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Canada’s Parliamentarians: The Martin Era

 

© 2007 Brad Kempo B.A. LL.B.

Barrister & Solicitor

 

 

Parliamentary Hansard

 

February 2, 2004

 

Speech from the Throne

 

The Speaker:

 

I have the honour to inform the House that when this House did attend Her Excellency this day in the Senate chamber, Her Excellency was pleased to make a speech to both Houses of Parliament. To prevent mistakes, I have obtained a copy, which is as follows:

 

Honourable Members of the Senate,
Members of the House of Commons,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

    

I am pleased to greet you at the beginning of 2004, when, as Canadians, we know that our history and our capacity for change are a part of our strength as a complex and modern country. Human dignity and respect for others and a realistic awareness of our past make us a mature nation and help us to move forward to express our true values.

 

[…]

 

Aboriginal Canadians have not fully shared in our nation’s good fortune. While some progress has been made, the conditions in far too many Aboriginal communities can only be described as shameful. This offends our values. It is in our collective interest to turn the corner. And we must start now.

    

Our goal is to see Aboriginal children get a better start in life as a foundation for greater progress in acquiring the education and work-force skills needed to succeed.

    

Our goal is to see real economic opportunities for Aboriginal individuals and communities.

    

To see Aboriginal Canadians participating fully in national life, on the basis of historic rights and agreements—with greater economic self-reliance, a better quality of life.

    

The Government of Canada will work with First Nations to improve governance in their communities—to enhance transparency and accountability—because this is the prerequisite to effective self-government and economic development. Aboriginal leadership is committed to this end and rapid progress is essential.

    

In order to support governance capacity in Aboriginal communities and to enhance effective dialogue, the Government will, in co-operation with First Nations, establish an independent Centre for First Nations Government.

    

The Government will also focus on education and skills development, because this is a prerequisite to individual opportunity and full participation. To pursue this goal, the Government will work with provinces and territories and Aboriginal partners in a renewed Aboriginal Human Resources Development Strategy.

    

Too often, the needs of Aboriginal people off reserve are caught up in jurisdictional wrangling. These issues cannot deter us. The Government of Canada will work with its partners on practical solutions to help Aboriginal people respond to the unique challenges they face. To this end, the Government will expand the successful Urban Aboriginal Strategy with willing provinces and municipalities.

    

The Government will also engage other levels of government and Métis leadership on the place of the Métis in its policies.

    

The Government is committed to a more coherent approach to Aboriginal issues. To focus this effort, it has established a new Cabinet Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister; a Parliamentary Secretary; and an Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat in the Privy Council Office.

 

[…]

 

In the speech, the government also promises to meet the urgent needs of aboriginal communities with respect to development, particularly by creating the Centre for First Nations Government and expanding the Urban Aboriginal Strategy and the Aboriginal Human Resources Development Strategy.

 

 

February 3, 2004

 

 Mr. Grant Hill (Leader of the Opposition, CPC):

 

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to offer some remarks in response to the Speech from the Throne presented yesterday by Her Excellency the Governor General.

 

We also heard that the government does not intend to reintroduce Bill C-7, the first nations governance act. We did not hear anything original, and that is the problem. There were lots of platitudes and process but no real substance.

    

Members opposite like to boast that the federal government spends billions of dollars every year on aboriginal issues, but money does not solve all problems, although I am sure we would never be able to convince our friends across the aisle of that fact.

    

At the risk of being castigated, what I think our aboriginal people need is hope. They need hope that the issues that are important to them will actually be addressed, not just talked about.

   

Let me tell the House about Skipper Potts, a young native educator from Pincher Creek. This is a man who gives hope to the students in his school. He determined that the kids were not graduating from grade 12 so he set about, with no funding, no big programs and no big help from anyone, to speak with the parents and talk about the school programs, the sports programs and the importance of education in their lives. In a few short years he took the one native graduate in that school to a dozen graduates this year. Skipper Potts gives hope to the kids.

