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42nd PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 380

CONTENTS

Thursday, February 7, 2019




Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 148
NUMBER 380
1st SESSION
42nd PARLIAMENT

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Speaker: The Honourable Geoff Regan

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayer



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1005)  

[English]

    Pursuant to section 79.22 of the Parliament of Canada Act, it is my duty to present to the House a report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer entitled “Supplementary Estimates (B), 2018-19”.

[Translation]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, four treaties.
     The first is entitled “Exchange of notes between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America constituting an agreement amending Annex IV of the Treaty between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America concerning the Pacific Salmon”, done at Ottawa on November 27 and December 19, 2018.
     The second is entitled “Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean”, done at llulissat on October 3, 2018.
     The third is entitled “Exchange of Notes between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America concluding amendments to the Treaty between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America on Pacific Coast Albacore Tuna Vessels and Port Privileges”, done at Ottawa on May 22 and 24, 2018.
     Finally, the fourth is entitled “Agreement on Environmental Cooperation among the Governments of Canada, the United Mexican States, and the United States of America, done at Mexico City on November 30, 2018, at Washington on December 11, 2018, and at Ottawa on December 18, 2018.

[English]

Government Response to Petitions

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the government's response to four petitions.

Committees of the House

Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities 

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 14th report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, entitled “Supporting Families After the Loss of a Child”. I would like to thank all those involved in producing this report and especially all those who came to speak to us and contribute to this report.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

[Translation]

Canadian Heritage  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 17th report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage entitled “Bill C-369, An Act to amend the Bills of Exchange Act, the Interpretation Act and the Canada Labour Code (National Indigenous Peoples Day)”.
    The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report it back to the House with amendments.

[English]

Petitions

Pensions  

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured today to table a petition on behalf of my constituents from the great community of Quesnel in the incredible riding of Cariboo—Prince George. They call on the Government of Canada to withdraw Bill C-27, an act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act.
    They would like to add that this is yet another promise broken by the Prime Minister.

Natural Resources  

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to table a petition from constituents from Nanoose Bay, Qualicum Beach and Courtenay in coastal British Columbia. They draw the attention of the government to the twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and to concerns that around 40,000 barrels of oil have leaked from the existing Trans Mountain pipeline, including two major spills in Burnaby since 2007.
    They are concerned that the oil will not be refined in British Columbia, sold to benefit Canadian consumers or used to meet Canada's energy needs, but instead will be shipped by tanker to foreign markets. This pipeline would pass through densely populated urban areas, such as the territories of 15 first nations, and the construction and operation of this new pipeline will negatively impact the city of Burnaby, as Kinder Morgan is seeking the use of publicly funded municipal resources and infrastructure.
    The petitioners call on the government to immediately act to prevent the twinning of this oil pipeline from proceeding through Burnaby.

  (1010)  

Dementia  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of presenting a petition to the government with regard to the over 550,000 Canadians living with dementia. This number will double by 2030. Sixty per cent of people with Alzheimer's will wander at least once during their disease. Wandering is common as the disease progresses.
     Silver Alert is a public notification system to quickly help find seniors who wander because of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias.
    A Silver Alert would provide information to media outlets and activate an emergency alert system through law enforcement agencies. The Province of Alberta and the Province of Manitoba have established a Silver Alert through an amendment to their missing persons amendment acts.
    The petition concludes:
    We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to develop a National Silver Alert strategy for all Canadian provinces and territories.

Infant Loss  

    Mr. Speaker, I table this petition today on behalf of parents from across Canada who have suffered pregnancy or infant loss. There are thousands of signatures on this petition. Those parents, in their most difficult time, have seen government programming often cease to exist, causing more unnecessary and emotional financial hardship for them.
     Today, as we just heard, the human resources committee's study on the impact of pregnancy and infant loss on parents was tabled, and it recommends that EI accommodate a bereavement leave, so on behalf of all bereaved parents in Canada, I table this petition today. It calls on the government to act immediately on these committee recommendations and introduce changes to show more compassion and sympathy toward grieving parents.

Eating Disorders  

    Mr. Speaker, on behalf of people from across Winnipeg, today I have the honour of presenting a petition in favour of a pan-Canadian strategy to address eating disorders.
    Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses, but the sooner someone receives treatment, the higher their chance of having a full recovery.
    Currently, there are children as young as seven who are affected by eating disorders. They have been diagnosed and are being hospitalized for them. More than one million Canadians suffer, and families have been negatively affected physically, emotionally and financially by these struggles; hence the call for a pan-Canadian strategy to address these disorders.

Questions Passed as Orders for Return

    Mr. Speaker, if a supplementary response to Question No. 2050, originally tabled on January 28, 2019, could be made an order for return, this return would be tabled immediately.
    The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Text]

Question No. 2050--
Ms. Tracey Ramsey:
    With respect to the federal agency Invest in Canada and its board of directors: (a) what is, to date, the total amount of expenses of the Chair of the board and the members of the board, broken down by type of expenditure; (b) what are the details of implementing a national strategy to attract foreign direct investment to Canada; (c) how many new partnerships have been created, to date, with the departments or agencies of any government in Canada, the private sector in Canada, or other Canadian stakeholders interested in foreign direct investment; (d) how many activities, events, conferences and programs to promote Canada as a destination for investors have so far been created; (e) how much information has so far been collected, prepared and disseminated to assist foreign investors in supporting their foreign direct investment decisions in Canada; (f) how many services have been provided to foreign investors, to date, in respect of their current or potential investments in Canada; (g) who are the foreign investors that the agency has met, to date; (h) what are the suppliers outside of the federal public administration which the agency has used to date; (i) what, to date, are the providers of legal services outside the federal public administration on which the agency has relied; and (j) what are the filters and anti-conflict-of-interest requirements to which the members of the board are subject?
    (Return tabled)

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, furthermore, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.
    The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Indigenous Languages Act

     moved that Bill C-91, An Act respecting Indigenous languages, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
     He said: Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to rise in this House today to discuss Bill C-91, An Act respecting Indigenous languages.
    I want to begin by acknowledging that this House sits on the ancestral lands of the Algonquin Anishinabeg.
    I also want to acknowledge the significant role indigenous people have played in Canada's history, and the importance of our relationship, as a government, with indigenous people. The importance of that history and relationship underpins our indigenous languages legislation. The indigenous languages act is historic. Its impact will be felt by many future generations.

[Translation]

    This indigenous languages act is a historic piece of legislation. It will have a profound impact on future generations. I am honoured to have a small role to play in moving this legislation forward.
    Before going any further, I want to remind the House why this act is so important.

  (1015)  

[English]

    Before European contact, indigenous people spoke about 90 different languages. These vibrant languages and cultures defined people's identity, customs and spirituality. This changed in a significant and very negative way as European settlers began colonizing the country. This began a process that can only be described as forced isolation and assimilation.
    We should not take lightly what assimilation meant. It was a conscious act of taking away a people's identity—their languages and cultures—and replacing it with another. Much of this happened through Indian residential schools.
    On June 11, 2008, the Government of Canada acknowledged these mistakes in a statement of apology. That apology stated:
     Two primary objectives of the residential school system were to remove and isolate children from the influence of their homes, families, traditions and cultures, and to assimilate them into the dominant culture. ... Indeed, some sought, as was infamously said, “to kill the Indian in the child”.
     Today, we recognize that this policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country.
    Over the span of 130 years, more than 150,000 indigenous children were sent to residential schools. Their parents, often threatened with jail time, were forced to give them up. In these schools, indigenous children were abused, neglected and isolated from their culture. They were beaten or humiliated for talking to each other in their own language. Many children grew so afraid that they just stopped speaking altogether, and in losing their language, they lost a part of themselves. It is a sad legacy and a dark part of the nation's history.
    There are other factors that have had a detrimental impact on indigenous languages and cultures. They include creating reserves and relocating people away from their traditional homelands and ways of life; moving indigenous communities to non-indigenous communities, such as big cities where there were limited supports in place; separating children from their families and communities and placing them with non-indigenous foster parents; and putting a disproportionately high number of indigenous people in the corrections system, a place where youth and adults had limited support for their languages. This period in our history has led to a loss of culture, identity and language.

[Translation]

    According to UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, of the roughly 90 indigenous languages spoken in Canada, none is considered to be safe. In fact, UNESCO has designated three-quarters of the living indigenous languages in Canada as endangered.

[English]

    The state of indigenous languages in Canada has been the subject of much research and many reports. In 1996, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples reported that speakers of an indigenous language formed a small percentage of the indigenous population itself; that indigenous language speakers were aging; and that with fewer and fewer young fluent speakers, even the languages heard most frequently were in danger of disappearing.

[Translation]

    In 2004, the government of the day created the Task Force on Aboriginal Languages and Cultures. This task force included representatives of the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis Nation.
    In 2005, the task force released a comprehensive report containing 25 recommendations, which were submitted to the Government of Canada. These recommendations were aimed at preserving, revitalizing and promoting First Nation, Inuit and Métis languages and culture. Sadly, the response to this report was muted, and the vitality of indigenous languages continued to deteriorate.

  (1020)  

[English]

    In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission challenged Canada to act on these issues. The TRC had three specific calls to action addressing languages. Call to action 13 was to acknowledge that aboriginal rights include aboriginal language rights. Call to action 14 was to enact an aboriginal languages act founded on a number of principles, including that aboriginal languages are a fundamental and valued element of Canadian culture and society, that the federal government has a responsibility to adequately fund the revitalization and preservation of aboriginal languages and that this work is best managed by aboriginal people themselves and their communities. Call to action 15 was to appoint an aboriginal languages commissioner, in consultation with aboriginal groups, and that this commissioner would help promote aboriginal languages and report on federal funding of language initiatives.
    Clearly there is a need for urgent action. We have to act now, because as we all understand, language is who we are. It is our identity. The Prime Minister recently said that languages are the fundamental building blocks of our sense of self. It is how we transmit our heritage and culture. It is how we tell our own stories and connect to the world.

[Translation]

    As someone who is lucky enough to speak three languages, while trying hard to learn a fourth, I know just how strongly related our language and identity are. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be prevented from speaking my mother tongue, the only language I spoke for several years, Spanish.
    However, that is exactly what happened to thousands of indigenous children. They were prevented from speaking their language. They could no longer use it. We cannot change the past, but we can and must work together to change the future.

[English]

    As national chief Bellegarde said to me a couple of days ago, “We've drawn a line in the sand—no more indigenous languages lost.”
    Restoring and strengthening indigenous languages is a fundamental part of reconciliation, and reconciliation drives much of our work. That is exactly why, for example, every minister's mandate letter includes direction to renew our relationship with indigenous peoples, a relationship based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.

[Translation]

    As we speak, our government is working in partnership with indigenous peoples to improve their access to clean drinking water, fight poverty in indigenous communities and reunite families that have been separated by discriminatory policies.
    That is also why, in Budget 2017, we allocated $90 million over three years to help preserve, promote and revitalize indigenous languages.

[English]

    Most recently, members of Parliament agreed to support interpretation services so that indigenous languages can be used in this House. That is huge.
     Although these are positive steps, more work is needed, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to improve the lives of indigenous peoples. Increasing the vitality of indigenous languages requires a framework designed with the long term in mind, and I am proud to say that this bill would do just that. It would do exactly that.

  (1025)  

[Translation]

    This is a historic bill. It is absolutely essential, not just for indigenous peoples but for all Canadians. This bill draws a clear line in the sand. It is the product of two years of hard work with indigenous peoples across the country, in every region. It all began with a promise made by the Prime Minister in December 2016 that Canada would enact a law to preserve, promote and revitalize first nations, Inuit and Métis languages. He also promised that the law would be developed in co-operation with indigenous peoples.
    To that end, in June 2017, my hon. predecessor and the leaders of the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council stated their very firm and clear intention to work together to draft this legislation. Following that declaration, the government took action and we began to work together.

[English]

    In over eight months, the Department of Canadian Heritage led more than 20 round tables across the country with a wide range of experts, practitioners and academics of indigenous languages. The feedback from those sessions, as well as those conducted by each of our partners, was used as the basis of the 12 fundamental principles that set the foundation for this legislation.
    My officials also conducted some 30 intensive engagement sessions across Canada with first nations, Inuit and Métis participants. Our online portal collected some 200 questionnaires and electronic submissions. Sessions were held, and presentations were made, as requested, with self-governing and modern treaty groups.
    Other organizations that provided feedback include the Native Women's Association of Canada, the National Association of Friendship Centres and the First Nations Confederacy of Cultural Education Centres, and the list could go on.
    My colleagues in the House have also worked hard, talking with Canadians and indigenous people about the need for this very important legislation. As members can see, the process leading to the legislation has been very robust.

[Translation]

    As I said, the bill is based on 12 principles that were established and approved by the four partners. The bill reflects and embodies these principles.
    This bill provides a concrete framework to help meet the objectives of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which covers indigenous languages. Furthermore, I want to remind the House that our government committed to implementing the 94 calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This bill directly addresses three of those calls to action directly relating to indigenous languages. These calls to action have the support of indigenous peoples, and our government clearly and sincerely committed to implementing them. I am pleased to say today that this promise has been kept.
    Now, I want to talk about the mechanisms set out in our bill. To start, the bill recognizes that the rights of indigenous peoples recognized and affirmed by the Constitution Act, 1982, include rights related to indigenous languages. This is fundamental.
     Our bill also includes measures to facilitate the transfer of adequate, stable and long-term funding to support the reclamation, revitalization, strengthening and maintenance of indigenous languages. It obliges me, as minister, to consult various governments and indigenous governing bodies so that we may achieve this goal together. This is a testament to our commitment to investing in indigenous peoples and their communities, to investing and working together for their future.
    Our bill also establishes an office of the commissioner of indigenous languages. This office will help promote indigenous languages, conduct research and help indigenous peoples defend their language rights. The bill also presents a legislative framework that will enable the Government of Canada to enter into agreements with provincial, territorial, indigenous and other governments. This will ensure that we can take the unique needs of various indigenous peoples and communities into account.
    The ultimate goal of the bill's provisions is to help indigenous peoples recover and preserve proficiency in their language, to ensure the survival of their culture. It is important to note that this bill was intentionally drafted so as not to be either restrictive or exhaustive. On the contrary, it was designed to be flexible, so that it may be adapted to every possible reality.

  (1030)  

[English]

    This past Tuesday, the Métis National Council said that this bill is a “giant first step in Canada’s support for our longstanding struggle to preserve, revitalize and promote the use of Michif”. The Assembly of First Nations described it as “landmark legislation” and said that because of it, “now there is hope”.

[Translation]

    Some might say that this legislation does not go far enough. In fact, it was drafted in such a way that it can be built upon. It offers the possibility of incorporating agreements that will be developed in line with the aspirations and needs of each indigenous nation. These agreements will guarantee that the unique circumstances of each distinct group, the first nations, the Inuit and the Métis, can be reflected and addressed. This bill is flexible and takes into account the needs of different groups, different communities, different regions. As I said many times, we are committed to keep talking and working together until this legislation is fully implemented.

[English]

    I recently learned that the word “Dakota” means allies. I believe that this is a good way to describe how we have approached this proposed legislation. It is as allies, as partners with indigenous people. While it is my voice being heard in the House today, the voices of indigenous peoples are here too. Their voices are here with us today as our partners, our Dakota.
    This proposed legislation is about all indigenous languages in Canada and all indigenous people. It is meant to benefit all indigenous people, regardless of their age, gender, linguistic or distinction grouping or where they live.
    Five generations of harm inflicted upon indigenous peoples have brought us where we are today, but today we are making a real difference. The message is clear: It is time to act. Let us do it together.
    Mr. Speaker, in just a few minutes, I will have an opportunity to talk about the importance of the legislation, legislation that we will support at second reading. However, I want to go to a bigger picture, and that is how the minister started his speech with respect to this important relationship. That is simply a veneer.
     Everyone was so proud that the former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada was an indigenous woman. We congratulated her on her amazing success. We are now learning that the government threw her under the bus
    On October 30, she said that she had not always received the respect she deserved from cabinet. In her own experience, serving as an indigenous person as Canada's Minister of Justice and Attorney General, it had been reinforced that when addressing indigenous issues, it did not matter what table one sat around or what position or title one had. She talked about marginalization.
    Today, it was reported by The Globe and Mail that the Prime Minister's Office, in backing SNC-Lavalin, its friend, had thrown the minister under the bus.
    Therefore, I would like to suggest it is simply a veneer. I would like the minister to justify how the Liberals can be so disrespectful to someone and create such a veneer that is not the reality of what they believe and do.

  (1035)  

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague had a wonderful occasion to say that she supported such an important bill, which is supported by indigenous groups across the country. The bill has been co-developed with indigenous groups from every region. It is based on things that are extremely important for them, for example, the response to the calls to actions 13, 14 and 15, which are extremely important not only for indigenous people but for our government. We have a chance to work together to change history, to draw a line in the sand and to say that no indigenous language will be lost. That is our intention. I hope the Conservatives will collaborate with us.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, like my colleague from Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, I get the impression after this morning's announcements that the most important relationship to this government is the one it has with corporations like SNC-Lavalin.
    Clause 7 of the bill states that the minister must consult with diverse indigenous groups on budgetary and financial considerations. Have these consultations already begun, considering that the budget will be brought down soon?
    It is important to have consultations on this. It is vital that this budget contain the necessary funding to respond to not only the needs, as the Minister said, but also the diversity and urgency surrounding indigenous languages in Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I would like to congratulate him on all the work he has done in support of indigenous languages. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for everything he has done so far.
    I want him to know that we have had, are having, and will continue to have discussions with indigenous peoples because this bill affects them. Their priorities, needs, hopes and dreams will guide us in determining the next steps we take with this bill and allocating the necessary financial resources.
    This is all happening in collaboration with indigenous peoples and will be done quickly.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for bringing this important legislation forward.
    I come from the Northwest Territories. I grew up in an era when strapping and spanking was common practice in the school I attended for speaking any word that was not English. I am a product of that time. I have lost two indigenous languages through that process. I have lost the ability to speak my mother tongue, which is the Michif language, and I am glad it is incorporated in this document. I also lost the ability to speak to the language of the Dehcho Dene, which both of my parents spoke.
    In the Northwest Territories, we have done a lot of work in recognizing indigenous languages as official languages. We have 11 official languages, nine of which are indigenous. I see in the legislation that there is an ability to work with jurisdictions to enhance what they are already doing.
     Maybe the minister could talk about how this would help places in the Northwest Territories that are very intent on saving languages. We have languages there that may have 10 years before they disappear. There is a real sense of urgency. Once these languages disappear, nobody else can speak them in other parts of the world.
    Could the minister respond to that?

  (1040)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his leadership on the indigenous languages file.
    As I mentioned before, the legislation is flexible in order to adapt to the reality of the different regions of our vast country. It draws a line in the sand and says that no more languages will be lost, that we should start to work together by providing long-term provisional financing, by giving the tools and the opportunities to the various communities to do exactly what they need to do in their own regions based on their own realities.
    The government is not going to tell them what to do to achieve their objectives. They will tell us what they need to do and we will be there to support them.
    Mr. Speaker, I support the legislation. Many in the House know that my wife and my children are first nations. They, too, do not know their culture or the language.
     I stood in the House last Friday and gave a statement with respect to Lheidli T'enneh elder Mary Gouchie who passed away. She was one of four remaining elders who were left who knew the Dakelh language. In her passing, she left with a full dictionary essentially of the language.
    I want to go back to the question that my hon. colleague from Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo brought up earlier.
    The hon. minister is now part of cabinet, but he was the government whip for a time as well. The former minister of justice in her speech on October 30, mentioned that no matter the title she had, she was the first female indigenous justice minister, one that we were all proud of, she, too, faced marginalization at the cabinet table.
    Our colleague on this side of the House brought up a serious question and the minister failed to address it. I would like to know how the minister squares his speech today with the actions by cabinet to the former justice minister who, in her own words, faced marginalization from her own team?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for supporting this legislation. It is really important that we all support it because it will send a very strong message to our indigenous friends in all regions of the country.
    I am not sure exactly what the link is to the bill with that question. The bill is about preserving and revitalizing indigenous languages. As my colleague said, too many languages have been lost. It is time for that to be over. This has to end. We have to revitalize the languages and we have to provide the necessary resources for indigenous people to do it. It is not about us. It is about indigenous people. It is about their children and their grandchildren. It is about our country and how we can do this together.
    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak to Bill C-91 today. I want to start with a very personal story. The reason is not directed to the indigenous peoples who have worked so hard to see the reality of this bill being presented in the House. It is for my colleagues who will be supporting the bill, but really do not understand why is it important as well as other people and for people who may be listening at home, thinking this sounds important, but really do not know what it is all about.
    I am a shama. I learned that word when I was 25 years old. I had a degree under my belt and maybe two years of nursing experience when I went in search of adventure. My adventure took me to an indigenous community where I was hired as its nurse. I was one of the first nurses hired by the band, as opposed to the federal government. That in itself was very unique, because it was the first step in the devolution of services.
    What was the experience of that 25-year-old, urban, white person who had a university education and lived in a big city, going to a community? It was quite a shock to be quite honest. As a nurse, the first week I was in that community, there were three suicides, and it was devastating. In this case, it was three young men who took their lives.
     I would visit homes, perhaps very small homes that needed a lot of work, in which up to 16 people would live. They were very poor living conditions. I witnessed some of the abuse, some of the destructiveness of alcohol. That was my initial experience and impression. It was devastating to see what was happening in the community.
    It did not take very long though before I had some great mentors. A drug and alcohol worker took me under his wing as did the youth probation officer. Also community health reps made sure I saw more than just the devastation. They made sure I was part of the feasts, where the communities would come together and enjoy food together. Every fall, there were the fishing camps, where they would fish and hang the salmon up to dry. There was the berry picking. Of course nothing was more special than the drumming, the dancing under the moonlight and stars and the jokes.
    I saw two worlds: a community that was devastated and the beauty and richness the people were trying so hard to recreate in their community.
    That community gave more to me with respect to knowledge and life experience than I could ever give to them as a young nurse with two years' experience. Maybe I was pretty good at vaccinating the babies and giving a little information, but truly that experience gave me a life education.
    I want to talk about the elders. In 1980, the elders of that community had been born pre-residential school time. When I would visit the elders, I would witness the beautiful cedar bosquets and the giant gardens. I had an interpreter with me because many of the elders did not speak English. That was my opportunity to interact with the elders. What was really important about that experience was when their children would return home from residential schools and could not speak the language.

  (1045)  

    Imagine a mother whose children have been taken away to residential school, and when they come back, she cannot communicate with them anymore. For many elders, their knowledge of English was very limited and they lost the ability to talk to their children when they came home. The children had no interest, because when they were in the residential schools, they became ashamed of their language. Many were not able or did not want to relearn their language again because of their experiences in the residential school.
    We saw the pain of grandparents who could not talk to their children or their grandchildren. We saw the pain in their eyes as they witnessed what had happened to their children, with some lost to alcohol and all sorts of other destructive areas. Therefore, it was an opportunity like none other to see what has happened and understand the actual destruction that occurred in these communities.
    In the residential school apology from the previous prime minister, he talked about the residential schools being a place where languages, culture and practice were prohibited. He said, “The government now recognizes that the consequences...that this policy has had a lasting and damaging impact on aboriginal culture, heritage and language”.
    We acknowledged in 2008 that we were part of the destruction of these languages and cultures. Therefore, the government must be part of the solution in terms of helping to bring the languages back, and part of that is Bill C-91.
    We absolutely support Bill C-91 in principle. We recognize that we are going to need to do our due diligence. Of course, our due diligence means examining whether the bill will accomplish what it sets out to accomplish, which is promoting the protection and revitalization of languages.
     The example I have in terms of my nursing experience is that the percentage of these language speakers in the community is 3%. In the 1980s, it might have been significantly higher, but it is now down to 3%. However, people in this community do have a plan and are working very hard to get that back. Bill C-91 needs to support them in moving that work forward.
    There are many different languages that we are talking about here, but we need recognize that it will be the communities who will drive how they renew and revitalize their languages. Certainly, when there is only 3% of the community speaking the native language, the strategy has to be very different from some of the more commonly spoken languages where there is a larger number of fluent speakers. Therefore, we need flexibility within the bill to recognize that different strategies will be needed for different languages. However, the goal is the same.
    There are a number of components in Bill C-91. The rights would be affirmed in section 35 of the Constitution Act. Therefore, at committee, I think it would be good to have some constitutional lawyers to help us understand what that would actually mean. Also, we need to make sure that the office of the commissioner's powers and duties have been laid out. However, not only will we have to look at the powers and duties, but we will have to make sure that we monitor this office in the long term to make sure the bill would do what we have asked it to do. Therefore, the ability to research and monitor will be absolutely critical.

  (1050)  

    I have talked about the bill and about language, but I want to note Kukpi7 Ignace in the riding that I represent from the Skeetchestn Indian Band. I would note others as well, but he is from my riding so I want to give a special shout-out to Kukpi7 Ignace. He has made this his life's work. I run into him regularly, at times on an airplane because he is coming to Ottawa to do important work around language, and also in the riding. He is another teacher for me in terms of the importance of language and the importance of culture. I want to give him a special shout-out because I know for him today is important.
    I came in today and wanted to talk completely about Bill C-91, but I have to say that I am terribly disturbed by the reports in The Globe and Mail today that speak to the government's veneer. The government has a veneer that this relationship is the most important relationship to them. I really appreciated my colleague's comment that, no, its most important relationship is with SNC-Lavalin. I thought of how appropriate that was, in terms of his comments. I think we need to be absolutely worried.
    What we had was great pride in 2015. I mean we were, of course, disappointed to be on the opposition bench but I think we greeted the former attorney general of Canada and justice minister, the first indigenous woman, into her role and celebrated. We celebrated with Canada. We celebrated with British Columbia in terms of her taking on that very important role. We were all very curious because we saw a minister who negotiated the very difficult legislation about medical assistance in dying through the House. We saw her move a number of important initiatives. I would suggest if any minister needed a demotion it might have been the finance minister for not following through on his promises.
     However, I think there was great puzzlement when the former attorney general of Canada and minister of justice was moved to veterans affairs. She talked about truth to power and she also, in a speech of October 30, talked about how even though she was in one of the most powerful positions in this country, she still had a feeling of marginalization at the cabinet table. The Liberal government is responsible for that feeling that she had. What is happening when someone in a powerful position is getting pressured by the Prime Minister's Office to make decisions that are absolutely inappropriate for a justice minister to make?
    Again, I am repeating from a very comprehensive article today. It is widely reported in The Globe and Mail that the business interests of the Prime Minister's friends at SNC-Lavalin were more important to him than the integrity of his justice minister doing the job that she was supposed to do. That is absolutely shameful and showing a pattern by the Liberal government in terms of neglect and marginalization.
    That is one example there and I think we have other examples of what the government has done. The Prime Minister stood up. He promised rights and recognition legislation. I am not sure where it is.
    Gender equity legislation was another promise by the Liberals. Bill S-3 was an absolute mess and it is still a mess. It did not do what it was supposed to do. We have not seen any fixes come back, although it passed. The government did the bare minimum and had consultations. However, it did not fix Bill S-3 in terms of any of the fixes that it needs.
    What is happening to the child welfare legislation? It was the Prime Minister who said that child welfare legislation will be tabled in the House in January. It is February 7. There are 12 weeks left in the House and there is no child welfare legislation. I do not see any conceivable way the government will get the child welfare legislation done before the House rises.
    What we have is, again, a bill that we absolutely support. We support the revitalization of languages and Bill C-91 moving forward. However, I think if we look at the government and its record, for all of its stated promises, it is abysmal. The Liberals should be ashamed. They should be ashamed of how they treat women. They should be ashamed in terms of the ethics and the immoral depths to which they have gone.

  (1055)  

    I would like to close by moving out of this negative frame. It was such a stunning revelation today. It is a very concerning revelation. It is a moral and ethical failure of the government, and there will be more heard and said on it.
    However, I want to go back to the communities. I want to go back to the communities that have taught me so much. We are now in 2019 and we still have a long way to go. The bill might be a step in the right direction, but we need to move forward. We know that the revitalization of language and culture is integral to the success of people as humans. It will also be integral to the success of communities. Economic opportunities will be another critical piece in terms of working towards success in communities, because jobs are important.
    We have one piece of the puzzle with the legislation. We will be supporting it at second reading. I do think the government needs to be very reflective about its overall record in all the other areas.

  (1100)  

    Before I go to questions and comments, I just want to remind everyone that the acoustics in this room are fantastic. They are very good and we can hear everything. I noticed some members taking their phones outside into the hall that surrounds the Chamber. Some members are very blessed with having a voice that carries, and when they are on the phone we can hear their conversation coming into the Chamber.
     I just want to remind everyone that, if they are going to speak on their phones, to please whisper or to go into their respective lobbies so that it does not interfere with the discussions that are taking place in this wonderful room, and so that we do not hear their private messages.
    Questions and comments.
    Mr. Speaker, although this question seems off-topic, I feel I must respond to something that was part of the hon. member's speech. She referred to what has happened with our former justice minister, who is now the veterans affairs minister. The member referred to the minister having been thrown under the bus.
    I would think that all members of the House would have more respect for our veterans than to consider a transfer to the ministry of veterans affairs as being thrown under the bus.
    Mr. Speaker, when we have a justice minister who is saying, “I am marginalized at the cabinet table,” that is being thrown under the bus. Absolutely, the veterans affairs portfolio is a critical portfolio. The justice minister of this country is an absolutely critical portfolio.
     Clearly, now we know why this happened. The reason is that, as the minister indicated, she was speaking truth to power. The Prime Minister's Office cared more about its friends than it did about listening to someone with integrity and compassion.
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague sat through the committee study on Bill C-262, which was on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
    The things that are contained in the bill are one thing, but what is omitted from the bill is quite another. I would like to ask the member about the place that the UN declaration has in the bill. Clause 6 talks about the recognition of the right to indigenous languages, yet it only refers to section 35 of our Constitution of 1982. It does not refer to the specific articles on indigenous language in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
    Could the hon. member comment? The government has especially referred to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the basis for its new nation-to-nation relationship with indigenous peoples.
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague and I have said that we see the UN declaration as a very important guiding document. We have expressed a few concerns about how we put a declaration in Canadian law, and we have pointed out where there might be some consistency issues.
    Having said that, the government has not expressed those same concerns. The government committed to supporting Bill C-262, whereas we expressed some reservations. The fact that the Liberals have chosen not to be inclusive with the language in this bill is another example of their hypocrisy.
    Maybe they have the same concerns we have in terms of how to make the declaration work. The conventions, we know, are meant to be law in countries. They may have the same concerns as us, but they were not willing to say it or put it in the bill. Again, it is another example of their hypocrisy.

