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View Garnett Genuis Profile
Madam Speaker, I would note that recommendation 94 uses different words than the words used in the government's legislation.
I wonder if the member could speak to why the government chose to propose different wording rather than just introducing the wording that was actually in the recommendation of that report.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to join the debate on Bill C-6. It is short and straightforward legislation, but at the same time one that invites our consideration of a vast array of issues of the way in which we welcome newcomers, the process for citizenship and how we move forward with reconciliation with indigenous peoples. There are many different points to raise in the context of that discussion.
Just to set the stage a bit, we have a substantial number of recommendations coming out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process, a process that followed an apology that was issued by form prime minister Stephen Harper, working with other parties.
My colleagues across the floor were shouting about what might not have happened in the past, but of course they should remember that process was a shared process. It was something on which all parties worked together, but it was a process that happened and was initiated under the leadership of Stephen Harper.
When we talk about reconciliation with indigenous peoples, we have this list of recommendations coming out of that. Some of these speak to very large, substantive, challenging issues around justice and health or around a clear policy reorientation. Some of them speak to issues of naming and symbolism. I would very much agree that those symbolic steps and discussions are important. We should not dismiss them entirely. The way in which we recognize certain things verbally, like the citizenship oath and elsewhere, these symbolic aspects, is not irrelevant.
However, symbolic recognition should be a step or a part of a process moving toward more substantive change, more substantive connection and reconciliation. It is unfortunate we see with the government this springing exclusively for these symbolic things, the smaller symbolic pieces of it, rather than actually moving forward with substantive action.
In addition to talking about the bill, I want to zero in on what some of that substantive action needs to look like with respect to moving forward in a reconciliation agenda.
For those just joining the conversation, the bill would do one simple thing. It would change the oath that new Canadians would take when they become Canadian citizens. The current oath simply says:
I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.
It is a general oath. It identifies our Queen and a sense of adherence to law and duty. It is clear, beautiful and simplistic, yet it is not overly descriptive in what some of those laws might be. The amendment proposes to include one such element of specificity into the oath. The new oath would read:
I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.
There are many aspects of Canada's history and identity and this brings in one very important aspect; the treaty commitments that all of us are a part of in our relationship with indigenous peoples.
This has a relationship to, but it does not directly follow, recommendation 94 from the TRC process. It says:
We call upon the Government of Canada to replace the Oath of Citizenship with the following:
I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including Treaties with Indigenous Peoples, and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen.
Recommendation 94 does marshal in the same direction, but it is much simpler and clearer. It is not as long and it does not name all the different indigenous groups: first nations, Inuit and Métis. It says, “indigenous”.
Therefore, we effectively have these three options for possible consideration in the context of this conversation: the existing oath, the government's proposed oath and the oath proposed by the TRC process. Beyond that, there is a range of other options.
We might say that we should add the recognition of our linguistic duality, our multicultural identity or of the importance of freedom, human rights, democracy and the rule of law. We can imagine all kinds of different things that could be added as well, things that really are very important to who and what we are as country and what we have become.
However, we have a process, which is not the oath itself, through which newcomers to Canada read and learn about aspects of the Canadian identify. We have a citizenship guide. TRC recommendation 93 speaks specifically to revising the information to newcomers, looking at that citizenship guide to strengthen the reflection in it of the history of Canada's “diverse Aboriginal peoples of Canada, including information about the Treaties and the history of residential schools.”
That certainly is important. There is no need for a great emphasis on brevity and simplicity in a citizenship guide. One can be longer and more explanatory in that context, and there would be value in action on that specific item. I think there would be consensus on that point at least among all members of the House.
We have the government choosing to focus in on one more symbolic proposal, not implementing it exactly but proposing a change to the citizenship oath.
What are we to make of this?
First, the principle of telling the full story of our history as a people in Canada is very important. The original framing of our national story was as the coming together of two nations, of French and English. That was part of the dynamic in Confederation, but many other peoples were incorporated into Canada and not really through their consent.
