Canada’s Parliamentarians: The Chrétien Era


© 2007 Brad Kempo B.A. LL.B.

Barrister & Solicitor


Parliament Hansard


January 18, 1994


Speech from the Throne


The Government will allocate additional funds for the support of post-secondary education for First Nations and will develop an Aboriginal head-start program.


January 20, 1994


Mr. John Maloney (Erie):


Madam Speaker, my first words in this House must be those of appreciation for the privilege and honour of representing the riding of Erie. I would like to thank its voters for their trust and confidence without which I would not be here. I am aware of my responsibility to my constituents and indeed to all citizens of this country and I hope I will be equal to this task. I will not forget where I came from or who put me there. I will advance their position from the highest government in the land. I cannot deliver perfection but I can deliver accessibility, honesty and integrity.




In the area of aboriginal affairs I welcome the announcement that the implementation of inherent aboriginal self-government will begin. Erie riding has a substantial urban aboriginal population and I look forward to learning how self-government will impact on this community.


As I sit in this Chamber among my colleagues I realize that despite political affiliation we also have the same goals of doing the best job possible for the constituency. Many great members have come and gone before us with similar ambitions. I salute all of those who have come to this place to represent Canadians. As we all know, it is not an easy task.


A great man once stood in this House and in his maiden address said: ``I suggest that the time has come for action. We have a tremendous opportunity-the people of Canada look to us; the people of Canada trust in us; the people of Canada are counting on us; in heaven's name, let us not fail them''. That man, a predecessor to the free spirits who now sit in this House, was Mr. Tommy Douglas. Mr. Douglas had a vision of a new Canada. I hope that within ourselves each of us also has a vision.


It is fitting to begin this Parliament at the start of a new year for this is the time when resolutions are made. In a recent letter received from Rural Dignity of Canada there was a quote from a 4-H publication. It reads: ``May the thoughts in our heads blend with the compassion in our hearts, to guide our hands as they safeguard the health of those things we care most for: our loved ones, our communities and our world, throughout the coming year''.


I encourage members to keep these thoughts in mind and in action in the months and years to come as we work for Canadians everywhere, as we work for a strong and united Canada. And when at some unknown future time we leave this Chamber for the final time we can proudly hold our heads high and each of us will be able to say: ``I made a difference''.




Mr. Jack Iyerak Anawak (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development):


Mr. Speaker, the hon. member just talked about having constituents from all walks of life and how changing just the faces will not work if we just change the faces and not the intent of the government.


The hon. member is well aware, because he looks this way, of the very different faces that are on the government side, whether it is my colleague or others. I think that members should be aware that changing the faces or the colours of the faces has very much changed the dynamics of how the government will be operating in the years to come.


The member said: “all walks of life''. I just want to ask the member whether he has any groups of aboriginal people in his riding and where his party stands on the issue of the inherent right of self-government because in the throne speech mention was made of the recognition of the inherent right of self-government for aboriginal people.


I just want to ask the hon. member this. I realize he may not be the person dealing with aboriginal issues but he may well know the policy of his own party.


Mr. Silye: Mr. Speaker, in response to the hon. member and going back to only changing the faces and not the system, I perhaps may not have explained myself very well. If all we do is change the faces and not the way we do business in this House, not the way we look at how we spend money, not the way we look at how we evaluate programs and not the way we decide what is in the best interests of Canadians then we will have accomplished nothing. Whether we have aboriginals, Hungarians or different colours, it does not matter. We must have systemic change in this House. That is what is important.


Canadian voters wanted change and expressed it by sending so many new people to this House. They have changed the people so it just follows logically that we have to change the system.


In response to the second part of his question with respect to aboriginal rights, my party and I are very much in favour of working with aboriginals towards self-government and for the fulfilment of their dreams.




Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley East):


Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.


The minister is quoted in yesterday's Toronto Sun as saying that the government will have plans for native self-government in place within six months.


Could the minister tell the members of the House and the people of Canada, indeed the aboriginal people themselves, precisely what is meant by self-government?


Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development):


Mr. Speaker, yesterday I announced a process of six months of discussions with the provinces, the territories and the regional and provincial governments to assist in the implementation of the inherent right of self-government which this government is committed to.


In answer to my hon. friend's question, it is a three-in-one formula: self-determination, self-sufficiency and self-government within one Canada. We intend to proceed with fairness and in the healing process in the end we will have a better country.


Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley East):


Mr. Speaker, we want a better country. Last night on the CBC newscast, the minister seemed unclear as to whether this declaration of his meant that the government was creating a third level of government, a third level that many people at the municipal and provincial levels and indeed aboriginal people themselves are very uneasy with.


After a night of reflection will the minister tell the Canadian people whether his declaration yesterday will indeed create a third level of government in Canada?


Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development):


Mr. Speaker, I was asked that question last night on CBC to which I responded that it was a tough question. It still is. We do not look at this as creating a third level of government. We look at this as developing what exists from the Two Row Wampum treaties of hundreds of years ago through the Constitution, the Guerin case and the Sparrow case to what we have today: the policy of this government that the inherent right of self-government exists. It is something we are committed to and something we intend to implement fairly and justly within four years.




Mr. Randy White (Fraser Valley West):


Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. Yesterday the Auditor General's report pointed out that the five year $1 billion Canadian aboriginal economic development program aimed at addressing the economic disparities between aboriginal people and other Canadians had at least three major flaws. It lacked leadership and accountability, it was void of overall implementation plans and it showed examples of poor co-ordination. The throne speech also indicated that more new programs would be introduced by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.


Will the minister assure this House that he will investigate previous program failures and take steps to correct them before spending yet more of Canadian taxpayers' money with the same results?


Hon. John Manley (Minister of Industry):


Mr. Speaker, the aboriginal economic development program falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Industry. I would like to advise the hon. member that we do tend to very carefully observe the application of funds from that program.


The member should know that an independent study by the consulting firm of Goss Gilroy indicated that the aboriginal economic development program was a very successful program. With the views of the Auditor General now known to us it of course gives us the opportunity to review his comments and see to it that these programs are effective.


Mr. Randy White (Fraser Valley West):


Mr. Speaker, I would like to go back to the question again. Will the minister assure the House that he will investigate previous program failures before implementing new programs that were announced in the throne speech?


Hon. John Manley (Minister of Industry):


Mr. Speaker, yes we will.



