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View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-12-07 15:50 [p.3046]
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to present a petition dealing with the ongoing issues on Wet'suwet'en traditional territory.
The petitioners call for the government to respect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to respect the Wet'suwet'en views regarding the Coastal GasLink project and to withdraw efforts to force that project to completion.
View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-12-01 10:04 [p.2727]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to present petition 10865888. The petitioners ask the House of Commons to look at the situation, particularly on Wet'suwet'en territory and lands, in relation to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. They point out that the Coastal GasLink project being built across Wet'suwet'en lands does not have the approval of the Wet'suwet'en nation, and specifically that the Coastal GasLink project will involve the release of vast quantities of the greenhouse gas methane.
The petitioners call on the House to move quickly to bring Canada into compliance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
View Cathy McLeod Profile
Mr. Speaker, history will judge the Prime Minister on his treatment of both female cabinet ministers and MPs during his tenure. It is easy to say the right words and throw the feminism label around, but it is actions that tell the story.
It is now clear that an internal pattern of behaviour is extending into the Liberals' approach to governing. Not only did the Liberals ignore the Wet'suwet'en elected chiefs when they negotiated the memorandum of understanding, they completely disregarded the Wet’suwet’en Matriarchal Coalition. These women simply wanted jobs for their people. They were stripped of their hereditary titles by male chiefs who then gave the titles to men who opposed the GasLink project. This has forced them to go to the Canadian and B.C. human rights tribunals.
Disregarding these female leaders is unacceptable and cannot be allowed to stand. It is time for the Prime Minister to walk the talk and stop ignoring those who deserve to be at the negotiating table.
View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-11-23 15:58 [p.2251]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to present a petition. I am speaking today from the traditional territory of the WSÁNEC Nation. Hych'ka Siem.
The petitioners are calling for the House assembled to follow through on commitments to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to follow through on commitments to meet the calls for action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The petitioners specifically note the ongoing situation on Wet’suwet’en territory and the Coastal GasLink. They also note the pervasive ways in which implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples should be incorporated into Canadian law.
View Carol Hughes Profile

Question No. 115--
Mr. Corey Tochor:
With regard to the government’s campaign to make Bill Morneau the Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development: (a) what is the current budget for the campaign; (b) what are the costs incurred to date, broken down by item; (c) what are the projected costs, broken down by item; (d) how many government officials have been assigned duties in relation to the campaign; (e) what are the duties that each of the officials in (d) have been assigned, broken down by title of the official; and (f) what are the details of any contracts signed in relation to the campaign, including (i) vendor, (ii) date and duration, (iii) amount, (iv) description of goods or services provided?
Hon. François-Philippe Champagne (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, the following reflects a consolidated response approved on behalf of Global Affairs Canada ministers. With regard to part (a) of the question, as is the case in campaigns for leadership positions in multilateral organizations, the government will provide diplomatic support, advocacy and strategic advice to advance Mr. Morneau’s candidacy. This support will be cost-effective and consistent with relevant Treasury Board guidelines and policies. As the OECD secretary-general selection process is just beginning, it is not yet possible to estimate the total costs that may be incurred to support Canada’s nominee, particularly in the current context given the global health situation.
With regard to part (b), so far, the campaign has incurred $6,265.76 in hospitality costs to support outreach with OECD member delegates and other OECD-related representatives based in Paris. These expenses reflect standard diplomatic practices, including for such selection processes.
With regard to part (c), as of the date of this request, the department is working on the projection of costs for the secretary-general campaign, which will be aligned with the costs normally associated with campaigns for high-level international positions where member countries put forward candidates.
With regard to part (d), the department has not assigned any officials exclusively for the purposes of the OECD secretary-general campaign. Nevertheless, as the lead department responsible for the relationship with the organization, a number of officials in the department and at the permanent delegation of Canada to the OECD are providing support with respect to the campaign in line with their regular duties.
With regard to part (e), the duties of strategic policy advice, advocacy and support will be carried out by the assistant deputy minister, strategic policy; director general, international economic policy; director, international economic relations and strategy; deputy director, OECD unit, international economic relations and strategy; policy adviser, international economic relations and strategy; policy analyst, international economic relations and strategy; Ambassador, Canada’s permanent delegation to the OECD; deputy permanent representative, permanent delegation to the OECD; counsellor, permanent delegation to the OECD; counsellor, permanent delegation to the OECD; program officer, permanent delegation to the OECD; and strategic communications and program officer, permanent delegation to the OECD.
The duties of communications advice and support will be carried out by the director general, strategic communications; director, strategic communications foreign policy; director, media relations; and senior communications adviser.
The duties of coordination of diplomatic outreach will be carried out by the director, official visits, office of protocol; visits coordinator, office of protocol; and visits officer, office of protocol.
With regard to part (f) of the question, there have been no contracts signed in support of the campaign to date.

Question No. 117--
Mrs. Cathy McLeod:
With regard to the Wet’suwet’en Nation and TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline project: what are the details of all in-person and virtual consultations and meetings conducted by the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and the Minister of Northern Affairs or the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs, the Wet'suwet'en elected chiefs and councillors, and the Wet'suwet'en people, and all First Nations along the path of the pipeline, between August 1, 2018, to present, including, for each in-person or virtual consultation or meeting, the (i) date, (ii) location, (iii) name and title of the First Nations, groups, organizations or individuals consulted, (iv) recommendations that were made to the ministers?
Mr. Gary Anandasangaree (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, insofar as Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada is concerned, the response is as follows. With regard to TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline project, consultations were not conducted by the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations or the Minister of Northern Affairs or the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, as this is a provincially regulated pipeline.

Question No. 120--
Mrs. Cathy McLeod:
With regard to the contract signed between Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada and Nathan Cullen (Reference Number: C-2019-2020-Q4-00124): (a) was $41,000 the final value of the contract, and, if not, what was the final value; (b) what was the start and end date of the contract; (c) what specific services did Mr. Cullen provide in exchange for the payment; and (d) was the $41,000 just for Mr. Cullen’s services, or did that amount cover other costs, and, if so, what is the itemized breakdown of which costs the payment covered?
Mr. Gary Anandasangaree (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, with regard to part (a), the original estimated contract cost was $41,000, including taxes. The final value of the contract is $21,229.11, including taxes.
With regard to part (b), the start date was February 24, 2020, and the end date was March 17, 2020.
With regard to part (c), the scope of work in the contract defined the following services: discussions between representatives for Canada, British Columbia and the Wet’suwet’en Nation with regard to the establishment of a negotiation process to advance the recognition and reconciliation of Wet’suwet’en aboriginal title and rights; specific interventions when political issues arise; in consultation with the federal team, provide strategic advice to the minister and senior departmental management; provide strategic advice to the federal team; attend engagement sessions and meetings at key times when highly sensitive issues are discussed and/or when important messages have to be delivered to the other parties; and meet with senior officials of CIRNAC.
With regard to part (d), the breakdown of the $41,000 was as follow in the contract: fees: $20,000; other expenses: $10,000; travel: $10,000; GST: $1,000. Payments of $21,229.11 were made against the contract and the details of the amounts paid, final value, are as follows: fees: $16,000; other expenses: $4,980.10; travel: $0; GST: $249.01. “Other expenses” include, but are not limited to, food for participants and conference boardroom charges for the event at the hotel.

Question No. 121--
Mr. Todd Doherty:
With regard to government statistics on the impact of the various measures taken during the pandemic on the mental health of Canadians: (a) has the government conducted any specific studies or analysis on the mental health impacts of the various measures put into place by various levels of government (self-isolation, social distancing, business closures, etc.); and (b) what are the details of all such studies, including (i) who conducted the study, (ii) general findings, (iii) which measures were analyzed, (iv) findings related to each measure, (v) where results were published, if results were made public?
Mr. Darren Fisher (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada recognizes that COVID-19 has resulted in varying degrees of stress for many Canadians who may not have ready access to their regular support networks. That is why the government is funding an online portal of psychosocial supports.
This new portal, called Wellness Together Canada, makes it easier for Canadians to access free, credible information and services to address mental health and substance use issues. The portal also connects Canadians to peer support workers, social workers, psychologists and other professionals for confidential text sessions or phone calls.
The portal is available free to all Canadians in both official languages on a 24-7 basis. It is the result of a consortium of leaders in mental health and substance use care, including Stepped Care Solutions, Kids Help Phone and Homewood Health.
With regard to part (a), the Centre for Surveillance and Applied Research, CSAR, is contributing funding or subject expertise to several studies to understand changes in mental health and mental illness among Canadians during the COVID-19 period. However, these are under way and not yet complete. They include the Survey on COVID-19 and Mental Health, SCMH; the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Ageing, CLSA, COVID-19 study; the Covid-19, Health and Social InteractiON in Neighborhoods, COHESION, study; and the COMPASS study of high school students in Ontario, Alberta, Quebec and British Columbia.
With regard to part (b)(i), the SCMH is being conducted by Statistics Canada. Results will be analyzed by the Public Health Agency of Canada, PHAC. The CLSA COVID-19 study is being led by principal investigators at McMaster, McGill and Dalhousie universities. The COHESION study is being led by researchers at the Université de Montréal and the University of Saskatchewan. PHAC researchers will be involved in future analyses. The COMPASS study is being led by researchers at the University of Waterloo. Some analyses will be conducted by graduate students funded by PHAC.
With regard to part (b)(ii), as these studies are currently under way, there are no findings that can be reported at present. Early findings from the CLSA COVID-19 study are anticipated by the end of 2020, early findings from the COHESION study are anticipated during the first quarter of 2021, and PHAC analyses of SCMH data will begin in February 2021, with the intention of making the results publicly available as soon as possible.
With regard to part (b)(iii), as these studies are currently under way, no analyses have been completed to date.
With regard to part (b)(iv), see response for part (b)(iii).
With regard to part, (b)(v), see response for part (b)(iii).

Question No. 123--
Mr. Dean Allison:
With regard to the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program: (a) what was original budget for the program; (b) what is the latest projected budget for the program; (c) what was the original expected number of businesses that would apply for the program; (d) what was actual number of businesses that applied for the program; (e) of the applications in (d), how many were successful; and (f) does the government have any statistics regarding what percentage of commercial property landlords whose tenants enrolled in the program accepted a 25 per cent reduction in rent, and, if so, what are the statistics?
Mr. Adam Vaughan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development), Lib.):
Mr. Speaker, in response to part (a), the original budget for the Canada emergency commercial rent assistance, CECRA, program was $2.97 billion total combined from federal, provincial and territorial governments. This includes funding for forgivable loans disbursed and program administration costs.
In response to part (b), the projected budget for CECRA is $2.97 billion.
In response to part (c), 60,000 submissions by property owners was the original expected number of applications.
In response to part (d), as October 4, 2020, 74,774 applications had been received for the program from property owners. Each application represents one property with one or more impacted small business tenant.
In response to part (e) of the applications in (d), as of October 5, 2020, 59,404 applications by property owners were approved; 5,935 were under review.
In response to part (f), individual small business tenants did not directly enroll in the CECRA program. Rather, eligibility for CECRA was based on applications submitted by commercial property landlords on behalf of their eligible tenants. All property owners who enrolled in the program were required to provide a 25% rent reduction to their eligible tenants in order to be approved. Failure to comply with this program requirement would put the property owner in default of the loan agreement, and the loan would become repayable.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-11-02 16:16 [p.1546]
Madam Speaker, I particularly appreciate the fact that the member expressed support on behalf of the Conservatives for the bill.
The member for Thornhill, speaking in the last round about the proposed citizenship oath amendments, said that if indigenous peoples continue the protest of the Coastal GasLink pipeline, they would lose support for such an amendment. This kind of statement is completely ignorant of the rights of indigenous peoples.
If the Conservatives support the recognition of the inherent rights of indigenous people, as is proposed in the bill, would they also support article 10 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples about free, prior and informed consent?
View Raquel Dancho Profile
View Raquel Dancho Profile
2020-11-02 16:17 [p.1546]
Madam Speaker, the member for Thornhill was referring to the public outcry at the railway blockades, but also referring to the immense support from the Wet'suwet'en elected band council and some of their hereditary chiefs. For example, hereditary chief Helen Michelle mentioned, “A lot of the protestors are not even Wet'suwet'en” and “Our own people said 'go ahead'” with Coastal GasLink. Further, she said that they talked to the elders. They talked and talked, and they kept bringing them back. She said that they walked the very territory where Coastal GasLink was going and they were going to give it the go-ahead.
Further, Chief Larry Nooski of the Nadleh Whut'en said, “Coastal GasLink represents a once in a generation economic development opportunity for Nadleh Whut'en First Nation. We negotiated hard...to guarantee that Nadleh people, including youth, have the opportunity to benefit directly and indirectly from the project, while at the same time, ensuring that the land and the water is protected”. I believe my colleague's response in his speech was regarding those comments.
Further, regarding UNDRIP, Conservatives are supportive of reconciliation with indigenous peoples. That path must be studied and furthered across all levels of government. I am eager to see what, if anything, the government puts forward as soon as possible. It has been four years since it said it would adopt it, yet no action has been brought forward. Again, it is an area that needs study and I look forward to seeing that being studied.
View Jenny Kwan Profile
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-11-02 16:52 [p.1551]
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise and speak in support of Bill C-8 on behalf of the NDP.
The NDP has consistently called for the full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action. In fact, I tabled an amendment to revise the citizenship oath to recognize and affirm the aboriginal and treaty rights of the first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in a previous immigration bill, Bill C-6, back in 2016. Sadly, that amendment was not accepted.
Even though this change was in the former minister's 2017 mandate letter, the Liberals failed to act until the dying days of the last Parliament, just before the 2019 election. As a result, the bill did not even make it to second reading.
The Prime Minister has claimed that the new relationship with indigenous peoples is his most important relationship, yet it has taken the minister three years to act on this priority from his mandate letter. I ask the members to think about it. It is astonishing that it has taken this long for the Liberals to act. There is simply no good reason for this not to be accomplished already.
The Liberals have missed the opportunity to ensure that the many new citizens who took their oaths since 2017 began their journey as Canadian citizens with a full understanding of our collective obligation to honour the rights of indigenous peoples. If it takes the Liberals this long to add a line to the citizenship oath, is it any wonder they are failing on their nation-to-nation relationships with indigenous peoples on so many levels?
In 2017, when the Prime Minister declared, “No relationship is more important to Canada than the relationship with Indigenous Peoples”, all of Canada was hopeful. Perhaps we would finally be able to work on redressing this country's historical wrongs and heal the trauma caused by Canada's colonial history. Perhaps we would finally be on the right side of history and move forward with a new relationship that puts the rights of indigenous peoples front and centre. Sadly, the actions of the Prime Minister indicate otherwise.
All we have to do is take a good hard look at the lived experiences of indigenous peoples to know that Canada has failed and is continuing to fail to meet its obligations to indigenous peoples. Look at what is happening with indigenous children. In 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found Canada guilty of “wilful and reckless” racial discrimination by knowingly underfunding on-reserve child welfare services.
Why did it take 10 non-compliance orders against the federal government to force it to act? Why did Dr. Cindy Blackstock have to fight for so long and so relentlessly for the government to treat indigenous children fairly and equitably? Why is it that the basic human rights for indigenous peoples are so hard to honour for the Liberal government, and for the Conservative government before it? It is truly hard to comprehend.
Successive governments' foot-dragging in meaningful implementation and in upholding indigenous rights has had devastating impacts on the lives of indigenous communities across the land for generations, from the young to the old and all of those in between. We see the effect of this in our communities every single day. It is in the violence currently being committed against the Mi'kmaq fishers.
As stated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, they have the right to self-determination. This right was enshrined in the peace and friendship treaties and upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999 by the Marshall decision. The Marshall decision affirmed their treaty rights to hunt, fish and gather in pursuit of a “moderate livelihood” 20 years ago, yet successive governments, both Liberal and Conservative, have failed to negotiate with indigenous communities to define “moderate livelihood” and pave a path for indigenous fishers to fully exercise their rights, rights which are enshrined in Canada's Constitution.
How is this possible? Would anyone think, even for a minute, that, if this were a Supreme Court ruling for non-indigenous peoples, it would take more than two decades for the government to act? As a result of the inaction, the Mi'kmaq fishers are faced with violence, intimidation and domestic terrorism. Crimes were committed against them. People were injured, and they have suffered property damage.
Two weeks ago, the Liberal ministers agreed with the NDP that this warranted an emergency debate in the House of Commons, yet during the debate Liberal members voted against the NDP's unanimous consent motion to affirm the inherent rights of the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet people. The Liberals have refused to confirm their rights, which are enshrined in the Canadian Constitution and by the Supreme Court of Canada. They refuse to recognize that the Mi'kmaq nation deserves full and equal protection under the law from violence, intimidation and domestic terrorism.
Now, according to media reports, the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs is alleging that the DFO is planning to seize the gear and traps of the Mi'kmaq fishers. Do the Liberals really think this is reconciliation? It is utterly shameful.
The Liberal government must stop making a mockery of the meaning behind this bill and act with integrity by taking real action to affirm the rights of all indigenous peoples. The Prime Minister must also pause and reflect on the message he is sending to young indigenous peoples when they witness the blatant inaction of the RCMP when it comes to ensuring the Mi'kmaq nation is afforded the same protection as everyone else.
This situation is more disturbing when compared to the situation of the Wet'suwet'en land defenders, where an ample number of heavily armed RCMP officers surrounded them as they attempted to assert their rights against the Coastal GasLink pipeline. It was truly shocking to learn that the RCMP officers were instructed to “use as much violence toward the gate as you want.”
It is as though the 1997 landmark decision, in which the Supreme Court of Canada found that the rights of the Wet'suwet'en nation had not been extinguished, did not exist. The Liberals are pushing ahead with the Trans Mountain pipeline extension. The voices of the land defenders are being ignored. There is a total disregard for article 10 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which explicitly outlines the need for the government to fully respect the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples when it comes to resource development on their land, including and especially when the answer is “no”.
When the violation of the rights of indigenous peoples are so blatant, how can the Liberals go on pretending that they are affirming the rights of indigenous peoples? Sadly, this kind of injustice is not new, nor is this kind of doublespeak.
My questions for the Prime Minister are theses: What will it take to stop the human rights violations against indigenous peoples? What will it take for him to internalize the fact that the trauma of such human rights abuses is intergenerational?
My colleague, the member for North Island—Powell River, shared the very real lived experiences of her children as indigenous peoples. No parent should have to see their children suffer under the weight of such systemic racism. No parent should have to fear for the safety of their children because they are indigenous, yet this is their everyday reality.