There were indigenous peoples, whose status as distinct nations were not recognized at the time of Confederation. There was also this dynamic that some people have spoken about recently, in which much of what is western Canada today did not negotiate its way into Confederation. Rather, it was purchased and then boundaries were drawn within it and retention of certain what were otherwise provincial powers were maintained by the federal government.
As a western Canadian who tries to be attentive to the concerns of indigenous peoples as well, there are a few different aspects in which we can see how this bicultural story, this coming together of two nations, misses the full breadth and diversity of the Canadian experience.
Is it important that this be reflected in the information we share through education, in different formats and certainly with newcomers? Absolutely. All of us in the House have an interest in seeing newcomers to Canada learn all this important information about what Canada's history and identity mean. They are learning from our successes and our historic mistakes and they are incorporating that in their sense of what it means to be a Canadian.
Our founders were right to see us a multicultural nation, but at the same time a common civic nation. We must have a common civic identity that is rooted in certain common values in an understanding of our history. Part of that history is the important relationship between all of us and indigenous peoples who live in Canada. Therefore, that recognition and appreciation are very important.
I know sometimes we hear discussion on the process of citizenship.
In an interview that the Prime Minister gave a few years ago to The New York Times, he described Canada as a post-national state, as lacking a mainstream, as lacking a core identity. I disagree with that. Certainly we lack a common ethnic or religious identity, but we do have a common civic identity.
Those who highlight the importance of discussing the role of injustices towards indigenous peoples as part of the process of welcoming newcomers are putting forward the important idea that Canada has a common civic identity, which has to involve an understanding of our past, both the successes and the failures, and how we move forward. One thing to assert as part of this debate is that this proposal does speak to the idea of a common civic identity, and that is important.
My biggest frustration with where we find ourselves here is that we really need action from the government. It needs to move forward substantively to improve economic conditions and the many things that flow from it for indigenous Canadians. We have had a lot of debate about precisely this issue over the last week.
We have natural resource projects in remote areas that have the overwhelming support of indigenous communities. Without getting into a debate about specific blockades or specific policies, there is obviously a lot of frustration in my riding and my province about what has happened with the Teck Frontier project.
The principle behind this is whether we believe we have to be the kind of country where indigenous peoples have the right to develop, have the right to say yes to projects, have the right to sign on to agreements with companies, and then those projects, when they have the support of local indigenous peoples, should be able to move forward. There has been a lot of discussion, and rightly so, about the rights of indigenous peoples. We need to include in that discussion a recognition of the right to develop, a recognition of the right to say yes to projects.
We should have learned things from our past history, a time of colonial mentalities when people were told they could not speak for themselves, that others would speak for them.
We have a colonial mentality today from those who claim to speak for indigenous peoples but do not actually know what indigenous peoples want or know their interests. Protesters and activists in other parts of the country, for example, claim to be in solidarity with Wet'suwet'en people in their opposition to development projects, when in fact those people are overwhelmingly expressing, through their elected representatives, their support for those development projects.
People claiming to speak for another group that is contradicting what that group wants is not solidarity. That is colonialism. We have to know the difference. Solidarity is when people are magnifying the voice of people who are themselves speaking about their own issues of concern. It is not solidarity when people contradict and oppose the things that those communities want. That is a form of colonialism. We have managed to get into a lot of trouble in the past when our leaders and activists and people in other parts of the country have failed to know the difference between those things. A well-intentioned paternalistic, colonial mentality that dismisses pro-development voices as being just bought off for the money is no less paternalistic just because it might be well intentioned. We should have learned in the area of the relationship between the government and indigenous peoples that good intentions are not enough.
We need to stand up for the right of indigenous Canadians to develop, to move forward with projects that they support and therefore to have jobs and opportunities within their own communities. Without those jobs and opportunities, people are forced to a standard of living that is much lower than it is for Canadians elsewhere, or they are forced to choose between that low standard of living and moving to an urban centre, moving away from their home community.
