Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak today in support of this legislation. This initiative represents a true partnership between the Government of Canada and first nations.
This first nations-led initiative has been actively and aggressively promoted by five first nations, including Fort William First Nation, which is located adjacent to the city of Thunder Bay in the great riding of Thunder Bay--Rainy River. All of these communities have significant proposals for economic development on reserve and all of these first nations have passed band council resolutions in support of this initiative.
Fort William First Nation has several projects ready to roll once this legislation is passed. Large scale commercial and industrial development projects now being contemplated on reserve, like the Fort William energy project, require transparent, consistent and effective regulatory regimes. Addressing regulatory gaps on reserve will offer the stability and transparency necessary for those considering these major projects.
In the case of Fort McKay in Alberta, the community is pursuing a multi-billion dollar oil sands mine to be developed by Shell Canada Limited. This legislation is critical in allowing this project to move forward, create jobs and build prosperity on the reserve. As we know, the oil sands in general represent an enormous economic opportunity for all Canadians, including first nations like Fort McKay.
Billions of dollars of investment will be flowing into the oil sands in the next few years. For places like Fort McKay, and similarly for Fort William, this investment will create unprecedented job and revenue growth, along with vast improvements in the quality of life and social development on reserve.
These partnering first nations, including Fort William, are working with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada to develop a comprehensive outreach and implementation strategy for this legislation.
In addition to the advocacy by first nations themselves, the Government of Canada has had discussions with provincial governments. This engagement process with provinces is important, because the Government of Canada will seek, in most cases, agreements under which provinces will administer and enforce these regulations.
Representatives of the oil and gas industry in particular have indicated support for eliminating the regulatory gap that acts as a significant barrier to economic development and investment on reserve.
Consideration of regulations under FNCIDA for a specific project would be triggered when a first nation like Fort William passes a band council resolution requesting regulations regulated to a specific on reserve development project.
Next, the Government of Canada would conduct an analysis prior to making a final decision on whether to proceed with the development of a regulation for the project. If the regulations are to proceed for the project, the Government of Canada would, in most cases, seek an agreement regarding the administration and enforcement of the regulation with the province and the first nation. That makes sense.
The regulations created for specific projects would be part of federal law and the provinces would be acting on behalf of the Government of Canada in administering and enforcing them, eliminating any questions of jurisdiction.
An essential requirement for economic development in any context is transparent, consistent and effective regulation. While it is true that over-regulating activity can discourage investment, it is also true that under-regulating or uncertainty about regulations can have the same effect.
We all know how many people have been discouraged because of this apparent quagmire. A regulatory gap creates uncertainty about process, time and costs associated with a project and can divert potential investors from reserves to other jurisdictions where an established regulatory framework exists.
FNCIDA will allow the Government of Canada to replicate provincial laws and regulations to apply to these projects on reserve. This will ensure that as first nations and companies move ahead with these major projects they are regulated in a fashion similar to similar projects off reserve. It gives the added benefit of stability for investors and developers as they deal with regulations that they already know and understand.
It is only through a true partnership that we can succeed. The people of Fort William and indeed all aboriginal people are looking forward to the successful passage of the bill.