Northern Jobs and Growth Act

An Act to enact the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act and the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2013.

Sponsor

John Duncan  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

Part 1 enacts the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act, which implements certain provisions of Articles 10 to 12 of the land claims agreement between the Inuit of the Nunavut Settlement Area and Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada that was ratified, given effect and declared valid by the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, which came into force on July 9, 1993.

Part 2 enacts the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act, which implements provisions of certain land claim agreements. In particular, that Act establishes the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board, whose purpose is to resolve matters in dispute relating to terms and conditions of access to lands and waters in the Northwest Territories and the compensation to be paid in respect of that access.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

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March 4th, 2013 / 5:05 p.m.
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London North Centre Ontario

Conservative

Susan Truppe ConservativeParliamentary Secretary for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to hear that the official opposition supports the bill.

We have done our homework, and Bill C-47 is good sound legislation that will implement land claim agreements. It is good for Nunavut, and it is good for the Northwest Territories. It will help increase predictability and efficiency so that northerners can achieve the prosperity they seek. Let us allow Bill C-47 to continue its journey through the legislative process in the Senate and help to ensure that the benefits of this legislation make their way to northern citizens.

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March 4th, 2013 / 5:05 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, we will be voting in favour of this piece of legislation and it will go through. However, that does not mean that there are not some weaknesses that need to be addressed and that there were not some weaknesses in the process that the government needs to be aware of so it does not happen again. The government has stood up and faced opposition from us, and Canadians, to various pieces of legislation it has brought forward, and it has been unwilling to change.

We do not only have the duty to consult with first nations, Inuit and Métis people, but we also have the duty to accommodate and the duty to recognize inherent treaty rights and rights to land. The more the Conservatives want to put their heads in the sand and not recognize those principles, the more trouble they are going to face and the more trouble they are going to create, not only for Canadians, but also for first nations, Inuit and Métis groups in this country.

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March 4th, 2013 / 5:05 p.m.
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NDP

Jean Rousseau NDP Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to indicate that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for La Pointe-de-l'Île.

The short title of Bill C-47, An Act to enact the Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act and the Northwest Territories Surface Rights Board Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, is the Northern Jobs and Growth Act.

Having observed the government for nearly two long years now, I am skeptical, to say the least, when I see the words “jobs” and “growth” in the same sentence. This is a far cry from what the constituents of my riding and other ridings in Canada have seen since May 2, 2011. What they are seeing is an effective opposition that is always vigilant. We do not have any choice.

But, let us give the government the benefit of the doubt. The bill's intentions are certainly good, since they respond to many of the expectations of the public and stakeholders affected by this legislation. It is important to point that out. We will support the bill introduced by the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development on November 6, 2012. The bill brings together two acts, which I named earlier. However, these two acts should have been examined separately.

Ideally, we wanted the bill to be sent to committee so that amendments could be made based on the testimony heard. To our utter amazement, our 50 amendments were all rejected or deemed inadmissible by the Conservatives in committee. It's not a perfect world. This is proof positive that the Conservatives have no idea what a fair and democratic Parliament entails. Let us not talk about fairness. They do not know what that means.

Fifty amendments were proposed. They were all based on the requests of witnesses from the Nunavut Impact Review Board, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the Northwest Territories Association of Communities, the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Nunavut Chamber of Mines, and Alternatives North. This is yet more proof that the government does not listen to the public or to the various stakeholders from the communities involved.

Subsequently, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement provides that the Inuit and the Government of Canada establish a joint system, in partnership, to oversee how resources will be managed in the territory of Nunavut. The Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act provides a legal framework for this, as does the Yukon Surface Rights Board Act, which was created in 1994 to fulfill an obligation of the Canadian government at the time resulting from the Yukon Umbrella Final Agreement.

The board is a tribunal whose primary role is to resolve access disputes between those owning or having an interest in the surface of the land and others with access rights to the land. These disputes are primarily related to accessing or using Yukon first nation settlement land and, in certain circumstances, disputes involving access to or use of non-settlement land.

