Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in this debate in support of the Wet'suwet'en community and in support of everyone who believes in economic development created in harmony and with the support of all first nations that are directly affected. Unfortunately, the reason we are have to stand here today and affirm that support is that Canada is being run by a government of neglect.
This government bears sole responsibility for the crisis that has plagued the country for the past two weeks. For 12 days, the government did absolutely nothing to slow the momentum of those who oppose this project and want to spread discord across Canada.
What is this about? This is about the Coastal GasLink pipeline project. This project did not come out of left field, and it was not decided on overnight. It has taken six years for the project to go through all the steps and be agreed on and approved by all the relevant authorities. For six years, the proponents worked closely with the first nations that would be directly affected by the project. As a result, the 20 first nations directly affected by this project agree with it.
To my NDP colleagues, who keep saying that we are pulling numbers out of thin air, I can say that we are getting these numbers from the Assembly of First Nations. If they want to attack the Assembly of First Nations, I wish them good luck. We believe the assembly. They speak on behalf of all first nations.
The Wet'suwet'en community is in favour of the project. It is not the Conservatives saying so, it is the Assembly of First Nations. Hereditary Chief Theresa Tait-Day said that in the case of the Coastal Gaslink project, 85% of her people said yes. The members of that community are not the only ones who agree with this project.
I also want to cite Chief Larry Nooski. He said the project represents a once-in-a-generation economic development opportunity for our first nation. He also said that they negotiated hard to guarantee that their people, including youth, have the opportunity to benefit directly and indirectly from the project, while at the same time ensuring that the land and the water are protected.
That is what we are talking about. This is a project that is good for Canada, good for the economy and good for first nations. This project has gone through all the steps and has even received the support of the current NDP-led provincial government, in addition to being supported by the Green Party. It is important to remember that.
As with all projects, there will not be 100% support. Yes, there are people who disagree with this project. If we wait until we have 100% support for a project, we can be 100% sure that the project will not go ahead. It is normal. This is called democracy. Some people are in favour, and others are against.
When 20 first nations and 85% of a community agree, action must be taken. When all the necessary political and economic support, as well as first nations support, is obtained, there is a duty to act. If some people are against it, it is not a problem. This is called democracy.
There are a thousand good ways to express opposition. Unfortunately, two weeks ago, disgruntled radical activists decided to flout the law and demonstrate their opposition in an illegal way by setting up a blockade on a railway line.
What has happened since then? Unfortunately, nothing. The government of neglect is led by a man who did not even bother to leave his tour of Africa and return to Canada. During that tour, he unfortunately shook hands with the foreign affairs minister of a country that is implicated in the deaths of over 50 Canadians. He shook his hand enthusiastically, which embarrassed all Canadians.
The government did nothing for 12 days. All across this vast, magnificent country, people inspired by the illegal actions of these fringe activists suddenly developed a passionate interest in a project that they had never heard of before. These activists did not consider the fact that the vast majority of people who are directly affected and the first nations supported it. We saw this in Belleville. There was another blockade in Candiac, Quebec.
In Gaspé, some 5,000 km from the centre of the action, people are suddenly feeling compelled to stand up for this cause. They are forgetting that 85% of the people directly involved and all the first nations agree with the project.
We asked the government to enforce the law. This is a country governed by the rule of law, and the law is clear. Section 5 of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act is clear: the Minister of Public Safety has the power to intervene and direct the RCMP to take action in a given situation, and this is exactly the kind of situation contemplated. For two weeks, the Minister of Transport, a man for whom I have tremendous respect and hold in high esteem, has really disappointed me. He said that this is not a federal matter and that it is up to the provinces to get injunctions. That is a dishonourable Pontius Pilate type of attitude, coming from a man as honourable as the Minister of Transport. It is not the right attitude.
I can still see the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons going to meet with Quebec's transport minister, the hon. François Bonnardel. The House leader said that this is not a federal matter and that the provinces need to take action. Must I remind the House that first nations are under federal jurisdiction? Railways are under federal jurisdiction. Like Pontius Pilate, those people have completely abdicated their responsibilities.
After 12 days, the Prime Minister returned to Canada. He realized that something was going on and that he had to do something. He said that the government would encourage dialogue. Absolutely nothing else has happened since then. No, I forgot. The Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations proudly announced that the government had been in contact with opponents and the hereditary chiefs and that they wanted to meet in 10 days. Canada had been experiencing a national crisis for two weeks, and the government was happy about setting up a meeting 10 days later. The government should have taken action 10 days earlier, but it did not.
Finally, yesterday, after 14 days, the Prime Minister acknowledged the blindingly obvious, namely that a blockade is illegal. For the first time in two weeks, he made some sense. Since our country is governed by the rule of law and the Prime Minister is responsible for making sure that these laws are enforced, we want to know how he will respond to an illegal action, if not by enforcing the law. Section 5 of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act empowers him to order the police to take action.
If in Canada we are currently governed by people who are giving up, elsewhere there are people who are taking action and people who are taking responsibility. This morning, the Premier of Quebec said that he was going to seek an injunction because of a barricade in Saint-Lambert. The Premier of Quebec said that, as soon as the injunction was obtained, the barricade would be dismantled. That is extraordinary. Finally, someone is taking responsibility for the rule of law in this country. The example does not come from here; it is coming from the National Assembly. The operations will take place in a while, I presume, but we know that the head of Quebec's government has clearly said that the law is the law and that he will enforce it.
Earlier, I asked my Bloc colleague from Montarville a question, and he said that this situation would make things worse. That is the Bloc's choice; that is its decision. We are on the side of law and order. We are on the side of the rule of law.
We have also seen some very unfortunate and unacceptable situations in a country governed by the rule of law. Yesterday, radical activists surrounded the home of the Premier of British Columbia. That cannot be tolerated. We cannot say it is not serious. As I said earlier, there are countless ways to express opposition to a project. I do not have a problem with that. That is democracy. Why choose the wrong way? Why break the law? Why go after people who do not think like you? It is not the right thing to do.
To those who oppose this project, I say do it with dignity, honour and respect for the law. That is democracy. They must not do it illegally. Unfortunately, these people are taking advantage of the fact that this government is a government of neglect. That is why, now more than ever, the entire House of Commons must show its support for the Wet'suwet'en people, who are in favour of this project, as are the 20 first nations directly affected by it. The Conservatives support the first nations on this project.