Northwest Territories Devolution Act

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I want to return the favour and thank my hon. colleague from Victoria for his excellent address.

For those who have a legal background, as my hon. friend does and as I have, it is astonishing to me, as I made this point earlier today, that the Conservative administration refuses to take seriously numerous Supreme Court decisions.

With regard to the elimination of four regional boards that have been the result of negotiation and treaty, that are part of a government-to-government relationship, it is not really a matter of “We’ve told them about it for years, so they should be ready for it by now”. That is not consultation.

I wonder if my hon. colleague would like to reflect upon, based on his own extensive experience in this area, what proper consultation, nation to nation, between the federal crown and first nations, would look like if the current government got it.

Murray Rankin: Mr. Speaker, I do not understand the following. Consultation is not a “would be nice to have” thing, but it a “must-have” thing. The Supreme Court has made that abundantly clear. In many cases involving the north, and recently involving the Yukon self-government and the constitutional protections there, it has reinforced what it had said so frequently in southern cases, if I can call the Delgamuukw and the Haida cases southern.

In the north as well, the honour of the crown is relevant. We enter into these regional agreements with first nations, we make them part of a land claims agreement that is working well, and then the government comes along and wants to blow it up. That is not respectful, and it is probably not constitutional either.

The Government of Canada has been held to account more than once on the need to observe the honour of the crown. That is a living, breathing requirement of consultation and accommodation.

Many experts have said that this simply will not stand up. Again, I ask why. Why are we here, on what could be the happiest day for the north, talking about something that is so unnecessary?