As I said, we will be supporting the bill. However, we also wanted to support consultation and decision-making based on a consensus that respects the autonomy of the governments of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. This is a crucial part of any discussion about development, jobs and economic growth. We know that all the research done on minerals and the development of these areas represents the economy of the future. Since it is the economy of the future, we need to take these populations, their rights and their demands into account.

We based our amendments on important testimony we had heard. However, all of our amendments were rejected or deemed out of order in committee. This is unacceptable on the part of a government that claims to be democratic and that has been talking non-stop about jobs and growth since it won a majority on May 2, 2011.

Fortunately, on May 2, 2011, Canadians also elected a strong and effective opposition: the NDP. We will continue to work hard and defend the interests of all communities.

The Nunavut Planning and Project Assessment Act has six components.

Part 1 confirms the establishment of the Nunavut planning commission and the Nunavut impact review board.

Part 2 defines how planning will be done in the territory.

Part 3 sets out the process by which the commission will examine repercussions. It will also examine specific project proposals and determine whether they conform to the land use plan.

Part 4 provides an opportunity for the board, with the support of government, to review and assess projects outside the Nunavut settlement area that may nevertheless have an adverse impact on the Nunavut settlement area.

Part 5 contains provisions for coordinating the activities of government institutions, the use of information, monitoring, the establishment and maintenance of public registries, grandfathering, and administrative matters.

These are all administrative, technical and sometimes complex measures. The population and the governments of these regions who will be affected by the application of these bills should be consulted.

That is why we wanted those 50 amendments. Even if the Conservatives had accepted only five amendments, that would have represented 10% of the total, which would surely have been a record.

I am shocked every time I see the definitions included in this bill. Every bill provides definitions, but in this bill there is a definition for wildlife area, critical habitat, wildlife sanctuary, migratory bird sanctuary, wetland of international importance, marine protected area, Canadian heritage river and a historic place designated under the Historical Resources Act.

It makes me crazy because the government botched a bill that eliminated protection for 98% of our navigable waters.

When we talk about the environment and such things as wildlife sanctuaries, we have to wonder what the government has in mind. We wonder how the government will define and apply these laws that protect important resources for the first nations living in those areas when the time comes to enforce them.

We wanted the government to consult more and to listen, but most of all we wanted the governments of those regions to be heard.

This will always be a disappointment because we live in a democratic society where we share information and help one another. However, often there is a total lack of any such process.

Fortunately, the NDP is here. We will continue to protect the rights and interests of northern residents and to promote sustainable prosperity for these northern communities. I have already spoken about the reasons for this. It is because the far north holds the key to the future. Wherever there is development and growth, my colleagues and I will be present to defend the interests of the people who live there. This will have an impact on all of Canada.

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March 4th, 2013 / 5:15 p.m.
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NDP

Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his excellent speech. As always, he is passionate and a pleasure to listen to.

I have a question for him about the amendments to this bill proposed by the official opposition. These amendments were proposed in response to testimony from several groups, including the Nunavut Impact Review Board, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the NWT Association of Communities, the Nunavut Chamber of Mines and Alternatives North. These groups are directly affected by this bill.

The government often claims to have consulted people in the north and then washes its hands of the supposed consultation. But we know that it has a constitutional obligation to consult and to accommodate. That is an essential condition of this constitutional obligation.

I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about that.

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March 4th, 2013 / 5:15 p.m.
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NDP

Jean Rousseau NDP Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us talk about this government's obligations and about respect.

So many other majority governments before the current Conservative government have honoured signed treaties, which have always allowed for discussions with first nations members, the people who live on this land. But we are not seeing that in this case.

These consultations were properly held. All we are asking is that the government listen to these people and respect their fundamental values: respect for traditions, cultures and, especially, respect for the land, its complexity, its vastness and its immense beauty. The government says no.

We are laying the foundations that will certainly be necessary for development and growth in the area, but once again the government is showing a lack of respect for people who are asking for nothing but to be part of Canada. But the government forgets that and we start over every time.

