Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his words and my colleagues for their support of this very important debate today.
We all saw the heartbreaking images, the incredibly intimidating images, and frankly, the terrorism and violence perpetrated against indigenous people. We saw the images of indigenous people, the Mi'kmaq people, being physically assaulted, bullied, intimidated and threatened. The threats were to burn the facilities, and then those facilities were burnt down.
I ask everyone in the House to consider if those same threats had been made against someone who was not indigenous, in a non-indigenous community. If someone came in, physically assaulted and threatened them, and threatened to burn down their livelihood, would there have been no action in the same way there was no action when it happened to the Mi'kmaq people?
If those types of threats were made against anyone else, would the police have stood by and let it happen? If those types of threats were made against any other community, would there be a complete lack of protection for that community? The answer is very clear.
In this circumstance, indigenous people are supported by a Supreme Court decision and a right, a constitutional, treaty-protected right, to live off the land. That right was hard won in court 21 years ago. Still, to this day, they have not had a federal government, any federal government, Liberal or Conservative, willing to do the work to ensure they have access to that right. It has been 21 years.
We have heard from ministers. The reason we are having this emergency debate is to make the Liberal government do something about it. There has been a court decision for over two decades, yet neither a Conservative government nor a Liberal government have done anything to ensure that the decision that was made is now implemented into law, or that the Mi'kmaq people were able to follow the ruling of the court.
Neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals have done anything. We will hear from the Conservatives, while they point the finger at the Liberals, and Liberals will say they are going to do something. It has been 21 years, and nothing has been done.
We want answers today. We want commitments today. This is an emergency because, as previous speakers have said, there is a real threat that this violence will escalate and people will lose their lives. That cannot happen. We need immediate action right now. We need a clear plan. We need a plan so that the Mi'kmaq people will be protected, their livelihood will be protected and the violence will end.
We need a clear plan that lays out an immediate course of action. We heard from the chief specifically related to where this violence has occurred. The chief said that they do not want a long-drawn-out process. Those in the indigenous community have also made it very clear that what it means to be able to exercise their rights should not be a decision imposed upon them. The indigenous community should be at the table to determine that, based on the evidence and the science.
However, as previous speakers have said, there is no question here that there is any threat to conservation. The scale the Mi'kmaq fisheries operation is in no way a risk to conservation. Any suggestion that this is about conservation is wrong. It is clearly an ongoing example of systemic racism. Indigenous people have a constitutional right that has been upheld in court to earn a living. When that right is not implemented into law and is not supported, then the question of conservation comes up. This is not about conservation.
This is about indigenous people who have a right, and that right has been violated. That right has been threatened. They need protection, and they need the protection they deserve.
We need some clear answers from the government. What is the timeline? How quickly will the government act to make sure what was determined to be a constitutional right, which has been upheld in court, is now put through a clear process to move forward? How quickly can that definition be determined?
We need timelines. We need a clear plan of action to protect the Mi'kmaq people. We need to see a clear plan to protect them in the fisheries operations on land and in water. We need to ensure that there is no more violence or intimidation against the Mi'kmaq people. It has to end. The violence must end. The fact that anyone feels that they can in any way be emboldened to physically intimidate, threaten violence and set fire to the indigenous communities' fisheries is a responsibility that lies squarely at the feet of the Liberal government and the Conservative government.
Inaction led to this, and the only way out of this is by clear action led by the indigenous community that is impacted, in this case the Mi'kmaq. We also have to look at all of the other examples. My colleague from Courtenay—Alberni pointed out countless decisions by the Supreme Court of Canada that have affirmed the rights of indigenous communities. To this day, in some cases years, in some cases decades, there have been so many cases where the exact same scenario has unfolded, where rights have been affirmed and the Supreme Court has said yes, the indigenous community has the right, title, claim or the ability to earn a living off of this land, yet the federal government has not done what it takes to make sure that right is translated into some meaningful action for people. This is an ongoing trend, and it has to end.
This debate is about getting answers for the people, protecting indigenous communities and changing the way things have been going on for so long. The process in the past has ignored and neglected indigenous communities. They have been failed again and again. This is another failure of the federal government toward indigenous people, and this has to end.
What New Democrats are calling for is very clear, and I hope to hear some answers at the end of this debate from the federal government, the Prime Minister and the Liberal cabinet ministers. We need a clear plan of action. The Mi'kmaq people deserve it. They deserve dignity and respect. These are the basic things that have been denied them.
We are seeing these painful images. I have heard from so many indigenous community members who are talking about the fear they live with and the threats they receive. We heard a local chief talking about the threats they get on social media, text message threats and threats from people calling anonymously. No one should have to live like that. This is the reality that Mi'kmaq people are faced with, but it is, sadly, not uncommon. This is a reality that so many indigenous communities are faced with.
We are looking for answers. We want answers and we want action. We want an action plan to protect this community, to ensure their right is upheld and there is a clear path to achieving it.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, I believe if you seek it, you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move that the House (a) affirm its respect for the treaty and inherent rights of the Mi'kmaq and the Maliseet people affirmed in the 1752 treaty, confirmed in the Canadian Constitution and in the Supreme Court of Canada ruling in the 1999 Marshall case; (b) recognize the Mi'kmaq nation deserves full and equal protection by the law from violence, intimidation and domestic terrorism; and (c) recognize the failure of the federal government to respect its nation-to-nation relationship to negotiate with the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet people, and to accommodate a “moderate livelihood” fishery, has led to the crisis we are facing today.