Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak about the approach the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has taken to address the Marshall decision.
Much has been made by the opposition about the fact that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has not been on the east coast personally dealing with first nations on commercial access.
The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans appointed Mr. MacKenzie and Mr. Thériault as chief federal representative and assistant federal representative respectively, not because he wanted to send a B team to the Atlantic, as the opposition has suggested, but because these gentlemen bring to the task outstanding qualifications that are so important to the negotiation process.
Mr. MacKenzie has a background in negotiations with aboriginal groups, having been involved in land claims negotiations in my riding of Labrador as the chief federal negotiator for the Labrador Inuit land claims process. He also has extensive experience in holding consultations with diverse groups throughout Atlantic Canada and so is familiar with the issues these stakeholders are faced with.
Mr. Thériault has been involved with the Atlantic commercial fishery in a variety of capacities for the past 25 years. He has been a spokesperson, an adviser and a consultant in a variety of fora related to fisheries issues.
It is for these reasons that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans determined that they could provide a very important function in negotiating arrangements for the next fishing season that will accommodate the Marshall decision while taking into account the concerns and issues of the existing commercial fishing sector.
Mr. MacKenzie and Mr. Thériault are now engaged in the process of discussing with aboriginal leaders—