Madam Speaker, we are here this evening to take part in an emergency debate.
Today, we all saw the response from the Prime Minister. It was the weakest response we have ever heard in Canada's modern history to a crisis like the one we are currently in.
The Liberals and the other opposition parties are currently talking about what may have led to this situation, but the thing that matters more to the Conservatives is the critical infrastructure, the railway and the blockade.
We can understand what pushed people, activists or certain first nations groups to do what they are doing, but as the saying goes, the end does not justify the means.
The Prime Minister forgot two key elements in his speech this morning. First, he forgot to clearly condemn the illegal actions of the radical activists. Then, he failed to present a plan of action to finally end the blockade and get our economy back on track. His statement is a full abdication of his responsibility and shows a flagrant lack of leadership.
We have to decide what Canada represents. Are we still a country that says yes to major national projects or must we kow-tow to activists who are trying to put the breaks on development? Are Canadian laws really laws? Are there two classes of citizens, those who must abide by the law without protesting and the rest? As my leader asked, will we let our economy be taken hostage by a small group that rejects the legal system that has been in place in our country for more than 150 years?
The Prime Minister claims that he is sensitive, more than any other prime minister before him, to the concerns of the first nations. However, that cannot live up to the truth.
I have a few examples of comments made by first nations members. Today, the House wants to debate Canada's indigenous problem of the past 150 years when the main issue is dismantling the blockade as quickly as possible. The economy is at risk. We can understand that there are indigenous peoples in Canada who have differences that they want to resolve and that they are looking for solutions. We all agree on that. However, the first thing that must be done is to tell people that a few dozen individuals have completely shut down Canada's rail network. That is a critical piece of infrastructure.
When it comes to critical infrastructure, billions are being spent on national defence, and hundreds of millions are being spent on public safety to protect Canadian infrastructure. This includes cyber-attacks, coastal defence and aerospace. We can put in whatever we want. Right now, a few dozen individuals, including many activists who are not indigenous, by the way, are on the tracks in Canada and are blocking Canada’s entire railway system. Do we think that this make sense? Do we think that we should be spending the entire evening until midnight talking about indigenous issues?
Could we talk about it tomorrow once we get the tracks cleared and the railway system up and running again? That is what is important. I do not understand how the coalition of the Bloc Québécois, the NDP and the Liberals could talk about indigenous issues in the broadest sense, while nothing is moving. We cannot wrap our heads around it. One day I would like to have a discussion with people from the other parties and have someone explain to businesses and the entire country how we can do this.
Let us go back to what indigenous people have already said about the current problem.
Chief Larry Nooski said that Coastal GasLink presents the Nadleh Whut'en First Nation with an unparalleled economic growth opportunity. They negotiated hard to ensure that the Nadleh people, including their young people, can benefit directly or indirectly from this project, while ensuring that the land and water will also be protected.
Hereditary chief Helen Michelle of Skin Tyee First Nation of the Wet'suwet'en has stated that most of the protesters were not even Wet’suwet’en. She added that her people gave Coastal GasLink the go-ahead, that they talked and talked to the elders, and brought them back to walk the territory where the Coastal GasLink is going. They are going to give it the go-ahead.
Hereditary chief Theresa Tait-Day of the Wet'suwet'en nation said that 85% of her people said yes to Coastal GasLink.
There is a very sensitive issue in Quebec, and I hope my Bloc friends are listening. Bill 21 is a very sensitive topic that most Quebeckers are unanimously in favour of. Some Quebeckers are against Bill 21. If those who oppose it decided to block the Louis‑Hippolyte‑Lafontaine bridge-tunnel and the Pierre‑Laporte bridge in Quebec City because they are against Bill 21, would they be there for long? Would my Bloc colleagues be okay with them staying there and exercising their right to protest? No, they would have to leave before any discussion could happen. The same principle applies.
Is any particular cause more important than another? So important that it can be allowed to block the national economy?
If 85% of the community supports the project, that means 15% of the community does not. Should all our rail lines be blocked because 15% of the population does not agree? That makes no sense.
We must ask ourselves whether Canada can turn a blind eye to these illegal acts. We understand that they want to talk, but we need to intervene, particularly since everyone knows that the first nations in the region agreed to the project.
In Ontario, Tyendinaga Mohawk police chief Jason Brant reminded protestors that their actions were illegal and that they should leave the premises peacefully. He read a letter to protestors asking them to go home and to tell the Ontario Provincial Police that they intended to do just that. The police peacefully reminded people that they were committing an offence. The police officers did their job. They told the protestors that they could not stay there. We wanted peaceful measures and that is what happened. The police have not been aggressive. They said that they had received a letter from the court and that the protestors had to leave. They were not mean about it. It is when people fail to listen to police instructions that the problems begin.
With regard to public safety, rail systems were tampered with and the Minister of Transport is aware of that. When the blockades come down, the rail systems will have to be checked because it is dangerous for the trains. It is urgent that we put an end to the protests and get the rail system back up and running as quickly as possible.
The economic impact is huge, especially for passengers. Yes, passengers can take the bus or other forms of transportation. However, this also has an impact on the supply of products like propane and chlorine and on infrastructure.
It is not just about money. Some people will say that money is not important, since it grows on trees. That is what the Prime Minister thinks. However, businesses do not survive on the government's money; they survive on their own money. If they suffer losses, no one will compensate them, but let us not talk about that.
The municipalities need chlorine for water treatment. If there are chlorine shortages, this will become a public heath issue. There are many problems like this.
Yes, negotiations related to indigenous issues are important. We have indigenous affairs spokespersons to take care of that. However, what urgently matters today is clearing the rail line to get our economy back on track. Then we can begin the necessary discussions.