  (1105)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend and colleague from Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo for acknowledging that the Conservative Party will be supporting this bill at second reading.
    The member thinks along the same lines I do, in that we find it very troubling that the Prime Minister pretends. I use that word because he talks the talk, but does not walk the walk. What happened to the now Minister of Veterans Affairs, the former attorney general, is obviously not something a true feminist would do to a female minister. The other troubling aspect is that he has said he supports native rights, native culture and so on, but his actions all speak contrary to that.
    If the member could respond to that, I would appreciate it.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound for his comments and we will miss him in the next Parliament for sure due to his recently announced retirement.
    I noted in my speech the number of promises the government made and has not followed through on. They are innumerable. The Prime Minister has a good bedside manner. Going back to my health care analogy, he says what people want to hear, but he is sure not the guy one wants doing one's surgery, because we see that his ability to execute the things he has committed to executing is very minimal and restrained.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to clarify the purpose of the act. It is very clear under paragraph 5(g), which says that one of the objectives of the act is to “advance the achievement of the objectives of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as it relates to Indigenous languages.” In the preamble, there are a number of references to UNDRIP, so I am a little perplexed as to her previous comments, when she questioned inconsistent views.
    It is very clear that this bill, in part, is a response to UNDRIP, as well as to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action 13, 14 and 15, along with a number of other national and international mechanisms that have called for the protection, preservation and revitalization of indigenous languages.
    I wonder if my friend could comment on that.
    Mr. Speaker, we note that there are articles in the UN declaration and calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that have guided the development of this legislation. My colleague from Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou is probably going to talk very articulately in his speech about how he believes the UN declaration is not properly incorporated in this bill. He is an expert in that area, and I expect to hear a fulsome response from him.
    Mr. Speaker, my friend and colleague started to talk about something that is becoming a disturbing pattern with the current government, which is that although the Liberals start out with good intentions, especially on the indigenous file, the execution and delivery of many things is not happening.
    This includes the effort to eradicate the boil water advisories; we still have 60 or 70 in existence. The missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls inquiry has spent nearly $100 million now and is still nowhere in terms of action.
    Very disturbingly, we then see from The Globe and Mail today that it appears the PMO tried to influence the former justice minister to interfere in a judicial process. I respect the justice minister for not doing that, but then we see her move to Veterans Affairs and we wonder.
    It all looks like the government says a lot, but what it does is actually not right. I wonder if the member could comment.

  (1110)  

    Mr. Speaker, we have a Prime Minister who is the first-ever prime minister to be found guilty of ethical violations by the Ethics Commissioner, and we now see a continuing pattern of ethical violation after ethical violation. This is just another example. The Liberals should be ashamed.

Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Committees of the House

Justice and Human Rights  

    There have been discussions among the parties and if you seek it I think you will find consent for the following motion:
    That, in relation to the Modern Slavery Project: Legislative Drafting Seminar, three members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights be authorized to travel to London, United Kingdom, in the Spring of 2019.
    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota): The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)


Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Indigenous Languages Act

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-91, An Act respecting Indigenous languages, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    [Member spoke in Cree as follows:]
    ᐁ ᐱᓯᑯᔮᓐ ᐅᑕᐦ ᐧᐋᔅᑳᐦᐄᑲᓂᐦᒡ ᐁ ᐋᐱᔨᐦᒄ ᒥᓯᐧᐁ, ᐃᐦᑕᐧᑖᐤ ᐁ ᐱᓯᑯᔮᓐ ᐁ ᐸᒋᔅᑎᓂᑯᐧᐃᔮᓐ ᒫᒃ ᒉ ᐄᔨᓅᐊᔨᒥᔮᓐ ᓈᔥᑖᐧᐯᐦ ᓂᓯᒋᔦᓯᓐ᙮ ᓈᔥᑖᐧᐯᐦ ᓂᓯᒋᔦᓯᓐ ᐁᑎᑑ, ᐁ ᒌ ᑯᒋᔥᑖᑲᓄᐧᐃᒡ ᒉ ᒌ ᐧᐊᓂᐦᑖᔮᓐ ᓂᑕᐦᔨᓅᐊᔨᒧᐧᐃᓐ᙮ ᓂᒥᔦᔨᐦᑌᓐ ᒫᒃ, ᓂᒥᔥᑕᓯᒋᔦᓯᓐ ᐁ ᐸᒋᔅᑎᓂᑯᐧᐃᔮᓐ ᒦᓐ ᐯᔭᐧᑳᐤ ᒉ ᒌ ᐄᔨᓅᐊᔨᒥᔮᓐ᙮ ᒦᐧᑫᒡ ᒥᓯᐧᐁ ᐊᔥᑎᑎᓄᐧᐋᐤ᙮ ᒋᐧᐄᒋᐦᐄᐧᐁᓄᐧᐋᐤ ᐆ ᐁ ᐃᐦᔨᐦᑎᔮᒄ ᐊᓄᐦᒌᔥ᙮ ᐧᐹᒧᔥ ᒉ ᐃᔮᔨᒧᑕᒫᓐ ᐆ ᐧᐄᔓᐧᐁᐧᐃᓐ ᐯᔭᑯᔥᑖᒥᑎᓂᐅᐯᔭᑯᔖᑉ ᑳ ᐄᑎᓯᓈᑌᒡ᙮ ᐧᐹᒧᔥ ᒉ ᐋᔨᒥᐦᑖᔮᓐ, ᒉ ᐃᔮᔨᒧᑕᒫᓐ ᓂᐧᐄ ᓂᔅᑯᒧᐧᐃᓐ᙮
    ᓂᒋᔅᒋᓰᑑᑕᐧᐋᐤ ᓂᑳᐧᐄ ᐧᐁᔥᑲᒡ ᑳ ᒌ ᐯᒋ ᒋᔅᑯᓇᐦᐋᒧᐧᐃᑦ ᒉ ᐄᔨᓅᐊᔨᒥᔮᓐ, ᓂᐧᐄ ᓂᔅᑯᒫᐤ ᒫᒃ ᓂᑳᐧᐄ᙮ ᓂᐧᐄ ᓂᔅᑯᒫᐧᐃᒡ ᒥᓯᐧᐁ ᐊᐧᐁᓂᒌ ᐧᐋᐧᓵᓂᐲᐦᒡ ᑳ ᐅᐦᒌᐧᑖᐤ᙮ ᒥᔥᑕᐦᐄ ᓂᒌ ᐧᐄᒋᐦᐄᑯᒡ ᐊᓂᑌᐦ ᐅᑖᐦᒡ, ᒉ ᒌ ᑕᑯᔑᓂᔮᓐ ᐅᑌ ᒉ ᒌ ᐄᔨᓅᐊᔨᒥᔮᓐ ᒫᒃ᙮ ᓂᓈᔅᑯᒫᐧᐃᒡ ᐧᐋᐧᓵᓂᐲ ᐄᔨᓅᒡ᙮ ᓂᓈᔅᑯᒫᐧᐃᒡ ᑲᔦᐦ ᒥᓯᐧᐁ ᐄᔨᔨᐅᒡ ᐄᔨᔨᐅᔅᒌᐦᒡ ᑳ ᐅᐦᒌᐧᑖᐤ᙮ ᒥᓯᐧᐁ ᑲᔦᐦ ᐄᔨᔨᐅᒡ ᐅᑦᐦ ᑳᐦᓈᑖᐦ ᐁ ᐄᔥᐱᔖᒡ᙮ ᓂᐧᐄ ᓂᔅᑯᒫᐧᐃᒡ᙮ ᒥᔥᑕᐦᐄ ᑲᔦᐦ ᓂᒌ ᐧᐄᒋᐦᐄᑯᒡ ᐊᓂᑌᐦ ᐅᑖᐦᒡ ᒉ ᒌ ᑕᑯᔑᓂᔮᓐ ᐅᑌᐦ᙮ ᒉ ᐃᔮᔨᒧᑕᒫᓐ ᒫᒃ ᐊᓂᔫᐦ ᒉᐧᑳᔫᐦ ᑳ ᓂᒋᔥᑲᒪᐦᒄ ᐊᓂᑌᐦ ᐅᑖᐦᒡ, ᒉ ᓂᒋᔥᑲᒪᐦᒄ ᐊᓂᑌᐦ ᓃᔥᑖᒥᐦᒡ ᑲᔦᐦ᙮ ᓂᓈᔅᑯᒫᐧᐃᒡ ᒥᓯᐧᐁ ᐊᓂᒌ ᑳ ᐯᒋ ᐧᐄᒋᐦᐄᐧᑖᐤ ᒉ ᒌ ᐸᒋᔅᑎᓂᑯᐧᐃᔮᓐ ᑲᔦᐦ ᒉ ᒌ ᐄᔨᓅᐊᔨᒥᔮᓐ ᓂᓯᒋᔦᓯᓐ᙮ ᓂᒋᔅᒋᓰᑑᑕᐧᐋᐧᐃᒡ ᐊᓂᒌ ᐊᓂᑌᐦ ᐅᑖᐦᒡ ᑳ ᐱᒧᐦᑌᐧᑖᐤ᙮ ᔖᔥ ᒫᒃ ᑳ ᐧᐊᓂᐦᐋᑲᓄᐧᐃᐧᑖᐤ᙮ ᓂᐧᐄ ᒋᓰᑑᑕᐧᐋᐅᒡ ᑲᔦᐦ ᐊᓂᒌ᙮
    ᒋᒋᔅᒉᔨᐦᑌᓄᐧᐋᐤ ᒫᔥᑯᒡ ᐁ ᐃᐦᑕᑯᐦᒡ ᐊᓂᑌᐦ ᐁ ᑕᑯᐦᓇᒪᓐ, ᒥᔥᑕᐦᐄ ᐄᔑᓈᑯᓐ ᐁ ᐃᔮᔨᓐ ᐊᔅᑏᔨᓅᐊᔨᒧᐧᐃᓐ᙮ ᒥᔥᑕᐦᐄ ᐄᔑᓈᑯᓐ ᐁ ᐃᔮᔨᓐ ᐊᓂᐦᐁ᙮ ᐁᐅᑯᓐ ᐊᓐ ᐧᐋᒋᐦᐄᑯᔨᓐ ᑖᓐ ᐁ ᐄᓯᓈᑯᓯᔨᓐ ᐊᓄᐦᒌᔥ, ᑖᓐ ᐁ ᐃᑌᔨᐦᑕᒪᓐ ᐊᓄᐦᒌᔥ, ᐊᓂᔫᐦ ᒉᐧᑳᔫᐦ ᑲᔦᐦ ᐁ ᒪᔅᑲᒪᓐ᙮ ᒥᔥᑕᐦᐄ ᒋᐧᐄᒋᐦᐄᑯᓐ ᐁ ᐃᔮᔨᓐ ᐊᓂᔫᐦ, ᐊᔅᑕᔨᒧᐧᐃᓐ᙮
    ᓃᔥᑖᒻ ᑳ ᑕᑯᔑᓂᔮᓐ ᐅᑌᐦ, ᒋᐧᐄᐦ ᐧᐄᐦᑎᒫᑕᓐ ᓃᔥᑕᒻ ᒉᐧᑳᓐ ᑳ ᑲᐧᑫᒋᔅᒉᒧᔮᓐ᙮ ᓂᒌ ᓂᑐᐧᐋᐸᒫᐧᐃᒡ ᐊᓂᒌ ᓀᑌᐦ ᑳ ᐊᐸᑎᐧᑖᐤ᙮ ᓂᒌᐦ ᓂᑐᐧᐋᐸᒫᐧᐃᒡ, ᓂᒌ ᑲᐧᑫᒋᒫᐧᐃᒡ, ᓂᑲ ᐄᔨᓅᔨᒪᓐ ᒫ ᐁ ᑲᐧᑫᒋᔅᒉᒧᔮᓐ ᐁ ᐱᓯᑯᔮᓐ ᐁ ᑲᐧᑫᒋᔅᒉᒧᔮᓐ ᒉᐧᑳᓐ ᐅᑌᐦ᙮ ᐁᐅᑯᓐ ᑳ ᐄᑕᐧᑳᐤ᙮ ᐃᐦᑕᐦᐧᑖᐤ ᐁ ᐱᓯᑯᔮᓐ ᒉ ᒌ ᐋᔮᔨᒧᑕᒫᓐ ᒉᐧᑳᓐ ᐧᐄᔓᐧᐁᐧᐃᓐᐦ ᐅᑕᐦ ᑮᐹ ᐁ ᐃᔮᔨᒧᑕᒫᐦᒄ ᐧᐄᔓᐧᐁᐧᐃᓐᐦ᙮ ᐃᐦᑕᐦᐧᑖᐤ ᑳ ᐱᓯᑯᔮᓐ ᓂᑲ ᒌ ᐄᔨᓅᐊᔨᒪᓐ ᐋ, ᓂᒌ ᐄᑖᐧᐃᒡ᙮ ᔖᔥ ᐧᐁᔥᑲᒡ, ᔖᔥ ᒉᑳᑦ ᓂᔮᓈᓀᐅᐱᐳᓐᐦ ᐊᓂᐦᐁ ᑳ ᐄᔅᐸᔨᒡ, ᐅᑦᐦ ᑮᐹ ᓃᔥᑕᒻ ᑳ ᑕᑯᔑᓂᔮᓐ, ᓃᔥᑕᒻ ᑳ ᐄᑎᔑᐦᐅᑯᐧᐃᔮᓐ ᐅᑌᐦ᙮ ᓇᒧᐃ, ᓂᒌ ᐄᑕᑯᐧᐃᓐ᙮ ᒥᒄ ᒋᑲ ᒌ ᐱᔥᑎᐧᑫᔮᐅᐊᔨᒪᓐ ᐁᐅᒄ ᒥᒄ ᑳ ᐄᑎᑯᐧᐃᔮᓐ ᑮᐹ᙮ ᓂᒥᐦᒌᐧᐁᓯᓐ ᒫᒃ ᐊᓐ ᑳ ᐄᔑᓈᑯᐦᒡ᙮ ᓇᒧᐃ ᒥᒄ ᓅᐦᒋ ᐸᒋᔅᑎᓀᓐ, ᓇᒧᐃ ᓅᐦᒋ ᐸᒋᔅᑎᓀᓐ ᒉ ᒌ ᑯᒋᔥᑖᔮᓐ ᒉ ᒌ ᐄᔨᓅᐊᔨᒥᔮᓐ ᐅᑌᐦ᙮
    ᐁᑯᐦ ᒫᒃ ᐊᓄᐦᒌᔥ, ᐁ ᐧᐋᐸᐦᑎᒫᓐ ᒫᒃ ᒉ ᒌ ᐊᔨᒥᔮᓐ, ᐁ ᐯᐦᑐᐧᐃᔦᒄ ᐁ ᐄᔨᓅᐊᔨᒥᔮᓐ, ᓈᔥᑖᐧᐯᐦ ᒥᔥᑖᐦᐄ ᓂᑖᐦᑲᐦᐅᑯᓐ ᓂᑌᐦᐄᐦᒡ, ᒥᓯᐧᐁ ᑮᐹ ᐅᒌᒡ, ᒌᐧᐋᐤ ᑳ ᐊᐸᔦᒄ ᐅᑌᐦ ᒋᐧᐄ ᓂᔅᑯᒥᑎᓄᐧᐋᐤ, ᑳ ᐧᐄᒋᐦᐄᐧᐁᔦᒄ ᒉ ᒌ ᐃᐦᑐᑕᒪᐦᒄ ᐅᐦᐁ ᐊᓄᐦᒌᔥ ᑳ ᐃᐦᑐᑕᒫᓐ᙮
    ᓂᒋᔅᒉᔨᐦᑌᓐ ᑮᐹ ᐆ ᐧᐄᔓᐧᐁᐧᐃᓐ ᑳ ᐃᔮᔨᒧᑕᒪᐦᒄ ᒥᐦᒉᑦ ᒉᐧᑳᔫᐦ ᐁ ᐄᐦᑕᑯᐦᐧᑳᐤ, ᐁ ᓃᐦᐄᔥᑳᑯᔮᓐ ᐸᔅᒡ ᐊᓂᔫᐦ ᒉᐧᑳᔫᐦ, ᒥᒄ ᓂᒋᔅᒉᔨᐦᑌᓐ ᐁ ᒥᐦᒉᑕᓐ ᒉᐧᑳᔫᐦ ᐁᑳ ᐃᐦᑕᑯᐦᐧᑳᐤᐦ ᐆ ᒪᓯᓂᐦᐄᑲᓐ᙮ ᐁᐅᒄ ᐊᓐ ᐯᔭᒄ ᒉᐧᑳᓐ ᒉ ᐃᔮᔨᒧᑕᒫᓐ ᐅᑦᐦ᙮ ᒥᒄ ᓃᔥᑕᒻ ᓂᐧᐄᐦ ᐄᑌᓐ, ᐆ ᒉ ᐃᔨᐦᑎᔨᐦᒄ, ᒉ ᐱᒧᐦᑕᑖᔨᐦᒄ ᐅᐦᐁ ᐧᐄᔓᐧᐁᐧᐃᓐ, ᓂᑲ ᐧᐄᒋᐦᐄᐧᐁᓐ ᒉ ᐱᒧᐦᑕᑖᔨᐦᒄ, ᔮᐃᑌ ᑮᐹ, ᔮᐃᑌ ᒉ ᐱᒧᐦᑕᐦᑖᔨᐦᒄ᙮ ᒥᒄ ᒫᒃ ᐧᐄ ᒥᔪᐸᔨᐦᑖᔨᐧᑫ, ᐧᐄ ᒥᔪᐸᔨᐦᑖᔨᐦᐧᑫ ᐅᐦᐁ, ᑯᐃᔅᒄ ᒋᑲ ᐃᔨᐦᑎᓈᓅ᙮
    ᐊᓂᔫᐦ ᒉᐧᑳᔫᐦ ᑳ ᐃᐦᑕᑯᐦᐧᑳᐤ ᐊᓂᑌᐦ, ᐧᐄᔓᐧᐁᐧᐃᓐᐦ ᑲᔦᐦ, ᔮᐃᑌ ᑲᑕᐦ ᑯᒋᔥᑖᑲᓅ ᑮᐹ, ᒉ ᒌ ᐲᐦᑕᑲᑖᔨᐦᒄ ᐅᑦᐦ ᓈᐦᐋᐤ ᐧᐄᔓᐧᐁᐧᐃᓂᐦᒡ᙮ ᓂᑐᐧᐁᔨᐦᑖᑯᓐ ᐊᓂᐦᐁ᙮ ᓂᑐᐧᐁᔨᐦᑖᑯᓐ ᑯᐃᔅᒄ ᒉ ᒌ ᐃᐦᑕᔨᐦᒄ, ᐃᐦᑐᑕᒪᐦᐧᑫ ᐊᓂᐦᐁ᙮ ᐁᐅᑯᓐ ᒉ ᑯᒋᔥᑖᔮᓐ ᑮᐹ ᐁᑎᑑ ᑮᐹ ᒋᔅᒉᔨᐦᑕᑲᓄᐧᐃᒉ ᐆ ᒪᓯᓇᐦᐄᑲᓐ᙮ ᐁᐅᑯᓐ ᒉ ᓂᑐᐧᐁᔨᐦᑕᒫᓐ ᑮᐹ᙮ ᓂᑲ ᐧᐄᒋᐦᐄᐧᐁᓐ᙮
    ᓂᒋᔅᒋᓯᓐ ᑮᐹ ᒋᔐᐅᒋᒫᐤ ᑳ ᐱᓯᑯᑦ᙮ ᑳ ᐯᒋ ᐊᔨᒥᐦᐄᑯᐧᐃᔨᐦᒄ ᐅᑌᐦ᙮ ᓀᐅᔥ ᒌ ᐊᔨᒨ᙮ ᓂᒋᔅᒋᓯᓐ, ᓃ ᓂᒌ ᐱᓯᑯᓐ ᑳ ᒌᔑᐦᑖᑦ᙮ ᐁᑯᐦ ᑳ ᒌᔑᐦᑖᔮᓐ ᒫᒃ ᓃ ᑳ ᐊᔨᒥᔮᓐ, ᓂᒌ ᓂᑐᐧᐋᐸᒫᐤ᙮ ᓂᒌ ᐊᔨᒥᐦᐋᐤ᙮ ᓂᒌ ᓂᔅᑯᒫᐤ᙮ ᓂᒌᐦ ᐧᐄᐦᑕᒧᐧᐋᐤ ᑲᔦᐦ, ᒋᑲ ᒌ ᐧᐄᒋᐦᐄᑕᓐ ᓂᑐᐧᐁᔨᐦᑕᒫᓀ ᒉ ᒌ ᐧᐄᒋᐦᐄᑖᓐ, ᓂᑲ ᐱᒋᔅᑎᓂᓱᐧᐃᓐ ᒉ ᒌ ᑯᒋᔥᑖᔨᐦᒄ ᒫᒨ ᒉ ᒌ ᒥᔪᐸᔨᐦᑖᔨᐦᒄ ᐅᔫ ᒉᐧᑳᔫᐦ᙮ ᓂᒌ ᓂᔅᑯᒫᐤ, ᒥᓯᐧᐁ ᐊᓂᔫᐦ ᒉᐧᑳᔫᐦ, ᐄᔨᓅᐅᒡ ᑭᐹ, ᐅᑦᐦ ᐁ ᐃᔥᐱᔖᒡ ᑳᐦᓈᑖᐦ ᐁ ᓂᒋᔥᑲᐦᐧᑳᐤ ᐁᔥᒄ, ᐁ ᐃᔮᔨᒥᐦᐄᑯᐧᑖᐤ ᐁᔥᒄ᙮ ᑯᒋᔥᑖᑖᐤ᙮
    ᐆ ᒫᒃ ᒪᓯᓇᐦᐄᑲᓐ, ᑳ ᐃᔮᔨᒧᑕᐦᒃ, ᓂᒋᔅᒋᓯᓐ ᑳ ᐊᔨᒥᐦᐋᑦ ᐅᒋᒫᐦᑳᓐᐦ, ᓀᑌᐦ ᑳᐦᑎᓂᐤ ᒌ ᐊᔨᒨ᙮ ᐁᐅᑯᓐᐦ ᐅᔫᐦ ᑳ ᐃᔮᔨᒧᑕᐦᒃ᙮ ᔖᔥ ᒉᑳᑦ ᓂᔥᑐᐱᐳᓐᐦ ᑳ ᐃᐦᑐᑕᐦᒃ ᐊᓂᔫ, ᒌ ᐃᔮᔨᒧᑕᒻ᙮ ᓂᒋᔅᒋᓯᓐ ᒫᒃ ᑳ ᐃᔮᔨᒧᑕᐦᒃ ᐊᓂᔫ, ᐊᓂᔫ ᑳ ᐄᔑ ᑎᐹᒋᒨᑦ, ᐁ ᐃᔮᔨᒧᑕᐦᒃ ᐅᔫ᙮ ᓂᒋᔅᒋᓯᓐ ᒥᓯᐧᐁ, ᒥᓯᐧᐁ ᐊᐧᐁᓐ ᒌ ᐱᓯᑰ, ᒥᓯᐧᐁ ᐊᐧᐁᓐ ᒌ ᐱᓯᑰ᙮ ᒋᓀᐅᔥ ᒌ ᓂᔅᑯᒫᑲᓅ ᒋᔐᐅᒋᒫᐦᑳᓐ᙮ ᐁᑯᐦ ᑳ ᐄᑌᔨᐦᑎᒫᓐ ᑭᔮᐦ ᓃᔨ, ᐁ ᑭᓂᐧᐋᐱᐦᑎᒫᓐ ᐊᓐ ᑳ ᐄᔅᐹᔨᒡ᙮ ᓂᒌᐦ ᐱᓯᑯᓐ ᑲᔦᐦ ᓃ᙮ ᒋᐧᐄᐦ ᐧᐄᐦᑕᒫᑎᓐ ᐊᔨᒧᓐ ᐅᒋᒫᐤ, ᓃ ᑲᔦᐦ ᓂᒌ ᐱᓯᑯᓐ, ᓃ ᑲᔦᐦ ᓂᒌ ᒥᔦᔨᐦᑌᓐ ᐊᓐ ᑳ ᐄᔑ ᑎᐹᒋᒨᑦ᙮ ᓂᒌ ᒥᔦᔨᐦᑌᓐ ᑖᓐ ᑳ ᐄᔑ ᐧᐄᐦᑕᐦᒃ᙮ ᓂᒌᐦ ᒥᔦᔨᐦᑌᓐ ᑳ ᐄᑌᑦ, ᓂᑲ ᒪᓯᓇᐦᐁᓈᓐ ᐊᓐ ᒪᓯᓇᐦᐄᑲᓐ, ᐧᐄᔓᐧᐁᐧᐃᓐ, ᒉ ᒌ ᑯᒋᔥᑖᔨᐦᒄ ᒫᒨ ᐁ ᑲᓄᐧᐁᔨᐦᑕᒪᐦᒄ ᒥᓯᐧᐁ ᐄᔨᓅᐊᔨᒧᐧᐃᓐ ᐅᑕᐦ ᐁ ᐃᔥᐱᔖᒡ ᑳᐦᓈᑖᐦ᙮ ᒥᔥᑕᐦᐄ ᓂᒌᐦ ᓂᔅᑯᒧᓐ᙮ ᓂᒌ ᐧᐄᐦᑕᒧᐧᐋᐤ ᒫᒃ ᑲᔦᐦ ᓂᒌ ᐄᑌᔨᐦᑌᓐ, ᓇᒧᐃ ᓅᐦᒋ ᒉᔥᑎᓈᐦᐅᓐ ᑳ ᓂᓯᑐᐦᑖᐦᒃ ᐊᓂᔫ ᒉᐧᑳᔫᐦ ᑳ ᐄᔅᐸᔨᓂᔨᒡᐦ, ᒥᓯᐧᐁ ᐊᐧᐁᔫᐦ ᐁ ᒌ ᐱᓯᑯᔨᒡᐦ᙮ ᒥᓯᐧᐁ ᐊᐧᐁᔫᐦ ᐁ ᒌ ᒥᔦᔨᐦᑕᒥᐦᐋᑦ᙮
    ᓇᒧᐃ ᓂᒉᔥᑎᓈᐦᐅᓐ ᑳ ᓂᓯᑐᐦᑖᑯᐧᑫ᙮ ᐁᑯᐦ ᒫᒃ ᐁ ᐃᔮᔨᒧᑕᒪᐦᒄ ᐆ ᒪᓯᓇᐦᐄᑲᓐ, ᓂᐧᐋᐸᐦᑌᓐ ᓈᔥᑖᐧᐯᐦ ᐁ ᒋᔑᐸᔨᒡ ᐆ ᒉᐧᑳᓐ᙮ ᐁᔥᒄ ᐁ ᐊᔮᔮᓐ ᒉ ᒌ ᐊᔨᒥᔮᓐ᙮
    [Cree text interpreted as follows:]
    Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to be able to speak Cree in this House and to be given that privilege. It makes me really proud to speak my own language in the House, and I thank everyone for this opportunity.
    Before I speak to Bill C-91, I would like to begin by offering thanks to my parents. I would like to thank my mom for teaching me how to speak Cree. I would also like to thank the people of Waswanipi, who helped me to make it here and speak my language. I am really thankful to the people of Waswanipi.
    I also want to thank all the Crees across the Cree nation, as well as all aboriginal people across Canada. They also helped me make it here so I could speak about the things we have gone through in the past and will be facing in the future. I would like to thank all the people who have stood by me so I could be given the privilege to speak my language. I always think about the people who came before me and have passed on. I always remember them.
    Members know a lot of us speak our indigenous language, and it is something that helps us in our lives. In things one thinks about and goes through, one's own language is something that helps. When I first came here eight years ago, I asked if I could speak my native language to ask questions or when I rose to speak to bills. It is something I asked for, and I was told that I could only speak English. That was all I was told.
    I felt really sad when that happened, but I did not let it go. I kept asking to speak my language, and now I am able to speak my own language in the House, and everyone can hear me speak it. It really touches my heart to be able to speak my language in front of everyone, and I want to thank all members for helping me achieve this.
    Regarding Bill C-91, there are things I agree with, but there are also things that have not been included. I will speak about those today. I will stand by all members in order to make this bill pass, but if we want things to go well, we are going to have to do it the right way. We are going to have to try to bring in the things that have not been included in this bill. These things are needed to make it right, and this is what I am going to try to do before the bill is passed. This is what I am going to ask. I am going to help.

  (1115)  

    I remember when the Prime Minister spoke to us about a year ago. He spoke to us for a while, and I stood to answer, and when I was done speaking, I went up and spoke with him. I thanked him. I even told him I could help him if he needed help. I would allow myself to, with all of us working together, when it involved indigenous rights across Canada or our people who are still struggling.
    I remember when he spoke to the chiefs in Gatineau and talked about the bill. It has almost been three years since he spoke about it. I remember when he brought it up. Everyone stood up and thanked the Prime Minister. When I saw that happening, I stood too. I was really happy when he brought that news to the chiefs. I was happy when he said that the bill would be written, that we would try to speak our indigenous languages. I was really happy, but I was not sure if he understood what was going on when everyone got up, that he had made everyone proud. I do not know if he understood that part.
    [English]
    Those were some words in Cree as an introduction to my speech. I will come back to Cree in my concluding remarks, but I see that the time is moving fast.
     The vast majority of indigenous languages in this country are endangered, and there is a critical need to address that challenge. There is an urgent need at this moment, as we speak, to address that challenge. Our languages are important. If the legislation fails to reflect the intent of the bill, we are not doing our indigenous brothers and sisters in this country any favours.
    It is important for the future of indigenous languages. As I said in Cree, I was there when the Prime Minister, almost three years ago, made the announcement and promised legislation. I feel it has arrived here almost too late.
    I remember, after 30 years of attending Assembly of First Nations meetings, that I had never seen a standing ovation like the one I saw. Never. As I was watching from the back, I stood up too. I said to myself that I hoped the Prime Minister understood what was going on. I hoped the Prime Minister got the cue.

  (1120)  

    We know that communities such as the Inuit expected the bill to reflect their needs and submissions and to respect what they call co-development. What I understand of the situation right now is that co-development does not mean co-drafting. There seems to be a major distinction.
    The government had expert advice from language experts who made recommendations. I personally know some of them who made submissions to the government.
    The creation of the indigenous languages commissioner is not as good as it sounds. Having a national commissioner fulfills TRC call to action 15 on paper, but we also must address call to action 14.
     Let me read call to action 14. It states:
    We call upon the federal government to enact an Aboriginal Languages Act that incorporates the following principles:
i. Aboriginal languages are a fundamental and valued element of Canadian culture and society....
ii. Aboriginal language rights are reinforced by the Treaties.
iii. The federal government has a responsibility to provide sufficient funds for Aboriginal-language revitalization and preservation.
iv. The preservation, revitalization, and strengthening of Aboriginal languages and cultures are best managed by Aboriginal people and communities.
v. Funding for Aboriginal language initiatives must reflect the diversity of Aboriginal languages.
    I would add urgency, because that is where we are today, given the situation.
    As the minister proudly quoted, the Assembly of First Nations praised this legislation, saying it had been co-developed with it, and that parliamentarians must support the bill. Yes, I think we will all support it at second reading.
    The Inuit organization ITK said that there should be Inuit-specific legislation. It said that the proposed indigenous languages commissioner would be “little more than a substitute for the Aboriginal Languages Initiative Program”.
    I have heard from many indigenous leaders throughout the country on this proposed legislation over the years. We have been talking about it for a long time.
    The bill fails to define aboriginal languages. We have two official languages in this place and in this country. They are called “official”. Should indigenous languages be considered official languages in this country? That is one option. I admit there are pros and cons. Should indigenous languages be given special status, given their historical value? That is another option.
    I also want to raise the point that while the bill recognizes that the right to indigenous languages stems from section 35 as the basis of that recognition, it fails to mention articles 11 to 16 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We know that the concept of aboriginal rights is vague and general. However, we have a precise document in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
    Let me read article 13, which states:
    1. Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions....
    2. States shall take effective measures to ensure that this right is protected....

