Interventions in the House of Commons
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View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2019-06-19 21:56 [p.29445]
Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and I think if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion.
I move:
That, notwithstanding any Standing or Special Order or usual practice of the House:
(a) the motion respecting the Senate Amendments to Bill C-91, An Act respecting Indigenous Languages, be deemed adopted;
(b) the motion respecting the Senate Amendments to Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, be deemed adopted;
(c) Bill C-98, An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and the Canada Border Services Agency Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be deemed to have been concurred in at the report stage, and deemed read a third time and passed;
(d) Bill C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tariff and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act, be deemed to have been concurred in at the report stage, and deemed read a third time and passed on division; and
(e) when the House adjourns on Thursday, June 20, 2019, it shall stand adjourned until Monday, September 16, 2019, provided that, for the purposes of any Standing Order, it shall be deemed to have been adjourned pursuant to Standing Order 28 and be deemed to have sat on Friday, June 21, 2019.
View Gord Johns Profile
View Gord Johns Profile
2019-06-06 11:22 [p.28670]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-97, the budget implementation act.
Yesterday was World Environment Day. Tomorrow is World Oceans Day. We would hope that the government would have some imagination, knowing that we are in a state of crisis. There is a climate emergency happening right now, and if we do not take action, there will be catastrophic climate change, which we are seeing right now.
I am from Vancouver Island. In January, as members are probably aware and have heard me speak about, we had the largest windstorm in recorded history. In February, we had the largest snowstorm in recorded history. In March, we had the largest drought in recorded history.
Here in Ottawa, on the river, in two of the last three years we have had the largest floods in the recorded history of this region.
We are having forest fires on Vancouver Island right now, for the first time in my memory, and I was born and raised on Vancouver Island. The salmon are struggling to make it to their migration routes. The Cowichan area is at 25% water levels. Members have probably heard from my colleague in Cowichan—Malahat—Langford that the government needs to invest in the Cowichan weir and invest in ways to mitigate the impacts of climate change. However, we have not seen the bold action we need.
We have talked a lot about climate and economic equality. The time for talk is over. We need bold and courageous action. Our leader from Burnaby South has put forward a bold, courageous plan, power to change, to move us forward. It is a plan that includes working together, taking climate leadership, creating good jobs for everyone, improving where we live and work, improving how we get around, powering our communities carbon-free and protecting our land and water.
We talk about getting results. We know we need to reduce emissions by 45% by 2030. There is an incredible movement happening, as we know. Greta Thunberg, a young woman from Sweden, is leading a movement around the world. She is mobilizing youth. Youth are asking to be heard, and we are listening at our end of the House.
I walked with Youth Environmental Action in the Comox Valley. There were 300 young people from George P. Vanier high school and Mark R. Isfeld Secondary and the elementary schools. Grandparents, parents, cousins and aunts and uncles walked with them in support to give them strength and ensure that they are being heard and that we bring their voices to floor of the House of Commons. Just last week, at Wood Elementary School in Port Alberni, the kids walked out and demanded action on climate change. We need to listen to them.
Last week at the FCM, there was a new climate caucus created. Local governments are not seeing action from the federal government. They are calling on us to take further action, bold and courageous action. We need to listen to local governments and their leaders in our communities.
It is a privilege to follow my friend from Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, who is the first electrification critic from any party. We have an opportunity to take bold action and electrify vehicles across this country. It can be done. In Norway right now, 53% of vehicles are electrified. Norway's goal is that by 2025, any new vehicles sold will be EVs. It is happening around the world.
Taking bold climate action is good for the economy. Sweden has reduced its emissions by 25% and has grown its economy by 50%. California has seen its GDP rise by 35%, and it has reduced its emissions by 25% per capita. This is the kind of bold leadership that helps grow the economy, tackles inequality and moves us forward in taking this crisis seriously. This is the kind of bold leadership our country can take. There are models around the world and there are leaders around the world who are doing this. We need to join them.
I am calling on the government to take real action. In their budget, the Liberals committed $300 million to an energy retrofit program. We wanted to see that. It is something we are happy to see get started.
