Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak in favour of Bill C-71, the first nations commercial and industrial development act.
The reason I feel so privileged to speak to this on behalf of the Conservative Party is because of the work the Conservative Party has done to bring the bill forward in the dying days of what has been a very frustrating legislative period.
We had lots of opportunities throughout this Parliament to bring this forward. The critic for the official opposition, the member for Calgary Centre-North, recognized that this legislation had virtually stalled in the House. It was through his efforts that it has been brought forward and we are likely and certainly hopeful to see the bill passed.
I also need to recognize the amount of effort put into this and the background work done by the specific first nations named in the bill. I will read the names out because I think it is most important to recognize the efforts of the first nations in bringing this forward. These are forward-thinking nations who understand that the present Indian Act is not working for them and not working for any of the first nations in this country. Accolades go to the following first nations: the Squamish Nation of British Columbia, the Fort McKay First Nation, the Tsuu T`ina Nation of Alberta, the Carry the Kettle First Nation of Saskatchewan and the Fort William First Nation of Ontario.
I would like to bring it to the House's attention that the Tsuu T`ina Nation, which is within my riding, is a very proud, individualistic group that have put forward some of the best initiatives that, frankly, we have seen. Not only does it have one of the most beautiful reserves within my riding, it has an incredible view to the west of the Rocky Mountains, second to none in this country, of course.
I have spent a great deal of time working with these people and have a great deal of respect for them. I am very proud to say that they were one of the main proponents of bringing the bill to the position it is at today. They recognize that they have great opportunities ahead of them. Therefore I strongly endorse the legislation so they will actually have the opportunity to seek a better future for their children. We all seek that but this old Indian Act that we are dealing with and have been dealing with for years is outdated. It does not allow these people the opportunity to plan for their future.
The other one that needs to be recognized is the Fort McKay reserve with a $4 billion project in conjunction with Shell oil sands. This is one of the shining lights in Alberta, and I am sure the House is well aware of it. However this opportunity will not be within the reserve's grasp if we do not move the legislation forward, which is why we on this side of the House were so concerned that the bill had been stalled and why we are pushing it forward to actually get it to move ahead. Certainly some other pieces of legislation have not made it quite that far.
We would strongly encourage all sides of the House to support this legislation. It is a great opportunity for all of these first nations to actually seize their future and to control the future of their nations and their children.