Motion No. 1
That Bill C-34 be amended by deleting Clause 5.
Motion No. 2
That Bill C-34 be amended by deleting Clause 7.
Motion No. 3
That Bill C-34 be amended by deleting Clause 8.
Motion No. 4
That Bill C-34 be amended by deleting Clause 9.
Motion No. 5
That Bill C-34 be amended by deleting Clause 10.
Motion No. 6
That Bill C-34 be amended by deleting Clause 11.
Motion No. 7
That Bill C-34 be amended by deleting Clause 18.
Motion No. 8
That Bill C-34 be amended by deleting Clause 28.
Motion No. 9
That Bill C-34 be amended by deleting Clause 32.
Mr. Speaker, these motions are important because they address and highlight key flaws in the Tsawwassen treaty, flaws that most residents of British Columbia and most members in the House are not aware of.
There are issues that should not be tolerated in a free and open society and represent an ongoing fiscal commitment of the federal and provincial governments that is not justifiable.
Motions Nos. 8 and 9 address taxes. Treaty negotiators have repeatedly advised Canadians that post-treaty Tsawwassen Band members will pay taxes just like other Canadians. That is incorrect. Post-treaty, all band members resident on Tsawwassen lands will pay income taxes to the band government, not the Government of Canada as other Canadians do.
Post-treaty, all residents of Tsawwassen treaty lands, native and non-native, band members or non-band members, will pay income taxes to the band government, not to the federal and provincial governments.
All GST collected on band lands will go to the band government and half of the PST collected on band lands will go to the band government.
Currently there are approximately 160 band members living on Tsawwassen lands and 500 non-native, non-band members living on the reserve.
The federal government estimates that $1.5 million would have flowed to band coffers in 2007 based on these tax concessions. The government refuses to indicate how much tax revenue the federal treasury expects to lose when all treaties in British Columbia are signed.
Observers conservatively estimate that when all the treaties are signed in British Columbia, the cost of lost tax revenue to the federal government alone would be $100 million annually.
If members vote against the amendment to delete the tax concessions, they will be voting in favour of increasing the tax collected from Canadians by $100 million annually.
Motion No. 2 addresses treaty lands. The treaty approves the transfer of approximately 1,100 acres of prime farm land to the Tsawwassen Band. Approximately half of that land will be moved from the agricultural land reserve and used for a rail marshalling yard, container storage and warehousing area as agreed to in a deal with the Vancouver Port Authority.
Initially, the government evaluated the land being transferred at $26 million. Independent appraisers put the land value at 10 times that. They put it at $254 million and they lowballed the numbers.
If all the bands in British Columbia are given land of equal value, the cost alone to satisfy treaty requirements would top $120 billion. British Columbia and the federal government cannot afford the bill. Furthermore, much of this farmland has served a dual purpose.
As protected farmland, it ensured an economically viable farm economy in the Fraser delta, provided green space for the population of Delta and Vancouver and, perhaps most important, formed part of what is recognized as the most important bird area in Canada by providing forage areas for the millions of migratory birds using the Pacific flyway.
Without the farmers, the area is lost to wildlife and green space for the million or more residents of greater Vancouver and Delta.
An added injustice in the whole farmland fiasco surrounding the treaty is the anticipated taking, for treaty purposes, of an additional 700 acres of farmland at Brunswick Point as the existing farm families are squeezed out.
If members vote against the land amendments, they will be voting to commit senior governments to pay $120 billion to complete the land portion of the treaties remaining in British Columbia and the wanton destruction of valuable farmland and wildlife habitat.
Motions Nos. 5, 6 and 8 address the fisheries. The treaty ignores the decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada in Sparrow and Van der Peet that rejected aboriginal claims to the trade and barter sale of food fish and the commercial sale of salmon. It creates a treaty right to be enjoyed by at least some members of the band who are not even Canadian and have never stepped foot on the Tsawwassen Reserve.
Using basic calculations based upon the current population of status Indians published by the Department of Indian Affairs and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Pacific Salmon Commission records of the Fraser River salmon run size, it becomes clear that 170% of the total allowable catch of Fraser sockeye would be required if the salmon allocations given the Tsawwassen Indian Band are repeated for bands claiming Fraser sockeye.
Not only are there not enough fish to satisfy Indian claims to similar allocations, there would be nothing for sport or commercial fishermen.
The government claims that only 33% of the total allowable catch would be required to satisfy Indian claims. This unsubstantiated estimate by the Department of Fisheries appears to be based on the findings of a departmental study to assess the coast wide implications in the Nisga'a treaty allocations. That study was based on the Nisga'a treaty allocation of 26 fish per person. The Tsawwassen allocation is 156 fish per person. Clearly, the fisheries' allocations need to be revisited before the treaty proceeds.
If members vote against the fisheries' amendments, they are voting for a fisheries' allocation that is not sustainable and which will make even the delivery of food fish to upriver natives impossible.
Motions Nos. 1 and 9 address the issue of protecting parliamentary supremacy.
The Tsawwassen government, which would be created by this agreement, would have the power to enact laws that would prevail over federal laws and the law-making power of Parliament in approximately 40 specific areas.
Parliament must maintain the supreme law-making power for those matters entrusted to it by our Constitution. Parliament has a responsibility to ensure that laws enacted under these federal constitutional powers respect the rights and privileges historically enjoyed by Canadian citizens.
The Tsawwassen government would have the power to imprison Canadian citizens. It is a government that is not representative or responsive to the Tsawwassen band members who live on the reserve. It is a government that is controlled by off-reserve band members, many of whom are permanent residents and citizens in the United States. It is a government that is not accountable to Tsawwassen residents, is exempted from the scrutiny of Parliament and is a government that can largely act with the knowledge and guarantee that it cannot be held accountable if it acts contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
This House must remain the supreme law-making authority so as to protect the rights and privileges of Canadian citizens and the powers entrusted to it by our Constitution.
If members vote against the motion to delete clause 5, they will be voting for a form of government that will prevail over federal and provincial law, a situation that should be viewed as intolerable in an open and democratic society such as Canada.
The Tsawwassen treaty is troubling in the extreme to those of us who have taken the time to study the implications of the treaty. It is troublesome for the reasons I have given but it is also troublesome because it does not recognize individual effort.
Harvey Enchin, in The Vancouver Sun on the weekend, had an outstanding article on Canada's native reserves. He stated that we should:
Abandon the failed socialist concept of collectivism and protect individual property rights.
As Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto has proven in the developing world, formal title (along with a formal system for recognizing it) [that being property rights] is the building block of financial independence. Without title to their assets, aboriginals cannot participate in the mainstream economy; they can't use their property as collateral for bank loans to upgrade their homes or take out equity to invest in or start businesses.
Aboriginal reserves are repositories of what de Soto might call dead capital.
He suggests that:
Unlocking that capital and leveraging it will put aboriginals on the path to amassing individual net worth....
The underlying flaw in this treaty is that it does nothing to remove the dependency on the federal government. It simply shifts dependency on the federal government to dependency on the band leadership, which is fundamentally wrong.