Mr. Speaker, I listened intently through at least part of the speech of my friend, the hon. member for Souris--Moose Mountain. For a while I wondered which bill he was speaking to, species at risk or cruelty to animals.
I want to point out to him and to the House that there has been a great deal of consultation on the bill. As a matter of fact there has probably been more consultation than there has been with any bill of its kind in past history, and particularly for the section we are speaking to, aboriginal peoples, who are the people who stand to benefit their country the most through the implementation of the bill. They are the people on the land, the people who are very directly affected. I can tell my hon. friend that I certainly will not forget the farmers, but I have to pay great respect to the aboriginal peoples of this land.
I should point out that in the bill it is the first time ever that aboriginal traditional knowledge is part of the decision making process. This has never happened before in the history of Canada. This is the first time. To me, that is very significant. As imperfect as some of my colleagues feel the bill is, we have made breakthroughs.
I also want to point out that a review is built into the legislation so that after the bill is passed, four years from now we are obliged to take a look at it again. There is a review process built right in so that the committee can review it. We can then determine what we have done right and what we have done wrong, because the actual nature of the bill is a breakthrough in itself. It is an attempt to bring about a departure from traditional kinds of legislation that are what we might describe as command and control. The Americans tried that. They passed legislation on species at risk or endangered species and it has not worked well. It is so deeply flawed that much of the budget for the preservation of species is going to litigation.
My minister wants this legislation to actually assist with the rehabilitation of species at risk, the identification of species at risk, and it will depend to a very large extent on the information obtained from aboriginal peoples in this country who will be able to deliver their traditional knowledge, which for the first time in the history of Canada can be brought to bear on the determination of species at risk.
The process has had intense involvement by representatives of Canada's aboriginal people in the development of the bill and has become a formal process through the working group on species at risk. This group has provided advice to the Canadian Wildlife Service, the Parks Canada Agency and Fisheries and Oceans Canada for a number of years already, and the advice, I must say, is invaluable. We are ensuring that it will continue in a formal way. It must. Ensuring that this formality exists is an enormous step forward. We are recognizing and putting into law the importance of the relationship of aboriginal people to land and wildlife. It is formal recognition and acknowledgement, a formal partnership. It is workable and valuable to all parties.
With this process and this legislation, with the incorporation of traditional aboriginal knowledge into the assessment and recovery of species, we are indeed moving forward. We have been saying for nearly nine years that we all share the responsibility for protecting wildlife. Perhaps no one group typifies a commitment to that responsibility more than Canada's aboriginal people. Our partnerships with aboriginal peoples have set the example for partnerships we have worked hard to foster with others: with landowners, with farmers, with fishermen, with conservation groups and with those in the resource sector.
We have established that nature and wildlife are an integral part of Canadian identity. This means that everyone in Canada has to take part in the success of this act. It deserves the support of everyone. I listened to my friend from Souris--Moose Mountain talk about farmers and people in the country, but he also quite rightly mentioned that the great majority of our citizens are urban. People in urban Canada have an equal responsibility for the protection of species, perhaps in the main because most of the species at risk are aquatic in nature. They are in the water. They are not on land at all. Therefore, when water such as the Great Lakes is degraded it means that those species at risk are continually put in danger.
With the bill, then, urban people will be able to join hands with rural Canada, with the very important input of aboriginal people, and hopefully, while it is perhaps not perfect, we can make this a bill that will raise the consciousness of all Canadians so that we can all move forward together and actually accomplish something that other parts of the world to date have not been able accomplish.
I enthusiastically endorse the bill. I also recognize that we can go back and look at it in years to come and ask what we did right and what we can correct, change and make better. In that spirit, I endorse Bill C-5 and would like to see it passed as soon as possible.