Bill C-17 – Negotiating in Good Faith and Respecting Agreements made with First Nations

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, my friend from Yukon arrived in Ottawa on the same flight with me, but I did not have to start in Yukon, getting in at 2:45 in the morning. Yes, we touched down.

I just want to say that I do not know why he feels that this is less important for all Canadians. I appreciate that it is only within the riding he represents, the riding of Yukon, but this was an egregious thing that happened, Bill S-6, for the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, for the Teslin Tlingit First Nation, and for the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation. They entered into good-faith negotiations with Canada. It is the honour of the crown that is at stake when one party to the negotiations unilaterally pushes through changes to something that was arrived at through good-faith negotiations with those particular first nations.

I welcome the fact that now, in the 42nd Parliament, with Bill C-17, we are redressing what was quite egregious under Bill S-6. At the time, I fought those changes as well, and they clearly went to court.

This should be a classic case of a lesson learned for a majority government in power, not to force through that which it wants when it knows the courts will overturn it. It wastes public resources. Frankly, Stephen Harper’s administration did this all too often. I make no comment on most of my Conservative friends in the room at the moment, because they were not in the 41st Parliament. This is a classic case of wasting the public’s time and insulting first nations, and now we are putting it right.


Larry Bagnell  – Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her constant support for this and for talking about the importance of it.

The minister is right here, and she made this very important point, that we would rather negotiate than litigate with first nations. I did not want to bring up the litigation, but the member did, and that’s exactly what adds to the uncertainty that the Conservatives would like to get away from. Nothing would be going ahead. This would still be in the courts.

However, the Teslin Tlingit Council, the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, and the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation have put their case and held it off because this is going forward to fix this grievous situation that both the parliamentary secretary and the minister have guaranteed we would fix.