisions, such as Sparrow and Powley, which celebrated its third anniversary coincidentally yesterday, need to be more fully appreciated and understood by the members of the House. Those court decisions define these rights and suggest a framework for the government to utilize in implementing these rights.
Negotiations have been ongoing as well with new treaties and land use agreements being concluded recently and many still ongoing.
Declaring hunting, fishing and trapping as a right, without due consideration to aboriginal rights, could have an adverse effect on these sensitive negotiations and sorting out land use issues.
I also would like to remind my colleagues of the trilogy of cases that affirmed the duty to consult with aboriginal people when developing policies or legislation that affect their inherent rights: Haida Nation, Taku River and Mikisew Cree specifically.
Aboriginal people must be consulted in order to understand their concerns and to avoid impinging on their rights. There is a legal obligation of the government to consult and accommodate, within reasonable parameters, the concerns raised by aboriginal people when issues are raised for discussion, such as what we are talking about today. In fact, I ask the government to review these decisions and employ its very useful recommendations in all the decisions it undertakes when it discusses aboriginal issues.
Discussing these concerns reminds me of when I attended the Churchill River gathering in the reserve community of Stanley Mission this summer. Stanley Mission is a great community, steeped in history, with a proud tradition of protecting its first nation's identity, culture and language.
The gathering honoured and celebrated a traditional way of life that has remained strong and proud for countless centuries. The main message of this gathering was for all levels of government to understand that first nation Métis people wanted to become an integral part of the socio-economic fabric of our country and that the inherent rights of aboriginal people must be respected and more clearly understood.
However, many concerns about the proud livelihood still exist and must be addressed. For instance, many trappers, hunters and fishers have concerns about setting up programs to help them create new markets, concerns with policies such as, in a Saskatchewan context, what they call the let it burn policy. Most of all, there are concerns about a lack of consultation with people affected by industry and resource development.
I want to summarize the concerns I have with respect to Bill C-222.
First, we must understand that there is a legal obligation to consult with aboriginal people prior to introducing legislation that may affect their rights as they are recognized today through various court decisions, through the charter and through the Constitution.
Second, we must also look at preventing a future conflict of laws scenario. Some of them were mentioned by the member for Fundy Royal. It is unclear to me how the provinces in the natural resources transfer agreement may be impacted, which one would supercede the other. Thanks to the member previous, we begin to get an understanding of that.
As well, we need to look at self-government agreements that have been negotiated and the co-management that occurs over resources and land areas throughout the country. For example, the member previous talked about the Freshwater Fish Marketing Act and the right to fish and how that will impact.
The third concern I have is with regard to conservation efforts. What do we say to people if they say they have a right to hunt, when we are talking about issues of conservation of a certain species, whether it is fishing or fur-bearing animals?
I applaud the spirit of the bill and the way it commemorates a great profession and a great activity throughout this great country. However, I ask the member to consider these concerns and to work to ensure that the real pressing issues, which we have talked about this evening, are met. I look forward to the discussion that the bill may have in committee in the future.