These are the real, substantive and, may I say, difficult issues involved in reconciliation. How do we have meaningful consultation with the elected representatives of indigenous people that recognizes that while we cannot have unanimity, when there is overwhelming consent, the people need to be able to move forward?
I notice members of the government and my friends in the NDP have been speaking about the issue of UNDRIP. Conservatives are supportive in principle of the aspirational objectives that are in much of the document, but we have a lot of concern about the legal frameworks that have been proposed around it. Their effect in saying that every community must have free, prior and informed consent in the effective application of the legal frameworks that have been proposed before the House in the past has amounted to providing a veto for every single community.
I would make the case that if a project has overwhelming support and the vast majority of communities and individuals are saying yes to it, they should have the right in a democratic country to pursue the wishes of the majority. Of course, we defend minority rights when someone's personal situation is infringed, but on questions about economic policy and development, there is a sense that develop rights for indigenous communities should include the right for the majority to express their desire and to move forward.
This is a concern with the framework of UNDRIP that has been proposed, and this is why I opposed a private member's bill on this in the last Parliament. We need to work these issues out. If the majority of indigenous communities or a majority of indigenous people are saying no to a particular project in their area, then consultation means listening to them and respecting their wishes. However, if the majority say yes, listening requires us to respect that will and to move forward.
These are some of the substantive issues that are essential to this conversation, but we do not see the government showing leadership on it. We are becoming a country in which it is very difficult to build anything, a country where projects are being pulled back for fear of a small number of protesters shutting down the ability to move forward. Projects that are good for our economy, that are good for the environment and have the support of indigenous peoples just are not moving forward. Therefore, companies will choose to make investments elsewhere, and the real victims will be those vulnerable Canadians. Each of these projects may be the difference between having a job and not having a job, between providing for an education for their children and not providing for an education for their children.
These very serious talks are serious for our economy, serious for the environment and serious for our relationship with indigenous people. I implore the House to zero in and focus on these substantive issues so that we show leadership and set up frameworks that allow indigenous communities the right to develop, to move forward and access the economic prosperity that comes from their resources.
As we develop this, we need to continue working to build an inclusive society in which newcomers understand the history and traditions of indigenous peoples and in which all of us who were born here in Canada take the opportunity to learn more and understand more of the substance of our history.
I do not feel that changing a line in the citizenship oath, especially in a way that is not aligned with what was in th TRC recommendations, is going to move us forward on those substantive issues. As I said at the beginning, as much as the symbolic discussions have a place, the urgency of where we are at now, the lack of government action, the lack of a plan to move forward, is hurting a lot of indigenous people across this country, people who depend on natural resource development, people who depend on our railways.
We have to be a country that can build things. We have to be a country that can move forward together. It would be tragic if we found that the country that once built a transcontinental railway was now not capable of getting to yes on almost any major project in the national interest, especially when those have the overwhelming support of indigenous Canadians.
These are urgent issues that we must move forward on as quickly as possible.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Madam Speaker, I have two points in response to what my friend had to say.
He talked about the importance of consulting. I did point out in my speech some of the dissonance between the TRC recommendation around the language and citizenship oath and what is in this legislation. Maybe the government feels its consultation prior to developing the legislation was more robust than the work done by the TRC. I do not know if the government has said that, but there are some questions about the actual engagement and consultation.
Let me be very clear that indigenous peoples' right to develop is a right to say yes and a right to say no, absolutely. Generally speaking, projects that do not have any indigenous support are not even making it off the ground floor. We are not hearing about them. The big projects we are hearing about and talking about, the projects that are being discussed in the news, things like Coastal GasLink and Teck Frontier, are precisely the projects that have gotten as far as they have in a relatively difficult political environment because they overwhelmingly make sense and have overwhelming support from indigenous communities. Maybe that is why the member feels we are only talking about these kinds of projects.
In the case of the Coastal GasLink project, 20 band councils are all in favour. It is a natural gas pipeline that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by displacing coal. It is good for the environment. It is good for indigenous people. It is just obvious.
I support—
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Madam Speaker, there were a lot of different points that the member raised. I will try to get to all of them if I can.
