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House of Commons Hansard #25 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was treaty.

Topics

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1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not agree with that. In fact, I say so every year when the Indian affairs minister comes before the standing committee. I ask him “Are you not tired of letting the courts tell you how to proceed?” It seems to me this government should display greater courage and settle fundamental issues, before the courts force it to change its policies.

I agree with the hon. member that the Liberal government should show much more initiative, to avoid having Canadian courts, and particularly the supreme court, tell us how to proceed.

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1:35 p.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

I have another brief question, Mr. Speaker. It really puzzles me that the Bloc members would oppose a referendum on this issue. They are very strong on a referendum deciding the separation of Quebec. Why do they oppose a referendum of the people of British Columbia with regard to this issue?

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1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, regarding the issue of referendums, it is obvious that the Reform Party will tell us “Since you want a referendum in Quebec, why do you not want one for British Columbia?”

I would ask the hon. member to take a look at the wording of his own motion, which basically asks the federal government to impose a referendum on British Columbia. As Quebecers, we do not want anything imposed on us.

We do not want to have the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs impose a referendum, impose a percentage to make it a success and impose a question. We believe in the self-determination of peoples, and if Quebecers qualify as a people, they are entitled to hold their own referendum, without Ottawa's intrusion.

That is Bloc Quebecois position.

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1:40 p.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk Reform West Kootenay—Okanagan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to just touch on that referendum question. What is the difference? British Columbians would not have it imposed, they are asking for it.

I point out to the hon. member that I did a scientific poll in my riding on constituents' attitudes with regards to the Nisga'a treaty. Not only did we ask straightforward questions, but also did a lot of other polling at the same time.

One of the things this poll did was identify voter trends within the riding. Of the people who voted NDP provincially in the last election, the NDP government being the one that put this treaty on the table, 70% of those people wanted a referendum on the Nisga'a treaty. A referendum is not being imposed on B.C. B.C. is asking for it.

Will the member join with us in supporting the rights of British Columbians and their demand to have a referendum on this?

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1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to instruct the members from British Columbia. They know their corner of the country best.

However, I can tell them their provincial colleague, Bill Vander Zalm, of the Reform Party, is not quite on the right track in saying we should buy the Indians “Let us give them $100,000, get rid of the reserves and that will be the end of that”. I think that is a poor approach, and I would say to Mr. Vander Zalm that, if he wants to be elected, if he wants to be a Reformer, this is the right way to go about it, as he does not recognize the aboriginal peoples.

Buying people, telling them that we will assimilate them and saying “Let us pay out $100,000, and that will be the end of the aboriginal nations”, is not the approach to take. That means they know very little about them. That means they know very little about Quebec too.

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1:40 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise you that I will be dividing my time today with my colleague, the hon. member for Vancouver East.

My colleague, the hon. member for the Yukon, who attended the hearings on this matter, unfortunately is not able to participate in the debate today. She has played a very important and critical role on behalf of New Democrats on this very important issue.

I rise today on behalf of my colleagues in the New Democratic Party to strongly oppose the motion which the Reform Party has brought before the House of Commons. I regard this as a desperate, last minute attempt by the Reform Party to subvert the Nisga'a treaty.

One of the hon. members from the Reform Party has talked about a scientific poll that he did in his constituency on the Nisga'a treaty. The Nisga'a leadership made it very clear on November 4 when they appeared before the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development that there are two treaties being debated in British Columbia today.

According to Chief Joe Gosnell, one of the treaties was actually negotiated in a process lasting several years. This is the treaty referred to by the government and by the other opposition parties other than the Reform Party.

The second treaty, which is now the subject of debate, was what they called the make-believe treaty. This is the treaty described by the Reform Party, by the British Columbia Liberal Party, by a variety of editorialists and by other individuals. If Reform Party members are polling their constituents about a make-believe treaty, a treaty that does not exist, a treaty that has been invented to try to scare British Columbians, it is no wonder they would vote against that treaty.

When the truth comes out, when British Columbians are informed of the actual content of this treaty, as I had the opportunity to do at a public forum in my constituency very recently, they will support the contents of this treaty.

It is no wonder particularly in some of the rural communities of British Columbia that there are British Columbians who are not getting the facts, when we look at where they might get those facts from. There are Reform Party members of parliament who are engaged in a campaign of systematic distortion of the contents of the treaty. What do they say about the treaty? They say it is like apartheid. It is one of the most offensive and appalling distortions of history when the Reform Party talks about this treaty as in any way being akin to apartheid.

