House of Commons Hansard #307 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was firearms.


The House resumed from April 23 consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.

Endangered WhalesPrivate Members' Business

11:05 a.m.


Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, I am feeling a little homesick, being far from my home on Gabriola Island, but when I think about the number of people who will send the word out on Facebook, especially when Margy lets everybody know that there are orca whales at Orlebar Point, I feel a bit better.

Masses of people stand on the shorelines of the Salish Sea and watch as these amazing whales go by so close to the shoreline. Mudge Islanders post videos all the time of orcas going through Dodd Narrows, which has an extremely strong current of nine knots. These animals have the intuition to know when the current has changed, but they are also determined to push through it. It is phenomenal. We are privileged as B.C. coastal people to live so close to these amazing animals.

A constituent of mine, Charles Thirkill, sent me a note on this, saying, “Orcas are the last surviving species of the whales that once roamed the Strait of Georgia. In 1907, a whaling station was set up in Pipers Lagoon. They caught 97 whales in the first year, and by 1911, there were none left, so they packed up the gear and took it to Graham Island Haida Gwaii. Whaling in the area continued till 1967”—the year after I was born—“and spotter planes were used to locate the prey for the boats. The whales were hunted for their oil. Now ain't that ironic-like?”

He finishes by saying, “We are just beginning to see whales return to the Strait, and it would be sad if they were killed by an oil spill or tanker propeller blades.”

They are imperiled indeed. Chinook salmon numbers have dropped to the point that southern resident orcas are starving. They are miscarrying.

The Raincoast Conservation Foundation says, “69 per cent of pregnancies in the last decade have failed, and what should be healthy animals are being lost to malnutrition and other human-caused mortality.”

Do we need to take action on whales? Yes, we do.

Add to this the harm from shipping traffic in the Salish Sea. A few weeks ago, the Gabriolans Against Freighter Anchorages Society, GAFA, hosted a screening of the film Sonic Sea. It was devastating. I had no idea the impact of shipping noise on whales' ability to communicate with each other, to stay together as a pod, to mate, to keep united with their calves, and to be able to echolocate to find the fish they need to eat. Seismic testing for oil and gas and sonar from navy ships are thought to be responsible for some of the mass beachings of whales, an unexplained phenomenon up to this point.

This movie was made by the National Resources Defense Council and can be seen at I encourage anybody who is in a decision-making position or who is reliant on the sea, as we all are, to watch that movie. It changed my view.

The whales are in trouble already. Misty MacDuffee of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation was quoted in The Guardian in November 2016, saying, “You can visibly actually see the ribs on some of these whales.” They are in trouble.

Add to that a sevenfold increase in oil tanker traffic in the Salish Sea. After the Harper Conservatives gutted and undermined the legislation, the National Energy Board heard evidence that deafening noise from increased tanker traffic in the Salish Sea would place orcas at a high risk of population decline. Increased noise was expected to decrease the ability of killer whales to communicate, to acquire food, and to survive. This would prevent the population from growing and increase its likelihood of extinction.

In its report, the NEB states that the operation of marine vessels related to the pipeline project would likely result in significant adverse effects to the southern resident killer whale and to indigenous cultural uses associated with this marine mammal.

This is another element of the flawed review by the National Energy Board. It made an eleventh-hour decision to arbitrarily truncate the Trans Mountain project at tidewater in Burnaby, the end of the pipeline, inexplicably excluding impacts to killer whales from the environmental assessment. As a result of the Prime Minister having broken his promise to redo the review on the Kinder Morgan pipeline, the Liberal government approved the Kinder Morgan pipeline knowing that the project could wipe out these iconic orcas.

They are not just iconic to us. They are a SARA-listed species. They have been listed as endangered, and the federal law on this is extremely clear. It is the federal government's responsibility to protect the habitat and the animal. Extinctions are not allowed legally to happen under a government's watch, and yet the Liberals approved this pipeline, knowing it was the one impact identified by the National Energy Board as being inevitable and irremediable. That is a quote from the report. Still, the Prime Minister broke his word and approved the pipeline.

The federal government is being taken to court on this. One of the many court cases that remain against the Kinder Morgan pipeline is about the violation of Canada's Species at Risk Act. Ecojustice lawyers, on behalf of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation and Living Oceans Society, contend that the federal government violated the law when it relied on the National Energy Board report. They say the NEB used an overly narrow interpretation of the law to avoid addressing the harm caused to endangered southern resident killer whales and their critical habitat. Yet the Liberals bought the pipeline.

The Liberals just keep digging deeper on the violation of their most serious responsibilities to whales and to the Salish Sea. They say they make their decisions based on science and evidence. The science and evidence say that the impacts on orcas are irremediable. They say that all cabinet decisions go through a sustainability screen, yet they say, “The pipeline will be built.” Now the Prime Minister is going to be fighting first nations and science in court as the defendant.

There is another failure of the government to act and protect the southern resident killer whales. They were designated as endangered over a decade ago, yet neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals have produced the recovery strategy required by law. The Georgia Strait Alliance, which is in my riding of Nanaimo—Ladysmith, and many non-governmental organizations have been pleading for an action plan, and so have many constituents in my riding. I have had hundreds, probably 300 emails on exactly this narrow point, that the emergency order the State of Washington has put in place needs to be enacted by our government. Those from Colleen Alexander and Kay Morisset are both examples of very powerful letters calling for an emergency order, and saying again that time is running out on this.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans curtailed the chinook fishery to spare salmon for the orcas. That is a good move. I really wish it had been done two and a half years ago, as soon as the Liberals took power, because that would have saved some orca calves. I also hear chinook fishermen ask why they are the ones taking the hit. They find it hypocritical that the government has approved and in fact invested in a 50-year-old bitumen pipeline that will threaten the whales in the Salish Sea, yet it is the chinook fishermen who are taking the hit by having to cut back.

