House of Commons Hansard #14 of the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was medical.

Topics

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova ScotiaEmergency Debate

9:35 p.m.

Liberal

Jaime Battiste Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Madam Speaker, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was really clear. It said that what had happened in Canada had been cultural genocide. While we can say that the federal government is to blame, there is plenty of blame in Canada to go around for all levels of government in denying indigenous people their rights in Canada.

I am proud to stand with our government. It has said that that it will take the steps forward to implement UNDRIP and ensure that legislation is brought in before the end of the year. As my father was one of the co-writers of UNDRIP, I look forward to that being a building block in moving forward, instead of the colonial policies of the past.

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova ScotiaEmergency Debate

9:35 p.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his work at committee.

In light of what we have seen, the assaults, the attack on property, the intimidation, the dangers that the Mi'kmaq fishers have endured and the Sipekne'katik First Nation and its people have endured, was the member horrified by the delay in the response from the federal government and its inaction? We knew weeks ago that this could happen. I am surprised that a life has not been lost due to the lack of immediate support from Ottawa.

Does the member agree that the Government of Canada needs to step in and do much more, not just in the immediate but when the fishery opens on November 1 in that area, and delivering a mandate to negotiate properly so they can assert their right?

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova ScotiaEmergency Debate

9:35 p.m.

Liberal

Jaime Battiste Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Madam Speaker, I was absolutely horrified by what I was seeing there, but as a member of Parliament who had the ability to travel there, I wanted to see it for myself and talk to the people themselves. I have always said that I would be the one who would go there to listen and hear them. While the member can talk about federal inaction, I am a part of that federal government, the Liberal government. I was there looking for solutions and talking with my ministers the whole way.

A lot of the discussions that most people are not privy to have been ongoing with our government. I know I have not quite been a member of Parliament a year, but this is important to me. I want all my colleagues to be allies in moving forward on how we can solve years and years, if not centuries, of reconciliation on which we need to move forward. I ask colleagues to help me as a Mi'kmaq and to help us by ensuring they are part of the solution as well.

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova ScotiaEmergency Debate

9:40 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Tobique—Mactaquac.

Like many, I have become increasingly concerned over the last couple of weeks as we watched the escalating dispute and violence in Nova Scotia. As members may be aware, the Crown signed peace and friendship treaties in 1760 and 1761, and this of course included a right to fish, hunt and gather in pursuit of a moderate livelihood. These rights were affirmed by the Supreme Court in the Marshall decision of 1999, and there was further clarification on November 17, 1999, that this right was not unlimited and regulations could be introduced if it was justified for conservation or other important objectives.

It is important to note that history, and I know many have repeated it. This is a right that has been around for many long years and has been reaffirmed. The Sipekne’katik fishers in southwestern Nova Scotia launched a moderate livelihood fishery last month and protestors were concerned about this. Protests have become increasingly violent, with tensions rising. We have all been witness to some very dramatic footage over the last few days in particular, and of course we are very concerned.

This current dispute is a failure of the Crown, and in this case the Liberal government, which had promised to do better. Five years ago the Liberals were elected and had a majority government. They promised to do better. I have been in conversation with the member for West Nova for many weeks, knowing he has been very concerned and has been calling for serious action.

What do we have instead of serious action? We have four ministers taking the unprecedented step of calling for an emergency debate. Do they not realize that they are government? They have the ability to resolve this crisis and they have the responsibility to be on plane, rather than being in the House. Lives and livelihoods are at risk and they matter.

The minister has said there is a pandemic. The intergovernmental affairs minister can have an exemption to do a meet-and-greet with the new Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. I would suggest this is much more important. Not everything can be done by Zoom. Sometimes people have to be there and put that energy and time into saying that this is going to be resolved. They have to put some urgency to it. Let us not just talk about it in the House. The government is asking for a domestic debate on an issue it has the ability to resolve.