January 24, 1994


Hon. Audrey McLaughlin (Yukon):


I applaud the government saying that it would like a new relationship with aboriginal peoples. Such a partnership must be based not only on the right to inherent self-government but speedy settlement of land claims.  I urge the government to put into practice the rhetoric, the fine words that were said in the throne speech and bring forward as an early piece of legislation the Yukon land claims settlement and self-government legislation.


We face many challenges. We have the ability to make this the best country in the world in terms of equality and our economy.


I urge the government to remember that Canada is not just a great nation internally but that we have a great role internationally. We cannot forget the concept of common security. We cannot build our security on the insecurity of others. In fact, we must move forward to be a strong advocate in the international community as well as here at home.




Hon. Sheila Copps (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment):


The Prime Minister intends to personally chair the new national forum on health.  We believe a strong national health care system is essential for the dignity of our country and for the dignity of every individual Canadian.




I am very pleased that the member raised the issue of poverty, especially among aboriginal people, because the government has already announced, in the speech from the throne, its intention to be directly involved in a program called Head Start. This school program was first conceived by the Americans in the sixties and was targeted to the poor of a certain age group. It is our intention to implement this program which will serve as a model for aboriginal people. In fact, my colleague, the Minister of Health, is presently monitoring the development of that program.




Mr. Ronald J. Duhamel (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Public Works and Government Services):


As I indicated initially, this is a government of action. This is a government that said during the election campaign that it would do things and this is a government that has reiterated a number of those particular points in the Speech from the Throne.




Hon. David Dingwall (Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency):


Canadians want a government that shares their concerns, a government that respects their views and their dollars, and a government that helps them to fulfil their dreams.


In the speech from the throne the government did not promise miracles. We cannot solve all the problems overnight, but we can and we must take steps to foster new economic growth. We can and we must take steps to ensure integrity and openness in our actions. We can and we must move to solve problems with creativity and co-operation. We can and must treat individuals all across this country, regardless of their differing political philosophies, with dignity and with respect.




Equally distressing are the conditions of poverty in which so many aboriginal children live. Is it any wonder that children fall asleep at school when they do not get one decent meal a day let alone three, when they live in rooms without heating, when they do not have proper winter clothing? I hope all members of Parliament, regardless of political ideology, will support the implementation of an aboriginal head start program so that we can end this national disgrace.


We cannot expect people to make a meaningful contribution to our society if we do not create the conditions that allow them to make that contribution. Surely it is the responsibility of Parliament to show forceful leadership in creating those conditions.


I cannot help but reflect upon some words spoken by the new Speaker of this House in 1981 when he said: ``I want Canada to excel in spheres in which we are particularly gifted. I want us to produce goods better than anyone else. I want us to celebrate the forms of artistic expression that best reflect our soul. I want us to pioneer to branches of knowledge and to develop an even more humane social system''.


It is wrong that one million children use food banks in Canada. That is why the Government of Canada will announce an action plan for major reform of the social security system in this country. It is wrong that senior citizens are afraid to walk down the street. That is why my government will bring in measures for community safety and crime prevention.


It is wrong that large numbers of women and children are battered and abused. That is why my government will introduce measures to combat that high level of violence. It is wrong that law-abiding citizens are victimized just because they look different, sound different or act different. That is why my government led by the right hon. Prime Minister will act to fight racism in hate crimes across this country.


The notion that every Canadian is entitled to certain basic standards of life is central to our identity as a nation. I am proud to live in a country where we take it for granted that we actually care about one another. I am proud to live in a country where universal health care is regarded as a right and not as some sort of specialized service for the wealthy of this country.



January 27, 1994


Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada):


Another important element of our approach to equality before the law in a diverse Canada is the search for better ways of ensuring that the justice needs of aboriginal peoples are recognized and acted upon. Canadians generally tell us that our system of justice, despite its strengths, could work better. They are right.


Aboriginal people, among others, say the law has become a system more about process than about justice and to some extent they are right. In many aboriginal communities there is now a remarkable will to actually try to do something about this challenge. It is a will to carve out new relationships with the justice system. The process of change will be gradual and difficult but we have an obligation to aggressively pursue this opportunity for change. We shall work closely in these efforts with our provincial and territorial colleagues and with the aboriginal leadership, with the communities and with aboriginal individuals, who are prepared to improve the administration of justice.




Mr. John Duncan (North Island-Powell River):


The primary focus of my speech today is aboriginal affairs. As the Reform Party spokesman for aboriginal affairs, I want to discuss the current direction of federal policy in respect to Canada's indigenous peoples with a B.C. perspective.


British Columbia is in a unique situation. We have 15 existing treaties including 14 on southern Vancouver Island and one in northeast B.C. We have a predominantly non-treaty aboriginal situation and a very significant portion of the nation's aboriginal population.


In general there is a spirit of good will between the aboriginal and non-aboriginal populations. We all want aboriginal people to enjoy a standard of living and quality of life and opportunity equal to other Canadians. There is consensus that a self-government model is essential to create a climate of certainty for investors and to bring together the population at large.


The federal government has a paramount mandate and responsibility in the area of aboriginal affairs. It is essential that government direction and policy unify rather than divide the population.


The government has pledged to wind down the department of Indian affairs at a pace agreed on by First Nations. There is a consensus that a wind down is called for, replacing the current outmoded and outdated department with a system of accountability provided by self-government. Federally chartered municipal status on reserves such as the Sechelt arrangement is a good way to go, giving the bands autonomy to run their affairs.


I believe it is time for some new points of view. Some recent federal initiatives have been divisive, not uniting and I would like to offer a new perspective.


The aboriginal fishing strategy of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is one area that needs overhauling. The commercial fishing industry in B.C. until 1992 was a colour blind industry with 25 per cent aboriginal participation. There is a longstanding aboriginal food fishery which remains unaffected.


The federal AFS policy implemented two years ago has created a separate aboriginal commercial fishery based on race. This is a two-year pilot project with agreements under the AFS umbrella expiring March 31, 1994. Implementation of these agreements has been very divisive within the industry and socially. Also it has not been conducive to conservation management. In 1993 several B.C. Court of Appeal decisions served to reject the necessity of a separate aboriginal commercial fishery. The promised DFO review of the AFS this spring must be carried out with transparency and sensitivity to the conflicts that the agreements have created.


We recommend avoidance of this conflict and new direction for our important fishery by orienting the AFS to the recreational fishery and to fisheries enhancement. No new commercial fishing agreements should be negotiated under the AFS umbrella.


