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House of Commons Hansard #96 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nations.

Topics

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern DevelopmentCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

May 15th, 2008 / 3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, on another point of order, further to the normal Thursday question about the upcoming agenda of the House of Commons, I thank the government House leader for the information he provided at an earlier stage today. However, I would like to raise with him one further item of business, about which there has been some discussion among House leaders, and that is the possibility that the House of Commons may be favoured with a visit by a very distinguished foreign dignitary in the week that the House resumes after the May break. That would, potentially at least, be the president of Ukraine.

If that visit comes about, of course the official opposition would be delighted to consent to the president making a speech in the House of Commons, if that fits with his agenda. I want to make that point abundantly clear on behalf of the official opposition.

I also would like to ask the government House leader if he could provide any further information at this stage about the plans for the visit by the president of Ukraine. If that visit comes about, it will be necessary to rearrange the business day that we normally have in the House of Commons and make provision for things to happen at different times in the day than they usually do. That would include the rescheduling of question period in the ordinary course.

I wonder if the government House leader could provide any further detail at this stage about the government's plans with respect to this important visit.

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, certainly, the government would not want to cause any embarrassment or undiplomatic incident by making any suggestion in a public forum about what particular visitors to our country might or might not do when that happens. If anything were to occur of that nature, it would of course be addressed in this House and of course my friend is quite familiar with the discussions and negotiations we have had.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-47, An Act respecting family homes situated on First Nation reserves and matrimonial interests or rights in or to structures and lands situated on those reserves, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is the House ready for the question?

Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried. Consequently, this bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

John Baird Conservative Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak today in relation to Bill C-34 which would give effect to the Tsawwassen treaty. It really is a bill to be celebrated.

Archaeological evidence indicates that the Tsawwassen people can trace their roots back thousands of years, demonstrating a rich history in the Vancouver region. Yet, for the last 130 years or more, the lives of their descendants have been dominated by the Indian Act.

This outdated legislation limits their rights. Unfortunately, the first nation and early settlers to the region did not negotiate treaties to clarify their relationship. This created uncertainty about the ownership and management of their lands and natural resources.

In the intervening years, the city and province grew up on and around the lands. Newcomers to the region prospered. But the first nation struggled to remain self-sufficient and keep its culture and language alive.

For the past century Tsawwassen members have not been capitalizing on the economic growth and social development taking place around them.

The legislation before us is a chance to give exceptional new opportunities to the Tsawwassen. It will enable us to achieve a just and reasonable agreement accompanied by full accountability. With this treaty the Tsawwassen First Nation will once again feel at home on its ancestral lands.

After years of hard work at the negotiation table, we have reached a final agreement with the Tsawwassen First Nation and the government of British Columbia to resolve the longstanding issues regarding undefined aboriginal rights and title.

This comprehensive modern day treaty, the first final agreement to be negotiated under the British Columbia treaty process, defines the Tsawwassen First Nation's rights regarding the ownership and management of its lands and resources. It also provides a cash settlement and self-government provisions that give the Tsawwassen law-making authorities over its lands.

Once this final agreement receives Parliament's endorsement, it will give effect for the Tsawwassen people to the constitutional rights of aboriginal people enshrined in section 35 of Canada Act 1982.

These new powers and responsibilities, along with the financial and other resources provided under the treaty, will enable the Tsawwassen people to take control of their affairs and will provide opportunities for them to build a sustainable economy, create jobs and enhance living standards for all their members.

Before I highlight the key elements and many benefits of this legislation, let me first congratulate our important partners who have helped make this possible. I would like to thank Chief Kim Baird, whose vision, perseverance and passion to see justice observed have served her people so well.

I would also like to praise British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell, and B.C. Minister Mike de Jong, as well as former chief commissioner of the B.C. Treaty Commission and now Lieutenant Governor of B.C., Steven Point, for their steadfast commitment to the negotiations which laid the groundwork for this legislation.

Thanks to the dedication and determination of these leaders, and the long years of hard work on the part of the negotiators for all three parties, we have been able to achieve this honourable settlement. The final agreement reinforces that reconciliation between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians is best achieved through negotiation rather than through litigation and conflict.