I am going to vote yes to Motion No. 154, which we are debating today, because I love whales, and the more study we have the better. The more we can be a voice for these unique and iconic mammals that have no voice in this Parliament, and the more we can talk about them, the better.

Overall, the situation is critical. This is an emergency, and real actions can be taken right now, not a future strategy or study. Action is needed now to prevent extinction. A Hill Times headline just a couple of months ago stated, “Research and technology won't feed starving southern resident orcas”, yet the motion before us is to study, not to act. To me, it feels like too little, too late, given the emergency orcas face.

The government amendment to the member's motion that is before us pushes the timeline further back and specifically says to find a balance between competing claims. I do not accept that. Our responsibility is to protect the species and the habitat. We can take input, of course, from those who would be most affected, but it is not a trade-off we are looking for the government to make. I urge the government and all parliamentarians to please act now to protect the southern resident orca whale.

Endangered WhalesPrivate Members' Business

11:10 a.m.


Gudie Hutchings Liberal Long Range Mountains, NL

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from New Brunswick Southwest for allowing me to share her time and speak to this important motion.

I would like to acknowledge my colleague from Nanaimo—Ladysmith for her comments on the whales in her part of the country.

As members know, I am from the other part of this magnificent country. I am a proud Newfoundlander and Labradorian. Our province has had a history with the fishery because of our coastline. We are a people of the sea. Many folks look at a map and ask me why hundreds of small rural communities are spread along the coast. It is because of the sea, the fishery, and our connection to it. It has been the backbone of our economy for years and is still a very important way of life that many people are proud to have. However, we have seen the fishery change over the years. We are going from quantity to quality in some species. Other species are being impacted by environment, habitat, predation, food sources, and elements at sea, and it is on this that I would like to speak today.

It is important to note that while historically the presence of the North American right whale has been a rare occurrence off the shores of the Long Range Mountains, this past year four right whale carcasses washed up on the shoreline of my riding. The presence of these carcasses in our waters goes to demonstrate the changing patterns of these marine creatures. It is a clear indication that something is changing, and we have to do our best to reverse it.

It is absolutely critical that we take more action to help save these whale populations. This goal is a feasible one. By simply reducing vessel speed from 12 knots to 10 knots, we can reduce the risk of a ship strike by 30%.

Since the deaths of the whales began coming to light this past year, both the Minister of Fisheries and the Minister of Transport have been working to implement measures to preserve the population of the endangered North American right whale. Even this past weekend, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced that it would be temporarily closing various fishing areas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence due to right whale sightings in the area.

These simple reactionary decisions are important to ensure the protection of these mammals. However, we have to do more. As important as these simple changes are to help preserve our oceans, more information and collaboration are needed if we hope to improve the whale population in the long term.

As I mentioned, the constituents in my riding of the Long Range Mountains rely heavily on the oceans and the fishery. With over 1,200 kilometres of coastline in my riding, a healthy marine ecosystem is of the utmost importance, and whales are one of the key factors in enhancing and maintaining that ecosystem.

In 2017, we were struck by 17 deaths of North American right whales in Atlantic Canada. This number is alarming, especially when we consider that the total global population of this species is less than 450. With mortality rates as they currently are, this species is at risk of becoming extinct within 25 years. Although monitoring the lifespan of the right whale has proven difficult for scientists, studies have suggested that these mammals can live for at least 75 years. However, of the whales that were found dead last year, at least five of them were determined to be under the age of 20. Necropsies done on these whales have suggested that their deaths were not from natural causes, but rather the result of some level of human intervention.

The North American right whale has been listed as endangered since 2005. The species is especially at risk due to human activity, as they tend to live near the populated coast of North America. Some of the greatest risks to the species include vessel collision, entanglement in fishing gear, disturbance from vessels, and acoustic disturbances.

Food supply for the larger animals in the marine ecosystem has been shifting as well. Due to the decline of food stocks, species such as whales have had to alter their migratory paths to find a sufficient supply. This has resulted in some species, such as the North American right whale, becoming more susceptible to human-induced mortality. With these creatures shifting more and more into areas that are frequently used by humans, the risk of them coming into contact with boats and fishing gear increases dramatically.

In the Long Range Mountains, we know first-hand the importance of maintaining a healthy marine ecosystem. Due to neglect of the preservation of cod and salmon for decades, we are now in a position where everything we do in terms of preservation is reactionary. This study on the situation of endangered whales would be a proactive move toward protecting the members of the species that are left, and would work toward rebuilding the population for the generations to come.

Throughout history, the North American right whale has demonstrated an ability to come back and revive, even when its population has been critically low. However, this time it is different. This time, the critical threat to these species comes from human intervention. This time, it is critically important that humans work to prevent further deaths of the whales and take into consideration their changing patterns.

To be effective in this goal, we must hear from experts in the field, as well as individuals in the industry, the people on the ground and on the waters who will be directly affected by any changes that are implemented. We must work hard with stakeholders and experts to ensure that while we move towards improving and protecting our oceans and whales, we also minimize disruption to the industry.

We also must be aware that a group of U.S. senators have suggested that Canadian seafood should be banned from U.S. markets if Canadian standards are found to be less protective of whales than the U.S. fisheries. This committee study, which will come as a result of this motion, will allow us to ensure that all interests are balanced while we work towards preserving the marine ecosystem.

Time is of the essence when it comes to this issue. We cannot continue to lose members of this species and act later. We have a chance to be proactive and not reactive, and that is exactly what this study will do.

Endangered WhalesPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.


Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for Long Range Mountains, as well as our colleague who put forth this motion, Motion No. 154, the member of Parliament for New Brunswick Southwest.

Motion No. 154 calls for the Standing Committee of Fisheries and Oceans to undertake a study of the situation of endangered whales. I live in a landlocked area, but being from the west coast, we have beautiful vistas and an incredible whale habitat. It is a beautiful area. As our hon. colleague from the NDP mentioned, we have some concerns with the whale population in and around the southern area of the Pacific coast, especially the southern right whale population.