  (1125)  

    It is a clear concept. On one hand, we have in clause 6 of the proposed legislation recognition that this right exists, but one might certainly ask if the bill protects those rights. That is a fair question.
    I see that my colleague from Rouge River is nodding with approval.
    I know my time is limited, but I want to mention a few things I would have liked to see in the bill. First, there is a glaring omission in the preamble. The preamble paragraphs are clear and strong, but the ninth paragraph says this:
    Whereas a history of discriminatory government policies and practices, in respect of, among other things, assimilation, forced relocation and residential schools, were detrimental to Indigenous languages and contributed significantly to the erosion of those languages;
    What is glaring is that it forgets the sixties scoop survivors. I have many sixties scoop friends, and none of them speak their languages. I know a lot of Indian residential school survivors like me—I attended for 10 years—still speak their languages. However, the sixties scoop survivors had less of a chance.
    Second, my friend referred to subclause 5(g):
advance the achievement of the objectives of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as it relates to Indigenous languages.
    Advancing does not mean implementing. It is a very subtle distinction.
    Third, the bill should have included the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in clause 6.
    There are many other omissions, but my time is running out.
    [Member spoke in Cree as follows:]
    ᑳ ᐱᒋᔅᑎᓂᑯᐧᐃᔮᓐ ᒉ ᒌ ᐄᔨᓅᐊᔨᒥᔮᓐ, ᓂᐸᑯᓭᔨᐦᑌᓐ ᒫᒃ ᓂᐧᐄᒉᐧᐋᑲᓂᒡ ᑳ ᐧᐄᑎᐸᒥᐧᑖᐤ ᒉ ᒌ ᐯᒋ ᑲᐧᑫᒋᒥᐧᑖᐤ ᒉᐧᑳᔫᐦ᙮ ᒋᓂᔅᑯᒥᑎᓐ ᑳ ᐱᒋᔅᑎᓂᑯᐧᐃᔮᓐ ᒉ ᓃᐳᐧᐃᔮᓐ, ᓈᔥᑖᐧᐯᐦ ᓂᒥᔦᔨᐦᑌᓐ ᑳ ᐱᒋᔅᑎᓂᑯᐧᐃᔮᓐ᙮
    [Cree text interpreted as follows:]
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank you for allowing me to speak my Indigenous language again. I would like to ask my friends if they have any questions.
    [English]

  (1130)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my good friend for his speech. I know how special it is for him to be able to speak in Cree and also how important this legislation is for him personally.
    I have noted the concerns he has outlined. However, I have to counter with respect to the provisions on UNDRIP. I believe that both clause 5 and the preamble clearly set out the commitment and the foundation of the bill, which is built on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I am quite confident that it will withstand that type of scrutiny. I invite my friend to look at that.
    The member mentioned that the timing can be quite difficult in the sense that it may be too late, but I can assure him that the timing is still in our favour. However, it requires the co-operation and support of the NDP. I want to ask the member if he would be willing to support the bill going to committee right away so that the important issues he highlighted here could be addressed through the committee process and brought back at third reading.
    Mr. Speaker, the member's question is an important one.
    [Member spoke in Cree as follows:]
    ᓂᐧᐄᐦ ᐧᐄᐦᑕᒧᐧᐋᐤ ᑮᐹ, ᓂᒉᔥᑎᓈᐦᐅᓐ ᔮᐃᑌ ᓰᐦᒋᒫᐦᐧᑳ ᐧᐊᐧᐁᔨᔥ ᒉ ᒌ ᑲᓇᐧᐋᐸᐦᑕᒪᐦᒄ ᐆ ᐧᐄᔓᐧᐁᐧᐃᓐ᙮ ᒋᑲ ᒌ ᐧᐄᒋᐦᐄᑎᓈᓐ ᐁᑎᑑ ᒉ ᒌ ᒪᔥᑯᐧᐃᐦᑖᔨᐦᒄ ᐆ ᐧᐄᔓᐧᐁᐧᐃᓐ᙮ ᐁᐅᑯᓐ ᐁ ᐃᑌᔨᐦᑖᒫᓐ᙮ ᐊᓐ ᒫᒃ ᐊᓄᐦᒌᔥ ᑳ ᐯᒋ ᐧᐄᐦᑕᒧᐧᐃᔮᐦᒡ᙮ ᓂᒋᔅᒉᔨᐦᑌᓐ ᑮᐹ ᐁ ᒪᓯᓈᑌᒡ᙮
    [Cree text interpreted as follows:]
    I would like to let the member know that before we send it, we should all sit down and look at it. It could help to make the bill stronger. What the member just told us, I understand that it is written.
    [English]
    The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples does make reference to it in the preamble and also under subclause 5(g). Let me read 5(g) for the House, “advance the achievement of the objectives of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as it relates to Indigenous languages.”
    First, and as I said, advancing the achievement with the objectives is very different from fully implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
    Second, clause 6 is important. According to how I interpret the bill, clause 6 is the founding principle of Bill C-91 and the founding principle is based only on section 35 of the Constitution of Canada, 1982.
    The fact is that you promised indigenous peoples in the country that the new relationship, which you talked a lot about but did nothing, would be based on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. That principle should have been added under clause 6 and it is not there, and that disappoints me.
    I want to remind hon. members to speak through the Speaker and not directly across, speaking in the third person.
    The hon. member for Louis-Saint-Laurent.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it was a distinct pleasure to listen to the speech by the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou.
    I would like to thank the interpreters, who made it possible for us to understand the comments made by the member in his mother tongue, Cree.
    This shows that these languages must be preserved. As my colleague from Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo said earlier, we will be supporting the bill.
    The member laid bare his community's deep disappointment with the current situation considering their high expectations after hearing the government's proposals three years ago.
    That is especially evident today with the Globe and Mail's revelation that the first indigenous woman to hold the position of Minister of Justice was pushed aside as a result of pressure from the Prime Minister's Office.
    I would like to know how the member, who has represented his community with honour and dignity for many years, reacted this morning when he read the terrible news in the Globe and Mail.

  (1135)  

    Mr. Speaker, first off, I want to thank my friend from Louis-Saint-Laurent for his kind words.
    My reaction was swift, because I have been watching the government for almost four years now.
    There is a marked difference between what the Liberals do and what they say.
    No need to take my word for it. I am reminded of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal's third compliance order regarding discrimination against indigenous children. I read paragraph 64, and I remember all too well what it said.
    According to the tribunal, the government and the ministers say one thing, but the departments continue to do the exact opposite.
    That is what has been happening for years. Yes, there has been some movement here and there, but generally speaking, things are still virtually unchanged. That is my opinion.
    I myself visit the communities. I live in the communities. The government claims that no relationship is more important to it than the relationship with indigenous peoples. That seems to be its favourite phrase. Seeing this morning's news, it seemed to me that, in fact, no relationship is more important to it than the relationship with big corporations like SNC-Lavalin.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to thank my friend and colleague from Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou for his advocacy and work.
     While I am here and have the opportunity, I have been asked by the Nuu-chah-nulth people to take every opportunity to thank the member for standing and defending indigenous rights that are protected under the Constitution and for standing in solidarity with the Nuu-chah-nulth people. I say ƛ̓eekoo in their language and ᒣᒃᐌᑦᒡᐦ in his language.
    The member talked about the sense of urgency. Les Dorion, president of the Ucluelet First Nation, spoke about there being 15 native speakers of the Barkley dialect of the Nuu-chah-nulth language in 2015. Today there are only nine.
    We are losing speakers of our important languages. The Province of British Columbia was waiting for the federal government to move forward with legislation and money to understand the sense of urgency to protect languages. It could not wait any longer and has invested $50 million to get things started, which is far from enough.
    I would like to ask my friend and colleague if he could speak about the sense of urgency on getting money rolling to help support our elders and youth to learn and protect languages.
    Mr. Speaker, my friend's question is a fundamental one and a central one.
    The money that goes with this bill needs to take into account the diversity and especially the sense of urgency, as I have mentioned.
    Once again, when I asked the minister about that, he pronounced the magic words, buying time policy words, “We will consult; we will consult and we will consult again.” There is an urgency. There is a budget coming down pretty soon. Why are there no provisions in either the bill or in the speech given by the minister? That is pretty concerning for many people.
     Many people expected a lot of things from the government with respect to the legislation and we did not get those important questions answered today.
    [Member spoke in Mohawk and provided the following text:]
    Ó:nen aesewatahonhsí:yohste’ kenh nikentyohkò:ten tsi nahò:ten í:’i karihwayentáhkwen.
    Tyotyerénhton, í:kehre takwanonhwerá:ton’ akwé:kon ken:’en kanónhsakon sewaya’taró:ron tahnon wa’tkwanòn:weron’ tsi enhskwatahónhsatate’ ón:wa kenh wenhniserá:te. Í:kehre ó:ni taetewatenonhwerá:ton tsi yonkwaya’taró:ron raononhwentsyà:ke ne Ratirón:taks. Tahnon tehinonhwerá:ton ne Shonkwaya’tíson ne akwé:kon tehshonkwá:wi.
    Kén:’en tewaktá:’on akwahthárhahse’ ne Kanyen’kéha, nè:ne raotiwén:na ne Kanyen’kehá:ka. Enkhthá:rahkwe’ ne kayanerénhtshera aorihwà:ke nè:ne enkahretsyá:ron’ tsi yontá:tis onkwehonwehnéha Koráhne.
     Akwáh í:ken tsi onkwatshennónnya’te’ sha’akwate’nikonhrísa’ kén:’en kanónhsakon, taetewawennaté:ni’ ne ó:nen háti ónhka ok yetsyénhayens á:yenhre’ ayontá:ti’ ne onkwehonwehnéha. Yorihowá:nen ayehthina’tón:hahse’ ratikorahró:non tsi tewawennakwennyénhstha ne onkwehonwehnéha ne kèn:tho, kanaktakwe’niyò:ke Koráhne, kanáktakon tsi ratinorónhstha ne ratikorahró:non.
    Yawehronhátye, akwáh í:ken tsi sénha yorihowá:nen ne kí:ken kayanerénhtshera ne onkwehón:we raotirihwà:ke. Ratinyén:te ahatiwennahní:rate’ ne raotiwén:na, owén:na nè:ne wahoná:ti’ tókani wahonwatíhkwa’. Tentewarihwahskénha’ ne kí:ken kayanerénhtshera, kén:’en tahnon ó:ya kanáktakon. Enyonkwaya’takénha’ sénha ayonkwa’nikonhrayén:ta’ne’ ne kí:ken kayanerénhtshera. Enskarihwahserón:ni’ ne karihwaksèn:tshera tsi nahotiyé:ra’se’ ne onkwehón:we, tahnon enkanónhstate’ tsi sénha enkarihwakwénnyenhste’ ne raotiwén:na tahnon nihotirihò:ten ne onkwehón:we Korahne.
    É:so niyonkwè:take rotirihwanontón:ni, “Oh nontyé:ren tsi teyotonhwentsyóhon Koráhne aetewateweyén:ton’ tahnon aonsetyón:nite’ owennahshón:’a nè:ne yah thaón:ton konnonhá:’ok akonnónnheke?” Ta’ non é:so niyonkwè:take ayonnonhtónnyon’ tsi yah the tehatirihwayenté:ri nè:ne eh ratirihwanón:tons ne kí:ken tahnon sakerihwahserón:ni’ nè:ne aesewa’nikonhrakarewáhton né:’e tsi wa’kerihwanón:ton’, nek tsi yorihowá:nen tóhkara niyorì:wake takerihwahthe’te’ ne káti ayako’nikonhrayén:ta’ne’ tsi nahò:ten yoteríhonte ne Koráhne. Enkate’nyén:ten’ aontakerihwa’será:ko’ ne karihwanónhtha né:’e tsi enkhthá:rahkwe’ ne ón:kwe nè:ne wahontá:ti’ ne Rotinonhsyón:ni raotiwennahshón:’a, skawén:na nè:ne Kanyen’keha.
    Shontahón:newe’ ne kèn:tho ne Onhwentsyakayonhró:non, é:so niyonkwè:take wahontá:ti’ ne Rotinonhsyón:ni raotiwennahshón:’a. Rotinonhsyonnì:ton nè:ne akwáh í:ken tsi yotshá:niht. Onhwentsyà:ke thonnónhtonskwe Ohiyò:ke tsi ya’tewahsóhthos tsi niyó:re Kanyatarowá:nen tsi tkarahkwíneken’s. Yonhwentsyowá:nen ratinákerehkwe, onhwentsyà:ke tsi tkarahkwíneken’s nonká:ti nè:ne kenh wenhniseratényon tewana’tónhkwa Koráhne tahnon Wahstonhronòn:ke.
    Teyotonhwentsyohónhne Onhwentysakayonhró:non skáhne ahotiyó’ten’ ne onkwehón:we tahnon tahontatya’takénha’. Teyotonhwentsyohónhne ahatinonhkwa’tsherayentérha’ne’ ne Onhwentysakayonhró:non. Teyotonhwentsyohónhne ahatiweyentéhta’ne’ tsi ní:yoht ahonnónnhehkwe onhwentsyà:ke. Teyotonhwentsyohónhne ahonatenro’tsherí:yo’ne’ tahnon tahotirihwayenawakónhake ne onkwehón:we ne káti ahonnónnheke. Sha’onkwe’tanákere’ne’ ne ratihnará:ken wa’thontekháhsi’ tahnon tahontáhsawen’ tahontaterí:yo’. Tetsyarónhkwen nonká:ti tehotirihwayenawá:kon ón:ton’ ne onkwehón:we ne káti sha’tekarihwató:ken akénhake ne tetsyarónhkwen nonká:ti.
    Né:’e tsi tehonterané:ken wahonterí:yo’ ne Tyorhenhshá:ka, Wahstonhró:non wahóntsha’ahte’ tahnon wahatiká:ri’ é:so nikaná:take raoná:wenk ne Rotinonhsyón:ni tahnon wahshakotíhkwa’ yonhwentsyowá:nens raonawénkhahkwe. E’thóhtsi aonsetewehyá:ra’ne’ ne kí:ken.
    Tókat yah skáhne teyonkwayo’tén:’on ne onkwehón:we eh shikahá:wi, tókat yah teyonkwatenro’tsheriyó:’on ne onkwehón:we eh shikahá:wi, tókat yah teyonkwarihwayenawá:kon teyotó:’on ne onkwehón:we eh shikahá:wi, yah thakénhake ne Koráhne nè:ne tewayenté:ri nón:wa. Tsi waterí:yo ne sha’té:kon yawén:re tewennyá:wer tékeni yawén:re shiyohserá:te, ronterí:yos ne onkwehón:we tahnon tehatinekwenhsayéhston, é:so tsi nahontyerányon’ ahshakotiya’takénha’ ne Korahró:non tahnon Tyorhenhshá:ka raotinèn:ra ne káti tahonwanatya’tón:ti’ ne Wahstonhró:non tahnon ahatinónhstate’ ne kí:ken onhwéntsya. Tsi waterí:yo, tóhkara niyohsénhserote ronterí:yos ne onkwehón:we wahonterí:yo’ tehonterané:ken ne sótar ne Tyorhenhshá:ka tahnon Korahró:non.
    Akwáh kenh náhe, kanónhsakon ne kèn:tho, wa’tetshitewahsennakará:tate’ ne Levi Oakes, nè:ne wà:ratste’ raowén:na aharihwáhsehte’ tsi waterí:yo tékeni watòn:tha, ne káti skén:nen tahontaththárhahse’ ne sotár Korahró:non. Karihwahétken ná:’a, ne ó:nen Koráhne wa’thonwanatonhwéntsyohse’ ne onkwehón:we, wahonthonkárya’ke’. Tahnon nón:wa, skén:nen í:ken, tahnon é:so tsi niyonaterihwayén:ni ne raotiwén:na, ayethi’nikonhrotá:ko’. Yoyánerehkwe sha’teyonkwarihwayenawakòn:ne ne onkwehón:we ne ó:nen tetewateranekénhne shetewaterí:yo’. Nek tsi nón:wa, skén:nen í:ken, tahnon yonkwarihwatkà:wen tsi yethirihwakwennyénhstha skén:nen tayonkwarihwayenwakónhake ne onkwehón:we.
    Akwáh í:ken tsi roti’nikonhrakarewáhton ne onkwehón:we oh nihotiyerà:se tsi yontaweya’táhkwa ronwati’terontáhkwa. E’tho nón:we wahonwatinénhsko’ ne raotiwén:na tahnon nihotirihò:tens. Íhsi nón:we ne énhskat tewennyá:wer niyohserá:ke nikarì:wes, Koráhne, raotikoráhsera tahnon yonterennayentahkwahshón:’a, wáhontste’ yontaweya’tahkwahshón:’a ronwati’terontáhkwa ahatiká:ri’ raotiwén:na tahnon nihotirihò:tens ne onkwehón:we ne kati onkwehón:we ahatirihwahserehsonhátye ne o’serón:ni nihotirihò:tens. Ne ok ne o’seronni’kéha tókani o’seronni’ón:we wá:tonskwe ahontá:ti’ kanonhsakónhshon ne ronteweyénhstha. Wahonwatihré:wahte’ yo’shátste’ ne ronteweyénhstha, tókat wahontá:ti’ raotiwén:na. Akwáh í:ken tsi wahotironhyá:ken’ ne é:so nihá:ti. Akarihwahetkénhake, tokenhske’ón:we, tayonterihwathe’te’ tsi nihotiya’tawén:’on e’tho nón:we.
    Akwáh ki’ nón:wa, kheyanonhtónnyon ne tsyeyà:ta Kanyen’kehá:ka, Oronhiokon, Gladys Gabriel, yontátyatskwe, ye’terón:tahkwe ne Shingwauk yontaweya’táhkwa, Sault Ste. Marie nón:we. Eh wahshakotiya’ténhawe’ ne wisk sha’teyakaohseriyà:kon. Akwáh í:ken tsi wa’ontatya’tí:sake’ nako’nihsténha nek tsi yah tetsyakohténtyon tsi niyó:re yà:yak yawén:re na’teyakohserí:ya’ke’. Yah teyotón:’on ayontá:ti’ ne akowén:na tsi yontaweya’táhkwa nek tsi yonsayerihwà:reke’. Wa’erihwáhsehte’ tsi takyatathárhahse’ ne Kanyen’kéha ne akohtsí:’a Wari niya’tekahá:wi ne ó:nen yah ónhka teyakothón:te.
    Oronhiokon tayakéhtahkwe’ tsi Shonkwaya’tíson wahshakorihón:ten’ ayontóhetste’ ne akowén:na ne ronwatiyen’okón:’a. Tayakéhtahkwe’ tsi ahonwa’nikonhrakaré:wahte’ tókat yah tehonhrónkha ne akowén:na. Yah teyakotkà:wen tsi yontá:tis ne akowén:na tsi yontaweya’táhkwa. Eh wahonwatiya’takénha’ ne ronwatiyen’okón:’a, nè:ne Gabriel raotihwá:tsire Kanehsatà:ke nithoné:non, ahontkón:tahkwe’ tsi ronhrónhkha ne Kanyen’kéha tsi niyó:re ón:wa kenh wenhniserá:te. Wakerihwà:reks ne Oronhiò:kon akoká:ra ase’kén kheyenté:ri ronátya’ke ronwatiyén:’a tahnon ronwanateré:’a tahnon wakerihwasè:se tsi órye khena’tónhkwa.
    Yah eh tehonaterahswiyóhston ne é:so niyonkwè:take tahnon wahoná:ti’ raotiwén:na. Ótya’ke wahontéhen’ ne raotiwén:na aorihwà:ke né:’e tsi kakoráhsera tahnon yonterennayentahkwahshón:’a wahonte’nyén:ten’ ahshakonónnyen’ ne onkwehón:we tahontté:ni’ ne káti o’serón:ni ahón:ton’. Wè:ne tsi yah teyonkwatkà:wen tsi tewathshteríhstha ne onkwehonwehnéha ne káti aonhá:’ok akatátyeke. E’tho káti sakarihwahserón:ni’ ne Kakoráhsera nek tsi yah é:so teyonkwatyé:ren aonsetewarihwahserón:ni’ ne karihwaksèn:tshera tahnon ka’nikonhrakarewahtónhtshera nè:ne nahotiyé:ra’se’ ne onkwehón:we.
    Kenh wenhniseratényon, onkwehón:we ronhrónkha íhsi nón:we ne yà:yak niwáhsen nikawén:nake Koráhne tahnon thó:ha akwé:kon yonaterihwayén:ni. É:so niyohsénhserote niyonkwè:take ronhrónhka ótya’ke nikawén:nake. Tsyeyà:ta tókani tehniyáhsen ok nihá:ti yonhrónhka ne ó:ya. Akwé:kon yotiwennakenhé:yon. Ótya’ke yonenheyenhátye.
    Tókat yah othé:nen thayotiyén:ta’ne’ ne kaya’takenhà:tshera, yohsnó:re, tóhkara ok enyonatatenrónhake. Nek tsi enwá:ton ayakorhá:rahkwe. Ne ó:nen khekwáthos Freedom School ne Akwesáhsne, Onkwawawén:na Kentyóhkwa ne Ohswé:ken, tókani Ratiwennahní:rats ne Kahnawà:ke, khé:kens ronteweyénhstha ronatonnháhere, niya’tehonohseriya’kónhshon, nè:ne ronaronhkha’onhátye. Wakerhá:re. Khé:kens shakotirihonnyén:nis ótya’ke nè:ne ronaterí:yo íhsi nón:we ne tewáhsen niyohserá:ke nikarì:wes ne káti tsyorì:wat ne onkwehonwehnéha ahatinónhstate’ – raotiwén:na.
    Tahnon í:se, teyonkwarihwayenawá:kon kenh kanónhsakon, tahnon ratikwé:kon ó:ya onhwentsyà:ke nè:ne ronaterí:yo ahatinónhstate’ ne O’seronni’ón:we, owén:na nè:ne yoterihwayén:ni tsi tekyatkénnyes ne O’seronni’kéha, e’thohtsi ayokén:take tsi nahò:ten wá:ken. É:so niyonkwè:take ratirihwayenté:ri ne ate’nyenten’tà:tshera tahnon ronateryèn:tare tsi ní:yoht tsi na’teyotirihwayenawá:kon ne káti ayontatyenteríhake tahnon aontayonnónhton’ tsi niyontyérha. Ayá:wen’s tsi enhatihretsyá:ron’ kayaneren’tshera nè:ne enkarihwahní:rate’ tsi tkarihwayé:ri ahontá:ti’ raotiwén:na ne onkwehón:we, ne káti enhotiya’takénha’ onkwehón:we aontahonnónhton’ oh nahóntyere’ tsi niyenhén:we. Tahnon ó:ni, enkahretsyá:ron’ sénha niyonkwè:take ahontá:ti’ ne onkwehonwehnéha thiyonhwentsyakwé:kon Koráhne. Tókat yah thaón:ton’ naetewá:yere’ ne kí:ken, yah í:’i teyonkwe’tò:ten tsi ní:yoht tsi ítewehre.
    Enkatewennò:kten’ akhthá:rahkwe’ niwakerihò:ten.
    Wakatá:ti ón:wa wenhniserá:te ne Kanyen’kéha. Yah akewén:na té:ken. Takatáhsawen’ akatéweyenhste’ teyohserá:ke tsi náhe. Tyóhtkon wà:kehre’ akkwé:ni’ akatá:ti’ nek tsi kyaneren’tsherón:nis kakorahserà:ke táhnon í:kehre aonke’nikonhrayén:ta’ne’ raotiwén:na ne Kanyen’kehá:ka, onkwehshón:’a nè:ne kén:’en ratinákere karì:wes ohén:ton tsi niyó:re tahón:newe’ ne akonkwè:ta.
    Wakerihwatshénryon ok nahò:ten nè:ne sénha niyorì:ware tsi ní:yoht tsi teyakwatatewenná:wis. Wakerihwatshénryon tsi wakkwényon aonke’nikonhrayén:ta’ne’ akenákta tsi yonhwentsyá:te tahnon yah tewakerihwanonhwé:’on ká:ron tsi niyó:re takatáhsawen’ akeweyentéhta’ne’. Ó:nen’k tewakatáhsawe aonktó:ten’se’ tsi niyoterihwanehrákwat ne owén:na, tsi niyokwátshe, tsi niyoyánere. É:so tsi sénha niyorì:ware tsi ní:yoht ne ó:ya ne akewén:na.
    É:so nihá:ti wa’onkwatenro’tsherí:yo’ne’. Kheya’tatshénryon nè:ne ronnonhwentsyanorónhkwa tahnon akwé:kon káhawe ne onhwéntsya nè:ne tetewakháhsyons. Wake’nikonhrahserón:ni, akwáh í:ken, tahnon tekhenonhwerá:ton akwé:kon nè:ne yonkya’takénhen aontakatáhsawen’ akeweyentáhta’ne’.
    Wa’tkwanòn:weron’ akwé:kon nè:ne sewatahonhsatá:ton ne akewén:na. Ayá:wen’s tsi skén:nen aesewanonhtonnyónhseke.
    E’tho nikawén:nake. Tahnon ó:nen e’tho.
    [Mohawk text interpreted as follows:]
    Mr. Speaker, I ask all members in this assembly, listen well to the matter that has become my responsibility to speak about.
     I first want to greet and acknowledge everyone gathered in the House and thank them for listening to me today. I also want to acknowledge that we are meeting here on the traditional lands of the Algonquin people, and I thank the Creator for everything he has given to us.
    I am risen here to speak in Kanyen'kéha, the language of Kanyen'kehà:ka, the Mohawk people. I will speak about a law that encourages the speaking of indigenous languages in Canada.
    It greatly pleased me when we decided here in the House that we would provide translation when any member of Parliament wanted to speak in an indigenous language. It is important that we show Canadians that we respect native languages here, in the capital of Canada, in a place that Canadians cherish.
     Nevertheless, this law is much more important to the indigenous people. They are on a mission to strengthen the indigenous languages they lost or that were taken from them. We will debate this law here and in the other chamber. It will help us understand this law better. It will make amends for the wrongs that were done to the indigenous people and it will ensure that indigenous languages and cultures in Canada will be more respected.
    Many people have asked: Why does Canada have to preserve and bring back to life languages that cannot live on their own? Many people may think that the ones asking do not know anything about this and I apologize to those who might be offended that I asked, but it is important for me to explain several matters in order to understand Canada's responsibility. I will try to answer the questions by talking about the people who spoke Iroquoian languages, one language being Kanyen’kéha, the Mohawk language.
    When the Europeans arrived here, many people spoke an Iroquoian language. They had created a confederacy that was brilliant. They controlled the land from the Ohio River in the west to the St. Lawrence River in the east. They occupied a large territory of what is now eastern Canada and the United States.
    The Europeans and indigenous people had to work together and helped one another. The Europeans had to learn about the medicines. They had to learn how to live off the land. They had to become friends and partners with the indigenous people to survive. When the white population increased, they became divided and began to fight among themselves. Both sides made alliances with the indigenous people so that both sides would be equal.

  (1140)  

    Because the Iroquois fought alongside the British, the Americans burned and destroyed many Iroquois villages and took large tracts of Iroquois land. We should remember this.
    If we had not worked with the indigenous people at that time, if we had not been friends with the indigenous people at that time, if we had not made alliances with the indigenous people at that time, the Canada we know now would not exist. During the War of 1812, indigenous and Métis warriors greatly aided the Canadian and British forces in repelling the Americans and protecting this land. During the war, several thousand indigenous warriors fought alongside the British and Canadian troops.
    Recently, here in this House, we honoured Levi Oakes, who used his language as a secret code during the Second World War so that Canadian soldiers could safely communicate with each other. It is truly an ugly matter that when Canada needed indigenous people, they volunteered, but now, in peacetime, when their languages are in such danger, we would disappoint them. It was good when we were in an equal relationship with the indigenous people, when we fought side by side, but now it is peacetime, and we have stopped respecting indigenous concerns and stopped having a good relationship with them.
    The indigenous people are deeply wounded by what was done to them at residential schools. Their languages and their cultures were stolen there. For more than 100 years, Canada, its government and the churches used residential schools to destroy indigenous languages and cultures so that indigenous peoples would follow the ways of the white people. The students could only speak English or French in the schools. Students were severely punished if they spoke their language. Many of them suffered greatly. It would be an ugly truth to describe what happened to them there.
    Right now, I am thinking of a Mohawk woman, Oronhiokon, or Gladys Gabriel, who attended the Shingwauk residential school in Sault Ste. Marie. They took her there when she was five years old. She missed her mother greatly, but she did not go home again until she was 16 years old. She was not allowed to speak her language there, but she resisted. She hid the fact that she would speak Mohawk with her older sister, Mary, on every occasion when no one was listening.

  (1145)  

     Oronhiokon believed that the Creator had given her a duty to pass on her language to her children. She believed that she would offend the Creator if her children did not speak the language. She did not quit speaking her language at residential school. That helped her children, the Gabriel family from Kanesatake, to continue speaking the Mohawk language to the present day. Oronhiokon’s story compels me because I know some of her children and grandchildren and I am proud to call them my friends.
    Many people were not that lucky and lost their language. Some people became ashamed of their language because governments and churches tried to make indigenous people change into white people. Obviously, we have not quit messing with indigenous languages so that they could continue on their own. The government apologized, but we have not done much to make amends for the bad acts and trauma that indigenous people have suffered.
    These days, indigenous people speak more than 60 languages in Canada, and almost all of them are in trouble. Thousands of people speak some of these languages; just one or two people speak others. All of the languages have been weakened. Some are dying.
    If they do not get help soon, only a few will remain, but there is hope. When I visit the Freedom School in Akwesasne, Onkwawenna Kentyohkwa at Six Nations or Ratiwennahnirats at Kahnawake, I see excited students of all ages becoming speakers. I am hopeful. I see teachers, some of whom who have fought for more than 20 years to protect one element of indigenous identity, their language.
    For my colleagues in this House and all the others in the country who have fought to protect the French language, a language that has issues competing with English, what I have said should be self-evident. Many people know about the challenge and how identity and self-determination are so interrelated. Hopefully, they will support a law that will strengthen the right for indigenous people to speak their language so that it will help them control their future and where it is going. It will also encourage more people to speak indigenous languages all across Canada. If we cannot do this, we are not the kind of people we think we are.
     I will end my words by speaking about some personal matters.
    I have spoken today in the Mohawk language. It is not my language. I began studying two years ago. I have always wanted to be able to speak the language, but I am a member of Parliament and I want to understand the language of the Mohawk people, people who have lived here long before my people arrived.

  (1150)  

    I have discovered something that is more complicated than sharing words with one another: I have found that I have become able to understand my place on Earth, which I did not appreciate before I began learning. It has now just begun to make sense to me how amazing the language is, how rich it is, how exceptional it is. It is a lot more complicated than my other languages.
    I have made many good friends. I have found people who love this Earth and everything on it that we share. I am very pleased, very much so, and grateful to everyone who has helped me begin learning.
    I thank those who have listened to my words. I wish them peace.
    Those are the words. That is all.