However, when the Liberals talk about balancing the environment and the economy, there is no balance. They bought a raw bitumen pipeline for $4.5 billion. We know that if they twin it, that will accelerate to $15 billion. Therefore, $300 million and $15 billion is not balancing the environment and the economy, far from it.
Organizations in my riding, like Hakai Energy Solutions and Synergy Electrical Installations, have been calling for a home energy retrofit program, something that is bold and courageous, and $300 million across this incredibly large country of ours will not get us there.
I wanted to touch on that, because this is a crisis. There are so many opportunities for us to move forward.
Before I go any further, I would like to take a minute to recognize my colleague, the member for Avalon, who is the chair of Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. He is turning 60 on Saturday. I wish him a happy birthday, and I hope we all can do that. It is always nice to acknowledge our colleagues in the House.
The government has talked about investing in our salmon and fish. We are in a crisis in British Columbia. Six species, Chinook salmon being one of them, are endangered and six are threatened. This is impacting sport, commercial, indigenous and recreational fishers all across the coast of British Columbia with recent closures.
The government talks a good game. It talks about how it is investing in salmon at record levels. It talks about a coastal restoration fund, $75 million over five years coast to coast to coast, which is a drop in the bucket. That is $15 million a year that has been slow to move out and that has not shown up in most of the communities I represent. We are in a state of crisis with our salmon. We know restoration dollars go far. However, our hatcheries have not seen an increase in 29 years.
I just met with the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation. Chief Moses Martin and his council asked me to bring the message to Ottawa, that the government needs to accelerate money in enhancement and it needs to do it right away.
The Liberals announced their new B.C. restoration fund of $142 million. They understand and say that there is a crisis, but what do they do? They rollout $17 million for the whole coast of British Columbia. Again, organizations like West Coast Aquatic in my riding have been denied funding from coastal restoration funds. They have been denied money from the B.C. salmon restoration fund. This is not how we deal with a crisis.
Again, this is how the Liberal government continues to respond to crises, whether it be on our salmon restoration, climate crisis or our housing crisis, rolling out a 10-year plan.
The Liberals talk a good game about the oceans protection plan and plastics. We have not seen them invest in mitigating the impact of plastics. We hope this month when the Liberals rollout their response to my motion, Motion No. 151, on a national strategy to combat ocean plastics, there will be money behind it to take on these really important issues and also some regulations to eliminate single-use plastics, like the EU and India have done. It is real action.
I also want to talk about the oceans protection plan. The Liberals had scheduled to spend $145 million in 2017-18; they spent $105 million. They scheduled to spend $263 million in 2018-19; they spent $217 million. The shortfall total is $86 million. This is their world-class delay in spending money, not their world-class oceans protection plan.
Again, people in my communities are not talking to their neighbours, saying “Hey, there's a world-class oceans protection plan protecting our oceans”. In fact, they are saying that the government is not acting with the sense of urgency we need to protect our oceans.
It is the same thing for housing. Real estate prices have gone up over 50% in my riding over the last three years. The government has been slow in dragging out its funds.
On indigenous languages, the government has been slow in getting money out the door. It does not provide the flexibility that is needed for indigenous languages. In fact, there is a project in my riding for an indigenous languages revitalization pole and the government has no flexibility to fund that, which is very important to the Nuu-chah-nulth people.
A lot of issues and things are not in this budget, such as pharmacare, money for the opioid crisis, and I could go on and on.
I hope the government is listening. I hope we see some urgent action on these issues on which we can work together.
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
2019-05-09 10:17 [p.27549]
[Member spoke in Cree as follows:]
[Cree text interpreted as follows:]
Mr. Speaker, I will begin by saying hello to my friends, my relations. It is good to see everyone today.
Let us start with a hard truth: we have had our languages taken from us. Canadians must be generous people and not allow these languages to die.
We have been walking a long pathway, and that pathway can lead to a Canada of great hope and promise. This proposed law is about hope: hope for the future, hope for the present and hope for our children.