Canada must fulfill its obligation under the Marshall decision and a negotiation around what a moderate livelihood means is probably one of the important steps. The Minister of Public Safety must ensure Nova Scotia has the resources it requests to effectively manage the escalating tensions, fully investigate criminal activity and keep everyone safe.

We all know Canadians have a right to peacefully demonstrate or protest. That is constitutionally protected. However, we are also a country of rule of law and those laws must be respected. Anyone who has crossed the boundary from peaceful protest to criminal activity must be held to full account.

Failed policies and unfinished business of successive generations truly is our shame and the results for indigenous people across Canada have been catastrophic for too many. We must do better. With realizations and court decisions, there is an understanding from Canadians from coast to coast to coast that we have much work to do toward reconciliation. Since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, I have seen a real understanding from Canadians that we must do better.

As we are working toward reconciliation and correcting the injustices of the past, we cannot create new injustices. The government needs to have a process that includes third parties in the conversation.

I will go back to the treaty process in British Columbia in the 1990s. It was a very flawed process, but one of the things they did right was that they had five tables of people who had a special interest. Whether it was hunting and fishing or other areas, they had a special interest in terms of what was at the table. They created a win-win-win as opposed to a win-lose.

That is certainly something that the government has not done. The Liberals go out to meet with the Wet'suwet'en and they do not bother to include the elected chiefs in the conversation. There are many examples where their failure to have a conversation with third parties, to let them know what was happening, why it was happening and perhaps seek some advice, has been to the detriment of communities that have worked and lived side-by-side for generations. Certainly I am very concerned with the current government's failure. In the past, there was a Liberal government that had a better process.

The conversation tonight is very difficult and is very concerning. As I go about my work, there is something that I am very proud of and that I reflect upon often. It was that some of the first nation communities, when I was first elected, had me read something called the “Memorial to Sir Wilfrid Laurier”. This was in the early 1900s, but the sentiment is something that we all need to look at. In B.C., we did not have treaties. There were many unresolved issues and they went to the government at the time. Some of the words that stand out in my memory are to the effect that:

We have no grudge against...the settlers, but we want to have an equal chance with them of making a living.... It is not in most cases their fault.

They have taken up and improved and paid for their lands in good faith.

There was very clearly a recognition that it was not the people living side-by-side in communities; it was the government that had been the failure. The other piece that stands out very importantly in these comments is that, when the white settlers arrived, it was said:

...These people wish to be partners with us in our country. We must, therefore, be the same as brothers to them, and live as one family.... What is ours will be theirs, and what is theirs will be ours. We will help each other to be great and good.

If we look at those sentiments, we know that government has important work that it must do. We need to be great and good together, and that is only going to be through sitting down at the table, having those difficult conversations and coming to a resolution.

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova ScotiaEmergency Debate

9:45 p.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Arif Virani LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Madam Speaker, it is 9:47 p.m. in Toronto and there is not a large fishing community here, but I am participating because my constituents have rightfully expressed that they are horrified at the violence they have seen and the systemic racism displayed.

I have two clarification points to put to the member opposite. First, as a government, we have participated in other emergency debates, such as climate action, which we initiated. Second, the intergovernmental affairs minister is a member of the Atlantic bubble.

However, that aside, what I wanted to ask the member, based on her experience in indigenous relations, is whether she believes a top-down method would be appropriate here. Clearly, on our side of the House, we think it would not be.

The member for Sydney—Victoria eloquently raised the idea that we need an indigenous-oriented solution. The education example was raised by him and is one that has very readily prospered in Nova Scotia. When indigenous people took control of their own education, it showed great results.

Would the same apply here in the context of policing, in terms of keeping the peace and law and order and having more indigenous involvement in policing, so that we can rectify some of the scenes that we have seen that have rightfully disturbed so many of us?

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova ScotiaEmergency Debate

9:45 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Speaker, a top-down approach is absolutely not negotiation. Negotiation is a conversation. It is being at the table. I am someone from British Columbia who has travelled back and forth to Ottawa a number of times. Yes, we have a pandemic, but we also have critical work that we have to get done. My colleague from West Nova just finished his isolation period after spending time. Yes, there is a bubble, but sometimes we have to be there. We have to have the hard conversations face to face. We have to say we are going to get this job done.

