Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Western Arctic for his input on this piece of legislation and, of course, for the great work that he does on the aboriginal affairs committee.
There is one specific clause in the bill that I want to ask the member about, clause 41, which provides for governor-in-council to make regulations.
We just finished with Bill S-8 on safe drinking water, which was all about making regulations. The concern that was raised under Bill S-8, and I am sure it will be raised under Bill S-6, is the fact that there is no rigorous provision for first nations to be involved in making regulations. In fact, the NDP proposed an amendment to Bill S-8 that would see regulations come back before the House and tabled to the appropriate committee so that there would be parliamentary oversight.
Could the member comment on the fact that there is no provision in this piece of legislation for first nations to be involved in the development and implementation of regulations?
Order. When Bill S-6 was last before the House, the hon. member for Western Arctic had completed his speech. There are eight minutes remaining in questions and comments.
Questions and comments, the hon. member for Sherbrooke.
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-529, An Act to amend the Navigable Waters Protection Act (Slave River).
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table my bill, an act to amend the Navigable Waters Protection Act for Slave River. I wish to thank my colleague, the member for Western Arctic, for seconding this bill, which is of great significance to his constituents.
The purpose is both simple and necessary. It will add the mighty Slave River, flowing from Alberta to the Northwest Territories, to the substantially diminished list of rivers the government has deemed worthy of protection.
According to David Livingstone, former director of Indian and Northern Affairs' water division:
Life in the North has always revolved around water in an intimate way that many other jurisdictions have lost. The value of water in the North is the same as the value of water to people who live in deserts: central to life.
This bill actually amends the 2012 Budget Implementation Act. Why? The government, absent any advance consultations, including with those directly impacted, used its budget bill to further eviscerate this century-and-a-half-year-old protection law.
The Navigable Waters Protection Act, originally enacted to guarantee navigation rights, has been upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada as an important trigger for federal action to protect rivers and lakes. The law, pre-evisceration, served as key trigger for federation assessment and permitting.
The decision to remove protective measures for the Slave River was made absent any consultations with the aboriginal peoples who have a long-standing connection to the river. In so doing, the government violated its overriding constitutional duty of prior consultation and accommodation of aboriginal rights and title.
According to Cheyeanne Paulette, former chief of Smith's Landing First Nation, located on the banks of the Slave River:
The Slave River has sustained our people since time immemorial. We have a vision for the river that ensures it will continue to be a home for our people for all time, and we know many other Northerners share our vision.
For centuries the river has provided the major transportation route between Fort Fitzgerald in the Northwest Territories and Fort Chipewyan. According to elder François Paulette, who was raised on the river, the Slave River is considered sacred and is to be respected.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)
That concludes the time we have for debate at this time. The hon. member for Western Arctic will have approximately eight minutes for finishing questions and comments.
Mr. Speaker, again, I am going to keep hitting on this topic because it is quite clear to me that the NDP has not read the bill or does not understand it.
The same member referenced, yet again, the fact that there is no mandate to bring this museum internationally. Proposed paragraph 9(1)(e) talks about “Canada and internationally”. I would ask the member to actually read that section. Paragraph (f) talks about the importance of research. I would ask her to read that section.
The member for Western Arctic talked about our first nations who have been here for 30,000 years. What about them? He clearly has not even read the name of the new museum. How can they understand the bill if they have not even read the title of what the new museum is going to be called?
The purpose of the new Canadian museum of history is to enhance Canadians' knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of events, experience, people and objects that reflect and have shaped Canada's history and identity. It is also to enhance their awareness of world history and cultures. How can you possibly not support that mandate—
Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to speak on this bill. I can assure you that I am equally excited about being able to stand in the House to talk to Canadians about the importance of the bill. I am proud to see this bill finally reach the floor of the House of Commons.
I, too, am disturbed by what I witnessed just an hour ago. New Democrats stood in the House, those who were here to vote, and told Canadians that it was time to go. My colleagues and I are here to work and get things done. That is why we were elected.
I take great inspiration from the people who work in my constituency, the people who sent me to Ottawa, who are working still tonight. I hear the NDP members groan. The member for Western Arctic said that he does not believe it.
Tonight I was on the phone with several farmers, who are tonight working around the clock to get their crops in. They are not making a motion to say that it is time to go home and shut the place down. This is not what Canadians do. Farmers do not do that. Loggers do not do that. Oil workers do not do that. People who work throughout my constituency do not do that. New Democrats are still laughing, because they want to shut these sectors down. New Democrats run to Washington and say not to defend Canadian jobs and not to defend young people who are trying to find employment in communities like mine. They say to shut down the industries that are creating the jobs, opportunity, hope and prosperity for all Canadians through the oil sands and the oil and gas sector, which is alive and well in my community.
The people in my constituency do not go home early. There are Canadians throughout this country who do not go home early. They stay at work and continue to get things done. They are—
Mr. Speaker, it is an interesting question, similar to the one from the member for Western Arctic.
I do not know the answer to the questions. That is why it needs to go to committee. They are very good questions.
I do not think we need to be lawyers to understand what is in front of us here. These are laws, Canadian regulations, which have the effect of law, that automatically get changed by virtue of another document generating another law, generated in another country or from a multilateral agreement. Changes within that agreement automatically make changes in our regulations.
I guarantee that if we put that kind of scenario in front of Canadians, they will tell us to make sure we know what we are doing and to make sure there are not laws being changed that are harmful to us or create huge mistakes. They will tell us to make sure we do our homework, answer those questions and give them good, regulatory law.
The electoral district of Western Arctic (Northwest Territories) has a population of 41,464 with 28,787 registered voters and 73 polling divisions.
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