This motion asks the committee to identify the steps that could be taken to continue the efforts to protect and help the recovery of the narwhal, the beluga, and the southern resident killer whales off the coast of British Columbia. It also asks to “identify immediate and longer term improvements limiting the impact of human activities on each of these species and, by so doing, add to recovery efforts and to recommendations for new or enhanced actions”. Motion No. 154 goes further. It asks the committee “to call expert witnesses on each of the species...those who might be impacted by any possible actions” and “to find a balance among various competing claims”. That bullet right there is important. The reason that is important is because of what we have seen in the past with the government.

I am going to back up a second. The Conservatives are supporting this motion, but we do have some concerns. What we have seen with the government time and time again, specifically on the fisheries file, is that the minister arbitrarily makes decisions without consulting those who will be impacted the most. We are seeing that today.

What happened when the minister arbitrarily announced the closure of the lobster fishery? The very next day, within 24 hours, I believe, there were about 500 lobster fishermen who were very upset. The fisher families, the men and women who make their living in our coastal communities, depend on these fisheries. It is seasonal work. Whether a person owns a boat or works on a boat, or works in a factory, such as those in the town of Grand Bank where I have spent so much time in the last while over the surf clam issue, the “clam scam”, they are greatly impacted by decisions that are made in Ottawa without consultation. Thus, I ask members to pay close attention to that bullet. It is bullet (iii) of Motion No. 154.

The final bullet says, “and that the Committee present its final report to the House” by the end of the 2018 calendar year. As I said earlier, the Conservative Party cares about our whales. We care deeply about our marine habitat. We want clean oceans and waterways. I fish. I hunt. I want our waterways to be clear and fresh. I want our air to be fresh for my kids and my grandkids as we move forward. We all want that. When we listen to some of our colleagues, of course, they think we are the spawns of the devil, just ogres. However, we care deeply about our marine habitat, and we will be supporting this motion.

I look forward to working with my colleagues at the fisheries committee, because we do great work there. This is a committee that is made up of all parties and is, of course, led by the Liberal side. However, we have done some incredible work. We did some great work on the marine protected area study. However, again we found out that the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, as well as the Minister of Transport, like to talk about consultation and our indigenous peoples being the most important relationship that they have, yet time and time again what we do we see? We see no consultation. That is why, no different than the surf clam or the clam scam, we are seeing indigenous groups now taking the government to court because it is not consulting.

As a matter of fact, there is an organization that is made up of fishers and processors from right across our country, who said that when the Conservatives were in power, there were consistent regulations. The group may not have always liked them, but there was consistent access to ministers and it had a seat at the table. This group, a national organization, told me that with the current government, if it wants to see a minister or get a seat at the table, it has to go through an NGO, an environmental group, first.

I have attended events and functions which were supposed to be fishery round tables. The minister is very accommodating. He allows me as the fisheries critic or shadow minister to attend them, along with the NDP shadow minister or critic. However, at the one I attended, there was not one fisher there. It was entirely environmental groups. So be it, but I have to commend my hon. colleague from New Brunswick Southwest for adding (iii), which says, “those who might be impacted by any possible actions, and working to find a balance among various competing claims”.

I want to talk about the announcements within the last 24 hours. I am not a fisherman, which I said earlier, and far be it for me to talk about the process and how it goes. However, I have spent some time on the docks of Grand Bank, Newfoundland, and Halifax, and I have talked to the fishers. I have been on the ground. I have been at Sharon's in Grand Bank and had coffee with the men and women who work either in the factory or on boats. I have spoken with them and heard their stories. I have asked them how long it takes for them to go out to sea and back and, for this fishery, it takes about six days.

This is some of the hardest work that anyone can imagine, but these workers do it and have done it for generations. Their fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers, have done it. They talk about the wounds of the past that go straight up the middle of Grand Bank, as there is not one family that has not been negatively impacted by this industry and not lost a family member to the sea. They work hard, they toil, trying to make a living for their communities and families. They expect their government to back them up or, at the very least, when it is making legislation, to consult them. They want the government to bring them to the table, tell them what it plans to do, and ask them how it will impact them. They want to be consulted when the government says it understands it is going to have a negative impact but that it needs to do it to save the whales.

Everyone agrees, and I am correct on that. We just bought a 65-year-old pipeline for $4.5 billion. That is not going to build even an inch of pipeline. We just gave $4.5 billion to a Texas oil company; thanks very much. There was no consultation.

There have been closures announced in the last 24 hours, and the fishermen and their families were given less than 72 hours to get their gear out of the water. I do not know how far off they are, but that is going to put the lives of fishers at risk: men and women, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, moms and dads, and grandfathers. We are unnecessarily forcing them to pull their gear with a moment's notice.

At the very least, the minister should truly live up to what he says he is going to do, and consult with those in coastal communities that his policies are going to impact.

Endangered WhalesPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Wayne Stetski NDP Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak in favour of Motion No. 154 to study how we can better protect and recover the St. Lawrence estuary beluga and the North Atlantic right whales on our east coast, and the southern resident killer whales on our west coast.

It might seems strange that somebody whose riding is comprised mostly of mountains, including the Rockies, the Selkirk Mountains, and the Purcell Mountains, is up here speaking on whales. However, I have a special affinity for whales.

When I was taking my Bachelor of Science degree in ecology from the University of Manitoba, in the summers I worked as a park naturalist at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Whales were absolutely an important part of our lives, of the visitor experience, and of the ecology of the west coast of Vancouver Island.

This was true of gray whales in particular. Gray whales spend their winters off the coast of Baja California, and their summers off the coast of Alaska. There was a group of six to eight gray whales that spent their summers off Long Beach, so we got the opportunity to spend a little time with them, for the first time, and to study what they were doing there. We donned scuba gear and went down to the bottom of the bay at Long Beach to see what they were feeding on. We took photographs of the gray whales to start identifying them. It was a very exciting part of the visitor experience, and of course whenever killer whales showed up on the west coast, the excitement would just ripple through all the people who lived there, as well as the people who were visiting.