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March 4th, 2013 / 5:20 p.m.
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NDP

Jonathan Tremblay NDP Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, we talked about the 50 or so amendments that were systematically rejected. We talked about the fact that the agreements were reached over 20 years ago and that successive governments could have done something long before now, but they did nothing. We also talked about the companies that represent first nations and that would have liked to have more time to propose other amendments to improve this bill. This work should have been done 20 years ago. Now it is being done quickly, without listening to people.

I wonder what my colleague's thoughts are on this, but I think it is perhaps time to see a new government.

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March 4th, 2013 / 5:20 p.m.
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NDP

Jean Rousseau NDP Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, the consequences of not consulting and not respecting these populations can include serious environmental repercussions in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. This could have an extremely harmful impact on the environment. We are already having problems with climate change, melting glaciers and declining fish stocks that can no longer meet the needs of coastal fisheries.

The most important consideration is the repercussions and consequences of this for people, for natural habitats. This government claims to listen to people from coast to coast to coast. There is enormous potential for growth on the northern coast, but we must show respect. Development will bring royalties. We want to enable these nations to evolve, but in keeping with their traditions, their culture, which is hundreds if not thousands of years old, since these populations were here long before us.

Once again, it is unacceptable for this government to completely ignore all the consultations and all the amendments that were proposed.

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March 4th, 2013 / 5:20 p.m.
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NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, today we are talking about Bill C-47, which has to do with a part of Canada I have not yet visited. I hope to have the chance to visit northern Canada one day.

One of the main roles of government is to represent all Canadians, to make decisions in the interest of Canadians and to work to unite all Canadians. Today, we are seeing the difference between the official opposition, which rises to speak and is interested in northern perspectives, and the government, which remains silent and rises from time to time to read out a question written by the Prime Minister's Office, without perhaps knowing what it is really about.

The first thing that I said today was that it is true that the bill as a whole is relatively good. However, it needed improvements that the government refused to make. We proposed about 55 amendments to the bill, having to do with transparency and consultations, but the government rejected them all. What reason did the government give? I really have no idea. Earlier today, a member tried to make a little public service announcement, but I do not really understand how that explained the rejection of those 55 amendments. I do not think it justified anything.

The economy in the northern regions is cyclical, which is why it often depends on mining development. We need to be aware of this reality. We also have to understand that the economic contribution of natural resources is often limited to where the mining companies are located. So the environmental issue is extremely important because people living in the north, in particular, live in much greater harmony with the environment. We have a lot to learn from how they live with the environment, from how they fish in the ocean and hunt.

The fact that the government just waived all the environmental regulations does not inspire confidence in the government's willingness to negotiate with the territories on mining or other projects. We should ask the government to respect the will of the people who live there. In fact, these territories are part of Canada, but the people who live there have to live with the consequences of pollution caused by mining projects.

For example, my colleague from Western Arctic mentioned the Giant Mine catastrophe in his speech. The government had to use taxpayers' money to deal with the environmental disaster caused by the dumping of 270,000 tonnes of arsenic into the ground. Therefore, it is important to point out that the bill could be improved in order to prevent the government from having to accept responsibility for cleaning up such environmental disasters with taxpayers' money.

Thus, we need serious and rigorous environmental assessments. We are saddling the next generation with a huge environmental debt. Canadians are truly ashamed of this government, which is an international embarrassment. I will come back to that later.

There is also the need for a long-term vision. When we develop natural resources, we should always take into consideration the fact that a mine will not operate forever. It is fine to pass bills that talk about development, but that is taking a short-term view. Do we really invest 100% in these communities? Will a bill that deals with negotiations for mining projects solve all the problems of the people living in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut? No.

For example, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development is studying the fact that Canada will take over the chair of the Arctic Council in May 2013, which is only a few weeks away. A number of experts who appeared before the committee talked about the serious lack of port facilities, roads and railways. It is ridiculous.

The government can pat itself on the back and say that it is capable of negotiating with the territories, but that is completely ridiculous because they never do any work. We have very few if any deep-water ports. We do not have any decent roads or trains that go to the north, and people cannot even get food supplies.