    

Aboriginal people need improved health care. They need more opportunities for education and employment close to where they live. Like everyone else, they need affordable housing and support for their young people and local communities. They need, indeed they deserve greater recognition for the unique role they have played in Canadian history but, above all, they need hope and commitment. They need hope and a commitment from the federal government to actually do something. They need more Skipper Potts.

 

Mr. Monte Solberg:

 

Mr. Speaker, this is a little beside the point, but I do want to mention it. I think one of the very first things we have to do--I cannot believe the government has not addressed it and it should be in the throne speech--is that native women, first of all, should have property rights. Their property rights should be protected. They are not today. They do not even have the full protection of the Canadian charter, which is a disgrace. This government has not addressed that in 10 years. We have raised it year after year. My friend from Manitoba, when he was the critic, raised it month after month. It has never been addressed.

    

Having said that, what do we do about the unemployment rate on reserves? It is a disgrace. It is terrible, but I can say that the answer is not to keep doing what we are doing. I think part of the answer is to argue for the same things that rank and file Canadians have.

    

I had an aboriginal Canadian in my office the other day. He was talking about the farmland that he farmed on the Siksika Reserve. He pointed out that the council took away a chunk of the land that he has traditionally farmed. The council just took it away. He had no property rights to that piece of land; he and his brother farmed it.

    

I think it is time to give aboriginal Canadians the same rights that the rest of us have, which is to own property on a reserve so that someone who goes out and makes something of the property can build up equity in it, can own their own home or ultimately own their own business. Why do we deny that to Canada's first nations? I do not understand it and I think it is something that finally has to be addressed if we are ever going to allow first nation Canadians to get out of the situation they are in today. It is a disgrace that it has taken this long but we need to help them in that way. I think it would be a big first step to really help them get out of the problems they are in today.

 

 

February 25, 2004

 

Hon. Reg Alcock (President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board, Lib.):

 

Mr. Speaker, the main estimates that were tabled yesterday are the consolidation of the A-bases plus all new spending this year where none of the budgetary decisions are taken. They are simply the reconciliation of current expenditures, reflecting changes in the structure of government.

    

It is true that this Prime Minister has adopted a very aggressive and activist policy. He has taken into his office some important initiatives--support the cities, support the aboriginals--and we are delivering on them.

 

 

March 24, 2004

 

Mrs. Bev Desjarlais (Churchill, NDP):

 

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government has once again chosen to balance the budget on the backs of women. As child care, health care and education continue to be inadequately funded, it is women's unpaid labour that has to make up the shortfall.

    

Women are the primary caregivers and when health care, education and child care fall short, women take on the responsibility. I think it is time the federal Liberal government accepted its responsibility.

    

What do women want? At our economic summit this February, women said loud and clear that they needed affordable child care, housing and adequate health care for themselves and their families. What did they get? Nothing.

    

How is the 25% GDP ratio supposed to help the mother who is trying to feed her child and save up so they can go to university? How is this mother going to put money into an RESP when she cannot afford food?

    

There is virtually nothing in the budget that touches on the unique situation of aboriginal women. Aboriginal women's groups have been calling on the federal government to recognize their unique challenges.

    

The Prime Minister acknowledged the shameful conditions in which aboriginal Canadians live. Yet there was nothing for native women's groups and nothing to improve the third world conditions in which many are forced to live.

    

If this is the Prime Minister's vision for women in Canada, he and all Liberals should hang their heads in shame.

 

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North Centre, NDP):

 

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be able to comment on yesterday's budget on behalf of the New Democratic Party.

 

[…]

    

This budget offered no solutions to the major problems confronting Canadians, serious and life-changing or even life-threatening problems […]. [T]here is the lack of affordable housing, and of course, still and again, the appalling conditions faced by first nations and aboriginal Canadians.