This is truly a historic agreement. It is the first comprehensive treaty set in a major urban setting in Canada, in this case a booming metropolis of nearly two million people. This is also the first ever treaty in British Columbia's Lower Mainland and the first to be brought into effect under the B.C. treaty process.

By virtue of its location in a large Canadian city, this treaty presents a profound opportunity to demonstrate that aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities can work together to achieve mutually beneficial goals.

We already have a clear illustration of the advantages of this new working relationship. Under the legislation, the Tsawwassen First Nation will become a member of metro Vancouver and a Tsawwassen representative will sit as a member of the metro Vancouver regional board.

Thanks to this new era of cooperation, the first nation, municipality and board will now all be able to participate in planning processes that directly affect their respective jurisdictions to ensure that they are in the collective best interests of all.

Let me briefly highlight some of the other key components of this final agreement that demonstrates the benefits of modern treaties for first nations and all Canadians.

The first is the infusion of new resource funds with which the Tsawwassen First Nation could build a stronger economy and society. The agreement would provide a capital transfer of $13.9 million, shared by provincial and federal governments over 10 years, less outstanding negotiation loans, to compensate for the surrender of the first nation's rights to mines and minerals under previously surrendered reserve lands. The Tsawwassen would also receive an additional $2 million for that.

To finance programs and services, it would assume as a result of self-government and to fund ongoing incremental implementation and governance activities, the first nation would receive $2.8 million per year for five years. As part of this agreement, the Tsawwassen First Nation must contribute to the funding of programs and services from its own sources of revenue as its financial successes grow through own-source revenue.

There would be further funding to support startup and transition costs. This money would help to cover such things as operational expenses for ongoing costs for parks, migratory birds and treaty management, and for the preservation of the Tsawwassen First Nation culture, heritage and language.

To provide for a land base, the first nation would receive roughly 724 hectares of treaty settlement land. This includes approximately 290 hectares of former reserve land and 372 hectares of former provincial crown land. The latter allotment involves a transfer of land from the provincial agricultural land reserve. In addition, British Columbia will issue two water lot leases to take care of the water lots.

The Tsawwassen First Nation would also own outright an additional 62 hectares of other land comprised of the Boundary Bay and Fraser River parcels. However, this land will remain under the jurisdiction of the Corporation of Delta. It should be noted that the Highway 17 corridor and Deltaport Way are not part of Tsawwassen lands and will remain provincial land.

To sustain their heritage, Tsawwassen members would have the right to harvest wildlife and migratory birds for food, social and ceremonial purposes within their territory. Given the limited wildlife harvest opportunities and the likelihood of even fewer in the future, the federal and British Columbia governments will provide the first nation with $50,000 to establish a wildlife fund.

The Tsawwassen people would have the right to harvest fish and aquatic plants for food, social and ceremonial purposes, and this is of particular importance to them. This is always subject to conservation, public health and public safety considerations. These activities will be confined to designated areas known as the Tsawwassen fishing area and the Tsawwassen intertidal bivalve fishing area.

In addition, the final agreement provides treaty allocations for domestic purposes of several species of salmon based on annual abundance. The catch limits will be determined by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans every year. A separate harvest agreement provides for fishing licenses to be issued for a specified commercial catch for several salmon species in the Fraser River as well as up to five commercial crab licences.

Hon. members may be aware of a recent decision from the Supreme Court of British Columbia wherein the court ruled that the Lax Kw'Alaams First Nation did not have an aboriginal right to harvest fish for commercial purposes.

The Tsawwassen treaty does not provide any commercial fishing rights. Any commercial licences issued to Tsawwassen are outside the treaty under its harvest agreement and will be under the same rules as all other commercial fishers in the fishing area are subject to.

When the commercial fleet is subject to closure on the Fraser, so are the Tsawwassen's commercial vessels. I would like to also add that the Tsawwassen commercial fishing capacity will be provided by licenses being retired from the existing fleet and does not increase the present commercial pressure when stocks are available.

