Mr. Speaker, I will conclude my remarks on Bill S-24 on an extremely important aspect of the bill and one that we should try to introduce into future pieces of legislation as we hand political and economic responsibilities over to first nations in Canada, and that is, the ability to pass laws for the first nations.
The bill would give the Mohawks of Kanesatake the power to make laws in a number of areas that were formerly made at the municipal, provincial and federal levels. It must be pointed out that the laws made by the Mohawks of Kanesatake could not be less stringent than existing municipal and provincial laws.
I was the critic for Indian affairs and northern development in the 36th parliament. This issue came up time and again in various legislation, especially in municipal legislation, in the Mi'kmaq Education Act and in the First Nations Land Management Act.
Each and every one of those times that aspect of those bills was refuted or ignored by critics of those bills. We cannot ignore that. We cannot give people rights and privileges without according them the powers to implement those rights and privileges.
What is important here, and it was extremely important in other pieces of legislation as well, is that the reins of political responsibility are being handed over to the Mohawks of Kanesatake. It ensures that the rights of individuals in the Mohawk nation are protected because the laws that will be passed in the areas over which they have jurisdiction will be no less protective of those areas than existing laws.
That does not preclude the Mohawks of Kanesatake from passing laws that are superior to existing laws, that are more protective of the environment, that are more protective of peace, good order and good government. However it guarantees a base from which they must start.
This is an extremely important part of this piece of legislation and others we have passed in the House. It is with pleasure that I stand on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party to support this legislation.