My constituents, who continue to witness this ongoing abuse by the government, are saying that reconciliation is dead. They see an unprecedented number of indigenous children being taken away from their families through the child welfare system. They see police brutality being levied against indigenous peoples. They see racism permeating the health care system. They continue to see indigenous women and girls go missing.
The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls determined that colonial structures and policies, which persist in Canada, constitute a root cause of the violence experienced by indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQ2IA people. This violence, the report concludes, amounts to a race-based genocide against indigenous peoples, especially women, girls and 2SLGBTQ2IA people.
To remedy this and put an end to this Canadian genocide, the final report of the national inquiry put forth 231 calls for justice. When the final report on the national inquiry was released, the federal government promised that a national action plan would be in place on the anniversary of the annual release.
Families, survivors and indigenous organizations have emphasized the need for an indigenous women-led national action plan to implement the 231 calls for justice. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse, the national action plan has been delayed indefinitely. The longer the government stalls, the longer people suffer.
For example, many of the calls for justice include addressing racism in health care settings and hospitals. The disturbing death of Joyce Echaquan, an indigenous mother of seven children, after experiencing racist and derogatory treatment from health care staff in a hospital, is a sharp reminder that it is inexcusable for the Liberal government to delay the implementation of the calls for justice.
While the government is using the pandemic as an excuse for inaction and delays, the community has been advocating for real concrete actions to improve the safety and well-being of indigenous women and girls on the ground for decades. These include access to safe and affordable housing, reforms to the child welfare system, reforms to the justice system and policing, improving health care access for indigenous people as well as providing core funding support for providers of culturally sensitive and trauma-informed support in community services.
The pandemic is not an excuse to delay what should be a top priority for Canada. On the contrary, the pandemic is the reason to accelerate action. In fact, the pandemic has exposed many issues. Imagine what it is like to not have access to clean drinking water in a pandemic, yet the Liberal government has recently backtracked on its promise to end all drinking water advisories in indigenous communities by March 2021, which is only five months away.
Just last month, the Neskantaga First Nation's community was evacuated amidst a global pandemic after high levels of hydrocarbons were discovered in the water supply. While the government is using the pandemic as an excuse for the delays in fulfilling its promise, this situation was not caused by the pandemic. The community of the Neskantaga has been under a boil water advisory for 25 years. With the COVID-19 pandemic, access to safe water to meet hygiene needs is more important than ever. The pandemic should be a catalyst for urgent action rather than an excuse for delays. The health and safety of indigenous peoples matter. The lives of indigenous peoples matter.
Tied to the issue of clean drinking water is access to safe, secure affordable housing. Canada is struggling with a preventable affordable housing and homelessness crisis. The crisis impacts indigenous communities much more acutely due to the historic and ongoing displacement and systemic racism experienced by indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples are 10 times more likely to become homeless than non-indigenous Canadians.
Indigenous communities in rural, urban and northern communities face some of the worst housing conditions in all of Canada. My colleague, the MP for Nunavut, went on a housing tour in her region. All the families she visited were living in overcrowded situations and all had serious problems with mould. Some homes were in such poor condition that beds were frozen to the wall.
Overcrowded homes and lack of housing means that many people are often forced to remain with abusers. Children are removed from their homes and families because there is no safe habitable housing available to families. As my colleague states, “Putting Inuit in situations where they are dying, getting sick or losing their kids because of inadequate housing is modern-day colonization.”
Urban and rural indigenous communities also face unique and drastic housing challenges. My riding of Vancouver East is one of the hardest hit by Canada's ongoing homelessness crisis, a crisis that disproportionately affects indigenous peoples.
Of all the community members currently living in the Strathcona Park tents right now, it is estimated that 40% of the residents are of indigenous ancestry, despite indigenous people only comprising 2.5% of the population of Metro Vancouver.
The lack of access to housing, a basic human right, is a root cause to the disproportionate number of indigenous children in care and removed from their families. It is a root cause of the violence experienced by indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people. It is stressful, trauma-inducing and injurious.
It is simply incredulous that the housing needs for urban, rural and northern indigenous peoples were completely ignored in the national housing strategy. Despite all the talk over the years, there is still no plan for a rural, urban and northern indigenous housing strategy led by indigenous people for indigenous people.
The amended citizenship oath affirms what should have been true all along; that recognizing and affirming indigenous and treaty rights is at the core of fulfilling one's duties and responsibilities as a Canadian citizen. The government must act now to fulfill its own obligations to recognize and affirm indigenous and treaty rights.
While the amended Citizenship Act helps new Canadians better understand, we, at the same time, also have a crucial role to play in ensuring that Canada meets its obligation to indigenous peoples. It is treaties that give settler Canadians the privilege of living on indigenous lands and with that privilege comes the collective responsibility to commit ourselves to recognizing and affirming indigenous and treaty rights.
Justice Murray Sinclair summarized this obligation best, “Reconciliation is not an aboriginal problem—it is a Canadian problem. It involves all of us.” It is incumbent on the federal government to show that leadership every single step of the way. It is incumbent on the Liberal government to do better than what it has done so far.
Having only completed 10 calls for action is not good enough. Indigenous people should not have to continually wait for their rights to be honoured and for their basic human rights to be respected. Incremental reconciliation should not be the path forward. We need to see action and we need to see it now. We cannot allow for the pandemic to be that excuse. We need to accelerate the program and to move forward. Generations have been waiting for it. Indigenous peoples deserve better.
View Paul Manly Profile
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-11-02 17:20 [p.1555]
Madam Speaker, the hon. member mentioned the Wet'suwet'en and the police action there. Was she aware that it was the B.C. NDP government that gave the RCMP their orders? Would she like to see that pipeline cancelled as well and put an end to the fracking and the LNG projects the NDP are pushing through Wet'suwet'en territory?
View Jenny Kwan Profile
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2020-11-02 17:21 [p.1555]
Madam Speaker, I support the indigenous people and their rights. That is why I am here, and that is what I am fighting for. It is time for us to honour their rights.
View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-10-26 16:38 [p.1234]
Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge I am speaking to you from the traditional territory of the WSÁNEC peoples and I raise my hands to them. Hych'ka Siem.
I am presenting petition no. 10672056, pertaining to the failure to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The petitioners specifically take note of the Canadian Constitution and our human rights obligations, and specifically ask the government to move without delay to nation-to-nation talks with the Wet’suwet’en First Nation and to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-10-20 10:05 [p.941]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to take the floor from British Columbia where the sun has not yet risen. I apologize for the darkness.
It is an honour to rise this morning to present a petition from petitioners concerned about Canada's commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The petitioners point out that Canada has existing obligations under other human rights declarations that apply globally. They specifically point out the need to have a piece of legislation in Canada that brings the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into legal effect in this country, and to update our legislation to reflect Canada's obligations to enforce the rights of indigenous peoples in multiple situations. They specify the Wet'suwet'en territory and the conduct of the RCMP.
View Paul Manly Profile
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-03-11 15:19 [p.1939]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to present a second petition from members in my riding of Nanaimo—Ladysmith.
The petitioners ask that the government commit to uphold the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada by immediately halting all existing and planned construction of the Coastal GasLink project on Wet'suwet'en territory; ordering the RCMP to dismantle its exclusion zone and stand down; schedule nation-to-nation talks between the Wet'suwet'en nation and federal and provincial governments, which I am glad to see has happened; and prioritize the real implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-03-11 15:22 [p.1939]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in this place to present an e-petition that was started by one of my constituents from Galiano Island. I want send a shout-out to Christina Kovacevic for starting the petition, which has accumulated more than 15,000 signatures.
It calls on the government, as other petitioners today have mentioned, to observe and respect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, particularly in relation to the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and land claims; to halt all existing and planned construction of the Coastal GasLink project on their territory; to ask the RCMP to dismantle its exclusion zone; to have nation-to-nation talks, which, we note with real gratitude to the ministers involved, have happened, and there is an agreement currently under consideration with the Wet'suwet'en; and to make sure that it continues toward real implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
View Jenica Atwin Profile
View Jenica Atwin Profile
2020-03-11 15:26 [p.1940]
Mr. Speaker, I have a second petition. It is similar to other petitions presented today. It calls on the government to uphold the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action by immediately halting existing and planned construction of the Coastal GasLink project on Wet'suwet'en territory; asking the RCMP to dismantle its exclusion zone and stand down; scheduling nation-to-nation talks with the Wet'suwet'en, which has happened; and prioritizing the real implementation of UNDRIP.
View Paul Manly Profile
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-02-26 18:47 [p.1643]
Mr. Speaker, on February 6, the day that the RCMP began raids on the Wet'suwet'en people asserting sovereignty over their lands, I asked why the government had abandoned its duty and allowed the constitutional and legal rights of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs to be violated.
Since early January, the hereditary chiefs have been asking for meetings with the federal and provincial governments to help them deal with the issues they were facing with the Coastal GasLink project.
I travelled to Wet'suwet'en territory on January 19 and met with a hereditary chief. I travelled through the territory and learned about the Wet'suwet'en law. I met with the RCMP detachment commander in Smithers and at the community-industry safety office, 25 kilometres off the highway, out in the bush. The RCMP told me that as long as there was dialogue, it would not act on the Coastal GasLink injunction.
The Wet'suwet'en had proposed alternate routes for the pipeline six years ago. Instead of compromising and using an existing pipeline route, Coastal GasLink pushed its project through a pristine and culturally sensitive area.
Coastal GasLink is running its pipeline down the historic Kweese trail, which is thousands of years old. This area contains archeological sites and burial grounds. The area is used for cultural training of the Wet'suwet'en youth. It is an area used for hunting, gathering, trapping and other cultural practices. The Unis’tot’en camp was established in the area 10 years ago to assert sovereignty, and now includes a well-established healing centre.
I have a map on my desk of the alternative routes, a description of these routes provided by Pacific Trails Pipeline, another pipeline company working in the area. I have the documents outlining Coastal GasLink's refusals to consider these alternative routes because of the cost. I have a petition to the Supreme Court of B.C. by the Office of the Wet'suwet'en, outlining a long list of non-compliance by Coastal GasLink of the terms and conditions set out by the environmental assessment office in B.C., including the damage done to archeological sites without a proper assessment of those sites.
A week before the raids, I gave the Prime Minister a letter in person and asked him to take time to meet with the hereditary chiefs. The Prime Minister's response was that this was a provincial issue, not a federal issue. I told him that it was a federal issue. The federal government is responsible for the Indian Act, the reserve system and the nation-to-nation relationship with first nations.
Let us review the constitutional and legal rights of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs.
The Royal Proclamation of 1763 states that indigenous title to indigenous lands must first be reconciled before settlement can take place and only the Crown can reconcile indigenous title.
Section 35(1) of the Constitution Act of 1982 recognizes and affirms aboriginal and treaty rights.
The Supreme Court in Delgamuukw affirmed that the Royal Proclamation of 1763 applied and confirmed that aboriginal title was not extinguished by the Wet'suwet'en. It was the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs who were the plaintiffs in the Delgamuukw case. They were recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada.
The Supreme Court's Tsilhqot’in decision confirmed that land rights were collective and intergenerational, and it was the collective that spoke for the ancestral territory. The hereditary system represents that collective.
The government has had 23 years to work with the Wet'suwet'en First Nation to implement the directives outlined by the Supreme Court in the Delgamuukw decision. The lack of free, prior and informed consent and the RCMP raids are violations of the government's commitment to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The federal government has failed in its responsibility to the Wet'suwet'en people by not negotiating with the hereditary chiefs before the RCMP raids.
View Gary Anandasangaree Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by acknowledging that we are all gathered here on the unceded territory of the Algonquin.
This is a trying time for all Canadians, indigenous and non-indigenous alike. We all want a peaceful and rapid resolution that brings down the blockades and advances dialogue with the Wet'suwet'en.
Our government has been working around the clock to resolve this issue in a peaceful and lasting way. That is why the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations has been in regular communication with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs throughout the past week. It is time to move forward together to get our economy moving and to continue advancing reconciliation with indigenous people.
The government's commitment from 2015 has not changed. There remains no more important relationship to the government, and to Canada, than the one with indigenous peoples. Our resolve to pursue the reconciliation agenda with indigenous peoples is as strong as ever. Canada is ready for this. Canadians want this.
We have significantly stepped up rights-based discussions with indigenous peoples. Today, active discussions are under way with partners from every province and territory: more than 150 processes, more than 500 indigenous communities and almost 900 indigenous peoples.
This government has also moved to strengthen relationships with national indigenous organizations to ensure they have the stable, predictable and reasonable funding needed to carry out their work.
To ensure key issues are regularly discussed at the highest levels, the Government of Canada established permanent bilateral mechanisms with first nations, Inuit and Métis leaders to identify each community's priorities.
We continue to make progress on implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has said the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples charts a path for reconciliation to flourish in the 21st century in Canada. We are committed to working collaboratively with indigenous partners to develop legislation to deliver on our commitment to introduce legislation on the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the end of 2020.
We were disappointed when the Conservative leader blocked Bill C-262 in the other House during the last Parliament and we will ensure that our government legislation fully respects the intent of the declaration and establishes Bill C-262 as the floor and not the ceiling.
There are many hopeful signs, but there is also much work that remains to be done.
View Paul Manly Profile
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-02-26 18:54 [p.1644]
Mr. Speaker, the results of not negotiating with the Wet'suwet'en chiefs led to the RCMP enforcing the injunction and it has led to a reaction across Canada. Nobody should be surprised. Indigenous people across Canada have said that they would stand together when a first nation is attacked. The results are hundreds of protests, blockades and occupations across this country.
Now the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs are demanding that the RCMP completely withdraw from their traditional territory, including the removal of all the expensive infrastructure related to the community-industry safety detachment at kilometre 29 on the Morice West Forest Service Road, and that Coastal GasLink cease all operations in the territory.
The Liberal government must stop failing in its duty to the Wet'suwet'en people. It is time to apologize, meet these demands and meet with the hereditary chiefs.
View Gary Anandasangaree Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, we need to work in true partnership. Together we can find a path towards a better future and reconciliation with indigenous peoples. We have already started down this path, and we will keep walking together inspired by and joined by our youth, who are leaders not only of tomorrow but already of today.
We have all seen what happens when we do not come together to keep the conversations going. It results in mistrust and confusion that can be the root of conflict. It is a barrier to moving forward together.
Yes, these are challenges. The hard work ahead is worth the effort. All of us will benefit in striving for a better present and future for indigenous peoples and all Canadians.
View Paul Manly Profile
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-02-25 10:26 [p.1474]
Mr. Speaker, this petition calls upon the government to immediately commit to upholding the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada by halting all existing and planned construction of the Coastal GasLink project on Wet'suwet'en territory, ordering the RCMP to dismantle its exclusion zone and stand down, scheduling nation-to-nation talks between the Wet'suwet'en nation and the federal and provincial governments and prioritizing the real implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
View Pierre Poilievre Profile
2020-02-25 20:32 [p.1568]
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon member for New Brunswick Southwest.
There is a war on the working men and women of this country. If people do not believe me, just ask the 7,000 would-be workers at the now cancelled Teck Frontier mine in northern Alberta.
If people do not believe me, ask the thousands of workers who would be on site now, finishing the construction of the northern gateway pipeline.
If people do not believe me, can ask the 200,000 out-of-work Canadian energy employees who sit staring at their phones, waiting for it to ring with a job offer across northern Alberta.
If people do not believe me, ask the more than 20% of young males in the province of Alberta, who are unemployed and desperate for opportunity.
If people do not believe me, speak to the 14 first nations communities around the perimeter of the Teck Frontier mine, whose leaders had signed agreements for that mine to provide opportunities for their young people to escape the clutches of poverty.
If people do not believe me, then talk to the steelworkers who would have provided steel for the energy east pipeline, which is now cancelled, ensuring that the insanity of selling our oil on the cheap in the west, while buying it at a premium in the east, will go on for an indefinite period of time.
If people do not believe me, look at the footage of the fitness instructor in Victoria, B.C., who arrived at a blockade and begged protesters, saying to them over and over again, “I've got to get to work. There are 40 people expecting me to teach a class. Can you please get out of the way and let me do my job. I don't even know what your political cause is about, but surely it can't be about blocking a middle-class fitness instructor from going to work.”
If people do not believe me, ask any of those thousands of people if there is a war on the working men and women in our country.
Let us be clear about what this dispute is not about. First, it is not about the environment. The blockaders who are stopping the Coastal GasLink pipeline, many of whom think it is an oil pipeline, are standing in the way of the construction of the pipeline and the LNG Canada plant, which would ship Canadian natural gas to China and other Asian markets to replace coal-fired electricity and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, by some estimates as much as 30 million tonnes per year. That is because natural gas emits half the greenhouse gases for each unit of electricity that it generates versus coal.
Canada is perfectly positioned to reduce global emissions by shipping our natural gas. Why? We have 1,220 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. We have a cold climate, which makes it easier to cool and therefore liquify and transport natural gas. We supply our LNG facilities with clean, green, emissions-free British Columbia hydro-electricity. We are closer to the Asian markets, significantly closer, than the Gulf of Mexico, which would be our principal competitor.
In other words, we are perfectly positioned to ship clean, green Canadian natural gas and reduce global emissions, but these blockaders do not want us to. They would rather see coal combustion in Asia pump millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, coal being the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions anywhere on planet earth. However, these protesters would like to continue to see dirty foreign coal, as long as it demobilizes our population and prevents our people from getting to work.
No, it is nothing to do with the environment. Nor was it anything to do with the environment when they, along with the help of the government, shut down the Teck Frontier mine, which had agreed to zero-net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In fact, the company has already lowered its emissions to below the intensity of other competitors around the world. That oil will still be produced, it will still be burned, it will just come from outside of Canada.
It is not about the environment and it is not about first nations land rights. When it comes to the Coastal GasLink, 20 elected councils for first nations had supported and signed agreements to profit and benefit from that GasLink. They all support it. In terms of the hereditary leadership, many of them, too, support it. In referenda by local communities, there has been overwhelming support for these projects of which the blockaders are standing in the way.
With respect to the Teck Frontier mine, there are 14 first nations communities around the mine and all 14 support the project. The cancellation of that mine went not only against the wishes of the regulator, which recommended its approval, of the Alberta government, which has supported it, but all 14 first nations communities. Therefore, no, it is not about first nations land rights.
