Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak to Bill C-88. Despite the use of time allocation, I appreciate that the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons earlier today said she would make efforts to give me a chance to speak and has done so. Even with abbreviated debate, I am therefore able to speak to this legislation.
I am also able to speak to what happened to this legislation when the Northwest Territories Devolution Act was brought forward in the 41st Parliament in 2014. It was something everyone wanted to support, but there were many measures with that act that were offensive to the foundational principles of self-government and respect for treaties.
In fact, the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board, the Gwich'in Land and Water Board, the Sahtu Land and Water Board and the Wek’eezhii Tlicho Land and Water Board, all of which were the result of treaty negotiations between the Crown and those nations, were callously, carelessly, disrespectfully and completely violated with the notion that we could replace them with something described as more efficient.
I protested those changes at the time, as did the previous NDP member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories, Dennis Bevington. We tried quite hard to persuade the 41st Parliament that it was wrong to change the law in this way.
Subsequent to the changes being made, a number of the boards that were impacted went to court to challenge what had just happened. The notion of a superboard was deeply offensive to the principle that had been there, which was that the land and water boards represented fifty-fifty decision-making between first nations and the federal government. It would have reduced the self-government that the Northwest Territories Devolution Act was supposed to respect. It would have taken away rights and reduced the scope of review by those various boards.
Earlier today in debate I heard a Conservative member say that Bill C-88 was another effort by the Liberal government to interfere with development, to thwart development and to drive investment away from Canada.
I am saddened by that kind of commentary. I agree with a number of criticisms of the Liberal government. There are a lot of measures being taken that I find far short of what is required, particularly when looking at the climate crisis, and far short of what is required when looking at the need for thorough environmental assessment. There was a commitment in the election to undo the damage that had been done by the Harper administration in a number of areas, and so far the Liberal government has done really well in some areas and less well in others.
It did extremely well in undoing discriminatory legislation towards trade unions, and that was done relatively quickly by the former member of cabinet responsible for labour issues.
The Liberal government did an extremely good job on a piece of legislation that is still before the Senate, Bill C-68, to repair the Fisheries Act. Bill C-68 not only repairs the damage that was done by the previous prime minister and his government and not only brings back protections for fish habitat. It also expands and improves other protections for habitat. It is an extremely important piece of legislation and I hope it passes quickly.
It is also complementary to a piece of legislation that I hope will be passed here. Earlier today in the House, the hon. member for Avalon, the chair of the fisheries committee, presented the report, and Bill S-203 is now back before the House. I hope we move to report stage and third reading expeditiously.
Bill C-68, which I am referencing, is also complementary in saying that we are now going to ban the taking of cetaceans into captivity in Canadian waters.
Again, all of these bills speak to undoing the damage done by the previous government, but Bill C-68 goes beyond that with more progressive measures.
Unfortunately, Bill C-69 is also before the Senate. I hope it will be amended and sent back here quickly. The Minister of Transport did an excellent job of repairing the former Navigable Waters Protection Act. There are some innovative changes to energy regulations. Unfortunately, the middle piece of legislation in that omnibus bill, the one on environmental review, does not undo the damage of the previous government, but rather keeps it in place.
However, this legislation is excellent in that it would actually undo the damage the previous government had done. It would set back in place the integrity of self-government, of decisions for land and water boards that reflect the negotiations under self-government agreements and treaties. Now that we are debating this bill at second reading, I would certainly like to see this bill in committee so that it could receive one or two additional amendments.
As was mentioned on the floor of the House earlier today when we started second reading debate of Bill C-88, given the content, the context and the need to take a step further and be more progressive than merely repairing, we should say that this bill operates under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. That would be a very welcome amendment and, assuming this bill gets to committee and we are in a position to put forward amendments during clause-by-clause consideration, it is one that the committee can expect to hear from the Green Party.
I certainly support this bill, including the provisions to allow moratoria on drilling to affect such decisions based on evidence. I do hope the bill passes. I would like to see it pass with an amendment to ensure that it operates under the terms of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.