In committee, one witness said that, if there were a crisis or a major storm, one of the municipalities would have to be completely evacuated because there would not be any food or medication. That is completely ridiculous. It is all well and good to talk about the government's good faith and its desire to negotiate for the good of the territories, but as long as the government is not making long-term investments or providing infrastructure that will help these communities to develop, nothing will change. These communities have been neglected for decades and now the government is waking up and saying that it might be a good idea to negotiate and do something. In my opinion, that is not how things work, and Canadians do not think so either.

Land claims are extremely important. The communities were abandoned by the Conservative and Liberal federal governments. They have been abandoned for years. The government is not creating any infrastructure and does not have a long-term plan. The Conservatives are relying on band-aid solutions. They are patchworking.

We support what the government is trying to do, but it could do more. A regulatory regime is all well and good, but we know that the government deregulates everything. The government's desire to negotiate to regulate something goes against its habits. The Conservatives are deregulating when it comes to the environment and the financial system, and now they are talking about regulating. In my opinion, that does not make sense. Either the government is acting in bad faith or it does not have any idea what it is doing.

I would also like to talk about the fact that a UN report was published today on poverty in Canada's northern communities, about the fact that these communities do not have access to food, that they live in poverty and that the government has completely forgotten them. I would like to remind hon. members of something: it is all well and good to negotiate with the territories, but this does not change anything. This should have been done about 20 years ago. Whether or not the communities agree to a pipeline or mining project is not the heart of the matter.

The heart of the matter is that the government neglected northern Canada and is now trying to put a small band-aid on a gaping wound. However, this does not hide the fact that the government has been neglecting infrastructure, food security and poverty in northern Canada and that it is still refusing to negotiate with aboriginal communities and the people living in Canada's north in order to resolve these problems.

I understand the purpose of this kind of bill. Regulations can enable northerners to make decisions and negotiate with the government. However, if the government does not negotiate in good faith, what is the point? If the government does not consult people, what is the point? Is this just an empty shell of a bill that the Conservatives hope will appease people? I would really like to know.

Today's UN report states that Canada has neglected the north. The Government of Canada neglected its own country. What do the Conservatives have to say about that? Today, not one of them has stood up and demanded that the government help northern communities. No member from Nunavut or Yukon has said anything in the House of Commons about what the territories need. Neither has the Minister of Health. I am sorry, but when negotiations are not conducted in good faith, there is no point.

We know all about the Conservatives' good faith in negotiations. They take the bosses' side, pass special laws and force workers back to work. They tell aboriginal communities that if they want to solve their problems, just talking amongst themselves should do the trick. But it will not. The government lacks both the leadership and the will to take care of Canada's north. It has no business saying that the opposition is scaring Canadians.

All we want the government to do is consult people and respect the rights of northern residents. I think that is pretty clear. Even the government has to admit that we are right about that.

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March 4th, 2013 / 5:30 p.m.
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NDP

Jonathan Tremblay NDP Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to my colleague. I always enjoy her passionate speeches.

Throughout the day today, we have been talking about this government's poor use of the parliamentary system.

Not one of the 50 proposed amendments was accepted. The government systematically rejected them all. It could have introduced this bill long ago, but it did not. It introduced it now.

The various organizations and companies in the north are being given no time. They want to put forward amendments, convey their message and say what changes they would like to see in this bill.

I personally feel it demonstrates a lack of respect for our democracy. Could my colleague talk a bit more about that?

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March 4th, 2013 / 5:35 p.m.
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NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, obviously this is important.

I did not have time to mention it, but my colleague from Western Arctic said that the bill should have been split into two parts because one is more controversial than the other.

Witnesses wanted more time to speak. Perhaps there were more points to explore. But the government refused all of our amendments. It was impossible to negotiate.

Once again, the government has demonstrated that it does not really want to negotiate in good faith. Keeping expert witnesses from testifying in committee in order to improve a bill clearly shows the Conservatives' contempt for our democratic institutions.

The government does not have time to negotiate because this bill has to be passed. But we are talking about northern Canada; it is important. The north has been neglected for years. If the government really wanted to improve the situation, it should have listened to us, passed our amendments and allowed us to split the bill in two to study the issues in more detail.

