Mr. Speaker, in the absence of my colleague, the hon. parliamentary secretary, I will be pleased to respond to the remarks of the hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt.
I welcome this opportunity to respond to the concerns of my hon. colleague concerning the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations. These regulations are an important part of the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy and of Fisheries and Oceans Canada's initiative in response to the Marshall decisions.
The fishing licences issued under the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations give the aboriginal people access to fisheries for food, social and ceremonial purposes as well as access to commercial fisheries.
While believing that the regulations are valid, the Government of Canada clearly expressed the desire to respond to the concerns of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations.
I can only commend once again the committee members on their dedication to this issue as well as their continued efforts to make their concerns heard. The Government of Canada reviewed at length the views expressed by the committee. Instead of bypassing the parliamentary process—far from it—as the hon. member suggested, in June, the minister introduced in this very place Bill C-43 to amend the Fisheries Act.
Bill C-43 clarifies which legislative authority will be responsible for the regulations governing fisheries in Canada. The honourable member referred to pilot sales and to the judgment handed down this summer by the Provincial Court of British Columbia in the Queen v. Kapp.
The Attorney General of Canada appealed that decision. And even though it was the decision of a lower court, the department decided to continue negotiating in order to conclude pilot sales agreements for the current year in British Columbia. It also terminated existing agreements, in accordance with provisions in those agreements.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is working with British Columbia's first nations to arrive at agreements that will be in the interest of those aboriginal communities who want to reap the economic advantages of fishing, and that will bring more certainty and stability to all aboriginal and non aboriginal participants.
Furthermore, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans will continue to cooperate with all stakeholders in this fishing industry. Preservation of the resource and proper management of fisheries remain a priority of the department.
As the minister said to the member in June, the majority of Canadians and all the members on this side of the House want aboriginal peoples, the first inhabitants of this country, to have fair economic opportunities, and that is what we are going to provide.