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Results: 1 - 30 of 449
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-10-19 17:33 [p.885]
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Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and if you seek it, I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:
That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, during the debate tonight pursuant to Standing Order 52, no quorum calls or dilatory motions shall be received by the Chair.
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View Bruce Stanton Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2020-10-19 17:33 [p.885]
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Are there any objections to what the hon. member has proposed? Hearing none, I declare the motion carried.
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View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2020-10-19 19:17 [p.899]
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moved:
That this House do now adjourn.
He said: Mr. Speaker, thank you for honouring our request to have this very important debate tonight to address the government's lacklustre response to the crisis that is taking place in Mi'kmaq territory.
As parliamentarians we must take immediate action to keep Mi'kmaq fishers and their communities safe from the ongoing threats and acts of violence that are happening there. We must ensure the federal government is taking immediate action to provide justice for the Mi'kmaq victims of violence.
We need to make sure that they can adequately and properly exercise their inherent, treaty-protected, constitutionally protected right to safely go out, fish and earn a moderate living. Lastly, we must make sure the government is at the table, providing enough resources to accommodate their right to fish for a moderate living, as they should have 21 years ago. Given the urgency for a peaceful and equitable resolution to this crisis, I believe it is important that we have this emergency debate in Parliament today.
I want to talk about why it is so important. The Mi'kmaq fishers have established a fishery beyond millennia in Nova Scotia. As we know, their treaty rights in the 1752 treaties of peace and friendship were confirmed again by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Marshall case of 1999. The federal government has had over 21 years to accommodate and negotiate the definition of a “moderate livelihood” with the Mi'kmaq people, a definition that was confirmed but not defined in the Marshall decision.
It was not the first or only time the highest court in the land reaffirmed the constitutional rights of aboriginal people to catch and sell fish in their territories. Whether it be the Marshall decision, the Sparrow decision, the Gladstone decision or the Ahousaht et al. decision, these are all rulings by the court reaffirming indigenous rights that were followed by years of utter disregard by the federal government of the day.
We talk about the treaty rights of the Mi'kmaq and their implementation. They are out there right now fishing to feed their families, to earn a moderate living with less than 1% of the traps and the crab pots out in St. Marys Bay. We know that the response has been acts of domestic terrorism and intimidation against the Mi'kmaq fishers, who are just exercising their inherent treaty right to fish.
In spite of domestic acts of terrorism, which included burning down a Mi'kmaq lobster fishery compound, there has been little response or action by the RCMP to protect Mi'kmaq fishers and their communities from further domestic terrorism. We have seen the assaults on Chief Sack. We have seen elders being abused.
It is horrific for us as Canadians to watch what is happening. We have been waiting for the federal government to uphold the rule of law with appropriate actions to protect this constitutionally protected, inherent treaty right of the Mi'kmaq people to fish, but instead—
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View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2020-10-19 19:18 [p.900]
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Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you for that. I will be sharing my time with our leader, the hon. member for Burnaby South.
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View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2020-10-19 19:18 [p.900]
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Mr. Speaker, I hope this sounds a lot better, and I appreciate that. This is my first speech virtually in a while, and I am thankful that all members have been accommodated so we can work together. I cannot participate from the unceded traditional territories of the Hupacasath and shíshálh people. I am on Nuu-chah-nulth territory.
I talk about being from Nuu-chah-nulth territory. This is a region that has also been in court, the Ahousaht et al. decision. The reason I bring that forward is that they have been to court. In 2009, the Supreme Court sided with them on their right to catch and sell fish. Nine years later, after constant repeated appeals by the Conservative and Liberal governments, which did everything they could to stonewall, Judge Garson, the judge at the time, said:
Overall, however, Canada through DFO has the responsibility to represent the honour of the Crown. The lack of a mandate and Ottawa’s stonewalling of suggestions for advancing the development of a right-based fishery are significant factors in the failure of the process to move forward. Ottawa failed to allow the Regional staff to engage meaningfully and wholeheartedly in the Negotiations, at least until the Supreme Court of Canada refused leave the second time. As the plaintiffs repeatedly pointed out, there is no evidence before the court of any engagement by Ottawa staff on this fishery, other than the occasional signature on a Briefing Note, and reference to one meeting with a ministerial assistant which was not coordinated with local managers.
