Omnibus Bill aims to create jobs and opportunities

MP Mark Strahl replies to Van Andruss' editorial in the Feb. 28 issue.

Dear Editor

Re: “Idle No More and the ominous Omnibus Bill C-45” (Feb. 28).

The Conservative Government is committed to creating jobs and economic opportunities for all Canadians. To that end the Jobs and Growth Act (Bill C-45) implements a number of measures announced in our budget last spring.

It also includes a number of measures that will take action on long-standing requests from some First Nations for a more logical and timely process for leasing land and helping them attract investment and jobs.

There are a number of progressive First Nations that have had great success leasing land for commercial development, bringing jobs and generating property taxes to pay for services to members. Unfortunately, the lengthy, multiple-step approval process has delayed projects. We have listened to the concerns of First Nations and under the Jobs and Growth Act, streamlined the approval process.

It is important to note that these measures will make it easier for First Nations which choose economic development opportunities. No First Nation is required to lease land or take any other steps.

Of course, we continue to take environmental protection very seriously, and continue to strongly protect the environment under, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Fisheries Act, the Migratory Birds Convention Act and other relevant legislation.

To further improve economic opportunities for First Nations we have introduced First Nations Financial Transparency Act. It would require First Nations reserves to publish the salaries and expenses of their elected leaders as well as their audited financial statements. People living on reserve deserve the same transparency from their elected leaders as that enjoyed by those who live off reserve.

The Conservative Government is working with First Nations to ensure that they can benefit fully from our efforts to create jobs, growth and long term prosperity for all Canadians.

Mark Strahl, MP

Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon