Madam Speaker, for over two and a half years my party and I have been arguing with the Government of Canada that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is one of the most out of control departments in the entire country. Here are a few examples of where that department is completely out of control.
Recently the amalgamation of the coast guard resulted in one of the coast guard vessels going into Saint John harbour to hold a gala party for correctional officers. Also, since 1988 $4.2 billion has been spent restructuring the east coast fishery to no avail.
When the Marshall decision came down, it was quite obvious that DFO did not have a plan. We said from the beginning when the decision came down that DFO and the Government of Canada should have been prepared. Now we know from internal documents acquired through access to information by reporter Kevin Carmichael that the government had a plan but it did not want to present it to anyone because it did not want to affect, fear or shame anyone in its decision.
It is quite obvious that the government abrogated its responsibility and abrogated its duty to the people of Canada and the aboriginal people of Atlantic Canada.
The current Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has constantly stated in the House that it is better to negotiate than it is to litigate. After the Sparrow decision, the Delgamuukw decision and now the Marshall decision, it seems the only recourse that aboriginal people have is constantly to go to the courts to meet their end means.
If the government truly believed in the fact that it is better to negotiate than to litigate, then I tell the government right now that it had better deal with the issue of non-status aboriginal people when it comes to status aboriginal people, especially in my home province of Nova Scotia. The non-status aboriginals believe quite firmly that the Marshall decision applies to them. There is legal opinion that says it may very well apply to them as well.
As well, the government is focusing on just the inshore aspects of the Marshall decision. We put it quite clearly to the government, and we wish it would stand up in the House and speak to the fact that the Marshall decision should apply to the inshore, the midshore and the offshore sectors. It should not be just one sector of the fishing community that bears the brunt of the decision. It should be a more co-operative approach toward all the fishing regimes so that the aboriginal people can feel like full partners in this industry with fisheries and oceans.
It was no surprise when the former Minister of Fisheries and Oceans left the department fairly quickly. I have said it before and I will say it again that if DFO was on the stock exchange, one could almost accuse the former Minister of Fisheries and Oceans of insider trading because he seemed to leave in such a hurry. We know very well that the former minister, who is now the Minister of the Environment, was fully aware of how the Marshall decision may have come about for the people of Nova Scotia and especially the aboriginal communities of Atlantic Canada.
Because the government was not showing leadership or foresight in the decision making process, there were incidents in West Nova. There were incidents down in Miramichi at Burnt Church. People threatened one another. Boats were burned. It was a really ugly scene in the maritime provinces.
It all could have been avoided had the government only shown some leadership. We have asked time and time again for the government, especially the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, to show leadership when it comes to fishing concerns in Atlantic Canada, especially when it comes to the integration of aboriginal and non-aboriginal people and a common property resource.
We have many ideas on this side of the House on how it should go. We only wish that the government would listen to what we are saying so that all people in Atlantic Canada could share in a common property resource.