Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments of my friend and want to re-emphasize the notion that in this place there is an obligation to debate, to not simply rubber-stamp deals agreed to by bureaucrats. As well, I think there is an obligation on us to determine affordability. When we start talking about reconciliation, it is something that works both ways. It should not tip the scales in favour of either one.
One of the issues the member tends to overlook is the issue of overlaps. I know full well that there are overlaps with the bands that are resident in her area. The problem is that when these overlaps occur there is an obligation on the part of the federal government to compensate the Tsawwassen Band for the extent of the overlap.
That is going to be a significant cost, because there are nine bands that have registered concerns about overlaps. Thus, there are nine bands that are going to have claims in which the federal government will be liable.
The member also talked about the land and Chief Baird suggesting that the reserve was fronted by a dead body of water. What is also interesting is that recently when the band, and Chief Baird in particular, was negotiating a deal with the Vancouver Port Authority, Chief Baird and her council elected not to utilize their aboriginal and environmental concerns over this expansion of the Vancouver Port, because the port was willing to pay them to overlook this obligation of the federal government to redress aboriginal and environmental concerns.
So as we see, anything can be on the table here. Anything can be bought and sold. It certainly was when it came to the port expansion and Chief Baird.
The member quoted Chief Baird. I would like to quote Bertha Williams, whose family has been on that reserve since the beginning. Her grandfather was chief, as was her father, and she was a councillor. She said:
A lot of our elders...are new to the community...They lost their status years ago. They went off, got married, they didn't want to be labelled as native....
These elders...don't know our history...don't know our culture.
I have never surrendered my birthright...I have never left my homeland....
[But] we are outnumbered...The majority of those who are voting members live off the reserve.
There are people that live in Alabama, Los Angeles...across the Prairies...They are band members but they have no intention of ever living on the reserve. Yet they are voting on our business. A lot of them have never even visited the Reserve. It is just ludicrous how much they have to say on our livelihood--