I worked for many years, as did a number of members of the House, fighting against apartheid. Indeed Your Honour was in the forefront of that struggle and will recall our visit to South Africa to celebrate the triumph of democracy in South Africa.

Those who understand history will know that if anything, apartheid in fact was at least partly based not on this kind of nation to nation treaty, but on the reserve system in the Indian Act which this treaty would finally rid us of. To talk about apartheid in the context of the Nisga'a treaty is totally dishonest.

We know as well that the media coverage in many of the rural and smaller communities on the Nisga'a treaty has been distorted. It is no wonder when David Black who publishes over 60 community newspapers serving some of those smaller communities gives orders to his editorial writers that they are not allowed to write editorials in support of the Nisga'a treaty. David Black the publisher is forcing his newspapers to tell one story. It is no wonder that kind of distortion takes place.

The Reform Party says that it believes in consultation. Yet the member for Skeena himself has not met in six years with the leadership of the Nisga'a people. He represents that community. He has represented that community since 1993. I defy any member of the Reform Party to stand in the House today and tell me one occasion since 1993 when the member for Skeena has met with the leadership of the Nisga'a people whom he represents. Reform members are phonies when they talk about consultation. The only consultation they believe in is talking to themselves.

There has been extensive consultation with the people of British Columbia on this treaty. Before the 1996 provincial election, an agreement in principle was signed. That agreement in principle was signed and a 13 point mandate for provincial negotiators was presented. Where was the provincial Liberal Party then? Where was the federal Reform Party then? Were they calling for a referendum? No. There was not one word calling for a referendum.

Not only was the Reform Party silent on any suggestion of a referendum but Mike de Jong, spokesperson for the B.C. Liberal Party, the kissing cousins of the Reform Party on this treaty, said:

I think it would be unfair at this point to inject the referendum card into the ratification process involving the Nisga'a treaty. Those negotiations have been ongoing.... To say at literally the eleventh hour that it will now become a component of that ratification process would be, I think, unfair.

Unfair indeed it would be. We in the New Democratic Party say that there has been extensive debate and consultation on this issue, including the longest debate in the history of the B.C. legislature, 116 hours. No bill in the B.C. legislature has ever been debated longer than the Nisga'a bill. There were extensive community hearings. There was the aboriginal affairs committee. There were 116 hours of debate in the B.C. legislature.

The time has come for parliament to respond not just to the historical rights of the Nisga'a people, but to respond to what I believe the majority of British Columbians who were informed of the contents of the treaty actually want. They want fairness and certainty.

It was a Reform Party member of parliament who said, “Uncertainty directly related to the Nisga'a treaty is hurting the economy of northwestern British Columbia”. That was said by a Reform Party member of parliament, yet Reform members want a referendum that would drag this out.

Let us say hypothetically that the referendum were to result in a no vote. What then? Would we go back to the drawing table and start the negotiations again? Why would the Nisga'a people negotiate in those circumstances? Why would any aboriginal first nation negotiate in those circumstances? They would say that they would go to the courts. We have seen what happens when we leave it to the Supreme Court of Canada. We saw the chaos which resulted in the east coast fishery. Let us negotiate in good faith as this Nisga'a treaty has done.

My final point is with respect to the notion of a referendum on minority rights. In my view it is profoundly unacceptable and dangerous to suggest that the rights of minorities should be subject to a referendum of a majority. In a democracy we respect minority rights. We elect democratic provincial MLAs and federal members of parliament to reflect the views of their constituents and at the end of the day to respect the rights of minorities, and those should not be subject to the whim of a majority in a referendum vote.

The Reform Party quite clearly does not believe in equality for aboriginal people. That is very clear. We know it does not believe in equality. This motion is all about a last minute, desperate attempt by the Reform Party which is trying desperately to salvage some vestige of credibility as it slips away more and more. We saw it slipping away in the byelection in Saskatoon. It was losing support there. Reformers are desperately grasping for power, trying to press the buttons, but the people of British Columbia will say no to that kind of agenda. They are saying no now and they will say no in the next election when that member from the Fraser Valley will be history.

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1:50 p.m.

Reform

Derrek Konrad Reform Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, that was an interesting speech, I am sure.

The member talked about respecting minority rights in this House. I remind him of some of the less honourable aspects of how this House respected minority rights. How about the Japanese during the second world war? How about the Chinese once the railroads were built? How about Indians being separated out from Canadian society and being put into the Indian Act? Where does he think those things arose from? Out of the clear blue sky? They came out of this House.