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March 4th, 2013 / 5:35 p.m.
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Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from La Pointe-de-l'Île.

As always I am very impressed by her passion for the topics we discuss in the House of Commons.

I think she presented some good arguments today in support of dividing this bill in two parts so that we can better examine it.

Does she think there is a chance the government will agree to this proposal?

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March 4th, 2013 / 5:35 p.m.
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NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. I also admire her intelligence and her luminous spirit, which brightens up the House of Commons.

I would like to say that I believe in the Conservatives' goodwill, that I believe the Minister of Health and Minister for the Arctic Council when she says that they will look after Canada's north.

I would like to believe that, but unfortunately, we have been quite disappointed over the past two years. That is why it is important for all MPs to rise today to tell the government that enough is enough and we must work together for Canada's north.

This bill must be split in two. So we must continue to call on the government here in the House to listen to what our democratic institutions want and also what Canadians want.

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March 4th, 2013 / 5:35 p.m.
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NDP

Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her passion on this issue.

We are all familiar with the challenges in Canada's north, whether we are talking about climate change, environmental protection, relations with aboriginal people in the north or natural resources development.

I would like my colleague to explain the delays we have seen in the great north, particularly when it comes to building infrastructure.

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March 4th, 2013 / 5:35 p.m.
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NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I believe it is negligence.

It is unfortunate and sad to have to say that a government is neglecting part of the population. The fact remains that debates in the House have repeatedly demonstrated the unwillingness of past governments and, above all, the current government. The Conservative government has been in power since 2006. It has had plenty of time to act if it really wanted to.

The north is complex, but it is part of our country's identity. I feel it is important to respect that identity. Whether the infrastructure is in Montreal, Toronto or Iqaluit makes no difference. A school or a port, it is the same thing. I do not see the problem with investing in the north or in the south of our country. To me, it is negligence, and that is really too bad.

I would like to make this little announcement: this government has not made the most investments. On the contrary, it has made the most cuts.

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March 4th, 2013 / 5:40 p.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-47, an act to enact the Nunavut planning and project assessment act and the Northwest Territories surface rights board act.

I am going to take a minute to take a personal detour, because someone might ask why the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca is so interested in this act. The story for me begins 40 years ago. I almost hate to say that out loud. I was a young university graduate, and my first job was in Yellowknife where I had the privilege of working for the territorial government as the superintendent of treaty Indian band membership and the director of vital statistics. Suffice it to say I was way over my head for my age. I had worked in summer jobs as a health researcher and ended up in this very wonderful job in the Northwest Territories.

At that time, the Northwest Territories included Nunavut and was ruled by a commissioner appointed by the Prime Minister. It was just beginning the process of devolution and self-government. I have to say that any of us at that time would be surprised that we are still dealing with these issues 40 years later. Part of what is important about the bill is that it helps, despite its flaws, to bring us forward on those devolution questions that have certainly been dealt with the entire time of my working career.

I decided to go back to university for a graduate degree and started teaching. Then I was persuaded by a very persuasive member of Parliament to come to Ottawa for two years. I was a staff person here at the House of Commons for two years from 1981-83. I do not usually confess that. At that time it was my privilege to be attached as an NDP researcher to what was called the Indian self-government committee or the Penner committee. In that position, I was privileged to travel the entire country with the committee, listening to first nations talk about self-government and what would be needed, both in terms of laws and in terms of resources and development to achieve self-government.

Again, 30 years ago, those who participated in that commission would be very surprised that we would still be standing here talking about and dealing with the same issues, the same lack of resources and the same lack of respect for first nations self-government in this country. Yes, progress is a long road not yet finished.

After having spent two years in Ottawa, I returned to British Columbia because it is hard to keep a British Columbian in Ottawa for more than two years, and the weather outside certainly speaks to that again today. However, when I went back to British Columbia I was involved with a small non-government organization until the time I was elected to Parliament, called Pacific Peoples' Partnership. That non-government organization attempts to build relationships between indigenous people around the Pacific and first nations in Canada, because indigenous peoples all around the Pacific Rim face many of the same problems. Whether we are talking about Australia, New Zealand or Pacific islanders, many of the same problems exist in getting the outsiders, the colonists, to recognize rights and responsibilities they have to first nations.

