Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform you that I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Bow River.
One thing is certain: the hon. member for Hamilton Centre is a great speaker and therefore a tough act to follow. I must say that I share his respect and admiration for Canada's territories, namely, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and Yukon. I have admired that region ever since I was a little boy. In my childhood and teenage years, I had a specific dream, one that I have not totally given up on but is fading as time goes by. We will see what happens in the future. I used to dream that I would live out my old age on Great Bear Lake. I would build a house and live there from about the age of 75 or 80 until the end of my days.
When I was 14, I took a flight from Toronto to Osaka, Japan. Just like the member for Hamilton Centre described it, I flew over the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Alaska. It is true that it is hard to believe just how huge our country is. There are millions and millions of lakes. It sometimes seems that there is more water than land in the north. It is almost frightening. That is when I really understood why winters are so important there for travel, because the ice creates roads everywhere, and so people do not have to go around the many lakes.
Simply put, those territories are incredible, and I want to say right off the bat that I speak here today with utmost humility. As the member for Hamilton Centre was saying, we are talking about Yukon, and it is rare for the people of Yukon to have the opportunity to be heard in the House. I hope my comments convey how much respect I have for the people of Yukon. I will try to raise a few points that the opposition sees as essential to our discussion in the House.
I want to address some of the comments that were made, including one by the hon. member for Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill. She said that the opposition should be ashamed of the way it treated indigenous peoples when it was in power. I find it rather hypocritical for a Liberal member to say that because one of the first things the Liberals did when they came to power was abolish the First Nations Financial Transparency Act.
I can say that as soon as that happened, our indigenous affairs critic got a lot of mail. We heard from a lot of indigenous people. That decision affects indigenous women and it affects indigenous peoples. We developed that legislation to ensure that leadership and the indigenous elite, the first nations chiefs, were accountable not only to the departments, but also to the people living on their reserves. I think that was very respectful toward indigenous peoples to do that. It was something that they wanted. One of the first things that the Liberals did was abolish that legislation. When I go door to door, people often tell me that they think that was an awful decision. My colleague from Yellowhead was talking about it and I completely agree with what he had to say.
I would also like to say that, despite how humbling it is for me to participate in this debate, we must not forget that the Yukon is a territory that belongs to all Canadians. Make no mistake: a territory does not have the same status as a province. For centuries, Canada's north has played an important role in the country's economic development and in weaving the fabric of our country and economy. Yukon has a role to play. It is only natural that the federal government decides when to intervene in the affairs of the Yukon because it is indeed a territory. If we want to make the Yukon a province, then that is another debate.
The member for Yukon said that everyone in his territory, in his riding, which is huge, supports his bill. I understand that. However, I think that there were some good things about Bill S-6, which we introduced in 2015, even if the government does not agree. I also think that there are some negative things about the bill that is currently before us, even if the government thinks that there is nothing wrong with it.
I would like to talk a little bit about those negative aspects. One of the problems I see with Bill C-17 is that it follows the Liberal government's tendency toward centralization.
Why am I talking about a pattern of centralization? The government did away with the regional development ministers and gave all the responsibility to one minister of economic development for Canada, who lives in Toronto. That is an obvious example of centralization. The government also did away with the position of political lieutenant for Quebec, since the Prime Minister claims to be the province's general—