Thank you, Mr. Chair.
We will not be supporting this motion. I find this a very offensive motion, in fact. Mr. Bruinooge bills this as an essential bill. It is an important issue we're dealing with, the repeal of section 67. I don't think anybody around this table would dispute the importance of repealing section 67. But this bill could have been brought forward in a different manner. This bill could have been brought forward by this government in a process and in a manner that would have brought onside--and considered the concerns--of those affected by it.
Mr. Chair, this morning you and I and Ms. Crowder attended the signing of the Tsawwassen Treaty, and we heard about the importance of working together, how the bill came about with give and take between the very gifted chief of the Tsawwassen First Nation and the provincial and federal negotiators, and about the goodwill of the provincial and federal governments making it happen. This could have been the case with the repeal of section 67 of the Human Rights Act.
What we have had here, Mr. Chair, is an attempt to stifle dissent in the community against section 67. What we have had are gentlemen who think they know best how aboriginal women should be looked after and how they should be addressed. The views of the women, the views of the communities, and the views of the leadership have been totally disregarded. We've had 20 different presentations here in front of this committee call for consultation, given the many issues around this bill, and we've been caught up in an ideological zeal to rush the bill through without the full consideration of the communities it will affect.
We could almost be there now. We could almost be there if the consultations had taken place in an appropriate manner; if the communication had taken place in an appropriate manner; if the minister had chosen to redraft the bill in a way that would bring in some of the concerns; if an impact study had been done, so we would know what impact it would have on first nations communities. But for whatever reason, the government has chosen to bring this piece of legislation forward, to stifle discussion, to stifle opinions, to say “We know best”.
I guess what concerns me most, particularly after listening to some members opposite last week, is that I'm not even sure the repeal of section 67 is designed to provide human rights for individuals in first nations communities. I'm not sure it isn't a backward way to disassemble the Indian Act as we know it. We have heard that from some of the presenters before. Some of the language we've heard across the way earlier in the week, to my mind, confirms it.
So I would have great difficulty with another attempt to thwart discussion, to thwart an ability to deal with this bill in a fulsome manner.
As I said earlier, the government is responsible for this issue not moving forward in a more expeditious way. If the consultations had taken place, consultations with the leadership, consultations with the communities, and consultations with the women who would have been affected.... We heard eloquently from NWAC about the need for consultation; but no, the government knows best. It's their way or the highway.
I would say to you, Mr. Chair, that we would like to see section 67 of the Human Rights Act repealed. Everybody from my party wants to see section 67 repealed.
They think they know better. They think they know what we think.
I am telling you that this is what we would like to see done, but we would like to see it done in a manner that is appropriate, that is consultative, that is courteous, and that is respectful—and respect seems to be a big thing that's missing from that side as it relates to first nations communities
And I may have more to say.