There has been a great deal of recent discussion about the terminology “inherent right to self-government''. According to my understanding the term “inherent'' can mean that federal and provincial legislation would not apply to aboriginal people without their agreement. I also understand that it could be the basis for claims to international sovereignty which would signal aboriginal government immunity from all federal and provincial laws. This is unacceptable to most Canadians.


We believe that aboriginal self-government means a mix of federal, provincial and aboriginal laws to be worked out through negotiations. Regardless of the framework, it must work within the structure of Canadian society as a whole.


British Columbia residents want to resolve the issue of unsettled land claims so that the investment climate is improved and so that individuals, business, government and aboriginal groups can go forward with certainty. The recently formed B.C. Treaty Commission which is federal, provincial and First Nations is up and running, having already received 38 proposals from bands in British Columbia. The commission will be a positive influence on negotiations but there are major shortcomings. To overcome these shortcomings I have recommendations related to interim measures, third party interests and transparency.


Recent resource related interim measures negotiated between the province and aboriginal groups are eroding federal aboriginal jurisdiction and the urgency of the negotiating process. It is in the federal government's interest to question the mandate of the province's negotiation of these agreements without federal participation.


Third party interests are not at the negotiating table. Philosophical objection to having them at the table is unfounded as they also want to remove the current impasse. They will expedite rather than delay the process. The whole question of government mandate would be much more clear if third parties were represented.


The population at large is increasingly suspicious of the entire negotiating process. This initiative of involving them is a bold step for the current players but it is an essential step in order to build consensus.


Philosophically I question and a body of legal opinion suggests that because of the fiduciary relationship, our federal and provincial governments are in a conflict of interest in negotiations with the First Nations unless third parties are at the table. Litigation is the likely result.

In conclusion, I call for new directions regarding aboriginal affairs. British Columbians want to end the climate of uncertainty, secrecy and divisiveness. This requires adoption of the measures I have outlined.



January 28, 1994


Hon. Diane Marleau (Minister of Health):


Healthy children are also very much at the heart of a program we proposed for aboriginal families living off reserve in urban centres and in large northern communities. The aboriginal head start program would provide enriched programs for young children and include such important elements as nutritional counselling, physical activity and child care.


However, it also involves parents as both leaders and learners. The program would be designed and managed by aboriginal people at the community level and would be sensitive to both cultural and linguistic realities. We anticipate committing $10 million to this program in its first year, to be expanded to a total of $40 million in its fourth year of operation.


Successful head start programs can help reduce some of the effects of poverty by stimulating a desire for learning, by entrenching a positive self image and by providing for social, emotional and physical needs of these at risk children.


If successful-and I am very positive it will be-this program could be extended to other Canadian children in need.


Children are the future of our country and their well-being is everyone's responsibility. Healthy, confident children can develop and grow to their potential and all of us benefit.




Hon. Sheila Finestone (Secretary of State (Multiculturalism) (Status of Women)):


Another area that deserves our attention is the situation of aboriginal peoples. We know they face discrimination. The needs of the aboriginal women have long been neglected and the lives of the younger generation will not improve without proper access to education.


The aboriginal head start program and post-secondary education assistance for these students will be the foundation of the future independence and economic well-being of the aboriginal communities.


Finally, we will work to reinforce social justice and equality, two of the core values that underlie Canadian society. In a country founded on democratic principles, there cannot be degrees of citizenship or special status for some and not for others.


At a time when we have to compete with nations around the world, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that our collective prosperity depends on our capacity to discover and use the skills, creativity and expertise of all Canadians. Our diversity, both social and cultural, is not a stumbling block. It is a building block for our nation.


New measures will be taken to combat racial discrimination and prejudice. The Canadian Human Rights Act will be amended and the Canadian race relations foundation act will be proclaimed. The new race relations foundation will bring Canadians together to foster a sense of shared identity and purpose. It promises to be the focal point for the promotion of social equality and mutual respect.


I am particularly pleased that the court challenges program and the law reform commission are being reinstated. The restoration of these two programs are the legal mechanisms for making our justice system work and accessible to all Canadians.




We must follow the lead of our Prime Minister and act with courage, determination and perseverance to ensure that the major changes we have put forward to improve the quality of life of all Canadians can be achieved in a spirit of harmony and goodwill.


Finally, I urge my colleagues of all parties to join with me and the government to ensure that together we can implement this substantial plan of action. Fighting against discrimination, promoting social justice and equality of opportunity is not a partisan goal for any of us in this House. It has to be and is a basic and essential principle for anyone who has been granted the confidence and the trust of the people who now sit in this House to make it a reality.


Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley East):


Mr. Speaker, I really enjoyed that speech. There were parts that I thought were particularly good. The admonitions to all of us in the House to fight inequality and discrimination are well taken and I think she will find widespread support on all sides of the House for those kinds of sentiments.




Mrs. Beryl Gaffney (Nepean):


This government will address the staggering problem of poverty among aboriginal children through our specific head start program. This is something I am very excited about. It is something that has been absent forever and it is something that should cause us all to hang our heads in shame, that we have allowed this to go on as long as it has.



Mr. Russell MacLellan (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada):


We cannot walk away from the aboriginal people who are looking to this government and to this House of Commons to meet their needs. They have been asking for solutions for many years. We cannot abandon the people of Davis Inlet. We cannot abandon the people of northern Ontario who live in substandard housing.


The aboriginal people are a vital part of this country and we must work together to make sure that their living conditions and their future is something they can look forward to as we hope we will be looking forward to ours.



January 31, 1994


Mr. David Chatters (Athabasca):


Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House this morning to discuss the sustainability of our nation's social programs and how this discussion will relate to Canada's aboriginal peoples since this particular segment of society in my constituency is one of the most vulnerable to the social program changes.


I would like to congratulate the minister on his presentation in the House this morning. Certainly he can count on support from the Reform Party for the goals he set out for us this morning. They are certainly goals we can all agree with. We look forward to seeing some substance added to the goals in upcoming months.


The minister spoke of fear of change on the part of members of the House. I assure him that members of our party do not fear change. In fact we stand for real, basic change in the way government operates and the services it provides. We can support him in some real change.