It is really important to have a special affinity for whales, and we absolutely need to do better for them.

I have some interesting facts. Are members aware that whales are, in fact, born tail first? Whales sleep with one brain hemisphere at a time, which allows them to come up for air while they sleep. Also, the accumulated wax in a whale's ear can be used to tell its age and any toxins it may have encountered.

Although there is still so much we do not know about whales, anyone knowledgeable about these creatures would tell us that they are incredibly intelligent. It has been demonstrated that whales are very innovative in their hunting methods, often hunting collectively. I am sure some members have seen the video of a pod of whales working together to knock a lonely seal off a patch of ice. Scientists have also observed that whales communicate with a very complex language. Many members may have heard underwater recordings of whales speaking to one another. Whales also show a variety of emotions, ranging from joy to grief. There is a documented incident in which 30 false killer whales from a pod stayed with an injured member for three days in shallow waters until it died. The whales were willing to risk their lives in order to comfort one of their own.

Despite the whale's many fascinations, humanity's carelessness has allowed multiple species to become endangered. For example, the noise pollution caused by oil and gas developments and tanker traffic can damage whales' hearing and communication. This can prevent their use of breeding and feeding grounds and can disturb their migratory path. Furthermore, Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline project will increase oil traffic sevenfold along British Columbia's coast, increasing the possibility of collisions with ships and a catastrophic spill of raw bitumen.

Collisions with ships, entanglement in fishing gear, and pollution have caused the deaths of many whales. The southern resident killer whale is now on the endangered species list, with only 76 whales alive today. Only 450 North Atlantic right whales and 900 St. Lawrence estuary beluga whales remain.

Whales are vital to maintaining the food chain and ensuring that overpopulation in the ocean does not occur. A news release from Fisheries and Oceans Canada on August 8, 2017 stated, “Whales are critical to our marine ecosystems. As they are a key part of the marine food web, the health of these marine mammal populations is a key indicator of the health of our coastal waters.”

It is important that we work to preserve our delicate ecosystems, on land as well as on water. Without that protection, animals and plants are easily susceptible to endangerment and even extinction.

This kind of complex system is in jeopardy in my riding, Kootenay—Columbia, where the population of mountain caribou is in extreme danger due to human activity. Forest fires, old growth timber harvesting, motorized recreation, and predators all impact caribou. Without caribou, the whole ecosystem in my part of the world will be impacted, and the quality of our wilderness sadly diminished. If we do not work to protect the whales, the same thing can occur.

If the ecological importance and the intelligence of whales are not enough to earn members' commitment, then perhaps their economic importance will do so. According to an article in the online magazine Seeker, the whale-watching industry generated $2 billion in revenue in 2009, attracting 13 million ecotourists. The whale-watching industry also helped boost the local economy of Digby Neck and the islands. While the nearest whale feeding and breeding grounds are nowhere near my riding, Kootenay—Columbia, my constituents feel that whales are vital to our province, our economy, and our country.

Turning a blind eye to the tragic deaths of the St. Lawrence estuary beluga, the southern resident killer whales, and the North Atlantic right whales would be a tremendous mistake. Our desire for oil and our carelessness with fishing nets should not cost the lives of hundreds of whales. Volunteer groups, such as the Campobello Whale Rescue Team, should not have to risk their lives responding to dozens of reports of whales caught in fishing nets. The deaths of these whales could have been prevented.

Motion No. 154 is an attempt to prevent further deaths from occurring. My NDP colleagues and I support Motion No. 154. The study that would come from this motion would help identify steps to protect and help whales in their recovery and identify the impact of human activity on their survival. This motion was introduced following the deaths of 12 North Atlantic right whales in Canadian waters and four in American waters in the last year, in the span of about seven months. That is roughly 3.5% of the population, the equivalent of suddenly losing 1.25 million Canadians. We must do better.

Despite the useful information that would be realized through the study, I still have a few concerns with this motion. The Species at Risk Act provides for taking immediate action on such matters. The government should be using that route for whales, issuing an emergency order. We would also like the government to take action on protecting the most vulnerable whale species immediately, not wait for the outcome of the committee study, which would not be completed until the end of the calendar year.

According to Hussein Alidina, lead specialist in ocean conservation with the World Wildlife Fund Canada, the motion “doesn’t provide the kind of action we need immediately to recover the orcas”. More research is not enough to save the orcas, which are on the brink of extinction. Concrete action must be taken. Whale-watching must be limited when they are foraging, and other measures must be implemented within the next few months, in time for the chinook feeding season in the Salish Sea.

The southern resident killer whale was listed under the Species at Risk Act initially in 2003, and action has yet to be taken. On March 15, 2018, Alidina said, “We waited 14 years for an action plan and we’re still struggling to get action.... It’s kind of ridiculous to see how slow things are here. We need to do better—we have a responsibility to do better.” Hussein Alidina is right. We need to do better. We need to expedite the action and do what we can to save our whales.

In a letter to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Aaron Hill, director of the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, expressed that he felt the minister was not fulfilling his commitment to restore the chinook salmon population, putting the southern resident killer whales at a greater risk than they already are. Efforts must be made to protect not only the whales but their food supply and habitat.

With every day we wait for the committee to begin its work, we risk losing more of our gentle giants. For species that are barely surviving, we do not have time to wait. Just this past weekend, an autopsy found eight kilograms of plastic in the stomach of a whale found dead on the beach in Thailand. Globally, eight million tonnes of plastic ends up in the ocean every year, killing marine life. Thanks to my colleague, the member of Parliament for Courtenay—Alberni, and the motion he has put forward, Motion No. 151, there is hope for a plastic-free ocean.