In this great structure of Parliament, we have power and resources. In the beginning, we were told that our work was for all Canadians. We must all work collectively together, since Canada has written the promises in how processes unfold. We made a covenant, an agreement, together. We are related. If things have not happened right, we will change things to help respect one another.
Treaties are about respect and brotherhood. Indigenous peoples have always had treaties. The Cree and the Blackfoot made treaties using common sense. For example, there was to be no fighting in the winter, as it was too cold and not good to move children, women and the aged from their homes to different locations at that time. If one tribe made war, it sought out the other chief and explained the reason it was making war. Quite often, it was that the young warriors had too much energy, and they were bothering the whole camp. The old people knew that the best way to do things was to send them off to war against the enemy they knew. The two chiefs would talk and one would be given time to move the women, children and old people, and it worked for them. Later, in peacetime, they would talk about it.
The creation stories we tell about Wesakechak are about treaty. These world treaties are about water, earth, air, fire, and of course, the Great Spirit. For instance, when a child is born, the mother's water breaks and this signals that the child is to be born. He then gets his first breath of precious sacred air, and he is a living human being. He is then wrapped in the warm hide and fur of an animal and joins the warmth of the fire and the life-giving milk of his mother. Soon he is playing with the other children outside on their own land, which happens to be Canada.
When the Creator finished creating the land, sea and air creatures, he called everyone forward and told them to ask for gifts they wanted to have for themselves. Thus, he made treaties with all life on earth. Many asked to serve mankind. They were warned about mankind and what he would be like as the best and worst of all creation. They accepted and understood his warnings. For their understanding and sacrifices, they were granted a place in the hereafter. They would and should be honoured by men, women and children in ceremonies, which indigenous people still do to this day.
It is from these teachings that we respect air, fire and water in a spiritual way. They are included in all our prayers and ceremonies. It is a good way to live.
[Member spoke in Cree as follows:]
[Cree text interpreted as follows:]
We all have our own languages, understandings and ceremonies. As indigenous people, we respect the earth and all the children of the feathered, furred, scaled, two-legged, four-legged and winged citizens.
Mankind is the only creation that breaks treaties continually. The others have never broken their sacred treaties with us.
From our own common sense, we must pray for the earth and all who dwell here. For over 100 years, we have signed treaties between our different peoples and countries. The original idea was not about subservience but about respect.
Languages must be used to be useful. They must be used by our children in school, in the home and in the rest of society. Our languages must be on TV so that people can see and understand why, where and when and can see what is happening in our Parliament. It is important to have our languages.
I saw a written sign at the entrance to a graveyard in Lac la Ronge, in northern Saskatchewan. It said, "If we could not as brothers live, let us here as brothers lie".
Man is represented by fire. Interestingly, women are represented by water. With just a single word or a single glance, she can elevate or destroy us. Personally, I would rather be a good brother to my fellow man than perish in a dirty flood of prejudice, jealousy, anger or fear.
Language can convey respect and meaning. It represents culture, and it defines who we are, our self-identity. It is about learning, education and knowledge.
Elder Dr. Winston Wuttunee asked me to talk about how our language is important and related to our belief structure. There are four elements: water, air, land and fire. Language is related to these four elements. When we take a word in Cree and break it down, there are additional meanings within that word.
Let us take water as an example. Water is women, life and connection to all of creation. It is beauty itself.
Let us look at air. There is fresh air and dirty air. It all has an impact on how healthy we are. It is life. It is breath. Animals fly in air. We need good air to be healthy.
Let us look at land. We live and we die. When we die, we become the land and the land is our relatives. It feeds the grasses. It feeds the bison. It feeds us. It is us.
Think about fire. Fire is also life. It keeps us warm. It lets us cook and survive. It cleans the land. It is also men. It works best with water.
Let us take one word in the Cree language, nikamoun, which means “to sing”. Nika means “in front”, and moun means “to eat”. Nikamoun, therefore, means “to be fed song”. If we break it down further, it could mean “to be fed food by the one in front”. This could also be the Creator. To take it a bit further, it means “whoever is in front is feeding us”. This is where the greed for money becomes our sustenance. This has quickly become a starvation diet for us all, nature and mankind too. Do we have the responsibility and the ability to respond and learn to save ourselves, our children, mankind, and our world?