This is what Judge Garson stated about the Ahousaht Indian Band and Nation v. Canada in 2018. That is just an example of the minister sending her negotiators to the table, knowingly empty-handed, to deal with it. Whether it be Marshall, Sparrow, Gladstone or Ahousaht, these court cases that protect treaty and aboriginal rights, the government constantly sends its negotiators to the table empty-handed. This is affirmed by Judge Garson. What we need is the government to come to the table with a mandate to negotiate so that first nations can assert their rights, and the government needs to accommodate those rights.
These indigenous communities, whether it be the Sipekne'katik, the Ahousaht or these other nations, are in these conflicts in the courts, which are costing taxpayers millions and millions of dollars fighting them, instead of getting them out on the water fishing, where they want to be, alongside the commercial fishers, so that they can feed their families. Instead, the government is fighting them every step of the way, knowingly. They need to be able to go out on the water and fish and be safe in exercising their rights.
Today, we are asking the government to provide that safety and to come to that table with a meaningful mandate for justice, so that those perpetrators of the violence that took place in Mi'kmaq territory are held to account. We have been asking for the government to provide security and safety to the people of those communities, in support of Chief Sack and his community. Instead, we keep getting lip service from the government. I am so appalled at the delays from the government in the response. It is a miracle that nobody has died as a result of the inaction.
We have heard the government say the RCMP will be enforcing and supporting with protection, but when we talk to people from the RCMP, they say that the DFO is responsible on the water. We talked to people from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and they say that they are not equipped and prepared to protect fishers on the water and that it is RCMP. These gaps need to be clarified tonight. We are looking for answers. These communities are looking for answers.
The indigenous services minister said that we were let down by police and threw the RCMP under the bus, but no, Canada was let down by that minister, the cabinet, the Prime Minister of Canada and the Government of Canada. He cannot absolve responsibility and just download it onto the RCMP or other departments. His responsibility is to provide federal support so that first nations have the safety to implement and exercise their constitutionally and treaty-protected rights. I am appalled.
This is also an issue of international concern. Article 20 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states, “1. Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and develop their political, economic and social systems or institutions, to be secure in the enjoyment of their own means of subsistence and development, and to engage freely in all their traditional and other economic activities.” This has not been upheld. Canada should be ashamed.
We want to know what the plan is. We have been asking for weeks. The nation has been asking for weeks. We want a commitment from the government that they will come to the table with a meaningful mandate to accommodate their right to a moderate fishery. We want to know the government is going to come to the table with a meaningful mandate for the other cases that are before the Government of Canada in all indigenous rights, so that they are not being subjected to these violations of the United Nations declaration and international law, never mind violations of the Constitution of Canada.
I hope the government comes to the table quickly so that we can heal as a country and come together and fish alongside each other and support this moderate livelihood through and through.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-10-19 19:25 [p.901]
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Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity to have some discussions with respect to this issue. A number of constituents of mine, via email, have expressed concerns. They want to see the government continue to build a more positive atmosphere in the hope that this matter can be resolved. The Prime Minister and ministers have been clear in condemning any sort of criminal activities.
Can the member provide his thoughts in regard to this issue? Like many other indigenous issues, this is sensitive but it is also critical that we move forward in the best way we can. At times, it can be frustrating, but we need to continue to work at it.
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View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2020-10-19 19:26 [p.901]
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Mr. Speaker, condemning mobster and terrorist type attitudes and criminal activities is not enough. This community needs to know they are safe and have the protection they deserve. All Canadians need to know they are safe. When indigenous people exercise their rights, they need to know they are protected.
My colleague's government needs to provide that safety and security. It needs to go to the table with a meaningful mandate. I cited what a judge said in another aboriginal rights case. The government is going to the table knowingly empty-handed and they are leaving these files. This is leading to unnecessary tension. It is all on the hands of the government and on his cabinet—
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View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
BQ (QC)
View Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe Profile
2020-10-19 19:27 [p.901]
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Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his heartfelt speech.
First, we in the Bloc Québécois strongly condemn criminal acts, expressions of hatred and racism against the Mi'kmaq. Everyone in the House witnessed this, and we cannot close our eyes and bury our heads in the sand. We all saw what happened. Back home, we say that to know where we are going, we have to look at where we have been.
Second, the Bloc Québécois laments the fact that Fisheries and Oceans Canada, successive governments and the current government are unable to uphold the Marshall decision and initiate a nation-to-nation discussion.