  (1155)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague across the way and applaud him for his perseverance in learning a language. I wish I could ask my question in Mohawk, but unfortunately, I do not speak Mohawk.
    As we have mentioned, we will be supporting the bill to go to committee. One of the questions I have heard from several people is about the cost implications of putting this bill in place and doing the extra translation work that is needed. Does the member have an idea of what that would be?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for her support for the bill. Clearly, funds would need to go to the right places, the right institutions and the right people, those who have been struggling to preserve languages, sometimes against our leadership, our previous governments and even local governments.
    We know some of the gut-wrenching stories, one of which I told in my speech, of people speaking a language in private and ensuring its survival. We need to put up the money necessary, not only to correct the wrong that was done by our people but also to ensure vitality.
    I thank the member for thanking me for my learning Mohawk. It is an extremely complex and rich language. I encourage anyone to learn at least the greetings, but hopefully the whole language.
    It is not for me to be speaking here in Parliament. This is a very symbolic act, an act of respect. The most important thing is to ensure that children are speaking it in communities, taught by the people who know best how to do it, who have been preserving it for years, against us.
    The cost will be significant, so I would encourage the member's support within her caucus for those funds when they are announced.
    Mr. Speaker, I would also like to congratulate my friend on the hard work he has done in learning the local language in the unceded territory where he lives. I want to commend him. It is inspiring for all of us to see the effort the member has put forward in learning that language and how it connects him to the land and the people where he lives.
    A good friend of mine from the Nuu-chah-nulth people, and from the Ahousaht Nation, Cliff Atleo, always reminds us that our language is what identifies us. He says we are nothing without our language. We are losing speakers all the time, as the member knows and as I cited earlier today. The Barkley dialect, for example, has gone from 15 speakers since the government was elected to nine. They have been waiting for funding. I got a note today from a councillor from Tseshaht Nation, Ken Watts. He said that as a council member in his community who has helped apply for language funding, that is one of the most important things. He wrote, “Without funding behind this, nothing will change. They also need to send money directly to communities. I respect the work of some organizations, but communities need it, as they know what's best for their nation's languages.”
    Tseshaht's position is that language funding should not be competitive. He spoke a little about the importance of the language funding going out to where the needs are. I want to ensure that the member is going to enforce and ensure that when the government rolls out the funding, it will not be a competitive process and that everyone who needs it is going to be able to have access to it, especially in areas where there are language holders. We know many of them are aging out in certain areas.
    I also want to understand whether the government is going to inject money immediately. We are losing language speakers now, and as we lose these holders of knowledge and holders of the language, we lose our whole cultures in certain communities. We lose languages in certain nations. It is important this be backed up with funding.

  (1200)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his very insightful comments as to where and how the funding should flow. If he wants to learn some words, there are some people who may or may not be here who are fully versed on how to teach it, my teacher Brian Maracle and his wife Audrey.
    We are already funding schools, as we speak. Under the current funding envelopes we tripled investments. Certainly that is not enough and certainly the models have been heavily criticized as to their perennity and as to their predictability. Courses can take two or three years. People who are fully immersed give up their jobs in order to take up this language. They are at the prime of their earning career and they have to drop everything and spend two or three years learning the language they are brave enough to reclaim.
    We are funding now in schools and this has to be a multi-pronged approach. It needs to be at an early age, within the K to 12 system, where it is taught in a fashion that is respectful of language, that is respectful of culture and is taught by indigenous people, and not simply for the effectiveness of that, but because we know that the outcomes are great and the graduation rates are equal, if not above, non-indigenous graduation rates.
    We know that there are real effects of putting language and culture into the K to 12 system, putting it into kindergarten and putting it into the immersion system, which is essential in ensuring that generations can pass it on and speak it at home because the work is not sufficiently done in the schoolroom. It is important to have the funds at their disposition and I have no particular objection to the member opposite's question.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would first like to commend the member for Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs for his courage and determination to learn the Mohawk language.
    When he visits those communities, how is he received by indigenous peoples who can now speak to him directly?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin for his very relevant question.
    By learning to speak Kanyen'kéha, I had the opportunity to meet people I would never ordinarily have met. I had the opportunity to visit immersion schools and to meet people who are passionate about tradition and culture. Under normal circumstances, these people would not have the opportunity to meet a Canadian government official.
    I had the honour of discovering a people I did not know, even though I have been living in this area since I was born in 1973. I learned a lot in meeting with people who are passionate about culture, language and the vitalization of indigenous languages. I could have said “revitalization”, but “vitalization” is really the right term for it. This new legislation will recognize that indigenous language rights are inherent.
    Everyone was very kind to me, and I am grateful to them for that. Obviously, language is a sensitive issue, as francophones are well aware, and dealing with sensitive issues can have consequences.

[English]

    I know the member thanked me, but I would like to note at this time that the real thanks is the translation services, which have been done by a woman called Margaret Cook-Peters, or Margaret Cook-Kaweienon:ni, who has been the translator in the House allowing everyone here today to hear such wonderful words.
     I hope I am not outing her, but she is also the person who translated the residential school apology into Mohawk so that a lot of communities could have that apology formally acknowledged in Mohawk from our government. She is behind that with her wonderful team and group. She has been fighting for years for her language, fighting in her community, fighting against governments, and I want to thank her profoundly for the work that she has done today in the House.
    Mr. Speaker, to the hon. parliamentary secretary, I want to say he has done spectacular work in learning Mohawk.
    [Member spoke in Mohawk as follows:]
    Serihwakweniénsthak.
    [Mohawk text translated as follows:]
    Keep on being respectful.
    [English]
    I apologize if I did not pronounce it right.
    The bill certainly is full of good intentions. We have heard concerns about funding. I wish we could get this through second reading today and get the committee work happening in the coming week. However, I wonder why in drafting legislation in 2019 that cites indigenous rights, the legislation does not specifically cite the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Certainly this was an opportunity to do so.

  (1205)  

    Mr. Speaker, I note the effort and I really applaud it. When a lot of people speak a new language, they feel insecure because language, particularly as politicians, is what we are defined by and if we stutter, whether it is in English, French or a language we are not familiar with, we get very insecure. We have to get out of our comfort zone and do that. There are people available if the leader of the Green Party wants to learn it.
    We are at second reading. There is plenty of opportunity to get input. I will note that the rights that exist and are acknowledged today are not pursuant to any declaration or particular law. They are acknowledged and need to be perfected by the House, but they existed way before our people got here.
    Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis.
    I am happy to rise today to speak to Bill C-91, an act respecting indigenous languages. This is my first time standing in this new House of Commons. It is an honour and a privilege to speak in this historic building, the House of Commons for our country. It is also an honour to continue representing the hard-working constituents of Bow River in this place.
    I have a deep respect and appreciation for language. I speak English, that is my background, but I have two grandchildren that have spent 13 years in French immersion and are fluent in both languages. The time that I had the opportunity to learn a second language was much more limited than what is available to our youth today.
    It concerns me that so many languages are going extinct around the world. By at least one estimate, 90% of spoken languages will be extinct by 2050, if action is not taken soon. Languages have long, proud histories that are fundamental to culture. Their etymologies provide clues into a culture's distant past and their dynamic nature reflects their speakers' present-day lives. Their present-day lives are affected by the language they spoke historically.
    English is the language most familiar to me. Through its evolution we can chart the history of those who inhabited the British Isles. For example, in the pre-Roman period, we can see the influence of Scandinavian invaders, the Norman conquest in 1066 and a thousand additional years of historical evolution since. I trace my family back to 1200 in Scotland but I doubt today whether our language would be similar. I might have a difficult time understanding my Scottish ancestors of 1200. Language changes and evolves.
    Indigenous languages have many more words for certain things than English do. Things that are important to indigenous culture are described in a way that would be unfamiliar to someone not familiar with their culture. It is an amazing example of how language and cultures are interwoven. For example, the Inuit have extensive different words to describe the weather, the snow, the ice, as it is so critical to their culture. They have many more words to describe those elements in their culture than we have in English.
    There are approximately 7,000 languages remaining in the world and I am certain all are the product of incredible cultural legacies. According to 2016 census data from Statistics Canada, over 70 indigenous languages are spoken in Canada and 260,550 first nations, Métis and Inuit people speak these 70 different languages.
    However, the percentage of people that say they can speak these languages has declined significantly in the last few decades. This is a trend that should be reversed. These proud languages unquestionably deserve to be preserved in the future wherever possible. It is important to note that in far too many cases, their continued existence is threatened by globalization and former colonial policies.
    Our previous Conservative government recognized through our residential schools apology that such schools had a damaging impact on indigenous languages. I have met with elders of the Siksika of the Blackfoot Confederacy and they have told me stories of how they were treated for speaking their indigenous language in the schools. As my colleague the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo has stated, the Government of Canada was part of the destruction of indigenous languages and we need to be part of the solution.
    The legislation would create an independent commissioner for indigenous rights. It seeks to affirm that indigenous language is part of section 35 of the Constitution. It would allow the translation of federal services into indigenous languages.

  (1210)  

    These are laudable goals. I note the commissioner would have a mandate to take many of these measures to help promote indigenous languages. They would support the efforts of indigenous peoples to reclaim, revitalize and strengthen their languages and thus their culture.
    I would like to highlight that fantastic efforts are already under way in my riding to do just that. Siksika Nation, which is part of the Blackfoot Confederacy, has decided to take the first steps to offer immersion programs in Blackfoot language this September for the first time. To start, the immersion program will be offered to kindergarten and grade 1 students. This is a huge challenge, but one Siksika has undertaken in its education department. This is an incredible step to ensuring its language and culture are strengthened through future generations. I hope this program is a great success.
    Siksika has been a leader in many things as part of the Blackfoot Confederacy, and education is an area where it is gaining strength in teaching its culture and providing its youth with a link to its past. Using this format in education, immersion in the Blackfoot language will strengthen students' connection to their elders and their past.
    The commissioner would also promote public awareness and understanding of the link between indigenous languages and the cultures of indigenous people. As I have noted, I strongly share the view that language is a fundamental component of culture. For indigenous people in Siksika, I know very well that oral history is a critical piece of their culture. The elders still know the language and the culture, but communicating that oral history to the generations that have come next, their grandchildren, is so difficult when the names and the words they use are not part of the English vocabulary the youth know.
    It will affect their culture when this indigenous generation of elders is lost. When they pass on, the knowledge they have will be lost, because the indigenous words used in their culture will also be lost unless they are taught to the youngest generation.
    The elders of the Blackfoot Confederacy Siksika talk about their language being a tonal language. The Blackfoot Confederacy language is a different language in North America. It is not related to most of the other indigenous languages on this continent. It is mostly related to other languages that are tonal. The elders who speak to me about this language are very proud of the distinction between their language and other indigenous ones, as well as the culture it represents.
    I was happy to see this acknowledged in the commissioner's mandate. I am pleased to support sending this bill to committee. As a member of the heritage committee, I look forward to carefully reviewing its contents. I also look forward to hearing from stakeholders and learning about the possible ways it could be improved. We need to do more than listen. There has been a lot of listening by the government in preparing the proposed legislation with indigenous people, but the action needs to follow.
    I must note this legislation was first promised in December 2016, but it is now 2019. What are the chances of this legislation agenda being finished in this term? There are just 13 sitting weeks remaining. It is late in this mandate.
     I also note that ITK has stated that it does not approve of this bill. The day the bill was tabled, ITK president Natan Obed released a statement that read:
    Despite being characterized as a reconciliation and codevelopment initiative, the Government of Canada engaged Inuit in bad faith throughout this legislative initiative. The absence of any Inuit-specific content suggests this bill is yet another legislative initiative developed behind closed doors by a colonial system and then imposed on Inuit.
    Despite three years having passed, I am disappointed Liberals have failed to accommodate such an important aspect as the one this leader has identified.
    The Conservatives believe protecting Canada's indigenous languages is protecting our shared Canadian heritage. We recognize the importance of preserving indigenous language and culture. I hope this bill will be successful in achieving these objectives, and I look forward to studying it further at committee.

  (1215)  

    Madam Speaker, the member indicated that this bill is being introduced close to the end of the mandate. However, I would note that the previous Harper government had 10 years to protect indigenous languages in this country. In fact, it cut indigenous language services in every single budget, with just $5 million invested to protect, preserve and enhance over 90 languages in Canada. It is a shameful past, and it is unfortunate that the member cast doubt on the ability of this Parliament to be able to pass this proposed legislation.
    This is a very bold initiative by the government, supported by the Assembly of First Nations and the Métis National Council. It was co-developed with all three indigenous organizations.
    I would like assurance from the member that his party will support this bill going to second reading and to committee to be studied right away, starting today.
    Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question, but maybe not for his statement when he said that I am shameful.
    Let me see. There is the child welfare legislation promised by the end of January. Where is that? There is the promised consultation on Bill S-3, on gender inequity in the Indian Act. Where is that? There is the Enbridge northern gateway project, which was cancelled without consulting the bands who had equity agreements. What was that?
    Therefore, when the member talks about this in the sense of saying 2019 is soon enough, there is a litany of other things that have been promised that have not been finished.
    The last response I would have is on the role of committee in the sense that when I deal with indigenous people in my constituency, they are looking for serious responsibility to do this themselves. They are not looking for us to make another piece of legislation that tells them what to do. Therefore, in consultation, we need to understand that they need to have the structure that provides them the opportunity to implement this, and not be told what to do.

  (1220)  

    Madam Speaker, one of the very important calls to action through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was the creation of an indigenous languages commissioner.
    I would ask my friend from Bow River whether, if the Conservatives were to form government at some point, they would ensure that the indigenous languages commissioner would be left intact and that the creation of this body would be protected under a Conservative government.
    Madam Speaker, I really appreciate my colleague's interest in this and his dedication to his constituents. I appreciate his understanding of his role and how well he does it.
    However, it was not the Conservative government that took out some pieces of legislation affecting indigenous people. The Liberals took some stuff out that the Conservatives had legislated, which indigenous people agreed with. It was the Liberals who took it out, not the Conservatives.
    The member asked if we would be in government again. Of course we will be in government again. That will happen as surely as the sun rises.
    Madam Speaker, I notice the parliamentary secretary has twice asked if we are ready to move this legislation on. However, the government introduced it on Tuesday and we are debating it on Thursday. We are being very reasonable. This is an important piece of legislation, but the government has left very little time.
    We intend to be productive and we intend to be supportive, but the fact that the government has such poor House management skills is what it should really be concerned about.
    Madam Speaker, I have a very brief response for my learned colleague who has much history in this building. I agree 100% with what she has just said.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to rise in the House and applaud the excellent speech by my colleague from Bow River, as well as his knowledge of and commitment to indigenous issues in Canada.
    I would also like to acknowledge the work of my colleague from Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, our indigenous affairs critic. She is doing very important work on a very sensitive file.
    Before rising, I listened to several speeches. I would like to come back to something said by a colleague from Vancouver Island, the member for Courtenay—Alberni. He said something that was very important and, in my view, in keeping with the tone set today. He said that language defines our identity. That is the very crux of the bill introduced today. We are talking about the identity of not just anyone, but of the people who lived here before the arrival of Europeans.
    As my colleague mentioned, this debate is taking place in the new House of Commons located in the West Block.
    On June 11, 2008, I was in the House and I had the opportunity and privilege to listen to Prime Minister Stephen Harper offer a full apology to residential school survivors on behalf of all Canadians.
    What is the link between that apology and the bill before us today?
    The bill before us today draws on the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, established by the Conservative government in 2008.
    A six-year study was conducted. During that time, we gathered a lot of testimony that at times was very emotional from indigenous people who attended these schools.
    Prime Minister Harper said that for more than a century, residential schools separated more than 150,000 indigenous children from their families and their communities. Nearly seven generations of young people were in some way uprooted from their culture and language while they were attending school. As my colleague from Vancouver Island said, language is an essential part of identity.
    Remarkably, the hon. member for Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs delivered his speech in the Mohawk language. He said that when we learn a language, we become open to a new culture. He has opened himself up to the Mohawk culture.
    As someone with an Irish-sounding name who was lucky enough to learn French growing up, I am keenly aware of linguistic issues. That is why, as a Conservative and a Quebecker, I am proud of our party's position. Our party will support the bill since we want it to go even further.
    I also want to revisit one of the points raised by Mr. Harper. He stated, and I quote:
    Two primary objectives of the residential school system were to remove and isolate children from the influence of their homes, families, traditions and cultures, and to assimilate them into the dominant culture.
    That sends a shiver down my spine.
    He also said, “It has taken extraordinary courage for the thousands of survivors that have come forward to speak publicly about the abuse they suffered.”
    As everyone knows, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and a support program for aboriginal people affected by the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement were put in place.
    I would actually like to come back to the recommendations that were made. Three calls to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada report relate to the subject we are discussing here today. Calls to action 13, 14 and 15 call on the federal government to recognize that aboriginal rights include aboriginal language rights.

  (1225)  

    Recommendation 14 calls on the federal government to enact an aboriginal languages act that incorporates the following principles.
i. Aboriginal languages are a fundamental and valued element of Canadian culture and society, and there is an urgency to preserve them; ii. Aboriginal language rights are reinforced by the Treaties; iii. The federal government has a responsibility to provide sufficient funds for Aboriginal-language revitalization and preservation; iv. The preservation, revitalization, and strengthening of Aboriginal languages and cultures are best managed by Aboriginal people and communities; v. Funding for Aboriginal language initiatives must reflect the diversity of Aboriginal languages.
    These recommendations were made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015, if I remember correctly. It is now 2019. As my colleague from Bow River said, the government waited a long time. We are now approaching the end of this Parliament, and the Liberals seem to be steamrolling through this, even though the Prime Minister promised to address the issue more than two years ago.
    In essence, we support this bill. As my colleague just said, we want to do a thorough job, to make sure this bill achieves its objectives. The Assembly of First Nations supports the bill, as does the Métis Nation, but the Inuit are quite dissatisfied, so we need to give this bill careful consideration. Like my colleague from Bow River, I am privileged to be a member of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. We want to examine this bill to ensure that it both meets these communities' needs and achieves the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's objectives.
    That brings me to an important point. I just mentioned it briefly, and my colleague talked about it too. The problem is that we currently have a government that knows how to talk the talk but takes far too long to walk the walk. Drawing things out like this could strain the trust between indigenous peoples and the Government of Canada. My colleague shared some examples of that.
    I want to share a quote from Chantal Hébert:
     By taking important but essentially symbolic steps that capture the attention of Canadian voters but ultimately do nothing to fundamentally change the reality that indigenous peoples face, the Trudeau government is risking creating an even wider divide between the dashed expectations of the first nations and the public's openness towards them.
    We have a responsibility to do things right in a reasonable amount of time. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission made its recommendations more than three years ago. The government has introduced a bill at the end of this Parliament. Trust between the Canadian government and the first nations is fragile, and we plan to work seriously and diligently to maintain that trust.

  (1230)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I am a little perplexed by the member's comments at the end of his speech. He indicated that movement has not been substantive with respect to indigenous issues. I note that in the past three years, $16.8 billion has been invested in different programs and initiatives with respect to indigenous peoples, which has resulted in more then 250,000 people benefiting from 157 school projects, more than 450,000 people benefiting from 490 water projects and more than 200,000 approved requests under Jordan's principle. I note that the opposition, particularly the Conservative Party, voted against virtually every one of these initiatives to advance reconciliation.
    It is a little rich when the member opposite suggests that movement has been slow. It has been slow, in part, because support from the opposition has been very slow. I would like some indication from the member as to whether he is willing to send this to committee today, where there could be a more robust discussion of the issues he identified.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague, the parliamentary secretary, who is doing important work.
    However, he shares a fault with his boss, the Prime Minister: whenever something goes wrong, he blames everyone else. We can see this happening with the indigenous file. I had a chance to go into communities like Pakuashipi, where residents have major concerns about health and access to clean drinking water. Our colleagues are constantly challenging the government on these issues.
     I have two things to say to my colleague. The first is about the money that is being invested, and the second is about the way it is being invested. Our Conservative government established a principle of transparency, because it is important for members of indigenous communities to know where federal money is going and how it is being shared among communities. Sadly, and this is another example of what I was saying, this government says one thing and does another. It advocates transparency, but it hid the way federal funds are transferred to communities. That shows a lack of transparency.
    It is the government that decides when to table bills. We have no say over that. However, it is tabling this bill at the eleventh hour. We are ready to put in the work, but we do not want to mess this up, because the relationship between first nations and the Canadian government is too important.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the member talked about the Liberals doing things that are mainly and mostly symbolic. I would agree. This needs to be backed with funding and a real commitment that demonstrates a sense of urgency.
    I have to go back to the Harper government. It cut over $60 million for indigenous organizations. John Duncan, from Vancouver Island, was the then aboriginal affairs minister. When he was put in that position in 2012, he said the Conservatives would change the funding model for aboriginal organizations and tribal councils, focusing on the areas that matched the Harper government's priorities. They were basically dictating the priorities of indigenous people instead of allowing them to define their own priorities.
    I received a message from a councillor from the Tseshaht Nation, which I read this morning. In it he said that we need to send funding directly to communities. He said that he respects the work of some organizations but that the communities know what is best for their nations' languages. I have to agree with the councillor and indigenous organizations.
    If the Conservatives were in government, would they retreat back to the Harper way of doing business and dictate to first nations how they should be doing business?

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
    I want to come back to something that I witnessed here in the House of Commons. I was here when prime minister Harper issued a heartfelt apology to residential school survivors on behalf of the Canadian government. At the time, that was really something, because it initiated the broader reconciliation process, which is a long and difficult road given the harm that has been done and its lasting effects.
    I am very proud of Prime Minister Harper and Minister Duncan for beginning the process of transferring the responsibility for education to first nations. That is a critical issue and it also affects what we are talking about today. That work is under way, and I am very proud of that.
    I hope that the bill that we are examining today will help strengthen the pride that indigenous peoples have in their culture and their languages.

  (1235)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my friend from Surrey Centre.
    I am deeply honoured to speak this afternoon in support of Bill C-91, the indigenous languages act. I want to start by acknowledging that we are gathered here on the traditional unceded lands of the Algonquin people.
    Our language is at the core of who we are as a people, as a community and as a nation.

[Translation]

    Before I speak to the important aspects of the bill, I would like to explain to the House the major challenges that I face as a first-generation immigrant to Canada.
    Every day, I struggle to make sure that my two daughters understand and speak their mother tongue, Tamil, at home.

[English]

    For me, the ability to be part of this community is at my core. The ability to understand this language allows me to understand this community. I want my two children to be able to have the opportunity and the right to understand the language and be connected to the people. Likewise, all families want their language to be spoken and understood, be it English, French, Finnish or Tamil. It is who we are as a people.
    However, these languages are not at risk of extinction, nor are the speakers and keepers of these languages dying. Most indigenous language speakers do not have the privilege and protection that is available to other languages in Canada. Sadly, the legacy for indigenous people in Canada is that every one of the 90 languages spoken here prior to colonization is at threat of being lost. According to UNESCO, 75% of these languages are in danger of becoming extinct. Imagine the languages, dialects and voices of many communities lost forever. I cannot fathom it. We cannot fathom it, and we cannot understand it.
    This happened because successive governments undertook the process of colonization that Madam Justice McLachlin has called “cultural genocide”. This meant that the government took children from their homes and their communities and put them in residential schools. The children were forbidden from speaking their languages and practising their spirituality and were often abused for practising who they were.
    Some communities were forcibly moved from one geographical location to another. Some children from indigenous homes were taken and placed in foster homes or put up for adoption through the sixties scoop. We have a modern-day version of the sixties scoop, whereby children are taken by child welfare agencies and put in foster care.
    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission report outlined many experiences of residential school survivors, and I want to share two such stories.
    One is from William Herney, who spoke Mi'kmaq with his brother at residential school. He said:
    And she says, “What are you two boys doing?” “Nothing, Sister.” “Oh, yes, I heard you. You were talking that language, weren't you?” “Yes, Sister.” “Come here,” she said. I went over. She took a stick. She leaned me over to the bathtub, the bathtub, grabbed me by the neck, and I don't know how many whacks she gave me over my bum, and I was crying like I don't know what. Then, she took a piece of soap, and she washed my mouth in it. I can still even taste that lye soap. All my life I tasted that taste. And she said, “You don't talk that language here. That's a no, no, no, you don't, you understand?” Looks at me straight in the eye. She said, “Do you understand that?” And I said, “Yes, Sister, I understand.”
    Rose Dorothy Charlie, who was at an Anglican school in Carcross, said:
    They took my language. They took it right out of my mouth. I never spoke it again. My mother asked me why, why you could hear me, she’s, like, “I could teach you.” I said, “No.” And she said, “Why?” I said, “I’m tired of getting hit in the mouth, tired of it. I’m just tired of it, that’s all.” Then I tried it, I went to Yukon College, I tried it, and then my own auntie laugh at me because I didn’t say...the words right, she laughed at me, so I quit. “No more,” I said. Then people bothered me, and say, “How come you don’t speak your language?” And I said, “You wouldn't want to know why.” So, I never speak, speak it again.
    The depth of the loss of indigenous languages cannot be quantified. The eternal links to language, and by extension culture, have been broken. Generations of indigenous people in Canada have been shamed into losing their language and culture because of the policies and practices of successive Canadian governments and many institutions.
    A patchwork of programs and initiatives exist to support the preservation, protection and revitalization of indigenous languages.

  (1240)  

[Translation]

    Not all languages face the same risk of extinction. Some have better odds of survival than others, but it is all relative. We need to do more to protect, preserve and revitalize all indigenous languages.
    We cannot change the past. The past is done. However, we can and must change the course of the future.

[English]

    In this moment in time, the 42nd Parliament has made enormous strides in advancing equality, human rights and indigenous rights. In 2015, our government committed to implementing all 94 calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Calls to action 13, 14 and 15 require the entrenchment of legislation and a framework that will ensure the protection, preservation and revitalization of indigenous languages.
     Our government adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and this past year, this House adopted Bill C-262 to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with UNDRIP. UNDRIP requires state parties to take effective measures to support indigenous languages.
    In 1981, section 35 of the Canadian Constitution enshrined a full box of rights to first nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. Such rights include the right to language.
     Our Prime Minister affirmed that Canada would move forward on a relationship that nation to nation, Inuit to Crown and government to government, all based on the recognition of the rights framework. Bill C-91 does this, and this year, as we mark the United Nations Year of Indigenous Languages, we bring this bill forward to change the trajectory of indigenous languages and, once and for all, commit to ensuring the long-term protection, preservation and revitalization of these languages.
     Permit me to outline some major features of Bill C-91. This bill was codeveloped with the national indigenous organizations, including the AFN, ITK and the MNC. This bill offers a distinction-based approach to languages. That is, it recognizes that not all languages are in need of the same level of protection. It respects the principle of self-determination. It envisions a national framework and commission that will monitor and report on the progress made.
    Let me offer one additional reason for the urgency in passing this legislation. Three weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit Prince George, British Columbia. I met with members of the Lheidli T'enneh first nation. There were five fluent speakers of Lheidli T'enneh with the dialect of Dakelh. I met the chief and several members of council, none of whom spoke the language, but all were striving to preserve the language itself. The loss of this language is imminent if a concerted effort is not made to preserve it.
     Last week, elder Mary Gouchie, one of the native speakers, died. In marking her passing, the MP for Cariboo—Prince George said this of elder Mary Gouchie:
    Mary understood that our words connect us to our past. Our words and our music are two of the foundations of the human experience. Without them, we have no past. Without them, we have no future, and without them, we have no awareness of who we might be.
     In closing, I want to conclude by recognizing the keepers and teachers of all indigenous languages like elder Mary Gouchie. Notwithstanding that so many indigenous languages are endangered in Canada, the mere fact that so many of these languages still exist is due to the brave unsung heroes who have worked so hard to protect and preserve these languages.
    Let us do right by them. Let us do right by future generations, and let us just do this.

  (1245)  

    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the parliamentary secretary's speech. He sort of verifies why I believe this is a significant piece of legislation and why it is important. He may not remember that there are many languages in the world that have disappeared. This is happening all over the world. The United Nations, which was referred to, in a misguided way developed one language that it wanted us all to speak. Some of my colleagues may not remember that, and I am glad it disappeared.
    However, the point of understanding is that we need to work with indigenous peoples, and this has to take time. It has to be done right. It cannot be rushed through, saying that tomorrow it will be at committee and we want a report and recommendations in weeks. That does not work. This has to take time. That is why I am objecting to doing this, this late in the mandate. We cannot.
     This is important for the culture of indigenous people. They have a number of orders for sweetgrass and a number of orders for sage. This is being lost. This takes time. We cannot do it this quickly. It is too late in the mandate to get this done right.
    Madam Speaker, I note that there are 13 weeks, as the member opposite said, that the House will sit. If this logic were to be followed through, we might as well rise today and wait until the election in October.
    The fact is that, as parliamentarians, we have an obligation. We actually have the opportunity right now in the remaining weeks of this mandate to work hard, to work together and to work collaboratively on something that is so fundamental to this country, so fundamental to so many language speakers. I think it would be a failure on our part if we were to give up right now and say that we do not have enough time. I do believe we have enough time, and I believe that we collectively can get this done.
    Madam Speaker, I heard the member say in his remarks that this legislation was codeveloped with ITK, of all people. I want to share with the member a quote from Natan Obed, the president of ITK. He said:
     Despite being characterized as a reconciliation and co-development initiative, the Government of Canada engaged Inuit in bad faith throughout this legislative initiative....
     ITK wanted nothing more than to truly co-develop a bill that we could champion with other indigenous peoples and the Government of Canada.... In no way was this bill co-developed with Inuit.
    If the president of ITK obviously feels very strongly that this was not a codeveloped initiative, I am wondering on what basis the member is saying that this is codeveloped. Is it not in keeping with the spirit of reconciliation that, if indigenous peoples are saying that this was not genuine codevelopment, the government would not seek to override that claim and claim that it was codeveloped when the Inuit clearly do not feel that way?
    Madam Speaker, we are in new territory. In fact, codevelopment has taken place over the last couple of years with the three national indigenous organizations. Codevelopment does not mean co-drafting. A lot of work went into, for example, developing the 12 principles that were developed together with the Government of Canada and the three national indigenous organizations, which formed the basis of this bill. During this time, all three national organizations were supportive.
    With respect to ITK, I have seen the comments from ITK, and once this matter goes to committee, greater clarity will be sought, and that will be incorporated into the final bill when it comes back for third reading.

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech, and especially for giving part of it in French.
    The Bloc Québécois agrees with the principle of the bill and will definitely vote for it at second reading.
    In my riding, members of the Manawan Atikamekw community speak Atikamekw. However, there is not enough funding at present to teach Atikamekw or French at the primary and secondary levels.
    Could my colleague tell us if the bill provides for adequate funding for the teaching of these languages?

