This is a really important discussion. When you look at national interest, national interest is undefined in the bill. When you look at where Canada has gone with national interest in the past, residential schools were in the national interest. The national policy of 1878 was proclaimed in the national interest. The policy was sold as good for all Canadians and it talked about immigration and railways.
In the early 1980s, Trudeau Liberals introduced the national energy program and it was promoted as being in the national interest. When you look at the consultation that the committee heard, there was concern expressed by the mayor of Tuktoyaktuk. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers asked if the national interest was in the interest of “parties that could be collectively effected by suspending the interest owners rights under an exploration licence or significant discovery”. It was concerned with the definition of national interest.
The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, in its brief, indicated that the requirement to consult with those who held rights in marine areas was not clearly articulated. The Northwest Territories Chamber of Commerce, in its brief, argued that the final decision to prohibit certain works or activities in the national interest “needs to be approved by the Indigenous Nation of the prescribed area who are the stewards of the area but also rely on the land to provide economic independence”.
In my mind, it comes down to either we believe it when we say nice words about UNDRIP and that we should enact it in the legislation that we pass, or we don't. I truly believe we should reflect UNDRIP and support the amendment, which requires consultation with aboriginal communities.