Mr. Speaker, people will have seen all sides of me today. After discussing two justice bills in the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, I am now speaking as the Bloc Québécois critic for Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
I am going to talk about Bill C-24, which we think has great merit. The Bloc will agree to the government's request and support this bill without hesitation.
A few months ago, and I say this with all due respect for my colleagues in the party in power, if the government had not prorogued the House, all parties were in agreement to deal with this bill, which was originally called Bill C-63, as quickly as possible.
I will provide an explanation for the people listening to us. The Indians are always being accused of wanting more money, of wanting nothing but money. People say they do not do anything, they want money, they never have enough, they live on social assistance. In the matter before us, we have put the lie to those words. Bill C-24 is extremely important for the Squamish First Nations in British Columbia.
These communities live in the Vancouver region. It is important to note that it was the Squamish nations that hosted the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. We say "Vancouver", but in fact the games were held on the Squamish nations' ancestral land, land that they are claiming and in respect of which an agreement will be made. Bill C-24 will open the door for those lands to be used.
In fact, they are not lands, they are lots. Imagine land in downtown Vancouver being part of their aboriginal land. The aboriginal people cannot use those lands because they are worth less than if they were located outside a reserve. I know this gets extremely complex, but this bill is going to enable the Squamish nations to move forward.
The Bloc had questions. In Quebec, we have the Civil Code, which is different from the common law of anglophones in the other provinces. We wondered how the Civil Code was going to apply in Quebec in connection with this bill. We got answers.
That is why we consulted the first nations of Quebec and Labrador, who asked us to support the bill because it could be to their benefit.
I have two examples. The Essipit nation, one of the Innu nations in the village of Essipit, near Les Escoumins, wants to develop land and build condos with an unobstructed view of the river. With this bill, they will be able to do so and, little by little, they will no longer need to ask the federal government for money to carry out their projects. With Bill C-24, the Innu nation in the Essipit region can go ahead with its plans.
The same is true in Mashteuiatsh, which is in the riding of the Minister of State for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, just outside Roberval. The first nations socio-economic forum was held in Mashteuiatsh a few years ago. The idea of a bill to help develop reserve land and help meet the desperate needs of first nations communities was raised at that forum and everyone agreed.
When Bill C-63—which became Bill C-24 after the prorogation—was introduced, we met with the Squamish First Nation. Since Bill C-24 is exactly the same as Bill C-63, we will not hesitate to ask the House to vote in favour of this bill, which is so important to first nations communities.
I would like to read this:
The First Nations Certainty of Land Title Act would [in fact, will] amend the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act to permit the registration of on-reserve commercial real estate developments in a system that replicates the provincial land titles or registry system.
We know how this works. There is a land registry where our homes in the country or the city are recorded. But this is not true of reserve lands. With this bill, aboriginal communities near and even in major centres could develop commercial projects that comply with the rules of neighbouring cities. I am talking about the Squamish in the Vancouver area, the Innu in Les Escoumins and the Masteuiash area, near Roberval, and the Algonquin in the community of Pikogan near Amos, in my riding.
First nations would not be able to build condominiums and sell them at well below market price to bring down the market, absolutely not. In the case of the Squamish, they could sell condos at market price and become less dependent on government assistance for aboriginal community development.
When a good bill is introduced, we almost always support it. And that is what we are going to do. As I have always said, if it is good for Quebec, we will vote for it; if it is not good for Quebec, we will vote against it. We have studied this bill with the authorities and we have had the time to obtain all the information we need. Consequently, we believe it is a very good bill. I know that the session will end in the coming hours. However, if possible, the bill must be implemented quickly in order to allow aboriginal communities to depend as little as possible on government money.
This is an interesting bill that will allow the sale of property at values comparable to those off reserve. We are familiar with the value of condominiums in the Vancouver area. Why would property on reserves in Squamish territory, in the City of Vancouver, not have the same value? The purpose of this bill is to have the government allow aboriginal peoples to look after themselves. It is probably one of the good bills that have been introduced. There was another good bill to implement the agreement with the Inuit of northern Quebec. It is exactly the same thing.
Aboriginal peoples are capable of creating worthwhile projects. However, we have to lend them a hand and this is an interesting bill. It will allow aboriginal peoples to have much greater autonomy. That is why the Bloc Québécois will be voting in favour of this bill.