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Results: 1 - 15 of 385
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?
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