Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to express my solidarity with the victims of the blockade. I am thinking of producers, small businesses and exporters, among others.
Practically speaking, a blockade is not a good solution. However, that is the situation we are facing right now, and we need to be in problem-solving mode.
With that in mind, the Bloc Québécois does not support the motion that the Conservatives put forward today, because it is irresponsible. From the outset, this irresponsible situation was created by the federal government, which let things get out of hand, claiming that it was not within its jurisdiction.
Although the Coastal GasLink project is under British Columbia's jurisdiction, the fact remains that the protesters' actions were directed at federal infrastructure. Unable to manage the crisis with true leadership, the federal government prefers to hide behind the provinces.
Does that mean the protesters will have to raise their voices and become radical extremists, as the Conservatives fear? Fortunately, we are not there yet.
While we support rapid resumption of rail service, we believe, as do the Mohawk chiefs who have spoken out, that this situation must be resolved peacefully. I think the word “peacefully” is key. A solution that condemns those at the barricades is dangerous, for both law enforcement and the protesters.
What would happen if this crisis resonated with other Canadians and they added their voices to those of the protesters? There have been a few examples of this in Quebec. Would the Conservatives also condemn them and call on the authorities to intervene with as much force?
Although the RCMP has withdrawn from the territory, it should still apologize for enforcing an injunction against the pipeline opponents, using force against the Wet'suwet'en community, and triggering hostilities that are currently creating more and more problems for all Canadians.
Given that this government is clearly refusing to listen, the protesters must shout even louder to be heard. Let us listen to them.
During these discussions, the government should at the very least negotiate the temporary suspension of the Coastal GasLink project in exchange for the removal of the blockades. That is the best and most reasonable solution. I would also remind members about the Bloc Québécois proposal. Perhaps calling in a mediator at this stage could be a solution. We are not there yet.
I am wondering if the Conservatives have thought about the consequences of their motion.
If we send the police in to intervene with force, we run the risk of making the situation worse and spoiling the efforts that have been made over the past few years to seek reconciliation with indigenous peoples. Again, the international reputations of Quebec and Canada could be tarnished by heavy-handed intervention and negligence in negotiations with these peoples.
I also want to mention the international context. Canada is seeking a seat on the UN Security Council. In that context, I think that it is advisable to have good relations with our indigenous peoples.
I would remind members that, a few days ago, Quebec and the Cree signed another historic economic agreement with a handshake and big smiles, in stark contrast to the Canadian government. When there is a genuine political will for a nation-to-nation relationship, we do not need barricades or law enforcement to solve problems or reach economic agreements.
While violent police action would bring a swift end to the situation, relations with indigenous people would yet again be poisoned for many years to come.
As Ghislain Picard said last month:
It is frustrating and disappointing that the Government of Canada is once again committing to the principles of free, prior and informed consent on the one hand, but on the other hand, allowing projects without seeking to work with the First Nations directly affected by them. Clearly, no project will be viable if it is imposed by force on First Nations communities.
In short, the Canadian government failed to demonstrate good statesmanship by not engaging in dialogue sooner.
During a crisis like this one, where the authorities take charge by force, I am happy to see that Quebec has its own strong, sovereign National Assembly to defend Quebeckers' choices.
I feel deeply for the first nations, who do not have the strength of a sovereign national assembly behind them. There is no excuse for not seeing them, talking to them and listening to them, nation to nation. I say again, nation to nation.
Indigenous peoples must be treated with respect and dignity. It is not for us to judge their governance model.
That is why the Quebec National Assembly unanimously adopted the following motion on February 18:
THAT the National Assembly reaffirm its adherence to the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
THAT, accordingly, it invite the governments of Québec [and] Canada to maintain egalitarian nation-to-nation relations with the indigenous peoples of Québec and Canada, in keeping with the principle of a people's right to self-determination;
THAT it acknowledge that the current conflict, which stems from the Coastal GasLink pipeline project, is having an undesirable impact on railway network users and on the economy;
THAT the National Assembly call for a negotiated, peaceful political solution to the current crisis, in order to prevent violence.
This crisis worries me. In my riding of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, there is another pipeline project, the Gazoduq project, that is under review. This pipeline would cross through Abitibi-Témiscamingue from east to west, ending at Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, so that liquefied natural gas could be sold around the world. These objectives are very similar.
A lot of residents are worried, especially since they oppose this pipeline project. They are desperately looking for peaceful ways to make their voices heard. Will they take inspiration from what is being done for indigenous people and do the same thing in order to be heard?
The formula is starting to sound familiar. Oil projects get split into smaller projects, so they are easier to push through. Was the same thing done with Coastal GasLink? That is the exact same approach being used for the Gazoduq project that would go through my riding.
It bothers me that the current federal government spent several billion dollars to buy a pipeline. That could mean that the federal government is in cahoots with developers and is taking advantage of the financial vulnerability of indigenous and rural areas.
If the government continues to impose pipelines across the country, how many times will we see this type of crisis? Should I be expecting this type of crisis when the Conservatives' natural gas pipeline or the hypothetical energy corridor is built in my home region?
In closing, I want to say that I believe there is a diplomatic and respectful way to resolve this crisis and to allow the first nations to decide how best to govern themselves. I am also convinced that there is way to ensure the economic development of the regions while respecting the principles of sustainable development and social licence. I do not think that it is through force that we will stimulate our economy and our vitality.