Mr. Speaker, I see by the clock that I will not have time to complete my intervention today, but I would like to say a few words about the judicial system in this country. I am going to cater my remarks to the supreme court.
I want to give an example of how our judicial system has a profound influence not only in criminal matters but in civil matters and in civil matters that have widespread consequences to Canadians and, in this particular case, to British Columbians.
I am going to talk about the Delgamuukw case in British Columbia. It was a case where an Indian band, the Gitksan and Wet'suwet'en decided some 13 years ago that it was going to lay legal claim to about 58,000 square kilometres of land in the north central part of the province.
In the initial case that was heard by Justice McEachern, the learned justice heard over 378 days of testimony. This is a judge from the Supreme Court of British Columbia. He heard arguments put forward by the Gitksan and Wet'suwet'en people, by the province of British Columbia and by Canada.
Incidentally, the justice for much of this sitting was actually in Smithers, British Columbia, in my riding, where the Gitksan and Wet'suwet'en people live. This was so that he could better understand them, their claim, the other non-aboriginal people and the other aboriginal people for that matter in the area.
In his reasons for judgment, the learned judge pointed out that he not only sat on the bench in Smithers to hear arguments, but he also took the time in the evenings and on weekends, rented a car and drove around visiting many of the communities. He visited the Gitksan communities and the non-aboriginal communities so that he would understand to the best that he possibly could what the case was all about.
After more than two years, after more than 375 days on the bench, he rendered a decision. The learned justice's decision was overturned after the supreme court heard arguments for a day and a half. This case now throws a cloud of uncertainty over whether British Columbia as a province has the right to assert sovereignty and has control over the crown lands of that province.
This case has profound implications. It is a good thing I have parliamentary immunity because I am going to say something harsh about the court. Nine justices from the supreme court, politically appointed, largely from Quebec and Ontario, decided British Columbia's future. This is unacceptable.