Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to join in the debate. Normally one of the first things we do when we rise is to establish our bona fide credentials on what we are about to talk about, and I have none of that. The fact of the matter is that I love the north. I have been to Resolute in the Northwest Passage, and I urge members to take the time to see this magical place, a historical place. It gives a sense of the vastness of this beautiful country. The flight alone, being in a big jet and flying for hours and hours and looking down and knowing it is all Canada, is an amazing feeling, and it is a very magical place.
I want to say parenthetically that one of the things that struck me about Yukon was its beauty. At the risk of giving my friend from Timmins—James Bay problems with his own constituents, when he came back, he said it was so beautiful that he could live there. Remember the beauty of Ontario's north is also stunningly beautiful. Yukon is a wonderful place.
I have been to Iqaluit a couple of times, Yellowknife a couple of times, and Pond Inlet once. I represent downtown Hamilton, where we do not do a lot of mining, so it behooves me to try to find what I am going to do. I could come here and read a canned speech that covered all the details, which I did not fully understand. However, I decided I wanted to listen to the debate. I have read the material, and it is not that complicated a bill, but it is not straightforward either. It really does help if people sat in on the hearings or they live there.
It is a great feeling to see wrongs righted—and to be a part of that is a good feeling—aside from the politics of it, which need to be mentioned. The Cons are not in power now, but they were and they are not finished paying their price for all the things that many of us did not like. However, it is not the main focus today, and I will not be spending a lot of time on it, unless someone provokes me.
I was struck by the debate. Since I have been here, particularly when we are talking provincial or territorial specific issues, there have been some things that affect Ontario uniquely, but not that many. In the main, it usually affects broader parts of Canada, and I do not get a lot of Hamilton legislation per se. If I represented a territory like Yukon and a bill came forward, I really would hope that hon. members would try to ratchet up the honour of the debate just a bit, to recognize that it is not quite like all our other files. Because of Yukon's size, it does not always get a whole lot of attention, certainly not nearly as much as it deserves, but this is its moment.
As much as possible, it is important for us, particularly those of us from completely opposite parts of our great country, to show as much respect as we can, a little more than when we deal with regular business. I have been very pleased that is the debate here. There are some criticisms. It is hard to be have debate without any of that, but it is not the main focus. The main thing has been what is in the best interests of Yukon, the people, the first nations, and also what is fair and what is right, so I am pleased to support this.
I am very much moved by my colleague who is, I am sure this House will appreciate, the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou. When he speaks on issues affecting first nations, we can hear a pin drop in our caucus. We could hear a pin drop in this House when he speaks, and what he had to say about Bill C-17 sort of set the tone for me as I came into this honourable chamber. In speaking to Bill C-17, the member said:
I want to acknowledge the importance of this legislation. There is a lot of talk today about nation-to-nation reconciliation and so on and so forth. This is one example of how to get it right. This is one example of how to proceed.
That alone, I have to say, would be enough to make me vote for this bill.
I want to also just mention, as an aside, that my friend from Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo happened to mention, “from a 100,000-foot level”, and then went on to make a couple of comments. I just want to take a few seconds to tell this great story. It is about a colleague of hers. We were at committee. One of my favourite expressions when we are doing things like this is “from 30,000 feet”. That just happens to be the number I like. I said, “from 30,000 feet”, and then I went on and on as of course I can do. Laurie Hawn, a former Conservative MP, a great guy, took the floor right after I said my “from 30,000 feet” and really went after them and tore them right apart, and he said, “Chair, I have to say that I am a former fighter pilot and do you know what you see from 30,000 feet? Nothing.” I always thought that was one of my favourite committee stories, and it certainly speaks to Laurie's sense of keeping us all on our toes.
As members can tell, I do not have an incisive speech on the details, and if my friend from Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo wants an opportunity to lay me wide open on that issue, now is that opportunity.
However, I did want to stand and express my respect for the government. I want to express my respect for the minister and for the member for Yukon for righting a wrong. I believe there has been a certain level of co-operation even on the part of the official opposition, which along the way has taken a couple of cracks, but in the main, this House is showing the kind of respect and concern for a part of our country that does not get talked about a lot but is clearly one of the jewels of our great country. I look forward to standing up and casting my precious vote in favour of Bill C-17.