Madam Speaker, let me start by saying that the indigenous right to fish is without question and has been firmly established. As a member previously mentioned, all acts of violence and arson are wrong. They are a crime and must be dealt with by the proper authorities. The safety of all Canadians must be the priority of any government.
I also concur with the hon. member for West Nova when he clearly stated that these violent acts were wrong, as we have seen. They do not reflect in any way on the overwhelming majority of the good people of West Nova, who are hard-working, good members of their communities, residents and citizens of Canada.
We find ourselves here today debating this issue because of the inaction of the minister and the Liberal government. For weeks and months now, they have failed to act as tensions continue to rise in southwestern Nova Scotia. I have personally witnessed the hon. member for West Nova plead on behalf of the residents of southwest Nova and ask the government to intervene, be part of a solution and take action. It is because of the minister's and the government's lack of action and their failure to take the necessary steps to find a peaceful resolution that we find ourselves in a place where neighbour has been pitted against neighbour and tensions have been rising.
When government should be stepping in and meeting with all stakeholders and community groups that have a part in this to come to a resolution and lower the temperature, the government has chosen the path of the politics of inaction, delay, defer and sometimes dither. This instead has added fuel to an ever-growing flame. The Liberal premier of Nova Scotia, just the other day said he was extremely disappointed by the federal response. He also added that this is only going to get more entrenched, and they need to be in the same room so everyone knows what each other is saying.
The rights of indigenous people are without question and firmly established. What is lacking is proper clarity from the government and proper consultation that incorporates representatives from all interested parties, including both indigenous and non-indigenous fish harvesters, local community leaders, union representatives and local authorities. There will be no true reconciliation until there is meaningful dialogue and understanding among all affected parties. True reconciliation cannot be achieved if whole communities and interested parties are isolated from the process. It is time that we sat down together. There is no path forward until we first sit together.
I echo the comments of my colleague from Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo. She pointed out quite clearly that there has not been a sense of urgency around this. When government ministers should have been getting to the scene, engaging all of those who are directly affected and making sure we come to a peaceful solution, they delayed. They waited. They held back and there has been limited consultation and limited discussions. The dialogue has been far less than what any of us would have anticipated at this point.
Any decision regarding this, as the hon. member for Malpeque pointed out earlier in the discussion this evening, must have conservation top of mind and as a key part of this discussion. We need to make sure that there is going to be plenty of stock, lots of lobster and fish, in the sea for all to enjoy, both indigenous and non-indigenous, for many generations to come. The minister and her Liberal colleagues have repeated tonight, and throughout the last few days, how important conservation is in many of their discussions, yet we had the opportunity to discuss this today at the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.
Even in those deliberations, when we brought forward an amendment to study the fisheries crisis and the issues that we are facing today, all of us on the opposition side voted for it to make sure that conservation was part of that consideration, but members on the governing side opposed that amendment and stood in the way of it. I do not think we can have a meaningful discussion about this without obviously making sure that conservation is part of that discussion and study.
Even though these are heavy times, and we are in the midst of facing a crisis that none of us want to see, all Canadians want to come together, find reconciliation and get to the future. I think it comes down to whether or not we are going to have a proactive type of leadership or reactive style of leadership. Right now, we find ourselves in a reactive place or state of leadership, rather than being proactive from the beginning, recognizing that tensions were escalating long ago and now working towards a solution.
There is so much potential within the fisheries. There is so much potential within the blue economy for Canada. We can realize that potential for both indigenous and non-indigenous fishers if we will sit at the table, come to a solution and work towards true reconciliation at this moment.
Just this past week, I had the privilege of being in Prince Edward Island. I met with some local fish harvesters and heard about the potential of the blue economy, of what it could be if there were some strategic investment in marine infrastructure, and of what it would mean to the local communities and to our region here in Atlantic Canada. Instead, we find ourselves in crisis mode with all the emphasis, understandably, on this situation to find a resolution.
I have been reflecting a lot on this. As I heard very compelling testimony from all sides of the House, I found myself reflecting on an old story, an ancient one that goes back many years, and I am sure this story is familiar to some.
This is the story of a wise old fisherman, the master fisherman as it were, who stood on the seashore one day. There were some fishermen who had fished all night out in a boat but had not caught any fish. The master fisherman looked at them and said, “Why don't you try again and let down your nets?” Of course, the fishermen said, “We fished all night and caught nothing. Nevertheless, you are the master fisherman, and at your word, we will do it.” So they went out and threw their nets out again, and they caught a tremendous amount of fish. In fact, they caught so many fish that their nets began to break and they had to call other fishermen and other boats to come over and help with the great harvest.
What stood out to me as I reflected on that story is that the challenge that the master fisherman gave to those seasoned, experienced fishermen who had been trying all night but had caught nothing was to try where they just had failed. He knew that they had fished all night and did not get results, but he told them to go once again and try where they had once failed. Of course, when they did that, they got a great harvest.
Perhaps there is a lesson here. I know for generations we have not done well with reconciliation. We have not gotten it right, and various governments of various stripes all have ownership of that, but we have an opportunity in this moment to get it right. Perhaps we need to listen to the words of the master teacher, the master fisherman who said, “Try again one more time.” If we try again one more time with the right heart, the right motive, and with all key stakeholders at the table, I have a feeling that just maybe we can get it right this time. We can embrace a blue economy, which has tremendous potential for Canada, for both the non-indigenous and indigenous fishers and harvesters who are out there.