Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the constituents of Surrey Central, British Columbia to speak at report stage of Bill C-9, the legislation which will implement the Nisga'a agreement.
For the people of Surrey, British Columbia and Canada who are listening, and for the sake of the record, I point out that the previous Liberal speaker, the member for Haliburton—Victoria—Brock, in response to a committee hearing in B.C., pointed out that if it was not for the Reform Party of Canada the committee would not have held hearings in B.C. This is the same member who said that the committee hearings in B.C. were a dog and pony show. That shows the arrogance of Liberals.
We are considering hundreds of amendments which my colleagues and I in the official opposition have introduced in our effort to change the bill. We are standing on behalf of aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians who know that this treaty, the treaty process and the bill are seriously flawed, and who want to avoid the many problems that will result if the Liberals have their way and pass the bill in its present form.
I must add, as I did in my speech on the bill at second reading, because I want the record to clearly show, that the Reform Party is the only party in the House opposed to the bill. Reformers are the only members talking about the problems that will be created. We are the only members standing for Canadians and the Nisga'a people who have been forced to accept this treaty because, after decades of effort, this is all they will get. They are having to satisfy themselves with what is in this treaty, and the Liberals are in a conspiracy with other parties in the House to force the treaty on the Nisga'a people.
It was the B.C. provincial Liberal Party which opposed the bill, while the soon to be ousted NDP government in B.C. rammed it through the B.C. legislature. The process the bill has gone through is a democratic travesty. Democracy is not only marking an x on a ballot every four years; democracy is the continuous representation of the people, with continuous input from Canadians on all the decision making which affects them.
The Liberals across Canada are confused about the bill. They are in conflict over the bill. The Reform Party is the only party in the House that has a vision for the future. That is why we are the only members with the guts to raise the concerns being whispered by so many Canadians.
No one wants to offend the Nisga'a people or criticize their treaty. When we talk about the Nisga'a treaty we are not talking against the Nisga'a people. As a matter of fact, it is a tragedy that no other party in the House is acknowledging that the history of the government's treatment of the Nisga'a people is shameful. No other party in the House is admitting that this treaty is a very poor attempt to make up for the way the Nisga'a people have been treated and what they have lost over the course of decades. Most importantly, the Nisga'a will face a tough future as a result of this treaty.
The Liberals are continuing to deny the Nisga'a an equal partnership in Canada and full citizenship in our great country. This treaty will maintain their segregation. It tries to buy them off with millions of dollars in cash. There are many problems with the treaty which my colleagues will address.
I have put forward and seconded amendments on behalf of the people of Surrey Central, the official opposition and those people in B.C. and Canada who feel strongly that the Liberals are making a big mistake with Bill C-9. They are concerned with the coming into force of Bill C-9, knowing that the Liberals and other parties in the House will not likely permit amendments to be made to the bill in this concerted dictatorship that is being passed off as debate.
We have provided hundreds of opportunities for the government to rethink its position and delay the passage of the bill. We proposed the delay of the clauses of the bill which deal with the Nisga'a final agreement itself, the moneys to be paid out of the federal government's consolidated revenue fund and the taxation regime that will be created.
It is the intention of these amendments to allow time for the Government of Canada to wake up to what the lawyers, constitutional experts, historians and many other learned people are saying about the problems with Bill C-9.
I also hope that by forcing a time delay in the coming into force of the bill the Nisga'a people, by their own means or by any other means, can manage a better deal. I do not mean more cash, more land or resource rights based on race, but based on need. I refer to a better deal that provides a good blueprint for future negotiations with aboriginals that satisfies all Canadians.
Our sole interest in this issue is to establish a new and better future for the Nisga'a people in their relationships with each other and other Canadians. We understand that this agreement is all the Nisga'a people could hope to achieve. After years of negotiation, most Nisga'a leaders feel they have no alternative to this agreement and the principles on which it is based. We understand that. For them it is this or nothing. I am sad that they are forced to support it.
Rather than addressing the problems of our natives, our governments pretended that the problems did not exist and they hoped they would go away. Now, rather than addressing the problems appropriately, the government is going to make a serious blunder, a serious mistake. Two wrongs can never make a right. What we get is a double wrong. That is what we are doing in Canada through the courtesy of the Liberal government.
The magnitude of the consequences of the Nisga'a treaty may be so great that it will have the potential to spark a big fire of violence and threaten the peace, harmony and prosperity of our nation.
This agreement contradicts one of the key founding principles of the Reform Party, namely that we believe in the true equality of Canadian citizens, with equal rights and responsibilities for all. We want equality for all Canadians. We want a new start for aboriginal people in Canada. We want them to be full and equal participants in Canadian society, with the same rights and protections that every Canadian enjoys. We want aboriginal women to be full and equal partners on and off Indian reserves.
The Nisga'a final agreement does not meet these requirements. The treaty is not a perfect document because it is based on compromise and race, rather than on consultation and need. The flawed treaty process is driven by history. There is a need to undo the mistakes of past Liberal and Tory governments, but historians have not been included.
I would also point out that treaties, like diamonds, are forever. That is why it is folly for negotiators to assume omniscience and produce voluminous treaties that attempt to cover every eventuality. What if the public attitude on these issues changes over time? Treaties should be based on need, not race. That is why the Nisga'a deal should be subject to the broadest and most careful public scrutiny.
Therefore, to not let British Columbians in on the deal, essentially negotiated in secret only after the initial ceremony and then told by those in authority that no change will be considered, is the height of Liberal arrogance. This is simply unacceptable. Every opportunity should be given to all Canadians to have their input. We are asking for a referendum on this treaty, which is so important to all Canadians, to maintain peace, harmony and prosperity in Canada.