My question for my hon. colleague is the following. Does he not believe that we are here in the House having an emergency debate on what is happening, on the tragic events taking place right now, because Ottawa has been dragging its feet?
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View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2020-10-19 19:29 [p.901]
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Mr. Speaker, tonight's debate is clear. We need to focus on ensuring that the fishers, that community and all communities across Canada are safe. We need to ensure that indigenous people exercising their inherent and constitutionally protected rights are safe, and that there is justice for the violence that has taken place.
We want to see more arrests to deter any more actions like this and pressure on the government to get to the negotiating table with a meaningful mandate to accommodate these rights. We want to get answers as to why it is taking so long, not just here with Marshall, but also Ahousaht and other files.
We need the government to take action. No more empty words and empty promises. Why did it take three weeks to get enough RCMP deployed to support the RCMP detachment in Nova Scotia? Why are there are no RCMP boats on the water? These are legitimate—
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View Leah Gazan Profile
NDP (MB)
View Leah Gazan Profile
2020-10-19 19:29 [p.901]
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Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for bringing this important debate forward.
I want to go back to the whole notion and definition of a “moderate livelihood”. Currently, the Mi'kmaq fishers have less than 0.15% of the traps in St. Marys Bay, unlike the commercial fishers who currently have more than 99% of the traps.
I have heard our Liberal colleagues across the way talk about the importance of conservation. I do not think this is an issue of indigenous people not valuing conservation. I think this is an issue of wilfully turning a blind eye while the fundamental human rights, inherent rights and constitutional rights of indigenous people are being violated in Mi’kmaq territory. I would like to hear more of the member's thoughts on that and I wanted to—
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View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2020-10-19 19:30 [p.902]
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Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely right. First, the nation cares about conservation. The people have been working for three years developing a fisheries management plan. They care more than anybody about the importance of the stocks in St. Marys Bay.
When we see commercial fishers out there cutting traplines, leaving lobster pots at the bottom of the ocean, and destroying hundreds and thousands of pounds of live lobster, that is not in the name of conservation. Getting to the table is what the government needs to do, and support the moderate livelihood and accommodation for the nation so that—
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View Jagmeet Singh Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2020-10-19 19:31 [p.902]
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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.
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View Jaime Battiste Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Jaime Battiste Profile
2020-10-19 19:41 [p.903]
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Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I was just about to ask the leader of the NDP if he would mind amending that motion because the 1752 treaty is not the one recognized in the Marshall case. It was the 1760-61 treaty that was recognized in the Marshall case. Other than that, I have no problems with that statement. I just wanted to amend that. I do not know whether it passed, but I just wanted it to be clear, on the record, on some of the rights and treaties that we are passing around. From a Mi’kmaq person, and a treaty education lead in the past, I just want to be factual on certain things.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2020-10-19 19:42 [p.903]
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Mr. Speaker, there are parts of the comments that I take exception to. When we talk about the importance of nation-to-nation discussions and dialogues, I believe that we have a government that over the last five years has gone the extra mile. We can see that through budgets, legislation, commitments, meetings and discussions that have been taking place in indigenous communities throughout the country.
With regard to the specific issue that we are debating this evening, the Prime Minister has condemned all sorts of violent and criminal actions. I recognize that there is still more for us to do as we try to get to that point.
Would the leader of the NDP not agree that, when it comes to the issue of safety, there is an obligation for us also to look to the province, as the province also has a responsibility here?
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View Jagmeet Singh Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2020-10-19 19:43 [p.903]
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Mr. Speaker, the member opposite talks about condemning violence. If the member opposite wants to talk about condemning violence, which we should and which most Canadians do, then we have to look at where this violence came from. What is the cause of this? The cause is that, for 21 years, a Supreme Court decision that called on the federal government to take action to defend and protect the rights of indigenous people was not acted on.
Therefore, the responsibility lies squarely at the feet of, right now, the federal Liberal government, and at the feet of the previous Conservative government. That is who is responsible for the fact that we have violence right now. This is a question that was not addressed by either government. This was a legal question that was established in law, but then the federal governments, both Liberal and Conservative, did not act.
Because of that inaction, we are now faced with this tension. This is squarely the responsibility of the federal government, and that is why we are having this emergency debate to call for the Prime Minister and the Liberal government to do something about it now: to stop neglecting and ignoring indigenous people and do something.
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View Rachel Blaney Profile
NDP (BC)
View Rachel Blaney Profile
2020-10-19 19:45 [p.904]
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Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank our leader for that very important speech. I want to go back to what he kept referring to, something I think is so important, which is that this was a decision made in 1999: 21 years ago. I find it fascinating that the government is saying that this behaviour is a surprise.
I am wondering if the member could tell the House what ideas he has around preparing, and recognizing, as the Liberal government says it does, systemic racism and the impacts on local communities.
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View Jagmeet Singh Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jagmeet Singh Profile
2020-10-19 19:45 [p.904]
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Mr. Speaker, in response to that question, I ask a question of everyone in the House and to all Canadians who are listening. Imagine working in a community and a person's livelihood, what they rely on to put food on the table for their family and kids, is threatened by somebody. Those threats were specific: someone threatened to set fire to their place of work, where they earn a living for their family. What would the police response be? How would they feel if, after receiving that type of threat, being physically intimated and assaulted, their place of work was then set ablaze and they came to work and saw that it was destroyed?
That is what is going on here. It is absolutely an example of systemic racism in our policing. By the fact that the federal Liberal and Conservative governments have not acted to protect the Mi'kmaq people for over 21 years, they are also exhibiting the same behaviour of neglect and ignoring people who deserve respect and dignity, who fought for it and who won it in court but are not receiving it from governments.
This is a failure of the Liberal and Conservative governments, and that is why we are in this position right now.
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View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-10-19 19:46 [p.904]
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Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for South Shore—St. Margarets.
As Prime Minister, my number one priority is to keep our communities safe. I want to make it absolutely clear that our government strongly condemns any form of violence, harassment and intimidation toward the Mi'kmaq in Nova Scotia. There is no place for racism in our country. The appalling violence in Nova Scotia must stop now. It is unacceptable, it is shameful and it is criminal.
Yesterday I spoke with Premier McNeil, and we will continue working with him and the provincial government, as well as the RCMP, to make sure that everyone remains safe. The police are responsible for ensuring the protection of every single citizen in this country, including the Mi'kmaq, and preventing the escalation of violence. That is why the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness approved a request from the province on Friday for more police resources to be deployed in order to keep the peace so the Nova Scotia RCMP can effectively do their job.
The additional officers will maintain law and order, support ongoing criminal investigations and hold to account the individuals who have perpetrated the outrageous acts of violence and destruction we have seen. There have already been arrests made and charges laid in more than one case, and there are more expected in the days ahead.
There is a treaty right to fish, and it is a right that was affirmed by the Supreme Court in the Marshall decision 21 years ago. Above all, there is a right to live and fish in peace without being subjected to threats or racism. I know some harvesters have had a challenging commercial fishing season this year. Everyone wants to know that the stocks they depend on for their livelihood will be protected. Our government will continue to ensure conservation underpins our decisions while we continue to implement first nations' rights.
For many Canadians in coastal communities across the country, fishing is not only part of their everyday lives, it is also part of their identities. It is a complex and personal matter and has long been the subject of disputes.
Since 2015, our government has been taking concrete action to rebuild relations with first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Unfortunately, reconciliation does not happen overnight, especially when the injustices have already gone on for far too long.
On the weekend, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard spoke with Chief Sack and the Minister of Indigenous Services. They also spoke with the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs to reaffirm our commitment to working in partnership with them.
We are also listening to commercial fishers in Nova Scotia and elsewhere as they share their concerns. One thing is clear: Any solution will require peaceful dialogue, without violence. Perpetrators will be arrested and held accountable.
Twenty-one years ago the Supreme Court affirmed the indigenous peoples right to fish for a moderate livelihood. Five years ago tonight Canadians elected a government that made reconciliation a core priority for the path forward for Canada.
Since then, we have invested massively in education. We have built and renovated schools and supported better health and mental wellness. We have eliminated boil water advisories and implemented historic legislation to protect and revitalize indigenous languages and ensure indigenous children are safe in their communities. There is much more to do.
The real work of reconciliation cannot just be between the federal government and indigenous peoples. The real work of reconciliation must include all orders of government and, importantly, all Canadians. In order to right historic wrongs, we need an approach that does not just recognize inherent treaty rights, but implements their spirit and intent. That is why we will work with commercial fishers and Canadians to ensure this is done fairly. I understand this is challenging. This is not an inconvenience, but an obligation. If we are truly to be the country we like to think of ourselves as, then this is the road we must walk together.