The government must act immediately to give these whales a fighting chance. In his 1995 Margaret Laurence lecture, titled “A Writer's Life”, Farley Mowat said, “I have tried to be a spokesman for the other beings who have no voice in how we treat them.” We must all be spokespersons for the whales, because they cannot tell us where they hurt or point the finger at who hurt them. We must not take advantage of their silence. We must use our voices to protect them. I want the opportunity to take my grandkids out to the waters of B.C. to show them the beautiful southern resident killer whales, and I believe other members do as well. Let us all give our support to Motion No. 154.

Endangered WhalesPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.


Nathaniel Erskine-Smith Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Madam Speaker, I am proud to support Motion No. 154, introduced by my colleague, the member for New Brunswick Southwest. Her advocacy on such an important topic is certainly to be commended.

On a personal note, my family used to travel out east to Nova Scotia every summer to visit my uncle, aunt, and cousins, and we would usually camp for an extended period of time in Cape Breton, and along the way to Nova Scotia. We would enjoy different adventures along the way, including whale-watching. As a kid, I was able to see beluga whales and humpback whales in the St. Lawrence at Tadoussac, and I would like to think that others will continue to have that same opportunity. I would like to think that our government will take sufficient action so that I would be able to travel with my wife and my son, Mackinlay, out east to Nova Scotia and go whale-watching as well.

I want to thank the hundreds of constituents who have written to me about the importance of protecting our whale populations here in Canada. Many constituents, for example, wrote to me requesting that our government act to protect the southern resident killer whales and to take emergency action. In their letters, they noted that there is a large risk of southern resident orca extinction in this century if conditions remain unchanged. In their words to us as representatives, and to our government, they say, “The extinction of these whales, and many other endangered species in Canada, is a tragedy that you have the power to prevent.”

Many constituents have also written to me in support of Bill S-203, which would put an end to the captivity of cetaceans, and I look forward to supporting that legislation when it comes to the House. Senator Sinclair recently spoke eloquently on this topic, saying, “Cetaceans possess intelligence, emotions, social lives that include extremely close bonds to their families, complex communication skills and roaming lifestyles.”

I would put it this way: We should treat all animals that think and feel with respect and compassion, and that means giving adequate consideration to how human activities affect animal habitats and lives.

There are a number of whales addressed in this motion, and I want to address each in turn, beginning with the North Atlantic right whale. Many of us remember the epidemic of whales dying along the coast last year. For the first time ever, the North Atlantic right whales' calving season has produced no babies, and this is after almost 20 whales died off the east coast.

Dr. Moira Brown, from the Canadian Whale Institute, has stated:

The population decline since 2011 demonstrates that right whales do not have the capacity to sustain low birth rates and high death rates for very long. If mortality rates remain the same as between 2011 and 2015, with so few breeding females alive, the species could become functionally extinct in less than 25 years.

Others have noted that there are only 100 breeding female right whales left, and 17 scientists wrote last year to our Prime Minister, noting:

What is required now is bold and swift action to reduce fishing gear entanglements and ship strikes. We urge you to take seriously the warning signs of an impending extinction.

As my colleague from New Brunswick Southwest noted in her remarks:

As early as 2007, a study conducted between the Grand Manan Basin and the Roseway Basin determined that reducing vessel speed from 12 knots to 10 knots reduces the risk of a ship strike by 30%, and that in beautiful Bay of Fundy, shifting the shipping lane by four nautical miles to the east reduces the risk of a vessel collision by 90%.

The government proposed a recovery action plan in 2016, and this motion would be incredibly important to assess the actions under that plan.

With respect to the St. Lawrence estuary belugas, the very belugas I was able to see as a kid, the Department of Fisheries notes that, “before 1885, there were as many as 10,000 belugas in the St. Lawrence Estuary and Gulf. In the 1980s, when regular monitoring began, the population was estimated to be around 1,000 individuals.” Today, that population is estimated at only 900. Commercial whaling, just as it depleted the right whales, has also depleted the beluga whales population severely. Although whaling for belugas has been banned since 1979, there has been no noticeable recovery in the population.

A number of factors are to blame for the decline of the species, such as reduced food sources, disturbance by humans, and habitat degradation, but principally ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear. There is a recovery strategy under the Species at Risk Act for the beluga whale, posted and developed in 2012. Again, this motion is about assessing these plans and what further actions need to be taken.

With respect to the southern resident killer whale, this is the species about which I received so many letters from constituents. My constituents repeatedly noted they were concerned that there are only an estimated 76 southern resident orcas remaining in the Salish Sea waterways, down from 98 in 1995.

A number of organizations—Ecojustice, the David Suzuki Foundation, and World Wildlife Fund, among others—noted that faced with declining stocks of Chinook salmon, their primary source of food, and acoustic and physical disturbance from vessels, which interferes with their ability to hunt and communicate, the southern residents are at serious risk of malnutrition and starvation.

Our government has again taken some actions here. Most recently, in the last day, our government took action to reduce fishing of the Chinook salmon to ensure that there is adequate food supply for the southern resident killer whales. Of course, in the oceans protection plan, a $1.5 billion investment in the health of our oceans and the safety of those who use them, there was a specific reference and focus on three species of endangered whales: the right whale, the beluga, and the southern resident killer whale. Scientists are going to review how effective our current measures are and report their findings to the public, and there will be continued consultations in terms of the best way forward for protecting these species.

More specifically, under that oceans protection plan, we have seen new science funding to develop and test technologies that alert vessels to the presence of whales, lowering the risk of collisions. DFO has noted that in response to requests from a number of stakeholders for better ways to protect whales, DFO researchers will work with partners to develop and test various technologies able to detect the presence of whales in near-real time, such as underwater microphones, coupled with networks that track whale sightings. The goal is to capture near-real time information on whales in specific areas and on whale location.