One could say all of my life I have been involved as a supporter in these issues, not so directly as some of my colleagues here, like the member who spoke earlier, but certainly I remain very interested in these issues.

When I look at the bill, the first thing I would say is, having separated the two territories and having quite different issues, it is a surprise to find them jammed together into the same bill. That may be efficient for Conservative legislative purposes, but it is not efficient for consulting the public and for getting meaningful input from the communities and for separating out those important issues that need to be debated both here in Parliament and at the community level. We would have been far better served with two bills and with a separate consultation process at the local level for both of these bills.

I am also disappointed at the failure of the government to respond to the many amendments that were put forward. Members on the other side have referred to them as the opposition amendments. Yes, it is true we moved them in the House of Commons, but those amendments came from all across the north. They came from northern organizations, which pointed out significant flaws in this legislation, groups like the Nunavut Impact Review Board, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., NWT Association of Communities, NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines and Alternatives North. That is where we got the ideas for these amendments, not things to hold up government business, not things we dreamt up by ourselves, but things that came about from listening to northerners about what needs to happen in the north.

It is hard to understand how many of these very practical solutions could be ignored or rejected by the government. There is an example in this bill of what happens when there is not adequate consultation and when opinions of northerners are not taken account. In 1994, the Yukon land claims agreement was implemented. Now we have amendments in this bill, thrown in with the other two territories, to correct the problems that have existed since 1994 in trying to bring about fulfillment of the federal government's obligations under the Yukon umbrella final agreement.

Why do we have those amendments in the bill? I would argue it is because at that time a different government, a Liberal government, also failed to listen to northerners about all the things that were necessary to implement full recognition of first nations land and treaty rights, and also the devolution of self-government into the territories.

The other reason that I remain interested in this as a member of Parliament is the fact that I have five first nations in my riding. I want to take a little detour into what is happening with land claims and with development issues for the first nations in my riding.

At the far western end of my riding is a first nation called Pacheedaht, led very ably by Chief Marvin McClurg. It is a relatively small first nation, with 259 members. They are in the process, under the B.C. Treaty Commission, of negotiating a settlement to their claims. They are at a common table with the Ditidaht First Nation with whom they share the Nuu-chah-nulth language and culture, but they are not part of the larger Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council.

These two small first nations, with very limited resources, are attempting to work their way through this treaty process. They are now in stage four of the six-stage process. They are at the stage of negotiating an agreement in principle. They are focusing on things like parks and protected areas, and recognition of the rights of first nations to hunt and fish in those parks and protected areas. They are also focused on wildlife, migratory birds and fish.

The Pacheedaht, in the meantime, while they are negotiating what we hope will be a final agreement, have become very involved in forestry economic development initiatives. Right now they actually run a wood lot licence, in the San Juan River area, which is very close to their reserve.

The point I am making is that it is the first nations who have created the most jobs in that part of my riding. It is the first nations initiatives in forestry that have put people to work. It is not just first nations people but everybody in that end of my riding who have benefited from the recognition of giving back the woodlot to the Pacheedaht First Nation.

In what I would call the middle of my riding, we have three first nations who are working together in an alliance called the Te'Mexw Treaty Association. These three nations were all signatories to the Douglas Treaties, but they decided there would be a benefit for their nation in negotiating a comprehensive and modern treaty that dealt not just with land issues but with governance issues as well. These are first nations with somewhat larger resources, larger memberships, but, again, they do not really belong to any tribal council. They have come together with two first nations from outside my riding, the Malahat First Nation and the Nanoose First Nation, to form the Te'Mexw Treaty Association.