 

[…]

 

Budgets are supposed to be about choices. They are a road map for the future. Spending money to speed up debt repayment instead of on social need is a clear indication of just how lacking in vision and leadership this new Liberal government really is. This decision to spend money to speed up debt repayment is the Liberal choice again this year. This is a choice that is made in full knowledge of all the facts on what Canadians are faced with and what their needs are.

    

Let me list them: hospital halls still filled with patients; an unemployment rate that has not dropped below 6% in 20 years; student debt averaging $25,000; an estimated one-quarter of a million Canadians experiencing homelessness over the course of a year; aboriginal Canadians with a poverty rate above 50%;

 

[…]

 

Most of us can only imagine the disappointment and disillusionment in the aboriginal community. To quote the Liberal government from last month's Speech from the Throne, it said:

 

There is one aspect of Canadian society, one aspect of our history, that casts a shadow over all that we have achieved. The continuing gap in life conditions between aboriginal and other Canadians is intolerable. It offends our values and we cannot remain on our current path.

  

Those are noble words. They are absolutely accurate in terms of the reality with which we are faced. Noble words, though probably are all too familiar words to on and off reserve aboriginal communities. Although the budget extended existing programs, there is no sight of the significant investment needed to show any meaningful commitment to back up those words.

    

The Assembly of First Nations which spent two months working intensively with the government leading up to this budget called the lack of substantive resources disappointing. We could probably think of some other words, the AFN is being a little polite.

    

Chief Phil Fontaine stated that while the resources proposed were clearly needed, they were not enough. He said, “I am disappointed with the lack of action on urgent priorities like housing, health, economic development and education”. The Speech from the Throne recognized the shameful conditions facing his people. He asked what more compelling reason did we need to take immediate action?

    

There are alternatives. We presented alternatives in the House on behalf of the New Democratic Party. I also want to reference the alternative federal budget, which presents an annual budget with the needs of Canadians as its priorities. It was able to do so using the government's own economic projections, and it did so to: allocate $20 million over two years on jobs and youth strategies; $500 million over three years on a strategy to improve aboriginal education; $375 million over three years for aboriginal housing; and $200 million over three years on the backlog of land claims cases.

    

The alternative budget presented just a couple of weeks ago was a balanced budget and it also included a much needed $1 billion into building up the stock of affordable housing, plus an additional sum of money as part of an infrastructure financing program to fund infrastructure capital investment.

   

What does this government's budget offer in terms of housing dollars? Zero dollars to a problem that even the TD Bank has identified as one of Canada's most pressing public policy issues. One-quarter of Canadians say that they have trouble paying housing costs and that jumps to 40% for renters. An estimated one-quarter million Canadians will experience homelessness this year.

    

The Prime Minister, when finance minister, pulled the government out of social housing. He appears to pick up where he left off by squeezing public financing for housing completely dry. Why? Let us go back to the privatization budget again. Housing is one of the two primary examples that the parliamentary secretary for public-private partnerships gives as his new mandate.

 

Hon. Larry Bagnell (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.):

 

Mr. Speaker, I first want to thank the Prime Minister and the finance minister for the tremendous job they have done for the north in this budget. It puts the north on the map, which is very exciting. My counterparts from the other territories and the people in the north were excited when they talked to me about the budget. It is a landmark budget for the north. I will explain a number of provisions that provide to the north, which have made us so excited about this budget.

 

[…]

 

Also in my portfolio I am delighted about the amounts of money to help the great needs of the aboriginal people. I will not go into all of them as there would not be time. There is $125 million for the aboriginal human resource development and this is just one of a number of things in the throne speech and the budget is reinforcing and providing the funding to do what is in the throne speech.

    

There is also $495 million, as we saw in the main estimates, to help aboriginal people, which is about a 9% increase, and that will go toward land claims, water, program funding, education and to capital rust and northern air mail food, once again another program for the north where food is mailed to the very remote northern communities at lower cost.