In fact, it is very clear that the cancellation of this project did not have the free, prior and informed consent of those first nations communities. The protesters and ultimately the government that killed the project went directly against the wishes of first nations people. First nations are being used as an excuse by anti-energy and anti-working class protesters and their friends in the government, by downtown, urban-dwelling Liberal elites who look down on the working class people of our country.
If members do not believe me, look at the Prime Minister's own remarks. He said that he wanted to phase-out Canada's energy sector. He did not say he wanted to phase-out global petroleum. He said that he wanted to phase-out Canada's oil sands. He is not concerned about increased production in the United States, where oil production has more than doubled in the last 12 years. He is not concerned about increased oil and gas production in Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Libya and other places. Those places can go on producing and burning oil. It is Canadian oil and gas he wants to phase-out.
However, it is not just oil and gas. He said that he believed southwestern Ontario should move away from manufacturing. He said, when he was abroad at a fancy conference, that he thought construction workers brought negative gender impacts to rural communities. That is the attitude of the downtown, internationalist, globalist elite who look down their noses at the working people of our country.
I will conclude on an optimistic note. Canadians are proud of working-class people and they are increasingly prepared to stand up and fight back. I believe we will have a renaissance of the working class in the country when we remove the government obstacles that stand in their way, unleash the unmatched power of free enterprise, remove the obstacles so projects can go ahead and our industries and our energy sector can come roaring back to life to give those young people the opportunity to put their God-given talents to work, to give indigenous people the opportunity to trade again in commerce and to exploit natural resources again in our country. I say again, because that had been the tradition of first nations people for thousands of years before Europeans arrived on this continent. That is the future we will fight for as a Conservative opposition and it is the future that Canadians, together with us, will win for our country.
View Kristina Michaud Profile
Mr. Speaker, the rail crisis will not be resolved without dialogue with the Wet'suwet'en.
Fortunately, despite the government's inaction, the RCMP understood that it was part of the problem and agreed to withdraw from the territory. So much the better, but the bond of trust with the RCMP is broken, and it will not be repaired overnight.
What does the government plan to do to rebuild trust between the Wet'suwet'en and law enforcement?
Is it open to a solution involving creating an indigenous police force?
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her question.
We are still available to meet any time with the hereditary chiefs in British Columbia. Now more than ever, we can agree that dialogue should remain open.
To tackle possible solutions, as the member proposed, we need to have that dialogue. The hereditary chiefs have not yet opened the dialogue.
We are here, and we are willing to talk, but both sides need to work together.
View Kenny Chiu Profile
View Kenny Chiu Profile
2020-02-24 15:59 [p.1444]
Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by expressing my sincere gratitude to my constituents in Steveston—Richmond East, British Columbia, for having placed their trust in me by electing me as their representative in Parliament. I also want to thank my colleague from Dufferin—Caledon for sharing his time with me. I am honoured to serve my constituents in this Parliament.
I am here today to debate Bill C-6, an act to implement a change in the oath of citizenship in response to recommendation 94 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It is an amendment to the Citizenship Act to include the promise to respect the treaty rights of first nation, Inuit and Métis people.
I found there is no logic in placing support behind this bill when it is so glaringly exclusionary of the many Métis, Inuit and B.C. first nations who are not under treaty rights. They do not have effective treaties in their respective areas. What purpose would the proposed changes serve for these individuals?
Our nation is a nation of immigrants who stand on the traditional territories of, and shoulder to shoulder with, first nations, Inuit and Métis people. Canada is one of the few countries in the world where indigenous rights and treaty rights are entrenched in our Constitution.
I believe that educating Canadians about these rights is an important part of the path to reconciliation. However, this education is already in effect. New citizens, having completed their residency requirements and having studied the handbook of history, responsibility and obligations, are expected to be aware of the rights entrenched within the Constitution. This gives them at least a general view of the spectrum of resolved and unresolved treaty rights in different parts of the country. In doing so, they develop respect for what is among Canada's existing body of laws and can appreciate the need to fulfill the remaining unfulfilled treaty obligations within the process of reconciliation.
Apparently the Liberal government believes Canadians to be so unsophisticated that they would find this task accomplished merely by adding 19 words in the oath of citizenship.
Over 30 years ago I came to Canada as an immigrant. I have taken the oath of citizenship to our great country. Other members in this House have done the same. I will now read the oath, which has stood unchanged since 1977. It states, “I swear 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 and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”
The oath is simple. It represents the final step of the journey from initial entry to planting roots and eventually becoming a Canadian family member and citizen. The oath of citizenship need not be and should not be complicated, nor a thorough examination of the rights and obligations of what it is to be a Canadian. It is merely an affirmation of loyalty to the Queen of Canada, who is the head of state of our constitutional monarchy, and it is an affirmation to obey our laws and obligations as a Canadian.
Let me reiterate: The existing oath of citizenship already includes the promise of citizens to faithfully observe the laws of Canada. These laws include the Constitution, and the Constitution recognizes and affirms the aboriginal and treaty rights of first nations, Inuit and Métis people. To accept the proposed legislation is therefore unnecessarily redundant.
Therefore, I ask again: What is the purpose of this bill? As I have mentioned, along the way of becoming a citizen, a new immigrant must read materials relating to the origins of Canada, including materials relating to Canadian indigenous peoples. I believe Canada's indigenous peoples would be better served by emphasizing recommendation 93 and not 94 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's call to action, thus strengthening this education.
I will now read out recommendation 93 of the TRC report:
We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with the national Aboriginal organizations, to revise the information kit for newcomers to Canada and its citizenship test to reflect a more inclusive history of the diverse Aboriginal peoples of Canada, including information about the Treaties and the history of residential schools.
My alternative to Bill C-6 is just this. Implementing recommendation 93 would go further to educating new Canadians about our history with first nations and the obligations the Crown has to them. Such content can also discuss part 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, section 35, which states, “The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.”
It is because of the lack of forethought by the Liberal government that my initial reaction to this legislation was the same as when the government introduced it shortly before the election as Bill C-99, a mere three weeks before Parliament was to end.
That reaction was that this was yet another virtual signal by the Liberal government to talk big but not deliver. The bill is a half-hearted effort by the Liberals to distract from something real. The Prime Minister has recently fumbled a crisis of his own making and is desperate to take attention away from his own failings when it comes to Canada's indigenous.
Instead of empowering indigenous communities to act in their economic interests with Canada's vast natural resources, he waited until it was too late to respond, effectively siding with those who would keep our first nations impoverished to suit their own agenda.
Instead of getting on with the program and allowing the Coastal GasLink pipeline to proceed with construction, a pipeline that has signed agreements with all the elected band councils along the planned route, the Prime Minister instead spent significant time actively promoting the obstruction.
Like Albertans, our first nations people want to work. They want to do what is best for their generation and their future generations, and they both have had opportunities denied under the Prime Minister.
Instead of creating jobs, jobs have been lost. Because of indecisiveness on the blockades, Canada has lost the opportunity and the economic advantages provided by the Teck Frontier oil sands mine. This is not good for our country or those in the indigenous communities who actively want to see construction on resource projects proceed. Nor is it good for Canada.
Canada has a long and complicated relationship with its indigenous peoples. I readily agree that further steps are necessary to strengthen our relationship. Changing the oath of citizenship does not accomplish this task.
The leadership of the government has promised so many more sunny ways than it has delivered in any substantial form. Canadians deserve better than another empty promise made by politicians wishing to cater sympathetic favour and reduce proud citizens of this nation to tokens cynically used to curry political favour.
Bill C-6 is another example of more Liberal false and, dare I say, empty compassion, something of which I believe Canadians are getting very tired.
As a Conservative member of Parliament, I stand for the improvement of Canada. My party stands for the improvement of Canada. We represent the many Canadians who want better than a government that consistently fails in its mandate by changing the rules and not providing urgent or transparent actions to address the concerns of Canadians.
Simply put, the Liberal government does not act in the interests of making life for Canadians better. It merely pretends to do so.
In these last few weeks, the Prime Minister has been absent and indecisive as Canada has faced a unity crisis in dealing with the blockades. No matter the gravity of the issue facing Canada or the concerns of its indigenous inhabitants, the House has been served an appealing word salad in his responses. Similarly, the bill is but another response devoid of any substance.
I would like to know when the Liberal government will begin to take action to help Canadian indigenous peoples beyond its typical tokenism and pandering.
View Mark Strahl Profile
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-02-24 17:55 [p.1460]
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to once again address the House as the member of Parliament for Chilliwack—Hope, a constituency that has a large number of reserves.
The Sto:lo Nation and the Ts'elxweyeqw tribe are a key part of my community and they play a key role in partnership with the City of Chilliwack and the District of Hope in making us a great community. In a bit, I will talk a little about some great examples of reconciliation just over the last number of years in my community.
Today we have heard the parliamentary secretary to the government house leader take partisan runs at the Conservative Party. Of course, it was the Conservative Party, under the leadership of Stephen Harper, that brought forward the historic apology to former students of Indian residential schools. This was on June 11, 2008.
That was after a lot of hard work by the government and first nations, Inuit and Métis leadership. The groups were represented by chiefs and leaders from across the country, who were right on the floor of the House of Commons in the old Centre Block. That was a moving moment for all Canadians.
My father, Chuck Strahl, was the minister of Indian affairs, as it was called at the time, and it was one of the proudest moments of his long career, to be a part of that apology recognizing the impact it had on survivors of the residential school system, which was, quite frankly, a dark chapter in Canada's history. That was acknowledged for the first time here under a Conservative government.
As part of that agreement for the settlement for the residential schools, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was created by the Conservative government. Over seven years, it heard from survivors from across the country. It listened to their experiences and how the residential school system had changed their lives forever, not just for them and their parents and grandparents in many cases but for future generations. We acknowledged that and we acknowledged it was wrong. We acknowledged the lasting harms the residential school system brought to first nations, Métis and Inuit communities across the country, and that was an important step.
A number of recommendations came out of the TRC, one of which we are dealing with today.
I remember I was the parliamentary secretary to the minister of aboriginal affairs when the 94 recommendations were tabled. The reason I remember it is because now Senator Sinclair gave the government the 94 recommendations just before question period. By the time the Liberals' first question had come up, they said that they supported all 94 recommendations without having read them. That is a fact.
There was an election on the horizon and the current Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations was their critic. She said that the Liberals supported all 94 recommendations without having read them. That was indicative of the importance they placed on this file. It was all symbolism right from the beginning. Unfortunately, we see that continuing here today.
I have been here for quite a while. I have been watching as well. I heard one Liberal speaker say that this was important symbolism, that words mattered. Yes, the words do matter. We can look at the words, and I will read the proposed change into the record again. It 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, 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.
If we believe that words matter, the words of the current oath matter as well. They cover the addition to this. When we say “including the Constitution, which”, we are saying that this is already covered in “faithfully observe the laws of Canada”. Therefore, this really does not anything of substance.
The treaties, which we are called upon to recognize here, already form a part of the laws of Canada, which new Canadians are asked to affirm that they will faithfully observe. This, quite frankly, is trying to use words to make the government feel better about its relationship with indigenous Canadians, because right now that relationship continues to be strained.
The Liberals say that if new Canadians have to say these words, will that not be an important symbol to indigenous Canadians? I would argue that it would be a better symbol, a better action to indigenous communities to actually respect the laws or the treaties of the country as the Crown. I have not heard in all of my work on this file or in all my work as a member of Parliament a lot of indigenous leaders complaining that the people of Canada, individuals, new Canadians, are failing to faithfully observe the treaty. I have heard many times that the government, the Crown has failed to live up to its obligations under the law.
If we actually want to make a difference, if we want to satisfy the concerns of indigenous leadership, indigenous individuals, it will be for the government, for the Crown to fulfill and honour its obligations instead of saying to new Canadians that they should affirm the aboriginal and treaty rights of first nations, Inuit and Métis people. It is a bit of misplaced symbolism if the government takes that action because it believes it is important.
The government should focus on recommendation 93 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It is on education. One of the lasting legacies of the apology in 2008 is the increased awareness of residential schools, that chapter in our history, and the need to learn from it.
In the same way, recommendation 93 calls on the government to increase that portion of the new citizenship guide so when people come to that last step where they swear the oath, they have learned all about the various relationships that have formed our great country. Whether it is our two founding nations or the indigenous treaties, that it is all part of this. The residential school system and that dark chapter is all part of it.
My fear is that once we start to say follows all the laws, “including the Constitution which”, and the government will probably say, no, that this would never happen, why not at some future date say “including the Constitution, which includes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms”? We all believe in the charter. We should include that. It should be something that new Canadians swear an oath to, that they will follow not only the laws that are in the Constitution, which includes treaties, but also the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
What about the fact that there are two official languages in the country? Why should we not include that in the oath? Once we start to go beyond the law to include the Constitution, to include the treaties, what is stopping us from expanding it further? Saying we will faithfully observe the laws of Canada covers this quite well.
My colleague from Yellowhead mentioned this as well. We have heard a lot about reconciliation today. We are told that this debate is all about that.
I believe, and I have said this before in this House and certainly in my own community, that reconciliation is a process. It is a journey. It is not a destination that one gets to by completing checklists. It seems that this is what this is today. It is a belief that if we check this one off, if we check off recommendation 94, we will be well on our way to achieving reconciliation.
I would argue that this is one of those times when what is happening in this chamber is at fundamental odds with what is happening in real Canada. We have seen it in protestors, quite frankly, who have been out to stall an energy project; that is their main goal. Many of the protests include banners that say “Reconciliation is dead.” We see, from the Mohawks here in Ontario to the Wet'suwet'en people in British Columbia, there are some who disagree with these projects, and they are protesting the actions of the government.
Today in this place, a very safe place to speak about reconciliation, a very sterile environment, we can have these debates, these words in the House, but outside of these walls, a very different story is emerging. Indigenous communities and indigenous leaders feel let down by the government that repeatedly says, and we heard it again on Tuesday, that there is no relationship more important than the relationship with indigenous peoples.
Has that been the record of the government? I would argue that most certainly it has not. When it comes to the government's record on indigenous peoples, it is a record of profound disrespect. We saw this on many occasions. I think Canadians will remember two very clearly, and I want to talk about a few more.
There is one that sticks out the most, outside of the House of Commons where there are rules that govern how we conduct ourselves. We are all honourable members. We cannot even call each other by name. That is how structured it is here in the House. However, when we get outside of this place and we are confronted by reality, how we react there shows more of our true character.
Many Canadians will remember when the Prime Minister was giving a speech to a group of well-heeled lawyers and donors, Liberal Party donors who had given the maximum donation to his party, and he was interrupted by a young indigenous woman who could well have been referencing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's recommendation on clean drinking water. This time it was in Grassy Narrows. She said that the Prime Minister had promised they would have a water treatment facility, that there was mercury in their water and they were dying.
The Prime Minister mocked her to her face, saying, “Thank you for your donation.” That is what he did when he was confronted outside of this safe space that is this chamber, when he was confronted with the reality of an indigenous protestor. “Thank you for your donation,” he said to great laughs from the well-heeled rich donors in a downtown hotel room, who had never had to worry about a clean drink in their entire life. That is what he did when confronted with that issue.
Talking about reconciliation, I know in British Columbia how proud first nations communities in my riding were to have the first indigenous justice minister as a member of the Liberal cabinet in 2015. She was a former Assembly of First Nations B.C. regional chief. She had been a spokesperson for indigenous issues in my province for a number of years. We did not always disagree, and in fact she was usually there to tell me, when I was the parliamentary secretary in our government, how we could be doing things better. She was a respected leader, as was her father.
We saw the reaction here when she decided to stand up to the Prime Minister. She was summarily fired from her post as the justice minister. She was then humiliated. I remember well the former member of Parliament for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, Mr. Jati Sidhu, who said that she did not know anything, that she was just taking direction from her father, patronizing a lawyer, and justice minister and attorney general.
That was the true opinion the government had of her when she told the truth and then got kicked out of cabinet and then got kicked out of the party. One of the indigenous services ministers who got the most done in her tenure was Jane Philpott. I remember her too. She similarly got kicked out of cabinet and the Liberal Party for telling the truth to the Prime Minister.
I want to talk about a couple of other ways the Liberals have been disrespecting indigenous communities. We saw with the Wet'suwet'en, 20 first nations chiefs and councils and nine hereditary chiefs, and were told by one of those hereditary chiefs that 85% of the people in the territory support the Coastal GasLink pipeline, and that the government was nowhere to be seen. In fact, the Liberals were talking about dialoguing with people who wanted to shut down that project that would bring economic prosperity to that region.
I remember the Aboriginal Equity Partners. This is one of the greatest tragedies in the last five years. The Aboriginal Equity Partners had a 30% stake in the northern gateway pipeline. They had worked with the company. I believe it was 31 first nations and Métis communities that had worked with the company to come to an agreement that they would receive $2 billion in benefits for their communities.
With a stroke of a pen the Prime Minister tore that economic prosperity away from them. When we asked if the Liberals had consulted with them, he said that they had no obligation to consult with those first nations and Métis communities because they were taking something away. Cancelling a project and taking away that economic prosperity was not even a consideration for the government.
We saw it with Teck Frontier just today. I know many Liberals have been celebrating all day long the decision of Teck Frontier to abandon this project, the 7,000 jobs, the $20 billion in economic development up front, the $70 billion in tax revenue for all the governments. The Liberals have been celebrating that, but they have not been talking about the fact that 14 first nations are also now having an economic opportunity ripped away from them by the government. The first nations are having that torn away because the government has created such an impossible environment. It reminds me of the energy east pipeline where the Liberals said that it is just the company making the decision. Yes, the company has finally made the only decision that the government left it with. After changing the regulatory process, after moving the goalposts time and time again, the company finally said that it cannot operate in that environment.
Among the people who have lost hope and opportunity, the most tragic are those experiencing poverty and health outcomes that we would never accept in our own communities. The government seems to be willing to accept that some first nations are just going to have to continue to live in poverty, that the economic opportunities the private sector wants to work in partnership with them to achieve, those are not worth pursuing. In fact, the government will do everything it can to rip that economic opportunity away.
Again, this is a symbolic bill that is designed to make the government feel good about its reconciliation agenda. Out on the ground, out in Canada where people right now are seeing first-hand how well the government's reconciliation agenda is working and how well its economic and environmental partnering are working to get the balance right, the balance for the government is no economic development, no economic opportunity for indigenous communities that have been working in close consultation with those communities.
This is an unnecessary change to the oath. It is, quite frankly, designed to make the government feel good about itself when it is failing on the reconciliation front. We cannot support it.