No, it is not top-down, but it is negotiation and it is conversation. It is making sure that we have found a way for everyone to contribute to the discussion, so we get to the win-win-win instead of the win-lose.

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova ScotiaEmergency Debate

9:50 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Simard Bloc Jonquière, QC

Madam Speaker, many people tonight have noted that successive governments have dragged their feet. The Marshall decision dates back to 1999.

Maintaining a dialogue with indigenous peoples is a good thing, a necessary one. However, the solution here, and what indigenous nations have been asking for, is recognition. This recognition is achieved through self-government. No Liberal or Conservative government has ever wanted to give indigenous peoples this autonomy. Why is that?

It often feels as though Canada has a hard time recognizing the political autonomy of nations, and this includes the Quebec nation. What does my colleague think about that?

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova ScotiaEmergency Debate

9:50 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Speaker, I would suggest, and I did make comments in my remarks, that there have been successive failures, since Confederation, of governments in terms of doing the right thing. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which a Conservative government spearheaded, was an important step. The awareness of Canadians across the country is only increasing, in terms of what the unfinished business is and what the tragic impacts have been of not doing the right thing. Therefore, I think certainly there is more positive movement in the last number of years than there has been in a long time.

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova ScotiaEmergency Debate

9:50 p.m.

NDP

Heather McPherson NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, I will say that I agree with the member. Do the Liberals not understand that they can actually fix this, that they are the government and that they can make these changes? The one thing that I have found in my one year of being a member of Parliament is that I come to the House and I listen to the Conservatives blame the Liberals and the Liberals blame the Conservatives. Frankly it has been 21 years that we have been waiting for there to be action on this.

Could the member please tell me why indigenous people should trust anything that the Conservatives say any more than what the Liberals say?

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova ScotiaEmergency Debate

9:50 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Speaker, within my remarks I talked about a history that no one should be proud of, in terms of the unfinished business. There were certainly some really positive examples in the last Parliament of great goodwill as we worked in partnership, in terms of the child welfare legislation and the indigenous language legislation. Certainly, when we were government, there were matrimonial real property rights. There is example after example. When I said, “in the last number of years”, I want to remain optimistic. I want to look at those words that I quoted at the end of my speech and hope that we are headed in the right direction.

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova ScotiaEmergency Debate

9:50 p.m.

Conservative

Richard Bragdon Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

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.

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova ScotiaEmergency Debate

10 p.m.

Liberal

Jaime Battiste Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Madam Speaker, I am glad my colleague brought up the fisheries committee today, but it appears as though he framed it as government members were not supporting conservation. However, within that same motion, which I introduced and amended, we stated that we would be talking to indigenous knowledge holders and scientists, both Mi'kmaq and non-Mi'kmaq.

I wonder if, by his statement, he is saying that indigenous knowledge holders and Mi'kmaq scientists do not understand or do not believe in conservation and are unfit to address it.

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova ScotiaEmergency Debate

10:05 p.m.

Conservative

Richard Bragdon Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Madam Speaker, I appreciated hearing the hon. member's insights throughout this discussion.

I want to assure my colleagues that, absolutely, indigenous people have much to offer and care very much about the conservation of the species and the industry, as well as making sure there are lobster and fish in our oceans and plenty of support for all fishers and fish harvesters, whether they be indigenous or non-indigenous. In fact, we felt it was important that that word be a part of the motion that was brought forward today. We included it and are thankful to have had support from other opposition parties.

What is important to realize is that we are once again at this place because there has not been a proactive approach by the current government to get to a resolution and make sure that all interested parties are at the table. There has not been a sense of urgency until now. We need to make sure that all stakeholders are part of this. Conservation is a part of that discussion.

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova ScotiaEmergency Debate

10:05 p.m.

Bloc

Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague from Tobique—Mactaquac. I really enjoyed his speech.

