Madam Speaker, I want to be on the record on this bill for a few moments because in my parliamentary career some of the happiest moments I have had have been working with the Algonquins of Barriere Lake and working with my friends the Cree when the minister of the western Arctic and I spent time in 1990 in the northern part of James Bay. Recently we held our first summit on water at the Mohawk Reserve in Wahta the Parry Sound-Muskoka region. Also, my seatmate for many years from Kenora--Rainy River was elevated to the status of Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
When we are in the House for many years, we learn to know the members of parliaments, their ridings, backgrounds and passions. I have grown over the years to know that the minister responsible for the file has deep roots within the first nations community. As many members probably know, and the public and the media should know, there are over 60 different bands in the riding of Kenora--Rainy River. Therefore the minister brings to this file an extraordinary amount of knowledge and experience in dealing with first nations.
In fact, the Prime Minister has, as a major part of his legacy, a special relationship with first nations. I find the idea that legislation would come before this House that would be insensitive and not deal with first nations in a way that is proper strange. After what I had seen happen in the media over the last few days, I decided to speak to Chief Matthew Coon Come. Lo and behold some real genuine tension exists on this file.
Thank goodness in the last few days the Prime Minister said that this bill would go to committee and that there would be amendments to it before second reading. The minister said that earlier today. It is very important we understand, Canadians understand and all first nations people understand that the bill in its current form will not stay the same if everything we hear from first nations people is listened to when they appear before the committee.
Rather than creating an environment where a tension and a gap develops, it is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that both parliamentarians and the leadership and friends in first nations understand that there is a real genuine opportunity here to ensure that this bill is put into a form that can work.
A member asked a very good question? Why do we not wait until the fall to deal with the bill? The reaction and the exercise we have experienced in the House in the last few days, where members of the opposition have been very constructive and creative in their ideas, will press the nerve of the entire system in a constructive way so that when we do go to committee before second reading I think there will be a much higher level of attentiveness. As well, I think the level of listening will be a lot greater.
This happens on many bills in this House, especially in the last few weeks. We all know that over the last few years there has been a pendulum toward devolving the governing of this country to unelected officials. Most of us are coming to a realization that our roles here are becoming diminished as every week passes. I believe that pendulum has hit the wall.
I have noticed in committees in the last few weeks that more and more parliamentarians from all sides have been creative and constructive, and major portions of bills have been altered. On Bill C-48, the copyright act, a few minutes ago a recommendation by the Canadian Alliance to have it carved out on Internet retransmission was unanimously accepted by all parties. That went against the entire will of the public service. I have seen that happen more and more. I think this bill will go through the same experience.
It is very important to understand that when legislation like this comes to the House, it does not come here to make things to be worse for people, its intent is to make the lives of first nations better.
When we read the title of the bill, the first nations governance act and the purposes of it are very noble and constructive. However the reality is that the process in getting to that point is not going to be supported by some of those leaders in first nations who we all respect. We also realize that there are many in the first nations community who do like the bill. However the exercise of examining the bill in a totally open, constructive way will happen and any attempts to create a situation where we will be closed minded is not really accurate. That is what I leave with the House.