The department recently hosted a meeting of Canadian and international experts to discuss various technologies, and the group will continue to do work to improve measures to protect whales. Again, there is $3.1 million for research projects, including for the University of British Columbia, to examine the effect of changes to the supply and quality of Chinook salmon, their source of food, and Ocean Wise will study the impact environmental stressors are having on whales, such as noise and limits on prey.

The minister has said that we are going to make a series of decisions that may necessarily represent some disruption for certain sectors, but will be guided by scientific advice and our solemn responsibility to ensure the protection and recovery of southern resident killer whales.

Why this motion in particular? The motion calls for the fisheries committee to study the situation of endangered whales, to identify steps that could be taken to continue efforts to protect and conserve the whale populations, to identify immediate and longer-term improvements that would limit the impact of human activities on each of these species, to call expert witnesses to find a balance among competing claims, and to present a final report by the end of 2018.

ln a letter of support for this motion, Rick Bates, CEO and executive vice-president of the Canadian Wildlife Federation said that a study undertaken by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans “will benefit all efforts to conserve our endangered whales by producing an all-party examination of the situation and how it can be improved.”

Dr. Moira Brown from the Canadian Whale Institute notes that if mortality rates remain the same as between 2011 and 2015, with so few breeding females alive, the right whale could become functionally extinct in less that 25 years if we do not take action.

Michael Broad, president of the Shipping Federation of Canada, said the organization supports the overall objectives of this proposed motion and is strongly interested in bringing forward industry's perspective on risk management actions.

Why is this important, for me in particular, and why am I standing up? It is important. Canadians in my riding and across the country have called for strong conservation measures to protect our whale populations. While the government's actions to date are important and welcome, it is also important to assess whether the government's actions are sufficient to meet our goals. That is certainly the work of the fisheries committee.

Finally, it is important to maintain pressure to produce even stronger action. My hope is that when the study is undertaken and the report is delivered by the end of the year, we can identify where there are successes and where we need to continue to move on this issue. My hope is that the report will provide clear evidence of the need for further action and that the government will heed that call.

We have an opportunity to do what is right. Rare in this House, we also have an opportunity to do what is right in a non-partisan way. I fully expect all members in this chamber to support this motion, and I fully expect the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans to produce a unanimous report to address this timely and important topic.

On a final note, oceans protection is important to all of us. I know plastics are a serious issue to that end. I want to invite all members and all constituents in Beaches—East York to attend a screening provided by the Water Brothers on July 10 in my riding at the Fox Theatre at 7 p.m. I hope to see all my constituents there.

Endangered WhalesPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The hon. member for New Brunswick Southwest has the right of reply for five minutes.

Endangered WhalesPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


Karen Ludwig Liberal New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today to speak for the second time to my motion on the protection of endangered whales in Canada. I would also like to thank my colleagues from all parties who have spoken to my motion and supported it, and all those who advocate for animal protection, whether in the House or elsewhere.

As mentioned, the motion was amended during the first hour of debate to reflect the unprecedented work the government and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans are already doing. The amendments also highlight the importance of finding a balance between protecting these magnificent marine mammals and ensuring minimal impact to industry.

The motion includes the need for government to identify immediate and longer-term improvements that will limit the impact of human activities on these whales, and by doing so add to the population recovery efforts and to the recommendations for new and enhanced action.

The motion was developed in consultation with over 50 stakeholders across the country, including the fishing, shipping, and research industries and first nations. It is supported across party lines and across provincial borders, and is endorsed by stakeholders in virtually every industry affected.

The most common concern I have heard about the motion in debate and from stakeholders was in regard to the need for immediate action versus conducting a study on the protection of endangered whales.

Immediate action is needed, and this government and the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard acted swiftly in addressing this need. The oceans protection plan represents an unprecedented $1.5 billion investment in our marine areas as well as specific investments for the protection of whales.

As both the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands and the hon. member for Avalon mentioned during the first hour, a study will not delay action. The purpose of this study is to inform future actions. Our government made a commitment to science-based policy decisions.

The member for Saanich—Gulf Islands included the importance of the Chinook salmon to the southern resident killer whale, and I am very pleased to highlight that last month the minister announced plans to reduce the allowable catch of Chinook salmon by 25% and $9.5 million to support projects across British Columbia to restore the habitats of these wild salmon.

Her Majesty's official opposition raised concerns of the capacity of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans to take on another study at this time. Those concerns were addressed in the amendments made in the first hour to extend the ask that the committee's report be tabled in the House by the end of the 2018 calendar year.

Not only was Motion No. 154 developed in consultation with stakeholders, but my team and I also worked very closely with the minister's team to best complement current actions and limit duplication.

I call on all members of the House to consider that it is not too late to study all of the options available when it comes to the protection of our oceans and marine mammals. In fact, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans has not issued a formal report on the subject of endangered whales in Canada since 2002. Canadians from coast to coast to coast expect that we, as Parliamentarians and as a government, can and will do our best.

There is no question that the situation of our endangered whales is as fluid as the tides of the Bay of Fundy. It changes hourly, daily, weekly, and we must do everything we can to respond, including doing further study to ensure future protections.

I again want to thank the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard for his continued leadership and commitment to this issue. In every situation, his department responded swiftly to introduce measures to protect our endangered whales. This study will be a complement to the work already being done.

Since the introduction of Motion No. 154 in April, we have learned that a group of U.S. senators suggested that Canadian seafood should be banned from U.S. markets if Canadian standards were found to be less protective than those of U.S. fisheries when it comes to whales. We must take every possible option very seriously for the long-term viability of our fisheries and our coastal communities.

It is possible to have a prosperous economy and a thriving environment, but we must continue to work closely with our industry partners. The world's leading scientists and others have long worked with marine industries to find a balance that provides maximum protection to whales with minimum disruption to industry.

In closing, I ask all parliamentarians to do what Canadians, our future generations, and the global community expect us to do on this issue and offer their full support for Motion No. 154.