[Member spoke in Cree as follows:]
[Cree text interpreted as follows:]
Without language, who are we as individuals? We become without a past, unable to understand the thoughts of the past and unable to understand our ancestors in ceremony. They, in turn, are unable to understand us when we cannot communicate in our language.
Our modern Parliament has a role to play in helping indigenous peoples. We can add to the scale of justice by ensuring that our Canadian languages, our indigenous languages, do not become museum pieces relegated to the back of anthropological shelves on linguistics but instead are living, alive, and adapted to a modern world while remaining spiritually connected to the past.
I have dreamed of this moment when the Canadian state, which has for far too long tried to ignore and terminate these languages, would be part of the process in Parliament of breathing life into our common languages.
I thank my colleagues, the House leader and Canadians. I thank our ancestors, who never stopped living. I thank the unborn, who will soon carry the spirit bundle of language into the future. I thank them very much.
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
View Marilyn Gladu Profile
2019-05-09 10:30 [p.27551]
[Member spoke in Cree as follows:]
[Cree text interpreted as follows:]
Mr. Speaker, as a mother of two non-status Métis daughters, I am proud to ask the first question in the House of Commons in the Cree language.
What benefit will the bill have for the Cree and Métis nations?
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
2019-05-09 10:31 [p.27551]
[Member spoke in Cree as follows:]
[Cree text interpreted as follows:]
Mr. Speaker, suicide has taken too many lives. It destroys whole communities. Language and culture are part of their identity and grow our children right.
View Linda Duncan Profile
View Linda Duncan Profile
2019-05-09 10:31 [p.27551]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend both members for speaking indigenous languages. I hope that one day very soon, on my retirement from this place, I too can pursue those languages in my homeland. It is a great privilege to learn those languages.
Does the member support, and is he willing to speak to his fellows on that side of the House about supporting, amendments that have been brought forward by a number of members in this place on behalf of witnesses who appeared before committee and indigenous people who wrote to the government? They include requiring that the indigenous languages commissioner be indigenous, enshrining the United Nations declaration as a legally binding provision in the bill, adding specific reference to the sixties scoop and taking specific measures to respect the language rights of the Inuit.
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
2019-05-09 10:32 [p.27552]
Mr. Speaker, that is a very long question. There is a lot in there to unpack.
Obviously, I believe this bill does reflect the will of the House when we put forward our ideals and our values in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The federal government went to the United Nations in 2016, 2017 and 2018 to highlight once again Canada's support for the absolute acceptance of UNDRIP.
We are now at third reading. We have heard from a number of witnesses already on this bill. It is time to move forward, though. It is time to make sure this legislation passes, because if we continue to debate and debate, these languages will die. They are dying.
I was speaking with people from New Zealand, and only 10% of Maori are actually speaking the Maori language in New Zealand. That was an absolute disaster, but they started rebuilding the language, working together as a society, indigenous and non-indigenous peoples, and trying to come up with a path forward. Today, the language is spoken even in Parliament, and even non-Maori people speak the language and can do introductions.
I hope that one day all MPs will be able to at least do an introduction in the Cree language:
[Member spoke in Cree as follows:]
[Cree text interpreted as follows:]
“Hello. I greet you. I am glad to see you all.”
View Julie Dabrusin Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Julie Dabrusin Profile
2019-05-09 10:34 [p.27552]
[Member spoke in Cree as follows:]
[Cree text interpreted as follows:]
Mr. Speaker, I want to know about this bill, about the youth, if the youth are affected.
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
2019-05-09 10:34 [p.27552]
[Member spoke in Cree as follows:]
[Cree text interpreted as follows:]
Mr. Speaker, that is good.
There is a lot of suicide, and it affects our communities. If the youth know their identity, it helps with their character.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague across the way for not only talking about indigenous languages but showing us in practice how certain ideas can be conveyed in indigenous languages that he knows.
