Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank everyone who participated in this debate tonight. Before I begin, let me state what I do not know. I do not know the Marshall decisions, although I read them. I do not know the member for Sydney—Victoria, the only Mi'kmaq member of the House of Commons. I do not think I have been in the traditional territory of the Mi'kmaq people. I am acknowledging tonight where I am at as an individual and not trying to say things that are beyond my comprehension of this very delicate indigenous-Crown issue that we are seeing happen in Nova Scotia.
Second, before I begin, I am very confused because standing here tonight I was reading The Globe and Mail and I saw an article from the Liberal House leader quoted about tomorrow, about facing a confidence vote over the WE Charity. I am confused. Why would the government call an emergency debate if it is calling the bluff on Parliament about whether or not we are going to have a federal election? Do the Liberals care about reconciliation and do they care about all of the thoughtful words that were said tonight, or are they going to throw us into a federal election, shove this issue under the carpet and let it all go away while they seek a majority government? I would like some answers from the Liberal government on that point.
Now, getting to why we are here tonight in the first place. Unfortunately, it is a direct result of the actions and inactions of the federal government. One of the most important aspects of being a government, of leadership, is accountability, peace and order. What we have seen here tonight is a sad expression of leadership as aptly stated by the member for Durham in his remarks.
In my short time here as an MP, the Liberals have shut down debate, they have filibustered, they tried to hide documents and, if all that failed, we heard a lot tonight that it is Stephen Harper's fault. The government has been in power for five years, in fact, tonight it is celebrating five years of the government. Instead of actually taking action on this crisis, the Liberals have decided to hold an emergency debate 1,000 kilometres away from where it is actually happening.
The Liberal minister who requested this debate already had the power to resolve this. The Liberals can protect the Mi'kmaq people and they can protect the sustainability of the fisheries at the same time. That is their job. I am going to ask the Library of Parliament tomorrow whether we have ever had an emergency debate called by four ministers who also acknowledged that they were part of the problem, that the Government of Canada was part of the problem. This might be a new precedent in parliamentary history.
On this side of the House we have been asking the government to de-escalate the Nova Scotia fisheries crisis for over a month. The member for West Nova implored the minister this evening that he would get in his truck, pick her up and bring her in good faith to negotiate to find a solution. The indigenous services minister said police are being overwhelmed, but still no action, just tweets. The public safety minister said it was the province's problem. Things literally burned to the ground before the government looked into sending additional police resources to Nova Scotia.
Chief Mike Sack said to the government, “Do your job. Protect [us].... Don't just tweet about it.” Colin Sproul of the Fundy Inshore Fishermen's Association said the Liberal government is “hiding under a desk”. Here we are, more tweets, more inaction and the Liberals trying to make it look like they are doing something by holding this emergency debate where neither side of the dispute is actually happening and neither where the real work needs to happen as well.
Last week, more than 200 people overwhelmed police. Vehicles and boats were lit on fire as early as the week before. This situation did not just suddenly spiral out of control. It has been going on for a while.
As the member for Lakeland mentioned in the House earlier today, livelihoods and decades of relationship building literally went up in flames. The Minister of Public Safety hid behind prepared statements, and the Minister of Fisheries was nowhere to be seen.
It seems like the government waits for the situation to get out of control before acknowledging the problem. That is what it did with the rail blockades earlier in the year, and what it did when it came to calling a public inquiry into the Nova Scotia mass shooting. That is what it is doing here today.
The government should have anticipated this. Across Canada, rural crime has been a growing issue. It is something we have been talking about for a long time in this House. There is a significant lack of police resources in remote and rural communities.
In Lillooet, a community I represent, there are Facebook groups talking about vigilante groups. The mayor implored me to get the provincial minister of public safety to do something, because they only have three RCMP officers for a region the size of a small European country. They just did not know what to do, and they did not know how to respond.
Thankfully, to the credit to the St'át'imc people and first nations police forces in my riding, they were able to pick up some of the slack. Thank god they are there. Hopefully Lillooet, tribal council and their police force can serve as good example of what could take place in Nova Scotia, because some of the indigenous police forces are doing really great work.
Front-line officers do their best in the RCMP, but they are stretched thin. By not ensuring there are adequate RCMP resources in rural Nova Scotia and across Canada, the Minister of Public Safety is putting these communities, and the people who live within them, at risk. He is putting front-line officers at risk. We have seen these risks escalating, including acts of violence and arson. The indigenous people are also at risk because we do not have enough RCMP officers. It goes both ways, and it is just a bad situation.
I cannot help but draw some similarities to my own riding. I represent Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon. It is 22,000 square kilometres of rugged British Columbia. The Fraser River runs through my riding from the south end all the way to the north. One thing we have in common with Nova Scotia is that many of the indigenous people I represent, and many of the non-indigenous people I represent, are totally dependent upon a fishery.
If one talks to the recreational fishermen, the tour guides and some of the commercial people, they will say they acknowledge the Marshall decision. They may not be happy with it all the time, but they acknowledge it and want to work with it. They say they have frustrations too with some of the indigenous people over some of their fishing techniques, including gillnets, for example.
Then, in talking to the indigenous people, I learn they have frustrations with the commercial fishermen and recreational fishermen for not respecting enough of their rights. They wonder why they are not getting a fair deal, and in many cases, they are correct. They are not getting a fair deal. That needs to be worked out.
If we talk to both sides, the one thing they have in common, and often they do not even understand this, is that both point to the lack of competency of the department of fisheries and oceans to take meaningful action to resolve these deep-seated disputes between indigenous and non-indigenous fishers.
What is happening in Nova Scotia is a broader reflection of what is happening across Canada. We are seeing civil strife. There is a real and clear lack of trust in our institutions. There is growing frustration that, as a member of Parliament, I do not have an answer to. Like I said in the beginning, I have never read the Marshall decisions, and I acknowledge that. However, there is growing animosity.