Mr. Speaker, what a shame it is that we in the opposition have only about five minutes to speak to a piece of legislation at second reading that is critical when it comes to a specific region in the country.
It is a crying shame that the people of Yukon cannot depend on their member of Parliament to bring forward opposing voices to Bill S-6. While we are honoured to do that, I want to point out that it is the Conservative government that is taking away time, time that we could use to share the voices of the people from Yukon, to share the voices of first nations in Yukon, and instead it has chosen to muzzle and silence them in this House.
It is clear that the people of Yukon have not given the mandate or the authority to the federal government to implement Bill S-6.
Bill S-6 will serve to dismantle YESAA which belongs to the people of Yukon, including first nations. It was developed by Yukoners and for Yukon. Yukoners, including first nations and industry, are now saying that they do not want or need the changes imposed on them by Bill S-6. They are actively campaigning against it in astonishing numbers.
In fact, contrary to the rhetoric we have heard in this House, we know that there have been no public consultations on Bill S-6 at any point by the federal government in Yukon.
It does not enjoy first nations consent. For this reason alone, it is incumbent upon the House not to pass this bill. It is unlawful for the federal government to impose regulations upon a regulatory body, such as the YESAA board without the consent of Yukon first nations.
Grand Chief Ruth Massie said, “This whole process attacks the integrity of our constitutionally protected agreements and Yukon First Nations will stand by their agreements even if it means going to court, they give us no choice. We did not sign our agreements to implement them in the courts but we will protect them”.
This speaks to a broader agenda put forward by the government, which is to attack first nations' rights as a result of its failure of consultation and achieving consent, and instead pushing first nations to pursue costly litigation that in some cases is difficult for them to afford, a process that only makes money for federal government lawyers who choose to fight first nations in court.
The people of Yukon and first nations alike are baffled by the content of Bill S-6. Yes, YESAA recently underwent a five-year review through which recommendations were made. However, the four amendments that are the cause of concern appeared nowhere as recommendations in the five-year review. These four changes are contrary to the intent of the land claim agreement and undermine the neutrality of the YESAA process.
Once again, Grand Chief Ruth Massie said, “Yukon first nations have met with the Government of Canada, specifically the Minister of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs and have asked them to remove four problematic amendments proposed to the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Act legislation established in Chapter 11 of the Umbrella final agreement and each final land claim agreement of the 11 Yukon First Nations”.
It is not only Yukon first nations that are opposed to Bill S-6, Yukoners have been coming out to public meetings and showing their opposition in public venues in a significant way. It is also industry and members of industry that have been clear in their opposition.
I would like to read into the record a quote from a letter sent by the CEO of the Casino Mining Corporation, Paul West-Sells:
On behalf of Casino Mining Corporation, I am putting forward our company's concerns regarding the fragility of intergovernmental relations in the Yukon surrounding Bill S-6 and the negative impact this is having on the territory's mineral industry. It is imperative for Casino that the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act has the broad support of all governments in order to ensure the confidence of both project proponents and Yukon Residents in the YESAA process and to facilitate investments in the territory.
So there we have it. I also want to make a final comment with regard to the Fraser Institute report that we keep hearing about. This has been proven to be a flawed report. In fact, the day it became public, the extent to which this report was flawed, the Fraser Institute itself removed its data collecting portion on its website.
Finally, this is about standing in opposition to a federal government that is seeking to silence the voices of northern Canadians and northern first nations in our country. I am proud to stand with the NDP. We are standing with Yukoners and Yukon first nations, and saying no to Bill S-6.