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House of Commons Hansard #10 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was farmers.

Topics

SupplyAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

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?

SupplyAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Elgin—Middlesex—London Ontario

Liberal

Gar Knutson LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to reply to the hon. member for Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore on behalf of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development concerning the federal response to the Marshall decision on fishing and treaty rights.

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has already spent two days in the maritimes meeting with aboriginal leaders, with commercial fishers and with his provincial counterparts. Both ministers met on October 18 with the executive of the Atlantic Policy Congress which represents all the Atlantic chiefs to discuss issues arising from the Marshall decision.

All parties at that meeting agreed that a made in Atlantic solution is required and that the fishing issue should be given first priority. They also began to consider a process for dealing with the broader impact of the Marshall decision.

On October 27 the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development will meet with the Atlantic chiefs in Cape Breton to continue the discussion launched last week. In addition, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development consulted with the ministers responsible for aboriginal affairs in the maritime provinces on October 21. DIAND staff is actively involved in reviewing the Marshall decision, its implication for first nations and its implication for all people in the maritimes.

Two additional steps have also been taken. First, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has been designed as the lead federal minister on the immediate issue relating to fisheries while the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development will lead on the broader resource issue relating to the 1760 treaty and other historic maritime treaties.

Second, the government has appointed a respected Nova Scotia lawyer, Mr. James Mackenzie, to serve as the federal representative in discussions arising from the Marshall decision both on fisheries issues and on the longer term implications of the court ruling on aboriginal access to resources. Mr. Mackenzie began meeting with east coast chiefs and with non-aboriginal fishers last week.

The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans are both actively working with aboriginal leaders, with the provinces and with other stakeholders. We intend to continue working co-operatively with all parties to reach a constructive solution.

SupplyAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, if Canadians were asked if they believe that housing is a basic human right they would answer with a resounding yes. Most everyone understands that without the basic provision of safe, secure, affordable housing it is pretty hard to make anything else in one's life work.

Most everyone gets that fundamental point but apparently not the Liberal government. Despite the Golden report, the report of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association, my own report from my travels across Canada this winter, the report of the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, CMHC itself, and so on, we are still living with the terrible record of being the only industrialized country without a national housing strategy.

I asked myself how could this be when in 1990 the Minister of Finance, then in opposition, decried the fact that poverty and homelessness existed in Canada. “It is reprehensible in a country as rich as Canada”, he said. How can it be that we still have a housing disaster in Canada today when a minister of homelessness was appointed in March of this year? How can a country as wealthy as Canada be condemned by the UN for its appalling record on homelessness, particularly for aboriginal people?

These shameful conditions exist not because of the fault of individual people who are without housing or are homeless but because of deliberate, conscious public policy by design that has created a housing crisis.

Let us make no mistake. What we see today on our streets, in the waiting lists for co-op housing and in every community where housing is threatened is a direct result of a terrible decision made by the government in 1993 to dump housing and end construction of social and co-op housing. We are living the consequences today of the decision made in 1993 to abandon social housing. I implore the federal government to look at what is going on today.

The minister responsible for homelessness and I were at an Ottawa luncheon that launched an instant food hot pack and a corporate sponsorship drive for the Ottawa Food Bank. The Ottawa Food Bank needs all the help it can get, but the people forced to rely on charity in this wealthy country need real solutions, not band aids or hot packs.

My caucus has strongly supported the 1% solution for housing advocated by the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee and now supported by organizations across the country. We in the NDP have made very clear and will continue to demand that the federal government take responsibility for housing.

Housing Canadians is important. We want to see a national housing strategy. We want to see the 1% solution. I have a motion coming before the House that is soon to be debated and speaks to this matter precisely. I urge the government to do the right thing, to show responsibility, to work with the provinces and to implement a national housing strategy so that no man, no woman, no child or family is lacking this basic human need. Will the government do that?

SupplyAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Whitby—Ajax Ontario

Liberal

Judi Longfield LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is concerned about the growing number of homeless people in communities across the country, the increasing number of children, youth and families struggling to survive day to day.

Municipalities across Canada have produced countless reports that identify problems, that articulate the root causes and seek solutions. Municipalities are concerned. In addition, community groups from across the country are coming together to discuss their approaches and share successes.

Earlier this year the Prime Minister asked the Minister of Labour to co-ordinate the activities of the Government of Canada related to homelessness, to bring together the information from these reports and to tabulate the documentation received from community groups.

Communities, municipalities and provinces have an important contribution to make and must understand that they need to be prepared to share in the responsibility for addressing the issue. We all need to be part of the solution.

The Minister of Labour spent the summer travelling to over 20 communities from Vancouver to Halifax and spoke directly to Canadians who are homeless, to Canadians who work and volunteer their time to help the homeless, to businesses that are concerned, and to mayors and councils that are committed to eliminating homelessness in their communities. The minister is compiling what she heard from the communities and from the many reports that have been prepared by the municipalities. She will be the voice for those recommendations in Ottawa.

Over the past few months we have made progress. The Minister of Public Works and Government Services was able to augment the $300 million over five year RRAP program by $50 million, some of which was targeted directly to homeless shelters.

The Minister of Human Resources Development has identified funds under her department to address the needs of the homeless and to work toward eradicating the root causes and leading to prevention.

The network of federal facilities in cities across Canada will initiate and co-ordinate a partnership process with provincial and municipal governments as well as with the voluntary and private sectors.

We recognize that the bottom line comes to partnership. Homelessness must be a priority for all levels of government working in partnership with the private and non-profit sectors.

SupplyAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been passed. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6.39 p.m.)