   

I will finish by saying that the $7 billion for communities and the new deal for municipalities has been very well received. In my riding it is a substantial amount of funds for the municipalities that they can use on environmentally sensitive infrastructure and other things that municipalities need to help their local communities. It is an exciting budget for the north and I thank the Prime Minister and the finance minister for so much commitment to the north.

 

 

February 24, 2005

 

Hon. Stephen Harper (Calgary Southwest, CPC):

 

At a time in world affairs when decisive and determined action is needed especially on the economic front, I believe that the Canadian government is in fact dithering. It is dithering on living standards. It is dithering on productivity in the Canadian dollar. It is dithering on taxes, dithering on the environment, dithering on infrastructure, dithering on child care, dithering on foreign policy, dithering on bank mergers, dithering on management and accountability, dithering on out of control programs like the gun registry, dithering on aboriginal issues. I could go on and on. The Liberals are playing for time. They are simply dithering with our future.

 

[…]

 

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North, NDP):

 

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the leader of the Bloc for his very important speech on this incredible budget. It is a budget that is not being accepted by most Canadians. Indeed, not only Quebeckers, but also a majority of Canadians find this budget unacceptable. Furthermore, I want to comment on this incredible marriage between the Liberals and the Conservatives.

    

However, here is the question that I want to ask the leader of the Bloc: how can he explain the generous gifts that were given to big businesses through tax cuts? How can he explain this, when workers, students, women, the disabled, farmers, and so on, have great needs and major problems?

    

An hon. member: And aboriginals.

    

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis:

 

And aboriginals, indeed. How can he explain these gifts to a very small group in our society, when there are no assistance programs for most Canadians?

 

Mr. Jack Layton (Toronto—Danforth, NDP):

 

Mr. Speaker, this budget is a profound disappointment, particularly to anyone who voted for the Liberals based on the lie that they share New Democrat values. That is what the Prime Minister pretended that he stood for in the election. He asked Canadians to choose their Canada.

    

Here is the Canada that he has chosen instead. Our pollution will rise. Tuition is going to continue to be a burden and become more expensive. More people are going to live on the streets. Workers will keep paying EI premiums for an insurance that they will never collect. Aboriginal squalor will grow; however, corporations will get billions of dollars in tax cuts.

    

That is not the vision that was promised by the Prime Minister when he went to Canadians and asked for their support.

 

[…]

 

With respect to the aboriginal people, they are stuck in absolutely incredible poverty because of the government' s lack of action.

 

[…]

 

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North, NDP):

 

Mr. Speaker, let us remind the finance minister: zero [in the budget] for tuition cuts, zero for housing, zero for aboriginal people,

 

[…]

 

Hon. Ethel Blondin-Andrew (Minister of State (Northern Development), Lib.):

 

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have my hon. colleagues here to support me. I could not do this without them.

    

It is a great pleasure to rise in support of budget 2005. I have witnessed in my tenure of almost 17 years approximately 15 budgets. Of course this budget makes it eight consecutive balanced budgets, the longest run since Confederation.

 

[…]

    

I am very proud of the Minister of Finance. He has done his country proud. We are very pleased with this budget. It represents a plan to continue and accelerate our government's agenda for promoting meaningful and positive change. We have taken steps to renew the partnership with aboriginal people and with northerners to ensure that they are partners in the prosperity we build.

 

[…]

 

There is increased support for the Canada-aboriginal peoples roundtable which we are undertaking. In this budget we are investing at this time $735 million over the next five years in priorities identified through this process. This is in addition to the $700 million over five years for aboriginal health programs announced in September 2004.

    

These investments include $345 million over the next five years for first nations early learning and child care, special education and family services and $340 million over the next five years for first nations housing on reserve. Aboriginal languages and culture and the healing foundation are all included in this. This additional investment reinforces our partnership with aboriginal people to strengthen our communities.

    

It is quite evident that aboriginal people did not get everything they wanted in the budget process, but there is an extra territorial process, if I might put it that way. We have a round table process which will end up in a policy retreat. That speaks to a number of areas, including housing, education, health, economic development, negotiations and accountability. These will probably all eventually roll out into more commitments.