View Candice Bergen Profile
View Candice Bergen Profile
2020-02-21 11:16 [p.1378]
Mr. Speaker, the Coastal GasLink project has been given consent by the majority of the Wet'suwet'en people, but their voices are being ignored by the Liberals.
Rita George, one of their matriarchs, said, “The world thinks the matriarchs are behind all the protests going on and that's not true. None of the matriarchs were contacted.” She further said, “I want the world to know what's been happening to us. We are being bullied, it's so shameful, so hurtful. We are being humiliated.”
Why are the Liberals ignoring the majority of Wet'suwet'en people and instead empowering bullies and lawbreakers?
View Gary Anandasangaree Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, our government is seized with this issue and we believe that dialogue is the best and most preferred way to deal with these matters.
Our minister was in Victoria on Monday. We have had a series of conversations with the hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en, and the minister spoke to several chiefs on Tuesday. The minister reiterated our government's commitment to a joint meeting with the hereditary leadership of the Wet'suwet'en people and the Province of British Columbia. This was also echoed in a joint letter with our counterpart from B.C. We are open and available to meet in person at the earliest opportunity.
View Alistair MacGregor Profile
Mr. Speaker, less than three years ago the Prime Minister said, “No relationship is more important to Canada than the relationship with Indigenous Peoples.”
The Prime Minister has fallen a long way since then. Weeks ago, when we asked the Prime Minister to step up to de-escalate the situation in the Wet'suwet'en territories, he said it was not his problem.
It was then. It is now. When will he meet with the hereditary chiefs?
View Gary Anandasangaree Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, our government is seized with this matter. The Prime Minister has a cabinet that is working on the situation around the clock. We all want peace and we want to get rail traffic going across the country.
The Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and the Minister of Indigenous Services have stated that they are ready and willing to meet with the hereditary leadership at the earliest opportunity. With the B.C. RCMP's outreach to the chiefs yesterday, we hope this creates the ability to advance a peaceful resolution.
View Leah Gazan Profile
View Leah Gazan Profile
2020-02-21 11:26 [p.1380]
Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, that was a lot of talking points from the member opposite, but not an answer to our question.
We will ask again. When will the Prime Minister meet with the hereditary chiefs?
View Gary Anandasangaree Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to reiterate that we have a government that is seized with this matter. A number of ministers have been working around the clock to address the situation on an urgent basis. We will continue to do so in a diligent and urgent manner.
What is important is that we move forward at the same time to understand the long-term needs toward reconciliation. What is important is that we focus on ensuring we have a peaceful solution to this matter and at the same time ensuring our long-term relationship is maintained and restored.
View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2020-02-21 12:28 [p.1392]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand today to speak to Bill C-3.
The bill before us was introduced in the dying days of the last Parliament as Bill C-98, and the Conservatives supported it at all steps.
Bill C-3, while it is an important bill, undoubtedly will be seen as another Liberal failure with respect to consultation. We saw this time and again in the last Parliament. Promise after promise was broken or unfilled. I think we will see the exact same thing with Bill C-3.
I want to bring to the floor again, and I do not think we can say it enough, the voices of the Wet'suwet'en. I would never say that we are speaking on behalf of or for the Wet'suwet'en, but it is important we bring their voices to the floor.
I would remind the House and my colleagues that the House is not ours. It does not belong to us or the Prime Minister. The House belongs to the electors who voted in the 338 members of Parliament. Those are the voices that really matter here.
Today we are debating Bill C-3 when our country is seized with a crisis. What we have seen over the last three weeks is no leadership whatsoever from the Prime Minister.
Yesterday, we had a motion before the House, on which we will vote on Monday. Speaker after speaker, at least on the Conservative side, brought the voices of the Wet'suwet'en to the floor of the House. A lot of people have stood in the House, with their firsts in the air, saying they are standing with the Wet'suwet'en. The reality is that they are not standing for the real voices of the Wet'suwet'en.
Yesterday I heard from two chiefs from my riding. One was the former chief of the Haisla Nation. He thought I should ask the Prime Minister about aboriginal titles and rights and to whom he thought they belonged. They belong to the first nations communities.
The Wet'suwet'en and 21 nations voted in favour of the Coastal GasLink. They voted for bands, chiefs and councils to represent them. Those chiefs and leaders within their communities voted in favour of lifting their communities out of poverty. They chose economic prosperity, not economic despair.
Ellis Ross wanted me to ask the Prime Minister why so many leaders outside of first nations were standing against lifting their first nations up? They voted in favour of something that could bring so much hope to and opportunities for these communities. In northern B.C., these types of game-changing opportunities are few and far between.
Yesterday the Liberals said that they would not support our motion because we used the term “radical activists”. They believed that we were talking about our first nations, that they were radical activists.
The other chief asked me why it was okay to have the Rockefellers and the Tides Foundations limit opportunity for first nations. This is the truth. He said that if the Prime Minister was standing in front of him, he would give him a piece of his mind. I am paraphrasing, because it would be unparliamentary to say the exact words.
It is disappointing that the voices of the Wet'suwet'en, who voted in favour of lifting their communities out of economic despair and who chose hope, are being silenced. They are not being heard; they are being discounted. We are here today because of that.
While Bill C-3, 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, is important, we should be continuing to bring the voices of the Wet'suwet'en to this floor, ensuring they are heard. That is what is important.
Therefore, I move:
That the House do now adjourn.
View Gord Johns Profile
View Gord Johns Profile
2020-02-21 13:14 [p.1393]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for his message. He knows that the NDP is always here to work.
The member talked a bit about Bill C-3. He focused his speech primarily on what is happening in the north, and I felt it was one-sided.
I have a question for the member from Dr. Judith Sayers, the president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council. She asks, “Why is it you think that those that say yes to the project have the right to say yes, but those that say no have not the same respect?”
This is really important because it reflects back to the member's speech and what he focused his discussion on.
View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2020-02-21 13:14 [p.1394]
Mr. Speaker, in my speech today, my speech yesterday and the comments I have made, I said the voices that matter are the voices of the Wet'suwet'en. That is really the crux of my motion. The only voice that matters is that of the Wet'suwet'en. This is a Wet'suwet'en issue.
I said it yesterday and I will say it again: The Wet'suwet'en need to have dialogue among themselves, whether among the hereditary chiefs or the elected band chiefs and councils. The communities elected the chiefs and council to represent them, and it is the communities and the chiefs, including hereditary chiefs, who voted in favour of prosperity.
I am not saying that the “no” side is not important, but there has to be dialogue with the Wet'suwet'en, not with the radical activists like Tides and Rockefeller, those influencing the protests.
View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2020-02-20 10:14 [p.1289]
That the House stand in solidarity with every elected band council on the Coastal GasLink route, the majority of hereditary chiefs, and the vast majority of the Wet’suwet’en people, who support the Coastal GasLink project, and condemn the radical activists who are exploiting divisions within the Wet’suwet’en community, holding the Canadian economy hostage, and threatening jobs and opportunities in Indigenous communities.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Chilliwack—Hope.
Today is about the voices of the Wet'suwet'en. Over the last 14 days, we have heard that a lot of people are standing in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en. Today we are bringing the real voices of the Wet'suwet'en to the floor of Parliament to ensure that the other side of the story is being told.
I could stand here and talk about the 900,000 tonnes of product that is shipped every day on our railways or the 88.1 million passengers who are moved annually on our railways. I could talk about the fact that Canada is a trading nation and our economic prosperity is predicated on our ability to produce good products and get them to market.
I could mention that over the last 14 days we have seen a lack of leadership. We have seen zero leadership from the Prime Minister. I could talk about how this has damaged our economic standing in the global market.
However, today I am going to focus on the voices of the Wet'suwet'en, the voices of the 20 first nations, the elected bands and the hereditary chiefs. Over 85% of the Wet'suwet'en voted in favour of the Coastal GasLink project, voted in favour of economic prosperity.
I live in northern British Columbia adjacent to the territories that the Coastal GasLink project is going through. I have many friends who are Wet'suwet'en. I have many friends who are Tsilhqot'in. My family is from the Tsilhqot'in First Nation. We are in northern British Columbia, where our economic opportunities are few and far between. Our forestry industry is in dire straits. We have seen job losses in the tens of thousands and 25 mill closures in the last year. When we see groups sign on to hope and economic prosperity, we want to make sure their voices are heard.
The Wet'suwet'en, whose voices have not been heard so far, are being vandalized and harassed. As a matter of fact, three of the hereditary chiefs were kicked out because they supported the Coastal GasLink project.
Today is about the 875 million dollars' worth of contracts that have been let on this project so far. Many of them are joint ventures between first nations and non-first nations. Today is about the 400 indigenous and first nations people who are employed by the Coastal GasLink project. That is over one-third of the employees. Today is about the over $1 billion of economic opportunity and partnerships the first nations have signed on for with the Coastal GasLink project.
I know that my colleagues across the way will say that we do not stand with hereditary chiefs and that we are failing to recognize the hereditary chiefs who voted against this. I will remind the House that all 20 elected bands signed up for the Coastal GasLink project. Eight of the 13 hereditary chiefs signed up for the Coastal GasLink project. There were five hereditary chiefs and their families who said no to the project.
This is a Wet'suwet'en issue. It has been said before by members on all sides of the House and by the media that this is a Wet'suwet'en issue. I agree with that. The Wet'suwet'en have to sort their house out; they have to figure this out.
What is the result of inaction? The result of no action is exactly what we are seeing today. The Prime Minister jetted all over the world for 14 days, 13 days or nine days, however long it was, and hid overseas. He is refusing to acknowledge that we are in a crisis.
If the blockades were removed today and our goods and services all of a sudden opened up, it would take not days, not weeks, but months upon months for us to recover. We are already seeing job losses with CN and VIA Rail. Yesterday VIA Rail announced 1,000 job losses, layoffs. In making that announcement, the CEO said that in its 42 years of existence she had never seen a service disruption of this magnitude.
Those lost jobs are not just non-first nations jobs. They are first nations jobs too. These workers are employed as truck drivers. They are the folks laying pipe. They are working to do whatever they can to make a better living for their families and put a roof over their heads.
In the three minutes I have left, I want to bring forward the voices of the Wet'suwet'en.
Robert Skin, who was elected to the council of the Skin Tyee First Nation, said, “With the benefit agreement that [the Skin Tyee] did sign, I see us being in a better place even within the next five years.”
He also said:
These protesters are getting one side of the story. They want to stand up with their fists in the air, but I say come and listen to us and get the other side of the story before you go out there and stop traffic and stop the railroad. All you are doing is alienating our people who are trying to put a roof over their heads and food on the table.
This is a voice I want to bring to the floor today.
I have a constituent who works at CN as a locomotive engineer. He was the first to go west from Smithers out to Prince George on a 12,000-foot coal train last Friday when the blockade came down. He asked me a question: If all these other groups are supporting the Wet'suwet'en and the Wet'suwet'en have agreed to remove the blockade to facilitate the dialogue, why did the federal government not do the same thing as the B.C. government and agree to have dialogue but only if the illegal blockades were removed first?
Chief Larry Nooski, of the Nadleh Whut'en, said:
Coastal GasLink represents a once in a generation economic development opportunity for Nadleh Whut'en First Nation. We negotiated hard...to guarantee that Nadleh people, including youth, have the opportunity to benefit directly and indirectly from the project, while at the same time, ensuring that the land and the water is protected.
First nations chiefs and leaders are on record saying that during the six years of consultation, they would go to Coastal GasLink if they had questions. They walked the lands and decided together what this project meant. Their concerns were met with answers, and the company listened. These are the stories that are not being told, which is what today is all about.
Hereditary Chief Helen Michelle of Skin Tyee First Nation of the Wet'suwet'en has stated, “A lot of the protesters are not even Wet'suwet'en.... Our own people said go ahead” to Coastal GasLink. She also said, “We talked with the elders.... We talked and talked, and we kept bringing them back.... We walked the very territory where CGL is going.... We are going to give it the go-ahead.”
Hereditary Chief Theresa Tait-Day of the Wet'suwet'en nation said, “In the case of Coastal GasLink, 85% of our people said yes, we want this project.”
Marion Tiljoe Shepherd, the descendant of a hereditary chief, said, “All of these protesters don't have the right to close down railways and ships. It's not right. Go away. I want them to leave.”
Shepherd also stated:
People are starting to speak the truth about what they feel. People want to work. The chiefs are supposed to talk to the clans and the clans are supposed to make the decisions. It's not going that way.
Those are the voices of the Wet'suwet'en, and they are the reason we are here today.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2020-02-20 10:24 [p.1290]
Madam Speaker, it is always very helpful to have quotes from the people involved in these situations, so I appreciate that.
I want to ask a non-partisan question related to the numbers. During the emergency debate the other night, a member who had been on the ground and talked to the people gave us numbers from two different Wet'suwet'en first nations. From what I remember from the debate, a majority were against the project.
Does the member have exact numbers to give us that are different from the numbers given during the emergency debate?
View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2020-02-20 10:25 [p.1290]
Madam Speaker, these numbers are from the Wet'suwet'en themselves, the Wet'suwet'en who voted in favour of this project. The numbers I quoted today are from the Wet'suwet'en, the Wet'suwet'en voices themselves. Over 85% of the Wet'suwet'en voted in favour of this project. Eight of the 13 hereditary chiefs voted in favour of this project. Twenty first nations voted in favour of this project.
Those are the numbers I want to leave my colleague with today.
View Mario Simard Profile
View Mario Simard Profile
2020-02-20 10:26 [p.1290]
Madam Speaker, I listened closely to my colleague's speech, but I do not really see how what he said will help resolve the crisis. I think dialogue is key to resolving the crisis. In my previous life, I taught philosophy. The word “dialogue” comes from dialogos, which means two parties discerning the truth. The underlying assumption is that all participants must be recognized.
In his speech, my colleague said that on the one hand, there are the real voices of the Wet'suwet'en and on the other the impostor voices of the Wet'suwet'en, those who oppose or do not recognize the Coastal GasLink project and, as my colleague stated, perhaps mistakenly, are against economic development and whatever else.
I would like my colleague to tell me what part of everything he told us just now points to a way out of this crisis.
View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2020-02-20 10:27 [p.1290]
Madam Speaker, I am sorry, but perhaps I misheard my colleague.
First and foremost, I brought the voices of the Wet'suwet'en to the floor today, the voices of the Wet'suwet'en who support this project. The small group that does not support this is funded by foreign activist groups that have now staked claims in protests all over our country and fund activism. These are the economic disruptors. We have seen buses come from the U.S. with people who take part in these protests.
My colleagues do not have to believe me, but I challenge them to listen to the Wet'suwet'en voices that are on record. They should do a Google search. We all have iPads or other electronic means to source the data. Members should listen to the true voices of the Wet'suwet'en, who say they support this project. Their families support this too, but they are living in fear of vandalism and physical and verbal harassment from these groups that do not even belong to their communities.
That is the reality. That is what is happening on the ground in our communities in northern British Columbia. That is what I want people to understand.
View Charlie Angus Profile
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-02-20 10:29 [p.1290]
Madam Speaker, what is happening on the ground is that the future leader of the Conservative Party, Peter MacKay, is boasting about vigilante action and having a pickup truck threaten indigenous people. We see the footage of the swearing, insults and degradation. It is the same kinds of comments we hear from the mob, who say the bums need to get a job.
Does my friend support Peter MacKay's call for vigilante action? If that is the case, this member is going to see a lot of trouble across this country from the actions and language his party is promoting.
View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2020-02-20 10:29 [p.1290]
Madam Speaker, I do not think anybody on this side of the House is advocating for violence or trying to incite violence. If my hon. colleague, whom I respect greatly, had listened to my comments, he would know that I talked specifically about the dialogue that needs to take place within the Wet'suwet'en and the need to respect the words of all Wet'suwet'en.
We need to make sure we hear the voices of the Wet'suwet'en who support this project and the 20 first nations that support economic prosperity. They support lifting their communities out of economic despair. They support opportunity for their youth, not just for today but in the future. We need to listen to those voices. That is the only way we will be able to move this project forward.
View Mark Strahl Profile
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-02-20 10:30 [p.1291]
Madam Speaker, this might surprise some of my colleagues, but this is my first speech in this Parliament. Therefore, I want to take a moment to thank my family, volunteers, staff and the people of Chilliwack—Hope for returning me here to the House of Commons for the third time. I thank them for that honour.
We are here for an important debate today. We have a motion calling on the House to stand in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en people, the majority of whom have indicated their support for the Coastal GasLink project.
I want to start with a quote from the Prime Minister. When he was in opposition, he went around the country and stated, “Governments might grant permits, but only communities can grant permission.” Of course, he has not lived up to that. One can ask many communities along the way. In this case, the Government of British Columbia has granted the permits. After an independent, robust scientific review, it has agreed that this project can go forward. The government of John Horgan and the NDP in British Columbia have supported this project. The community that will be affected has also granted its permission. The 20 elected band councils, which is every band council along the route, have voted and indicated that, after many years of consultations with the company and the Crown, they are on board with this project because of the economic opportunity it presents, the respect that has been shown to them by the company and the process that has been undertaken over a number of years. The 20 elected band councils support the project. That is not in dispute.
My colleague from Cariboo—Prince George quoted a hereditary chief who said that 85% of the people in the Wet'suwet'en territory support the project. The majority of the hereditary chiefs support the project. The hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en Nation obviously have some matters they need to resolve in their own house. There has been conflict among the families. That is never something we want to see, but it is the reality. We are in a situation now where the hereditary chiefs disagree on how we should move forward. I believe the reporting on this is inaccurate. There are constant references to protests in support of the hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en people, but not all of the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs. The majority of them are in support of this project. There are three hereditary chiefs who are women, and other hereditary chiefs have tried to strip them of their title for supporting the project. Obviously, there is an internal debate and dialogue that needs to continue with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and their families. However, to suggest that somehow all the hereditary chiefs are opposed to this and are in conflict with the elected band councils is simply incorrect.
The motion also calls on the House to condemn the radical activists who have tried to exploit those divisions and tried to use the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs to advance their own goals. Sometimes people do not like that kind of verbiage. They do not like terms like “radical activists”. However, when a group of people go to the home of the democratically elected Premier of the Province of British Columbia, blockade his house and threaten to take him hostage, I would say they are radical activists. When there are people who look a court injunction in the face and say they do not care about the court and ignore its decision, where does that stop? That is the real concern here. To me, that is the difference. In Canada, we all agree that when we have disputes on matters of law, the arbiter is the court. There are times when I do not agree with the decisions of the court. Sometimes I do not agree with the decisions of the highest court in this land.