As much as this legislation is about reconciling the past, it is equally about building a brighter future. Once the bill is implemented, the Tsawwassen First Nation will become self-governing, able to assert its independence, and will have additional tools and resources that provide opportunities to become self-sufficient.

The first nation will make its own decisions on matters related to the preservation of its culture, the exercise of its treaty rights, and the operation of its government. These are keys to increased prosperity.

Economic development and social progress depend on first nations taking the lead in determining their destiny, identifying and implementing solutions to their challenges, and seizing opportunities that benefit their members and our country as a whole.

The legislation requires that the Tsawwassen First Nation have a constitution that provides for a government that is democratically and financially accountable to its citizens. Each member of the Tsawwassen legislature will be elected to their position from within the community of members. This democratic aboriginal government will be recognized as a local government, compatible with other local governments in Canada.

Bill C-34 would also ensure that residents on Tsawwassen lands who are not members will be able to participate in the decision making process. These residents will have an input on any activities that significantly affect them, including tax matters, through Tsawwassen institutions such as school or health boards.

Non-members will be able to vote in and stand for election as a member or select a representative of a Tsawwassen institution. They will have the same rights of appeal as community members. Negotiators for the parties are continuing an ongoing dialogue with the non-member resident leaseholders to ensure the orderly transition after the effective date for all matters pertaining to registration of leasehold interests and representation on Tsawwassen First Nation institutions which make decisions which significantly affect those interests. Tsawwassen First Nation has assured its non-member leaseholders that they are a valued asset and has committed to work with them in their mutual interest.

This balanced approach speaks volumes about the give and take involved in these negotiations to ensure the needs and interests of all parties are met under this legislation.

Over the past six years, negotiators participated in over 70 consultations and at least 28 public information events. Extensive consultations were held with Delta and Lower Mainland regional governments, third parties and community interest groups covering a wide range of subjects. As the negotiations unfolded, all sides got something, and gave up something in return. The result is a final settlement that deserves our support and which ultimately benefits everyone.

One of the greatest benefits of this agreement is the certainty it creates, which sets the stage for increased prosperity for the Tsawwassen people and their metro Vancouver neighbours. Now that it is clear how the first nation and surrounding communities will coexist, there will be an incentive for investors to explore opportunities for economic growth in partnership with the Tsawwassen First Nation.

Taken together with new governance tools and financial resources provided under this act, the first nation will be able to improve the education and health of its people, build houses, create jobs and encourage members who have left the reserve to come back to build a better future together. That is in the best interests of all parties to this agreement. Everyone is stronger when each and every member of society is able to achieve his or her potential and contribute his or her talents to his or her community and our country.

Ultimately, the Tsawwassen treaty is fair to all Canadians. It brings certainty and finality with respect to the Tsawwassen's rights and title. It provides new tools and resources that will increase economic opportunity for the first nation and the entire region. It establishes new government to government relationships that respect the rights and responsibilities of all jurisdictions. It clearly demonstrates the Government of Canada's commitment to complete the unfinished business of settling treaties with first nations in British Columbia.

Much more than jurisdictional considerations, legal definitions or sums on a balance sheet, this final agreement is fundamentally about building a new relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people. It is a relationship built on mutual respect, understanding and the protection of the rights of all citizens, a strong and equitable relationship that will result in a better future for all of us.

I trust I can count on my colleagues' support to pass this worthy legislation. As we do, we will duplicate the success of this treaty and demonstrate that progress is not only possible but inevitable when we work for a common cause.

Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend the parliamentary secretary for his words. He spoke quite eloquently about this issue.

The Tsawwassen First Nation final agreement really is about respect for our native people. It is about equality. It is about fairness. It is about the new relationships we want to have with first nations people. This agreement, I believe being the first one in an urban area, is important. It is a process that was started some years ago but has finally come to a conclusion. I quite agree with my hon. colleague that this agreement is something that needs to have the full support of this House because of what it means for all of us in this country and in terms of our relationship with our first nations people.

The member spoke quite well about the issue that is facing first nations people, but also what this treaty really means for our native population. Perhaps he could take this opportunity to elaborate further. Does he think there is something else that we could do in order to expedite this legislation? It is important that we get it right. It has taken a long time. I am glad that it has come to fruition.

Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, this negotiated treaty settlement with the Tsawwassen First Nation is something that came after a number of years where our government, the British Columbia government and the first nation had to compromise on a number of fronts as the context for this is in an urban area.

This agreement does all the things that need to be accomplished in order to assist the Tsawwassen First Nation, but also to achieve some certainty in this area of British Columbia where no treaties are signed.

It is essential that we begin this process. It is a long road to hoe in light of the fact that the entire province of British Columbia is not covered by treaties, unlike the province I come from where there are a number of treaties that were settled many years ago, due to the foresight of aboriginal leaders and our forefathers and foremothers in that part of our country.

I am glad today to be speaking to this bill. I hope it receives the support of other members in this House.

Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, when my turn comes to speak, the New Democrats will be supporting this very important bill.

The question I have for the parliamentary secretary is around overlapping territories. I know how difficult it is to negotiate a treaty. In the case of this particular treaty, there certainly were overlapping territories, largely fishing grounds, but there were other overlapping territories as well, in particular, the Cowichan people, the Penelakut and the Sencoten, which is a coalition of four groups from the Saanich Peninsula.

I wonder if the parliamentary secretary could specifically comment on the process that was used in looking at these overlapping claims. In many cases people want to avoid getting into litigation. It certainly was an issue that was identified in the federal Auditor General's report when she examined the B.C. treaty process. In this context, I wonder if he could comment on how the issues around resolving overlapping claims were examined in the context of this particular treaty.

Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member has raised an important point. There is quite a cluster and concentration of a number of first nations communities throughout the Lower Mainland and all through British Columbia with historic regard to where their footprint of land was stated. This is a point of debate in some communities.

However, between the two levels of government and the first nation, a number of experts have been employed to ascertain a proper settlement in relation to this specific treaty. We feel quite confident that this piece of legislation will hold up in court.

Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

John Cummins Conservative Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, on this issue of competing claims, if the parliamentary secretary looks at chapter 2, clause 49, he will see that there are in fact eight treaty claims to the Tsawwassen territory and two non-treaty claims. If there is any infringement on this Tsawwassen traditional territory, the onus is on the government to compensate Tsawwassen. This could be an expensive process and one that could go on for a long time.

The notion somehow is that this treaty addresses concerns of band members, and most people think of people living on the reserve. The fact of the matter is that in Tsawwassen, over half the band members no longer live on the reserve. In fact, they live in California, Washington state, Oregon, Manitoba, Ontario, and elsewhere in British Columbia. For many of those members, and they are basically new members, their only connection to the Tsawwassen Indian band is that they may have had a grandparent who was a member of the Tsawwassen Indian band. They are in fact one or two generations removed from the reserve.

Does the parliamentary secretary think that it is appropriate, given the nature of this treaty, that Canadians would continue to pay the costs that would be recognized by this treaty to people whose connection to the reserve is tenuous at best? Many of them, as I say, do not even live in this country and, as I am told by many band members, have never set foot on the Tsawwassen reserve.

Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member has made a number of interventions on this matter and is advocating for his region and continues to have important insights into all matters that face British Columbia, especially the Lower Mainland.

In relation to individuals who have left the community, it is a point worth mentioning by him, although I do take a different perspective on it. Individuals could make an argument, especially individuals from the Tsawwassen First Nation, that in light of their first nation not having a treaty signed with Canada, it became difficult for their people to maintain their way of life on the land and to maintain residency in the area. That might be the counter-argument they would pose.

I think this also speaks to the challenge that we have as a country in light of the fact that British Columbia does not have any treaties signed.

I mentioned earlier that Manitoba was subject to a number of treaties, in fact, the first treaty, Treaty 1, which entered into a relationship with the first nations that inhabited our territory prior to it becoming Manitoba and entering into Canada. These important steps were made throughout our country, but unfortunately, not in British Columbia. This is in part why we are having to deal with this matter in 2008.

Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Tina Keeper Liberal Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the parliamentary secretary a question on the issue the member raised around band membership.