Two things caught my attention. The first was his story. I love stories, and I thought it was a really good story that put things in perspective. I also noted that he used the terms “reactive” and “proactive” and stated that the government is reactive rather than proactive. I could not agree more.

This was evident during the rail crisis in January and February, when we saw how the government acted when dealing with the Wet'suwet'en people. The government took its time before meeting with them. Once again, I am wondering if this is part of the culture of the federal government. People in the federal government are not used to dealing with first nations on a nation-to-nation basis.

I would like to give a short history lesson. On March 17, 1985, René Lévesque was the very first premier in Canada to recognize the first nations. It took a sovereignist to do this. He officially and expressly recognized the first nations.

We are still facing the same problem. I think that the problem is cultural. I would like to hear what my colleague thinks about that. Earlier, his Conservative leader was lecturing the Liberals and saying that they have been in office for the past five years and that they have not done anything. However, the government that was in power just before the Liberals was there for 10 years and it was a Conservative government.

Is it possible that the problem is with federal government culture?

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova ScotiaEmergency Debate

10:05 p.m.

Conservative

Richard Bragdon Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Madam Speaker, I concur that successive governments of various stripes and at all levels have not gotten it right many, many times as it pertains to reconciliation with indigenous peoples. We all bear responsibility for that.

I think what is important is that, although we cannot undo the mistakes or errors of the past, we can make a difference going forward. Part of making that difference going forward is being proactive, as I discussed in my speech. Right now we can start not only talking to the peril we face currently, but also speaking to the potential that the fishing and marine sector has within Canada for both indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. I believe that we can experience tremendous opportunities for growth and financial prosperity for many, many Canadians, irregardless of whether they are indigenous or non-indigenous.

We need to start speaking to that potential and get beyond this crisis. The way to get beyond this crisis is to make sure that all key stakeholders and all interested communities are at the table.

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova ScotiaEmergency Debate

10:05 p.m.

Liberal

Lenore Zann Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Madam Speaker, sitting here in the unceded territory of the Mi'kmaq in Truro, Nova Scotia, I have to say my heart is heavy, yet I have hope that through discussions, we are going to move forward and help the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia get their treaty rights upheld without all the issues happening now, without the racist attacks and without any of the hurt that is being done to them.

As a member of Parliament and as a friend to many Mi'kmaq people, it has hurt me to the quick to watch the videos from last Tuesday. I have stayed up all night talking with friends who are on the ground and witnessing it. They are showing videos, seeing people screaming, hurdling obscenities at the first nations peoples telling them to pack up their tents and go back to where they came from. These are not productive ways to work together with anybody.

Sadly, here in Nova Scotia, racism is very old and the roots are very deep. It is not just the Mi'kmaq people, but also the Black people in Nova Scotia have also suffered greatly. To be honest, the Acadians have suffered, as well. Indigenous peoples here have faced systemic racism and discrimination. We need to change this and that is what our government is determined to do.

The Crown, we have to say, has previously prevented a true equal partnership from developing with indigenous people and instead, imposing a relationship based on colonial ways of thinking and doing on paternalism, control and dominance. This has to change.

The current situation in Nova Scotia is very, very difficult for everyone. Canadians have watched with growing horror what I have been watching and what my friend from Sydney—Victoria has also been watching. We are horrified. Some people call it a lobster fishery dispute, but the Mi'kmaq call it the survival of a nation. We are all concerned for the safety of the Mi'kmaq, the fishermen and for all Nova Scotians.

It has also been said, and I think it is important to repeat, that there is no place for the threats, intimidation, violence or vandalism that we have witnessed in south-west Nova Scotia. Respectful and constructive dialogue is essential to the path forward. There was a wonderful—

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova ScotiaEmergency Debate

10:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

Just a moment, we have a point of order.

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova ScotiaEmergency Debate

10:10 p.m.

Liberal

Chris Bittle Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Madam Speaker, it is getting a little late, but if you canvass the member, I believe she meant to split her time.