I know many of us are involved in learning other languages, whether that be French, English or other languages. I wonder if the member could share a bit about the reality that maybe certain ideas are easier to convey in some languages than in others, that there is certain knowledge or experience inherently embedded in the way people might express themselves in one language that is different in another, and therefore that the preservation of indigenous languages is a way of preserving, through those languages, certain ideas, certain values, certain experiences that maybe do not come across as clearly in other languages.
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
2019-05-09 10:36 [p.27552]
Mr. Speaker, at 22, when I was in the Canadian Armed Forces, I was fortunate to be transferred to the Valcartier military base. At the time, I did not speak a word of French. I am from Alberta. My attitude toward the language of Molière was far from positive. It is sad but true.
I decided to learn French with the Royal 22nd Regiment in Valcartier, which I salute, and our comrades in battle, the 5th Field Ambulance. Within four months, I was fully bilingual because I did not use a word of English. For me, as an Albertan, it was a way to bring the two solitudes together. However, there are other people in Canada, the indigenous peoples.
Learning French opened up a whole new world for me. Being able to express myself in any language—my mother tongue, French or English—is extremely important to me. I learned that people in Quebec have a slightly different way of thinking than people in Alberta. We are all Canadians and we are all human beings, but we have a different take on some things. Communities work together in Quebec, whereas in Alberta, we tend to be more individualistic; we like to show that we can control our environment.
In my view, language is what commands our thoughts, in a way, and that is extremely important to our cultures. We must also provide that advantage to indigenous peoples, for they have a right to live according to their culture. When they take part in ceremonies, they communicate with their ancestors through their culture and their thoughts. They deserve to have that connection with the past. Maybe one day they will be able to speak Cree at work, at the Royal Bank of Canada, the Bank of Montreal or Caisse Desjardins.
At least they can speak their languages at home and hear them on APTN, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. These people helped build Canada, a country that should be admired by all humanity. No other country on earth does this. We do have our problems and things that need improvement, but Canada is still the most wonderful country in the world.
View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2019-05-09 10:39 [p.27553]
Mr. Speaker, in the interest of brevity, I will only say that I agree with most of what the hon. member just said. As a footnote, New Zealand has very strong policies in place for preserving the Maori language. It has reserved places in the House of Commons for Maori representatives, and thanks to proportional representation, it now has an equivalent number of Maori representatives in its Parliament to the proportion of Maori in the general population.
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Robert-Falcon Ouellette Profile
2019-05-09 10:40 [p.27553]
Mr. Speaker, yes, it is quite an incredible thing. For me, though, this bill really provides a sense of hope for many of my constituents and it is going to be building on to the future. This is really about reconciliation for me.
I understand there are seats reserved for Maori. In certain parliaments, such as the Parliament of Taiwan, there are also seats reserved for indigenous peoples. At the same time, I know I was elected simply based on my own merits. It is a large debate in our society whether we should reserve seats within what we call the “Liberal democracies”, whether people should have certain rights, different rights, or how those rights all work together.
In Canada, we seem to have come to a consensus surrounding the place of indigenous peoples, but also people who have arrived here in the last 400 years, whether they are French or English. We can all work together.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise today to speak in support of Bill C-91 and, in that context as well, to make some broader comments about the federal government's relationship with indigenous peoples.
During his 1981 inaugural address, former United States president Ronald Reagan said the following: “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”
Looking at the history of Crown-indigenous relations and the challenges indigenous peoples face in Canada today, it is quite clear that so many of the particular challenges faced by indigenous peoples in our time as well stem from government intervention, the intervention of government in their lives in a way that does not respect their rights as individuals and, by extension, does not respect their identity and culture.
These types of interventions, big government interventions that deny the primacy of culture, that reject parental authority and familial autonomy, and that believe that governments and special interests, as opposed to property owners and local people, should control resource development, have caused significant challenges for many indigenous communities.
While some would seek to construct a false antagonism between Conservatives and indigenous communities, we recognize that it is the fundamentally Conservative principle that families and communities are more important than the state that could have paved, and could still pave, the path to meaningful reconciliation.