The largest of these is the T'Sou-ke Nation, located near what we in English call Sooke, led by Chief Gordon Planes. Again, while trying to negotiate a settlement and implement a treaty, they have embarked on a very interesting initiative in the T'Sou-ke First Nation. They had a visioning exercise with their leaders, and their leaders said they wanted to go back to the days when they were self-sufficient, independent and able to stand on their own. They have embarked on what I think is probably the largest solar power initiative in the province of British Columbia. They have proceeded to install solar power on the reserve and will eventually, and in not very much longer, take themselves off the grid and be producing their own power.

What they did in doing that was to train first nations people as solar technicians. They are now supplying services to the surrounding community and helping other people make that transition to renewable and sustainable energy. That is another very good example of what we have to learn in this process of recognizing first nations rights to self-government, and to land and resources, and how much all of our communities could benefit from that.

The third first nation in my riding is the Scia'new First Nation, led by Russell Chipps. They are very much involved in attempting to create employment on reserve by taking advantage of the rural economy around them, where many of the non-first nation people are involved in what we might call hobby farms. They are having trouble finding ways to process the products they are raising. Therefore, there is a very good partnership developing between the Scia'new First Nation and the municipality of Metchosin in an attempt to develop agricultural processing industries that will take things being raised on the hobby farms and make jobs on the reserve for both first nation and non-first nation people.

The fourth first nation in my riding, the Songhees First Nation, is the largest and is located very much in the city. It consists of 547 band members who, unfortunately, lost their long-term and very distinguished chief just less than a year ago.

Again, I want to talk about the vision they had. While trying to get a land claim solved and trying to get the resources they need, they have embarked upon the construction of a very large wellness centre. The wellness centre is going to focus on addiction treatments, recreation and all those things to help people recover, in the first nation, both their sense of selves and their sense of culture.

However, to finish the wellness centre, to finish those jobs in the Scia'new First Nation on the reserve and to finish those initiatives that the T'Sou-Ke has taken, they need to get a comprehensive treaty settlement underway.

We were very happy to see, last week, the announcement of an incremental or an interim treaty agreement that has transferred some land in the interim and some resources in the interim. Again, they are at stage four of the six-stage treaty process, but we have those interim transfers of land and resources.

One of the concerns in my riding has been about a very prominent site in the municipality of Esquimalt, a very prominent corner, where that land has now been transferred to the Songhees First Nation under the interim agreement.

I think it is important for people to realize that in the interim the resources that were transferred have been transferred in fee simple, and so the development that is bound to take place on that corner would be under the same zoning laws, the same regulations and, as any other landowner, they will pay municipal taxes and will receive municipal services.

However, once again it is an important spur to redevelopment of downtown Esquimalt, or the Esquimalt village as it is known, and this is being pursued by first nations under the interim agreement.

The last first nation in my riding is called Esquimalt First Nation, led by a chief I very much respect, Chief Andy Thomas. Esquimalt First Nation has decided not to be part of the treaty commission process. Instead, it has pointed to the Douglas Treaty, saying, “We already have a treaty and that treaty has been ignored”. There has been a failure. There was a failure, at the time, by the colonial government to survey the lands promised, to set aside those lands and to protect those treaty lands. Then, as time went on, those lands were alienated to third parties.

There was a second failure under the Douglas Treaty for the Esquimalt Nation, and that was a failure to pay any compensation when those lands were transferred to third parties.

Therefore, for Chief Thomas, the treaty process is not a new process but very much a question of unfinished business.

That brings me back to the bill we have in front of us today. What it is really dealing with is unfinished business, whether it is the Yukon land claims for which the final settlement needs some amendments, whether it is the Nunavut planning and project assessment act or the Northwest Territories surface rights board act.

Despite our concerns about the failures of the Conservatives to recognize the necessity for amendments to the bill, we will be supporting the bill, as we know that would mean a similar bill will eventually come back to the House of Commons and those 50 amendments will eventually be dealt with in this place. They are necessary to implement the treaty agreements; they are necessary to get on with the business of creating jobs and development for everyone in the north, not just first nations but all residents of the north. We know that when the north prospers, the rest of Canada will also prosper.

I am sad to say I look forward to the day when there is a different government that will bring in the bill and bring back the amendments, which will be a chance to listen to the voices of northerners and first nations people and actually accomplish their goals in the House of Commons.