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova ScotiaEmergency Debate

October 19th, 2020 / 10:10 p.m.

Liberal

Lenore Zann Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Madam Speaker, I would like to share my time with the member for Kings—Hants.

Chief Terrance Paul stated, in September of this year, “We are not taking anything away from others. We're just trying to get back what was taken from us.” I think this is at the crux of what is going on now. Twenty years ago, the Marshall decision reaffirmed the treaty right of the Mi'kmaq people to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood, and dialogue has been part of how we are working toward its implementation and we must continue the dialogue. That dialogue, I know, has been ongoing for the last several weeks because I have been in meetings with the chiefs and I am aware of what is going on. It is time. It should have happened a long time ago, but there is no better time than the present to redress the wrongs of the past and the time is now.

Our commitment to redefine the relationship between the Crown and indigenous peoples was underscored in the Speech from the Throne. One of the core pillars of the new legislative agenda is walking the road of reconciliation, and that means combatting discrimination and working toward a better relationship and partnership with indigenous peoples and non-indigenous peoples across this country. We have a chance to create an environment that supports self-determination, self-governance and economic growth, and it must include the ceremonial and spiritual relationship that the Mi'kmaq have with fishing, hunting and gathering. Like most indigenous peoples around the world, we colonialists have much to learn from them about conservation and how to protect mother earth and her creatures.

The first nations in the Atlantic have proven time and again the power of partnership through a number of initiatives. When I say that, I am thinking about the Atlantic first nations health partnership. I am really encouraged by the strong first nations engagement in this co-management structure that is enabling them to improve first nations communities' health, and there is still much more to do.

I am equally excited by the framework agreement signed last June for an indigenous-led water authority in Atlantic Canada, the first in this country. This framework agreement is an important step toward a fully autonomous first nation-led operation of water and wastewater services.

Another great example is the Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq education system. In 1997, the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia signed an agreement with nine Mi'kmaq communities, restoring their control over their education system. At the time, fewer than a third of youth from those communities finished high school, and today more than 90% of Mi'kmaq students graduate, which is higher than the average in most provinces. This is what is born of self-governance and self-determination. We must build on this renewed relationship between the Crown and indigenous peoples and address past wrongs.

A recent example is the recognition of the Shubenacadie residential school site in Nova Scotia as a national historic site. Recognizing these schools and the experiences of former students and survivors of residential schools across Canada is important to the journey of self-healing. There was an elder here in Millbrook First Nation, Nora Bernard, who helped indigenous peoples receive recompense for this injustice, and I would like to pay my respects to her tonight.

Environmental racism is a huge problem across Canada, and I am very proud that I was able to introduce my private member's bill about that. It should be coming up for second reading soon.

Tonight, we all think of what is going on in southwest Nova Scotia, but we must remember that this is about nation-to-nation talking, dialogue. It is time. It has taken too long to happen. I am glad that it has begun and we need to get it finished. We need to have peace on the water and peace on the land, so that this dialogue can be accomplished between the Mi'kmaq and the Crown. I am glad to be part of a government that is actually, finally doing that.

Mi'kmaq treaties and treaty rights across Canada are so important. The indigenous peoples of Canada have been lied to and deceived so many times, and my heart breaks for what they have lived through and for all of the years of abuse, ever since colonials came to this country. I am from Australia originally, and the same thing happened there, sadly.

Sadly, if people had listened to the indigenous peoples in the beginning, they would have looked after the land much better. That is why first nations people do not take too much from one place; they take some and they give back. They honour the land, they honour the creatures and they honour nature and the seasons of nature. They honour mother earth and Turtle Island. It is our time to listen to them and learn from them how best to look after the small reserves we have, which will get fewer and fewer if we are not careful. All we have to do is look across the world and see all the wildfires that are happening because man has not heeded the way things should be, and looked after the land and the water the way that we should.