I only hope the government is prepared to act on the root cause of why Canada's social programs are on the brink of collapse. Members opposite say that we do not have a spending problem in the country, that we have a revenue problem. Since arriving in Ottawa I have heard much debate in the pre-budget consultations about broadening the tax base. By my calculations and from the admissions of members opposite this broadening of the tax base can perhaps add, at most, $5 billion a year to the revenue of the federal government which has a $40 billion plus deficit and 60 per cent of government spending, excluding interest costs, going toward the cost of social programs either in direct payments to people or transfers to provinces. It is very clear that we must examine our social program spending in a real and basic way.




Hon. Ethel Blondin-Andrew (Secretary of State (Training and Youth)):


Aboriginal people, as was indicated by my hon. colleague from Athabasca, have among other things the highest illiteracy rate and the lowest incomes of any other group. What does that spell for these young people? Only 3 per cent of aboriginal youth complete grade 12. In a nine-year period 154 students graduated from grade 12 in the Baffin region.


Where will the future leaders of the north come from if not from their own schools, their own communities, their own families with the proper support systems?


Society in a sense is paralysed, is immobilized by a myriad of problems that challenge us as legislators. We sit in the highest court in the land and we are charged with the responsibilities of making laws that will subsequently make life better for those who have the greatest need.


A chaotic family life is scarred by high drop-out rates, teenage pregnancy, physical and sexual abuse, solvent, drug and alcohol abuse, increased incidents of juvenile delinquency and suicide. In the north the suicide rate for youth between the ages of 15 and 24 is more than five times the Canadian average. I was told in Big Cove suicides are one a month. Can you imagine? One a month.


While the problems are magnified in the north, it is happening in southern cities too. The native population has grown an average of 41 per cent in Canada's 25 largest cities between 1986 and 1991. Although more and more are staying in school and graduating into jobs, the outlook is bleak for the majority.


Aside from high levels of unemployment, suicide and substance abuse, many face plain and simple discrimination, even if they try to get a job. Graduates from the Gabriel Dumont Institute who appeared before the aboriginal commission have spoken about the problems of finding employment, largely as a result of systemic racism and stereotyping of Métis people.


Some young people are quite able to guide themselves through the pitfalls because of the support of family, friends and strong self-esteem. What about those young people who need more help, who do not have that hand outstretched to them? What about the neediest of the needy?


In the past, all too often we have sent them to the unemployment line or the welfare line and left them there and tried to forget. Our social security system has become a net that entraps rather than liberates them for greater opportunities. We never foresaw such a multitude of social problems affecting the ability of our young people to make a successful move from school to work. The result is that young people are more dependent on social assistance.


The Province of Newfoundland has found that UI dependence is beginning at a very early age. One out of two 19-year-olds is on unemployment insurance at some time during the year. The cycle of dependency must end. As Geraldine Kenney-Wallace, the President of McMaster University has said, "in order to compete globally we must raise the literacy and numeracy skills in general".


We have to do more. We have to do it better. We all have something to contribute toward finding solutions. Our government is prepared to make a commitment to the young people of Canada. The Ministry of Health is working on an innovative program and many others, such as the aboriginal head-start program. Skills and nutrition and parenting are taught so that the children will begin their lives in an improved atmosphere. This is pro-active; this is progressive. This is something where, before we create the problems, we will have created an atmosphere that will avoid them, an atmosphere where parents have self-esteem that they can pass on to their children.


Our government will take the renewed sense of worth of these children and ensure that programs are instituted to keep these children in school.


The Canada Youth Service Corps will help unemployed youth to discover a fresh approach to learning and building self-esteem. The youth service corps will provide young people with skills to enable them to begin their career path.


Not only that, we also have the national youth apprenticeship program that will garner a lot more attention in months to come.


This again will help young Canadians to develop the skills needed in the growing economic sectors, with business and labour setting the standards.


These programs, along with others, will provide youth with opportunities to compete and better themselves.


I would like to conclude by saying that in the aboriginal society that I come from there are three philosophies that are specific to the success of how people help one another. One, is fundamental change. There is a word called guli gogho agudegha, because we need real change in a big way, fundamental change. It cannot happen without that.


The other thing is working together. Dene tuluh keh egalats edegha: we are going to work on our future path together. It is only by that we can succeed. This is the path that we all come out together and work on. It is our future path.


The third is our destiny, dene galé. We all have one, whether we are aboriginal or non-aboriginal.


I say to my colleagues, that our destiny is brought to us through our hands, through our hearts, through our minds, and we cannot do it alone. This thing we call dene tuluh, our future road, our path, is one that is done together; it is one that comes together. Through each individual effort we will make something for the people of our country.




Mr. Chris Axworthy (Saskatoon-Clark's Crossing):


Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member, for whom I hold considerable respect, for her speech. She pointed out the plight of the young, the unemployed and the aboriginal peoples in particular. I note that she talked about the need for fundamental change, the need to take risks. She pointed out that leaving things in the status quo simply will not do. I could not agree more.


She also talked about the long-term goal of making the economy more productive. She surely would agree, though, that appointing Gordon Thiessen to the Bank of Canada, following on the principles of John Crow, with a mad obsession with inflation, signing on to NAFTA, increases to UI premiums and reductions to the UI training fund, let alone proposed suggestions for cuts to cigarette taxes, can only harm the youth, can only harm their employment opportunities and their health opportunities.


I wonder how she fits those policy directions, which are clearly not fundamental change in any meaningful, good direction, with her suggestions that we do indeed need fundamental change.




Mr. David Chatters (Athabasca):


Let me give some staggering statistics on natives in Canada and why the sustainability of these social programs is so important to our native communities. The native population today is experiencing a baby boom similar to what Canada experienced in the 1950s. Because of this baby boom natives rely more on Canada's social programs to build houses and schools, to provide health care services and to raise their standard of living above helpless poverty. If the government does not take control and reduce the debt, how can we continue to provide these basic services to the native communities that depend so heavily on these programs as well as other Canadians?


Also, 60 per cent of our natives live in remote rural areas of Canada. It is obvious that because of their location the delivery of social programs becomes very difficult and expensive to provide. Forty per cent of the total status Indian population receives social assistance. Approximately half the adult male population is unemployed, although on some reserves these rates can increase to as much as three-quarters or four-fifths of the able bodied population.


Additional problems face Canada's native communities including the tragedy of alcoholism, gasoline sniffing, suicide and many other problems. Davis Inlet is but one example of what these horrible inflictions can do to a community. How will government be able to help these communities by funding addiction clinics, counsellors and doctors if the debt continues to increase and eat up available funds? If the debt continues to increase we will not be able to sustain the programs we have today, let alone fund new ones.


