Mr. Speaker, I am very excited to rise today and talk about this historic agreement that has very great support in three governments.
As we know, last week a historic agreement was made. It was a day for the ages when we had an apology for first nations people.
I also remember the day when the member for LaSalle—Émard made that agreement. I remember the great tears flowing for residential schools. That apology finally came.
However, as everyone said that day, it was just the beginning. It is not the end. The next step in the process is to actually improve the lives of first nations people. The agreement last week allowed us to move forward together to solve those problems. One of the tried and true methods is a template of the agreement that we are about to approve in this Parliament today.
I want to compliment the Tsawwassen First Nation, especially Chief Kim Baird and her council, and the B.C. government, led by Gordon Campbell. It is a great day for the people of Tsawwassen and those of Delta, Richmond, Vancouver, British Columbia, and indeed all of Canada.
I congratulate those people who have been working on this since 1993, with the statement of intent to enter the treaty. There were all sorts of members of Tsawwassen First Nation, many negotiators and people from the three governments.
This is very exciting and historic because it is the first urban claim south of 60 to occur in Canada. It is a great day for the 358 Coast Salish people who make up the Tsawwassen First Nation.
The traditional territory of the Tsawwassen First Nation covered 279,000 hectares. Tsawwassen rights will be extended on that territory. These are certain rights, as occur in all the modern treaties; for particulars, fee simple land of 724 hectares, 290 from the reserve, 372 from the Crown, from B.C., and 62 that are still in the municipality of Delta.
This is also a historic agreement because it is the first to be approved under the B.C. treaty process, so its ramifications could extend far ahead of this agreement with the 358 Coast Salish people. It could have ramifications for thousands of other first nations people in British Columbia.
Another exciting element of this is of course that it was a negotiated settlement, not a litigated one. It is of course much better when governments and people come together to come to a historic agreement like this rather than fighting it out in the courts. I know that this particular government certainly prefers that way of solving issues rather than having governments legislate.
The vote on this was also exceptional, with 130 members voting for it and only 50 against, which is 69.5%, a huge majority. I do not think we have ever had a Government of Canada with that type of majority.
I will continue after question period.