On the terrible history of residential schools, these schools were rooted in the idea that government should control the education system and use it to impose values and practices that are contrary to the teachings of parents and communities. That idea was wrong. It was deeply wrong of various non-state actors to collaborate in the implementation of this policy, and all of those collaborators have apologized, along with the government.
However, we should not forget that the root of this evil policy was that the state thought that it should and could interfere in the familial lives of indigenous peoples to impose an education system that was contrary to their beliefs and values. Approaches that deny the necessary involvement of parents in the education of their children, advanced out of paternalistic notions that government functionaries can raise children better than parents, are always wrong and always deeply damaging. We should certainly endeavour never to repeat the mistake of cutting parents out of decision-making about their children's education.
Today, we are discussing, in particular, the issue of indigenous languages. As I said, I and the rest of our Conservative caucus are very much in support of this legislation. We are very supportive of the preservation and revitalization of indigenous languages, and we recognize the need for governments to play a constructive role to undo the damage, often damage done by governments in the past.
It should be clear to anyone who has learned a second language that language is more than a neutral medium for exchanging information. Languages have certain assumptions embedded in their structure about what is true and important, which makes certain ideas easier to convey in some languages than in others. People who speak a particular language also understand the cultural logic embedded in that language and can access different information and traditions through that language.
The preservation and revitalization of indigenous languages help indigenous people and all Canadians benefit from a deeper understanding and appreciation of the ideas, history, culture and values of different indigenous nations. The preservation and revitalization of indigenous languages help to preserve and revitalize indigenous traditional knowledge, knowledge that benefits indigenous people and all Canadians.
I want to make a few comments here about traditional knowledge, because it is a very important concept, frequently invoked but rarely explored. We can think of two distinct ways of knowing about things: empirical ways of knowing and traditional ways of knowing.
Empirical ways of knowing involve testing and comparison. For example, if people want to find out if eating a certain compound reduces the risk of cancer, they might conduct a study whereby they have a group of people consume the compound on a regular basis, and another, comparable group not eat the compound. They would eventually compare the outcomes for the groups and see if one group contracted cancer at a higher rate than the other.
This would be an empirical test, and it would provide good and clear information, as long as the comparative groups were large enough and the researchers were careful to control for other factors. Empirical tests are great, although they can be costly and time-consuming. Assessing impacts over time in an empirical way obviously takes a lot of time.
Traditional ways of knowing are also driven by data, but the data used is the experience of generations past. A particular culture might teach that certain practices are good for one's health. Perhaps this is because, over thousands of years of tradition, that culture has observed how people do much better or worse in certain circumstances. Traditional knowledge and wisdom generally come from observation over time and over generations, but without a clearly defined, or at least well-remembered, research design.
Of course, traditional knowledge can, in certain cases, be wrong if people develop that knowledge by drawing the wrong conclusions from their observations, but it is also the case that empirical researchers can err by drawing the wrong conclusions from their observations. Empirical research is sometimes contradicted by subsequent empirical research, just as traditional knowledge may in certain instances be contradicted by empirical research and traditional knowledge may be contradicted by other traditional knowledge.
However, it would be foolish, as some might propose, to discard or ignore traditional knowledge. It is valid and reasonable to draw at least tentative conclusions based on the experience and observation of others, including one's ancestors.
Indigenous communities in Canada have traditional knowledge about this land, about culture, about family and values, about life and dignity and about many other things. Language is often the mechanism by which that traditional knowledge is passed on.
It is also worth observing that it is not just indigenous communities here in Canada but all cultures and traditions that bring with them elements of traditional knowledge. The majority culture in the west has unfortunately become deeply skeptical of its own traditional knowledge.
Edmund Burke, the great English philosopher and politician, spoke of how we receive the goods of civilization from our parents and we pass them on to our progeny, and that we should thus be cautious in the innovations we undertake as a way to ensure that we are not unknowingly taking apart the substructure that holds together our prosperity and happiness. Burke talks, in different words, about the importance of our considering traditional knowledge in the decisions we make.