Federal spending on Indian and Inuit programs has doubled since 1982-1983 and is the fastest growing area of federal spending. Under legislation federal program spending is capped at 3 per cent annually by the Spending Control Act, but for some reason native programs are exempted and far exceed this rate. Total federal spending on Indian and Inuit programs now exceeds $7 billion in non-taxable dollars or $60,000 per family of four. With this level of funding why do we have problems like those in Davis Inlet?


When I review the Auditor General's reports of the last 20 years I notice that every time he examined part of Indian affairs programs concerns were raised about accountability for money spent. He continually questioned whether funds were used for the purposes intended or managed with due regard for economy, efficiency and effectiveness.


Not only must we reduce the debt to be able to sustain Canada's social programs, we must seek ways to lower the cost of providing social programs to natives. Abusers of the system must always be exposed and dealt with in an expeditious manner.


I believe the administration and management of some of these social programs can be much more efficiently and effectively delivered to the native community by natives themselves which in fact appears to be the direction the government is going.


By providing a system of block funding and allowing natives to decide for themselves what their priorities will be, we could cut a lot of red tape and inefficiency out of the system which natives themselves claim is contained in the department. The only qualification I must add to this proposal is that native bands must meet rigid standards of accountability for tax dollars received which is exactly what the Auditor General has been demanding for the past 20 years.


We must end the waste and squandering of dollars that is going on today. The natives must set their own priorities. Are water and sewers a higher priority than Ovide Mercredi travelling to Mexico to assess the aboriginal uprising or other natives travelling to England to protest in front of Buckingham Palace, as well as native leaders taking trips to Geneva, South America, South Africa? The list goes on and on.


Safeguards must be put in place to monitor more closely the funding of projects in aboriginal communities, to end the provision of substandard housing and other infrastructure projects which could possibly pose health hazards and safety risks to the people occupying them in these communities and provide better accountability for the tax dollars spent.


Another recommendation I would like to make is to provide incentives for native students to be educated in fields which are needed back on the reserves, examples being medicine, business management, nursing and so on. By encouraging this type of training the government can save thousands of dollars in transportation costs to give native people access to the programs because they could receive them in their own communities.




Indeed, Canadians all over the world reacted with horror at the sight of children sniffing gasoline in Davis Inlet. I know hon. members on the other side have made statements about their horror and shock at seeing this on television. What happened at Davis Inlet, Labrador is the worst symptom of all that is wrong when we abandon our young people. What hope do the children of Davis Inlet have for a better future if we do nothing for that fear, if we take no risk, if we maintain the status quo? What are we doing? Ultimately we are betraying the hopes of those people for a better future.




Aboriginal people, as was indicated by my hon. colleague from Athabasca, have among other things the highest illiteracy rate and the lowest incomes of any other group. What does that spell for these young people? Only 3 per cent of aboriginal youth complete grade 12. In a nine-year period 154 students graduated from grade 12 in the Baffin region.


Where will the future leaders of the north come from if not from their own schools, their own communities, their own families with the proper support systems?


Society in a sense is paralysed, is immobilized by a myriad of problems that challenge us as legislators. We sit in the highest court in the land and we are charged with the responsibilities of making laws that will subsequently make life better for those who have the greatest need.




While the problems are magnified in the north, it is happening in southern cities too. The native population has grown an average of 41 per cent in Canada's 25 largest cities between 1986 and 1991. Although more and more are staying in school and graduating into jobs, the outlook is bleak for the majority.


Aside from high levels of unemployment, suicide and substance abuse, many face plain and simple discrimination, even if they try to get a job. Graduates from the Gabriel Dumont Institute who appeared before the aboriginal commission have spoken about the problems of finding employment, largely as a result of systemic racism and stereotyping of Métis people.




We have to do more. We have to do it better. We all have something to contribute toward finding solutions. Our government is prepared to make a commitment to the young people of Canada. The Ministry of Health is working on an innovative program and many others, such as the aboriginal head-start program. Skills and nutrition and parenting are taught so that the children will begin their lives in an improved atmosphere. This is pro-active; this is progressive. This is something where, before we create the problems, we will have created an atmosphere that will avoid them, an atmosphere where parents have self-esteem that they can pass on to their children.


Our government will take the renewed sense of worth of these children and ensure that programs are instituted to keep these children in school.




I would like to conclude by saying that in the aboriginal society that I come from there are three philosophies that are specific to the success of how people help one another. One, is fundamental change. There is a word called guli gogho agudegha, because we need real change in a big way, fundamental change. It cannot happen without that.


The other thing is working together. Dene tuluh keh egalats edegha: we are going to work on our future path together. It is only by that we can succeed. This is the path that we all come out together and work on. It is our future path.


The third is our destiny, dene galé. We all have one, whether we are aboriginal or non-aboriginal.


I say to my colleagues, that our destiny is brought to us through our hands, through our hearts, through our minds, and we cannot do it alone. This thing we call dene tuluh, our future road, our path, is one that is done together; it is one that comes together. Through each individual effort we will make something for the people of our country.



February 1, 1994


Mr. René Laurin (Joliette):


Another example concerns the Canadian Aboriginal Economic Development Strategy. This strategy would invest $1 billion over a period of five years. Three departments were responsible for implementation of the strategy: Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Industry, Science and Technology and Employment and Immigration. The purpose of this strategy was to address disparities between aboriginal peoples and other Canadians, and its objective was to help aboriginal peoples achieve economic self-reliance.


Between 1989 and 1993, $900 million was spent under the strategy. The Auditor General deplored the lack of harmonization between the departments, which were supposed to co-ordinate their activities and put in place an evaluation framework. Because of this lack of leadership, the framework was not put in place until 1993, four years after the strategy came into effect.


There are also very few ways to evaluate the effectiveness of this strategy. In fact, $900 million is being spent without any assurance that these expenditures are justified.


In 1992, for instance, the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development spent $20 million on 73 economic development organizations in communities considered to be fully developed. On the other hand, it spent $33 million on 296 organizations in less developed communities. No wonder the Auditor General has asked for measures to monitor and evaluate these programs.



February 2, 1994


Mr. Stan Keyes (Hamilton West):


The government is committed to the youth of Canada and must certainly reflect that in the next budget through initiatives such as the youth service corps, job training, the national literacy program and increased funding for aboriginal post-secondary education. The government will substantiate its commitment not only to generation x but to future generations as well.