I wonder if the member thinks Canadian people would have supported them at the time or had they been put to a referendum, might they have had more wisdom than parliamentarians. I suggest they have more wisdom on the Nisga'a treaty. They also rejected the Charlottetown accord which separated people in this country one from another.

I am thankful for the grassroots Canadians who oppose the special interest politics this House stands for so often, particularly through the NDP party.

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1:50 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted the member for Prince Albert has given those examples because that is precisely the danger of the approach of the Reform Party today. What if there had been a referendum on the internment of Japanese Canadians in World War II and afterward? The fact of the matter is that was popular at the time and it was precisely because of those populist whims that the government was prepared to move. If there had been a Reform Party back then, its members would have been standing up saying they wanted a referendum on the issue and they would have trampled the rights of Japanese Canadians.

When we look at the Chinese head tax and the appalling treatment of Chinese Canadians, if there had been a Reform Party back then, its members would have been up there on their hind legs braying “We want a referendum and to hell with minority rights”. That is the position of the Reform Party. It does not give a damn about minority rights. It never has and it does not now for the Nisga'a.

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1:55 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Liberal

David Iftody LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to be part of this vigorous, very historical and important debate.

I would like to ask the member to comment on what I think is the central question concerning the referendum. The Reform Party has argued that we, Canada and British Columbia, ought to have a referendum because there is a constitutional amendment. The member for Burnaby, I believe, was a member of parliament throughout 1980 to 1983 when we were amending the constitution and bringing in the charter. He is very familiar with sections 25 and 35(1). If I recall, he played a role in the standing committee that was drafting some of those provisions.

I think it is particularly important not only because he is a lawyer and has participated in the House on those kinds of discussions, but because he is a member of parliament from British Columbia and represents the people that the other party purports to.

Does he in his view believe at all that there is a constitutional change here in recognition of the Nisga'a treaty? If there is one, would that not necessitate a Canadian referendum?

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1:55 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, in response to the parliamentary secretary, the fact is that this does not in any way involve an amendment to the constitution of Canada.

Under section 35 of the constitution of Canada, the existing aboriginal treaty rights of first nations in Canada are recognized and affirmed. This treaty is very much within the spirit of section 35. There is no amendment to the constitution of Canada. In fact, it is consistent with the constitution and does not require an amendment under the British Columbia legislation.

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1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

That would take up the time for questions and comments. We will now proceed to Statements by Members.

The Late Father Marcel De La SablonnièreStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval West, QC

Mr. Speaker, Father Marcel de la Sablonnière, or Father Sablon to those who knew him well, died on Saturday at the age of 81.

Born in 1918, Father Sablon was appointed in 1952 to the position of director of the Centre de loisirs Immaculée-Conception, in Montreal, a function he performed wisely and capably for more than 40 years. He saw the potential of sports and recreation to provide a goal for certain troubled youth and to keep others from dropping out of the running. His many achievements included founding the Auberge du P'tit Bonheur in 1962.

Those working directly or indirectly with children will never forget Father de la Sablonnière. At a time when our young people too often tell us they have no leaders, Father Sablon filled this void for many of them, and they will be forever grateful.

Thank you, Father, for your generous efforts to improve the lives of our young Quebecers.

Port Of VancouverStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Reform

Dale Johnston Reform Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, the deal ending an eight day work stoppage that paralysed the port of Vancouver was ratified on Friday but the main bone of contention remains unresolved.

While shippers and their customers tally up their losses, the Canadian economy is out $800 million. In the age of just in time inventory control, valuable international contracts were lost and our reputation as a reliable shipper is in tatters.

Even though it is over, it must not be forgotten. Work disruptions at Canada's busiest port cannot continue to hold third parties hostage. Just as sure as Christmas comes in December, it will happen again.

The Deputy Prime Minister said “We do intend to make sure that this does not happen every year”. News flash to the deputy PM: Reformers have been offering a solution to this for six years. Where has he been? Rather than resorting to threats or heavy-handed back to work legislation, Canadians are demanding that a permanent solution be put in place now.

Frank FaubertStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to join with the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River to pay tribute to a man whose sense of public duty might be seen as a model for members of the House.

Frank Faubert died on June 20 of this year. He was born in Scarborough, Ontario. He was proud of his community and served his people with integrity for over 30 years in public life. He held offices as an alderman, controller, a member of the provincial legislature, Scarborough councillor and finally as Scarborough's last mayor. He was fondly known as Mr. Scarborough.

Frank's last political fight was against Scarborough joining the megacity. However, in 1997, after the city was amalgamated, he joined the city council and was elected to that council.