If a person buys a new house and sees that it has a pillar in a place that is not aesthetically pleasing, should this person immediately knock down the pillar or first ascertain whether the pillar is necessary for preserving the structure of the house? I would tell people not to knock down the pillar unless and until they can be certain that it is no longer needed. If they are certain it is not necessary, then it can be removed. However, if they are not certain, it is better to leave it in place, assuming that the pillar reflects the best intentions of the previous owner and knowledge the owner had about the house, knowledge the new buyer does not possess.
A person's empirical knowledge might eventually supersede deference to the status quo, but in the absence of clear, empirical evidence, a person would probably be wise to defer to the status quo in the meantime.
We see issues involving empirical knowledge and traditional knowledge in many different policy areas. One such area, for example, is the regulation of complementary or natural health products. Many are concerned that the government may seek to regulate these products in the same way that it regulates pharmaceutical products, even requiring the same types and levels of testing, but this policy ignores the possible benefit of traditional knowledge, the fact that people have been successful at using certain products for thousands of years to treat certain ailments and that this can be a valid basis for people to make choices themselves about the self-care products they choose to use.
People who do not like this approach are free to only consume things that have been demonstrated, through double-blind studies, to improve health. However, most Canadians would be open to trying complementary health products alongside conventional treatments if the benefits of those products had some traditional knowledge pointing in their favour. Trying such products is precisely a way in which more data can be gathered about the impacts of certain products, with traditional knowledge and science both developed through continuing experimentation and observation.
I have written to the chair of the health committee to ask the committee to undertake a study on the health impacts of uninsured self-care products and services because I think this is an area that requires greater engagement and study from Parliament. This is just one area among many where we should take the idea of traditional knowledge seriously and recognize that it is complementary to, not antagonistic to, empirical knowledge.
Coming back to the issue of Crown-indigenous relations, I note that the horror of Canada's experience with residential schools is precisely an example of traditional knowledge about the critical nature of the bond between parents and children being ignored in favour of radical and capricious schemes to remake the world in a different way.
The architects of the residential school experience, we should note, did not just ignore the value of indigenous traditional knowledge, but also ignored the traditional knowledge of our own society. This is traditional knowledge about the vital importance of the link between parents and children.
I wrote the following recently in a column for the Post Millennial:
The idea that parents are the primary educators of their children, that human dignity is universal and immutable, that good societies are characterized by ordered liberty rooted in a shared conception of the common good, that people ought to live in accordance with the cardinal virtues—prudence, justice, courage and temperance, that productive work is essential for well being, that human rights are universal and stem from natural law—all of these and much more are part of the traditional knowledge of our civilization.
Unlike traditional knowledge in the scientific domain, traditional knowledge in the domain of politics and morality cannot be put under a microscope—but perhaps that makes the contributions of traditional knowledge in these areas that much more important.
This legislation, Bill C-91, through its work on language, seeks to preserve, through language, indigenous traditional knowledge, so I hope we will also bring to our subsequent debates in this place a greater understanding and appreciation for traditional knowledge in general and for the need to include it and reference it in our conversations.
Also in the area of Crown-indigenous relations, I would like to make a few remarks about the impact of natural resource development on indigenous communities.
The ability of indigenous communities to preserve and revitalize their languages, their traditions and their communities in general requires some degree of opportunity. Natural resource development is not an end in and of itself, but it can provide the capital for indigenous communities to make greater investments into things that matter more, such as family, community, culture and language. For that reason, many indigenous communities believe in resource development because it allows them to get ahead and achieve the objectives they identify for themselves. It allows them to do so without leaving their communities and moving to the city.
Our legal frameworks are supposed to recognize the importance of affected indigenous communities having a meaningful say in decisions about resource development. Unfortunately, the government has a track record of imposing anti-development policies on indigenous communities, in clear contravention of its legal obligations. This hurts these communities economically and weakens their ability to preserve their culture and language. This is yet another example of how inappropriate government intervention in the lives of indigenous peoples undermines their ability to preserve their identity and culture.
I can show the House clearly how the Prime Minister is failing to meet his legal obligations to indigenous peoples in this respect.
The natural resource committee was conducting a study on best practices for indigenous consultation. On January 31 of this year, I had an opportunity to question public servants about our obligations and our actions when it comes to that consultation.