I am not that familiar with B.C. and its treaty making process. Was it up to the band itself to accept membership? Did people come in under Bill C-34? Could they possibly have been on a registry at the federal government level or did they have band membership status? Was it a decision of the band itself?

Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, band membership is an important element of practically all first nations throughout our country. There are a number of ways that bands deal with membership. However, most important, the Tsawwassen First Nation, as it is the subject of our discussion today, continues to deal with membership based on decisions as a community. This is the process that many first nations follow. It is a traditional process where the first nation itself can include members as the community chooses.

Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I am very excited, as I always am, to speak when a new land claim, after many years, comes to Parliament. It is a very exciting time for the Tsawwassen people, who are part of the Coast Salish people, and the people of Delta, Richmond, the people of Vancouver, British Columbia and Canada when one of our ancient historic grievances is resolved. Many countries in the world have land claims with aboriginal people, but Canada is leading the world in innovative solutions with them, like with this agreement. It is following on some of the others that have had such amazing success and are indeed a model for the world. We can only hope that we can hurry up decisions on the backlog of claims so we do not have to deal, on a daily basis, with the symptoms and the problems that come up because we have not dealt with the overall picture.

Therefore, I am delighted to speak today to Bill C-34, An Act to give effect to the Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

This is also very exciting, historically, because it is the first land claim in an urban area south of 60°. The first one in Canada was in Whitehorse, Yukon, of which I am very proud. I remember that day, when I signed the agreement. It was a wonderful time.

For those who do not understand why it is even more challenging in an urban area, land claims involve land and providing land as part of the settlement. If one is in an urban area, most of that land is owned by someone, which makes it very difficult. There is competing overlapping interest. Therefore, it is very exciting when everyone can work together.

As the parliamentary secretary said, there was some give and take, which there would have to be when there are all the overlapping interests. To come out with a glorious solution like this is wonderful for everyone concerned.

Therefore, I commend the minister. I am not sure if his support came on the road to Emmaus, but for whatever reason, I commend him for the tremendous agreement he has brought before Parliament.

I have to though condemn the government for such a large break from first reading on December 6, which I will not bring up again if the government gets it through before an election. We certainly should not jeopardize such a wonderful project that could have come to second reading a lot closer to December 6.

The Tsawwassen people, who are part of the Coast Salish, were living in an area that was traditionally a lot of Richmond, Delta and some of the Gulf Islands. Then another culture came in and impinged on that. It would be much better to have a nice peaceful negotiated agreement as to how everyone could live together. In fact, they have the legal right to that from the royal proclamation, stating that it would be their land until an agreement is made with Canada.

Therefore, this is a very exciting day. They traditionally used in the order of something like 280,000 hectares of land, which is massive. As I said, it is a big chunk of Vancouver, but in this agreement they have certain rights in that area, but the land transferred to them is a tiny amount of 724 hectares, as well as a tiny financial contribution of $10.4 million.

We have had many debates in this Parliament about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and when it does or does not does not apply to aboriginal people, that it is not fair when it does not apply and so on. Those people who are concerned about this will be very happy to know that, as in other modern treaties, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms will apply to the people of Tsawwassen.

What is very exciting for some people, and my colleague from Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca keeps raising this, is the Indian Act will no longer apply.

It is lovely any time we can have people go back to governing themselves and not under the Indian Act, with the exception of determining who is a status Indian and who gets certain benefits from Canada. As they define their membership, they will have rights. The courts have already decided this, so it is not for us to say.

The members, wherever they are, will have their rights as a member. There are a lot of Canadians living in Lebanon. We saved them by ship one time because of the recent catastrophes. Wherever people go, they do not lose their Canadian citizenship and their rights. Tsawwassen people, if they travel or live somewhere else, will not loose their rights of membership.

The self-government provisions are constitutionally protected as well as the land claim, which is also another huge step forward in the progress. If we get a new government that does not like the idea, it cannot throw the government out. We could not throw out the government of Ontario or the government of Quebec at a moment's notice because some government came in that did not like them. For this reason, it is a constitutionally protected government.

Now that they are a government, they have to be responsible to their citizens. They have to therefore have a constitution and that constitution has to show that it is a democratic constitution, democratically responsible to the citizens and financially responsible to their citizens.