Frank fought hard for the things he believed in: environmental issues, economic development, the arts community, ethnocultural relations. He was proud of his business card, which was printed in English and Chinese. He is honoured in his community, not only for what he accomplished, but for the person he was: a husband to Marilyn and a proud father of five children, a friendly and approachable neighbour, a wise and knowledgeable politician, a good and decent man.

National Aids Awareness WeekStatements By Members

November 22nd, 1999 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Beth Phinney Liberal Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the house that November 22-29 marks the ninth annual National AIDS Awareness Week.

The theme of this year's campaign is the myth surrounding HIV and AIDS. By increasing our awareness and reducing our fears, Canadians can fight this disease. Funds will be raised through red ribbon campaigns and other activities to support this vital work.

HIV/AIDS remains a significant national and international issue as the epidemic continues to grow. Young people are increasingly affected.

During National AIDS awareness week, I ask all Canadians to consider how HIV and AIDS affect their lives and the lives of those around them. Please wear the red ribbon to raise awareness of this issue and join me in paying tribute to the hundreds of community organizations and volunteers across the country who make National AIDS Awareness Week a reality.

Canadian ForcesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Guy St-Julien Liberal Abitibi, QC

Mr. Speaker, last weekend, before an assembly of approximately 60 Canadian Rangers representing all Nunavik and Lower North Shore patrols, chief of defence staff General Maurice Baril presented a Canadian forces unit commendation to the 2nd Canadian Rangers Patrol Group.

The commendation was in recognition of the unit's humanitarian actions during the avalanche that hit the village of Kangiqsualujjuaq on January 1, 1999.

A Canadian forces unit commendation is normally awarded to any Canadian forces formation, unit or sub-unit that has gone above and beyond the call of duty.

Many lives were saved through the efforts of unit members, who bravely ignored their personal safety in this potentially dangerous emergency situation.

They successfully dug out women, men and children buried under a building that had literally collapsed under the weight of the snow.

Words are not enough to express our deep appreciation for the actions of these brave and determined individuals. What they did is an example to all.

FarmersStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Howard Hilstrom Reform Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, a recent study has found that suicides are a much more common cause of death on farms than accidents.

This year it is worse than ever. Stress help lines in the prairies are reporting increased caseloads. These calls include people who are considering suicide themselves or are concerned that their partner might end their life.

The root cause of increased work for mental health professionals has been directly attributed to the ongoing farm income crisis. What has the government done to correct this tragedy? I think Janice Archdekin, a Saskatchewan farmer, summed it up best when she said “They do not care that people are dying”.

Last year the minister promised that farmers would receive a bankable plan by Christmas. He broke his promise. He failed to deliver. Last week at the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool's annual meeting the agriculture minister again promised farmers that they would receive their AIDA money by Christmas 1999.

Farmers are not taking the minister's promises seriously any more. I challenge him to add some credibility to his words and pledge to resign if he breaks his promise like he did one year ago.

Social Sciences And Humanities Research CouncilStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I acknowledge and pay tribute to some of Canada's outstanding graduate students participating in the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council's research showcase in 200 West Block.

Each student in the gallery today represents one of the 20 research networks funded under the major collaborative research initiatives of SSHRC. The students are presenting their own research, as well as research produced by the team to which they belong. Their presentations cover topics such as food security in the Arctic and the social and economic dimension of an aging population, to name but two.

The students would be delighted to meet and talk about their lives and work and discuss their hopes and dreams for the future. I urge all members to visit the SSHRC research showcase in 200 West Block to support and encourage these young Canadians in their research challenges.

Gala Des BénévolesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Guy Chrétien Bloc Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Saturday, in Lac-Mégantic, some forty volunteers from Granit were honoured at the 12th Gala des bénévoles. Over 400 people responded to the call of the organizing committee.

The gala provided the opportunity to present awards to six great volunteers: Clémence Roy-Campeau, Suzanne Martin, Carole Dodier, Marcel Couture and Yves Gilbert. In addition, Aurèle Dulac was named volunteer of the year.

I join with the organizers of the gala in recognizing the exceptional contribution of all these volunteers to their community. Their work and their involvement speak of remarkable dignity and deep devotion to community solidarity.

My congratulations to the volunteers recognized and my thanks to the organizers of and the participants in this important celebration. Well done, Yvan Plamondon. Well done, Aurèle Dulac.

LebanonStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Yvon Charbonneau Liberal Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, on the occasion of the 56th anniversary of the proclamation of the independence of Lebanon, as the chair of the Lebanon-Canada parliamentary friendship group, I would like to express my solidarity with Lebanon, a friend of Canada.