The Government of Canada hopes to achieve what we began along the path of reconciliation, and we plan to introduce UNDRIP. I am looking forward to that. We committed to a renewed nation-to-nation, Inuit-to-Crown, government-to-government process with indigenous peoples across Canada to make real progress on the issues that are most important to them. We have already started down this path and we will keep walking together. It is in my heart and it is in my mind, and I pledge that I will do everything that I can as a member of Parliament to make sure that this happens.

Wela'lioq.

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova ScotiaEmergency Debate

10:15 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, I know that the member has genuine passion for this topic, but at the same time I got the sense listening to her as if she was not a member of the government, because she was speaking about all sorts of things that the government should be doing about reconciliation. The Liberals have been in power for five years. They have been missing in action on the situation in Nova Scotia for months, but this year has been a year of multiple flashpoints, in terms of Crown-indigenous relations. Five years into the current government, we have had issues across the country, in terms of people being frustrated and increasing divisions, and we have seen the government put in place policies that have blocked indigenous people's desire to develop their own natural resources in the west, in the north and in eastern Canada.

I wonder if the member could speak frankly to the record and the failures of her own government, when it comes to delivering on the positive and high-minded rhetoric that we heard during the speech.

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova ScotiaEmergency Debate

10:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lenore Zann Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Madam Speaker, first of all, I would not call it rhetoric. I appreciate the member's first statement, that it comes from the heart and that it is a passion of mine, which it is. I was the indigenous affairs critic here in Nova Scotia in the legislature for six years before running federally, so I am very well aware of what is happening and what is not happening. I have to say that multiple governments have failed the indigenous peoples of Canada. That is why I say I am very proud to be part of this government, which is now actually about to redress, and is trying to redress, the issues that have been caused for a couple of centuries in the rest of Canada and 400 years in Nova Scotia.

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova ScotiaEmergency Debate

10:20 p.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, my colleague knows the Sipekne'katik people have a management plan that has regulations. This is an assertion of their section 35 constitutional right to self-govern. We know there has been no progress on the definition or support to assert their right. Top-down answers from the government have not worked. Federally imposed studies and regulations have not worked. We have a history across Canada of continued failures and now it is time to allow indigenous peoples to exercise self-determination.

I want to hear the member's plan and I hope she is joining me in respecting the autonomy of first nations and their ability to self-determine and self-govern what a “moderate livelihood” means. These nations want to exercise their rights. They want to feed their families, and it is time to provide them with a safe space to do that without fear and to let them do the work they need to do, an unfettered right, through their strict conservation plan.

Does my colleague support that and their section 35 constitutional right, which allows them to exercise self-governance?

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova ScotiaEmergency Debate

10:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lenore Zann Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Madam Speaker, I definitely agree with my hon. colleague. He would understand that part of providing a moderate livelihood is pride in being able to provide for one's family, being able to provide a good livelihood, food, clothing and shelter. For years the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia and many indigenous peoples across Canada have been living in poverty. It is a disgrace and that is why I am pleased that this government is trying now to make recompense and move forward with a new agreement in place, nation to nation.

Yes, I do think self-governance is important and the Sipekne'katik people and Chief Sack are fighting for that. They are drawing a line in the sand and I stand with them. I think it is about time.

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova ScotiaEmergency Debate

10:20 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I know my friend from Cumberland—Colchester like many of us were very disturbed by how the RCMP handled and mishandled the shootings in April 2020 that started in Portapique and extended to Wentworth Valley and killed 22 people. After watching the RCMP fail to protect people in this latest controversy, I wonder if the hon. member can share if others in Nova Scotia wonder who the RCMP does protect.

Lobster Fishery Dispute in Nova ScotiaEmergency Debate

10:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lenore Zann Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Madam Speaker, it has been very difficult here in Cumberland—Colchester ever since the shootings. It is hard to get straight answers out of anybody.

Policing is a provincial affair. The RCMP are paid by the province. In some areas they are also paid by municipalities. For instance, here in Cumberland—Colchester they are paid by the municipality, by the county of Colchester. It is hard sometimes to find out who is telling who what to do and who is in charge—