I am glad we can be here tonight to participate in this emergency debate to address these issues with dialogue together, just like Canadians elected us to do. As we are still facing the health and economic threats of a global pandemic, the House should remain focused on the issues that directly impact the safety of our citizens and their livelihoods. As always, our government is here to find solutions, to resolve conflicts and to build a better Canada that works for everyone.
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View Erin O'Toole Profile
CPC (ON)
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2020-10-19 19:54 [p.905]
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Mr. Speaker, I thank the Prime Minister for his remarks on a very important debate, but I am disappointed. In his remarks he said that the real work of reconciliation should be driving a solution here. I agree, but the trouble is that he has been Prime Minister for five years and he has violated the duty to consult indigenous Canadians on two separate occasions, with the cancellation of northern gateway and the Arctic exploration treaty with the United States. Not a single Inuit or indigenous community was consulted on that.
Now the Prime Minister has had five years. He talks about real work, but it has been five years. For four of those years, every member of Parliament in Atlantic Canada was a Liberal MP. There has been five years of inaction.
My question for the Prime Minister is this. When is the real work going to begin? I mentioned to the Prime Minister a month ago, before Parliament reconvened, that tensions were rising. The Liberals ignored it then. The minister from the province ignored it for a year. Therefore, why has there not been substantive mediation between the Mi'kmaq and the commercial fishermen?
At its heart, all Canadians, all fishers in Nova Scotia, indigenous and non-indigenous, want a moderate livelihood and well-being for their family to be focused on here tonight. When is the real work actually going to start?
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View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-10-19 19:54 [p.905]
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Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to hear from the leader of the official opposition. I just wish he had actually gotten his facts straight.
Over the past 21 years, since the Marshall decision, governments of all stripes, including the former Conservative government, have made progress on the question of resolving the moderate livelihood. Licences and tags have been transferred from commercial fishers to indigenous Mi'kmaq fishers. Much work has been done.
Over the past five years, we have significantly accelerated that work and moved forward even further on reconciliation, as we did in many other areas of the country. We will continue to do so.
It is interesting that yet again the examples the Leader of the Opposition brought up were focused squarely on the oil and gas issue, which is an important issue, but only one of many issues facing Canadians right now.
We will continue to work in partnership with indigenous people. We will continue to put the nation-to-nation relationship first and foremost in our engagement with indigenous peoples. We will continue to build this path forward that all Canadians of every background expect this government and all governments to walk together.
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View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
View Marilène Gill Profile
2020-10-19 19:56 [p.905]
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Mr. Speaker, there has been talk about a five-year period and how nothing has been done during that time.
I would like us to look back 21 years to the Marshall decision. It is really the prerogative of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to define what a “moderate livelihood” means.
What is happening right now in Nova Scotia, and I think the opposition leader said it very well, is that both indigenous and non-indigenous people want answers. There has been a conceptual void for 21 years, and I want something to be done about it.
How can the government explain its failure to take action?
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View Justin Trudeau Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Justin Trudeau Profile
2020-10-19 19:57 [p.905]
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Mr. Speaker, here in the House, we debate facts. It is disappointing to see the Conservatives, the Bloc Québécois and the NDP continue to claim that nothing has been done over the past 21 years.
On the contrary, a huge amount of work has been done over the past 21 years, especially in the past five. We were directly involved, as was the former minister of fisheries and oceans and member for Beauséjour, as treaties were signed and progress was made.
I completely agree that there is still a lot of work to be done. That is what we committed to doing today and have been committing to for weeks, and that is what we will continue to work on in partnership with indigenous people across the country.
We are not trying to find quick and easy solutions, because they do not exist. We are trying to find solutions that will work for all Canadians, particularly indigenous Canadians.
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View Bernadette Jordan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I am joining the House from Mi’kma’ki, the traditional and unceded territory of the Mi'kmaq people. Today, we are discussing very important issues: the escalating violence in Nova Scotia and the Mi'kmaq treaty rights to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood.
I am here not only as the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, but as a Nova Scotian and as a lifelong member of the rural coastal community. I know how important the fishery is to families and communities, to our neighbours and our friends who head out on the waters to make a living. It is a way of life here. It is part of our culture as Nova Scotians.