Specifically, I would like to mention that Lebanon deserves all our support in its economic, social and institutional reconstruction efforts.

It also deserves our support in its efforts to reclaim its unity and complete freedom over all of its territory, through, among other things, the implementation of UN resolution 425 calling for the unconditional withdrawal of Israeli occupation forces from south Lebanon.

Our best wishes go especially to the large Lebanese Canadian community that has enriched Canadian society with its dynamism and its joie de vivre.

Wayne GretzkyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, “He shoots, he scores!” There are not many statements more Canadian than that. In more than a century of hockey played in every corner of Canada, no one has shot and scored more than Wayne Gretzky.

Today the great one will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, but he has already worked his way into the hearts of anyone anywhere who loves the game of hockey, not only because of his unmatchable skill and prowess on the ice, but also because of his integrity, his humility and his generosity as a son, a friend, a husband and a dad.

Wayne and the Oilers—what a team that was. The Kings, the Blues and the Rangers came later, but how we cherish those championship years in Edmonton.

I was privileged to meet Wayne, Janet and their kids on October 1 in Edmonton at Wayne Gretzky Day. He is a real, honest to goodness hero. The Hockey Hall of Fame as of today is Wayne's world. No one will ever forget number 99.

Nisga'A Final TreatyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ted McWhinney Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, in a three year run-up to signature of the Nisga'a treaty no fewer than 296 meetings and public consultations were held in the Nisga'a region with chambers of commerce, business people and governmental authorities. But no fewer than 13 meetings were held with a small, predominantly non-aboriginal regional committee representing Nass Valley residents. They addressed a wide range of their concerns: watershed protection, access to water, legal status of isolated fee simple titles and replacement tenures, forestry, mining, fisheries and wildlife.

The process of consultation on the Nisga'a treaty was astonishingly extensive given the remoteness of the region and its sparse population of 6,000 people. This is genuine grassroots participatory democracy in action and it is reflected in the final treaty.

Child PovertyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, November 20 was National Child Day and the 10th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. November 24 is also the 10th anniversary of the unanimous all-party resolution put forward by the then leader of the NDP, Ed Broadbent, to eliminate child poverty.

Here we are 10 years later and what progress is there? Just a few days ago we received a letter from three federal ministers telling us that the Government of Canada has taken a consistent approach in its efforts to improve opportunities for children and families. Who are they kidding?

Just last week 34 NGOs cited Canada for systematically violating seven articles of the UN convention. Child poverty has increased 50% since 1989. There has been an unrelenting attack on Canada's poor through EI cuts, the elimination of social housing, broken promises on national child care and denial of the child tax benefit to families on welfare. That is the real record of the Liberals and it has been consistent for sure.

Is it not ironic that the letter we received did not mention one word about the 1989 resolution?

The Late Father Marcel De La SablonnièreStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont, QC

Mr. Speaker, we were saddened to learn of the death of Father Marcel de la Sablonnière. “Père Sablon”, as he was called informally by everyone who knew him, died on Saturday, at the age of 81.

Père Sablon got involved in amateur sport early on and worked hard to make it accessible to disadvantaged children. Through the determination with which he promoted sport and its virtues for young people, Père Sablon encouraged young people to strive for excellence. During his fundraising campaigns, he would often say “Let us give them a passion and make sure they have a good start”. Many owe it to him to have had a good start in life.

For nearly five decades, with generosity and dedication, Père Sablon worked as the director of Montreal's Centre de loisirs Immaculée-Conception. A pioneer in outdoor recreational activities, he helped build centres such as the Auberge du P'tit Bonheur, Camp Jeune-Air and many others.

People will always remember Père Sablon's charisma, ability to bring people together and great foresight.

Nisga'A TreatyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Devillers Liberal Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-9, an act to give effect to the Nisga'a Final Agreement, has now been debated in the House of Commons for close to 14 hours. This is not a myth but a reality.

Last week, the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs conducted five days of consultative hearings in British Columbia. That too is the reality.

Another reality is that the Government of Canada recognized the existing rights of aboriginal peoples in the 1982 Constitution Act, following a Canada-wide consultation.

The Nisga'a treaty, which is to be part of the existing Canadian legal framework, confirms the rights that were recognized in 1982. Also, it is clearly stated in the final agreement that the treaty complies with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The reality is that this legislation is the result of many years of discussions and negotiations with numerous stakeholders.

The reality is that we must assume our responsibilities and move forward.