Mr. Speaker, if there is a single defining feature of our government's approach to aboriginal issues, it is our determination to make a measurable and lasting difference in the lives and livelihoods of Canada's aboriginal people. Bill C-24, the first nations certainty of land title act, provides firm evidence of the government's progress in delivering results.
I thank the members of the House for endorsing speedy passage of Bill C-24. Like me, they recognize that the bill will benefit first nations interested in pursuing commercial real estate development projects on reserve and particularly the Squamish Nation in British Columbia, which is awaiting passage of the bill.
When we launched the new federal framework for aboriginal economic development last June, I noted that it represented a fundamental change in the federal government's approach to aboriginal economic development. It reflects significant, real and growing opportunities for aboriginal people to become full participants in the mainstream Canadian economy as entrepreneurs, employers and employees and it underscores our government's commitment to provide the tools, resources and support they need to maximize this potential.
It also means finding creative ways to get around the Indian Act, the source of many of these problems, in order to unleash the untapped economic potential of countless first nations.
There are several pieces of legislation currently in place that enable communities to achieve their economic development goals. These include the First Nations Land Management Act, the First Nations Oil and Gas and Moneys Management Act, the First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act and the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act. This is the legislation we are now amending with Bill C-24.
The First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act grants authority for the federal government to make regulations at the request of a first nation. The act provides for the establishment of project-specific regulatory regimes to allow major first nation economic development projects to proceed. It enables the federal government to replicate the necessary provincial laws and regulations to allow communities to pursue complex, large-scale commercial and industrial development projects on reserve land, projects which would not otherwise be possible.
The First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act was developed with the active engagement of the Squamish Nation of British Columbia, Fort McKay First Nation and Tsuu T'ina Nation of Alberta, Carry the Kettle First Nation of Saskatchewan and Fort William First Nation of Ontario. All of these communities recognize the need for this legislation to help them capitalize on the economic prospects for their lands and resources to generate employment and increase prosperity for their citizens.
First nations are keen to pursue major commercial and industrial projects on reserve lands. However, all too often, such projects are delayed or put at risk due to regulatory gaps. That is because some provincial laws dealing with commercial and industrial activities do not apply to reserves. That is precisely the situation currently facing Squamish Nation as it attempts to undertake a major commercial real estate development project on its land, something not anticipated in drafting the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act that Parliament unanimously passed in 2005.
While the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act is starting to reach its potential, the proposed first nations certainty of land title act would further enhance economic development opportunities for first nations. The Kamloops and Musqueam First Nations in British Columbia, Tsuu T'ina in Alberta and Carry the Kettle in Saskatchewan are monitoring the progress of this legislation with interest.
Bill C-24 is designed to make sure any and all interested communities can take advantage of commercial real estate development opportunities. The bill would add new authorities that would enable some first nations to become major players in the commercial real estate development.
If adopted, it will permit the federal government to replicate provincial land titles or registry systems for commercial real estate projects on reserve, which will create a seamless property rights regime on and off reserve. Whether applying common or civil law, the first nations certainty of land title act would create parity on and off reserve lands when it comes to commercial real estate development, fostering economic development. This, in turn, would encourage self-governance and economic sustainability by providing first nation governments with the financial means to determine their own future.
Equally important, the bill would also build bridges between aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities.
The Squamish Nation commercial real estate development proposal would clearly enable new partnerships with the private sector. The first nation's business partner, Larco Investments Ltd., is committed to this initiative and has already invested approximately $1 million in the project planning and proposals.
I am proud to stand behind the first nations certainty of land title act, and I am pleased to hear my colleagues in the House will also give it their full endorsement.