Mr. Speaker, to help my friend, who has in the past been supportive of bills that have helped first nations, I would like to point out to him that this bill itself does not have any direct implication for aboriginal and treaty rights. However, regulations for large scale and/or complex commercial and industrial projects could have some effect on aboriginal and treaty rights. For this reason, authority would be provided in the proposed legislation to permit the inclusion of provisions to accommodate proven or asserted aboriginal or treaty rights in the project specific regulations made under the proposed act.
The partnering first nations and their legal counsel have indicated their strong support for this approach of addressing specific aboriginal and treaty rights in the regulations, specific to a given project brought forward by a first nation.
Overall, the proposed act permits regulations, and I will quote here, to “provide for the relationship between the regulations and aboriginal and treaty rights referred to in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, including limiting the extent to which the regulations may abrogate or derogate from those aboriginal and treaty rights”.
We have a situation where the provincial regulation has to be able to come in when the community has so desired this to be able to do industrial development. This is with the consent of the first nation. All of the legal experts, not only in the first nations communities but also in the Government of Canada, felt that it was necessary to proceed in this way to give the utmost protection to existing inherent rights, but also to allow development where the first nations who are leading the projects specifically request it and require it.
If we had a complete, fulsome non-derogation clause, it is unlikely that any of this development work would be able to occur.