Endangered WhalesPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Endangered WhalesPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Some hon. members



Endangered WhalesPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

All those in favour of the amendment will please say yea.

Endangered WhalesPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Some hon. members


Endangered WhalesPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

All those opposed will please say nay.

Endangered WhalesPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Some hon. members


Endangered WhalesPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to an order adopted on Thursday, May 18, the vote is deferred until Wednesday, June 6, at the end of oral questions.

Suspension of SittingEndangered WhalesPrivate Members' Business



The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

We are now suspended until 12 p.m.

(The sitting of the House was suspended at 11:58 a.m.)

(The House resumed at 12 p.m.)

Opposition Motion — United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous PeoplesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders



Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC


That the House: (a) re-affirm its support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), including article 32(2), which guarantees “free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources”; and (b) acknowledge that advancing Constitutional Reconciliation through a nation-to-nation approach means respecting the right to self-determination of Indigenous Peoples and the will of their representative institutions, like the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs which has said with respect to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline that “No means no – the project does not have the consent it requires”, which is a principled position conducive to achieving the ends of the UNDRIP.

Madam Speaker, I know it is always hard to pronounce the name of that part of my riding. I would like to begin by saying that I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the very impressive member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.

First of all, I think it is worth reminding the House that we passed Bill C-262 some time ago. It was a historic moment when the House adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. That is why I think it is important to start with that reminder.

My motion reaffirms the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including article 32.2. I worked on UNDRIP negotiations for 23 years. For all those years, I was a participant and a negotiator working on the texts we have agreed to as part of the declaration. We need to understand something about the whole conversation around this in Canada today. People who talk about reconciliation cannot just say whatever they please. They have to recognize Canada's constitutional context. Anyone who talks about reconciliation in Canada has to talk about it with that context in mind.

For instance, one of the things the Supreme Court states in its rulings is that reconciliation is necessary, but that it is also vital to recognize that our consent, the consent of the indigenous peoples, Canada's first peoples, is equally necessary.

That is what reconciliation is all about. We must always come back to that principle. In a 2004 decision, the Supreme Court wrote that the principle of reconciliation rests on the government's duty to recognize the pre-existing sovereignty of indigenous peoples, since it is in some way more honourable than Crown sovereignty.

The pre-existing sovereignty of indigenous peoples has an overriding right over the crown's assumed sovereignty. These are not my words. They are the words of the Supreme Court. The “assumed Crown sovereignty” is what the Supreme Court used.

When discussing the sovereignty of the crown, or whatever we wish, there are a lot of issues, one of them being where we stand today. Where we stand today is pretty significant, I would suggest, because we have an issue before us. We praise people who say yes but ignore those who have the same right to say no. People have said that. There are communities across the country that have said no, and they have the right to say no.

That is our point. I could go on and on speaking about all of these issues, but all of this is about the right to self-determination, and they have said so. Let us keep it to that and respect that right to say yes, of course, but to say no also.

Opposition Motion — United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous PeoplesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

June 4th, 2018 / 12:10 p.m.


Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, my colleague brought forward Bill C-262, which was passed by the majority in this place. My colleague's bill would now require that the government reflect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in all federal government legislation. I would welcome my colleague's comments on this.

On two occasions, I have brought forward amendments for the government to include in new legislation coming forward, including Bill C-57, which would amend the Sustainable Development Act; and Bill C-69, which would transform our entire major project review process. The Liberal government turned down more than a dozen proposals to include the UNDRIP in that legislation. I wonder if the member could also speak to this.

The government seems to want to give the illusion that it supports all the TRC calls to action. It is giving the illusion that it now supports the UNDRIP, but in its actions, it does not seem to be delivering on that promise, also as pointed out recently by the Auditor General of Canada.

Opposition Motion — United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous PeoplesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.


Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for that important question. I worked on this bill for over two years. When this new government promised to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a promise it made both during and after the election campaign, I hoped it would be easy to come to an agreement on the declaration and on my bill. After all, Bill C-262 simply implements that promise and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action 43 and 44. I thought it was a no-brainer, but I was wrong. I think it is deplorable that we have had to work so hard to get to this point. Now that—

Opposition Motion — United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous PeoplesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Order. It is time for another question. The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Opposition Motion — United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous PeoplesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.

Mississauga Centre Ontario


Omar Alghabra LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Consular Affairs)

Madam Speaker, I want to recognize the work of my colleague for his advocacy on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and congratulate him on the passing of his bill last week. His passion and his commitment to this issue are inspiring, and I thank him for all his work.

I want to ask him a genuine question. He knows that this has been a controversial issue and a divisive issue. He certainly knows that there is an NDP government in Alberta that supports it and an NDP government in B.C. that opposes it. Many indigenous communities support it, and some indigenous communities oppose it.

Could the member tell us what the government's role is in navigating and steering this process?

Opposition Motion — United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous PeoplesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.


Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Madam Speaker, that is a good question. I think the most direct answer would be that it is a matter of self-determination.

It is about the right to self-determination. People have a right to determine the issues that confront them, and that is what happened in this case. Quite simply, it is about the right to self-determination.

Opposition Motion — United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous PeoplesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:15 p.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, my friend from Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou and I like to joke with one another from time to time. My background is Irish and that is how the Irish show their fondness for someone. In all sincerity, the prospect of sharing some time with him today in Parliament on this issue, which he has fought for for more than 30 years, fills me with nothing but pride and humility. His expertise on this issue, his personal story, and the stories shared by so many first nations and aboriginal people across Canada makes me feel wholly unqualified to join in such a debate with him, yet here I am. I thank him for this opportunity.

It may seem strange to some Canadians who have been following this issue as to why the New Democrats have chosen one of our few opposition days to bring forward a motion on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to reaffirm our support of this declaration. Less than a week ago we voted for my friend's bill, declaring that same declaration would become part of Canadian law. As my friend from Edmonton Strathcona just pointed out in her questions, even as we are moving legislation through from a Liberal government that has promised to include that declaration in the way it writes legislation, the Liberals are refusing time and again to accept any changes to bills we are dealing with right now.