We have all witnessed the terrible rise of tensions and violence on the east coast. The events that have occurred over the past week with the violence, the fires, the racism are disgusting. I know that Canadians across the country feel this way too and that the current situation in Nova Scotia cannot continue. There is no place for the threats, for the intimidation or for the vandalism that we have witnessed. I wholeheartedly condemn these actions.
The escalating tensions in southwest Nova Scotia highlight the issues around the implementation of the Mi'kmaq, Maliseet and Peskotomuhkati historical treaty rights to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood. They are a stark reminder that we must continue to do more and to work together. I cannot emphasize more the need for respectful dialogue and respect for treaty rights as we work toward a peaceful resolution. I would also note that procedurally we are all partaking in an emergency debate in the House of Commons.
The Mi'kmaq have a right to fish, a Supreme Court-affirmed treaty right. I want to be clear that we are not here to debate that tonight. We are here because our country operated for centuries without considerations of first nations' rights. We built up whole systems, institutions and structures without considering them. I want all parliamentarians who participate in this discussion and those at home watching and listening to know that we have an opportunity to change this. There are people out there who are committing criminal acts, and that is deplorable, but today's discussion is not even about them. It is about how we can all be part of the solution and work to help support a sustainable and productive fishery for all harvesters, first nations and commercial fishers alike. I truly believe that a fully realized, fully implemented right to fish for a moderate livelihood will only serve to strengthen our fishery.
We must also continue our efforts to de-escalate the situation by engaging all parties in constructive dialogue. On that front, my hon. colleagues and I have met regularly with both indigenous leadership and the fishing industry. We will continue to do so even once this crisis has passed.
During these discussions we have heard from both parties. We have heard frustration that the negotiations have taken too long and that there is a lack of real progress to implement this right. From non-indigenous harvesters, we have heard their concerns about the future of the fishery and their livelihood.
Over the past few months, we have, without a doubt, all been dealing with an unprecedented health crisis on top of this. Many of the fishers have had a very challenging season. I know harvesters are worried, particularly when the opposition continues to try to pit them against others, making this a “them versus us”, saying that they should be concerned about the future of our stocks.
Therefore, let me be clear. The conservation underpins everything we do. Lobster stocks are healthy and DFO will continue to monitor stocks and will never move forward with a plan that threatens the health of this species. I know that this approach is shared with many first nations leaders with whom I speak on a regular basis. I will continue to make every effort with the industry to increase transparency, formalize the lines of communication and ensure that the industry has meaningful opportunities to share its concerns and to express its views.
This government unequivocally recognizes the right of the Mi'kmaq, the Maliseet and the Peskotomuhkati to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood. This right stems from the Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1760 and 1761, and was confirmed over 20 years ago through the landmark Supreme Court Marshall decision in 1999. Since then, successive governments, both Liberal and Conservative, have launched programs and initiatives in an effort to accommodate what the court found to be a communal right to pursue a moderate livelihood from hunting, gathering and fishing.
Programs over the past 20 years have provided support to purchase licences, vessels and gear and training in order to increase and diversify the participation in the commercial fishery and to contribute to the pursuit of a moderate livelihood for members. While there has been progress, more definitely needs to be done. We recognize that there are still income gaps between indigenous and non-indigenous communities in Atlantic Canada. The violence that we have seen over the past week is a reminder that there is still more work to be done, work that we can do together as part of reconciliation.
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View Bernadette Jordan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Indeed, it is under the leadership of the Prime Minister who made reconciliation a top priority for our government. We have multiple ministers and departments working on this matter. Reconciliation is a whole-of-government mandate for us, and that work is led by the Prime Minister. Myself, my department and the government remain committed to working with first nations leaders to implement their treaty right.
I want to stress, once again, that our government's priority remains, first and foremost, the safety of everyone involved. This has to be a common objective for all. RCMP presence in southwestern Nova Scotia has been increased, and investigations are under way related to the events over the last few days.
As minister and as a government, we have the responsibility to ensure the safety of all Canadians and to see that those living in Canada are protected. This past September marked 21 years since the anniversary of the Marshall decision. It is time we made real progress forward on implementing the Mi'kmaq treaty right, and I am committed to making sure that we get this right.
