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Results: 1 - 15 of 43
View Bernard Valcourt Profile
CPC (NB)
Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the member is not very much concerned about the substance of the subject matter of this motion.
The motion is about Bill S-8, safe drinking water for first nations. This bill is crucial to ensure that first nations have the same health and safety protections concerning drinking water and waste water treatment as are currently enjoyed by other Canadians.
It has taken seven years for us to get to this point. It has taken seven years of continuous dialogue with first nations, including formal engagement sessions and implementing measures to accommodate the concerns of first nations.
The proposed legislation before Parliament today is the result of hard work and collaboration. It is time to move forward.
View Bernard Valcourt Profile
CPC (NB)
Mr. Speaker, the member's claims are completely untrue and are not based on the facts.
If she looked at the facts, she would see that, as part of the strategy the government has adopted in this bill to fix the situation, nearly $3 billion has been allocated between 2006 and 2014 to improve infrastructure on first nations reserves.
Furthermore, more than $300 million was announced in budget 2012—and is being invested as we speak—to upgrade infrastructure on first nations reserves.
View Bernard Valcourt Profile
CPC (NB)
Mr. Speaker, we know that members of the New Democratic Party like to spin their wheels and waste time by talking instead of acting.
This issue has been before Parliament in one form or another for seven years. First nations across the country are the only communities that do not have a regulatory system that sets standards for clean water and sewage treatment that are similar to standards in neighbouring communities.
I understand that the NDP does not want to take action, which is why the motion is before the House. This country needs legislation that will treat first nations members like other Canadian citizens who enjoy rights that those living on reserve do not.
View Bernard Valcourt Profile
CPC (NB)
Mr. Speaker, not to disagree with the member, but we think enough time has been allocated to discuss and debate views and concerns about this bill.
The fact is that over 50 witnesses spoke on Bill S-11, the previous version, and on Bill S-8, the current version. Members heard from many organizations, including the Assembly of First Nations, the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs, the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, the Institute on Governance and the Indigenous Bar Association.
Bill S-8 was introduced only after many hours of discussion. There has been enough debate. It is time to act.
View Bernard Valcourt Profile
CPC (NB)
Mr. Speaker, in response to the 2011 national assessment, our government worked with first nations to build a long-term plan to improve on-reserve water and waste water. This is founded on three pillars, as the hon. member referred to. We are talking about enhanced capacity building and operating training, infrastructure investment and enforceable standards and protocols. When we say enforceable standards and protocols, this is what this enabling legislation would allow. We cannot move seriously, effectively and efficiently in addressing this gap on reserves throughout Canada without the proper legislative framework that would put the regulations in place to protect first nations members.
I just cannot understand why the NDP and Liberals would oppose such a legislative framework. It is required and has been recommended by committee after committee. The first nations have called for it, yet they oppose it.
View Bernard Valcourt Profile
CPC (NB)
Mr. Speaker, I am always amazed to hear members of the New Democratic Party lamenting the lack of democracy in our great and beautiful country. I have a bit of experience in the House, and I had the privilege of seeing the Constitution repatriated. I have seen and I am seeing—every week and every month, in every community—peoples' representatives, elected by Canadians, who are living up to their responsibilities.
Here today, we have a mandate from Canadians. Improving the lives of first nations people is one of the objectives of that mandate. We know that there is a gap for first nations reserves in terms of the quality of drinking water and waste water treatment, yet when faced with a bill that all elected members are asked to vote on, they are voting no. We are asking them, urging them, to think for once about what is effective and best for the country, for first nations, and to vote in favour of this bill.
View Bernard Valcourt Profile
CPC (NB)
Mr. Speaker, I understand the ideological position of the member's party, which wants to make Canada the only western country and the only major democracy with a unicameral system. However, at present, we have a bicameral system, and this system empowers the Senate to introduce bills.
In the end, what matters is not how the bicameral system functions, but the end result. What matters here is that first nations urgently need us to take action. The member should know this better than anyone.
I understand that he likes to spin his wheels, but we want to take action and the motion is designed to do that.
View Bernard Valcourt Profile
CPC (NB)
Mr. Speaker, that is the member's point of view, one that I can respect, but that I totally disagree with.
Anyone who takes a hard look at the procedures will realize that any member who wants to do serious and reasonable work will have ample time to give his or her opinion on any bill before Parliament.
When we look at the work of committees, we see that a great number of people are asked to appear and give their opinion. There is no time allocation there. The idea is that at some point decisions must be made. I understand that the NDP like to spin their wheels, but we want to move forward and it is time to rectify the situation.
View Bernard Valcourt Profile
CPC (NB)
Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member is concerned about the Walkerton tragedy and its outcome, he should insist that all his NDP colleagues change their minds and support this regulation, which is essential to preventing such a situation. That is what this bill is trying to and will do. Once regulations are adopted throughout the country and once first nations are subject to regulations and standards, we will be able to ensure that the drinking water in those communities is safe.
If he is serious about protecting the interests of first nations, he should be the first to vote in favour of this bill, since that is its primary objective.
View Bernard Valcourt Profile
CPC (NB)
Mr. Speaker, indeed, the government will work with first nations and other stakeholders to develop regulations and standards on a region-by-region basis. As a matter of fact, the preamble of the bill makes it clear that this is the intention.
The government recognizes that many first nations communities face unique challenges, and their ability to meet federal regulatory requirements may vary from province to province and territory to territory. Developing federal regulations will take time. It will not happen overnight. These regulations will be implemented over a number of years, in full co-operation and collaboration with first nations and stakeholders.
View Bernard Valcourt Profile
CPC (NB)
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member would have us believe that he is concerned about the resources invested in first nations.
If he is so concerned, then how can he just stand there? Let him stand up and explain to aboriginals on the reserve he was just referring to why, in 2012, he and the other NDP members all voted against the government's budget, which invested $328 million in infrastructure.
View Bernard Valcourt Profile
CPC (NB)
Mr. Speaker, I am not shocked by the member's comments. It sounds like something the New Democratic Party would say.
It is important to note that this bill is a response to various recommendations about drinking water on first nations land, including recommendations from the reports I mentioned earlier. These reports were from the Commissioner of the Environment, the expert panel on safe drinking water for first nations, the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, the national assessment of first nations water and waste water systems, and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
They call it muzzling. We say it is time to take action. I understand that members of the New Democratic Party would like to see us end up with the same record as the Liberals at the end of our mandate, which is to say no progress on this issue. On the contrary, we have a detailed three-pronged strategy that includes regulation. That is what this bill will be able to do.
If they were seriously concerned about the issue, they would vote in favour of the bill so that it would pass.
View Bernard Valcourt Profile
CPC (NB)
Mr. Speaker, this is typical of the New Democratic Party, which is now questioning my French, likely because I am a simple Acadian from New Brunswick.
To come back to the question, perhaps the member would be more likely to understand if I said it in English. I am sure he would understand that.
I have to admit that aboriginal and treaty rights on first nation lands could be negatively affected if, for example, the land was used in a way that negatively affected the safety of the water. In that kind of circumstance, that could happen.
However, people's health comes first, and that is the priority with this bill.
View Bernard Valcourt Profile
CPC (NB)
Mr. Speaker, they are upset because a similar motion has been moved 41 times. However, this proves that the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party were categorically opposed to passing bills in the House. Any reasonable Canadian would wonder why they are systematically opposed to anything and everything that is in the interests of Canadians and first nations.
View Bernard Valcourt Profile
CPC (NB)
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