There is always the question of non-Tsawwassen band members living on the land and in the area. Some people would think that they would lose their rights, but that is not the case, just as it was not the case in the Tlicho agreement, which we signed a couple of years ago. Non-member representatives will be on any Tsawwassen First Nation public institution that makes decisions relating to taxation. It cannot be said that there is taxation without representation. If they decide to continue living there, they have that representation.

As has always been an aboriginal right, the Tsawwassen people will be allowed to continue to harvest wildlife and migratory birds for food, social and ceremonial reasons. They can also harvest fish and aquatic plants, which is big for a first nations that is on the ocean.

There are some controls on the fishing, which people would think are reasonable. They can be controlled if conservation becomes a problem, or if there is a problem with public health or safety. It is in a distinct limited area related to their claim. Not only that, unlike some aboriginal rights in harvesting, there are allocations for certain species related to conservation, and that is the chum, the sockeye, the chinook and the pink salmon. These are traditional aboriginal rights under section 35 of harvesting food. I think Canadians pretty well understand that this has been occurring for a long time.

However, there is also a commercial fishing aspect in this claim. it. The parliamentary secretary made it quite clear that there was no section 35 right in the claim related to commercial fishing. It has nothing to do with it. In fact, a court case recently stated that there could not be one. Commercial fishing is not even in the claim itself. It is in a side agreement and it is related to commercial fishing licences. They are given out as other licences expire, so they do not increase the pressure on the fish. In fact, there is even a percentage of catches of certain species. They are just like any other licences and agreements. It is not an aboriginal right. If the fisheries is open for two days, then they can go out for the two days, just like anyone else. If the fishery is closed for, the year they cannot go out, just like other fishing boats.

I would also like to talk about how the Tsawwassen First Nation fits in with governance. When there are four orders of government in Canada, first nations, federal, provincial, territorial and municipal, people have to work together. There are certain things in common, such as shared service agreements. In this case, Tsawwassen is in the greater Vancouver regional district, which was involved in this negotiated settlement.

The Tsawwassen First Nation will appoint a director in that district. The people in the district will be delighted. The new government will pay a share of the planning in the GVRD. It will pay costs toward air quality initiatives encompassing the whole area, costs for serving 9/11, as well as some costs toward regional parks and governments. People in the whole greater Vancouver regional district, not just the in the tiny land claims spit, will accrue benefits from this new cooperation.

The financial package is roughly $13.9 million. That is spread over 10 years. It is a very small amount of money and, in fact, the first nation will not receive all of it. It has to pay back close to $4 million, the amount it used to negotiate the claim.

I now want to go on to some of the financial provisions of the agreement so people understand the major, salient points in that respect. Once there is a government, just like the government of Ontario or the government of Yukon, money is needed to run that government. Some of that money comes from taxes and some from other orders of government. That will be no different here.

In order for Tsawwassen to run its government, it will make some revenues on its own, like every other government, but to the extent that it does not, it will get help from other governments, in this case the signatories to the agreement, being the Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia. It will be provided with a fiscal financing agreement, which will be renegotiated every five years.

It will start out with $15.8 million and then $2.8 million per year of ongoing funding. People who have been involved in government, at any level, know it will not be easy to run a government with only $2.8 million a year, but it is for the types of services it has to provide. As I said, it will have a number of its own source revenues.

This represents a fundamental change in the fiscal relationship between the federal government and the Tsawwassen First Nation. Tsawwassen First Nation will have to raise funds and be accountable to other governments for the funds it gets. In particular, it has to be accountable to its own people for the way it spends the funds and delivers the services.

It will contribute to the funding of agreed upon programs and services from its own source revenues, and I will talk about some of those later. Although this is a very tiny segment of land, it is in a valuable urban centre and there will be some areas where it can make revenues to contribute to the programs. Therefore, it will not have to be totally funded by the government of British Columbia and the Government of Canada.

Something else that a lot of people would not be aware of is that the Indian Act tax exemption for Tsawwassen citizens will be phased out after eight years for transactions like sales. Right now they are tax exempt when they buy things. All that will be phased out and they will pay taxes like everyone else after eight years. Other types of taxes will be phased out for 12 years.