He spoke at the beginning about, in the case of Coastal GasLink, giving people the time, space and resources to make a decision. Things cannot just be frozen in time until there is unanimity. We already have overwhelming support, and if we just say, “Let's just give it more time,” people are just not going to invest in Canada. If they have to wait until every single person agrees, then we are not going to see investment.
In a democracy, there has to be a mechanism for aggregating the overwhelming majority sentiment right now. That process is the elected representatives, all of whom are supportive.
The member asked about other calls to action. Obviously there are many different things in the TRC recommendations, and all of them require substantive engagement. It is difficult for me to go through and offer my views on every single one of them. I did speak to the importance of call to action number 93, which is connected in some ways to number 94, saying that there are issues around changing the citizenship oath, but certainly we should have a conversation about the citizenship guide and the important information that it conveys, and if it could convey more on things like residential schools and reconciliation.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Madam Speaker, my colleague says he does not want to beat a dead horse and then goes on to offer gratuitous, absurd criticisms of the previous Conservative government.
There were substantial good-faith efforts, not just on symbolic issues but on critical policy fronts, including increasing investment in education and working with Shawn Atleo and others to try to establish a framework for substantively addressing the long-standing challenges in education. Not all of those succeeded to the fullness of what had been hoped for, but good-faith efforts were made to take on very big, challenging long-standing issues. Frankly, changing some words in the citizenship oath pales in comparison with the legacy of those efforts.
Protecting matrimonial property rights on reserves did not, if I remember correctly, have the support of other parties, and it was an important advance in gender equality for indigenous people. Also, let us not forget that it was under Stephen Harper that the apology was made.
I will agree in principle that there is more work to do. In terms of the economic opportunities of indigenous peoples, we have been set back significantly by the failures of the government. Indigenous people want opportunity and prosperity, and they want to be able to develop their own resources. I hope that one day very soon they will have a government that will support them in doing that.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the efforts of my Bloc colleagues.
Just as Quebeckers want the power and opportunity to develop their resources, we, in the west, have the same desire to be able to develop our own economic resources. Indigenous peoples want the same things and want to be able to develop their resources without interference from other regions. Therefore I hope we will have the support of other parties and regions for our desire to develop our resources.
View Ron Liepert Profile
View Ron Liepert Profile
2020-02-24 14:11 [p.1426]
Mr. Speaker, this week will go down in the history books of our country as the week that the Liberals killed any hope of recovery for the Alberta economy. When I got off the plane last night and heard that, due to the incompetence of the government, Teck Resources had shuttered its plans to build a $20-billion oil sands plant, I could not help but think of the old The Band song, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.
These eco-lefties, out of touch with reality, members of the separatist Quebec party, the socialist NDP and those social elites who sit in the back benches of the Liberal government are responsible for this decision that happened yesterday. The Teck mine would have created tens of thousands of jobs and helped the Canadian economy, but because the Prime Minister was wiped out in western Canada in the last election he said he heard the message, but he has not learned anything. I ask the Prime Minister to resign before he ruins my country.
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2020-02-24 14:29 [p.1429]
Mr. Speaker, under these Liberals, $200 billion in oil and gas are gone. That is 16 times the GDP of Canada's aerospace sector and 10 times the automotive sector; 200,000 energy jobs gone, more than all the jobs in those sectors combined.
This would be the national emergency for any leader. However, the Prime Minister actively delays and blocks oil and gas, and fails to apply the law equally to all Canadians.
Here is the real question. Does the Prime Minister want Alberta in Canada or not?
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
View Shannon Stubbs Profile
2020-02-24 14:30 [p.1429]
Mr. Speaker, what a complete crock. The Prime Minister said that he wanted to phase out the oil sands, and his actions show it. The market got the message. He clearly does not care about Alberta.
The Prime Minister was willing to break ethics laws and bully his former attorney general to save 9,000 jobs at SNC Lavalin that were never actually at risk.
