Mr. Speaker, again I rise in the House in the late show to discuss the crisis that is happening in the Atlantic fishery.
The other day the government appointed Mr. Mackenzie as a federal mediator to go down to Nova Scotia to discuss the situation between non-native and native fishermen after the Marshall decision of September 17.
Unfortunately the representative down there now has absolutely no trust in the people he is talking with. He even admits that he knows absolutely nothing about the fishery. Why would the federal government send someone down to Nova Scotia to discuss the fisheries crisis when the individual in question knows nothing about the fishery?
Another thing we found out today is that since the Marshall decision has come out, besides the chaos and uncertainty this has created in everyone's lives in the maritime region, on March 8 of this year the Mi'kmaq nation came to Ottawa to discuss the proposed Marshall decision with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the minister at that time.
They came here to give the government advance warning that if the supreme court was going to rule in favour of the aboriginal people, they would like to give the government enough time to come up with a short term plan to initiate the transfer of getting the aboriginal people into the fishery. They came here and the government basically told them to go away.
The government did not want to talk to them because it was going to wait for the Marshall decision. That means the government did not want to plan ahead. It did not want to discuss the future or the possible crisis that may happen as a result of the Marshall decision. The government told the Mi'kmaq people who came here in good faith to go away.
This is typical of the government and past Conservative governments. They have consistently told aboriginal people who have had legitimate concerns across the country to go away, to pound sand, to take their case to court.
Three straight court decisions from the supreme court have ruled in favour of the aboriginal people. Every single time, the past governments and this current government have stood there like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck. The government really does not know what to do.
Meanwhile the livelihoods of thousands and thousands of people and their communities, their children are at stake. The resource itself is at stake. This government just stands around and says, “Go away, we do not want to talk to you”. Now it is scrambling around. This party has offered the government sound advice. Other parties have given the government advice as well which it has completely ignored.
It is ironic to notice that the previous minister who is now the environment minister must have known the decision was coming down. If the DFO was the stock exchange we could almost accuse him of insider trading because he left the portfolio fairly quickly and went into another one.
Now we have a brand new minister who readily admits that he does not know much about the Mi'kmaq people. He does not know much about fisheries as the head of one of the most volatile departments. I call it one of the most out of control departments in Ottawa. It has cost us billions of dollars in TAGS adjustments. The stock itself is in chaos. The auditor general said last April that the DFO and the government were managing the shellfish industry in the same manner that they managed the groundfish industry: right into the ground.
My question for the hon. parliamentary secretary is quite simple. Why did the government shut the door on the Mi'kmaq people on March 8 and in the ensuing weeks when they tried to initiate their conversations? What will it do to resolve the situation immediately?