The Tsawwassen government, like is the case in other land claims agreements signed recently, will have the ability to levy direct taxes on its members within Tsawwassen lands. The percentages will be levied by other levels of government.

The interests of the broader community are fairly represented. Over the past decade there have been consultations. This has been a decade in the making. We do not create these things without all sorts of consultations. Over the past decade there have been consultations on a wide range of subjects with local and regional governments, third parties and community interests. Since 2002 over 20 public meetings have been held, including public information open houses and open round tables in the communities.

If people are worrying about the harvest agreements I talked about earlier for harvesting fish and wildlife, I would note that these are not exclusive. Other first nations and the general public may hunt and fish there as they do now on provincial Crown land.

This agreement was heartily endorsed. It is exciting in the sense that there is a much greater buy-in, so they must have done a great communication job with people and explained the understanding, because it is of course very difficult to change at any time, and to make a major change like this is a huge challenge.

There was a huge majority. Something in the order of 80% of the people voted in favour of this agreement. There is always a higher threshold than just the simple vote. Looking at the polls right now in Canada, there is not a party in the House that could form a government with more than 30% or so. To have 80% approve of this deal is very exciting and bodes well for the future.

Of course there will be evolving relationships. With a new government, there are all sorts of challenges, but there are even more opportunities as they become these major contributors to the economy, to governance in the GVRD, to working with and helping their neighbours and to providing opportunities in economic development in the area.

What is so exciting about this is that I come from an area where this has occurred. Land claims in Yukon have been some of the first and most innovative in the country and 11 of our 14 first nations have signed such agreements. It is a success story. The difference is like night and day when people once again are in charge of their own destiny.

They successfully governed themselves for thousands of years and had their own system and cultures. Now they can return, in a modern environment, to being responsible for their own government, with decision-making in their own hands, and to dealing with social problems in social and political systems they design themselves.

The systems may not match ours, but they do not have to match ours to be successful. They will have systems where they are accountable, but to themselves, systems that they design themselves, just like governments around the world from the smallest villages and towns to the great nations of the world.

In my riding where this has occurred, it is like night and day. I remember going around 20 years ago to small band offices. I might not even have found an employee there. There may have been a secretary. That office was there basically just to get calls from officials from Indian Affairs who would tell people what to do.

Now they have full scale professional bureaucracies delivering programs to themselves, dealing with the healing their people need and having to listen every day to the people as the local politicians. It must be one of the hardest jobs in the world being an aboriginal politician, because every day they have people coming into the first nations offices telling them what they would like changed.

It is just a remarkable building of capacity, with remarkable contributions, whether it is in the economy or other areas. One of our success stories owns half of the biggest airline.

This is just a great success story. I want to congratulate the negotiators in the federal government, the Tsawwassen and the B.C. government, the people of Tsawwassen and the Coast Salish people, the federal government and everyone else who brought this great day to this state.

Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

John Cummins Conservative Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to some of the issues that my friend across the way was raising. Some of them are rather troubling in their inaccuracies. Let me just briefly touch on them.

The member suggested that after the conclusion of the treaty, band members would be paying taxes just like everyone else. That is not the case. I, along with everybody else in this room, pay taxes to the federal government, the provincial governments and municipalities. When this treaty is completed, band members and others, non-band members who live on the reserve, will be paying federal income tax, but they will be paying it to the band, not to the federal government. GST will be going to the band, as will half of the PST.

On the fisheries file, this fisheries is not split up in any kind of even fashion or even a realistic fashion. If the allocation that is given to the Tsawwassen is replicated on the Fraser River, it will require 180% of the existing total allowable catch. There will not even be enough fish for other band members, let alone anybody else, and that is based on a government study that was done by the former Liberal government back in 1993.

The member suggested that the charter applies. I would suggest that he read the treaty. The final agreement states:

The Final Agreement will be a treaty and a land claims agreement within the meaning of sections 25 and 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982....

In other words, the kinds of rights that the rest of us enjoy will not be forthcoming if one is a resident or doing business on that reserve.