Albertans want all Canadians and all sectors to succeed. However, when 200,000 Albertans lose their oil and gas jobs, suicides spike by 30% and people are losing hope and dignity, he blames everyone and everything else, and does nothing.
Does the Prime Minister want Alberta in Canada or not? What will he do to stop the bleeding he has caused?
View Rachael Harder Profile
View Rachael Harder Profile
2020-02-24 14:43 [p.1432]
Mr. Speaker, northern gateway, energy east, Trans Mountain and now Teck Frontier. The Liberal government is sending a message and it is loud and clear: Canada is closed for business. The noose has been tied.
The Prime Minister may be relieved that Teck is withdrawing, but on behalf of hard-working Canadians, I would urge him to consider 7,000 jobs and 70 billion dollars' worth of investment. That investment would have built hospitals, schools, roads, bridges and other important infrastructure.
The Prime Minister's hatred toward the energy sector is breeding dissension in this country. What will he do to reproduce unity across this great nation?
View Stephanie Kusie Profile
View Stephanie Kusie Profile
2020-02-24 14:44 [p.1432]
Mr. Speaker, Teck was forced to make this decision because the Prime Minister refused to show any real leadership. This is a loss of $70 billion to Canada's economy, money which would have gone to schools, hospitals and infrastructure, not to mention the 7,000 badly needed jobs it would have created in Alberta.
The Prime Minister has broken faith with Albertans. What is he going to do to fix this national unity crisis that he has created?
View John Barlow Profile
View John Barlow Profile
2020-02-24 15:04 [p.1436]
Mr. Speaker, the agriculture minister talks about rule and trade, but we cannot trade if we cannot move our product. The government is not even standing up for the laws right here in Canada.
This is a crisis, and every day it goes on it hurts our farmers even more. The propane shortage right now is critical. We have more than 100 ships off the B.C. coast waiting to be loaded, and a backlog of 20,000 grain cars. This is costing Canadian farmers more than $300 million, and they cannot afford this weak Liberal leadership.
Why, during this crisis, did the minister feel it was more important not to be here, at home in Canada, fighting for Canadian farmers?
View Heather McPherson Profile
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-02-24 15:06 [p.1436]
Mr. Speaker, Albertans are paying the price for a failure of leadership by both Jason Kenney and Justin Trudeau. Teck's decision—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View Heather McPherson Profile
View Heather McPherson Profile
2020-02-24 15:07 [p.1436]
Mr. Speaker, Teck's decision last night is a direct result of their failure on climate change and our energy sector.
In Alberta, families and businesses that create jobs need certainty from the government, not more failure. The path to a strong economic future requires federal leadership and investment in economic diversification.
What is the Prime Minister doing to help Albertans diversify our economy, and to protect and create jobs?
View Greg McLean Profile
View Greg McLean Profile
2020-02-24 15:15 [p.1438]
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-214, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (qualifying environmental trust).
He said: Mr. Speaker, the bill is about equity for the Canadian resource industry. It would provide a level playing field in the oil and gas sector and a financial instrument that is already available for every other extractive industry in Canada, including pipelines. It would allow us to move forward in dealing with environmental liabilities associated with end-of-life wells, inactive wells and suspended wells from the oil and gas sector.
Qualified environmental trusts were brought in by a previous Liberal government, in 1994, in recognition of the fact that liabilities occurred at the end of well life and resource life whereas revenues occurred toward the beginning of resource life. This would match income with expenses. It is a good instrument for our oil and gas industry, particularly in these times when there is so much environmental remediation required in the industry.
Why was it was left out of that legislation in 1994? It is only because oil and gas companies at that time had a surfeit of opportunities that were at all stages of their development, and it was not recognized as being necessary. It is completely necessary now, given what is happening in the oil and gas industry and in Alberta.
We need to recognize that this industry provides so much for Canada. There is so much value to be brought by this new legislation, including $20 billion of economic activity over the next 20 years. This would be a boon to employment in Alberta and GDP across Canada.
The bill would level the playing field for an industry that has not been represented well at this level. I hope we can move it forward very quickly.
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