Mr. Len Taylor (The Battlefords-Meadow Lake):


Mr. Speaker, the federal government announcement yesterday to spend $2.8 million in an effort to eliminate tuberculosis from aboriginal communities by the year 2010 is commendable. The incidence of infectious TB in native communities is alarming and a serious problem that has to be addressed. However, while diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis are important, attacking the root causes is perhaps more important.


The real problems in aboriginal communities of poor housing, water and sewage treatment, problems that contribute to the growing incidence of TB, are still largely ignored by this government.


In recognizing the seriousness of the health related concerns of aboriginal people, I ask the government to take the next important step and implement some of the many recommendations of the 1992 aboriginal affairs committee report on housing appropriately entitled ``A Time for Action''. Indeed it is time to act.



February 10, 1994


Mr. Randy White (Fraser Valley West):


Mr. Speaker, the committee that is being suggested certainly falls under the terms of reference of the public accounts committee. I too do not see the need for an additional committee in the House for that reason.


The hon. member has suggested some improvements which have already been made with the Auditor General's report. However no mention was made under the aboriginal economic development strategy. I would like his comments on this point.


The throne speech addressed three major programs with the aboriginal affairs department that would be undertaken. I noted in chapter 11 of the Auditor General's report there were significant observations made on previous programs by the previous government. I would not like the hon. member to respond by saying it was the previous government's fault. It is actually the administrative problems within those programs which are of concern to me.


I want to make one reference. For instance, the administration and the government could not demonstrate that after spending at least $900 million from the beginning of its implementation in 1989 to early 1993 the strategy's objectives were being met.


The essence of the Auditor General's report on aboriginal programs, in particular the aboriginal economic development strategy, is that a lot of money is put into these programs but we really do not know what the outcomes of these programs are. They are poorly coordinated. In fact many Canadians think we are throwing out too much money without outcomes.


What is this government going to do when it introduces these new programs as announced in the throne speech? How are we going to have outcomes to these programs unlike the problem the Auditor General came up with in a previous report?


Mr. Eggleton:


Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question. It does relate to something of considerable importance to me and the government. That is to understand what the outcomes are of our programs and what we have gained for the taxpayers' dollar that has been spent and what the results are.


Internal audit and evaluation processes become a very key part of trying to determine that. A greater emphasis has to be placed on that than has been done in the past. That is certainly the case on the infrastructure program for which I have some immediate responsibility for implementing. That is one of the areas where I have made it quite clear we have to be able to get a handle on it so we will understand what those outcomes are. I think my colleagues share that.


Whether it is in native affairs, native economic development strategies or whatever other area, we will attempt to apply that general principle of getting an understanding of the outcomes and providing the appropriate internal audit and evaluation processes to do that.




Mr. André Caron (Jonquière):


While taxpayers want the federal government to cut spending, they are opposed to hasty, systematic, arbitrary cuts that may have disastrous consequences, especially for the poorest in our society.


As an illustration, see what the auditor concluded after examining the Canadian aboriginal economic development strategy program, for which the government has spent not less than $900 million since 1989. I am interested in this program because I am a member of the Standing Committee on Indian Affairs and Northern Development.


This program was run by three departments: Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Employment and Immigration, and Industry, Science and Technology. The overall purpose of the program was to reduce economic disparities between native people and other Canadians and Quebecers, a laudable goal which no one can criticize. The aim was to help native communities become economically self-sufficient. If you know the social and economic situation of native people, you will agree that it is urgent. We must act so that there are no more Davis Inlets in Canada.


Was this highly laudable goal reached? No one can say, according to the Auditor General. The three departments could not show that the funding methods used and the amounts allocated were appropriate. The departments concerned could not prove that they met the goals of the strategy.


In short, after spending $900 million, Parliament does not know if the employment rate and income have increased among native people, if a reasonable number of new businesses were started, if the native people are less dependent on welfare. Nor does Parliament know if native communities are better able to manage their affairs. In other words, we spent $900 million and we have to say, ``Let us hope that it was effective''. But in practice we cannot say that it was.


Let us be clear on this. The program may have been a great success, but Parliament, Canadians and Quebecers have no idea that it was. Should we eliminate programs of this kind in the native community? We do not know; we are not in a position to make a decision. Or, on the contrary, should we increase the amounts allocated to reach the goal of economic equality among native people, Canadians and Quebecers? No one knows.


Much more important, were the native people sufficiently involved in the process? No one knows because in the days when Parliament could be satisfied just to send money to the reserves and say that we did what we had to do are long gone. The government announced that native self-government would take effect in the coming months. Thus, we must ensure that the people who will have self-government can look after themselves, by giving them training, experience and programs to help them prepare for it.


A special committee like the one we propose could help Parliament answer all the questions for which I just said we had no answer.


Parliament must be informed, it is only just. Just for the taxpayers whom we represent, and just for the program recipients whom we also represent.


The people for whom these programs were designed do not have to suffer the shame of being accused of illegally receiving the taxpayers' money. We often blame the recipient, the welfare recipient, the unemployed, the health care consumer for abusing the system.


As usual, someone is being made the scapegoat. We see the horrifying practice whereby victims even start feeling guilty. Blaming recipients for spending public funds is easy, whereas the onus is in fact on Parliament and managers to act so that the taxpayers' money is spent wisely.


Those who were in charge of ensuring that public funds were well spent in Canada did not do their job. The result of their carelessness is a catastrophic public debt and stronger biases against government program recipients, for example, health care consumers and welfare recipients and unemployed Canadians.


In closing, I would like to say that, to continue performing their duty, taxpayers must be sure that their money is well spent. They must be convinced that public funds are not being wasted, that cuts will be made where they should be. A committee such as the one proposed must be able to do the proper analysis, thereby allowing Parliament to implement the necessary budget measures, to put the public finances in order and to restore the confidence of Canadians in their representatives.



February 11, 1994


Mr. John Williams (St. Albert) moved:


Canadian aboriginal development program strategy; $900 million spent by three departments over five years. The Auditor General said that after we had spent $900 million, three departments could not demonstrate that the program was meeting its objectives. We spent $900 million, almost $1 billion, and we are not even sure that we have accomplished what we set out to do.


That is the type of thing that the Auditor General should and does bring to our attention. That is the type of thing that the public accounts committee would want to know from the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. How on earth can we spend $1 billion without knowing which road we are even trying to go down?