I live in Canada. I am a citizen of this country. As a society, we all have that unspoken agreement that we will abide by the decisions of the courts. We cannot have a situation now where we pick and choose which court decisions we will follow and which ones we will ignore, and nor can the government. That is what has happened here over the last two weeks.
We have had numerous court injunctions granted against protesters who are blockading rail, who are causing harm to our economy, who are quite frankly threatening the health and safety of Canadians. It is -22°C with the wind chill here today. It is not too warm across the country except in my home province of British Columbia. There is a shortage of propane. There is a shortage of home heating oil. There is a shortage of chlorine and chemicals that we use to keep our water systems clean. These are all at risk, yet the government is ignoring it.
I noticed how the Prime Minister's tone changed quite a lot yesterday after he saw the public opinion poll and heard from his own caucus members. He finally admitted that the blockades were illegal, because the courts have declared them illegal. The law is being broken with the illegal activities that are taking place, such as trespassing on the rail lines, etc. Now we have contempt of court injunctions.
When a government refuses to state in the House of Commons, or anywhere, that it believes the court is right, that it believes that court decisions should be followed, that it believes that court injunctions should be upheld and enforced, we see why more and more protesters choose more and more sites.
The Prime Minister, through his inaction and his weak leadership, is emboldening these protesters to do things like show up at the home of the B.C. premier and threaten to take him under citizen's arrest, like blockade propane, home heating oil and chlorine for our water cleaning systems. All of this is apparently not worthy of condemnation by the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister has created this situation. He has repeatedly said there is no relationship more important than our relationship with indigenous Canadians, and then for four plus years he has failed to get the job done. In fact, he sent quite different signals to indigenous Canadians, particularly indigenous British Columbians.
People in my area remember well Canada's first indigenous justice minister being turfed out of cabinet and the Liberal Party for daring to stand up to the Prime Minister, and his callous remarks during a Liberal fundraiser where donors paid $1,600. When a group of protesters arrived from Grassy Narrows, he said to a young indigenous woman, “Thank you for your donation.” That is the relationship that he has fostered with indigenous people in this country. He is reaping what he has sowed.
We have a Prime Minister who spent the first 10 days of this crisis out of the country, spending taxpayers' money, going around Africa and meeting with people who do not share the values that he trumpets here at home, trying to get their votes for a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council. He promoted the oil and gas industries in Africa while at the same time he talked about phasing out ours. Then he bowed and scraped to the Iranian foreign minister, bowing a couple of times, smiling and shaking hands with someone whose regime is responsible for shooting 57 Canadians out of the sky.
The Prime Minister cancelled his trip to Barbados, so I guess we should give him kudos for that. He finally realized the crisis we have here, but he has not done anything about it. He will not even call these blockades illegal. He will not even stand up for the court injunctions.
We have to decide here today whether we are going to stand with the forces that ignore court injunctions or whether we are going to stand up for the rule of law and demand that the Prime Minister stand up and say that the court injunctions should be enforced and the rule of law should be enforced and upheld.
View Mark Gerretsen Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, literally as the member was speaking, there was breaking news that the RCMP is signalling that it is interested in withdrawing in an attempt to have an open dialogue and discussion.
I have a simple question for the member, if I could just get over top of the heckling.
Does the member agree, as the Minister of Public Safety has signalled he does, that this is a good strategy of the RCMP, or does he think that the RCMP should continue to stay there and show its force?
View Mark Strahl Profile
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-02-20 10:41 [p.1292]
Madam Speaker, I think that the RCMP should enforce the court injunction. It can decide how it does that, but it should get a signal from the government that we expect court injunctions to be enforced and upheld. However those in the RCMP decide, in their wisdom, that they want to proceed, I have no problem with that, but I do have a problem when we have a government that is signalling that it does not believe that court injunctions should be enforced. The RCMP will make its own decisions, as it has, but it should be given the direction that the government expects that court injunctions will be enforced and upheld.
While I am on my feet responding to the member's question, I would like to say that, clearly, we understand that the member, through some of the things that he has done over the last number days and weeks, such as sponsoring advertising calling for the shutdown of various energy projects, does not mind this kind of activity because it shuts down the energy sector, which is something he is in favour of. We are obviously opposed to that.
View Mario Simard Profile
View Mario Simard Profile
2020-02-20 10:42 [p.1292]
Madam Speaker, I listened closely to my colleague, and I share his concern about the economic impact of this crisis.
I would like to know if my colleague is in favour of the Bloc Québécois's proposal to set up a war room. Given the significant economic impact, we should also consider temporarily suspending the Coastal GasLink project—just temporarily—until the crisis is resolved.
Would my colleague agree with that proposal?
View Mark Strahl Profile
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-02-20 10:43 [p.1292]
Madam Speaker, no I would not agree with that approach. In fact, I would be more in favour of the approach of Premier Legault, who has gone to court for an injunction and said that as soon as the injunction is granted, he will be calling on the police to enforce it.
We cannot allow it when people are simply opposing the projects, and not because of the Wet'suwet'en people. Let us be clear about that. They oppose oil and gas development, and they are using the hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en people to advance their own agenda. We do not agree with cancelling, delaying or suspending projects to reward those who are simply looking to shut down the Canadian energy sector. Instead, we believe in the rule of law. We believe that court injunctions should be enforced.
View Charlie Angus Profile
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-02-20 10:44 [p.1292]
Madam Speaker, it seems to me a little rich that the Conservatives are demanding that police go in with injunctions when we are in such a tense situation.
I was on railway blockades. I negotiated with the OPP and the RCMP. I can tell the member that the OPP in Ontario knew very well what happened at Ipperwash, and they remember Mike Harris saying to get those damned “Indians out of the park”.
Dudley George died and a police officer's career was ruined. I spoke to members of the OPP after that, and they said that they will never be dictated to by politicians who tell them to go in and enforce an injunction with native people, but that they will sit down and negotiate.
We need to de-escalate this, my friend. The member's call to send in the police to enforce this will create chaos across the country. I am asking him to think of Dudley George.
View Mark Strahl Profile
View Mark Strahl Profile
2020-02-20 10:45 [p.1293]
Madam Speaker, if the member had actually been listening, I never said to send in the police. I am not telling the police how to do their jobs; I am telling them that their job is to respect the rulings of the courts.
If the court injunction is clear, then, to me, the government should be giving that direction that we expect it to be enforced. We leave it to individual police forces to determine how they will do that. However, it should be clear that on court decisions in this country, we cannot simply decide, from the heckling from the member for Kingston and the Islands, which court decisions we feel should be ignored and which should be enforced.
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by acknowledging we are having this debate on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.
I would also like to express my extreme disappointment that the official opposition of this country has tabled such a divisive motion. It is indeed its leader and its party that are, as it says in their motion, “exploiting divisions within the Wet'suwet'en community.” At a time in which the country is in the midst of such a challenging situation, how does the opposition think that today's motion could get us in any way closer to a resolution?
It is important for us to discuss the issues and possible solutions here in the House no matter what our party lines are.
Today's motion is not about solutions. It is demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of the complexity, the sensitivity and the danger of the kind of inflammatory rhetoric that we heard this week from the Leader of the Opposition and the leadership candidate, Peter MacKay. Canadians are frustrated and, as the Prime Minister said so eloquently yesterday morning, they expect us to work together to get through this time.
Today we have learned that Deputy Commissioner Jenny Strachan has sent a letter to the hereditary chiefs, with a reassessment of the Community Industry Safety Office, in hope that it will promote continuing dialogue. I do wish the members opposite would sit down and meet with some of the passionate young people who are acting in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs. The young indigenous people whom I met with in the office—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, the young indigenous people whom I met with in the office of the Minister of Northern Affairs were not radical activists. They were sensitive, young indigenous people expressing the importance of the land, water and air.
One young woman, who had slept in the Minister of Northern Affairs' office for over 10 days, tearfully expressed to me how upsetting it was to see the images and hear from the people being arrested for what they believed in, friendships that began a year ago and then having to witness their new friend being arrested earlier this month.
I believe we have learned from the crises at Oka and Ipperwash, in Caledonia and Gustafsen Lake. I believe the police also understand its role in that. Last year, we said that we never wanted to see again the images of police having to use force in an indigenous community in order to keep the peace.
Canada is counting on us to work together to create the space for respectful dialogue with the Wet'suwet'en peoples. We all want this dispute resolved in a peaceful and durable manner.
The rhetoric and divisive tactics from the other side are irresponsible. We want the Wet'suwet'en peoples to come together and resolve their differences of opinion. We want to work with both the elected chiefs in council and the hereditary chiefs toward a future outside the Indian Act, where, as a nation, they can choose the governance of their choosing, write their own laws and finally be able to have their rights affirmed as they take decisions with respect to their land, water and air in the best interests of their children and seven generations out.
We are inspired by the courageous Wet'suwet'en people who took the recognition of their rise to the Supreme Court of Canada in the Delgamuukw case in 1997. However, we need to be clear that the court did not at that time grant title to their lands. It affirmed the rights of the Wet'suwet'en but said the question of title was to be determined at a later time.
It has been more than 20 years, through many federal and provincial governments, and the Wet'suwet'en people are understandably impatient for the question of title to be resolved. I look forward to working together on an out-of-court process to determine title.
The Wet'suwet'en have worked hard on those next steps within the B.C. treaty process and more recently, since 2018, on specific claims, negotiation preparedness, nation rebuilding, with funding from the government for research.
Two years ago I signed an agreement with the hereditary chiefs of the Office of the Wet'suwet'en on asserting their rights on child and family services. At the signing, there was some overlap. Some of the hereditary chiefs also hold or have held office within their communities as chiefs and/or councillors.
Across Canada, over half of the Indian Act bands are sitting down at tables to work on their priorities as they assert their jurisdiction. From education to fisheries to child and family services to policing to court systems, we have made important strides forward in the hard work of what Lee Crowchild describes as “deconstructing the effects of colonization.”
In British Columbia, we have been inspired by the work of the B.C. summit as they have been able to articulate and sign, with us and the B.C. government, a new policy that will, once and for all, eliminate the concepts of extinguishment, cede and surrender for future treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.
This new B.C. policy is transformative. It represents years of hard work that has eliminated so many of the obstacles that impeded the treaty process. It will be an essential tool as we are able to accelerate the progress to self-determination. I believe the B.C. policy can provide a template for nations from coast to coast to coast.
We have together agreed that no longer will loans be necessary for first nations to fund their negotiations in Canada. We are forgiving outstanding past loans and, in some cases, paying back nations for loans that had already been repaid.
For over two years, we have worked with the already self-governing nations on a collaborative fiscal agreement that will provide stable, predictable funding, which will finally properly fund the running of their governments.
This new funding arrangement will provide them with much more money than they would have received under the Indian Act.
The conditions are right to move the relationship with first nations, Inuit and Métis in Canada to one based on the affirmation of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership. It has been exciting to watch the creativity and innovation presented by the Ktunaxa and Stó:lo nations in their negotiations of modern treaties.
We were inspired to see the hereditary chiefs and elected chief and council of the Heiltsuk Nation work together to sign an agreement with Canada on their path to self-government.
We are also grateful to the B.C. government for its important work on reconciliation, including the passage of Bill 41, implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
I would like to thank Murray Rankin for his important work for B.C. on lands and title with the Wet'suwet'en nation and Nathan Cullen for his work with all those involved in the current impasse.
We have seen that real progress can be made when hereditary and elected leadership come together with a shared vision of nation rebuilding and work together on a clear route to self-determination.
I look forward to having these conversations with the Wet'suwet'en nation.
We have an obligation to move beyond the good work we are doing on child and family services to a meaningful discussion on reconstituting the Wet'suwet'en nation.
It is time to build on the Delgamuukw decision, time to show that issues of rights and title can be solved through meaningful dialogue
My job is to ensure that Canada finds out-of-court solutions and to fast-track negotiations and agreements that make real change possible.
I hope that shortly we will be able to sit down with the hereditary chiefs of Wet'suwet'en and work together on their short and long-term goals.
There are many parts of Canada where title is very difficult to determine. Many nations occupied the land for different generations. There are other areas like Tsilhqot'in's title land and Haida Gwaii where there is clear evidence that the land has been occupied by one nation for millennia.
We are at a critical time in Canada. We need to deal effectively with the uncertainty. Canadians want to see indigenous rights honoured. They are impatient for meaningful progress. Canadians are counting on us to implement a set of rules and processes in which section 35 of our Constitution can be honourably implemented.
Passing legislation and implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, or UNDRIP, is one way to move forward.
Canadians acknowledge that there has been a difference of opinion among the Wet'suwet'en peoples. As was said, 20 elected chiefs and councils have agreed to the project in consultation with their people. Women leaders have expressed an opinion that the project can help eliminate poverty or provide meaningful work for their young men and reduce domestic violence and incarceration
Crystal Smith, chief councillor for Haisla nation, is in favour of the pipeline. She eloquently said this morning on Ottawa Morning that the solutions would be found within the Wet'suwet'en nation and that the outside voices were not helpful.
There needs to be unity and consensus within the community, and today's debate is not helping.
Some have expressed that in an indigenous world view providing an energy source that will reduce China's reliance on coal is good for mother earth. We are hoping the Wet'suwet'en people will be able to come together to take these decisions together, decisions that are in the best interests of their children and their children for generations to come.
We applaud the thousands of young Canadians fighting for climate justice.
We know that they need hope. They want to see a real plan to deal with the climate emergency. We believe we have an effective plan in place, from clean tech, renewable energy, public transit and protection of the land and water.
We want the young people of Canada and all those who have been warning about climate change for decades to feel heard.
They need hope, and they need to feel involved in coming up with real solutions.
As I mentioned Tuesday night, we have invested in and are inspired by the work of Val Napoleon and John Burrows at the Indigenous Law Lodge at UVIC. They will be able to do the research on the laws of many nations, so they are able to create governance structures and constitutions in keeping with their laws.
It is so important to understand the damage done by colonization and residential schools that has led to sometimes different interpretations of traditional legal practices and customs.
We think that, one day, Canada will be able to integrate indigenous law into Canada's legislative process, just as it did with common law and civil law.
We are also striving to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action and to increase awareness of our shared history.
We need all the indigenous leadership to know that we are serious about rebuilding trust and working with respect, as the Minister of Indigenous Services and the Prime Minister have expressed in such a heartfelt way.
Following up on the repeated and public personal commitments by the Prime Minister and the B.C. premier and our letters of February 16 and yesterday, I and the B.C. Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation continue to offer our commitment to a process based upon trust and mutual respect to address the urgent issues of concern to the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en nation.
We wrote to them on February 16, offering an urgent meeting with us, and we were willing to meet in Smithers if that was agreeable to them. In an effort to exemplify our commitment and recognizing the urgency of the situation, both of us travelled to Victoria on Monday to allow for short-notice travel to Smithers if that was their reply.
While we have not yet been able to meet in person, we have continued the dialogue through multiple conversations with some of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in order to clarify a path forward. That was an important step, and we thank them for coming to the discussion with the same commitment for a peaceful resolution. We understand that they have urgent issues to resolve and require dedicated attention from both levels of government in working with them to chart a peaceful path forward.
We are committed to finding a mutually acceptable process with them and the Wet’suwet’en nation to sit down and address the urgent and long-term issues at hand. We wrote again yesterday to arrange an in-person meeting. We hope that the Wet’suwet’en will be able to express to those in solidarity with them that it is now time for them to stand down and let us get back to work with Wet’suwet’en nation with its own laws and governance and work nation to nation with the Crown. I am hoping to be able to return to British Columbia as soon as possible to continue that work.
In closing, I have to say that as a physician, I was trained to first do no harm. I believe today's debate is harmful to the progress we need to make in order to get to a durable solution.
View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2020-02-20 11:01 [p.1295]
Madam Speaker, there is nothing inflammatory about this motion that we have put forward. We did so with respect. We did so with a thoughtful process. For the hon. colleague's reference, the motion is:
That the House stand in solidarity with every elected band council on the Coastal GasLink route, the majority of hereditary chiefs, and the vast majority of the Wet’suwet’en people, who support the Coastal GasLink project, and condemn the radical activists who are exploiting divisions within the Wet’suwet’en community, holding the Canadian economy hostage, and threatening jobs and opportunities in Indigenous communities.
If our hon. colleague had listened to one word that I said, she would know that I said that today is about the Wet’suwet’en, and that this is a Wet’suwet’en issue, first and foremost, and that they have to get their house in order and they have to decide how we move forward.
Today I brought the voices of the Wet’suwet’en, the 85% who supported this. Our colleague across the way continues to say that she is trying to meet with the hereditary chiefs. I would challenge her that she should be meeting with all of the Wet’suwet’en. That is where the dialogue has to be. Bring everybody together. Our hon. colleague from Vancouver—
View Todd Doherty Profile
View Todd Doherty Profile
2020-02-20 11:03 [p.1296]
I appreciate your comments, Madam Speaker, and I will get right to my question. Madam Speaker, should dialogue not be with all of the Wet’suwet’en, not just a small group?
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, the hon. member just answered his own question.
The motion today is about standing in solidarity with one side in the disputes within that community. Our approach is that we must be able to unlock a peaceful space to have a conversation that will lead to consensus and unity and a process of harmony within that community. Today's debate and motion does exactly the opposite.
View Mario Simard Profile
View Mario Simard Profile
2020-02-20 11:03 [p.1296]
Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech.
With respect to the economic impacts, I have already received many calls from people working in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean's lumber and aluminum industries who are already struggling because of CUSMA. All the regions, including Ontario and Quebec, are feeling the effects and economic impacts that are a direct result of the Coastal GasLink project.
Why not put this project on hold, since it is the only one making such a huge impact on the economy? Why will the government not agree to put it on hold temporarily while it engages in negotiations with the Wet'suwet'en people?
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the very interesting question.
The withdrawal of the RCMP today is a first step. We are hoping that this independent decision by the RCMP will lead to the barricades coming down. It is very important to understand that a company's decisions are made by the company itself. Today, we have hope that the barricades will come down.
View Charlie Angus Profile
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-02-20 11:05 [p.1296]
Madam Speaker, I listened with great interest and I want to say that I am very pleased that the Minister of Indigenous Services went to meet with the Mohawks. That is a very good step.
What I am not hearing, though, is the sense of urgency. That is one thing I agree on with the Conservatives. We really need to address this situation before it starts to spiral. This is crucial. I am very pleased that the minister is ready to meet with them, but we need the Prime Minister at the table. We need to put a clear offer on the table in order to show negotiations in good faith and de-escalate things so they do not spiral.