  (1250)  

[English]

    Madam Speaker, the bill itself does not allocate funding at this point. However, it is the framework that would ensure that indigenous communities across Canada, based on their need and on their ability to determine what are the priorities for them and what mode and method of teaching and preserving and revitalization is important, will be able to secure funding through the government.
    Madam Speaker, I rise to speak on Bill C-91, an act respecting indigenous languages.
    I come from the land of the Coast Salish people, namely the Kwantlen, Katzie and Tsawwassen first nations.
    For me language is like one's mother. It nourishes, heals, embraces and caresses us. For this country, language has been one of its defining legacies, both good and bad. When it comes to French and English, the protection of these languages is part of our Constitution, and debates on how to protect them, particularly where either speaker is in a minority, have been robust. For French and English language rights, we have become a beacon, an example and a standard for others to use and see.
     However, our history is not so great when it comes to the indigenous languages of this nation. This country took young children from their parents, incarcerated them in prison-like environments, took away their names and re-named them, punished them for speaking in the language of their peoples, and stole their identities from them.
    This was done in full sight of the governments of the day and with the blessings of both church and state. However, this was a much more sinister plan, one designed and concocted to eliminate and exterminate a people, a culture, a society that was rich, humane and in harmony with the land.
    Civilizations and societies, however great, do this from time to time. They commit to actions that they see as right and justified, and do heinous crimes because they usually fail to see how their actions will affect the people they are created for. Sometimes it is deliberate, and sometimes it is out of ignorance, but at no time is it acceptable.
    However, Canada, and to some degree the world, has come a long way from the days of forced assimilation and residential schools to, now, truth and reconciliation, and recognizing indigenous languages as a right.
     This bill will put into place actions 13, 14 and 15 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and put the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into effect. It will require the federal government to fund indigenous languages and create an office of the commissioner of indigenous languages. This is very important, as currently only 20% of indigenous people can converse in their language, and in B.C. that number is even less, with only one in 27 being able to converse in an indigenous language.
    If one doubts the value and power of language, then just look to how it affects youth suicide rates. With those who spoke their indigenous language, the rates were one-sixth of those who did not. Those with no ability to speak their language had a rate of suicide that was six times higher. Today all 90 indigenous languages are in danger of extinction.
     This is only the beginning. Languages help people understand the richness of their culture and the history of their peoples, and see the world through a different and more colourful lens. It helps people appreciate their ancestry, history and lineage. While this country has had its fair share of shortfalls and misdeeds when it comes to language, culture and people, it has also learned from them and created some of the greatest policies on diversity and human rights, both of which have shaped me and who I am.
     In 1978, this country adopted a policy of multiculturalism, which for me was going to be one of the most defining pieces of legislation, along with the charter, that would allow me to grow up and be the person I am today. Let me tell the House why.
    When I was in kindergarten in 1980, I was a child of an immigrant. I was brown, had long hair, which was tied in a bun on the top of my head, and I looked nothing like other people in my class. All I wanted to do was look like everyone else. I wanted to be Canadian. Little did I know that, under multiculturalism, being Canadian was exactly what I was and how I should be.
     I was lucky enough to have a teacher who knew this legislation, the timing and appropriateness of it. She decided to share this with me and my family. She called my parents, brought them over and, for me, at first, it was a dreadful moment. I thought this was when I was going to be put into ESL, English as a second language, that dreadful place from where one never got out. However, it was different. She spoke to my parents and said, “It seems you are teaching him Punjabi at home, and I want you to know that this is going to be an asset and a gift, something you should cherish and even do more of. Let me take care of the English at school, and I will make sure he does not lag behind.”

  (1255)  

    It stuck with me. My white Caucasian teacher was telling me to learn the language of my parents. She also said to make sure that I learned to read and write it, because it would be an asset in the future. I had no idea, because at that time, everyone was under pressure to change their names to make them more anglicized and to learn English and forget about their ancestral languages. However, it stuck with me.
    In grade seven, I registered in an evening Punjabi school at the Khalsa Diwan Society in Vancouver, and I learned to read and write the language. In grade eight, I fell in love with the language and started listening to British Punjabi bhangra and hip hop, and from there, there was no stopping. I loved reading newspapers, history and sometimes literature and listening to Punjabi poetry. It helped me understand what my parents went through, what my aunts and uncles appreciated and listened to and how flavours of foods really tasted. Today it gives me great honour when people tell me my Punjabi is great and ask when I came to Canada. I say I was born and raised in Canada. It is the reason I speak this language and can read and write it.
    Fast-track to 35 years later. I serve in a government led by a Prime Minister who himself was brought up in a home with a similar language upbringing. I read at one point that his father made a rule in the household that if they were on the main floor, they were to speak French with their friends and parents. If they were upstairs in their bedrooms or downstairs in the rec room, they could speak English with their friends, but on the main floor they were to speak French. That is why the Prime Minister is fully bilingual and cherishes that right. It was very encouraging for me to read that it was not only my parents who had those rules at home. Other people across this country also shared those same rules.
    I sometimes feel like a failure when it comes to my home, because I probably breach a lot of those rules. I speak English to my kids when I should be teaching them other languages at the same time. For that, I am sorry. However, I have given them the gift of learning Punjabi at evening school and at day school as well.
    I hope this act will give our indigenous children the same right, the same sense of pride and belonging and the same tools to preserve their languages, joke in their languages and dialects and sing in their beautiful rhythms. I hope the House quickly ratifies this legislation so that never again will our indigenous people have to fight for their right to preserve their languages. May they always be able to cherish and speak their languages, and may Canada become a beacon for indigenous languages around the world.
    Madam Speaker, I would ask my colleague, can you tell us how this act fits into the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, and what role would an agreement with our provincial counterparts play in implementing this act?
    I would remind the member that she is to address the Chair and not the individual member. She used the word “you”.
    The hon. member for Surrey Centre.
    Madam Speaker, it would fit into call to action 13 in that indigenous rights include indigenous language rights. It would incorporate that call to action item to incorporate language rights.
    Call to action 14 called upon the federal government to enact an indigenous languages act and to incorporate the principle that indigenous languages are a “fundamental and valued element of Canadian culture and society, and there is an urgency to preserve them.” Call to action 15 called upon the federal government “to appoint, in consultation with Aboriginal groups, an Aboriginal Languages Commissioner.” That is the third part of the act. I hope that helps the member for Brampton South.

  (1300)  

    Madam Speaker, I appreciated the story of the first-hand experience regarding Punjabi, which is in its own right a very beautiful language and one that I personally admire greatly.
    When I look at the proposed legislation, I see a positive and somewhat historic day here in the House. We are debating legislation that addresses, as has been pointed out, a couple of calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This is something our Prime Minister has spoken a great deal about, virtually since day one.
    It has taken a while to work with the stakeholders across our country. In particular, there is the leadership role the indigenous people of Canada have played in ensuring that there is a better sense of education on the importance of indigenous languages.
     I wonder if my colleague would provide his thoughts regarding the strong representation from indigenous leaders who assisted the government in making sure that we were able to achieve what we have today, because without that type of support and advocacy, we would not be where we are today on this very important issue.
    Madam Speaker, after being elected in 2015, one of the first things we saw was a great interaction and dialogue commence between the indigenous people of this country and this government. It was a genuine, sincere dialogue, where both parties sat and shared, as if they were one family, to figure things out. It was deep-rooted, not just a patchwork or Band-Aid solution, and sought to create solutions for the next century and heal wounds that had been inflicted for a long time. I felt that sincerity, and it was not just on our side. I heard that from the indigenous leadership, especially from British Columbia, who felt that they were being listened to. They felt that this was a government that spoke with action and not just words.
    The feedback I have had has not been from just the leadership but has also come from my riding of Surrey Centre, which is home to one of the largest urban indigenous populations. People genuinely came and said that they were so happy to hear that we actually listened and actually care.
    Madam Speaker, I will share my time with the member for Chilliwack—Hope.
    Today I rise to speak to Bill C-91, the indigenous languages act. It is a bill that would, among other things, establish the office of the commissioner of indigenous languages, an office that would have the purpose of strengthening and supporting indigenous languages across this country.
    Indigenous languages and cultures are numerous and diverse across Canada, and they form part of our great multicultural mosaic that certainly exists throughout this country.
    UNESCO has launched a website devoted entirely to the International Year of Indigenous Languages. The website's homepage reads:
    Languages play a crucial role in the daily lives of people, not only as a tool for communication, education, social integration and development, but also as a repository for each person's unique identity, cultural history, traditions and memory.
    Data from the 2016 census shows that over 70 indigenous languages are spoken throughout this country. It is probably more like over 90. They represent about 260,000 people in this country. These languages reflect unique and rich indigenous cultural heritages, which should be valued by all members of Canadian society. However, under its horrific and brutal system of residential schools, the Canadian government pursued a policy through which the teaching and passing on of indigenous languages from one generation to the next was stamped out. Community knowledge of indigenous languages was severely harmed as a result of this shameful policy.
    Back in 2008, on behalf of the Government of Canada, former prime minister Stephen Harper apologized to the former students of residential schools and acknowledged the terrible harms inflicted on the indigenous people of Canada through this system. At the time, he stated that the government recognized that the consequences of the Indian residential school policy were profoundly negative and that the policy had a lasting and damaging impact on aboriginal culture, heritage and language.
    Our previous Conservative government recognized the damage residential schools inflicted on indigenous communities and on indigenous culture and heritage. The effects on indigenous languages were devastating, as we now know, but our former Conservative government chose to work toward a better future, alongside the indigenous peoples of Canada, by launching the Truth and Reconciliation Commission back in 2008.
    There is much work that certainly needs to be done to support the strengthening and revitalization of indigenous languages, and Conservatives remain committed to supporting the work of indigenous communities to protect and reclaim indigenous languages. The protection of indigenous languages is valuable to all Canadians, as we all know, as part of our shared Canadian heritage.
    Conservatives recognize the inherent value that comes from the preservation of rich and diverse indigenous languages and cultures. However, the Liberal government seems to have introduced the legislation as if it was an afterthought. The Prime Minister promised legislation back in 2016. That was almost two and a half years ago. Now, with only 12 or 13 weeks left in the current parliamentary session, he has decided to table it. He sat on this promise for over two and a half years. During all that time, no such legislation was introduced. Unfortunately, this is a common tactic of the Liberal government, which promises much yet fails to deliver.
    Time and time again, the Liberals have failed in their commitments to indigenous communities across this country by constantly adding to their list of broken promises.

  (1305)  

    Last February, the Prime Minister made a promise in the House of Commons to pursue a new legal framework that would give greater recognition to indigenous rights. He said, “We need to get to a place where indigenous peoples in Canada are in control of their own destinies and making their own decisions about their futures.”
    However, not even a year after making the promise while standing on the floor in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister himself, standing before the Assembly of First Nations, had to apologize for his Liberal government's utter failure to meet its duty to consult with first nations over the Trans Mountain expansion project.
    As we all know, right now the current Liberal government has no plans at all to move forward with any legislation before the next election to implement the legal framework the Prime Minister promised to indigenous communities just last year. These broken promises to indigenous peoples are not only irresponsible, but very harmful as well.
    Speaking on the failure of the Liberal government to introduce its promised legal framework before the next election, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, formerly of Saskatchewan but now director of the University of British Columbia's Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre, stated, “Promising people transformative change and failing is not only disappointing, it's also inhumane. It is a kind of pain and trauma that just gets compounded.”
    Unfortunately, the current Liberal government has a long record of making promises to indigenous communities across this country, only to break those promises as soon as they are made.
    I am going to share some interesting and encouraging facts on indigenous languages from the province of Saskatchewan, the city of Saskatoon, and my riding of Saskatoon—Grasswood.
    Before I became a member of Parliament, I served for nine and a half years as a trustee on the Saskatoon board of education. At that time, we certainly celebrated indigenous language around our board table. I was proud to be involved in the expansion of the indigenous language training program in Saskatoon—Grasswood. In my riding, many students are fortunate to participate in indigenous language instruction. I will name a few schools.
    I will start with Confederation Park Community School, which offers language instruction in Cree. About 280 students are involved, from pre-kindergarten all the way up to grade 8. These students benefit from the Nêhiyâwiwin Cree language and cultural program.
    Westmount Community School provides a Métis cultural program that includes Michif language instruction for students from pre-kindergarten all the way up to grade 8.
    The Charles Red Hawk Elementary School also offers Cree language instruction from pre-kindergarten all the way up to grade 4.
    Mount Royal Collegiate, Princess Alexandra High School and even King George elementary school all provide Cree language instruction.
    The Saskatoon public schools offer instruction in three indigenous languages: Cree, Michif and Dakota. Dakota language and cultural lessons are offered at the Chief Whitecap and Charles Red Hawk schools, and I should mention that Chief Whitecap is a major participant with the Saskatoon board of education on a new education formula.
    St. Frances Cree Bilingual School in my riding of Saskatoon—Grasswood offers Cree education to 440 students from pre-kindergarten to grade 5, and to another 150 students in grades 6 to 8. Because of the growing demand for Cree bilingual education, St. Frances Cree Bilingual School is now serving students at two locations.
    At the Oskayak High School in a neighbouring riding, Cree language instruction is offered to grades 9 to 12, where approximately 70 students are receiving Cree language instruction.
    The Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools offer core Cree language to some 348 students, from pre-kindergarten all the way up to grade 8, at St. Mary's Wellness and Education Centre.
    In conclusion, the Conservatives will support this bill going forward to second reading. We stand committed to reviewing Bill C-91 in committee to ensure that the current Liberal government once again lives up to the promises it has made to all indigenous peoples of Canada.

  (1310)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I am always pleased to ask my colleague from Saskatoon—Grasswood a question.
    I know him well as I work with him on the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs.

[English]

    I do not doubt the member's commitment to Canada's indigenous peoples, but I am a bit confused.
    I listened to the member for Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis earlier, criticizing our government around the implementation of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but I am not really sure that members opposite are committed to implementing those recommendations.
    Would the member clarify his personal commitment to those recommendations, and also the commitment of the Conservative Party?
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member across the way for his involvement on our indigenous affairs committee. He is certainly a valuable member.
    As I said in my speech, it was our Conservative Party that launched the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2008, and it was former prime minister Stephen Harper who took the first step on residential school abuse.
    Conservative members stand fully behind all indigenous peoples, and that was evident in the House of Commons back in 2008. I remember that day, because I was a news broadcaster in the city of Saskatoon. That was one of the greatest days in the history of this country.

  (1315)  

    Madam Speaker, one of the truth and reconciliation calls to action is for the creation of an indigenous languages commissioner, and it is important that this happen.
    If the Conservatives were to form government in the future, would they make sure they protect this office and leave it intact?
    Madam Speaker, I should add that the office of the commissioner will cost $30 million. It will be interesting to see who will be the commissioner. I would imagine the current government would want to establish one before we take over as the official government in 2019, and we all know that is going to happen.
    It will be interesting to watch this file, because the office of the commissioner will have a big say. Will the Liberals leave that to us in October, or will they jump the queue and do it before they leave this session of the House of Commons?
    Madam Speaker, the member basically talked about virtue signalling and is accusing this government of doing that. He then went on to talk about how it was the former prime minister and the former Conservative government that brought in the truth and reconciliation study. When the results came out from that study, the prime minister at the time, Stephen Harper, basically said it was not even on his radar to do anything about it.
    How can the member justify his comments today? In particular, how can he use an example from the truth and reconciliation report to somehow defend Conservative policy?
    Madam Speaker, it is because of former prime minister Stephen Harper that we are here today celebrating. He was the one who made the apology in 2008. It is one of the most famous days in Canadian history. The Liberals had a chance before the Conservatives took over, and they did nothing. It was the Conservative government, led by former prime minister Stephen Harper, that started the ball rolling in 2008.
    That was a bit of a history lesson. It was the Conservatives who started the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2008, and that is why we are here today.
    Where are we on Bill S-3, gender inequity and most of all, the child welfare legislation? We are still waiting today for those three bills.
    I would ask the member for Kingston and the Islands to stand up if he wishes to ask further questions or has further comments, and allow others who have the floor to give their responses without being interrupted.
    Madam Speaker, it is always a pleasure to speak in the House. This is the first time I am giving a speech in this new chamber. I did of course get to ask some questions yesterday, and perhaps there will be more questions today if we can find anything to ask about. I am not sure if there is anything in the news worth asking. We will see in a few minutes, I guess.
    I am proud to represent the Stó:lō communities in the Fraser Valley, in my riding of Chilliwack—Hope. Stó:lō is a Halkomelem word. I hope I have said that right. It means the people of the river. The Halkomelem language is under threat, as is every indigenous language is in British Columbia. All B.C. members of Parliament received some information from a group called the First Peoples' Cultural Council. It reminded us of a few things. I want to quote from that brief to B.C. members of Parliament:
     Our languages are at risk because of the number of speakers who have shifted to speaking English since the time of colonization. This language shift was not by choice, but due to forced assimilation through residential schools and the resulting interrupted intergenerational language transmission. Except for Cree and Anishnaubemowin which both have larger numbers of speakers elsewhere in Canada, the other 32 languages spoken in British Columbia have fewer than 1,000 speakers each, with many having fewer than 100 speakers each.
    The brief goes on to say that the diversity of first nations languages in B.C. is not well recognized, because there are 34 different first nations languages and at least 93 different dialects of those languages. That is what we are talking about when we talk about indigenous languages.
    Just in my home province alone, nearly 100 different dialects are at risk of disappearing forever if we do not work with indigenous communities to preserve them. The Stó:lō communities in my riding have taken action on their own to preserve that language. They are offering language training to children who go to their child care services. They are teaching them not only about their traditional ways but also the traditional language. There are also post-secondary education opportunities, again first nations-led initiatives, to protect their language.
    As we know and as the member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo said earlier today, when indigenous children and youth learn the language of their elders and the language that they perhaps never heard at home, the pride they feel, the connection to their culture, and the change in the health outcomes that come about as a result of that are astounding. Therefore, we need to do everything we can to promote the maintenance, preservation and teaching of indigenous languages for the next generation, because if children growing up in these communities are able to learn the language of their forebears, we will see that the results are so much better for them in terms of health, mental health and cultural outcomes.
    As we have said, we support the bill. We have some concerns we would like to have addressed at committee, because any time we are talking about a section 35 right, adding aboriginal language rights to section 35, we know it will be tested. Section 35 is tested in the courts all the time. There are questions about how to apply it in the Canadian context.
    Therefore, it will be interesting to see how the government presents the bill in terms of what its interpretation is as to how we can integrate aboriginal language rights with section 35 rights, which is something that is already subject to testing by the courts quite often.
    I also want to talk about something my colleague, the member for Saskatoon—Grasswood, said earlier. Part of the residential schools apology was an acknowledgement not only of that dark chapter, but specifically of the harm that was intended to indigenous languages through the residential schools policy.

  (1320)  

    This was not a by-product of residential schools. One of the goals of that system was to eradicate and eliminate first nations and indigenous languages. That is why part of the apology from Prime Minister Stephen Harper on June 11, 2008, said:
    First nations, Inuit and Métis languages and cultural practices were prohibited in these schools...the government now recognizes that the consequences of the Indian residential schools policy were profoundly negative and that this policy has had a lasting and damaging impact on aboriginal culture, heritage and language.
    That is why we will find that any British Columbia MPs who engage in this debate will talk about the fact that these languages are at risk and that in many communities there have been just a handful of elders who are still able to speak the language. The percentage of young people who speak their indigenous language is very low compared with the elders. We have seen that through the Statistics Canada information from 2016. Even though the numbers are there, the percentages are quite low, so we need to do our job as parliamentarians.
     I am hopeful that the bill would actually help to reverse that trend. I say I am hopeful because I have not been very impressed, quite frankly, with how the government's rhetoric has lined up with its actions on the ground for indigenous Canadians.
    The Liberals get an A when it comes to rhetoric talking about indigenous issues. The Prime Minister has said many times there is no relationship more important to him than the relationship with Canada's indigenous peoples, but again and again, we see that the rhetoric does not match the reality.
    We have a disturbing case even today where we are learning more details about someone that all British Columbians were proud of being given a key role in the government. Even though we were on a different side of the aisle, we have great respect for the now Minister of Veterans Affairs, the former attorney general of Canada, the first indigenous woman to hold that post, as she was a decorated and respected leader in the aboriginal communities in British Columbia and a former regional chief. To see what the Prime Minister has done to that minister is criminal, and it might actually be criminal from what we have learned today.
    For having the audacity to point out that the rhetoric of the government on indigenous issues was not meeting the reality, she has been punted out of that key cabinet spot. She used to sit right beside the Prime Minister. Now she could not be farther away in the House of Commons and still be in the cabinet. She spoke truth to power. She said for too long there have been lofty words that do not meet the realities of first nations and indigenous peoples. For that, and perhaps as we are learning today, perhaps because she refused to bend to the will of the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister's Office to interfere in a criminal investigation, perhaps that is another reason why she was punted down to the end of the line and fired as attorney general.
    We are hopeful that this piece of legislation will actually do what it says it will do, that the government will actually follow through on its promise to indigenous Canadians, because far too often, the rhetoric has been lofty. It has been soaring, but the changes and the improvements in the lives of indigenous Canadians have simply not been there. The Liberals have failed time and time again. Indigenous Canadians have paid for the Prime Minister's mistakes and it is time that this was put to an end. It is time that the shameful treatment of the Minister of Veterans Affairs came to light and that the Prime Minister apologize for what he has done to her and for how he has broken his promise time and time again to indigenous Canadians.

  (1325)  

    Madam Speaker, as I have mentioned before, today is a very special day. Before us, we are debating a piece of legislation that deals, in part, with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action. This is something that has been long overdue. We have a Prime Minister who is very much committed to that new relationship with indigenous peoples.
     We look at the content of the legislation and we recognize the true value and impact it is going to have on, for example, many of my constituents in Winnipeg North. I think of Children of the Earth High School. I think of many of the advocates like Sharon Redsky and Cindy Woodhouse. These individuals and so many others in all regions of the country see this legislation as good legislation.
    I wonder if my colleague would recognize the value of the legislation. Does he agree that it would be nice to see the legislation sent to committee, where the many different stakeholders could come before the committee and further comment on the legislation?

  (1330)  

    Madam Speaker, I said at the beginning of my speech that we support the bill and we will be supporting its being sent to committee. However, the bill was tabled in the House on Tuesday morning. It has not yet been 48 hours since we have had access to the bill. We have yet to have people from our communities weigh in on the contents of the bill. While we support it, we believe it is reasonable to discuss the bill here in the House, to continue to have the debate and to talk about the experiences of our communities.
    It has been tabled. It has existed for 48 hours. It was promised in 2016 and we just got it in 2019, so the member will forgive us if we do not see that this was a real priority for the government. However, we intend to send it to committee when the vote comes up for second reading.
    Madam Speaker, I am glad to hear that the Conservative members will be supporting the bill. I note that 2019, by the way, is the International Year of Indigenous Languages, so it is important in this context to discuss this issue.
    Several items were identified by my colleague, the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou. He pointed out that the government neglected in the bill to incorporate the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as part of the bill. The government also neglected to acknowledge the impacts of the sixties scoop and there are other flaws within the bill.
    Therefore, when this matter is sent to committee, I wonder whether the Conservatives will work with my colleague on the amendments that are required to make the bill reflect the intent behind it so that it truly acknowledges the indigenous communities, and then to acknowledge their rights as they have been stated and enshrined under the UN declaration.
    Madam Speaker, of course our members on the Canadian heritage committee will be looking at the testimony that is presented by witnesses. We always work with our colleagues on all sides of the House to determine ways that we can improve legislation. Therefore, we will very carefully examine any reasonable proposals to amend the bill to make it stronger and more reflective of what the experts say it needs. It would not be doing our jobs as parliamentarians to commit to supporting something that we have not yet seen, and before a single witness has been heard.
    Madam Speaker, the member for Chilliwack—Hope was being pressured about getting the bill through the House quickly, and I want to reflect on some of the consultation that I did in the riding of North Okanagan—Shuswap. I toured an indigenous immersion school. The school is having to develop its own books and curriculum and all of its program, but it does not have the funding to do that. That is going to be a big piece of this bill and why we want to take a bit of time to look at it and the costs that could be involved.
    I want to have a comment from the member on why we want to really look at the bill.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the member for North Okanagan—Shuswap for his excellent work representing his communities and for bringing this forward.
    All of us are going home at the end of this week to spend a week in our constituencies, and this is a great opportunity for members who represent indigenous communities to engage with them on this very important file, as I know the member has done and I know all of us will want to do. We will take the time necessary to review the legislation and do it the right way.
     Chi-meegwetch, which means “thank you very much”. I start my remarks in Algonquin, cognizant that I speak today in the House of Commons, which is located on unceded Algonquin territory and also cognizant of this occasion.
    Today, I rise to speak in support of Bill C-91, the indigenous languages act. This legislation is the first of its kind in Canadian history. It begins to turn the page on 400 years of colonialism in this country and systematic efforts by successive governments to sever the ties of indigenous people to their mother tongues.
    I will start with a preliminary comment, which is that all of us fortunate enough to be elected into this place come here with a sense of purpose or an objective in mind. For me, given my background in human rights and constitutional law, I came here wanting to work on issues that relate to fighting for and promoting equality and inclusion. I had in mind certain policy goals that I wanted to pursue. However, I quickly realized that sometimes in this place, we seek out an issue and sometimes an issue seeks us out. I will explain.
    In January, 2017, I was asked by the Prime Minister to serve as the parliamentary secretary to the then minister of heritage. I was then asked by the minister to assist her in the co-development of Canada's first-ever indigenous languages act. I will admit to everyone in this chamber that at first I was very puzzled by this request. I am not a linguist nor am I an expert in anything related to indigenous persons. However, in retrospect, that one request actually changed the direction of my parliamentary career. Why? It is because it simply opened my eyes.
    On arrival here, because of my legal background, I fancied myself a pretty knowledgeable fellow about most human rights issues. However, the reality was that I actually knew very little about the plight of indigenous persons on this land. Tasked by the minister to engage with indigenous leaders, elders, teachers and experts right across the country about what they would like to see in the new legislation, I actually learned a great deal. Most of all, I learned about how little I actually knew and had been taught about indigenous persons, their histories, traditions, languages, and most importantly, their trauma. I learned about the size, scope and extent of the residential school system, its pernicious impact on indigenous people in Canada and the lasting trauma it created.
    Like many in this chamber, I am a parent. Together with my wife, and like many parents in this diverse country, I try to inculcate a sense of culture and tradition in our own little kids, Zakir and Nitin. As a south Asian household, we made efforts to connect our two little boys to the Indian subcontinent by teaching them some language skills, which in our case is Hindi. While the results have not always been perfect, and I will readily admit that the kids still prefer subtitles when they watch Bollywood films, it has not been for a lack of effort on our part.
    Our experience is not any different from countless parents of all different backgrounds around this country, such as Greek, Italian, Arab, Somali, Tibetan, Ukrainian and Polish parents. All parents in this country strive to do much the same in this multicultural nation. However, there is one glaring exception to that list, and that is the experience of indigenous parents and their children in this country, because for indigenous people on this land, their efforts for 150 years to impart their language, and through it their culture, to their children were actively obstructed by the federal state.
    The Government of Canada made it a policy to remove their children from their homes and put them in schools, sometimes hundreds of kilometres away, where those kids were forced to assimilate. If they dared speak Algonquin, Cree, Ojibwa, Dene or Inuktitut, they were beaten. That is the horrible legacy of the residential school system in this country. It is a system that was constructed to literally “take the Indian out of the child”.
    That is where this legislation comes in. The proposed indigenous languages act has, as its express goal, the objective of supporting, promoting and revitalizing indigenous languages in this country. It is an effort to start the long journey toward restoring the vitality of indigenous languages on this land and reversing the ugly legacy of colonialism.
    The teaching of language by any parent in this chamber, by settlers or indigenous persons, is always motivated by the same rationale, that in providing children with language, we connect them to who they are, to their culture. We make them knowledgeable of who they are and where they come from, knowing that in doing so we build up their self-esteem and confidence, and empower them for success. It is so intuitive that we take it for granted that by teaching a child about their culture, they will inevitably do better in terms of their education, economically, and even their health.
    However, in my time spent working as the parliamentary secretary to the minister of heritage on the development of this very bill, I also came across empirical evidence. It was so startling that it has stayed with me for well over two years.

  (1335)  

    We have heard many times in the House about the crisis of mental health and in particular the grave concerns about youth suicide in Canada, particularly indigenous youth suicide.
    One study put all of this into very sharp focus. Conducted in British Columbia, the analysts determined that indigenous youth in that province with a conversational knowledge of their indigenous language had a suicide rate of 13 per 100,000, a number well below the provincial average, which includes non-indigenous youth.
    However, when the researchers removed indigenous language knowledge from the analysis, the youth suicide rate jumped sixfold, to 96 per 100,000, a number exponentially higher than the provincial average. This amply demonstrates that language knowledge not only connects indigenous youth to their culture but can actually help save lives.
    For parliamentarians, there can be no stronger impetus than this for getting on with the critical work of passing this bill into law, yet there are other imperatives that inform this proposed legislation.
    For one thing, there are the sentiments expressed to me by my constituents and by people I heard from right across the country. People in Parkdale—High Park told me they want reconciliation not to be simply a symbolic term, but rather one that materializes in concrete legislative action.
    As well, there is the sheer weight of the statistics. Some 90 different indigenous languages are spoken in this country, and shockingly, not a single one of them is considered safe by UNESCO. Fully three-quarters of them are critically endangered. In addition, there was a near 50% drop between 1996 and 2011 in the number of indigenous persons in this country who reported knowledge of an indigenous mother tongue. This clearly illustrates the threat to the survival of many languages posed by an aging population of fluent elders.
    I can also speak directly to what I heard when I was given the opportunity as parliamentary secretary to engage with indigenous communities across the country. From Halifax to Victoria to the Northwest Territories, what I heard was very similar. It was the sense of rupture, the sense of disconnection from one's culture experienced by so many indigenous persons victimized by the residential school system.
    I recall very vividly a meeting in Saskatchewan during which an indigenous man, who may have been about 50 years old, told the group about being forcibly taken from his family and his community at the age of five, and how he was prohibited from speaking his mother tongue. When I asked him what success would look like a few years after legislation came into force, he said to me simply, “Success would be being able to enter the sweat lodge and actually understand the words being spoken by the elders.”
    Make no mistake, it is indigenous persons that are the focus of this law. Much discussion has taken place in Canada and in this chamber about raising the awareness of indigenous languages among settler populations in this country through the passage of this bill. While that would be commendable, it remains a secondary, corollary aspect of this proposed legislation. The goal of this bill is not, for example, the promotion of Ojibwa fluency among non-indigenous folks in my riding or in any other riding in this country; the goal of this legislation is and has to be restoring language fluency and capacity among indigenous people in Canada so that indigenous people, by reclaiming their language, can reclaim their culture and overcome that sense of rupture I spoke about, the rupture caused by the official policy of assimilation that characterized the residential school system for 150 years.
    This bill also relates to the TRC's calls to action, in particular calls 13, 14 and 15, which call for, among other things, an acknowledgement “that Aboriginal rights include Aboriginal language rights.” That is precisely what proposed section 6 of this bill does.
    The focus of this bill is also on fulfilling the promise of UNDRIP, a document we as a government have committed to implementing. The UN declaration speaks to the right of self-determination of indigenous peoples, which includes “the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages [and] oral traditions”. That statement is entrenched in the preamble to this proposed legislation.
    This is precisely why we took the step of co-developing this proposed legislation with indigenous leaders and national indigenous organizations. The patriarchal days of the federal government telling indigenous people what is best for them are thankfully gone. It is indigenous people who know what is best for indigenous communities, and in this International Year of Indigenous Languages, it is high time we as parliamentarians all started listening to them.
    I will conclude where I began. The protection and promotion of indigenous languages is not something that I ever contemplated working on, but it is an issue that found me. I am tremendously grateful for that, because on this journey I have learned that while there are many social justice causes worthy of pursuit in this country, all of them pale in comparison to the obligation we have as parliamentarians to redress the historical injustices perpetuated against indigenous persons on this land over the last 400 years of colonialism. The indigenous languages act is one small but very significant step on the path to reconciliation, and it deserves all of our support.

  (1340)  

[Translation]

    Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to the parliamentary secretary, as I do with all hon. members who rise to speak here.
    There seems to be great consensus on the spirit of the legislation. We want to move forward and recognize this, but this has to be done correctly. We cannot botch this because we know there are 60 or so indigenous languages to be promoted and protected. That is why we are here in the House of Commons. We will send this bill to parliamentary committee to take a serious look at it. We need to take our time and deal with this properly.
    I will speak to this bill later because, with an indigenous community in my riding, I have some things to say. There are more than 100 MPs here with indigenous communities in their ridings and they will have some things to say.
    Would the parliamentary secretary agree to allow all those who want to speak to this bill to do so?
    Everyone agrees that this is a non-partisan issue, but we must address it properly.

  (1345)  

    Madam Speaker, I appreciate the intervention and comments made by my colleague opposite. I have two things to say in response.
    First of all, we drafted this bill in collaboration with indigenous communities. In other words, we have already consulted them. We reviewed this bill very carefully with several indigenous communities from across Canada, including Inuit, Métis and first nations.
    Second, our priority is not to simply introduce this bill, but rather we want to make sure it receives royal assent. We have already fallen too far behind when it comes to indigenous peoples. After 400 years of colonialism, we need to get this done as soon as possible.

[English]

    Madam Speaker, I want to especially thank the parliamentary secretary for highlighting the importance of languages in saving lives.
    I can testify that I heard from Timmy Masso from the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation. He is 15. He is a language speaker. He was encouraged to learn his language when his brother, Hjalmer Wenstob, was sick. He was in a health crisis. It was language and prayers that helped to heal Hjalmer. It was not just about preventing suicide, but for health reasons.
    Timmy is a great leader in our community. He wants to ensure that our language gets the important investment that it needs, not just for elders but for youth. In fact, one of our elders who is a native language holder and speaker, Levi Martin, sent a note today saying, “In our culture, first nation people do not have to be certified or have a permit to be who they are. Our people who are recognized and do a good job of teaching should be paid the same rate as other teachers. Some of our people teach teachers, so they are like professors and should be paid as such.”
    My question is for the member. Will the government deliver much-needed urgent funding? Every day we are losing speakers who are the holders of language that is saving lives. Will the member ensure that the necessary investments go to the communities so that the communities can ensure the money goes to the right resources, so that language is passed on to the next generation?
    Madam Speaker, I appreciate this intervention. It is critically important. We heard that over and over again in the consultations—that what we need is supports in terms of resources and what we need is stable, long-term, predictable funding.
    I have a few things to say in response. First, we have set out a funding model in this legislation that could allow for five-year agreements, as opposed to one year, which is usually the norm. Second, in terms of the good faith we have already shown, through the aboriginal languages initiative and other money that was dedicated two years ago, $89.9 million was provided for a three-year spend, just as an interim gesture of good faith to demonstrate to indigenous communities around the country that we believe in support through resources.
    The third response is that in this legislation, for what I understand to be the first time ever, we have included a duty on the minister responsible to actively consult with indigenous leaders about the funding. The funding is not a questionable issue and the funding is going to follow. Because consultation is a requirement, indigenous leaders are going to speak to the government about how much funding is required.
    Madam Speaker, what a privilege it is to speak in support of this legislation. I anticipate all members on all sides of this House will eventually support it. I am encouraged by the words that have been spoken already today regarding how important it is that this legislation passes. It is just going to be a question of time. I ask colleagues from all sides of the chamber to recognize the value of the legislation. We have seen legislation pass rather quickly in the past. In fact, if the political will is there, legislation can be passed within hours. It is just an issue of the political desire for that to be the case with this legislation.
    It is an important piece of legislation and it is consistent with what the Prime Minister has talked about since day one. When we talk about the importance of establishing a relationship with indigenous people across Canada, this is one of the things we can do to send a very strong and positive message.
     The first individuals I would like to acknowledge and thank are the indigenous leaders, who communicated within the department and with different stakeholders to ensure we better understood how very important language is for indigenous people. I attribute the strong leadership from indigenous people for ultimately causing us to bring forward the legislation.
    When the reconciliation report came out, the Prime Minister, or the leader of the Liberal Party at the time, indicated support for the many calls to action within the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report. When we think of truth and reconciliation, we have to think about the calls to action, which is what we are addressing today. The credit goes to the individuals who made presentations for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report, individuals like Senator Sinclair and many others, for the fine work they did in ensuring we had these calls to action in the first place.
     I have a copy of the 94 calls to action, and number 13 states:
    We call upon the federal government to acknowledge that Aboriginal rights include Aboriginal language rights.
     Call to action number 14 states:
    We call upon the federal government to enact an Aboriginal Languages Act that incorporates the following principles:
i. Aboriginal languages are a fundamental and valued element of Canadian culture and society, and there is an urgency to preserve them.
ii. Aboriginal language rights are reinforced by the Treaties.
    iii. The federal government has a responsibility to provide sufficient funds for Aboriginal-language revitalization and preservation.
iv. The preservation, revitalization, and strengthening of Aboriginal languages and cultures are best managed by Aboriginal people and communities.
v. Funding for Aboriginal language initiatives must reflect the diversity of Aboriginal languages.

  (1350)  

    Call to action number 15 states:
    We call upon the federal government to appoint, in consultation with Aboriginal groups, an Aboriginal Languages Commissioner. The commissioner should help promote Aboriginal languages and report on the adequacy of federal funding of Aboriginal-languages initiatives.
    That comes right from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the calls to action. Today, we have heard a good number of people speak about the importance of reconciliation. We understand and we appreciate just how important language is to the very fabric of our heritage. It is not too late.
    This legislation, I would argue, is very timely. We heard the Prime Minister, not that long ago, make a commitment to indigenous people to establish that relationship, and we have seen actions by different departments to fulfill that. There have been other calls to action that have been fulfilled. Today, the minister of heritage has brought forward a piece of legislation, after doing the work that is necessary in working with indigenous leaders and many other stakeholders, and presented what I believe is historic legislation here in the House of Commons.
    I ask that members across the way recognize it, as we have recognized important legislation in the past. When we have recognized that, we are seeing fit to ensure that it passes through. That is my call to my colleagues across the way.
    It was just yesterday that we passed a bill on to a committee after one and a half hours of debate. Given that it was a private member's piece of legislation, it is totally different, but we have seen government legislation also pass in one day. If the political will and the desire and recognition are there, I would ask, if not this type of legislation, then what other kind of legislation merits the type of support that is being provided here?
    At the opening of this session, we had some historical things take place. At the opening of this beautiful chamber, we had a smudging ceremony. The member for Winnipeg Centre, my colleague and friend, said his entire speech in an indigenous language. Earlier today, another member of Parliament spoke his entire speech in an indigenous language. That in itself is new because, for the first time in these last couple of weeks, we have actually been able to have interpretation services. If someone is speaking in an indigenous language here on the floor of the House of Commons in Ottawa, we can actually understand what that person said because it was being interpreted. We recognize that members of Parliament, on all sides of this House, value the importance of indigenous languages.
    In Winnipeg North we have great diversity of indigenous languages that are spoken. I am not that good in terms of my pronunciation, but some examples are Anishinaabe, Dene, Oji-Cree and Michif. A diversity of indigenous languages can be found in Winnipeg North. The constituents who I represent come from all over the province of Manitoba and have lived on reserves throughout. My riding has high schools like Children of the Earth and many others that would welcome the opportunity to see this legislation put into place. Our educational system is so critically important in terms of participation.
    Our minister and the Government of Canada are playing their role by bringing forward the legislation. We are calling upon the other stakeholders, such as the provinces, school boards and municipalities. Most important is for us to work with the strong leadership within the indigenous community. I look to people like Sharon Redsky and Cindy Woodhouse, two outstanding individuals who I have got to know and often take advice from. They both live in Winnipeg North.
    We can all, I believe, contribute to reconciliation today by recognizing the value and importance of what it is that we are hoping to accomplish.

  (1355)  

    If we understand and appreciate just how important this issue is to our indigenous people, I suggest we pass it. Let us get it to committee, where we can hear other stakeholders' concerns and opinions.
    There will be five minutes for questions and comments when the House next takes up this topic.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[Translation]

Single Tax Return in Quebec

    Mr. Speaker, not only are the Liberals refusing to let Quebec have a single tax return, but they are belittling us as well. They are telling us they do not think we could handle it all by ourselves.
     The Minister of Infrastructure, a Quebecker, actually suggested that Quebec should not be allowed to collect tax and that everything should be centralized in Ottawa. We saw how well that worked with the Phoenix system. The Minister of National Revenue, also a Quebecker, even brought up the idea of forcing Quebec to give up its tax return to the federal government. The Prime Minister, another Quebecker, went as far as to say that allowing a single tax return would be pandering to Quebec's childish behaviour. The Liberals are calling Quebec's requests childish.
    We need to realize that the Liberals gave the game away with their arrogant answers about the single tax return for Quebec. They figure that trampling on Quebec boosts their image in the rest of Canada, and apparently that is the only thing that matters.

  (1400)  

[English]

Eric Hoaken

    Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, February 3, the legal community lost one of its most respected and celebrated lawyers, Eric Russell Hoaken. Eric's greatest love was undoubtedly his four children, Greta, Miles, Thea and Celia. His love for them was only rivalled by the adoration he had for his wife, Lisa.
    Beyond family, he loved the law and the legal community, and be assured, the legal community certainly loved him back. His dedication, piercing wit and keen intelligence earned Eric much acclaim as a litigation star, yet Eric was always striving to have an even greater impact, and he devoted much energy to mentoring others. He served on the board of directors of both The Advocates' Society and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.
    Eric's infectious spirit left a profound mark on all those who had the privilege of knowing him. His integrity and professionalism exemplified the highest traditions not only of the bar but of humanity itself.

Children's Fitness

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday I was proud to announce my private member's bill, the new children's fitness tax credit. In 2006, I chaired the panel that recommended the children's fitness tax credit, and when I joined the Conservative government in 2011, 1.4 million families received the credit. In 2014, the credit became refundable for low-income families, and 1.8 million families were claiming it.
    The initiative encourages active kids while making it more affordable for parents. Studies indicate that, from the time the credit was implemented, participation rates increased in sports and other activities.
    Shockingly, the credit was eliminated by the present government in 2017. Today, I ask all members to support the bill and help make Canada the best place in the world for a child to grow up. I encourage members to support active and healthy kids. For more information, one can go to healthykidshealthycanada.ca.

Margaret Walsh

    Mr. Speaker, it was with a heavy heart that I heard of the passing of Margaret Walsh in December, in her 96th year. She was a selfless person with an overwhelming desire to serve, and she played such a big part in so many lives in my community.
    After teaching for many years, including in a one-room school house in Lonsdale, where I live, she became the first female reeve of Tyendinaga township and the first female warden of Hastings County, serving 20 years on council.
     Margaret Walsh was also a close friend of mine, and she was my personal mentor from my time on council in Tyendinaga township and in our multi-decade fight against the Richmond landfill, alongside other community activists. During those days of activism, Chief Maracle of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte remembers fondly that he referred to her as the “rebel reeve” of Ontario, and she would just laugh. She had such an impish laugh. She was a remarkable, passionate fighter, and she will be missed.

Oldest First Nations Newspaper

    Mr. Speaker, I am very proud that the Nuu-chah-nulth territory in my riding is home to Canada's oldest first nations newspaper, Ha-Shilth-Sa, which celebrated its 45th anniversary on January 24.
    The driving force behind this outstanding publication was the great Nuu-chah-nulth leader, the late George Watts and was brought to life by the late Bob Soderlund, Dave Wiwchar, Debora Steel and so many others over the past four and a half decades.
    Ha-Shilth-Sa has maintained the highest standards of journalism throughout its distinguished history while staying true to its mandate as a unifying force among the 14 Nuu-chah-nulth nations.
    I urge all those who want to understand the day-to-day issues faced by the Nuu-chah-nulth people, while celebrating their many individual and collective achievements, to make a habit of visiting Hashilthsa.ca. They will not regret it.

  (1405)  

Ray Walsh

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today with great pride to honour the life and legacy of Ray Walsh. Mr. Walsh was a long-time musician known for his significant contribution to music in Newfoundland and Labrador. Sadly, Ray passed away on January 27 at the age of 75.
    Hailing from Bay de Verde, Ray moved to Marystown to teach and joined the Marystown Band in 1961 before becoming a star on CBC's Saturday Night Jamboree and All Around the Circle from 1964 until 1975.
    Famous for his work on the piano accordion and a schoolteacher by trade, he was awarded the lifetime achievement award from the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival in 2013 for his contributions to the cultural fabric of our province through his talent and passion for music.
    On behalf of all the residents of Bonavista—Burin—Trinity and the entire province, I offer my sincere condolences to his family and friends. I thank him for the music. May he rest in peace.

Canadian Pulse Farmers

    Mr. Speaker, as a farmer that cherishes the magnificent variety of top-quality food produced by Canadian farmers and ranchers, I am pleased today to recognize the contribution of Canadian lentils, peas, beans and chickpeas, otherwise known as pulses.
    Pulses benefit Canadian farms and farmers in a number of ways. The crop makes its own fertilizer by producing nitrogen. It has very efficient water use, and pulses generally have a slightly different growing season from most crops, allowing farmers to diversify their production and workload.
    For all Canadians we also know that pulses are one of many great sources of protein, fibre and other key nutrients like iron, folate and potassium.
    As we celebrate the international day of pulses on February 10, we need to remind the government of the important role that all Canadian farmers, including pulse farmers, play in providing Canadians with a healthy, inexpensive and plentiful supply of top-quality foods.

[Translation]

Auguste Choquette

    Mr. Speaker, many great men and women have had the privilege of working in this place and serving their constituents and their country.
    Today I want to pay tribute to one of those people, my friend Auguste Choquette. Son and grandson of politicians, Mr. Choquette was born into politics. He had a brilliant career as a lawyer and proudly represented the people of Lotbinière from 1963 to 1968 alongside Lester B. Pearson, with whom he had the privilege of voting to adopt the maple leaf as our national flag. He was very proud of that.
    August Choquette left politics in 1968, but politics never left him. His was very involved in his community, always busy even at age 86. He was always quick to share stories, advice and insight with those fortunate enough to cross paths with him. He was exceptionally generous, clear-sighted, famously eloquent, honourable and quick-witted.
    Auguste Choquette passed away on December 21, at Maison Michel-Sarrazin, in Quebec City. True to form, in lieu of funeral services he asked that people make donations to the Michel-Sarrazin hospice centre where he lived out his days in good hands.
    I would like to extend my condolences to his family and friends and invite my colleagues to make a donation to Maison Michel-Sarrazin.

[English]

Canadian Junior Curling Championships

    Mr. Speaker, last weekend, B.C.'s Team Tardi brought home a third national gold title at the 2019 Canadian Junior Curling Championships, making it their third title in a row and the first team to ever do so.
    Team Tardi consists of skip Tyler Tardi, third Sterling Middleton, second Matthew Hall and lead Alex Horvath. The coach is Tyler's father Paul. The young Lower Mainland curlers are a Langley-based team.
    On Sunday, the gold-medal round was held at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, where Tardi and his team triumphed over JT Ryan's Manitoba team by the score of 7-5.
    The team will be representing Canada at the 2019 World Junior Curling Championships in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, from February 16 to 23. Once again, I invite my colleagues to join me in congratulating Team Tardi in another remarkable and record-setting win, and wish them the best of luck at the World Juniors.

Carbon Pricing

    Mr. Speaker, the residents of Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River cannot afford the Liberal carbon tax.
    A farmer just 25 kilometres northeast of Meadow Lake is asking how much the carbon tax is going to increase his operating costs. Northern forest workers also have concerns about what the carbon tax is going to mean for their jobs. Families trying to make their household budgets last to the end of the month are concerned about the impact the carbon tax will have on their monthly grocery and electricity bills.
    The Liberals carbon tax, let us be honest, is not a serious plan to cut emissions. It is simply a tax grab that will cost northerners hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a year.
    When will the Prime Minister realize the damage he has done to northern Saskatchewan?

  (1410)  

Birthday Congratulations

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Arnold Hawkins, who celebrated his 108th birthday on January 30.
    Born in 1911, Arnold has lived his entire life near the water in Beaver Harbour, New Brunswick, and lives in the home that he built in the 1930s.
    Not only is Arnold a great role model and father, he was also a hard-working fisherman for more than 40 years. Arnold fished mostly for haddock because he believed the water by Beaver Harbour had the best-tasting haddock. Arnold has seen a lot of changes over the years and can recall the first time the roads in Beaver Harbour were paved.
    I would like to share my best wishes to my oldest constituent in New Brunswick Southwest and my best wishes to his family: his five children, 14 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren.
     I wish Arnold a happy 108th birthday.

200th Anniversary of Province House

    Mr. Speaker, this year Province House, home to Nova Scotia's legislature, turns 200 years old. I quote:
    It stands, and will stand, I hope, to the latest posterity, a proud record of the Public Spirit, at this period of our History: And as I do consider this magnificent work equally honorable and useful to the Province, I recommend it to your continued protection.
    Those are the words of Lord Dalhousie, governor of Nova Scotia, at the opening of Province House 200 years ago.
    More than the symmetry of its Palladian architecture, its locally quarried sandstone or the fine quality of its ornamental plasterwork, Province House has been an esteemed home to history for two centuries. It is where Joseph Howe fought for freedom of the press. It is where Nova Scotia peacefully established the first responsible government in the British Empire. It is where we joined Confederation in 1867.
    It is where future generations of Nova Scotians, again in the words of Lord Dalhousie, will continue in “this magnificent work”.

Government Priorities

    Mr. Speaker, life is expensive enough. The Prime Minister's policies are making it worse and Canadians are paying for his mistakes.
    The Prime Minister broke his own ethics law by accepting a lavish vacation and left taxpayers with the bill. Even with his NAFTA rollover, the Prime Minister could not get U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum removed, a hit to Canadian businesses and consumers. The Prime Minister will not stop illegal border crossers. That bill keeps on climbing, and so too do Canadians' taxes, just to pay for Liberal mistakes.
    The Prime Minister's never-ending deficits will mean tax hikes after the election, if he gets another chance. Because of him the wealthiest pay less while the middle class pay more and he thinks low-income Canadians pay none. He is wrong. The Prime Minister has never had to worry about money. That is why he does not worry about Canadians' money.
    Our leader understands the struggles families face, because he has faced them himself. He has a plan to control spending, balance the budget and lower taxes so that Canadians can get ahead, not just get by.
    This year, Canadians can stop paying for Liberal mistakes and choose Conservative leadership to get ahead.

Syrian Entrepreneurs

    Mr. Speaker, from Peace by Chocolate in Antigonish to Aleppo Savon in Calgary, Syrian refugees are making a difference by opening businesses and creating jobs for Canadians. I would like to recognize a Syrian newcomer business in my riding of Scarborough Centre: Aleppo Kebab.
    Zakaria Al Mokdad was a restaurant owner in Syria before fleeing the civil war with his family and coming to Canada. He spent a year improving his English before working at Paramount Fine Foods, a restaurant chain founded by another successful immigrant entrepreneur, Mohamad Fakih. Two weeks ago, Zakaria opened Aleppo Kebab, offering delicious Syrian food to the people of Scarborough and he is paying it forward, offering jobs to other newcomers to Canada. The customer favourite is the Aleppo kebab, with its unique blend of Syrian spices. It is my favourite, too.
    These Syrian newcomer success stories are proof of what we all know: immigration matters.

  (1415)  

[Translation]

Paul Dewar

    Mr. Speaker, I am profoundly sad as I rise today to pay tribute to our colleague and friend Paul Dewar, who passed away yesterday.
    Paul was a courageous man who was determined to build a better world for everyone. Paul was a strong, compassionate voice on topics like nuclear disarmament, human rights, peace and justice.

[English]

    Paul dedicated his life to public service as a teacher, union leader and parliamentarian. Even in his last year, while battling cancer, he still poured his spirit into his legacy initiative to empower young Canadians, Youth Action Now.
    We love Julia, Nathaniel and Jordan. Our entire New Democrat family grieves with them.
    Let us heed Paul's final message to us:
    

...may we be bound together by joyous celebration of life.
We are best when we love and when we are loved.
Shine on like diamonds in the magic of this place.

Paul Dewar

    Mr. Speaker, Paul Dewar was a public servant, a parliamentarian, a community advocate, a teacher, a father and a husband.
    I have fond memories of attending events with him in our shared city of Ottawa and him giving me the occasional ride home when my car would not start. I also remember his kindness to people, those he did know and those who were just strangers. We lost Paul yesterday, a tragic loss to his family and to the entire city.
    On behalf of Conservatives, I offer his family our condolences. On behalf of my community, I offer him our thanks.
    I share with everyone his words from just yesterday:
    

In the stoic stillness of my journey,
I have found my way to peace.

    May he rest in peace.

Paul Dewar

    Mr. Speaker, I too rise today in great sadness after the passing of our good friend Paul Dewar, who was taken from us far too soon.
    Paul was a true parliamentarian. He was principled. He stood up for human rights and for those who had no voice. Even after his tragic diagnosis, he launched Youth Action Now to encourage engagement among young people. From his mother Marion, Paul inherited an absolute love of our city and its people. His graciousness, sincerity and compassion made it easy to reach across party lines to work together for a better city and a better world.
    Today, Ottawa has lost one of its great citizens. Our hearts go out in sympathy to his family and to the many, many people whose lives he touched. From his final words, we draw inspiration. He said, “Let's embrace each other in these days of cynicism and doubt.”
    

Smile and play...
Laugh and dance...
Give and share...

    We will miss Paul.
    I join all hon. members in mourning the loss of Paul Dewar. He was a good man and he leaves behind a legacy of devoted service to his country and his community.

[Translation]

    Paul leaves behind his family and loved ones, but also the many Canadians who saw him as a generous and compassionate man.

[English]

    I had the pleasure of playing hockey with Paul, as many of us did, numerous times, and I can say that by MP hockey standards, he was a very good player. He was a gentleman on and off the ice, and I understand he was also a wonderful hockey dad.
    The New Democratic Party has placed books of condolence in both lobbies and members are invited to inscribe their messages for Paul's family.

[Translation]

    There have been discussions among representatives of all the parties in the House, and I understand that there is unanimous consent to observe a moment of silence in memory of our former colleague and friend, Paul Dewar.
    I invite members to rise and observe a moment of silence.
    [A moment of silence observed]

  (1420)  

Oral Question Period

    Before we proceed to oral questions, I want to make a statement on what I have observed in recent days.
    As members know, question period is an opportunity to hold the government accountable for its administrative policies and for the conduct of ministers in their official capacities.

[English]

    I have listened carefully and patiently, perhaps too patiently, to questions put forward this week, some of which clearly fell outside the scope of permissible questions, since they had little to do with the administrative responsibility of the government. In addition, some of these questions were couched in language that amounted to a personal attack. This is also not permitted. I would caution members now, before we begin, that to maintain the dignity of this House, I will not allow such questions or such personal attacks. I will interrupt any member who asks a question that raises a matter that does not properly deal with public policy.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    The hon. member for Banff—Airdrie will come to order.

[Translation]

    The President: There are other ways to ask questions so they fall within the administrative responsibility of the government. I am confident that members know how to formulate legitimate questions. If they cannot, I will give the floor to another member.

[English]

    I am sure that all hon. members want to have a question period in which issues are dealt with with seriousness, rigour, and yes, intensity. It also needs to be respectful. I hope this will be the case today in going forward.
    An hon. member: Oh, oh!
    The President: Order. The hon. member for St. Albert—Edmonton will also come to order.

[Translation]

    Thank you in advance for your co-operation.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[Translation]

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, the Globe and Mail has published very troubling allegations about interference from the Prime Minister's Office and his staff in a criminal case.
    Can the Prime Minister confirm that neither he nor any member of his staff had communications with the former attorney general about the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin?
     Mr. Speaker, at no point have I been pressured or directed by the Prime Minister or the Prime Minister's Office to make any decision on this or any other matter.
    As the Attorney General of Canada, I am the government's senior legal advisor. I provide legal advice to the government and must act in the public interest. I take these responsibilities very seriously.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, that was not the question. We have heard the Prime Minister's very carefully scripted legalistic answer.
    However, the question is: Did anyone in the Prime Minister's Office, at any time, communicate with anyone in the former attorney general's office on the matter of the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, yes or no?

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister has said, earlier today, these allegations are false.
    Mr. Speaker, that was not the question. The question was whether or not anyone in the Prime Minister's Office, at any time, had communications with anyone in the former attorney general's office on the subject matter of the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. This is a yes or no answer. Which is it?
    Mr. Speaker, I will repeat once again, as the Prime Minister has said, earlier today, these allegations in The Globe and Mail are false.
    Mr. Speaker, again, he cannot answer a simple yes or no question.
    I will ask him a slightly different question. According to the lobbyists registry, SNC-Lavalin lobbied the government dozens of times. In those meetings with senior officials, did the subject of its criminal prosecution ever come up, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, I was not privy to those conversations. As the Prime Minister has said, earlier today, these allegations are false.
    Mr. Speaker, since the Prime Minister cannot answer these questions, I will answer part of that for him. At least 14 times, according to the lobbyists registry, meetings with SNC-Lavalin touched on the subjects of “justice” and “law enforcement”.
    In those meetings where “justice” and “law enforcement” were brought up, were subject matters dealing with the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin ever touched upon, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister outlined today, he has not given directives to either my predecessor or myself on this matter.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, this is still very troubling because when we look at the chain of events, we see that SNC-Lavalin illegally donated nearly $110,000 to the Liberal Party and its associations in 2006.
    Today, SNC-Lavalin needs help because it is in trouble. Therefore, the machinery was set in motion. SNC-Lavalin and the government have held more than 50 meetings in the past two years. Why? It is because SNC-Lavalin would like the Liberals to drop the fraud and corruption charges against the corporation. The minister of justice was fired and everyone was wondering why.
    Was she fired because, in the end, a crony is a crony?
    Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister said earlier today, those allegations are false. Neither the Prime Minister nor his office put my predecessor or me under pressure or gave any directives.
    Mr. Speaker, let's talk about his predecessor. As we know, the simplest explanation is often the best one.
    SNC-Lavalin and the Liberal Party have very close ties, so close that illegal donations have been made. SNC-Lavalin needs help, and the Prime Minister's Office seems keen to lend the company a hand. The PMO put pressure on the minister of justice to overlook accusations of fraud and corruption against the company. She refused and got sacked.
     Now we see why, in her farewell letter, she said, “It is a pillar of our democracy that our system of justice be free from even the perception of political interference and uphold the highest levels of public confidence.”
    Who in the Prime Minister's Office put—
    Order. The hon. Minister of Justice.
     Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister stated today, he has not given directives to my predecessor, nor did he pressure her. For my part, as Attorney General of Canada, I can assure the House that I have received neither pressure nor direction from either the Prime Minister's Office or the Prime Minister himself.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians were confused and shocked when the first indigenous justice minister was summarily fired without explanation. In her letter to Canadians, she warned that an attorney general must ”speak truth to power” and “It is a pillar of our democracy that our system of justice be free from even the perception of political interference.”
     In the bombshell report from The Globe and Mail, we now understand truly what she meant, because when the now former justice minister refused to drop the fraud and corruption trial against SNC-Lavalin, she was fired.
    Again, did anyone in the Prime Minister's Office communicate with the former justice minister about this case, yes or no?

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister said earlier today, neither the Prime Minister nor his office put my predecessor or myself under pressure nor gave any directives. These allegations contained in The Globe and Mail are false.
    Mr. Speaker, we can see what the Liberals are doing. A carefully crafted denial that is not a denial at all. The same company found guilty of corruption and fraud was also caught illegally donating more than $100,000 to those same Liberals. SNC-Lavalin was rewarded. When it faced corruption and fraud charges, the Liberals leaned on their own justice minister not to go to trial but to get a plea deal.
    Do Liberals seriously expect Canadians to believe that all of these illegal and troubling events implicating the Prime Minister's Office itself and the former justice minister are all somehow just a coincidence?
    Mr. Speaker, at no point have I been directed or pressured by the Prime Minister or the Prime Minister's Office to make any decision in this or any other matter. As the Attorney General of Canada, I am the chief legal officer of the Crown and have the responsibility to give legal advice to the government in the public interest. I take these responsibilities very seriously—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. I am having difficulty hearing the answers. I would appreciate members' co-operation.
    The hon. leader of the opposition.
    Mr. Speaker, he might not have been “directed to”, but he was certainly promoted based on his willingness to go along with the PMO on this.

[Translation]

    Let me try this again.
    SNC-Lavalin met with the Prime Minister's Office at least 14 times on the subjects of justice and law enforcement. Some of the meetings were with the PMO principal secretary.
    Did the subject of the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin come up during the meetings at the Prime Minister's Office, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister said earlier today, he did not give any directives to my predecessor. For my part, I can assure the House that I have received neither pressure nor direction from either the Prime Minister or Prime Minister's Office regarding any decisions on this matter. As the Attorney General of Canada, I take my responsibilities very seriously.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the new Attorney General is trying to hide behind the Prime Minister's carefully scripted legal response this morning, but the question is quite simple. It is direct about dealings on the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.
    I will ask the attorney general again. Was he ever contacted by anyone in the Prime Minister's Office about this case before he was promoted to the position of attorney general?
    Mr. Speaker, as I have said, I have received neither pressure nor direction from either the Prime Minister or the Prime Minister's Office with respect to the decision that could be made in this particular file.
    As a Quebec member of Parliament who reads the newspapers, I did know about this case, but it does not transfer into my role as Attorney General.
    Mr. Speaker, the question was not about the Prime Minister's carefully-vetted answer this morning. The question was about himself. Yes, he may have been aware of this case, but the question was very specific.
     Was he ever contacted by anyone in the PMO about the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin before he was named to his new post of Attorney General? Did those conversations happen, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, perhaps the former attorney general can shed some light on this issue. It is quite clear that we are seeing the beginnings of a cover-up here. The former attorney general prided herself on speaking truth to power. She spoke truth to power behind closed doors and the Prime Minister fired her.
    Will she now speak truth to power in front of all Canadians and confirm whether or not she received any communication from the Prime Minister's Office regarding the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, yes or no?

