Mr. Speaker, before I start my remarks, let me say I am delighted that the House leader confirmed that the government would be bound by the vote tomorrow.
I would like to thank the member for Portage—Lisgar for bringing forward this private member's bill and also thank him for his hospitality to me when I was at the summer games in Manitoba last year. As he knows, I have a number of aboriginal people in my riding and I always try to support aboriginal people, as I have done several times today.
Of course we know that the Liberal Party has always strongly supported women's rights. Over the last few months, we have been fighting to get back the money for the Status of Women to give them back the ability to advocate for the equality they so rightly deserve and, in my case in particular, for a northern office for the Status of Women.
Bill C-289 is a very important bill for my riding and also for Parliament. I am delighted that the member for Portage—Lisgar has brought this bill forward. Our government was working on this bill in great detail and very intensely. I believe this should be dealt with. I congratulate the member.
The problem is that it is a very complex issue. In fairness, I do not think this can be accomplished by a one page bill. That cannot cover all the ramifications. For instance, the bill does cover on reserve, but in virtually my whole constituency there are vast areas without reserves and there is a whole different legal framework related to the land claims and the self-government agreement that we have signed.
A bill of this nature has to cover all aboriginal people, the Métis, the Inuit and the first nations people, and how their aboriginal rights would stand in respect of such a bill. There are various treaties, different land claim agreements, and self-government agreements that are quite different across the country. That results in a very complex task. It should be dealt with comprehensively in a bill in which everyone is treated fairly.
Another example of the complexity is that this issue has already twice been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, because aboriginal rights cannot be overruled in regard to dealing with family law on reserve, as outlined by the Indian Act.
When we do get a very comprehensive government bill dealing with matrimonial real property and immovables, we realize it is important. We would like to deal with it as quickly as possible. I hope the government proceeds as quickly as possible with the bill.
The decision will be very interesting. It will be a debate between the aboriginal rights in section 35 of the Constitution, which talks about the collective rights of aboriginal people, a whole different society that has lasted for thousands of years and, in some respects, with a life view that is different from ours.
That is then balanced, as the Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms often do, in regard to different rights, somewhat conflicting rights, and we also have to balance the individual rights under section 15 of the charter. This is a very important debate that we are also going to be debating shortly in another bill related to human rights. People should take the bill seriously and give it a lot of thought.
I congratulate the member for bringing the bill forward, but for the reasons I have given, I do not think it could possibly be supported. I liked what the parliamentary secretary said earlier in this debate when he said that the government had enthusiasm for moving forward. I hope that also includes moving forward far more quickly on land claims and outstanding self-government agreements across the country.