 

There is concern about the amount of money for the healing foundation. The $40 million that we have put in will give us time to develop, collectively along with the aboriginal people, not presuming on their behalf but collaboratively with them, a self-sustaining healing program for the longer term. It will also allow us the time to work out the process by which the residential school issue will be dealt with. That will be done collaboratively as well.

    

The current generation of aboriginal children represents a tremendous opportunity for progress, but we have to close the gap in life chances that exist between aboriginal and non-aboriginal children. Budget 2005 will help us close that gap with a commitment of $100 million specifically for aboriginal children from the $5 billion national child care initiative.

 

[…]

 

Specifically on aboriginal health, last fall we committed $700 million toward that end for an aboriginal health human resources initiative, the aboriginal diabetes initiative and an aboriginal youth suicide prevention strategy.

    

Budget 2005 also provides something that was very much sought after and needed by the Inuit, and that is an Inuit secretariat, which will receive $10 million over the next five years.

    

On December 14, the Prime Minister and territorial leaders released a policy framework laying out the vision, principles and possible goals of a northern strategy. The announcement included, as I have indicated, $120 million in a trust fund for Canada's three aboriginal territories. This is a joint initiative with the Government of Canada. It includes seven pillars in improving the quality of life for northerners.

 

[…]

 

Mr. André Bellavance (Richmond—Arthabaska, BQ):

 

Mr. Speaker, the member talked a great deal about budgetary measures for aboriginals. I wished she had been with us this morning in the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources. The Auditor General, Sheila Fraser, was there to talk about her second report, of November 2004, on the education program and post-secondary student support.

    

Obviously, this reports identifies numerous flaws. In my opinion, the member should take off her rose-coloured glasses. This report shows that it will take another 28 years before young aboriginals can reach a level of education equivalent to that of the population of the rest of Canada. This is totally unacceptable.

    

I was reading the press release of the Assembly of First Nations, which condemns this federal budget. I do not know where she obtained her information that the budget contained good news for aboriginals. I want to hear her elaborate on this, since neither the Assembly of First Nations nor the Auditor General is saying this at all.

    

Hon. Ethel Blondin-Andrew:

 

Mr. Speaker, I am evidence of the fact that first nations people can succeed, not because I was born rich or because I was privileged, but because I have worked hard and there have been opportunities given to me which I have taken.

    

There are many opportunities. It is not as if all first nations people are not successful. That would be a false perception to put out there. First nations have a legitimate complaint about there not being everything that they wanted in the budget.

    

We have this other process. I believe sincerely in speaking with my colleagues who have the responsibility for education, health, economic development, all of the different development areas. Through the policy retreat and the first ministers meeting with aboriginals we are going to show people that we can make the difference and that the difference can be made.

    

There are many first nations people like me who have dedicated their whole lives to working for their people. I do not like to be seen as a failure. I believe that for the 17 years that I have been here I have a reputation of working for my people. We delivered a good budget yesterday. Maybe not everything was in it, but we will succeed. I refuse to believe that we are not going to succeed. We will succeed.

 

[…]

 

[T]here is some money for helping aboriginal people on reserves but not nearly what is required according to the Auditor General.

 

 

February 24, 2005

 

Hon. Stephen Harper (Calgary Southwest, CPC):

 

At a time in world affairs when decisive and determined action is needed especially on the economic front, I believe that the Canadian government is in fact dithering. It is dithering on living standards. It is dithering on productivity in the Canadian dollar. It is dithering on taxes, dithering on the environment, dithering on infrastructure, dithering on child care, dithering on foreign policy, dithering on bank mergers, dithering on management and accountability, dithering on out of control programs like the gun registry, dithering on aboriginal issues. I could go on and on. The Liberals are playing for time. They are simply dithering with our future.