I hope in future years that various ministers will be able to come back to us and point out that corrective measures have been taken and that from now on Canadian taxpayers will be getting real value for their money, that programs that are approved are working before we spend $900 million.




Mr. David Chatters (Athabasca):


Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to discuss the Auditor General's report, specifically chapter 11 of the report because of my responsibilities within my caucus and within the House of Commons. I will be speaking on chapter 11 which deals with the Canadian aboriginal economic development strategy, but more generally with the Auditor General's report dealing with the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development its and programs.


If one is to examine past reports of the Auditor General dealing with northern affairs and aboriginal affairs, going back some 20 years beyond the last government to include the Liberal government before that, the same criticisms come up repeatedly.


These criticisms are that the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development cannot assure the people of Canada that the examined program have a clear implementation strategy that is followed in the disbursement of funds or that funds dispersed actually go to the programs intended, that desired results of the programs are achieved and that Canadian tax dollars are spent with due regard for economy, efficiency and effectiveness.


Many of these criticisms are to arise from a confusion in the mandate of the department, it would appear. The dilemma appears to be one of reconciling accountability to Parliament with the transfer of responsibilities of managing funding to aboriginal programs to aboriginal bands through a number of funding arrangements.


As far back as 1986 the Auditor General expressed concern whether the department was accountable for ensuring social and economic gains to aboriginal people or was simply responsible for ensuring the equitable distribution of financial support as native groups pursued their own objectives.


This confusion is still evident today in the implementation of the Canadian aboriginal economic development strategy. This one program was initiated by the Government of Canada in 1989 to address the economic disparities between aboriginal peoples and other Canadians. The overall objective of the strategy is to help the aboriginal peoples to attain economic self-reliance.


The strategy from 1989 to 1993 spent at least $900 million of an appropriated budget of $1 billion. According to the Auditor General the three departments responsible for implementing the program are unable to demonstrate that they are meeting the strategy's objectives.


The auditors were unable to find any coordinated implementation strategy and instances were observed in which funds were disbursed for projects before the required business plan documentation was received. There was consistently no evaluation of the projects to see if objectives were being met.


The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development disbursed funding on a per capita basis regardless of the level of economic development within the bands, again demonstrating the conflict between the department's accountability and the devolution of responsibility to Indian bands.


The department could also not demonstrate any follow up assessment of the success of the projects funded with taxpayers' dollars. Upon examination of the projects by the Auditor General the projects examined had a success rate of 50 per cent or less in meeting their objectives and one has to ask if this is good value for the dollars invested.


With this particular program as with many other programs administered by the Department of Indian Affairs, if the Canadian taxpayers are to continue to fund it a number of very important questions need to be clearly answered.


These questions could regard the actual benefit that has resulted from these policy initiatives and whether these activities achieved value for money. Did these policy initiatives take into account aboriginal priorities or could these funds have been used differently to generate greater benefit per dollar spent? Is there a more cost effective way to achieve the same results? What is the definition or criteria to judge when a program is a success or failure?


It is clear we need a thorough review of the mandate and the responsibilities of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. This is particularly pertinent in view of the commitment by the Liberal government in its red book to implement native self-government beginning within six months despite the fact that Canadians and most aboriginal people do not agree specifically with what that term means.


I support, as does my party, the move toward aboriginal control of aboriginal affairs and the eventual dismantling of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. However, I will not accept that Canadian taxpayers, through a misappropriate sense of guilt, continue to throw huge amounts of money into aboriginal programs without accountability or assessment of the success of these programs.


While aboriginal leaders need only be responsible to aboriginal people for moneys and programs received through economic development established within the bands, these aboriginal leaders or the department or both must be totally accountable for every taxpayer dollar spent, particularly in this time of scarce resources and enormous deficits and debt.


Neither my grandfather nor my father nor I am responsible for the atrocities endured by the aboriginal peoples perpetrated by the governments and churches of England or the governments of Sir John A. Macdonald and Mackenzie King. I believe that present day Canadians and their governments are demonstrating a real willingness to address the problems within the aboriginal community and will continue to do so.


However, at a time when working Canadians are giving well over half their income earnings to governments in taxes while at the same time the very fabric of our social safety net programs are being threatened by high cost and enormous debt, we have every right to demand full accountability and value for every dollar governments spend.




Hon. John Manley (Minister of Industry):


Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to say I welcome this opportunity to respond to several of the concerns that have been raised in today's opposition day motion, particularly with respect to the aboriginal economic development program.


Although the motion refers this question to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development the aboriginal economic development program is administered by Industry Canada, formerly Industry, Science and Technology Canada.


In his report to the House of Commons, the Auditor General's comments on the aboriginal economic development strategy served to focus attention on this issue at a time when there is renewed interest by aboriginal Canadians in their tradition of commerce and there is increasing recognition by the non-aboriginal private sector in doing business with First Nations.


As Minister of Industry, I am responsible for a large number of programs and services designed to increase Canadian businesses' competitiveness. And the businesses managed by aboriginal people play a strategic role in this effort. In fact, these businesses will have an increasingly more important role in our economy, which is about to enter a new millennium.


The government's aboriginal business programs are quite deliberately located in the industry department which is able to offer programs to all aboriginal Canadians, including status and non-status Indians, Métis and Inuit peoples.


This role continues a tradition going back over 20 years as the department and its predecessors help to build a critical mass of aboriginal business owners and managers.


Moreover, with its specialists in business issues and intelligence, Industry Canada is best positioned to serve the business needs of aboriginal clients, the role it plays in the Canadian aboriginal economic development strategy.


In carrying out my duties, I can count on the precious advice and dedication of the native economic development boards in the private sectors, which have played a major role in the evolution of the government's business development programs over the years. The boards, which are mainly made up of aboriginal businesses and chiefs of communities from all over the country, develop policies and make recommendations to Industry Canada on initiatives which deserve support.


We are partnered in the Canadian aboriginal economic development strategy with the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, which focuses on community economic development, and with the Department of Human Resources Development which promotes training and workforce participation.


Our other partners are the aboriginal women and men who have worked with the program over the last four and a half years to realize their business dreams.


The Auditor General took a look at a number of businesses and he made recommendations on monitoring the progress of our clients. He wants us to follow up and obtain information allowing us to see if public funds are invested shrewdly.


