Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand today in the House to address not only my fellow members but the many Canadians across this country who are tuning in to hear what their representatives on this floor have to say on their behalf.
I want to recognize that today is the international day of remembrance for the Holocaust. We are also on the cusp of Black History Month, which begins this weekend. In 2020 it is crucial to recognize the lessons history have taught us, the progress we have made on human rights and all the work that remains to be done. I also want to recognize the victims and the families of flight PS752.
Many of us have had the privilege of spending almost two months in our home communities connecting with constituents.
Over the past few weeks, I have had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of people during public events and my first round of community gatherings.
The people of Fredericton, Oromocto, Marysville, Maugerville and surrounding communities are engaged, and I am so proud to represent such a dynamic riding.
Fredericton is the capital of Canada's only officially bilingual province.
Indigenous leadership in the arts is putting New Brunswick on the map. We are also a riding where consistent, devastating floods are making climate change real to people, and where parents are standing up to demand more support for their children struggling with mental illness. I am proud to stand with and beside them as their MP.
I want to address the Speech from the Throne. I was, in all honesty, very pleased to see where our priorities have landed: addressing climate change, healing regional divides and acknowledging the need to further advance forward relationships with indigenous peoples. I was ready to support the speech. I thought if there was ever a Speech from the Throne to support, this would be it.
However, then I was reminded of the last four years. I was reminded of the reason I decided to run in the past election and the promises I made to my constituents to hold the government accountable and challenge pretty words and superficial statements. As a wife and a mother to two indigenous sons, I must stand in the House to protect their future, to protect their inherent collective rights and be firm in my affirmation that their rights are non-negotiable.
I want to speak for a moment on the proposed legislative and policy framework, the Prime Minister's two-track approach to a pan-indigenous policy. It is being called the “two-track termination plan” by many indigenous scholars and traditional leaders. It is reminiscent of the white paper on Indian policy from 1969. People have real, valid issues with what is being proposed, indigenous people, those directly impacted by this legislation. We owe it to them to listen.
The Government of Canada has been consistent in its top-down approach. The patriarchal relationship remains: Canada like a father to its children. Indigenous communities are not Canada's children. Their roots run the deepest on this land and they have the right to self-determination. We have convoluted, confused and complicated our end of the bargain, and that has gotten us where we are today: a deadlock over the land, the land we agreed to share. Canada's definition of sharing is not something I would feel comfortable teaching my children.
Reconciliation means giving back where we took too much. It is achieving an equilibrium. I have heard critics say that we are all Canadian, that we should all be treated equally and that there should be no special treatment. That only works if we are in fact equal.
I am not going to rattle off statistics to describe the disparity that exists. We know what they are. What they mean is that we have to do better. We need real action, real negotiations that find parity in the voices represented.
In Canada, the right to consultation is closely tied to free, prior and informed consent. That means issues must be considered at the individual level and that consultations must involve participants who truly reflect the views of indigenous peoples. The idea is certainly not that powerful and influential organizations and corporations at the top should have a greater say.
When Canada continues to ignore the voices of grassroots community members, traditional and hereditary chiefs, we have outrage and activism in the streets.
The delays on certain energy projects like Coastal GasLink or fracking in New Brunswick are not to be blamed on the demonstrators. It was the wilful ignorance of the players involved from the beginning who made indigenous voices an afterthought. To see that indigenous considerations have been prioritized is very encouraging, but forgive me if I remain suspicious.
I was pleased to hear the mandate for UNDRIP in the throne speech.
I hoped those words signalled that real change was coming soon.
However, in the past few weeks we see the way the government has behaved in the unceded territory of the Wet'suwet'en peoples. It bears a striking resemblance to the behaviour of a previous government in my backyard in 2014, when traditional elders of the Mi'kmaq nation and Elsipogtog built a camp to protect the land and water from the encroachment of a fracking company. At that time, it was only the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, on behalf of the Green Party of Canada, and David Coon, on behalf of the Green Party of New Brunswick, who stood with the Mi'kmaq hereditary and traditional chiefs.
The RCMP's deplorable colonial practices in dismantling a peaceful demonstration made headlines across the country.
I have a personal connection to this history, as I had to see a family member, a traditional chief, handcuffed with zip ties and arrested as he was conducting a pipe ceremony.
A lot has changed since 2014. We have come through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report of findings. Canada has reversed its opposition to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Persons and has been working on legislation to see it enshrined in Canadian law.
The inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls has published its final report, including the testimony of 2,380 survivors and family members of those lost.
I am proud to be a member of a party that understands what this really means and does not shirk its responsibility for the need to work tirelessly on reconciliation across Canada.
Unfortunately, Canada seems queued up to repeat the same mistakes it has been making for generations, the same mistakes it made in 2014.
Despite my support for some of the words in the Speech from the Throne, I have little confidence in the Liberal government to understand its responsibilities or to implement the changes we need.
I strongly believe that when we establish a real nation-to-nation relationship with the Indigenous peoples, our relationship with mother earth will be much better.
Our relationship with indigenous peoples is a step forward for climate action.
Earlier today my fellow Green Party members both spoke about the urgency of climate change. Ridings across New Brunswick have been hit in each of the last two years by historic flooding. The river systems at home are jammed. The snow is piling up in our forests. Our wetlands and buffer zones are compromised. We are seeing an increase in precipitation. All signs point to another bad flood season this spring.
Action is required. The Prime Minister and his government know that. I want them to know I am committed to working with them to make progress on adapting to climate change and that I am committed to helping facilitate the rapid transition that our economy must also undertake.
I want to talk for a minute about that.
I am so excited by the opportunities that lay before us in the new economy. We know we have to end our dependency on fossil fuels and I am convinced we can do it, while looking out for workers who will need new careers. We have always been and will continue to be a resource-driven economy. |Just look at the bounty of the resources we have to offer toward renewable energy: our long sunny summer days; powerful river systems across the country; beautiful forests; and right at home in New Brunswick, the highest tides in the world.
This new economy brings with it the promise of new jobs for electricians, mechanics, manufacturers, truck operators and the list goes on.
In New Brunswick, renewable energy companies are already accomplishing amazing things, showing leadership, sharing expertise and building capacity. One solar company in Fredericton has already trained 200 people in solar panel installation work, half of which has come from the Alberta oil sands.
This is an opportunity that will help reunite New Brunswick families. At the same time, this will allow workers to participate in the economy of the future.
The people of my riding are ready and willing to be part of the new economy and they are eager to reduce their own carbon pollution. It is up to the government to give them the way forward.
What is the plan to expand public transit and increase electric vehicle uptake? Where is the plan to help everyday Canadians make their homes most efficient to—