 

[…]

 

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North, NDP):

 

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the leader of the Bloc for his very important speech on this incredible budget. It is a budget that is not being accepted by most Canadians. Indeed, not only Quebeckers, but also a majority of Canadians find this budget unacceptable. Furthermore, I want to comment on this incredible marriage between the Liberals and the Conservatives.

    

However, here is the question that I want to ask the leader of the Bloc: how can he explain the generous gifts that were given to big businesses through tax cuts? How can he explain this, when workers, students, women, the disabled, farmers, and so on, have great needs and major problems?

    

An hon. member: And aboriginals.

    

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis:

 

And aboriginals, indeed. How can he explain these gifts to a very small group in our society, when there are no assistance programs for most Canadians?

 

Mr. Jack Layton (Toronto—Danforth, NDP):

 

Mr. Speaker, this budget is a profound disappointment, particularly to anyone who voted for the Liberals based on the lie that they share New Democrat values. That is what the Prime Minister pretended that he stood for in the election. He asked Canadians to choose their Canada.

    

Here is the Canada that he has chosen instead. Our pollution will rise. Tuition is going to continue to be a burden and become more expensive. More people are going to live on the streets. Workers will keep paying EI premiums for an insurance that they will never collect. Aboriginal squalor will grow; however, corporations will get billions of dollars in tax cuts.

    

That is not the vision that was promised by the Prime Minister when he went to Canadians and asked for their support.

 

[…]

 

With respect to the aboriginal people, they are stuck in absolutely incredible poverty because of the government' s lack of action.

 

[…]

 

Ms. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North, NDP):

 

Mr. Speaker, let us remind the finance minister: zero [in the budget] for tuition cuts, zero for housing, zero for aboriginal people,

 

[…]

 

Hon. Ethel Blondin-Andrew (Minister of State (Northern Development), Lib.):

 

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have my hon. colleagues here to support me. I could not do this without them.

    

It is a great pleasure to rise in support of budget 2005. I have witnessed in my tenure of almost 17 years approximately 15 budgets. Of course this budget makes it eight consecutive balanced budgets, the longest run since Confederation.

 

[…]

    

I am very proud of the Minister of Finance. He has done his country proud. We are very pleased with this budget. It represents a plan to continue and accelerate our government's agenda for promoting meaningful and positive change. We have taken steps to renew the partnership with aboriginal people and with northerners to ensure that they are partners in the prosperity we build.

 

[…]

 

There is increased support for the Canada-aboriginal peoples roundtable which we are undertaking. In this budget we are investing at this time $735 million over the next five years in priorities identified through this process. This is in addition to the $700 million over five years for aboriginal health programs announced in September 2004.

    

These investments include $345 million over the next five years for first nations early learning and child care, special education and family services and $340 million over the next five years for first nations housing on reserve. Aboriginal languages and culture and the healing foundation are all included in this. This additional investment reinforces our partnership with aboriginal people to strengthen our communities.

    

It is quite evident that aboriginal people did not get everything they wanted in the budget process, but there is an extra territorial process, if I might put it that way. We have a round table process which will end up in a policy retreat. That speaks to a number of areas, including housing, education, health, economic development, negotiations and accountability. These will probably all eventually roll out into more commitments.

 

There is concern about the amount of money for the healing foundation. The $40 million that we have put in will give us time to develop, collectively along with the aboriginal people, not presuming on their behalf but collaboratively with them, a self-sustaining healing program for the longer term. It will also allow us the time to work out the process by which the residential school issue will be dealt with. That will be done collaboratively as well.

    

The current generation of aboriginal children represents a tremendous opportunity for progress, but we have to close the gap in life chances that exist between aboriginal and non-aboriginal children. Budget 2005 will help us close that gap with a commitment of $100 million specifically for aboriginal children from the $5 billion national child care initiative.

 

[…]

 

Specifically on aboriginal health, last fall we committed $700 million toward that end for an aboriginal health human resources initiative, the aboriginal diabetes initiative and an aboriginal youth suicide prevention strategy.

