Mr. Speaker, we in the NDP also intend to vote against the amendment put forth by the Conservative Party, a party that is constantly trying to deny the rights of aboriginal people in this country. Negotiations went on over a long period of time regarding the Westbank bill. A very good agreement was reached and we intend to support the agreement in the House.
I do not want to go into details about this particular agreement except to say that we see many aboriginal people living in third world conditions in this country. The member for Yukon knows that. I have 12 first nations in my own riding as well. One of the big failures of Canadian society over the years has been not making sure that the first nations people, the Métis people, the aboriginal peoples in general, have a better standard of living and have the opportunities that are provided to many other people in the Canadian mainstream.
What we hear is the Conservative Party saying in a very misleading way that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would not apply to people of the Westbank First Nation.
I spent 10 years as the NDP's constitutional spokesperson during the patriation debate in the formulation of a Canadian Charter of Rights. My friend from Yellowknife was part of two of those five or six committees over the years. She will remember the constant debates. She will also remember her disappointment with the Trudeau government when it first tabled the patriation package in the House of Commons. There was no reference at all to treaty rights or aboriginal rights in the original package tabled by the Government of Canada.
It was because of the NDP and our negotiations that treaty rights were put in the Constitution of Canada. That took a long time. It was a long struggle. Treaty rights in the Constitution of Canada were one thing that our party negotiated at all party committees and elsewhere. We made sure they were provided in the Constitution of Canada. Today there are treaty rights and recognition of the royal proclamation in Canada's Constitution. We have begun a long, long process of trying to evolve treaty rights in this country.
The Conservative Party member from Vancouver has suggested in his amendment that the charter would not apply to the people of the Westbank First Nation because of the agreement. I want to assure the House that this is totally and absolutely untrue. The charter applies to every Canadian citizen. This is really ironic coming from the same party that kept the House going day and night for several days a few years ago, forcing the House to vote hundreds of times on amendments to stop the Nisga'a treaty. It was one of the most disgusting performances I have seen in the House of Commons since I was elected in 1968.
The Conservative Party is really the alliance party, which was the reform party, which was the social credit party. In my province it is called the Saskatchewan Party. At one time it was the progressive conservative party, now minus the progressive side, so it is now the regressive conservative party. It was also the conservative-reform-alliance party, or CRAP. That party goes on and on as it changes its name, trying to hide from its true values of conservatism, which is a very unpopular ideology in Canada.
Once again that party is moving an amendment that is striking away at aboriginal rights, striking away at aboriginal people. That is the same party that wanted to lead our country into Iraq, to have Canadian troops go into Iraq following George Bush very blindly. That is the Conservative Party of Canada, on the extreme right, the republican party north in this country. That party is at it once again.
I do not know if those members know anything about the charter, but section 25 states, and I quote:
The guarantee in this Charter of certain rights and freedoms shall not be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from any aboriginal, treaty or other rights or freedoms that pertain to the aboriginal peoples of Canada including
(a) any rights or freedoms that have been recognized by the Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763; and
(b) any rights or freedoms that now exist by way of land claims agreements or may be so acquired.
We are very proud to have some aboriginal rights and aboriginal guarantees in our Constitution. We are also very proud that the charter applies to aboriginal people, to all Canadians, to every Canadian. It is very important that we do this.
I should also point out that some of these more extreme Conservatives say we should not just rely on the charter being interpreted but we should use the notwithstanding clause on certain issues where a problem overrides the charter and overrides the fundamental freedoms of this country. We have heard them say that before on a number of issues. Some raise it on abortion. Some raise it on same sex marriage. That is the history of the Conservative Party, not the Progressive Conservative Party but the alliance-conservative-reform party. That is its history: extreme conservative positions that do not stand up for minority rights. These are not the values of the Canadian people.
The Canadian people want aboriginal rights in this country. The Canadian people want aboriginal self-government. The aboriginal people certainly want--