Ministerial Question Period: Rights-Based Fisheries

By: The Hon. Brian Francis

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Hon. Brian Francis: Minister Murray, in 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed that the Mi’kmaq, Wolastoquey and Peskotomuhkati First Nations in Atlantic Canada have a treaty right to fish to attain a moderate livelihood. However, 23 years later, the federal government continues to enforce the legal and regulatory regime that not only infringes on constitutionally protected rights but makes impossible for their meaningful and safe exercise.

My question is simple: As Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, exactly how many more years or decades do you think is reasonable for the Mi’kmaq, Wolastoquey and Peskotomuhkati to wait for the full implementation of their rights-based fisheries?

Hon. Joyce Murray, P.C., M.P., Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard: Thank you, senator, for that question. I won’t speak to what has happened in the past, but I will say that it is our government’s strong commitment to respect the moderate livelihood fisheries rights of the Mi’kmaq people. To that end, we have had a number of initiatives that have enabled us to ensure that those communities have access to training, to equipment and to allowable catch so that this treaty obligation can be honoured.

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