Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As you know, the gallery is filled with a lot of people, most of them are from the Tlicho region. They are here to witness an historic event, like some of my colleagues said. I would like to speak on a number of items that my colleagues spoke on.
First of all they're saying the normal process that this government should work on. Well, over the four years there have been a lot of decisions made in this House and outside of this House which are not normal processes. We've seen acts and bills come and go. Just yesterday we decided on one bill without consulting with the communities out there and this was a bill for official languages. The Department of Education, Culture and Employment made changes to a bill that was put forward by a committee which consulted with all of the Northwest Territories, but it wasn't taken into consideration that they should take it back to the people again because of the amendments and the changes. But it was done, it was dealt with in this House. That's one good example.
Another good example is the Human Rights Act. The request from one community for this committee to go there to have consultation was denied.
So I know my colleagues have concerns, they have a job to do, they need to communicate with their people, but when they say they need to go through the normal process I don't agree with them. This is not a normal process.
Like my colleague from Tu Nedhe said, this is an agreement between three parties, and we had representation there from the territorial government. Cabinet had a department in there; Aboriginal Affairs negotiated on behalf of this government. And it's not new. For the last 12 years you have read the paper, you have heard on the radio, you knew what was going on, everyone knew what was going on. If there were concerns before this date, why weren't those concerns brought up to their MLAs? Their MLAs were available. If they thought their rights were going to be affected, why didn't they come forward at that time? I don't see how that can be used as an argument.
We know that there are concerns that we're taking a shortcut. No, it's not. This is just another one of the bills that we think should go this route because that's the route that should be taken. We think it's the right way to do it. It's been there for 12 years. No other bill in this House has been put forward with that length of time, consultation and negotiation; no bill at all. So you have to take that and look at it in a different way.
Sometimes the things that are important, as mentioned from one of my colleagues in this document, yes, there are lots of important things in here. But this is the Tlicho self-government legislation. It's for the Tlicho people, how they govern themselves. So I'm sure that there are concerns out there, but if the concerns are not coming from the Tlicho people, then why should we from the outside say that the government here says well, we have a concern but nothing has been put forward by the Tlicho people. They ratified it unanimously.
Today we're going to be putting this forward as legislation. Everyone has been at all the celebrations, the signing. Most of the government here has been at the signing. We must have agreed to something when we went over there to initial it and sign it. We had to. Why today are we saying that it's not a normal process? We all know that it's been happening. Some Members in this House say it's a numbers game. Of course it's a numbers game. I and my colleague from Mackenzie Delta lost three votes in this House this week. Of course it's a numbers game. That's how government works, the majority wins. So using arguments like that are not something that should slow down something that is very important to people of the Dogrib region.
Yesterday we agreed that we would change the name in the Languages Act, to Tlicho from Dogrib. We all agreed. We all recognized that they had a right. That right today is going to be exercised and we're going to go forward with it and all we need is the federal government to ratify this then the Tlicho people can go forward and govern themselves. We will be their partners at the territorial government, so will the federal government.
We hear arguments that it might affect the rights of other aboriginal groups. Well, at one time there were differences. The groups didn't agree, but they sat down, they negotiated. They were able to negotiate the overlaps, the boundaries. Now they're working hand in hand in the economic development areas and all that. I'm sure the Metis group from the North Slave, whenever they come to the table with the federal government and the territorial government, I'm sure the Tlicho people will be there by their side to support them because they will be going forward with their own agreement. They're recognized as a group that has rights to hunts, trap and harvest. So I'm sure the Tlicho people will be on their side to support them.
The act itself says that there's the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That's how they feel their right is written. You know, in any part of this governance act they can come forward with it. But if you really look at the whole picture and the whole act, it's for the Tlicho citizens. If you're a Tlicho citizen and you live in Yellowknife, you have a right to be governed under that act, it doesn't matter where you live. But the Tlicho government is not going to go into Yellowknife and tell non-aboriginal people this is what you have to do. No, they don't have a right to do that.
When you make a decision on this today, you have to consider that. This is an act, a bill that is to govern themselves, not to govern other people. The area where it's going to come into effect, where the governance model might affect some people would be in the next piece of legislation. At that time maybe we will have time for this government to do public consultation. But this ratification was done for all three of them, so you still have to take that into consideration, as well, when it comes to that time.
So in order to do this more effectively, the next turn we get at legislation for community governance, maybe the MLAs should be more proactive and start going forward, because the documents are there now, and start talking with their constituents. In that way, they can have their consultation. If the government cannot make it out there, then the MLAs should be out there doing it. Because to this date I haven't heard any concerns from anyone, outside of the North Slave Metis Alliance, that have been raised about the Tlicho governance.
So I will have to say that we have to go forward with this legislation. It's not a short time, it's a new kind of way of making legislation. It's done, it's a done deal. They've signed on the dotted lines over and over, initialed, signed. We've been there. We had Mr. Kakfwi there, we had Mr. Antoine there, we had Members from this side of the House that were there. We knew what was happening. We can't say anyone didn't know.
To finish it off, I have to say that there are groups on all sides of the Tlicho and the Tlicho are in the middle. They've made arrangements with all of them. So far the negotiations they've done must have been positive because nobody else is coming back and saying it's a bad deal. So I'll have to encourage all my colleagues in this House that we have to pass this. We have the people up there waiting for our positive decision for an historical day. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.