I understand the rule, Mr. Speaker. The minister:
...rejected without reasons the Framework and Canada has refused to engage in the collaborative process. By letter dated April 5, 2012 I wrote to...[the minister] to set up a meeting to deal with the lack of a mandate for the Chief Negotiator to deal substantively with our draft Framework and I requested that “we meet as soon as possible on a government to government basis, so as to resolve this issue”. [The minister]...by letter dated June 5, 2012, refused to meet with us by saying “I do not believe that an additional meeting is required at this time”. We have not been provided a means to participate meaningfully in this process.
The Tlicho Government then goes on to say it has three major concerns. One is the fact of extinguishing the land and water boards and merging everything into the superboard proposal. Second is expanding the federal minister's role and authority with relation to that board; and the third is mandating statutory time limits on both the superboard and another board.
What is important to note here—and this goes to the heart of the question that was legitimately asked, I believe, by the colleague across the way—is on the issue of extinguishing:
To put it plainly, 22.4.1 of the Tlicho Agreement is the “finish line” and not the “starting gate” for this process. The Wek'èezhìi Land and Water Board plays a fundamental role in the environmental security of the Tlicho and in our having a say about what developments can happen in the Wek'èezhìi and our ability to maintain our way of life. The Tlicho agreement cannot be interpreted to say that Canada, on its own volition, can force the larger board into existence. Any amendment of such a nature must be part of a process that reflects the interests of all the parties to the Tlicho Agreement and respects the decade's long negotiated compromises that are currently reflected in Chapter 22. If there was an agreed to legitimate reason for the establishment of the larger board, then that is a matter that needs to be negotiated between the parties with the same solemnity as the negotiations that created the Treaty provision.
So it is that this letter is a very good example of why there is concern that there is nothing wrong at all with the devolution part of the act in question, but the tacking on to it of these new provisions turning Mackenzie Valley resources and water management into a superboard is definitely something that is causing concern.
Everybody has said that therefore the committee process—not the committee process that is going on right now, but the committee process after second reading—will be crucial. I just urge all concerned to actually listen to the concerns being presented and see whether or not there is some way to make sure that whatever emerges is something that can be said to be an extension of the partnership that these prior land claims agreements represent and the co-management regime they instituted, which is now being, frankly, yanked away semi-unilaterally.
I would end by saying that the letter very eloquently said:
The honour of the Crown cannot be found in Canada's proposed imposition of its will in its “Action Plan” in respect to regulatory reform and the deepening of its powers in the legislated proposal.
...Canada can expand the role of the federal Minister, obliterate the Wek'èezhìi Land and Water Board and then impose arbitrary and unneeded time limits on decisions on development in the Wek'èezhìi region.... The entire way in which Canada is purporting to impose its Action Plan assumes that the regulatory regime is a federal enterprise that can be interpreted and modified by Canada alone.
The whole point is that it is a mistaken perspective. We need partnership and we need a return to a co-management philosophy.