    

Budget 2005 also provides something that was very much sought after and needed by the Inuit, and that is an Inuit secretariat, which will receive $10 million over the next five years.

    

On December 14, the Prime Minister and territorial leaders released a policy framework laying out the vision, principles and possible goals of a northern strategy. The announcement included, as I have indicated, $120 million in a trust fund for Canada's three aboriginal territories. This is a joint initiative with the Government of Canada. It includes seven pillars in improving the quality of life for northerners.

 

[…]

 

Mr. André Bellavance (Richmond—Arthabaska, BQ):

 

Mr. Speaker, the member talked a great deal about budgetary measures for aboriginals. I wished she had been with us this morning in the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources. The Auditor General, Sheila Fraser, was there to talk about her second report, of November 2004, on the education program and post-secondary student support.

    

Obviously, this reports identifies numerous flaws. In my opinion, the member should take off her rose-coloured glasses. This report shows that it will take another 28 years before young aboriginals can reach a level of education equivalent to that of the population of the rest of Canada. This is totally unacceptable.

    

I was reading the press release of the Assembly of First Nations, which condemns this federal budget. I do not know where she obtained her information that the budget contained good news for aboriginals. I want to hear her elaborate on this, since neither the Assembly of First Nations nor the Auditor General is saying this at all.

    

 

February 25, 2005

 

Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP):

 

Among aboriginal children, 40% are poor or living in poor families, and liable to end up homeless. […]  There is nothing in the budget to address aboriginal issues.

 

 

March 8, 2005

 

Mr. Bernard Cleary (Louis-Saint-Laurent, BQ):

 

Mr. Speaker, a number of first nations political leaders have denounced the recent budget, the first under the current Prime Minister. He has been promising the sun and moon ever since he became Prime Minister, promising to eliminate what he called the shameful conditions they face.

    

Unanimously, loud and clear, the political leaders of first nations and Inuit groups have said that the budget, even after all those round table meetings, amounts to very little.

    

In the budget speech, the finance minister went so far as to say that for too long and in too many ways, Canada’s aboriginal people have been last in terms of opportunity in this country.

    

Phil Fontaine, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, has pointed out that the Prime Minister's commitment to transformative change must be backed up by real investments by the government.

    

I will add that the first nations will never experience transformative change if they continue to manage their poverty and social stigma, and the government continues to impose its disrespect.

    

The royal commission on aboriginal peoples in Canada documented this state of affairs in its report, which was released in 1996. Jean Chrétien shot down the work of that commission. He sabotaged it on the cynical pretext that there was no money available, whereas, as we were to learn later, his Liberal cronies were engaged in the dishonourable act of pocketing public sponsorship funds. We will be finding out how this government was accumulating indecent surpluses, which were camouflaged in foundations well sheltered from Auditor General Sheila Fraser.

    

Where were the aboriginal Liberal MPs and senators? Were they also more interested in greasing the palms of certain members of the Liberal family than in supporting the royal commission in its recommendations for remedying the historical wrongs against the first peoples. Could it be that the party line imposed by Jean Chrétien was more seductive than their patriotic attachment to their aboriginal roots?

    

A year later, Jane Stewart, the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs of the day, in an unexpected gesture of reconciliation, spoke out against a large part of what had been done to the Indians. She made it clear that Canada was anything but proud of this and regretted its past behaviour. Jean Chrétien again attacked this statement by demoting the minister to another portfolio.

    

After that, the commitments made in “Gathering Strength”, which was meant as a response to the recommendations of the royal commission, ended up in the wastebasket.

    

The budget has proven that there are resources that could be allocated to measures to remedy what the Prime Minister has described as the shameful conditions our aboriginal people have to deal with.

    

The Minister of Finance is boasting of a situation that is the envy of all the other members of the G-7. He ought not to be so boastful, because he is concealing from them the fact that Canada has not lived up to the commitments it inherited from the historical treaties of colonial times. What is more, the Dominion has not kept its own promises in its various numbered treaties. Canada has deceived the first nations by helping itself to their ancestral lands and resources without properly compensating them. Then it put them in minuscule reserves. The minister has also not told the G-7 about Canada's refusal to fulfill its fiduciary role, by depriving these people of the funding they require to develop properly.