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister said earlier today, neither my predecessor nor myself have received directives with respect to the dealing of this particular case.
    As the Attorney General of Canada, I take my responsibilities to give advice in the public interest to the government very seriously. I will continue to do so.
    Mr. Speaker, that question was for the former attorney general. It is clear that the Prime Minister has fired her, and now he is silencing her.
     Why will he not allow her to answer the question as to whether or not she received any communications between the Prime Minister's Office and her own regarding the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin? Did those conversations happen, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister dealt with this matter very clearly earlier today. He stated that neither he nor anyone in his office pressured my predecessor or myself to come to any particular decision in this matter.
     As the Prime Minister stated earlier today, the allegations contained in The Globe and Mail article are false.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a pillar of our democracy that our system of justice be free from even the perception of political interference and uphold the highest levels of public confidence. As such, it has always been my view that the Attorney General of Canada must be non-partisan, more transparent in the principles that are the basis of decisions and, in this respect, always willing to speak truth to power. Those are the words and principles of the former attorney general.
    Why did the Prime Minister fire her for refusing to break them?
    Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister said earlier today, neither he nor anyone in his office directed my predecessor or myself to come to any particular result in this case.
     As the Attorney General of Canada, I am the chief law officer of the Crown and I provide legal service to the government, with a responsibility to act in the public interest. I take this responsibility very seriously.

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, I met a young mother in Cat Lake this week who wept as she told me that her 12-year-old was so disfigured from rashes and impetigo that she had quit school, she hid under a blanket and she would not let her own mother see her face. Last week, the minister offered to send up some light switch covers. That does not cut it in a country as rich as Canada.
    I am asking the minister if he will stand in the House and commit today to a full independent medical team to go into Cat Lake to assess every child living in those mould-infested shacks, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, we all share the member's concerns. Today we are in direct connect with the leadership of Cat Lake on all the challenges it is facing. We have heard very clearly from the community the serious concerns around health, safety and the quality of housing. Another meeting is taking place with the community leadership and partners, as we speak, to advance immediate action and long-term planning. We will continue to work directly with the community to address these issues.
    Mr. Speaker, well, I am thankful that another minister had to stand up for the minister who is missing in action. I will tell members what the chief just wrote today—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    I know the hon. member realizes that we cannot call attention to the presence or absence of a member, so I would ask him to carry on without that kind of reference.
    Mr. Speaker, I said that the minister had not done his job. I have a letter from the chief, who wrote, “Your department was given ample time and information.” They have received nothing but unrelenting barriers, outright refusals from the representatives and roadblocks.
    Therefore, I would like to ask the minister to stop hiding beneath the desk, stand up, show some leadership and go to Cat Lake. Hell, I will take him there myself.
    Mr. Speaker, as we have said, we are working directly with the community of Cat Lake. The minister is in contact with the chief and another meeting is taking place today with senior officials.
     We are accelerating work on needed repairs. We are accelerating the construction currently under way on new homes. We are establishing a task force with the community leadership and the Windigo tribal council. We continue to work diligently with Cat Lake to solve these issues.

  (1440)  

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, today The Globe and Mail reported that the former minister of justice was pressured by officials in the PMO to politically intervene in the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. Was the former minister of justice fired by the Prime Minister because she refused to do his dirty work? Did she pay the price for his mistakes?
    Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister said earlier today, no direction was given to my predecessor. No direction has been given to myself in regard to this decision.
     As the Attorney General of Canada, I am the chief legal officer of the Crown. I take my responsibility to give advice, in the public interest, to the government very seriously.
    Mr. Speaker, The Globe and Mail article raises serious allegations against the PMO about trying to politically intervene in the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, thereby interfering with the independence of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada.
    We all know what happened next. The Prime Minister fired the former attorney general, because, as she said, she “spoke truth to power”.
    Did the Prime Minister fire the former attorney general because she refused to do his dirty work, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister has said, no such direction was given to my predecessor. No such direction has been given to me.
    Once again, as the Attorney General of Canada and the chief legal officer of the Crown, I provide legal advice to the government based on the public interest. I take these responsibilities very seriously.

[Translation]

     Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada's notes are looking a little worn. We know that he did not receive any directives. He has repeated that 20 times.
    Did the Prime Minister put pressure on the former attorney general of Canada to ask the director of public prosecutions to drop criminal proceedings? That seems fishy. Did the Prime Minister make her pay for his mistakes?
    Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister said earlier today, there was no pressure on my predecessor and there were no directives. The same goes for me. I was not pressured and did not receive any directives from the Prime Minister or his office.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians know that from the day the Liberals took office, from the Prime Minister down, the proclaimed ethical standards and the “go-beyond-the-letter-of-the law” ministerial mandate letters were simply window dressing, empty words. Every violation exposed by the Ethics Commissioner was sloughed off with, “The PM is working with the commissioner.”
    Today's revelations of alleged corruption in the highest office in Canada, attempted interference in criminal justice and punishment of a minister who resisted demand answers and accountability now.
    Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister said earlier today, the allegations contained in the article are false.

[Translation]

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, this evening, a Liberal motion to improve employment insurance sickness benefits will be moved in the House. It looks like the Liberals have finally seen the light and realized that 15 weeks to heal is not enough.
    I am very proud to have stood up with my NDP colleagues and hammered home the message that 15 weeks is not enough.
    My question is simple. Will the Liberals support their Liberal colleague and increase the 15 weeks of EI sickness benefits?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank all members of the House for being sensitive to the major struggles all too often faced by our families.
    I also want to thank all members of the House for understanding that we have taken meaningful steps since 2016. We made the five EI special benefits that were already in place when we took office more flexible and more generous. We also introduced two other benefits, namely the caregiving benefits and the parental sharing benefit, which will be rolled out in the coming weeks.
    We know there is still a lot of work to do, and we are raring to go.

[English]

Indigenous Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the response I got from the Prime Minister on my call for urgent action on first nations was met with platitudes. The federal government is ignoring communities like Garden Hill that do not even have running water, but the crisis continues.
    Today in Mathias Colomb, over 500 students cannot go to school because it is shut down because of mould contamination: mould contaminated housing, schools, and no running water. When is the federal government, the Prime Minister, going to stop the empty words about reconciliation and relationships and urgently work with first nations to deal with the serious crisis they are facing right now?

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, all children deserve a safe and healthy environment to learn in. Work is currently under way to remediate mould at the school, and it is anticipated that it will be complete by the end of the week. We will be following this work as it progresses, and I look forward to working with the hon. member as we go forward.

[Translation]

Official Languages

    Mr. Speaker, Franco-Ontarians are proud of their language and culture. It is inconceivable that, even today, 50 years after the implementation of the Official Languages Act, we still have to fight to uphold our language rights.
    In November, Doug Ford's Conservative government launched a direct attack on Ontario's Francophonie by eliminating the independent Office of the French Language Services Commissioner and cancelling funding for the French-language university.
    Can the Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie tell us here in the House how the government is helping Franco-Ontarians so that they can continue to assert their language rights?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Ottawa—Vanier for her excellent work, her very good question and everything she does for Franco-Ontarians.
    We, on this side of the House, believe in the Canadian francophonie and particularly in the importance of bilingualism in Canada. We know that we still need to protect Canada's francophones and always will. We need to protect our linguistic minorities.
    We also know that Franco-Ontarians have the right to their university, and we are going to do everything in our power to make that a reality.

[English]

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, these are shocking allegations that the Prime Minister appears to have fired his attorney general for refusing to politically interfere in an ongoing criminal prosecution. Did her refusal to favour the Prime Minister's friends cost her her job? Canadians deserve clear answers to these serious allegations. Did the Prime Minister fire his attorney general because she spoke truth to power?
    Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister said earlier today, no such direction was given to my predecessor. I can say that no such direction has been given to me to come to any particular conclusion in this matter.
    As Attorney General for Canada, I am the chief legal officer of the Crown. I provide legal services to the government, with a responsibility to act in the public interest. I take these responsibilities very seriously.
    Mr. Speaker, that was a carefully scripted response, but at the same time, pressure can come in many forms outside of merely direction. The evidence is mounting, and the Prime Minister's responses are not adding up. Actions speak louder than words, and Canadians deserve the truth.
     The former attorney general spoke truth to power, but maybe the Prime Minister cannot handle the truth. Did the Prime Minister fire the former attorney general for defending the independence of Canada's judiciary?
    Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister said, no direction was given to my predecessor in regard to this decision. I can say that no such direction has been given to me, nor has there been any pressure from the Prime Minister or the Prime Minister's Office.
    As Attorney General for Canada, I will continue to give legal advice to the government as its chief legal officer, based solely on the public interest.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians want the facts and the truth from those directly affected by the scandal the Globe and Mail exposed today.
    With all due respect to the Minister of Justice, he is not the one in the hot seat here. The current Attorney General is not in the hot seat, but the person who just lost that job is.
    Will the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Canada's former attorney general, rise and tell Canadians if she was or was not pressured by the Prime Minister's Office? Was she pressured, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister said earlier today, neither he nor his office exerted any pressure or issued any directives in this matter.
    As Attorney General for Canada, I am the government's chief legal officer. I take my responsibilities very seriously.

  (1450)  

    Mr. Speaker, there is nothing personal in what I am about to say. With all due respect to the Minister of Justice, he is not the one being implicated in all this, but rather the person he replaced. He has been appointed Attorney General. Congratulations. I am very happy for him, but Canadians want to know what his predecessor was subjected to by the Prime Minister's Office.
    Let me say it again. My question is for the individual implicated in the scandal that all Canadians care about. Can the former attorney general tell us whether the Prime Minister's Office approached her about the scandal exposed in today's Globe and Mail?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his congratulations.
    As the Prime Minister said earlier today, there was no pressure, there were no directives, not from him or from his office on this matter.

[English]

Pharmacare

    Mr. Speaker, one of the most heart-wrenching and impactful experiences I have had as an MP was door-knocking in Parksville and meeting an elderly woman living on a fixed income. She told us that she had to choose between eating, paying rent and buying medicine, telling us she had no choice but to live in pain.
    This should not and does not have to happen in a country like ours. We need a universal pharmacare program for her and so that nobody else has to make these choices. How can the Liberal government drag its feet when people are unnecessarily living in pain?
    Mr. Speaker, when it comes to something as important as pharmacare, we certainly want to get it right, and we need a plan. That is why we have moved forward with the implementation of an advisory council on the implementation of a national pharmacare program. For this advisory council, we appointed a stellar group of experts in the field. They have had a national conversation with Canadians and also with experts in provinces and territories. I look forward to receiving their report in the spring of this year.

Transport

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transport finally heard the NDP's call. He acknowledged a 79% service gap in Saskatchewan's intercity public transportation and agrees with us that the situation is urgent and more important than partisan politics. However, offering $10 million to the Saskatchewan Party government is not a solution if it is not willing to share the cost to tackle the crisis.
    Why was this minister's funding conditional, when the Saskatchewan Party has made it clear that offering reliable transit to people is not its priority?
    Mr. Speaker, we understand how important bus transportation is to remote, rural and indigenous communities. That is why the second we learned about Greyhound's decision to withdraw from western Canada, the minister began working with private partners and the provinces. We have come to the table with funding for the provinces, but if the premiers of Saskatchewan and Manitoba are not willing to sit down, then they are leaving their own residents out in the cold.

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister fired his former attorney general for speaking truth to power. Now he is banning her from speaking at all.
    There would be no good reason for anyone in the PMO to be talking with anyone in the attorney general's office about the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. Will the Prime Minister allow his former attorney general to speak and answer: Did anyone in his office speak to anyone in her office about that prosecution?
    Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister has said earlier today, no such direction was given, no such pressure was made with respect to my predecessor. Certainly I can say from direct experience that I have received neither pressure nor direction from the Prime Minister or the Prime Minister's Office.
    Mr. Speaker, the question was not about pressure or direction. The question was whether or not the subject of the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin came up in any conversations between staff members of the PMO and the attorney general's office. There would be no good reason for such conversations to occur, because prosecutions of that nature have nothing to do with the political office of the Prime Minister. Why can the minister not just rise today and tell us, yes or no: Was the matter ever discussed between the PMO and the attorney general's office?
    Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister said earlier today, the allegations contained in The Globe and Mail article are false.

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, he said “no” earlier today, so we know he is able to answer at least one yes or no question. I want him to answer this one. According to the lobbyists registry, SNC-Lavalin met with the Prime Minister's Office on 14 different occasions to discuss justice and law enforcement. This is a construction company, by the way.
    In any of those meetings, was the subject of the criminal prosecution of that company ever discussed, yes or no?
    Mr. Speaker, as I think is clear, I was not privy to those discussions. As the Prime Minister has said, earlier today, directions were not given either to my predecessor or myself with regard to any decision in this matter.

Human Rights

    Mr. Speaker, all people deserve to live with dignity, feel safe, and have their rights respected, regardless of their identity.

[Translation]

    Our government is committed to defending the fundamental human rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit and intersex community in Canada and around the world.

[English]

    Could the Minister of International Development tell the House what tangible steps she is taking on this critical issue outside of Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, globally, LGBTQ communities continue to face discrimination and injustice because of who they are. To help address this discrimination, our government has announced a new initiative of $30 million over five years, followed by $10 million per year ongoing, to advance human rights and improve socio-economic outcomes for LGBTQ2 people in developing countries.

[Translation]

    Our government continues to take concrete action to advance human rights, including LGBTQ2 rights, in Canada and around the world.

[English]

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, the way the Prime Minister has treated the former attorney general is criminal, perhaps literally. Is the Prime Minister proud of the fact that he has now joined the list of international leaders who have fired their attorneys general for failing to follow their political orders?
    Mr. Speaker, at no point have I been pressured or directed by the Prime Minister or the Prime Minister's Office to make any decision on this or any other matter.
    As the Attorney General of Canada, I am the chief legal officer of the Crown. I have the responsibility to give legal advice to the government based on the public interest. I take this responsibility very seriously.
    I do remind members to be judicious with their choice of words.
    The hon. member for Salaberry—Suroît.

[Translation]

Youth

    Mr. Speaker, Canada still does not have a youth policy; in fact, it seems the file has fallen through the cracks. Consultations were launched one year ago and an 80-page report was tabled. Nothing has happened since.
    There is no longer anyone in charge of the youth file in the Prime Minister's Office. The budget for Privy Council's Youth Secretariat was cut by 33% between 2016 and 2019. This looks like a first class funeral.
    Will the Prime Minister and Minister of Youth keep his promise and implement a youth policy, or have the efforts of his Youth Council been in vain?
    Mr. Speaker, of course there is someone in charge of the youth file, and that is the Prime Minister of Canada.
    We are very proud of the outstanding and extraordinary work of our Youth Council. It has been working on the implementation of Canada's very first youth policy for two years.
    I will have some good news to share with my honourable colleague and the House in the weeks and months to come.

[English]

Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees

    Mr. Speaker, Atlantic Canada's economic success depends on our ability to attract and retain skilled workers, and workers stay when their families put down roots. These new Canadians not only help good businesses grow and succeed but also enrich the cultural fabric of our region.
    Can the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship update the House on the Atlantic immigration pilot and its progress in addressing labour shortages and growing the economy in our region?
    Mr. Speaker, my Atlantic colleagues and the member for St. John's East know well that to overcome our demographic challenges and grow our economy, immigration is essential. Immigration expands economic opportunities for all Atlantic Canadians. Since its launch, the Atlantic immigration pilot has matched 1,700 employers with over 1,800 newcomers and their families who are putting their skills to work to grow local businesses.
    While the Conservatives are busy Scheer-mongering, our government is busy accepting newcomers who are growing Atlantic Canada--

  (1500)  

    I remind the hon. parliamentary secretary that it is improper in the House to use names for MPs, and that was inappropriate.
    The hon. member for Durham.

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister talks about the rule of law, but he does not walk the talk. His office pressured the justice minister to let a company off the hook. His ambassador to China interfered in an extradition. The Prime Minister himself charged Admiral Norman before the RCMP did.
    The political interference of the Prime Minister and his office knows no bounds. Admiral Norman deserves a fair trial. Will the government commit today to immediately releasing all the court-mandated documents, including those on phones and devices, so that he can have a fair trial?
    Mr. Speaker, the prosecution in question is being handled by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada. The counsel for the Attorney General of Canada is fulfilling all of its obligations with respect to third party records applications.
    It is improper for me to comment further on this issue as the matter is before the courts.

[Translation]

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, as you know, we are going to pay $13.8 billion for the Trans Mountain project, the Americans' old pipeline that no one else wanted to buy. You also know that the $19-billion deficit has largely gone toward dirty oil and goodies for oil companies in western Canada.
    Like us, Mr. Speaker, you think it is time for the federal government to work as hard for Quebec as it does for the oil sands, with all due respect to my colleagues.
    When is the Minister of Finance going to start working for Quebeckers and stop handing out goodies to oil companies?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague mentioned a deficit.
    We promised Canadians that we would make key investments in our infrastructure, because Stephen Harper's Conservative government left us with a massive deficit of investment and vision, especially with regard to infrastructure, science and reducing inequality in Canada.
    That is why Quebec has seen phenomenal growth over the past three years, as well as lower inequality. We have a lot to be proud of.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister can shout from rooftops all over the world that he is a champion of climate action, but that does not make it true.
    The truth is that the big oil sands polluters have the government—and the official opposition, as well—in their pockets. My question is the following.
    Does the Minister of the Environment think that investing $19 billion of public money in dirty oil is a good way to combat climate change?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that our government is taking the threat posed by climate change extraordinarily seriously because we know it is the fight of our times.
    In particular, we have made the largest investment in public transit in the history of our country. By 2030, 90% of our electricity is going to be generated by renewable resources. In fact, we are putting 50 commitments and more forward to combat climate change and we are putting a price on pollution. It is going to bring emissions down and put more money in the pockets of middle-class families.
    It is disappointing that the opposition cannot be as honest as the member for Beauce and admit that their plan is to do nothing.

[Translation]

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

    Mr. Speaker, my question is for the chair of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
    The Government of Quebec just tabled a bill requiring permanent residents in Quebec to learn French and Quebec values.
    Could the committee chair assure us that his committee will not do anything to thwart the Quebec legislation? I am asking him that because we know him. He thinks it is shameful to have a requirement to learn French.
    Mr. Speaker, we know that immigration plays a key role in the economies of Quebec, Canada and all communities across the country.
    The Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec have been working together for decades under the Canada-Quebec agreement, and we intend to continue with that important collaboration.
    It is too early to comment on the content of the bill, but we look forward to examining it and will work with the Government of Quebec on this issue.

  (1505)  

    Mr. Speaker, my question was for the chair of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human rights. Why did he not answer it?
    The committee chair did not rise right away. I saw someone else rising to answer the question and the committee chair returned to his own seat. It was too late.

[English]

    The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration is rising on a point of order.

Points of Order

Oral Questions  

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to retract my use of the word that implicated the leader of the Conservative Party earlier and insert instead “fearmongering”, because that is exactly what he is—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order, please.
    I would ask the hon. parliamentary secretary to rise and apologize unconditionally.
    Mr. Speaker, I do and I retract my use of the word, but the—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order, please.
    Just to be clear, “unconditionally” does not mean including the word “but”. There are no “buts”. That is enough.
    The hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley is rising on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, as you are well aware, it is a convention in this place that in question period, when the opposition asks a question of the government through a minister of the Crown, the minister should seek to answer it. Throughout question period, we directed numerous questions to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and repeatedly the Attorney General answered instead, and not on her behalf.
     This convention is important because as the Prime Minister once said, “sunlight is the best disinfectant”. In order to get the answers required in Parliament on behalf of the public we represent, we need the government to be accountable. Ministerial accountability does not end when a member is no longer the minister of a particular office. The questions we asked were pertinent to the time period when the member who is now Minister of Veterans Affairs was the Attorney General.
    I seek some clarification from you regarding the government's obligation to be accountable to Canadians.
    I thank the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley for his point of order. I refer him to Bosc and Gagnon's House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, at page 509, which says:
    Furthermore, there are precedents indicating that a question should not...address a Minister’s former portfolio or any other presumed functions, such as party or regional political responsibilities
    Now I believe the hon. member for Chilliwack—Hope has the usual Thursday question.

Business of the House

[Business of the House]
    Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the opposition House leader, I would like to ask the government House leader what the business before the House will be for the remainder of this week and the week after we return home to work in our constituencies.
    Mr. Speaker, this afternoon we will continue with the second reading debate of Bill C-91, the indigenous languages act. We hope to see that referred to committee by the end of the day so that the committee can do its important work. We understand that we have a lot of support, but we do need to consider amendments.
    Tomorrow we will start debate at report stage and third reading stage of Bill C-85, the Canada-Israel free trade agreement.

[Translation]

    Next week we will be working with our constituents in our ridings.
    I would like to note that Tuesday, February 19 will be an allotted day.
    On Wednesday, we will begin consideration at report stage and third reading of Bill C-77, on the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Indigenous Languages Act

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-91, An Act respecting Indigenous languages, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    There are five minutes remaining in questions and comments following the speech of the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo.

  (1510)  

    Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the words of my colleague's speech. He talked not only about the importance of the indigenous language bill but also about the broader government agenda regarding indigenous issues.
    Today, of course, we learned some very disturbing facts regarding the former justice minister and Attorney General of Canada. In a speech on October 30, she noted that even someone in an important position like hers could be marginalized.
    Could my colleague align the Liberals' firing of someone who felt marginalized at the cabinet table with the Liberals' veneer that they care about indigenous issues and that no relationship is more important than the one with indigenous peoples?
    Mr. Speaker, we should be focusing on what we are accomplishing with the introduction of Bill C-91.
    As I pointed out, it is historic legislation. Indigenous leaders from all regions of our country, as well as non-indigenous people, recognize the critical importance of a language heritage. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission came up with a call to action, and this legislation deals with three of the calls that I am aware of. I see this as a positive.
    I would not want to take anything away from the value or significance of this legislation. I do believe that at the end of the day, for the residents of Winnipeg North and beyond, this Parliament as a whole can come together to recognize the value of this legislation and allow it to go committee. We can then hear from the different stakeholders who want to voice their thoughts, expressing concerns they might have or how they would support the legislation or would suggest ways we can improve upon it.
    This is a good piece of legislation. It has been a long time coming. I look forward to it ultimately going to committee so that we can get it that much closer to receiving royal assent.
    Mr. Speaker, in reading through the piece of legislation, we see an omission that I wonder if my friend would agree needs to be corrected.
    The preamble talks about the history of discrimination against indigenous peoples in Canada and about forced relocation and residential schools. It omits a serious part for many indigenous people, which was noted as the “sixties scoop”. Many people and many families are still feeling the effects of it. Many tens of thousands of indigenous peoples were swept up in that particular version or iteration of racist policy coming from the government.
    I have a simple question for my friend. There are many aspects of this bill that I will get into in my speech in a moment, but this omission of this one categorically terrible part of Canadian history clearly needs to be addressed and admitted to. It seems like a very small thing to some, but to those families that were directly impacted, and have been impacted in generations that followed, it is more than a small thing. It is a very serious thing.
    Would my colleague agree with me that it needs to be included in this legislation?
    Mr. Speaker, I think we will find that the minister responsible for the legislation has indicated fairly clearly that he is also anxious to see it go to committee. In fact, he is open to seeing different potential amendments. The government is very much open to anything that could be done to give further strength to the legislation.
    We have to recognize that the legislation we have before us is an accumulation of a great deal of consultation with the strong leadership within indigenous peoples in the different regions of the country. I suspect there is always opportunity for us to improve the legislation.
     That is one of the reasons I am asking members on all sides of this House to recognize the value, the principle of what is within this legislation. Going to committee in a timely fashion will potentially give the bill a greater likelihood of being amended in the way the member across the aisle is suggesting. I suspect we would also be receiving feedback directly from indigenous leaders on that particular point as well.

  (1515)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise today to speak to Bill C-91.
    We are in the last stages of this Parliament. It may seem like the election is far off in October of this year, but legislation being introduced right now is on the clock, as we say. It is not unusual for even government bills to take more than a year to pass.
    This legislation on indigenous languages was promised by the Liberal government three years ago. It was promised to be introduced last year. It was introduced just this week, and it is going to take a certain determined effort and a willingness, maybe a newfound willingness, on the part of the government to negotiate and make accommodations. While the bill is a good first step towards protecting indigenous languages in Canada, there are some significant and real opportunities the government missed in designing it.
    The Prime Minister talks often, certainly more than any previous one, of the need for reconciliation in this country. I would say it is an inconsistent message on the ground, because many of the indigenous people I represent in northwestern British Columbia have heard the words but not seen actions that have taken us along that way.
    For many years since coming to office, I have argued for support for indigenous languages and for the proper, stable funding of language programs. Much as we worry about the rare and beautiful species around the world that are becoming extinct or endangered, we are watching ancient and profound languages disappearing before our very eyes, within our lifetime, here in Canada. I have heard ministers talk about this as a crisis many times, yet we do not treat it like a crisis.
    Let me start with the good, because it is important to try to give credit where it is due. While the bill is late and has yet to specify funding, the fact that we are now speaking about indigenous languages is something important and needs to be sustained.
    We have a piece of legislation that is not necessarily very large but could potentially have a profound impact. It would perhaps allow for stable funding. The reason that is important, as anyone who has tried to acquire a second or third language would know, is that taking a week's course is insufficient. Taking a week's course once a year or every few years is not going to be enough.
    What gives a person the capacity to speak with the range required to truly understand and incorporate a language is sustained effort over time, having instruction, and having materials there from the earliest stages of life right through. Learning to express oneself in one's own language in a proper way requires that kind of sustained effort.
    While we see statutory funding made available in this legislation, there is no amount indicated. All the legislation points to in clause 7 is that consultations will be undertaken with indigenous groups to establish funding. One has to wonder what the government has been doing over the last three years.
    The Liberals have talked about consultation a lot, and we would have assumed that there was a figure attached to this. We have a budget coming in a short while, but Canadians familiar with politics would know that budgets that are introduced in an election year are sometimes worth the paper they are written on, but not always.
    The government has grown an addiction to what is called back-loaded funding. It announces a large number. Housing or transportation would be good examples where the number is large but it happens in the eighth, ninth or 10th year of the program. If anyone can predict what the government is going to look like, much less the budget, 10 years from now, I sure would like to talk to that person about the stock market and Vegas.
    It cannot be done. These are promises that cannot be committed to. While statutory funding is outlined in the bill, no figure is given by the government even though we have asked several times.
    It is frustrating, because that is not treating a thing like a crisis. When the Liberals say they want to consult after being in power for more than three and a half years, indigenous groups and leaders and maternal language speakers will ask what exactly the Liberals have been doing and why it has taken so long.
    I need to talk about home a bit, because this is how I can relate to this type of legislation.

  (1520)  

    In the northwest of British Columbia are some of the most ancient and vibrant indigenous cultures: the Tahltan and Taku River Tlingit in the north, up to the now Yukon border; the Haida and Haida Gwaii down the Tsimshian coast to Bella Coola and Bella Bella, the Nuxalk, all the way up through the interior to the Carrier Sekani, Wet'suwet'en, the Haisla, Tsimshian, Wet'suwet'en, Gitxsan and others.
    These languages are something to behold. When I am attending and observing a traditional ceremony in the feast hall, from naming ceremonies and weddings to funerals, smoke feasts and headstone feasts, I am reminded that central to any culture, and in particular indigenous culture, is the ability of a community or a nation to speak its own language to itself in those important moments in life: the passing on of an elder, the naming of young people or a chief acquiring her or his name. It is the ability to tell the stories and the ability to describe the meanings behind the words and locations.
    I think of the court case that is often referred to in this place. The case of Delgamuukw and Gisday’wa took place at the Supreme Court of Canada, just a few blocks from here, when two chiefs of the Gitxsan and the Wet'suwet'en, appeared before court day after day to establish an important thing in our law and precedents, that oral tradition and oral evidence counted as evidence.
    One of the great corruptions of colonial empires was to dismiss any legal authority of indigenous peoples in order to acquire the land, terra nullius, to say that there was nobody here and that anything that had existed in law here, in some cases for thousands upon thousands of years, was somehow done away with.
    At the Supreme Court, the challenge was for the Wet'suwet'en and Gitxsan chiefs to be able to describe in their languages, in Wet'suwet'en and in Gitxsan, the place names and histories and stories of their nations. By doing it consistently and over and over again under brutal cross-examination by the Crown, that case was successful. Because they were speakers of their traditional languages in their original form, they were able to establish in front of the highest court in the land their territorial rights and the ability to have some influence over what happens in their homes. That is the most basic concept of human rights we have.
    Unfortunately, this is where I struggle with the current government, and I think many indigenous peoples do as well. If we look to the Wet'suwet'en and what is going on right now on their territory and the Unist'ot'en territories, there is a challenge and debate, with conflict from time to time, over a proposed pipeline. One of the things we are trying to establish with the government is that very ability to have some say over the land. We have called upon the Prime Minister and the government just to be involved in what is happening in the Wet'suwet'en territory. From the Prime Minister's Office on down to the indigenous affairs minister, we have been told it is not our business.
    On the one hand, Liberals claim reconciliation as a priority. The Prime Minister often says there is no more important relationship than that with indigenous peoples. When there is a moment of conflict, we are able to engage the municipality; we are able to engage the police and we are able to engage with the company and the provincial government, but we cannot engage with the federal government under acts that exist that were created in this place.
    The government suddenly wants to wash its hands of any implication and say it believes in reconciliation, except when we need reconciliation, when we need to reconcile things like the Indian Act and the hereditary governance system of the Wet'suwet'en. This would be an important thing to the government if it cared about reconciliation. Let us reconcile.
    My family heritage is Irish. I was the first in my family to be born here after they immigrated, back in the 1950s. When I look through the Irish history, particularly the colonial history of Great Britain in Ireland, one of the tactics used by the colonial power was to extinguish language, to extinguish stories and history and where people come from, because if we cannot tell our stories, we do not know who we are. It is an attempt to erase a people. To truly subjugate them requires the colonial power, in this case, to try to remove their history and language.

  (1525)  

    We saw it in Ireland over centuries, and the British picked up that model and applied it when they were the colonial power in this country, to eliminate the language, stories and history. The settlers could pretend that there were no people here. There was no land taken because it was not in possession of anybody, as they were nomadic people without laws, traditions, language or culture.
    Through the residential schools and the sixties scoop, which is not mentioned in the bill, and other oppressive tactics designed in parliaments, in this place, explicitly by successive prime ministers, they tried to extinguish indigenous people entirely and subsume them into the colonial melting pot. We can only imagine the courage and energy required from those indigenous elders to insist, even though it was against the law of the day, on speaking their language.
    I was recently at a funeral where an elder was relaying stories of what it was like for him to go to school and the beatings he took any time he spoke Gitxsan. If the teacher, the nun in this case, heard the Gitxsan language spoken at any time, in excitement, in sorrow, in explanation to another student, he would be beaten.
    This was a story my grandmother was able to tell from her Irish past. If she spoke Celtic in front of the British nuns, she was beaten as well. Therefore, across oceans and across time, we are able to see the influences. Now my family speaks hardly any Celtic at all, and I wonder what that robs me of as a son of the Irish, that I am unable to access my history, culture and traditions because of decisions made by the mother of parliaments in London.
    Much like it is with species, once extinct there is no going back. When I look around at the indigenous communities I represent, I know the effort that has been put in, first when it was illegal, but even now that it is no longer forbidden. It is very difficult to ensure that indigenous languages are being practised.
    In some of our communities, we can count on one hand the number of fluent speakers left, and fluency is critical in this. I urge the government to please understand, when designing the spending and ensured programming for the bill, that just knowing a few words, phrases, expressions and counting to 10 is a good start, but fluency is what is required.
    As anybody who has attempted to learn another language knows, if one is not fluent in that language and cannot understand the depth and breadth of the language, then one does not understand its people. If that is true for native speakers of that language, they cannot understand themselves, and while that was a government design in the past, we cannot skim the surface of this effort. We have to be able to do it properly.
    I will tell the story of being at a Haida feast, which was incredible. It was the chief's naming feast. It was a big deal. A friend of mine, Guujaaw, was getting his name, and it was a long feast. It was done in proper Haida style, with lots of food, song, gifts, performances and speeches. When I was there, I got to be an observer. That is hard for a politician, but I was not there to speak at all. I was just there to bear witness, because that is how a feast is held up, by those who bear witness.
    At the very end of the speech, it was gift-giving time. It is a beautiful tradition of many indigenous peoples, and certainly the Haida, to offer gifts to those who have come and witnessed what has happened in the feast hall.
    As the gifts were being passed out and there were so many it was taking a long time, one of the young Haida got up in the middle of the hall and said, “We'd like to sing a couple of songs. Does anyone want to come up while we're gifting? It's our tradition to sing songs.”
    One by one, these young Haida were coming out of the crowd. By the end, there must have been 30 or 40 young Haida, singing song after song for an hour or more. I marvelled at this, knowing some of the history of the Haida, of the smallpox blankets and the almost extinction of their culture entirely. I was watching a renaissance, a rebirth of the language, particularly among the young people.