Will the Prime Minister be ready to meet with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs and then set up a process within those communities, perhaps with a mediator like Senator Murray Sinclair, so that we can offer a good-faith solution to the indigenous protesters across the country to show that the government is serious about addressing their concerns?
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member's thoughtfulness and understanding of the urgency and the real risk of making a difficult situation even worse.
We are pursuing dialogue, making an attempt at dialogue. As the hereditary chiefs have come east to meet with the Mohawk, there is no question that the Minister of Indigenous Services, the Minister of Public Safety, the Minister of Justice and I are all prepared to meet with them while they are in the east if that is their wish. Otherwise, we are prepared to go to their territory to meet with them.
The Prime Minister has indicated by letter that these meetings are very important. It is important for us to make a preliminary attempt so that we can assure some success in demonstrating progress to everybody. We will take this one step at a time, but today is a good step with the change in posture of the RCMP in the Wet'suwet'en territory.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
Madam Speaker, I heard from and spoke with Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs in Prince George two weeks ago. They were very emphatic about their support for that particular project.
The minister has a higher responsibility of not bringing rhetoric to this place over this issue, and you are the very one bringing the rhetoric to this place on the issue.
View Bob Zimmer Profile
I am sorry, Madam Speaker.
The minister has the responsibility to not bring rhetoric to this place. I ask if she has spoken with or heard from the hereditary chiefs, as we have.
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
Yes, indeed, Madam Speaker, I spoke with Chief Woos on Sunday. We had a conference call with a number of the hereditary chiefs on Tuesday. They have some issues that they need to deal with before they can meet with me, but they know that this will continue.
My officials met in Smithers on Friday with a number of the hereditary chiefs, and we also have tables with them around child and family services and moving forward. As well, I have discussed with Murray Rankin, as well as Nathan Cullen, the good work they are doing on behalf of the Province of British Columbia.
This is a work in progress. We want to see consensus, unity and harmony within that community, and that is why I have been disappointed in the rhetoric coming from the other side.
View Elizabeth May Profile
View Elizabeth May Profile
2020-02-20 11:09 [p.1296]
Madam Speaker, I recognize that the hon. minister has had extensive dealings with the Wet'suwet'en peoples and with the nation-to-nation relationship that applies to band councils and hereditary chiefs. I wonder if she could comment on claims made in the opposition motion, which I find to be factually incorrect, making claims about a majority of this and a majority of that. Personally, I do not think anyone in this place can make those claims. I wonder if the hon. minister knows differently.
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
Madam Speaker, I too was questioning the number. I understand there are 13 hereditary chiefs. There are four vacancies now. I do not see that a majority of the hereditary chiefs right now are in support of this project. The question is about coming together in harmony, consensus and unity, and not dividing that community any more with these outside voices.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my 20 minutes with my very honourable and esteemed colleague and friend, the hon. member for Montarville.
I want to take this opportunity to try to sum up the situation because it is not really clear. The news reports are all over the place and contradictory. Nevertheless, it is important for everyone to be on the same page to find solutions.
I would also mention that the idea of leadership has been getting a lot of attention lately. Leadership is mostly a question of attitude. Again, I saw a few ministers attend the meeting with the Prime Minister. One minister said that the government wanted to have a dialogue, because it did not want to not have a dialogue. I was deeply moved by that profound statement. Another minister said that the government was going to move quickly, and I saw the Prime Minister come in basically saying that he was coming in.
I want to remind members that there have been other major crises in the past that have affected Quebeckers and Canadians. I will speak about three of them. In 1998 we had an ice storm. Quebec's premier, Lucien Bouchard, delivered an update about the situation every day in the late afternoon. I can still picture it. It was an act of leadership intended to maintain public confidence in light of the magnitude of the problems.
Then there was the terrible Lac-Mégantic disaster, when the then Quebec premier, Ms. Marois, did essentially the same thing. I was the environment minister at the time, and that is what we did. We provided people with the most up-to-date information on what was happening. My esteemed colleague was also involved on the public safety side.
Just last year, flooding affected many Quebeckers. The Quebec government and the premier provided a detailed daily update about what was happening. This morning, the Prime Minister blew in, took off his toque and then disappeared. I believe that we are all in need of clearer and stronger leadership.
Another aspect of the motion is problematic. The motion claims that the majority of the Wet’suwet’en people, and in some cases all or at least most people in the nation, support the gas pipeline. I do not know where that number is coming from. I do not know where that claim is coming from. I do not know how that was calculated. That nation controls its own institutions. What is more, some sources say that there are five hereditary chiefs, others say there are nine and still others say there are 13. It is a bit vague, but that is their prerogative. Would the Conservatives say that the Prime Minister of Canada cannot govern because he got fewer votes than they did? No. They may not like it, but they recognize that Canada has its institutions, as we should recognize that the Wet’suwet’en nation has its own institutions. Who are we to interpret that to make it fit our political agenda?
Our job must be to first recognize this nation and its institutions. We need to ask the nation to choose one or more representatives who are prepared to meet with us, and we must do the same in order to open a discussion. That is how we must manage this supposedly nation-to-nation relationship, without ever losing sight of the fundamental objective, which is the immediate lifting of all blockades throughout the country. That is what we must do.
We can accomplish that through a series of actions that will show Quebec and Canadian businesses and workers that the government is doing something.
The Premier of Quebec said this morning that he was looking into alternatives to rail and transport trucks. Something is getting done in Quebec. Quebec says its options are limited and that its only recourse for putting an end to the crisis would be to request police intervention, although that would not be its first choice. I think that sounds reasonable and proactive, unlike what I am seeing here in Ottawa, at least in some cases. I am starting to see some movement.
I also want to point out that an indigenous blockade on indigenous territory is one thing. A blockade organized by indigenous people on non-indigenous territory is something else. A blockade set up for fun by college students on Montreal's south shore is a third thing. The third thing is unacceptable. The third thing is obstructing rail traffic on Montreal's south shore.
I have something to say to my constituents. There are two train stations, one in McMasterville and one in Mont-Saint-Hilaire, where traffic has been blocked because people who are not indigenous thought it would be fun to get in on the action. I thought of the people who blocked the Jacques Cartier Bridge not so long ago. I felt the situation was serious and needed to be resolved in a serious way, with the right people at the table, to avoid another college strike.
One possible solution would be daily reports. Everyone seems a little confused about the RCMP. Does the RCMP take orders from the government or not? When it suits the government, the government says that the RCMP is independent and it cannot be told what to do or not to do. The RCMP said that it would move its command centre. The government cannot boast about that move, because the RCMP is independent. It was faster and smarter than the government. If this helps meet the demands of the Wet'suwet'en, that is a positive first step. I remind members that not too long ago the RCMP had snipers pointed at Wet'suwet'en protesters. That is certainly not how to defuse tension. This is positive.
There have been other demands, but I think that we need to take initiative and do something so that we are not simply responding to demands. It could be never-ending. The second step would be to create a forum for important, fundamental, serious, sustainable and credible discussions to convince them that something will happen if they sit down at the table. This second gesture would be significant.
The third step is a sensitive subject in a Parliament that, with few exceptions, is decidedly pro-oil. I suggest suspending work on the project temporarily as a way of extending an olive branch, because I personally believe that work on infrastructure designed to increase the amount of fossil fuel we transport and consume is bad in general. My suggestion to temporarily suspend construction is a compromise, one that the Wet'suwet'en nation itself may not be making. Let's temporarily suspend the work.
That is not within federal jurisdiction, but I would imagine the Prime Minister of Canada, who thinks he is the boss of the provinces, could pick up the phone, call the Premier of British Columbia, and tell him to ask the company to put the work on hold for a bit.
Taken together, these three steps—creating a forum for discussion, withdrawing the RCMP and temporarily suspending work on the project—will probably, but not definitely, be enough to remove the blockades and get the right people to the table. Once that happens, we can resume relatively normal economic activity throughout Canada and Quebec and engage in serious discussions. Without serious discussions, the same thing will just keep happening again and again.
I think solutions are within reach. They have to be implemented in good faith with clear leadership that can build consensus in Parliament. We need to show first nations that we are serious, committed and credible, and that although we will not give in, we are acting in good faith. The government needs to keep its election promises and prove those things are true.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-02-20 11:20 [p.1298]
Madam Speaker, my question is related to the RCMP and the actions called for by the leader of the official opposition, who gave a fairly clear indication that if the Conservatives were in office, they would have instructed the RCMP. We have taken the position that is not what we should be doing. We should be respecting the rule of law. We should be respecting the importance of the RCMP and allow our law enforcement agencies to do what they do best.
Could the member provide his thoughts on why politicians should not be instructing law enforcement agencies, whether provincial or national, regarding who they should be arresting?
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
Madam Speaker, the rule of law gives power to institutions. In this case, we are talking about the RCMP. The RCMP's power to intervene by force does not mean it is obliged to do so. Obviously, it was rather wise not to take such an approach.
Recognizing that the blockades are illegal, as the Prime Minister did yesterday, does not automatically mean that we should make a crisis worse by making an already extremely tense situation aggressive and maybe even violent. That is not what we want. I therefore think it was wise not to use this type of inappropriate intervention.
I understand that this is the RCMP's decision and that we are still waiting for this government to make its first decision and its first move. So far, the government has not done anything or has not told us about any practical measures it has taken, despite the suggestions that have been made.
View Dane Lloyd Profile
View Dane Lloyd Profile
2020-02-20 11:23 [p.1298]
Madam Speaker, yesterday in my riding of Sturgeon River—Parkland, we had an incident in which a blockade was put up. I believe it was the first blockade in Alberta. There was a confrontation with counter-protesters, which I also believe is one of the new events happening.
I wonder if the member can comment on what needs to be done to prevent violence from breaking out. Canadians are getting frustrated. Quebeckers are getting frustrated. If the RCMP is not there to ensure the rule of law, an incident could take place that we would not want to see.
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
Madam Speaker, you cannot imagine how happy I am to hear that my colleague does not want to see that.
In fact, yesterday evening, I felt somewhat obliged to respond to a comment from a candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party, who congratulated two men in a truck. He said that by dismantling a barricade and loading it into two pickup trucks, these two men went and did what the Prime Minister of Canada failed to do.
I was astounded to see that someone who aspires to be the Prime Minister of Canada is encouraging people to take the law into their own hands by sending in some muscle to take down the barricades in a place where tensions are running high.
I urge my colleague to speak to this party leadership candidate, even if it is just to say that this is an example of what not to do. Civilians must not be told to go confront other civilians on the mistaken assumption that their actions will help resolve a potentially serious crisis.
View Scott Duvall Profile
View Scott Duvall Profile
2020-02-20 11:24 [p.1298]
Madam Speaker, I concur with many of the statements my colleague made.
I listened to the minister's comments as well as the questions that were asked. My colleague asked the minister if the Prime Minister would be attending the meeting, and it was deflected. We asked this question yesterday and we are asking it again today. Do you believe the Prime Minister should be at the meeting the hereditary chiefs have requested?
View Yves-François Blanchet Profile
Madam Speaker, as I said at the top of my speech, leadership is very much a question of attitude. I think legitimacy comes from the way a leader handles issues.
Waffling and the appearance of weakness, assuming it is only the appearance, will certainly not inspire confidence or get the people and representatives of the Wet'suwet'en nation to believe that he is starting to be serious and that they can sit down with him.
That is not what we are seeing. I think the Prime Minister needs to take the bull by the horns, put his toque back on and go to British Columbia to meet with them. Better yet, the leaders, or some leaders, of the Wet'suwet'en nation are coming to Belleville and Quebec. He should meet with them then.
I know how much he likes a photo opportunity. This would be a great one, and he would be starting a conversation.
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
2020-02-20 11:26 [p.1299]
Madam Speaker, there is a proverb that says the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I am starting from the assumption that our Conservative friends had good intentions in moving today's motion. Nevertheless, we need to realize that the last thing we need today is a tone that leads to confrontation. I think what we need instead is a tone that leads to collaboration, discussion and negotiation.
We absolutely cannot subscribe to the Manichaean view on display in the Conservatives' motion, implying that there are good guys on one side and bad guys on the other. Who are we to determine or judge that sort of thing? I think we do not have all the information to make that kind of call.
I sense some sordid partisan motives behind today's motion, and I do not like it. We really do not need that kind of motive in a situation like this one. On the contrary, we need to work in a spirit of collaboration, as I was saying earlier. That is the only way to arrive at a peaceful solution to the conflict that is happening right now.
On the other hand, we cannot condone the current lack of leadership on the part of the Prime Minister and his government. The government is needlessly letting the situation drag on, and as the saying goes, “the longer we wait, the worse things will get”.
On Tuesday, we were treated to the Prime Minister's mollifying words when he delivered a statement filled with platitudes. There again, I would say that the perfect is the enemy of the good. This speech was filled with platitudes, and we saw how effective it was. In fact, it was so persuasive that instead of convincing the protesters to end the blockades, it resulted in new ones being erected yesterday, whether it was out west or, as pointed out by the leader of the Bloc, on the line linking Mont-Saint-Hilaire to Montreal. Stations in his riding and mine were closed.
In Saint-Basile-le-Grand and Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, users of public transit were surprised to find out that they were also being taken hostage by this conflict even though on Tuesday the Prime Minister had called for it to end. Suddenly, they could no longer use public transit. What is happening is of great concern.
I have to say that the Prime Minister's many tearful displays of contrition over the past few years, while entirely justified, do not bring us any closer to reconciliation. To achieve true reconciliation, the government needs to make good on the lip service it has been paying for many years now.
In 1982, in the aftermath of the iniquitous repatriation of the Constitution at Quebec's expense, the current Prime Minister's father entered into constitutional negotiations with first nations. Those constitutional negotiations were never concluded, and now here we are today. What we are experiencing today is the result not only of the government dragging its feet since the 1980s, but also the totally unacceptable treatment our first nations have endured for centuries.
It is time to stop paying lip service and actually walk the talk. In that regard, it is important to note, as the leader of the Bloc Québécois pointed out a few minutes ago, that our party is the only one that has put forward any concrete proposals for dealing with the crisis.
These are solutions that go beyond lip service and do not require forceful interventions that could potentially make the situation much worse. I urge the government to stop seeing the members opposite as a monolithic group who are all of the same mind, since that is not the case, and to be receptive to the proposals that have been made so far. I think there are still some people on the Liberal government side who have not yet realized that they are a minority government and that we have to work together and take the best ideas from all sides. The Bloc Québécois has proposed some concrete ideas. The Bloc leader referred to those a few minutes ago. I urge the government to take action.
It is important to recognize that the government's procrastination is forcing the provinces and Quebec to act in the federal government's place, and they will end up getting the blame for the actions they take. We have even heard ministers, including the Minister of Transport, suggest as much. This shows a lack of leadership and a lack of courage from the Liberal government.
The Quebec National Assembly adopted a motion on February 18. I want to read it out.
THAT the National Assembly reaffirm its adherence to the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
THAT, accordingly, it invite the governments of Québec [and] Canada to maintain egalitarian nation-to-nation relations with the indigenous peoples of Québec and Canada....
The next part is important to our Conservative friends.
THAT it acknowledge that the current conflict, which stems from the Coastal GasLink pipeline project, is having an undesirable impact on railway network users and on the economy [of Quebec];
THAT the National Assembly call for a negotiated, peaceful political solution to the current crisis, in order to prevent violence.
The consequences are so dire for the Quebec economy, the Canadian economy and mass transit users that Quebec's premier was forced to seek an injunction and consider the possibility of intervening. What is the federal government waiting for?
The federal government claims to want to avoid the kinds of crises we have seen in the past, but its procrastination is leading us straight into a potential crisis. What is it waiting for?
I would appeal to that desire for social peace and urge the protesters at the blockades to consider that their protests and actions have gotten society to pay attention to their demands and hopes for next steps. I hope that this will lead us to sit down and finally negotiate with first nations.
That said, the protesters must realize that if they continue, the us-versus-them mentality will persist. That mentality certainly does nothing to foster understanding, negotiation and co-operation.
If everyone is serious about negotiating a solution, then actions need to be taken by all sides.
That is what we expect from a government, even a minority one.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2020-02-20 11:36 [p.1300]
Madam Speaker, I would like to acknowledge my colleague's remarks and remind the House, if he did not say so at the beginning of his speech, that he is a former minister of public security. If there is anyone who knows what it means to enforce the law, it is him. I would also like to acknowledge him and his government for their excellent response to the tragedy in Lac-Mégantic that shook Quebec and all of Canada.
Now, in his remarks, the hon. member referred to forceful interventions. He obviously disagrees with that approach. Without naming us, he was targeting us indirectly. I understand that, too. It is good politics.
However, is enforcing the law a forceful intervention? Section 5 of the RCMP Act gives authority to the Minister of Public Safety.
The Premier of Quebec said this morning that the blockades would be removed as soon as the injunction was issued. The Premier of Quebec said that the law exists and that the police could intervene.
Does the hon. member agree with the Premier of Quebec, who said that laws must be obeyed?
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
2020-02-20 11:37 [p.1300]
Madam Speaker, as I had the opportunity to mention a few moments ago, the current Liberal government's procrastination is forcing the Quebec and provincial governments to consider the possibility of intervening to enforce the law.
Of course what is going on right now is illegal. Of course everyone would like a peaceful solution to the conflict. However, the Liberal government's attitude is driving the provinces and Quebec to consider intervening, which will only make the situation worse. No one thinks that intervening will improve the situation, quite the contrary. Once again, I appeal to this government's courage and initiative and urge it to intervene to prevent the situation from getting worse. I will conclude by saying that, unfortunately, letting this situation drag on encourages others to try the same thing. The leader of the Bloc Québécois mentioned this in connection with the line between Mont-Saint-Hilaire and Montreal.
View René Arseneault Profile
Lib. (NB)
Madam Speaker, I have been listening with great interest to the comments made by my esteemed colleague from Montarville.
It is odd that the Bloc Québécois, whose main talking point is that the federal government must avoid interfering in Quebec's affairs as much as possible, is now asking why the federal government will not intervene regarding the blockades in the interest of public safety in the province of Quebec.
Like my esteemed colleague, I am old enough to remember what happened at Oka in 1990. The Sûreté du Québec was dispatched to the barricades. Then the federal government was asked to intervene, and the conflict went on for 78 days, or two and a half months.
First of all, I would like to ask my esteemed colleague what he remembers about Oka and how it relates to today's situation, which affects the entire country, not just a small area of Quebec. What does he remember about those notorious 78 days, for that is how long it took to reach a resolution?
