Mr. Speaker, it is a huge pleasure and honour to rise today on behalf of the people of Courtenay—Alberni. I would like to extend my thanks to all of the people in Courtenay—Alberni for giving me such a strong mandate to return here. I would also like to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your new appointment.
I would like to point out my thanks especially to the Nuu-chah-nulth leadership, the Ha’wiih, which is the hereditary chiefs of the Nuu-chah-nulth, who bestowed a name on me this fall, ciqh=sii, which is the speaker of the hereditary chiefs of the 14 Nuu-chah-nulth nations. I am deeply humbled and honoured to deliver their voice here in the House of Commons.
I would like to also honour my family, because we do not get here without our family. Most notably, we lost my grandma at 94 years old just last month. She was the daughter of the late Chief Solomon Mallett from Fisher River. She was the last Cree speaker in our family.
I pledged to her and to all of my family to fight for indigenous languages to ensure that we do not lose native speakers like my grandma Mabel Lazar and lose their language. We must do everything we can to support indigenous languages.
We are here today to talk about the Speech from the Throne. We are hearing from everyday Canadians who need help right now. If this throne speech is all the Liberals are willing to offer, then it is simply not good enough for the people in our communities.
The Liberals had a real chance with this throne speech to make a commitment to help Canadians deal with the challenges that they are facing right now. Instead, they completely ignored the message that they heard from Canadians during the election. These are broken promises again in the early going. We cannot have these pretty words without concrete actions. Canadians expect more.
Almost half of Canadians in every part of this country are $200 away from not being able to pay their bills.
We see the effects and the urgency of the climate crisis all around us. Young people are taking to the streets. They are worried about their future. In downtown Courtenay just last week, Youth Environmental Action was calling for the government to take urgent action. Instead what we received in the government's platform was a date of 2050.
What this group was expecting, and what we were all hoping for, was to see the sense of urgency, to see what has been recommended by the IPCC in terms of reducing emissions by 45% by 2030. We did not hear anything about that. Instead of working with us to help make Canadians' lives better, the Liberals offered more empty words and no indication of any real action.
We hear Liberal members talk about their pharmacare plan but there really is no language about any universal, comprehensive or public pharmacare plan. There is no funding amount and no timeline.
I hear from people in my riding. I heard from a young mother who has a child with cystic fibrosis. She simply cannot afford the medicine. When children cannot afford to get the medicine they need in a country as wealthy as Canada, we are failing miserably.
In terms of the environment, the Liberals have given billions of dollars in fossil fuel subsidies instead of investing in renewable energy and job creation. There is nothing on stronger emissions around 2030 and nothing to confront the urgency of the problem that is facing us right now. Instead, the Liberals continue to give massive subsidies to the oil and gas industry.
The Liberals failed to work with us to make sure that the ultrarich pay a little more. Instead, the Liberals continue to throw away and write off billions in corporate debt that is owed to Canadians. They could have worked with us to stop profiting off Canadians who struggle continually to pay off their own debts.
In terms of reconciliation, the Liberals continue to cite that their most important relationship is with indigenous people. The Liberals are refusing to stop dragging indigenous children to court. They refuse to commit to dropping the appeal against fairness for indigenous children. They are also failing by refusing to fix the problem with the child welfare system.
Members have heard me talking in the House about the government spending $19 million on lawyers alone to fight the Nuu-chah-nulth on their right to catch and sell fish. They won this case twice in the Supreme Court of Canada.
Instead of choosing to honour the courts, the government continues to fight them and spend taxpayers' money. The Nuu-chah-nulth want to share. They want to walk together. They want to be out on the water fishing, where they belong.
In terms of housing, the Liberals failed to deliver a real concrete plan. We need 500,000 housing units right now to make up for the last 25 years. We need co-op housing. I am a product of co-op housing and we desperately need it.
In Courtenay, there is a conversation right now about the need for co-op housing and federal help. The government made a promise to end veteran homelessness. There is nothing in the throne speech about veteran homelessness. We also know a lot of indigenous people are living in terrible housing conditions.
I heard my friend from Vancouver East talk about the opioid crisis and seeking a pilot project on a clean source of supply. Over 12,000 Canadians have lost their lives unnecessarily to a poisoned drug supply.
We also need therapeutic recovery communities like there are in Italy and Portugal, where they have been able to reduce the number of overdose deaths. In Canada, especially in British Columbia, people are 79 times more likely to die of an overdose. Seven times means we got it wrong, but 79 times means we need to ask who is accountable. We need to take urgent action.
I have to highlight the biggest thing that is missing for the west coast in this Speech from the Throne. There is no mention of the salmon emergency, none. The member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country yesterday talked for 20 minutes and did not mention the salmon emergency taking place.
I had the privilege today to sit down with the new Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and I called on her to take action. This is as big as a forest fire taking place in northern Alberta or flooding in eastern Canada. There is a billion-dollar salmon economy in British Columbia. It is not just our economy. It is our food security, our culture and our way of life. Everything is interconnected in our ecosystem.
There was the lowest return in the Fraser this year in recorded history. It was not just the lowest return. It was half the lowest return. In the Skeena, there were record lows. In the Alouette River, 60,000 chum were expected and 450 came back. There was the Big Bar slide, and now we are hearing most of the fish did not make it.
This is a catastrophic time. The government does not want to be the government that watched the west coast and the Pacific salmon go the way of the Atlantic cod. We need the government to act with the sense of urgency that is taking place on the west coast right now. I am appealing to the Liberals. This is not about blame or shame. This is about doing the right thing right now. We need action.
The government announced its salmon restoration funds, whether it be the B.C. salmon restoration fund or the coastal restoration fund. That money simply is not flowing. There are tons of volunteers out there trying to do the good work and they are not seeing that money.
There were over 60 people in Ucluelet with the Central Westcoast Forest Society in Clayoquot and Barkley out on Saturday. They removed 23,000 tonnes of plastic and debris from the steams so the fish would return. A simple $102 million from the federal government is not enough. We need $500 million right now, just in restoration.
The enhancement groups have not seen a raise in over 29 years while there is an urgent situation. The catching and retention of marked fish is not allowed. It does not make sense. We should mark every fish from every hatchery and make sure that the fish are allowed to be kept by our sports fishers. That will help in conservation.
The government made a commitment that it would remove salmon farms by 2025. There is nothing in the Speech from the Throne on that, despite the fact that we are seeing a record number of sea lice.
The government still allows the transfer of fish that are infected with PRV, a disease. We have seen massive die-offs with algal bloom. This is happening along migratory routes of juvenile salmon and the government is acting as a double agent. It is acting as an agent for the industry, yet it says it is there to protect our wild stocks. It was recommended by the Cohen commission that the government cannot play that double role.
The government is allowing the herring fishery to open right now, unless we hear different. This is fundamental because everything is interconnected. It is the bedrock species for salmon and southern resident killer whales. It is a reduction fishery and it does not make sense. New Democrats are calling on the government to listen to local and indigenous knowledge.
We need the government to highlight that there is a salmon emergency going on in British Columbia and it needs to announce that right away. The government is needed on the ground.