    

The national chief of the AFN has postponed any concrete measures to improve the deplorable conditions of the first nations. According to Phil Fontaine, they had “brought our best ideas and our best experts to these roundtable sessions and participated in good faith with the goal of making progress.” That progress was not forthcoming.

    

I must point out that I had a whole lot more to say. We will get back to this later on, since some people are having fun dragging out the debate by asking questions that are not always pertinent.

 

 

March 9, 2005

 

Mr. Brian Pallister (Portage—Lisgar, CPC):

 

Maybe we should lure people to come to the compassionate aboriginal tent where they can view the captive noble Indian. The Liberals care so much about aboriginal people. We can tell because they are spending $700 million more this year on new houses and $10 billion in total on aboriginal programs out of two dozen government departments. They must care. Here is the biggest shell game of all because every person in Canada knows the big lie: spending more equals better results. It never has and never will, except on budget day.

 

Here is the problem with throwing more money toward aboriginal houses. Aboriginal homes are a myth on almost all reserves in Canada. There are no aboriginal homes. There are only houses. Why? Because no one owns them. They will cost twice as much to build. They will last half as long. Why? Because no one owns them.

    

A few first nations communities have independently established their own programs for personal home ownership with exciting results. There is better maintenance, better security, better neighbourhoods, reduced crime, reduced vandalism. People do not vandalize their neighbour's house when they have responsibly managed their own. When people grow up with property rights, as most of us in the House have had the privilege of doing, they tend to understand certain things about managing property and they tend to develop respect for others.

    

Too many aboriginal young people have not had that right given to them. It needs to happen and aboriginal people in some reserves are taking the lead. If the Liberals really cared, why would they not have years ago encouraged the development of such uplifting programs across Canada? Because they want us to see how compassionate they are every year at budget time. That is made much more difficult when aboriginal communities are well governed and independent.

    

The definition of insanity is doing things the same way as in the past and expecting different results. This is an insane government. It asks Canadians to spend more on expensive canvas and paint every year but the expensive veneer of caring hides the reality of welfare and drug addicted Indian reserves, crime ravaged neighbourhoods, unaccountable bureaucracies and yes, unaccountable chiefs, and abused women with no rights.

 

[…]

 

Hon. Tony Ianno (Minister of State (Families and Caregivers), Lib.):

 

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak in support of the budget today, especially for me as Minister of State for Families and Caregivers, because this budget is designed to better the lives of Canadians.

 

[…]

 

There are aboriginal health programs addressing urgent needs, focusing on children, youth and their families. Over five years we will be investing over $700 million for aboriginal health, $345 million for aboriginal early learning and child care and other services, $340 million for aboriginal housing and $120 million for education on reserves. We continue to work toward meeting the housing needs of Canadians through investments and programs for our national housing initiatives, affordable housing, including RRAP programs, and other initiatives that are ongoing with money still unspent.

 

 

September 29, 2005

 

Mr. Jim Prentice (Calgary Centre-North, CPC):

 

Mr. Speaker, today the Auditor General reported that the government has spent $2 billion on aboriginal drinking water and it is still failing first nations people in this country. The government is proposing to spend another $2 billion in the next three years without any performance standards, without any regulatory framework, without providing accurate information to Parliament, zero accountability.

    

The government's record is one of 12 years of failure. Why are first nations citizens still waiting for clean drinking water and where did the $2 billion go?

    

Hon. Andy Scott (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, Lib.):

 

Mr. Speaker, I join with the Minister of Health and the Minister of the Environment in saying that the government accepts the report of the environment commissioner. We are acting on the recommendations now, in fact. We are working with first nations communities to put the regulations in place that are necessary to make sure that we deliver good water to first nations communities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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