Second, what he calls procrastination on the government's part is actually an effort to enter into dialogue with key stakeholders that is happening as we speak.
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
View Stéphane Bergeron Profile
2020-02-20 11:39 [p.1300]
Madam Speaker, I am not sure where my colleague was when I gave my speech. I never asked for the government to intervene with respect to the blockades in Quebec. That is not what I asked for.
In fact, I said just the opposite. I asked the government to sit down with the nations involved, beginning with the Wet'suwet'en nation, in order to come up with a solution to end the blockades across Canada, including in Quebec. As far as I know, and correct me if I am wrong, the federal government still has a fiduciary responsibility to first nations. I therefore call on the government to do its job, under the Constitution that it imposed on us, and look after our indigenous nations.
View Charlie Angus Profile
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-02-20 11:40 [p.1301]
Madam Speaker, as always, I am extremely honoured to stand in this House, the people's House, to represent the people of Timmins—James Bay on unceded Algonquin territory. Let us just reflect on that a moment. This is not just some nice thing we Canadians now say, when we do the land recognition. It is a statement of understanding that there are outstanding historical rights and land issues running across our country, and we need to acknowledge that. That is one of the reasons we are here today.
We are at an unprecedented moment in Canada's history, a moment when we can all come together and rise up to meet the challenge, or we can give in to our lazier base motives of political machismo and spite. I believe we are now dealing with a crisis that has moved from Wet'suwet'en territory out across Canada, and it requires leadership. It requires us, as parliamentarians, to recognize it and be honest with each other. This is bigger than all of us, but if we do not rise to the task, the risks to our nation right now are very serious.
We can come together and try to untangle this extremely complex Gordian knot, or we can play to the usual base in this House of division. I find this opposition motion from the Conservatives to be very telling of their political tactics. This motion has us standing in this House today to “condemn the radical activists who are exploiting divisions within the Wet’suwet’en community”.
It is our job to recognize that there needs to be a conversation not only with the Wet'suwet'en people, but also with indigenous people across this country. It is not for us to say that if they support a gas line, we will support them, and have Parliament come down in the middle of a very tense motion.
I point to the other motion the Conservatives brought forward. They were willing to use this national crisis to try to bring down the government and save the opposition leader's political career, who has been rejected by his own party. That is not leadership. That is more of the same kind of joker chaos politics that we do not need at this time.
This past weekend, I joined thousands of young people in the streets of Ottawa. People were also marching in Montreal, Halifax and Vancouver. It was extremely inspiring to see these young people, young indigenous leadership, stepping forward at the front of the march. I spoke to many of them and asked where they were from. They were from places such as Kanesatake, Kitigan Zibi, Fort Albany and Barrière Lake.
I think of the Leader of the Opposition who told these young indigenous people to check their privilege. I know he was not serious. I know he was just doing it as a dig, a slur, a spite, but that is not leadership. The message it is sending to this young generation is that this Parliament is in opposition to their hopes and dreams, and that is not Canada.
I think of the young woman I met from Fort Albany, and the Conservatives would tell her to check her privilege. Her grandparents were at Federal Court this week for the St. Anne's residential school crisis, where some of the worst crimes in history committed against children happened. Her grandparents in Fort Albany are still fighting, and Conservatives would tell this young woman to check her privilege.
I think of Kanesatake and the Mohawk people who have been there since long before us and who will be there long after us, and the Leader of the Opposition is telling the woman I met to check her privilege. Of course he has a $900,000 slush fund for treats and perks. That is quite privileged.
I also think of the amazing young woman I met who spoke up from Barriere Lake, Quebec. Barriere Lake's territory has been stripped of forestry and has been flooded out time and time again by massive hydro dams, and the people have received nothing. Her parents, grandparents and great-grandparents have fought just to stay on that land. To tell her to check her privilege is not on.
Then there is Kitigan Zibi. There are so many young people from Kitigan Zibi. Kitigan Zibi is not very far from Ottawa. It is an incredible Algonquin community right beside Maniwaki. Maniwaki has clean drinking water, but Kitigan Zibi does not. The Conservatives tell the world that they can drive a bitumen pipeline through the Rocky Mountains, but we cannot get clean water to a community that close to Ottawa. This is why people are marching.
What we need to do here today is to not play games with these kinds of motions that the Conservatives are using to divide the Wet'suwet'en people.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Charlie Angus: We need to say we have a much bigger crisis. We need to start to untangle this and find a way to de-escalate, because—
View Charlie Angus Profile
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-02-20 11:46 [p.1301]
Madam Speaker, I do not lose any sleep over angry Conservatives heckling and shouting. They are the same kind of people who are on Twitter, and they probably have their own troll farm giving them messages.
We need to deal with a way to end the railway blockades. I want to talk about how we move forward on that, because I am very concerned that this issue could spiral out of control very quickly. To see the language from the Conservatives about the mob and the radicals and the professional protesters and the eco-terrorists is putting us on more and more dangerous ice.
I was absolutely shocked that Peter MacKay would post a tweet of an ugly confrontation of some guy in a truck shouting at young indigenous people and telling them to drop dead, and that Peter MacKay would promote that vigilantism. That is not what we do in Canada, and we cannot allow that to happen.
I would urge my Conservative colleagues to remember what happened at Oka and Elsipogtog. I remember with Ipperwash Mike Harris standing up and saying, “I want the g.d. Indians out of the park.” Dudley George died and an OPP officer's career was ruined.
Never again would the OPP take those kinds of orders from a government, and I am very pleased today to see that the RCMP is offering to step down in Wet’suwet’en. That is a good first step.
I would like to take a minute here to recognize two important people whom I have come to know. One is the late Wayne Russett of the RCMP, whom I negotiated with many times. He was an incredible diplomat in defusing situations on blockades.
I got my political start on a railway blockade. The Conservatives make it seem like it is just people who are lazy and do not want to go to work, but when people are on a blockade it is because they have no other choice. They have been betrayed by a process and betrayed by a system. It took the people of northern Ontario standing up on a railway blockade to get the issues of environmental protection on our land recognized, and it brought Canada to a better place.
One of the key negotiators besides Wayne Russett was officer Jim MacDonald of the OPP, who came in with the subpoena and the injunction. Officer Jim MacDonald is a big man with a big voice. We became very good friends because he knew what we were doing was right, and he knew that the OPP was being put in a very difficult position.
We need to start looking at how to defuse the situation. The Prime Minister's plan to replace the RCMP with indigenous police is showing a continued lack of leadership. The Prime Minister needs to move beyond saying we are here to talk and here to listen. I appreciate the minister's talk about how we are going to move things forward over the next number of years, but we have a crisis now.
When I see young indigenous people walking in the streets with signs saying that reconciliation is dead, it is heartbreaking, but it is something I have heard again and again in the communities as their frustrations grow. That frustration is real and it is up to us to say that reconciliation is not dead because it is the obligation of the government and settler state.
Indigenous people have nothing to reconcile. It is their lands that were taken, their children who were taken, and it is their rights and their rules of law that have been undermined time and time again. When they are walking in the streets saying that reconciliation is dead, it is up to us to raise the bar.
The Prime Minister has said he is willing to listen. That is a good sign, but he needs to be willing to listen and to meet. He needs to show leadership. What is happening in the Wet’suwet’en territory now has touched off something much bigger, much more tense and much more complex. The possibility of something going wrong at one of those railway blockades is very real. There is the possibility of someone getting hurt. The possibility of some idiot driving a truck through a crowd is very real.
That is why the words we say in this House matter. We have to be able to de-escalate this. These blockades are putting enormous economic pressure on our country right now. That is why we need to be able to put an offer on the table. In order for people to step back from a blockade, they need to know that something is going to change.
This morning, the RCMP said that they were willing to step out of the Wet'suwet'en territory. I think that is a very good step.
To do that then we cannot just, as the Prime Minister suggested, replace it with indigenous police and have life carry on. We need a time for discussion. We need to ask Coastal GasLink to suspend work and suspend moving into the territory while this negotiation takes place. It is not that radical a thing to say, because nothing is going to happen in that territory until this gets decided anyway.
Third, it needs to be the Prime Minister himself who goes to Wet'suwet'en territory to sit down and meet. I am very pleased that the Minister of Indigenous Services met with the Mohawks in Belleville. I think that is a very positive step, but it is the Prime Minister who needs to show leadership. He needs to put on the table that we will deal with these issues between the hereditary chiefs and the elected band councils.
I have nothing negative to say about the people who signed the agreements. I have nothing negative to say about the political leaders and business people who moved forward believing they had an agreement. However, clearly, within the indigenous community, there is a deep divide that needs to be addressed, and we need the Prime Minister there.
Fourth, I would say that the Prime Minister needs to meet and appoint a special emissary to start building trust. I cannot speak for Senator Murray Sinclair, and I have spoken with him on this issue, but it should be someone like Murray Sinclair or someone of a stature that is respected. Then we would agree that nothing happens until we go through this. Are we then going to say that the pipeline just moves ahead? No, we are going to sit down and talk with the Wet'suwet'en people and find out where we go next.
Then I would ask the Prime Minister, following an agreement, to set up those meetings to reach out to the Mohawk people who are on the blockades, because we need to get the trains moving, and urge the Mohawks to recognize that there will be huge impacts on all of us. However, they are going to want to see good faith, because they are not just going to walk away at this moment.
There is a fifth issue, which is probably the most difficult for the government to agree to. We need a coherent plan to deal with the catastrophic climate change that is coming. The days when it was just business as usual, and we could keep pumping up greenhouse gas emissions without any credible plan, have hit a brick wall.
I was out on the street seeing young people marching everywhere. They get it. They get that the promise of getting another pipeline, planting some trees and then getting another pipeline and planting more trees is not cutting it. They want to know why our carbon footprint is getting bigger and bigger every year.
We need to have a credible plan, and certainly that is going to be a discussion about Teck Frontier right now, because Jason Kenney has put that front and centre. This has become the Conservative proxy war, which I believe is destabilizing the issues that we need to address in order to get this blockade issue dealt with.
On the October Thanksgiving weekend in 2000, when I had never dreamed of becoming a politician, I was standing at the blockade when the OPP came at night and set up cars to come and arrest my neighbours, who were farmers and miners, Algonquin and Ojibwa people standing to defend the watershed of the region.
I got a call from the Crown prosecutor's office. I will not say who it was in the office, but someone called to say that they had just gotten a call from Mike Harris and he wanted 100 people arrested.
I asked the person from the Crown prosecutor's office what they were going to do. He said that there was not a judge within 300 kilometres who would sign a mass warrant for arrests, because they knew this was a tense situation. All they were asking the demonstrators to do was to not escalate.
We actually had this dance of negotiations between police and the protesters, who both understood that we needed to find a way out of this without it spiralling, because it could have spiralled very fast.
Having that experience of negotiating with police, I understand the tensions they are put under in this situation, so it is very unhelpful to have the Conservatives speak again and again about enforcing injunctions. There are so many rail crossings across this country. There are so many ways that people can rise up, and they are rising up.
This is a moment when Canada could recognize that this crisis could have been the LNG project, it could have been Teck or it could have been any number of things. This crisis has been 150 years in the making. This young generation of indigenous people is going to be heard.
It is up to this Parliament to say that we have to find a way to rise to this challenge, to recognize that it is bigger than all of us, to recognize the dangers of allowing this thing to spiral, because if it spirals and someone gets hurt, then there will be no trains running. The impacts and the divisions between Canadians would be enormous.
I have been talking with some of the young indigenous people. I have to say that when they were marching in Ottawa, a number of people waved and showed support. That is what Canada is.
Canada is a country that is coming to terms with a colonial past that we never understood we had, but we have it. It is there. It is real. It is being lived in the lives of young generations of first nations children.
I saw a sign that one young person posted. It said, “First you tried to take us off our land, and now you are trying to take our children.” The Conservatives might think that is apples and oranges, but we have a $10-billion class action lawsuit being brought forward by the AFN. We have a government that has spent millions of dollars fighting the principle that there has been systemic and reckless discrimination, not historical but ongoing, against first nation children.
What is the most important relationship to first nations people? It is not with a pipeline, I can tell members that. It is with their children. They have never seen a commitment to address the fact that the destruction of their children, families and identities is ongoing.
When members on the Conservative side talk about the rule of law, that does not really pass the nod test in indigenous communities that know that when they sign agreements with the federal government, those agreements last just as long as the government wants them to last and then they walk away.
I saw that in Barrière Lake. There was a beautiful agreement to rebuild that community. The government walked away. I saw that in Kashechewan, where they had a plan to move them off. There was a signed agreement, and the government walked away from that. We had commitments to end the fights on child welfare, and the government walked away from that.
For the government to be nice, saying that it is going to listen and saying, “Take down the barricades and blockades,” is not going to cut it with indigenous people who have been lied to time and time again.
There is an urgency right now to try to de-escalate the situation. I am not saying anything less about the Wet'suwet'en and what is happening in the Wet'suwet'en territories and the discussion that needs to happen. We need to get this thing addressed.
However, we need to get the trains moving and to give Canadians certainty that we are apprised of the seriousness. That is going to come from leadership from the Prime Minister.
We also need to send a message to the indigenous youth and their allies who are marching across Canada that the issue of reconciliation is not dead. We just have not done a very good job on it. The issue of environmental crisis is real. The planet is burning, and Canada has failed.
When we address that, then I think we will be moving to a better place because there is nothing better, there is nothing more hopeful in this country than this young generation of indigenous people who will transform this nation for the better.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
View Gérard Deltell Profile
2020-02-20 12:00 [p.1303]
Madam Speaker, I think everybody recognizes and agrees that unanimity is not possible. We have to respect the will of the people.
Does the member recognize, based on the number given by the National Coalition of Chiefs, that all 20 elected bands are for the project and the majority of hereditary chiefs are in favour of the project?
Where is the line between doing what the majority of people want and waiting for 100% support, even if we know we will never achieve 100% support?
View Charlie Angus Profile
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-02-20 12:01 [p.1304]
Madam Speaker, this is a profound question that Canada is going to have to confront.
I think it is very unfortunate that the Conservatives have decided to use this as a motion to divide people by saying they “condemn the radical activists who are exploiting divisions”. The Conservatives are exploiting the divisions right now. That is what is happening.
As for the signed agreements, I would refer to Senator Murray Sinclair. I have worked on resource development projects. I have been involved in resource development projects. I have helped sign agreements. This can be done in very good faith.
However, as Murray Sinclair said the other day, when dealing with impoverished communities that are being given promises, as the Paul Simon quote goes:
...pocketful of mumblesSuch are promises
I would then go to the next line:
All lies and jestsStill, a man hears what he wants to hearAnd disregards the rest
I find the Conservatives' use of numbers on the Wet'suwet'en that they will support and the Wet'suwet'en they will not to be pretty much—
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There are many things about the member's initial remarks that would be defamatory if made outside the House, especially those about the Leader of the Opposition, and we showed forbearance during some of those comments. However in his most recent intervention he used the word “lying” in reference to other—
View Garnett Genuis Profile
The member used the word “lying”, Madam Speaker, in reference to other members of the House. That is very clearly a matter of order. That member, notwithstanding his strong opinions, should be expected to follow the rules of the House.
View Charlie Angus Profile
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-02-20 12:03 [p.1304]
Madam Speaker, I know the Conservatives are against so many things, and now they are against Simon & Garfunkel. I quoted a lyric. I said, “All lies and jests, still a man hears what he wants to hear and he disregards the rest.” That perfectly sums up my opponent. I never called him a liar. The member is just disregarding the facts.
View Garnett Genuis Profile
Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am a big fan of Simon & Garfunkel, but the context in which one uses a word, or misuses it, matters. The record will show that as part of a quotation or anything else, we cannot use unparliamentary language and we cannot use a quotation or lyric as an excuse to use unparliamentary language.
I would invite you, Madam Speaker, to review the tape, and if necessary, at a future point to correct the member on his unparliamentary behaviour.
View Charlie Angus Profile
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-02-20 12:04 [p.1304]
Madam Speaker, I think you would recognize that it would set a very dangerous precedent for us not to be allowed to quote Simon & Garfunkel. I know my hon. colleague is upset that I did not quote Nickelback, but I just have not heard them enough. It would be a very dangerous precedent to say Simon & Garfunkel is somehow insulting to Conservatives. I think they can rise above that. I trust that you would understand, Madam Speaker.
View Mario Simard Profile
View Mario Simard Profile
2020-02-20 12:05 [p.1304]
Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's words. One part of his speech that I find particularly interesting is that he probably defines one of the main causes of the crisis. That root cause is the Canadian economy's dependence on fossil fuels.
We have seen no indication that, in the future, we will not have more of these blockades being set up by people who are concerned about the climate crisis.
Does my colleague not think that one solution would be to stop overspending on economic projects tied to fossil fuels right now?
View Charlie Angus Profile
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-02-20 12:06 [p.1304]
Madam Speaker, the number one location in the world for a renewable economy is south central Alberta. Those facts are not from me but from meeting with energy workers, who ask where the plan is for the present Alberta government to start to move ahead on renewables.
What we see with Jason Kenney is a man who does not believe in making any effort and has alienated the rest of the country on this. This is what is causing the crisis. This is the proxy war the Conservatives are fighting.
My hon. colleague from Quebec understands full well that, when Quebec moved ahead with the hydroelectric dam, officials sat down and made a modern treaty with the Cree. They understood that there was going to be a negotiation about how to move forward.
The problem that we are seeing with the Conservative vision is that they are pushing further and further for the increase in greenhouse gas emissions without any credible plan to lower them. Without that, they are not going to have the social licence or the buy-in from the rest of Canadians.
There will be more conflict if people like Jason Kenney continue to push their 20th-century vision as opposed to recognizing a 21st-century reality.
View Paul Manly Profile
View Paul Manly Profile
2020-02-20 12:07 [p.1305]
Madam Speaker, the hon. member made an excellent speech, and it covered a lot of really good points.
The Conservative motion states that every elected band council on the Coastal GasLink route supports this. Only five of the six Wet'suwet'en first nations actually signed on to the benefits agreement. The media give the idea that the majority of the hereditary chiefs are behind this, but that is not the case. They say that the vast majority of Wet'suwet'en people support this project as well. I am looking at media links. I am looking at information. There are a lot of unknowns in this situation.
What does the hon. member think of this motion as it stands? Where are the facts? Where did the Conservatives get these numbers? Even in the media reporting, nobody is completely sure how many people in Wet'suwet'en territory support this project or oppose it.
There is a lot of information about the elected chiefs being torn about this and that they signed on to this agreement because of the cash, even though they do not really support it.