This is what I asked:
Is there a duty to consult indigenous communities when those communities have put time, resources and money into a project going forward and then a government policy stops that progress from being put forward? Is there a duty to consult if indigenous communities are trying to move forward the development of a project and the government puts in place policies to stop that progress? Is there a duty to consult in that case?
Terence Hubbard, the director general at NRCan, replied with the following:
...the Crown's duty to consult is triggered any time it's taking a decision that could impact on an aboriginal community's rights and interests.
I followed up with this:
Okay. It seems pretty obvious, then, that policies like the offshore drilling moratorium in the Arctic, like Bill C-69, like Bill C-48, like the tanker exclusion zone, would have a significant impact on indigenous communities and on their ability to provide for their own communities through economic development, which they may well have planned, and in many cases did plan, in advance of the introduction of those policies.
Let me drill down on a few of those examples.
What consultation happened by the government before the imposition of the tanker exclusion zone? I'm talking about before Bill C-48 was actually proposed, when the Prime Minister first came into office and introduced the tanker exclusion zone.
From the responses to my questions, it became clear that none of the departments represented in that hearing, none of the leading public servants who were involved in overseeing how the federal government consults with indigenous peoples, knew about anything to do with indigenous consultations around the tanker exclusion zone. Almost certainly those consultations did not happen.
While I was in the Arctic with the foreign affairs committee last fall, we spoke to many different indigenous communities about issues around cultural preservation, traditional knowledge and natural resource development. We were told on a number of occasions about concerns regarding anti-development policies coming from the government and their impact on the capacity of indigenous communities to prosper and use their resources to protect their culture in other ways they see fit. We were told in particular that the government's approach to consulting northern communities before imposing an offshore drilling ban in the Arctic was to phone local premiers 45 minutes before the announcement. There was no meaningful consultation on an offshore drilling ban. Instead, the announcement was made by the Prime Minister, along with Barrack Obama.
This showed flagrant disrespect for indigenous communities and for the way in which their ability to prosper and develop impacts their ability to preserve their culture.
These conversations we had in the Arctic and other places made it clear that the Prime Minister has absolutely no interest in consulting with indigenous communities before imposing anti-energy policies that affect their recognized right to pursue growth and opportunity within their communities.
Of course, some indigenous people, some indigenous leaders and some indigenous nations oppose certain resource development projects, and their perspectives should be incorporated into meaningful consultation processes that do not give any one community a veto over projects that impact multiple communities.
The Crown duty to consult does not just exist for pro-energy policy; it also exists for anti-energy policy, policies that deny indigenous communities the opportunity to proceed with plans to build up their own self-sufficiency and to fund projects that relate to cultural revitalization.
The government, it is clear, does not actually care about consulting indigenous communities, given its record. It simply wants to use consultation as an excuse to hold up resource development in certain cases, while completely ignoring indigenous communities when it wants to pursue an agenda that is different from what those communities want. For the government, consultation means deciding what it wants first and then finding people who agree with it to help legitimize a decision that has already been made. This is not in keeping with the spirit of reconciliation or even with the law around the duty to consult.
A Conservative government led by our leader would show real respect for indigenous people by ensuring meaningful engagement in communities, even in cases where there are differences of opinion. We will support the economic aspirations of indigenous communities, as well as their linguistic, cultural and social aspirations, because we understand that a culture is more important than politics. We will reflect our Conservative values in our approach to this critical area, recognizing that big, interfering government has held indigenous people back for too long.
The government must indeed be a constructive partner, but above all else, the government must always ensure that it is not getting in the way. Getting in the way has happened far too often in the past, and it continues, but it must come to an end.
We desire, in all of Canada, to see strong communities, strong families and strong, resilient individuals. I am very pleased to be supporting Bill C-91 and I look forward to the work that can be done to build on it in the future through the government working in partnership with indigenous communities, through the government getting out of the way of indigenous communities and supporting their own efforts to thrive, to preserve and revitalize their culture, and to strengthen their economies and their communities in so many other ways.
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