Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak about the present file and particularly about the amendments proposed by the member for Delta—Richmond East.
From the outset, I should say that the Bloc Québécois will not support these motions, and I hope that all of the members in the House, with the exception of the two Conservative members, will vote against these motions. The two Conservative members—the member for Delta—Richmond East and his colleague—will perhaps be the only two in the House to vote against an agreement that has been reached between aboriginals and the governments of British Columbia and Canada.
Why is this bill so important for the Bloc Québécois? Because it talks about autonomy and negotiation between nations.
I think that my colleague, the member for Delta—Richmond East, missed some history classes. If he thinks that the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, for which I am the Bloc Québécois critic, did not adequately study this bill, I must tell him that not only did we study it very carefully, but we also received documents to prove what I am about to say. I am sure that my colleague was not alive, nor was his grandfather, nor his great-great grandfather when, in 400 B.C., reference was made to Tsawwassen being in the Vancouver delta. I think that they have a right.
Better yet, there is more, because my colleague thinks that all rights are to be taken for granted. He thinks that because white people came along, the Indians should make way. That is what my colleague opposite wants. In 1851—and I did not make this up, this is from the research results we were given, results that were double-checked—Tsawwassen territory was split in two by the establishment of the Canadian territory and the United States. That predated 1867 and, unfortunately for my colleague opposite, unfortunately for the member for Delta—Richmond East, that was long before he, his parents, his grandparents, or his great-grandparents came into this world. So I think that the aboriginals have some long-standing rights.
The Tsawwassen reserve was created in 1871. That was four years after Canada became a country. To my knowledge, British Columbia did not even exist then. See how the facts have been twisted. When talking about what is going on now, we have to remember that in 1874, the reserve included 490 acres in the Vancouver port and the delta.
The surprising thing is that they are now telling us that it does not exist, that the Indians can be shoved aside. That is bizarre because in 1906, the chiefs went to England—there is evidence supporting that—to ask for their traditional lands back. How would the member for Delta—Richmond East solve the problem? He would solve it by sticking the Indians in the lake or the river, anywhere at all, as long as he could get rid of them and make room for nice white people. He should be ashamed.
The member is part of the government. His government is responsible for this bill. The member is taking issue with a bill introduced by his own government. Not only is he challenging it, but he is introducing amendments that, if passed, would rob Bill C-34 of everything that was agreed to, of everything that was discussed and addressed in the treaty between the Tsawwassen and the governments of Canada and British Columbia. So much for self-determination. Bizarre actions like these lead us to believe that his government's apology was nothing but lip service. The member for Delta—Richmond East is part of the government that apologized just last week.
The ink on the documents is not even dry yet. It was only a week ago Wednesday that the government issued a formal apology for the ethnocide of aboriginals. It was indeed an ethnocide, that is, causing a people to lose their status, thus destroying their culture. That is exactly what was done to aboriginals on reserves who were sent to residential schools. It would certainly make things easier for the member if we could do the same thing to the people of Tsawwassen. If we could get them out of the way, that would take care of the problem. It would done with, one could say.
But my hon. colleague should know that aboriginals, especially with this treaty, will probably take much better care of the salmon. Actually, he seems to care more about the salmon issue than he does about first nations. That is not to say that I am not concerned about the salmon. In fact, with this agreement, the first nations peoples will be able to take much better care of the salmon than the white people that some would like to replace them with.
Furthermore, the agreement also proposes that the Tsawwassen nation, which negotiated nation to nation with British Columbia and Canada, be able to sit at the same table as the regional committee in the Delta and Vancouver area, in order to allow the same developments.
I saw the stocks. I went to see for myself. I find it exceptional, and I say this out of respect for the current government. Once again, I would like to repeat to my hon. colleague from Delta—Richmond East that negotiations began on this agreement in 2003. It has not been merely a couple weeks or a couple months. They have been going on since 2003 and even earlier. An agreement was reached with British Columbia and Canada around 2003 and, since that time, people from the Tsawwassen nation have come to Ottawa several times. They have met with the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development several times to move this file forward.
For once, a file is finally making some progress in this government and I find it appalling that a member—a government member, at that—would put forward such a proposal to destroy his own government's bill. It makes no sense.
It is important to look at what they are claiming. At first, I thought they wanted half of British Colombia. I thought to myself that this made no sense. But no, it would give them 724 hectares of land. Sure, maybe the land is a prime location, in a commercial area. It is true that the Vancouver port will perhaps not be able to expand as it wanted to. It will just need to come to an agreement with the Tsawwassen First Nation. That is it. Finally, they can deal with each other as equals. The objective of the agreement, of the treaty, is to be able to negotiate as equals, as nations.
That is why the Bloc is in favour of this. The Tsawwassen agreement is the first of its kind below the 60th parallel. We think it could have a significant impact on other land claims.
I realize I am running out of time. I urge all of my colleagues in the House to vote in favour of this bill, with the exception of those two members. I would like to teach them a lesson so that they understand once and for all. I would like us to all vote in favour of this bill. Thus, the aboriginals of Tsawwassen will be able to finally reclaim their land, to get back what is rightfully theirs.