View Charlie Angus Profile
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-02-20 12:08 [p.1305]
Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague because he is from Vancouver Island, the area where so many of these issues have been faced, and issues such as Delgamuukw and other major legal decisions that have come down in British Columbia about rights and titles.
Every time we brought these things forward, such as the Treaty of the Nisga'a, the Conservatives fought unbelievably to stop it. They fought against UNDRIP unbelievably. They had it killed in the House, and now they are coming forward as the voice of the Wet'suwet'en people.
I do not think there is an indigenous community in the country that would say the Conservatives have some numbers on the Wet'suwet'en people, so they must be accurate. I have been trying to find these sources of their numbers as well. I know one of them came from a tweet from Jason Kenney, so I think that pretty much sums up the credibility there.
The fundamental issue is that this is a motion that attempts to say there are good native people and there are bad, reckless, agitated ones who are fooling them and dividing them. We are saying we need to sit down and address in a 21st century manner the underlying dissent and obvious problems we are seeing in that region and then say to the rest of the country that out of this we will start to move forward. To just throw numbers around as the Conservatives are doing is not credible; it is just another tactic.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-02-20 12:10 [p.1305]
Madam Speaker, I appreciate many of the comments from my friend in regard to the debate thus far today. My question is on the importance of de-escalating the situation. Many of us are really concerned about escalations and the long-term ramifications if something were to go wrong by escalating.
I would be interested in the member's thoughts in terms of how delicate an issue this is. It is not as simple as many would try to portray. They are taking a huge chance, as the Conservatives are doing day in and day out, when they continue to escalate the tensions that are there today.
View Charlie Angus Profile
View Charlie Angus Profile
2020-02-20 12:11 [p.1305]
Madam Speaker, this is why at this moment our Parliament needs to say there is a bigger issue, which is the danger of what happens if some guy in a truck does what he did in Edmonton and tries to do that on a Mohawk blockade, or someone with a bigger vehicle drives through a blockade, or if someone feels they are going to take this into their own hands and a train gets derailed, or if someone gets hurt. Once someone gets hurt, all our talk is going to become moot, and that is the real danger.
This is like Idle No More 2.0. We remember how powerful Idle No More was. This is much bigger, and I am hearing from many young people who are watching this. They will see how we play this out in Parliament, so de-escalation has to be the first step that we take.
We do not have a solution for what is happening in the Wet'suwet'en territory right now. No one does right now, but we have to de-escalate so we can get those trains moving and take the tension off.
I would urge my hon. colleague to tell the Prime Minister he needs to sit down and meet. We need to start these meetings. We should have started these meetings two weeks ago, but right now this is where we are at. The longer we wait, the more chance this will go off the rails very badly and very quickly.
View Luc Berthold Profile
View Luc Berthold Profile
2020-02-20 12:12 [p.1305]
Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from West Nova. I am very happy to see him with us in the House to discuss this important matter.
We are hearing all sorts of things here this morning. However, we are not hearing enough about the real issues or the motion we have put forward today.
The motion of my colleague from Cariboo—Prince George reads as follows:
That the House stand in solidarity with every elected band council on the Coastal GasLink route, the majority of hereditary chiefs, and the vast majority of the Wet'suwet'en people, who support the Coastal GasLink project, and condemn the radical activists who are exploiting divisions within the Wet'suwet'en community, holding the Canadian economy hostage, and threatening jobs and opportunities in Indigenous communities.
That is exactly what we want. We want the conflict to be settled in a reasonable manner with respect for the different rules of law, the injunctions and, above all, the way things are done. The rule of law is important in Canada.
Unfortunately, there are a handful of radicals who are currently doing harm. They are hurting the cause of national reconciliation, they are hurting the cause of the Wet'suwet'en community, and they are hurting the economy of the entire country. That is what I am going to speak to today.
I heard my colleague from the NDP ask us where we get our numbers and whether they are made up. We have heard all kinds of things about the numbers. I will tell you where we get our numbers. They come from the National Coalition of Chiefs, which has said that the majority of hereditary chiefs support the Coastal GasLink project. That is not coming from us, the Bloc Québécois or the Liberals.
In reality, this conflict is being led by a very small number of hereditary chiefs. Two of them are chiefs who ran in legitimate elections in the Wet'suwet'en communities and lost, so they do not have the legitimacy to represent the people of the Wet'suwet'en band council. The vast majority of Wet'suwet'en and all elected band councils on the proposed route of the Coastal GasLink pipeline support the project.
Theresa Tait-Day, one of the hereditary chiefs of the Wet'suwet'en people, said that 85% of her people had supported the Coastal GasLink project.
I am not the one who said that, and my colleagues are not either. People from the community itself are telling us that 85% of them support the project. That is the problem. Members on the other side of the House seem unable to hear anything that contradicts what they want to hear.
The fact is that 85% of the Wet'suwet'en people are telling us to support the project. However, the Prime Minister does not want to listen to them. He does not want to talk with them. All they can do is be there and wait for someone to do something.
Unfortunately, nothing will ever happen, because the Prime Minister has done absolutely nothing for the past two weeks. He is nowhere to be found and is showing a flagrant lack of leadership and unbelievable weakness while Canada goes through a crisis unlike anything we have seen in a very long time.
The crisis is not connected to the Coastal GasLink project. It goes back a long way. I would say all the way back to the date of the 2015 election.
We all remember the false promises made by this government, the false promises made by this Prime Minister, who fails to realize that false promises give false hope. These false hopes have led to major disappointment today, and not just for the indigenous communities who were fooled by the Prime Minister's fine words when he talked about reconciliation and said it was his top priority. Today, five years later, little to nothing has been done.
That is also the case for Canadian taxpayers, who were promised small deficits. Today we have huge deficits that are out of control, with no end in sight. The same goes for the promises of electoral reform. Hon. members will remember how hopeful everyone was when the Prime Minister promised that the 2015 election would be the last one under the current system.
The 2019 election proceeded under exactly the same system as the 2015 election. Everyone who believed there would be electoral reform was very disappointed.
Obviously, that does not seem to bother the Prime Minister. In fact, he is not bothered by much right now because he is absent from this conflict. He talks a good game but does next to nothing to resolve the situation.
Some of my colleagues from the Bloc Québécois were part of Pauline Marois' government. I am certainly not a big fan of Ms. Marois and I have never been a fan of the Parti Québécois. However, I must say that as a resident and mayor of Thetford Mines, I had a great deal of a respect for Premier Marois when she handled the Lac-Mégantic crisis the way a premier should. She was present and did not leave anyone in the dark. We knew exactly what was happening. It goes to show that sometimes we discover what a person is truly made of in times of crisis.
In this case, we are not learning a thing about the Prime Minister, because he is not showing up. He had a chance to rise above the fray and find a solution to the crisis while keeping Canadians informed. Instead he chose to stay away and do nothing. That is why we are now in a very difficult situation. A community is tearing itself apart, Canadian citizens are afraid they will lose their jobs, and businesses do not know if they can make it to next week, all because nobody knows anything about the government's plan to resolve this crisis.
The municipality of Lac-Mégantic passed a resolution this week because one of its businesses, Tafisa, is in danger of closing. Tafisa employs 330 people and is doing everything it can to stay open, but it does not know what to do with its products or how to run its operations, so 330 families could end up jobless next week or in the near future if the situation is not resolved.
My colleague, the member for Beauce, provided me with some information that is truly troubling. Serge Lacasse of Agri-Marché, which is part of Groupe Brochu, and Laurence Couture of Alfred Couture limitée, have said that there are serious supply problems. The silos are almost empty, and next week they will be cleaned out. Even if the trains started moving today, it would take at least five days to get the goods that feed Canadians and cattle. That is serious.
To solve the blockade problem, the government wants to be patient, engage in dialogue and wait for the radical protesters to dismantle their barricades. They say that discussions are taking place, but we do not know with whom, because the Prime Minister has not told us anything. In the meantime, real businesses are suffering. Next week, supermarkets might not have food on their shelves. Animals may die because there is no propane. Chickens may die next week because there will be no propane to heat the henhouses. These are actual problems, and the situation is real.
Today, I believe that we must rise in support of elected representatives and the majority of the Wet'suwet'en and tell them that we support their decision to choose a project that will give them and their children a better future. We must stand with the elected band leaders who have chosen to support a project that will truly improve the lives of these people.
We must condemn those who, at this time, are holding the rest of Canadians hostage for reasons other than to support the Wet'suwet'en community. In fact, a photograph published in a newspaper article about these blockades showed their real motive: #ShutDownCanada. We will never allow a group, as radical as it may be, to shut Canada down. We will not let anyone take all Canadians hostage.
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-02-20 12:22 [p.1307]
Mr. Speaker, the question I have for the member opposite is with respect to one of his leadership candidates, Peter MacKay. He made a very strong statement supporting the actions of a couple of individuals who pulled up to a blockade in a truck and dismantled it, which is unsafe for many different reasons. He was putting them on a platform, saying they were good people for what they were doing. That was the essence of what he was trying to portray. Is that something the member or the Conservative caucus supports? Is that something they expect a former minister of justice to say, tweet and applaud with respect to that sort of vigilante action?
View Luc Berthold Profile
View Luc Berthold Profile
2020-02-20 12:23 [p.1307]
Madam Speaker, I would like to know whether the Liberals support the actions of the radicals who are setting up major blockades and preventing goods from being delivered to our businesses. That may result in the death of some of our farmers' animals. It may prevent people from having food to eat and it may result in major job losses. All of these things might happen because protesters are occupying the rail lines illegally, which the Prime Minister recognized yesterday.
Does my colleague opposite support the illegal acts of the radicals who are occupying the rail lines and holding all Canadians hostage?
View Bob Zimmer Profile
Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague on his speech.
Colleagues across the way in the government have brought up questions about leadership candidates on our side of the House.
Maybe what my colleague does not understand, being in the Ottawa bubble, is that I am from western Canada, and there is growing frustration with the government in shutting down industries and natural resource developments and now allowing blockades to go on in perpetuity. There is frustration with the leadership and the Prime Minister not showing leadership.
What does the member think leadership looks like? Does it look like what the Prime Minister has said recently or what the opposition leader has said in the House in the last few days? What does leadership look like?
View Luc Berthold Profile
View Luc Berthold Profile
2020-02-20 12:26 [p.1307]
Madam Speaker, the Prime Minister certainly did not demonstrate leadership in the speech he gave to all Canadians and the House this week, when he finally addressed the situation after two weeks. He certainly did not demonstrate very strong leadership.
A leader works to find a solution. He is proactive. He puts this sort of situation at the top of the agenda. He tries to get people to work together to find a solution. This week, the Prime Minister showed weakness. He showed his lack of leadership when he was unable to provide an action plan to put an end to this crisis.
I cannot describe what leadership is, but I can say what it is not. The Prime Minister is really not a leader.
View Mario Simard Profile
View Mario Simard Profile
2020-02-20 12:27 [p.1307]
Madam Speaker, I have been listening attentively to my Conservative colleagues all morning. There is one big thing missing from their speeches, and I think it is accountability. Accountability sometimes requires us to be aware that our actions have consequences. Based on what we are hearing from the Conservatives, it seems they are ignoring the very real possibility that tensions could rise.
My colleague mentioned earlier that he is not a big fan of the Parti Québécois. He said he was not a big fan of Pauline Marois. I would like him to know that I am not a big fan of shows of force. The best thing might be to open a dialogue. However, I do not see how our Conservative colleagues' position fosters dialogue.
View Luc Berthold Profile
View Luc Berthold Profile
2020-02-20 12:28 [p.1307]
Madam Speaker, I am glad my colleague asked this question.
I am sure the aluminum industry stakeholders in his region are very eager to see dialogue succeed so their survival is not at risk. If these smelters stop getting supplies, it will take weeks and millions of dollars for aluminum sector companies to get them up and running again.
I hope my colleague realizes that we cannot stop the economy. We need to engage in dialogue and find a solution, but we also need to let the economy work across Canada.
View Chris d'Entremont Profile
View Chris d'Entremont Profile
2020-02-20 12:28 [p.1308]
Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for Cariboo—Prince George for bringing this motion forward. Being that I am from the other coast, the east coast, I appreciate his personal insight on this issue.
I also want to thank my colleague from Mégantic—L'Érable for his interventions. We are suffering the consequences of these blockades in eastern Canada.
I would like to start at a place where it seems we are all in agreement. These rail blockades are affecting the economy of Canada and need to be shut down. The blockades are illegal. The Prime Minister acknowledged that yesterday in some of his answers during question period. The blockades are affecting the lives of Canadians.
I have no problem with peaceful protests, but they should be done with respect and without hurting anyone. Many times, as provincial MLAs, we saw people protesting in front of our legislature, asking for representation, asking for changes to laws and fighting for their families, so I understand the representation that it does give to us. So far, on that we can agree.
I have no ill will for the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs in B.C. or the Mohawk in Ontario. They have their convictions. They believe in something and are standing up for it. However, I do have a problem with activists who have no connection to these nations and are using this situation to benefit their cause.
If this had been one protest in one area, I think it might have been resolved in the two weeks that it has been going on. It would have been de-escalated, to use a word that I have heard many times this morning. However, because this has never been truly taken on, other protests have sprung up in support of others. In our area the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island has been shut down. Recently there was the blockage of train tracks in Alberta and the blockage of train tracks in parts of Quebec. All this is occurring because the main problem was not dealt with in a quick fashion, by having a discussion up front and stopping us from getting to this situation. Letting things go before any dialogue began has emboldened others to civil disobedience.
What I find troubling about the situation is that the Liberals have branded themselves as friends of our indigenous peoples. However, where they thought they were doing well, they have obviously failed dramatically and quite honestly have no idea what to do next. This is undermining the process as people are getting frustrated.
Since the government has created the “us against them” narrative dividing our country, let me talk about the effects on Nova Scotia, and more specifically the effects on the beautiful riding of West Nova that I have the honour of representing.
Yesterday, I got to talk about how the blockades are affecting Acadian Seaplants. This company was founded in 1981 by Louis Deveau, a leader in Nova Scotia's Acadian community. The company processes raw seaweed into food products for human and animal consumption. The company has grown since it was first founded. It now has 400 employees and exports to 80 countries.
Louis' son and now CEO, J.P. Deveau, has expressed his concerns on the blockade, due to the fact that Acadian Seaplants is one of the province's largest consumers of propane. They have orders to fill, and in order to do that, they need to convert their 115,000-square-foot operation in the small community of Cornwallis to be able to use light oil, or furnace oil, which is a more environmentally sensitive product, adding an extra 63% to their fuel bill compared to propane.
Beyond this challenge, Mr. Deveau has concerns about being able to ship his product, as it is normally containerized and shipped around the world. Cargo ships are being diverted from the port of Halifax, causing an interruption in Nova Scotia's connection to the world and its export strength.
When I talked to Mr. Deveau, he was very worried about how long it will take for the industry to get back to normal once the blockades come down.
Also in my riding of West Nova, Royal Propane is a wonderful small business. As a matter of fact, it installed the propane fireplace in my mother-in-law's house. It redistributes propane from the same supplier that Acadian Seaplants uses, Wilson Fuels, which is trying its best to get product trucked from somewhere else. Normally, that would come from Montreal, but as we heard from my colleagues, it probably does not exist there either.
I was talking to the manager of Royal Propane earlier this week. She is concerned for the employees she would have to lay off the next day if nothing changed. Forty employees will have to be laid off because there is no propane to provide. She is also concerned about her clients who use propane as a method of heating their homes.
This causes further problems for small businesses in my region, as we do not have natural gas running under our streets. Local restaurants and other businesses will start to run out soon, cascading the problem even worse.
The Eden Valley Poultry plant in Berwick employs 430 people. It processes birds from all over the Atlantic provinces. It is currently still in production, but will run out of propane and oxygen sooner than later. Not only does this directly affect jobs at the plant, but it also affects hundreds of jobs on the farms raising chickens and turkeys for market.
The secondary concern that Eden Valley has is that protests, like the one on the Confederation Bridge, stop and delay the trucks that have live birds inside from crossing over, causing an animal welfare issue.
Speaking of the animal welfare issue, a large amount of feed comes from western Canada for our agricultural sector. Companies like Clarence Farm Services in Truro are trying to get product trucked from Quebec and Ontario, but this will increase the cost, causing financial hardship for our producers and a complete lack of product causing other animal welfare issues.
I would like to read part of the letter that was provided to me from Clarence Farm Services. It states:
We have had some ingredients arrive before CN shut down the national rail service, and others that were shipped from east of Belleville that have made it to Truro. However, CN's space in their Truro yard is now filling and they will not pull empties from our siding to place other full cars that are in Truro—so basically our rail service is ended. As a result of the situation we have been scrambling to bring ingredients in via truck (both sourced locally and from Ont./PQ).
Finally, my friend Dan Mullen is a farmer who was hit by market forces in the past few years when the mink industry was decimated. Being a great farmer, he adapted his infrastructure into greenhouses, producing greens and other products for local markets. He heats with propane and either has wrapped up or will be wrapping up his production soon because he can no longer heat those greenhouses.
I know my time is coming to an end, but I thought I would quote a couple of people.
First is the Liberal Premier of Nova Scotia, Stephen McNeil. He was quoted in allNovaScotia this morning as saying that government needs to do what is necessary to protect Canada's economy as protesters bring rail traffic to a standstill. He said, “The laws of this country need to be enforced. All of us need to abide by the laws of Canada, and we believe it is up to the national government to do what is necessary to ensure the economic future of our country and our province continue to move forward.”
Finally, this discussion is extremely important for Canadians. It is probably one of the toughest discussions we will have in the House of Commons, but as John F. Kennedy stated, “We do not do these things because they are easy, we do these things because they are hard.”
View Ron McKinnon Profile
Lib. (BC)
Madam Speaker, many in this debate have acknowledged that this is fundamentally a problem for the Wet'suwet'en nation to resolve. However, in this motion, the Conservatives have taken a strong position on one side of the question while characterizing the other side as radical extremists exploiting divisions in the community.
How can they expect to foster a Wet'suwet'en solution or unity by exacerbating the divide in this way?
View Chris d'Entremont Profile
View Chris d'Entremont Profile
2020-02-20 12:39 [p.1309]
Madam Speaker, what the Conservatives have said is that the Wet'suwet'en and the Mohawks in Belleville are all concerned about their environment. It is the other activists who are attaching themselves to these groups, saying they are supportive. Quite honestly, they are there to shut down the energy sector, to shut down progress in the country and hurt the rest of Canada. We are mad at those people.
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