Therefore, we need to reaffirm our support of this declaration because the Liberal government just a week ago voted for it and the very same Liberal government refuses to include it meaningfully at all in our legislation and to apply it over a very contentious and difficult issue, which has become the Trans Mountain crisis, much of the crisis of the government's own manufacturing, its own making.

From the very outset, when the Liberals were campaigning for office, they promised things for the people of Alberta, that they would bring forward a process that would receive the support of open-minded and progressive Canadians as to how to review pipelines. In fact, they promised to redo the review of this pipeline. The Prime Minister said that the government would redo the process, because the previous process, the one that Stephen Harper designed, was a failure of basic common sense and the understanding for the need of science and proper consultation. We arrive at that word again, “consultation”, meaningful consultation.

The Prime Minister voted for a resolution, my friend's bill, that said, “free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories” of aboriginal people. A pipeline and the associated oil tanker traffic to that pipeline clearly affects the lands and territories of aboriginal people, certainly along the route and certainly on the coast. Did the government achieve that? Did it fulfill its promise, not just to aboriginal Canadians but all Canadians, and avert this crisis we now face, a crisis that has driven the Liberal government to buy the project wholly from a Texas oil company for $4.5 billion?

I would not want the Prime Minister to handle my private affairs. He just bought a 65-year-old pipeline, which had been bought less than a decade ago for a half a billion dollars, for $4.5 billion 10 years later. My goodness, with that kind of investment strategy, I worry for the general finances of the country.

It may seem strange to Canadians as to why we have to reaffirm this just seven days later, but we do. Aboriginal people on the coast are wondering who the Prime Minister actually is. They saw the version of the Prime Minister, who repeated many times that there was no more important relationship to him than that with Canada's aboriginal people. The possessive in that statement has bothered me for some time, “Canada's aboriginal people”, our aboriginal people. It has a certain neo-colonial ring to it, that it is a possession, that it is a people who are ours, that they belong to us somehow. As one aboriginal leader said to me on the coast just this weekend, how colonial could it possibly be that the Government of Canada has now purchased a pipeline and has not waited for the court cases to finish before it says that this pipeline will get built, construction will begin?

Over and over again, the Liberals say that they believe in the rule of law. Do they? No, they do not. There are substantive first nations cases in court right now, from the Tsleil-Waututh, the Sto:lo, the Coldwater, and other groups, which say that the consultation process is a joke and is insufficient. What do they base that on? It is based on the jurisprudence of the northern gateway decision that came down, the Gitga’at decision. They are saying that they are now finding through these leaked documents from federal lawyers that what they need to do is have their legal case ready for approval prior to approving. It also said, “Let 's make this thing Gitga’at proof.” It does not say that their consultations were fulsome and meet the requirements of the law. They have said that they must do whatever they can so they do not get sued again.

As Ruben George from the Sacred Trust, a Tsleil-Waututh organization, stated, “They haven’t learned...What is crazy about it... is we’ve (won) over and over again in court.“ Who are they? The crown, the government. It seems to need this lesson over and over again. What does it do? It costs a lot of money. It costs a lot of heartache, particularly for aboriginal people who are seeking self-determination. How radical is it in 2018 for a people to seek self-determination from a government that has said the relationship is the most important to it than any other in the country?

It also seems strange to me, as somebody who represents the northwest of British Columbia, that we have seen this movie before. The Harper Conservative government proposed a pipeline, insufficiently consulted with first nations people, and slammed its fist on the same desk as the current Prime Minister is doing, saying that the pipeline would get built. We wonder if the House of Commons our Constitution means anything. It seems not to because the Liberals think that bullying will work.

I do not know if my friends remember, but I remember when the then Harper government said that anyone who opposed that pipeline was an enemy of the state, was a foreign-funded radical for raising radical questions, like what happened to diluted bitumen when it went into water, and how would we clean it up, a question that still has not been answered. We think that would matter to a government that states it cares about the environment, not to worry, that there will be more tugs. What will it do when it hits the water?

We just had the report on the Nathan E. Stewart, a relatively small vessel that sunk of off B.C.'s coast three years ago. What happened? The second mate fell asleep, that this happens. The alarm was turned off, that this happens. The response was inadequate and insufficient over a small incident that did not contain diluted bitumen, which is much harder to clean up.

What is frustrating for a lot of Canadians on both sides of this issue, those who want to see the pipeline built and those who oppose its construction, both for valid, decent, sound reasons, is that they look to a government that promises everything and does nothing.

This is a very dangerous thing for the Liberal government to do because it repeats the mistakes of the past. First nations are engaged by companies and government. I have been at these meetings, so I have seen the conversation actually take place. The company and the government comes in and says, “Here is a memorandum of understanding.” It is a basic business contract. It says that if the project goes ahead, this is how they will handle things like revenue and job creation. However, they say that they do not need the first nation's consent, that it is clear. The government then takes those agreements out to the public, as the Prime Minister has shamefully done, saying the government has 34 to 40 agreements with first nations. He says that they want to see it built. This divide-and-conquer strategy has been used time and again against Canada's aboriginal people, and here we are again with the possessive. The government takes the possessive and says, “We're going to divide you”. It is pitting aboriginal group against another, and it lies to them all the way to the bank. No, that is not going to happen anymore. Parliament needs to reaffirm the vote it had, and reaffirm, finally, to aboriginal people that we truly respect their rights and title.

Opposition Motion — United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous PeoplesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Madam Speaker, I have a question that is important in the context of this discussion.

It is about the rule of law. As parliamentarians, we have to uphold the rule of law everyday as we pass laws and legislation, etc. As a parliamentarian, what does the rule of law mean to my hon. colleague? Does it mean sending in the army or upholding the Constitution and the rights under the Constitution?