The issue that I really want to ask about is this one. In my comments for the parliamentary secretary, I mentioned where these folks live. When we talk about the Tsawwassen Band members, we are talking about a total band membership of 350 people. Only 160 of those 350 live on the reserve. As I said, the rest of them are spread throughout the United States and Canada.

I want to know if Parliament should accord in perpetuity untold millions of dollars in special rights and privileges to persons who are not Canadian citizens, who have no appreciable connection with the Tsawwassen reserve or its long-time residents, and whose children and their children will in future generations have even less of a connection to the reserve. Why should we be doing that?

Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his great interest. I know he has a huge interest in this file and has studied it, and it is of course very important to the people who live in his area, but unfortunately none of the items he raises are a concern. I will explain.

In the first point he raised, we are both right. In my point, the people have to pay taxes. They are paying income taxes and PST and all of that, just like every other Canadian. If the federal government decides to provide that as own-source revenues to the first nation instead of other money they would have to provide the first nation, that is totally up to the federal government. That happens all the time.

I do not know the exact figures, but in the Yukon government funding, about $700 million of the approximately $900 million is provided as a transfer payment by the federal government. What the people do with those taxes is totally up to them, but the important thing is that they are on a level playing field with all Canadians.

Related to the fishery, as I said, the umbrella is conservation. Conservation overrules these fisheries, both the personal fishery of individuals and also, of course, as it always does, the commercial fishery. Sometimes a commercial fishery is closed completely. In that case, these licences, which are like everyone else's licences--and there are not any more of them because they were from people who were selling or retiring them--will be there.

The third point was about the charter. The charter applies, as I have already said, and it is right in the agreement. If the members come up with a situation, they can do a charter challenge. Unfortunately they will not be able to get the court challenges program to help them, because the government cancelled that program, but it does not mean that they cannot go and do a challenge. The government has a lot of lawyers. It would not put in things that could be challenged easily. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms will apply to everyone in their area.

The member has asked four questions and I have to briefly answer the last one. In regard to where people are living, there are millions of Canadians living all over the world. They do not lose their Canadian status. They do not lose their Canadian pensions. They do not lose their Canadian rights. It is the same for the couple of hundred people who may not at this time be living on the Tsawwassen reserve.

Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the very good comments on this treaty by the member for Yukon. I have a question about implementation. With the Yukon First Nations, implementation has sometimes been a problem because of the failure of the federal government to actually uphold its end of the agreement.

I believe that the implementation provisions and the dispute resolution provisions in this agreement are quite different from those in the Yukon agreement. Perhaps that will alleviate some of the problems we have seen with the Yukon First Nations in regard to the federal government's failure to move forward. I wonder if the member could talk about the things he thinks are important in terms of implementation and that make sure it moves forward in an expeditious way.

Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, that is a great question. I will try to be brief because I know there are others who want to ask questions and I would like to give them a chance.

As the member said, the Auditor General has pointed out that a number of claims in the north have not been implemented appropriately and a lot of work needs to be done. There still does. Actually, the biggest issue in my riding is making sure that the fiscal amount is available and that we have had a re-evaluation. I encourage the government to do that. I think it is working on that.

What I would say, though, is that signing the claim is not the end of the journey but the beginning of the journey. Whatever the legal provisions are for implementation, if we do not have governments and people on all sides who agree and believe in the spirit of it and will work to make it work, to make ongoing amendments, to provide the resources to make the system work, it will never work.

The good faith that has taken so long to get something like this together in B.C. has to be a great precursor for that. I know the member will be watching, as I will, in regard to this claim and the other claims that are signed, because the people who have signed claims in Canada are a comparatively small minority group out of the 640 first nations, and they sometimes get left out. They think that once a deal is signed, it is goodbye. They think it is done, and it is not.

We will keep watching and will be trying to make sure that these are all implemented in good faith, with the resources and any changes needed to make them into evolving great new governments.

Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Bruce Stanton Conservative Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member would describe for us how the non-members who are still living on Tsawwassen lands would have their rights protected under the treaty. If there is time, perhaps he could shed a little light on what economic benefits will come from this first nation final agreement.