We can all agree that reconciliation is a Canadian imperative. Each and every one of us has a role to play. It is only by working together that we can achieve that goal. We are here. We have an opportunity to bridge the divisions in our community, to have first nations and commercial harvesters fishing alongside each other, and this is achievable. This will strengthen our fishery.
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View Marilène Gill Profile
BQ (QC)
View Marilène Gill Profile
2020-10-19 20:04 [p.907]
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Mr. Speaker, I would like the minister to clarify something.
Earlier today, I was at a meeting of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. I was talking to one of my Nova Scotia colleagues about the communities affected by the Marshall decision, the Mi'kmaq and the Maliseet. She mentioned another band, and someone from her government who was attending the meeting said that band was not part of the discussion. The minister immediately intervened to set the record straight and said that the community was indeed part of the discussion.
I would just like her to clarify the situation. I think this proves that there are communication problems and that we need more information so we can make informed, thoughtful decisions about actions that will help our communities.
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View Bernadette Jordan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for her work on the fisheries committee.
I will say that the Marshall decision was a decision that affirmed the treaty right of the Mi'kmaq, the Maliseet and the Peskotomuhkati. We recognize this is something that needs to be implemented. We are working diligently right now to make sure that we are implementing that treaty right. We have been very active on this file since we were elected. We have seen agreements signed with some communities, and with others there have been ongoing discussions for quite some time now.
With regard to the Mi'kmaq in Nova Scotia, particularly the band in Sipekne'katik, we are working with them diligently right now through the negotiation process to make sure that we implement their treaty right.
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View John Williamson Profile
CPC (NB)
View John Williamson Profile
2020-10-19 20:06 [p.907]
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Mr. Speaker, I note the debate is entitled “Fisheries in Nova Scotia”, but, of course, this issue is gripping all of Atlantic Canada. The fisheries are important, not just in one part of Nova Scotia, but throughout the region. All eyes are fixed on this.
The minister talked about law enforcement. Where is DFO? DFO has been virtually absent on this. The minister will say her department is negotiating with first nations, and that is well and good, but what about also negotiating with traditional fishing families who have been fishing in these waters, in some cases since before Canada was founded?
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View Bernadette Jordan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, DFO has been actively engaged with a number of commercial harvesters and commercial harvester groups. I have met with them directly myself over the past number of weeks, actually over the past number of years since before I was the Minister of Fisheries.
We recognize that the commercial harvesters have had a very challenging season this year. We know that they are concerned with “moderate livelihood”. We want to make sure that we are listening to them, that we are listening to their concerns. That is one of the things we are absolutely very well apprised of, but we recognize also that the negotiations we are having right now with the Mi'kmaq are on a nation-to-nation basis, and that means they are the people at the table.
We will make sure that we continue to discuss with the commercial harvesters what their concerns are. We will make sure that we are listening to all sides in this, but we are looking forward to making sure that we implement the rights that were affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada to the Mi'kmaq people.
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View Gord Johns Profile
NDP (BC)
View Gord Johns Profile
2020-10-19 20:08 [p.907]
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Mr. Speaker, it has been three weeks since Chief Sack identified that he did not feel safe, nor did the fishers in his community. There have been assaults and intimidation. They have been calling for more support and it took a lobster pound to burn down and an assault to take place and more and more intimidation. Why is it taking so long for the minister to call on the federal government and Ottawa to get involved and help support the Nova Scotia RCMP? Who is responsible? We are still trying to get clarity.
Andrew Joyce, the public information officer for the RCMP in Nova Scotia, stated that the RCMP is responsible for a presence in the community, but DFO is more appropriate on the water. DFO is saying that it is the RCMP that is responsible for public safety on the water. Will you clarify and give assurance and certainty to the community that they will have protection while they are out on the water exercising their right? They need—
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View Bernadette Jordan Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, I will say we are all very much condemning the violence, intimidation and threats we have seen coming out of south-west Nova Scotia. Nobody wants to see this happening. Nobody wants to feel unsafe as they go to work. That is one of the reasons that we have agreed to increase resources to the province of Nova Scotia in order to make sure there are more resources available to the RCMP so they can bring more members from other provinces to help deal with this situation.
We recognize it needs to be addressed. I will say the DFO has been engaged primarily since the very beginning of this, both on the water and on land. We will continue to—
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