Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Calgary Forest Lawn.
I rise today to debate Bill C-6, a bill which must be the Liberal government's most awaited piece of legislation. We heard from the Liberals throughout the election campaign that they were ready. They boasted that their legislative agenda was strong. Here we are debating Bill C-6, their sixth piece of government legislation, and the Liberals have already resorted to what they must surely consider to be time-filler legislation intended to pay lip service and give virtue signalling to the biggest problems facing our country today.
I do not know what I was thinking. I, too, must have fallen for the Liberal rhetoric in the last election, because even I expected that the Liberals would have more meaningful legislation to put forward for Canadians than this bill. However, this is clearly the same old Liberal party that would prefer to pander than to deal with the national crisis at hand, but it is not too surprising. This is actually straight out of the Liberals' playbook. In fact, the Liberals have discussed and/or attempted to change the citizenship oath seven times since their successful change in 1977: in 1994, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2019. Each time they were unsuccessful, and each time they were pandering to the problem of the day.
The Liberal legislation drafters seem to be churning out bills like poorly written songs. They lay new words over the same three notes and expect people to enjoy it in the moment, knowing full well that it will never stand the test of time. On the other hand, the citizenship oath dates back to January 1, 1947, on the heels of Canada defining itself as a nation following the end of the Second World War. It has a special purpose in our history, as it solidified our nation by uniting us in allegiance to Canada as Canadians, not British subjects.
Aside from my wedding day and the days my two sons were born, the day I took the Canadian citizenship oath and became a Canadian myself marks one of the proudest moments of my life. I was born in Lebanon. Canada is the country that I chose, not the country I was born in. I came from a war-torn country, splintered by the infighting of various sects, to Canada seeking a better life. I played by the rules. I followed the traditional immigration process. I was proud to affirm the citizenship oath in 1994. My oath affirmed that I would faithfully uphold the laws of Canada, and then, now and in the future, I have upheld and I will uphold that oath.
The amendment we are debating today belittles the oath that I and many other Canadians have taken. The Liberals make it seem like, without explicitly spelling it out, new citizens would not recognize indigenous treaty rights. The Liberals make it seem like before today, new Canadians did not even have to respect indigenous rights, or that they have found a glaring oversight of our forefathers. However, new citizens who have completed residency requirements for this country have studied the handbook of history, responsibilities and obligations, and are expected to be fully aware of the rights entrenched in our Constitution.
New citizens are expected to have at least a broad view of the resolved and unresolved treaty rights in different parts of the country, and to be aware of the history of residential schools and other reconciliation-related issues. However, what is sad is that, after watching the debate today, it has become clear that this is nothing more than Liberal lip service.
Canadians are in a time of crisis. We have divisions between segments of our country that the Liberal government failed to address over its last term in office. The recently shortened benches of the Liberal Party here today are proving that they have no intention of ever addressing this in a meaningful way. Liberals on the opposite side know this. They know that their fancy speeches, working groups, talk shops, round tables and working lunches, pay-for-play dinners, virtue signalling and heartfelt-sounding press conferences are all smokescreens for their inaction, which has led to the division in our country that has boiled over onto our streets and our train tracks. A great example is what we saw today outside on Wellington Street.
The Liberals know that they are not taking concrete steps, and they know this because they were told that by a member of the chamber who was formerly one of their own. The member for Vancouver Granville, a former member of the Liberal Party and former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, said that:
For Attawapiskat and for all First Nations, the Indian Act is not a suitable system of government, it is not consistent with the rights enshrined in our Constitution, the principles as set out in (UNDRIP) or calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report.
The Conservative Party supports treaty rights and the process of reconciliation with Canada's indigenous people. Conservatives support real action to address reconciliation with the first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, but what we are debating here today is simply an interim lip service to the indigenous communities in Canada.
This is the Liberals attempting to distract from the fact that they have been weak on this file for years and have no real plan to move forward. This is yet another empty gesture offered up in place of meaningful and substantive legislative change from the Liberal government. On a fundamental level, Bill C-6 is flawed at its core.
Bill C-6 incorrectly gives the impression that the Inuit and Métis people have their own distinct treaties with the Government of Canada. It is as though the Prime Minister's Office took a virtue-signalling bill proposed by the Minister of Immigration, and then Gerald Butts and Katie Telford insisted on adding the words, “Métis and Inuit”, because their internal studies showed that these buzzwords perform better than the truth in Liberal focus groups.
That must have been what happened, because there is no way that the new Minister of Immigration would willingly put forward his first piece of legislation as a minister with such a glaring oversight.
Besides that unfortunate oversight, Bill C-6 would do nothing to support real action to address reconciliation with Canada's first nations, Inuit and Métis people. Instead, the Liberals brought back this lip service, a continuation of legislative disappointments that we became far too accustomed to in the last Parliament.
In conclusion, it is unfortunate, but it appears that we can expect this Liberal tradition on legislative smokescreens instead of dealing with the real pressing and demanding issues that Canadians need to be addressing here today.