  (1530)  

    I was sitting beside one of the Haida elders and I said, “There's a lot of wealth here.” There were a lot of gifts being given, and the Haida, and this chief in particular, my friend, was able to describe his wealth and stature to the community, but the real wealth was happening in the middle of the floor. Their young people are able to speak with each other and their elders in Haida. It is so inspiring as someone who represents the Crown, who represents not just our present but our history. I know that people who previously held my office held the implicit racist views that indigenous people were less than and that their languages were barbaric. Those words were said in Parliament time and again. How barbaric are they was the debate of the day 100 years ago.
    We watched the determination of the Haida, the Tsimshian, the Gitxsan, the Wet'suwet'en and on down the line, maintain their understanding of language, without support, and in fact, with aggression from the federal government.
    We are here in Parliament. It means “to speak”. We hold and guard jealously our ability to speak in the two official languages. It is against the rules in this place to ever criticize or suggest someone speak in either English or French. We are free to express ourselves as well as we can. That is the rule of the House. We have a whole stack of books protecting that right to speak in Parliament, to express ourselves. If the bill can help move the country forward just a little to say one has the right to protect these languages, to express oneself in indigenous languages, then we will be doing a good thing.
    My friend from Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou has spent his life facing challenges, political and personal, and a state determined to ignore him. His generosity and determination has stayed true to this cause, to allowing Parliament to hear speeches in indigenous languages and to seeing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples brought into law in Canada.
    That part of the bill needs to move out of the preamble and into the substance of the act. If we believe in section 35 rights, if we believe in the UN declaration, and that should inform our law-making, then let it form our law-making. Allow it to express itself fully, because if Canada ever seeks to be the nation it is promising to be, then we certainly must do these types of things, and more, and do them together.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my friend from Skeena—Bulkley Valley for his very passionate speech today, and of course his long-term commitment to advancing indigenous rights.
    I want to respond to a couple of his comments. First, he had a number of very important suggestions, which we hope will be debated and discussed in committee, including the addition of the sixties scoop and other incidents over the generations, such as forced displacement and so on. We look forward to having that discussion in committee and being able to accommodate as many suggestions as we can to improve the bill.
    There is an organization in his community called First Peoples' Cultural Council in B.C. Since coming into office, I believe the funding has tripled from our government, from $1 million in 2016 to $6.2 billion or million, over two years in 2018-19. I believe that is still not enough, but it is the type of commitment the government has toward properly funding indigenous languages.
    I know our ALI program has been very important. The $89 million over three years is all part of a broader commitment. It is essential that we get this legislation through in order for dollars to flow in the long term.
    What kind of direct impact do you think this will have on communities in your constituency, and how can the practices there be expanded across the country?

  (1535)  

    I want to remind the parliamentary secretary he is to address the question to the Chair. I would ask him to keep his preambles a bit shorter to allow for the questions within the timelines that we have.
    The hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.
    Madam Speaker, it might have been a slip of the tongue, but my friend said, “$6.1 billion”. I will accept that first figure over the million that he had mentioned and I will take that back to the various groups.
    The only point that I would make is that sometimes there is a tendency within Ottawa to say that Ottawa knows best. The programs are very top-down. The region that I know, the northwest of British Columbia, and I would say many other regions in coastal British Columbia and the Interior, without any funding at all, with an aggressive and oppositional government for many years, they have been able to create vibrant, beautiful language programs. We should pick up on the successes that exist and allow for maximum flexibility on the ground because there cannot be a cookie-cutter approach.
    I would also note, and I am sure he has heard the concerns from Inuit, that aspects of the bill are not yet meeting the northern needs. Again, a language program that might work in Nunavut is not going to work well in Montreal or Prince Rupert. I would suggest that, when the government is looking to design these programs, it take direction from the communities whose very livelihoods are on the line and whose very cultures and histories are at stake.
    Madam Speaker, I was listening with great interest to my colleague's speech. When he was speaking about his Irish heritage, it made me think of my own Scottish heritage and the Highland clearances and the elimination of the Gaelic language. When the Scots were forced out of the land, they then came to Canada and became colonizers themselves so it was a system that was perpetuated.
    I also appreciated the member's comments about Bill C-262, which the current Liberal government voted in favour of. I very much agree with the member that we need to see a mention of that UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples not just in the preamble but in the legislation itself.
    I think of my riding, Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, which is home to the Coast Salish peoples and the beautiful Halkomelem language that they speak, which I have witnessed at ceremonies within their territories, and how beautiful it is to see children speaking that language. I wonder if the member can talk about how different languages very much inform our world views, as they allow different ways and different perspectives, and how important it is to promote that so that we have different ways of viewing what is essentially the same thing.
    Madam Speaker, I have rarely talked much about my own heritage and history in this place. I begin to think that the importance of being able to talk about these issues from our own experience and history is the most important thing we can do for Canadians. There are so many Canadians who will say that the bill seems interesting but does not impact them, not realizing that the tactics used by previous governments to oppress and suppress language and culture and history hold the entire country back.
    If we look back into almost all of our histories, when there has been a colonial power and there has been a successful attempt at oppression, language has been one of the key factors. The devious minds that came up with these protocols and practices and laws understood how vital languages were when they tried to oppress a people.
     Therefore, if we are going to say anything about reconciliation, if we are going to say anything about improving as a country, understanding and identifying, as did our predecessors in a negative way, the importance of language, is the imperative of this bill now and how important it is to get it right for people in his communities and right across the country who are impacted by this. I would argue that, by extension, that is all Canadians.
    Madam Speaker, I had the pleasure last spring of watching a very special ceremony in which our “fightingest” ship, HMCS Haida, was named the honorary flagship of the Canadian navy. There were two hereditary chiefs of the Haida Nation, Lonnie Young and Frank Collison, who joined us and they spoke the language, and now the flag of the Haida Nation flies over that ship in Hamilton.
    I wonder if my friend from Skeena—Bulkley Valley can comment on whether the Haida peoples, and other nations that he deals with in much larger numbers than we have in my area, are getting a sense of entering into the full broad spectrum of Canadian life.

  (1540)  

    Madam Speaker, I would quibble with that last turn of phrase, “the full broad spectrum of Canadian life”.
    I do not want to rain on his parade at all, but that is actually a good example of consultations being inadequate. The Haida people in this case were not properly consulted beforehand, before using the name. There was some repair being done at the ceremony he was able to watch at the end. However, it is a good example of intentions sometimes going wrong, where the government says it is going to do this thing and they will be happy with it, but does not ask how to do it properly beforehand.
    What is amazing to me is that indigenous communities, in watching our good intention efforts sometimes go sideways, have the ability to forgive, adapt and make it work. A good example of how not to do this wrong is to make sure that before the funding is designed and before the program is designed, the consultation and the money is directed, from the beginning, by indigenous peoples rather than by Ottawa.
    Madam Speaker, in 2016, the Prime Minister stood up and said that we were going to have an official languages act to deal with aboriginal peoples. Here we are, three years later, and we do not have it. Parliament will shut down for the summer soon.
    Why does the member think it took the government so long? Why did it just start this yesterday?
    Madam Speaker, I do not know. The promise was in 2016. We would have liked to see it much earlier, of course.
     As many of my colleagues know, in the passage of bills, especially important ones, they have to go through the committee properly and hear from people. There is an element in this legislation that is a big question, which is the funding. I think those are fair questions to ask: How much is it, over how long and how is it secured?
    Sometimes the government is caught betwixt and between. It wants to do consultation. Sometimes the consultation take longer than it imagines. There is the promise of an introduction of a bill, and as with this bill, which was supposed to be introduced last year, it is now being introduced this year. We can quibble about it, but it cannot be lethal to the bill.
    On the timing itself, we have to do our best to improve what is here and see its passage. Elections come and mandates disappear, and people have gotten too accustomed to promises not being delivered upon. Let us help the government deliver on this one a little better than what they have done to this point.
    Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Labrador.
    First of all, I want to say mahsi cho.
    Today is a great day. It is with great pleasure that I rise to speak in support of Bill C-91, the indigenous languages act. This legislation supports a revitalization of indigenous languages, which have deteriorated over the years because of the racist and discriminatory policies of successive governments.
    Three languages were spoken in my home when I grew up: English; the language of the Dene, the Dehcho Dene; and the language of the Métis, Métis French, Michif. It all kind of came to an end when I started school, because during that era, we were not allowed to speak anything except English. If we were caught or reported for speaking anything but English, we were strapped with an 18-inch, three-inch wide rubber strap.
    There was no defence. We were guilty. It did not matter if we did it or not. A lot of my colleagues would sometimes falsely report their fellow students. They wanted to see them get strapped. There was no way to get away from it. If the principal came out, grabbed us and brought us to the front of the class, and we fought back, he would hit us wherever he could. However, if we let him, he would just strap us on the hands. Usually it was four straps per hand. The only time we could get him to stop was if he drew blood. A lot of my colleagues would take a piece of their hair and put it on their hands to see if they could get their hands to bleed so that after the first strap, they would not be hit anymore.
    Why did this happen? Why did we have to go through this? It is because past policies were designed to strip away indigenous identity and discourage the use of traditional languages.
    This bill is intended to support and promote the use of indigenous languages. It recognizes that languages are fundamental to the identities, cultures, spiritual beliefs, relationships to the land, world views and self-determination of indigenous peoples.
    Throughout the government-led engagement sessions on this legislation, which I think took a total of two years, it was stated that language was integral to who one is as a person, to who we are as a people and to individual and collective pride and strength.
    Indigenous youth across Canada need to be exposed to their histories through language and must be supported in their efforts to learn their languages and have pride in their cultures. If they park their languages to survive, they also park a big part of their culture, which is something I have learned from my experience.
    Acknowledging the importance of indigenous languages in Canada will allow for healthier indigenous people and communities and a healthier country as a whole.
    There have been many studies done on the use of indigenous languages and their role, or lack of a role, in the issue of suicide. Many studies have shown that indigenous communities in which a majority of members report conversational knowledge of an indigenous language also experience low to absent youth suicide rates. By contrast, in those communities in which fewer than half the members report knowledge of the language, suicide rates are up to six times higher.
    The Assembly of First Nations' report on its national engagement sessions regarding this act states:
    Language learning and identity reunification can be sources of healing. Schooling—residential schools, day schools, public schools, technical schools—were sources of disrupting Indigenous language use as a natural process. These institutions made us ashamed to speak our languages and parents were made to believe that their languages would harm their children and keep them from succeeding. Language revitalization can be used to help mitigate other issues such as addictions; people with a strong sense of language have better physical and mental health.
    Past studies and reports have acknowledged the importance of youth and intergenerational learning to the revitalization of indigenous languages.

  (1545)  

    The 2005 report “Towards a New Beginning" by the Task Force on Aboriginal Languages and Cultures calls for funding for immersion programs for children and youth. The task force report reminded indigenous communities to be more mindful of children and youth by stating:
    Go home to your communities and do not forget the youth. They sometimes get forgotten and shouldn’t be. They’re important and they’re the next generation. We need to ask the youth what they need and want, and get them involved and get them excited about this.
    I have heard chiefs in my riding talk about encouraging people to talk to youth and talk to their children, to say one word or one sentence in their indigenous language, because it does not cost anything.
    In the report, elders urge educational institutions to encourage youth to take leadership roles in language preservation. It is important to recognize that youth need access to sufficient financial support to assist in their language journeys so they can learn, use and promote their languages.
    Through this bill, the Government of Canada has committed to supporting the efforts of indigenous people to reclaim, revitalize, preserve and maintain their languages in a variety of ways, including by implementing measures that would facilitate the allocation of funding.
    A recent report published by the First Peoples' Cultural Council, entitled “Indigenous Languages Recognition, Preservation and Revitalization”, stated:
    Youth energy is a driving force for language revitalization. It needs to be encouraged.
    Young people need to be encouraged to take control over their languages, as they are the future of this country and will be responsible for the future of indigenous languages.
    In 2016, Canada officially adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which proclaims:
    Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations, their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons.
    The declaration also asserts:
    States shall, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, take effective measures, in order for indigenous individuals, particularly children, including those living outside their communities, to have access, when possible, to an education in their own culture and provided in their own language.
    The bill recognizes the urgent need to support the efforts of indigenous people to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and also strengthen their languages. Indigenous youth and all peoples in Canada need to be supported in their efforts to reclaim their languages. Indigenous communities have been working diligently to revitalize and reclaim their first nations, Inuit and Métis languages, and it is important to acknowledge their work. The role of elders and language keepers is also very important to the languages of indigenous people in Canada, and their efforts should not be overlooked.
    This legislation must be implemented with urgency to provide the necessary support for indigenous people before the language keepers are gone. I urge all hon. members to respect and honour the energy and perseverance of indigenous youth by acting swiftly to adopt this legislation.
    I will conclude by reminding members that this bill is long overdue. We must continue to recognize the importance of indigenous language revitalization and the invaluable effects it has on indigenous youth, indigenous communities and Canadians. We have to hurry, because many of our indigenous languages depend on it.

  (1550)  

    Madam Speaker, the member and I are from the same end of the country, and it has been very, very cold up there. I had a friend in Yellowknife the other day who said it was -56°C. Where I was it was -41°C, so he said that it was warm where I was from. Either way, that is enough about the weather.
    I would like to ask my hon. colleague what his brother, the premier, thinks about this particular bill.
    Madam Speaker, since I come from a colder part of Canada, for sure I have to be a lot tougher than he is in Alberta, where they get spoiled with warm weather.
    I cannot speak for the Premier of the Northwest Territories. I am going to assume that he is very excited that we are looking at coming forward with a strategy. We announced money in 2016 and 2017 for the Government of Northwest Territories to put toward aboriginal languages. It was well received and is being well utilized, but of course, it is not enough and has not been enough for many years.
    We advocated for funding for the north during the time the Conservatives were in power, and it was not something we could obtain. We need money for language development, money for materials, money for instructors and money to train them. I am very happy that this is coming forward, and I look forward to the results.
    Madam Speaker, speaking of the north, I am wondering if my friend can address the concerns that have been raised by the ITK regarding the way the bill was consulted on prior to its introduction. With respect to the bill itself, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami are not happy. I do not know if that position has changed from the comments I read from its leadership yesterday. There is no denial of support from other indigenous groups around the country, but certainly when it comes to the Inuit, they are not happy with the status quo.
    I am wondering, as a resident northerner, if the member has some answers for the Inuit, who are looking for something a lot more hopeful than what they have seen here so far. This one group represents 60,000 Inuit. I am not talking about a small organization. This is something serious and substantial. It is feeling quite upset about the legislation as crafted, according to its public comments.

  (1555)  

    Madam Speaker, the Northwest Territories is in a different position than the rest of Canada. In the Northwest Territories, we have recognized 11 official languages, nine of which are indigenous. We recognize the Inuit languages as official languages.
     I think we are going to see a lot of discussion on this issue. Committees will be looking at it and making recommendations. I think the concerns of the ITK will certainly be considered. However, it is important that each indigenous government be involved. I look forward to the indigenous governments in my riding leading the discussion and developing the strategies that are going to be needed. There is nobody who can tell an indigenous government how to save its language except itself.
    We also need the commission to be in place to provide oversight. We as members of Parliament, we as the government, have to make sure that we are in a situation to provide the resources, such as funding resources, materials and the other requirements, the indigenous governments may need.
    Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to stand today and speak on the ancestral lands of the Algonquin Anishinabeg people. I know that if Algonquin Elder Commanda were here today, as she was on the day when she opened our new chamber, she, too, would be happy to speak to a bill that speaks to preserving the languages of Canada's indigenous people. Many indigenous people across Canada are happy to see it.
    In my own language, the language of my ancestors, the Inuit language, Inuktitut, I say nakurmiik or “thank you” for allowing me the opportunity to serve in this place and to speak to the bill today, and to speak in strong support of it.
    Bill C-91 , the indigenous languages act, is aimed at supporting indigenous people all across our country and for doing what they have been trying to do for a long time in the absence of government, which is continuing to carry forward the language and culture they had been accustomed to and were born into.
    In particular, it is appropriate that we are providing this language bill in Canada at this time, simply because it is the year of languages for the United Nations. If we go back in time and look to see when people started advocating for the bill, it was in 1995.
     In 1995, Canada was moving in that direction. UNESCO had found that many languages within the world were disappearing. Canada, like other nations around the world, was called upon to preserve language and to preserve the language of indigenous people in particular.
    Over that period of time, very little attention was being paid to what was happening. In fact, no action was taken whatsoever.
    Also in 1995, the royal commission called upon Canada to begin working, right away, with indigenous people across the country; to start revitalizing language; to start establishing a foundation on which we could support indigenous efforts that were already taking place to preserve language within the country. However, no action was taken.
    A colleague across the House asked why it took so long to get where we were. It is a question best asked to that side. In 2005, there was an indigenous-led task force on aboriginal languages. It recommended, very clearly, to the Conservative government of the day that it include initiatives to do just that. It would include legislation, such as what we have brought forward today, that recognized the Constitutional status of indigenous languages in the country, that would be funded, that official languages would also have a national council to coordinate their efforts and that a full strategy be designed, whose only goal was to ensure that indigenous language was revitalized and carried on in the country.
    It is 25 years since the time those things happened. Nevertheless, we are here today. We are here because we have listened to what indigenous people have said to us. They have said quite clearly that the Government of Canada needs to do more to preserve indigenous languages in our country.

  (1600)  

    Over the last two years, in particular, we worked very hard with indigenous groups, first nations, Inuit and Métis, to ensure we would get this right, that we would bring to the House of Commons the very first bill to preserve indigenous languages in Canada and do those things that they had asked. I am very proud today to be part of a government that is acting and doing just that.
    I think my colleague from the Northwest Territories probably said it best when he talked about why the languages of indigenous peoples had disappeared over the years.
     I come from a region of the country where we are very proud of our indigenous and northern roots. In Labrador, we have two very distinct indigenous languages, Inuktitut and Innu-aimun. A lot of work has been done on preserving those languages, by communities, by the people who live there, by the elders, by generations of people. Over the last couple of years, we have been able to help them by investing in the tools they need, by investing in preserving the language within their schools and after school programs and by helping them prepare the products they need to continue to teach and carry on in that way. It is very difficult.
    The area I come from, while I grew up not knowing the language of my ancestors, many others grew up in communities where people continued to speak the language on a very small scale. However, there are huge generational gaps between those who speak it as their mother tongue and those who are just starting to learn the language again. The gap is under 14 and over 65. That is basically where we see the language gap in most of the indigenous languages in my region. In other parts of the country, people do not even have that. Even that has disappeared. Therefore, so many people out there are really starting with the basics.
     They lost their language as a result of assimilation and the residential schools, which we have talked about and have heard about in that unfortunate chapter of history that affected so many indigenous people. They lost their language because they were never permitted to speak it, as my colleague from the Northwest Territories said. That opportunity was removed from them, and not throughout just one or two decades but throughout many decades of our history.
     Canada will never allow that to happen again. That is why we support bills like Bill C-91 before us today to ensure it does not happen again.
     When we look back, we know that three times over the past 25 years the issue has come to the attention of government at certain points in time without action. The last call was through truth and reconciliation. When the prime minister of the day made his commitment on behalf of the government and to all Canadians that we would honour the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, this was one of the very things he committed to do.
     I am really pleased that we are able to bring this legislation forward. I am also pleased that in so many regions in the country, many people still speak their mother tongue, like the people of Nunavut. Of over 33,000 people in that territory, most still speak their mother tongue, their language of Inuktitut. They are an example for all of us to live up to. However, we also know it will take early intervention and support to make this happen.
    Today, as I conclude my comments, I want to thank all of those who had a hand in making this happen. I want to thank all indigenous people in Canada for not giving up and having the resilience to carry on. I want to acknowledge that this is certainly a great step forward in what has been a long journey for indigenous people.

  (1605)  

    Madam Speaker, Bill C-91 will be a historic move toward healing and rebuilding of our indigenous identities and pride across Canada. We as a nation made a mistake in our actions on residential schools and the forcing of young aboriginal youth to speak only English. We now can make right what we made wrong.
    There are 13 weeks left in this session. Do you commit to working co-operatively with the opposition parties to get this done?
    The member is very well aware that he is to address the questions to the Chair.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Madam Speaker, I certainly commit to work with all people in the House of Commons to do what is right for Canadians and to see this legislation pass. I always believe that through committee, there are opportunities to strengthen legislation to ensure we are capturing the voices of all those who are concerned. I have confidence in members at the committee to do just that.
    I look forward to the day when we can stand in the House of Commons and proudly vote for the legislation.
    Madam Speaker, I was going through the language included in the bill. The reference to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is mentioned three times, twice in the preamble and then once in the actual legislation. However, in clause 6 of the bill, under the heading of “Rights Related to Indigenous Languages”, there is a reference made to section 35 of our Constitution, but there is no reference given to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
    I know the Liberal government voted in favour of Bill C-262, which seeks to bring all Canadian law into harmony with that document. Therefore, I am wondering if the parliamentary secretary could provide some explanation as to whether that has been an oversight or if there is in fact going to be further amendments to the bill to bring it into harmony with the document of the United Nations.
    Madam Speaker, I am getting some help from my colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary for Languages, but I have been reassured and I am happy to assure the member that in clause 5 of the bill, in the last paragraph, it certainly speaks to the United Nations declaration. It says that the act will help “advance the achievement of the objectives of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as it relates to Indigenous languages.” Therein lies our commitment.

  (1610)  

    Madam Speaker, as we stated a number of times in the House, this is an important bill to finish our debate in the House at second reading and have it go to committee. I want to note that it just came here on Tuesday and today is our first day of debate.
    More important, when I listened to the parliamentary secretary's speech, I heard her talk about pride in what her government was doing on the indigenous file. Does that pride include what we have learned about today, where someone from British Columbia, a well respected leader and the first indigenous woman to became Attorney General of Canada, was unceremoniously thrown under the bus by the Prime Minister? What does she have to say about how that shows her government's respect to be nothing more than a veneer?
    Madam Speaker, I never thought I would get the opportunity to stand in the House and compliment my colleague, my friend and a fantastic indigenous leader in the country. She represents western Canada very well, but also represents indigenous people at the cabinet table in a way we have not seen in a long time.
    Out of all the indigenous people I have come to know and respect in my life, this individual, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, for Canada today, stands tallest among them all. No position at the table of the Government of Canada stands for the citizens of the country that is either higher or lower with respect to our contribution. The ability to sit at the table and to have that say is fundamentally important, and I applaud her for her work.
    Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand today in this place and add my voice to the discussion around Bill C-91.
    The House may not be aware that today is End It Movement Day. It is a movement to end modern-day slavery in our country and around the world. The people who participate wear a red X on their hand. Many may not know that within Canada, human trafficking probably happens within 10 blocks of where they live if they live in the city and within 10 miles of where they live if they live in the country.
    Modern-day slavery has many faces in Canada, but the vast majority of cases, about 50% of them, involve indigenous women and girls. That is why I am wearing a red X on my hand today.
    Bill C-91 is about respect and about protecting indigenous languages here in Canada. Many bills have been brought up about this issue, and the government has spoken in length about it as well.
    Back in December 2016, the government said it was seized with this issue and would table some legislation. Now, at the eleventh hour of this Parliament, the government has tabled a bill, and here we are, discussing it today.
    I find it frustrating to see the government's approach to supporting something. Supply management is a good example. It says all the time that it supports supply management, but it has very narrowly cast that support. The support is purely for the two words, “supply management”. It is the same in this case as well. The government says it supports indigenous languages, but that is really just the two words, “indigenous languages”.
    Many times when we support something, the actual thing that needs to be supported needs the entire surrounding infrastructure or the surrounding society to support it. Only supporting the end result does not necessarily help the actual goal we are trying to achieve.
    Let us use the case of supply management as an example. It is really great for the government to say it supports supply management, but when it takes milk and dairy products and animal proteins out of the food guide, it is not supporting supply management whatsoever.
    A couple of people who work in my office are coffee connoisseurs. They always ask me why I put cream in my coffee. They think I am ruining the coffee by doing so. I tell them I support supply management, so I put cream in my coffee. Supporting supply management means actually supporting supply management and targeting the actual issue.
    We are seeing that again with this indigenous language bill. It says we are going to support indigenous language and we are going to have an ombudsman and all of these things, but if we do not support communities and do not support the culture of these languages, they will become dead languages.
    I know a bit about dead languages. I know a bit of Latin. It is a language that is used all the time, but it is not a spoken language. There are records of languages that have been brought back. I understand Hebrew is one of those languages that has been brought back from being a dead language to a language that is now alive and well.
     I failed to mention at the beginning of my comments that I will be sharing my time with the member for Edmonton West.
    This is a great bill. I am sure that we will take the language, codify it and keep a record of it. Many organizations around this country are working on translating the Bible into all indigenous languages.
    The House may be aware that both the German language and the English language were codified when the Bible was translated into those languages. There is a language known as High German. It was not really a language spoken by anybody, but it was the language that the Bible would have been translated into for a big swath of the world that spoke Germanic languages. It codified the whole language into a common language.
    We are seeing work being done on that around the country. The funding that will be coming through this legislation will probably support many of those initiatives. I support that idea.

  (1615)  

    The point I am trying to make is that we would like these languages to be living languages, not dead languages, and in order to do that, we need to support communities. What does supporting communities look like? For one thing, we have a rich heritage in this country around the fur trade. Canada was built on the fur trade. I always say Canada was built on a number of things, such as the fur trade, the railway and other things, but the fur trade for indigenous peoples was a major part of the economy. It is a shame that today we do not champion the fur trade in this country.
    Representatives of the fur trade association were in my office the other day, and they told me that fur will not even be on the winter Olympics uniforms. I do not know if anyone saw that Canada Goose recently came out with a new lineup of jackets designed by an Inuit designer. They are amazing jackets. They have nice fur on the hood. I am sure there are more fur products on the inside as well, though I could not see. The fur trade is what made these communities sustainable. Their languages were able to survive with or without government funding, and the Inuit are a prime example of that. Most them still have their languages because it is a vibrant community.
    Where I am from, many of the Woodland Cree people still speak the language, and their communities are thriving. Why are they thriving? It is because the economy is thriving. No doubt a generation has lost the language due to the residential schools, but when communities come together and operate well, the language continues to thrive, so we see that bills like Bill C-69 do nothing. We say we want to support languages and indigenous communities, but then the government introduces a bill like Bill C-69, which hamstrings all of the northern Alberta communities that rely on the economy that pipelines, the oil patch and resource development bring to northern Alberta. The government says it supports indigenous languages, but it supports them in a very narrow way. We need to ensure these communities have a good economy; then the language will flourish.
    Another area that is frustrating to me is the language around firearms that the Liberals in particular use all the time. They seem to be very suspicious of people who own and use firearms on a regular basis. It is our indigenous communities that use, own and work with firearms on a regular basis. The language and laws coming from the Liberal government, particularly Bill C-71, are onerous to all first nation communities for sure. Firearms are a big part of their culture. Firearms are a way of life for them, so to say we are going to support their languages and culture and then make it more onerous to own a firearm is not supportive of the culture whatsoever.
    Lots of people say we already have languages and ask me why I think it is so important. We all have a world view, a narrative, a place that we belong in the world, and being part of a culture that has identifiable languages and creeds and those kinds of things gives us our sense of belonging in the world. A language does that to a large degree. Studies bear out the idea that when people feel they are tied to a language, a people, a land and a culture, they are much more successful in nation building and culture building.
    For all of those reasons, I support this bill, but I find it ironic that we are here at the eleventh hour debating a bill to support indigenous languages.

  (1620)  

    Madam Speaker, one of the things that the creation of the commissioner is intended to do is give the commissioner the opportunity to work with indigenous groups within regions. In every region, there are going to be unique needs vis-à-vis language and the rehabilitation of language and the opportunity to make sure the language is in first nations schools, whether it is in northern Alberta or, in my case, in northern Ontario.
    How does the member sees the commissioner's job as it relates to bringing back the Cree language, in particular for young people? That is the challenge. Now that there is satellite TV and the things that young people have, it has changed young people in communities, no matter where they are in Canada. I want to get a sense from the member as to how he sees the commissioner's role in the area that he represents.
    Madam Speaker, we were just talking about this at committee as well. One of the groups I am very proud of in northern Alberta is the Kitaskinaw Tribal Council, which has an education authority that runs six schools up there. Language education is part of that program. They teach the Alberta curriculum from their perspective.
     I know in Alberta there already has been a lot of overlap between the education systems on reserve and the provincial system. The Kitaskinaw Tribal Council was built to bridge those jurisdictional issues, and it is already doing that to a large part. I am sure the commissioner's office will be working hand in glove with Kitaskinaw.
    Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, who is also a member of the indigenous affairs committee, for the great work he does and for his commitment. He talked about language being just one component of what is going to be necessary in moving forward with reconciliation. It was also very interesting that he brought up something that is important not just to rural areas but also to many indigenous communities in the country, which is the use of firearms and the trade in sealskin products.
    To what degree does he think the policies of the current government around firearms are inconsistent with what is important for the communities he represents?

  (1625)  

    Madam Speaker, I did address that in my speech. I have seen a little in the media about the first nations in Quebec being annoyed with the legislation that is coming in there, and the fact that the federal government seems to be working hand in glove with the Quebec government on the long-gun registry there.
    It just seems tone deaf to me. The government says it is our most important relationship, but then does not support the fur trade in an adequate manner and tries to make restrictive firearms laws all across the country. Those things are incongruent. If we want to support our first nations communities, we need to ensure they are able to live their lifestyle the way they need to.
    Madam Speaker, the bill is really about preserving and revitalizing indigenous languages in the country. I want to make sure we are maintaining that focus, because we have been everywhere from the food guide to firearms under this debate.
    Does the member opposite not agree that a large part of reconciliation with indigenous people in our country is ensuring that we revitalize indigenous languages and give them the full support of the laws of the country to preserve their language for themselves and generations to come?