I have to say that I agree with the Auditor General on this point and while procedures were not fully developed at the time last year when he conducted the review, I am assured that our department is currently making improvements in our tracking systems and will be much better able to monitor the performance of our client companies in the future.


I will continue to watch this program and all programs for which I am responsible to make sure that the money being spent, every dime of it, is being used effectively and carefully. We are and want to be accountable to all of the taxpayers of Canada.


I am sure members would be interested to know, however, that there are many successes being achieved by aboriginal businesses in Canada. Most Canadians do not know that there is high tech equipment manufactured by a Canadian aboriginal firm, ACR Systems Inc. of Surrey, British Columbia, which has its products on the Canadarm in outer space and on formula one race cars very much on the ground.


ACR's temperature data loggers meet the highest quality standards and serve a variety of uses, including measuring building environments for energy savings and maintaining the careful temperature controls of blood products while in transit.


We all take pride in the achievements of Canadian aboriginal entrepreneurs and film producers as well as entertainers who are increasingly making their mark on national and international stages.


Canadian aboriginal tourism products and destinations are now being sought by visitors to Canada, particularly from Europe, for the unique experiences created and the genuine hospitality offered by aboriginal hosts. The aboriginal tourism sector is already an important contributor to the country's performance in this important area of our economy.


There are many examples of success from the small community based grocery store to the investment bankers on Bay Street. Winnie Giesbrecht has created a thriving business operation in downtown Winnipeg so that she could fill a need for a care home and employ aboriginal women.


D'Arcy Moses and Dorothy Grant have unveiled Canadian aboriginal high fashion to the world at the Canadian Embassy in Paris.


So, even if we learn some tough lessons from previous initiatives, the things which we do well must be pointed out.


Under our current aboriginal economic programs, we have supported some 3,000 client firms. The $230 million that went toward these business ventures of every size levered other investments and an injection of half a billion dollars in total resulted for the aboriginal private sector.


From a study commissioned last year looking at firms the program supported over their first two years we learned the following facts: 90 per cent of all businesses the department capitalized were still operating after two years; 60 per cent of these firms were operating with a profit or a small loss. These results compared favourably with the Canadian average for small business performance.


Important jobs are created by aboriginal businesses. The study encompassed some 300 companies which either created or preserved more than 2,000 jobs.


The cost to the government in helping to create these jobs turned out to be much lower when compared with past efforts. These firms proved to be effective providers of jobs for non-aboriginal Canadians as well, especially in some of the more remote areas of the country.

I am committed to building on the momentum that I have described. There is a critical mass of entrepreneurship, of skilled and talented aboriginal people who are working very hard right now to turn things around for themselves and for their communities.


As a government we will continue to do what we can to improve the climate for this business growth and support the leadership and the initiative and the desire for self-reliance being shown by aboriginal Canadians in all parts of the country.




Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay East):


Mr. Speaker, I would like to preface my question with a broad statement so that we can set the agenda.


It seems that whenever a Reform Party member asks a question about aboriginal issues that Reform Party member must be racist according to certain people within this House. That is exceptionally unfortunate. This is not question period and not widely shown on television but I would like to enter into a very honest, candid and searching dialogue with the minister. I thank him for being in the House.


One of the concerns expressed about the aboriginal economic program, and I suggest not just in ridings that have members from the Reform Party but perhaps in some of the other ridings as well, is the issue of competitiveness.


This is a very sincere question. It is not a trick question. I would like the minister to assure the people in my constituency and perhaps many other Canadians. We are attempting to correct what has gone on previously, particularly with the aboriginal community, by investing $230 million, to use the minister's figures, into a business program. That program has the potential of pitting those businesses against non-aboriginal businesses. The non-aboriginal businesses are under very severe taxation. Some are actually at the point of failure because of severe taxation. There seems to be some hostility and some concern that $230 million of these businessmen's tax money is being put into something which is based on a situation because of race, and that those people then have a $230 million advantage.


I wonder if the minister could help me and perhaps help Canadians get around the feeling that this is not setting the non-aboriginal community at a disadvantage.


Mr. Manley: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question. The best way to explain my view of this is to say that I do not see the contribution to aboriginal businesses under this program as putting the non-aboriginal community at a $230 million disadvantage. I would suggest to the hon. member that the amount we are able to invest in aboriginal businesses falls far short of enabling the aboriginal community to reach an equilibrium with the non-aboriginal community.


Let me explain a little more what I mean. First, as we know, throughout Canada access to capital for small and medium sized business is difficult. It is doubly difficult for members of the aboriginal community, particularly those living in parts of the country where the existing economic infrastructure is not well developed.


Second, with respect to this program, we are endeavouring not to right the wrongs of past generations, but to assist a group of people to build on a base of self-reliance.


If we are going to do that, we have to not only provide capital, we must have programs that assist in helping the members of the aboriginal business community expand their businesses in a meaningful way, to have the kind of interest shown post-advancement of capital, as the business grows and develops, that ensures its success.


We are dealing with financial assistance which is rather small when compared to assistance given to other segments of government, some federal, some provincial, to many non-aboriginal businesses. We are endeavouring, with some success, as I think statistics will show, to create within the aboriginal community a successful spirit of entrepreneurship, culture of entrepreneurship if you like, leading to self-reliance and offering people the opportunity not just to get handouts and not even to get jobs of their own but to create jobs for themselves and for others in their community.


This is a very important contribution, which is why I agreed with the Auditor General, provided the strategy is clear and developed, and that is what we are endeavouring to do, and also providing that this ability to work with the entrepreneurs is there. This is why the program is set up with a very thorough review process largely directed by experienced members of the aboriginal community who provide their input as to what businesses should receive financial assistance. It is a multi-faceted approach.




Mr. Eugène Bellemare (Carleton-Gloucester):


Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the Minister of Industry for his presentation on the development of aboriginal businesses. I think he explained well enough that the program is worthwhile and that we should maintain and even expand it.



February 16, 1994


Mr. Jack Iyerak Anawak (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development):


I just want to comment on a couple of things that the hon. member mentioned or omitted. One point was the fact that aboriginal people have the poorest housing. I did not hear the word aboriginal once in the whole presentation.


The other point was that I did not hear anything, other than Canadian or global, about how many houses are needed in Northwest Territories or in British Columbia. I just heard the statistics in Quebec.


I know that the member is a member of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition and I think the member should represent all Canadians. I did not hear that.




Hon. David Dingwall (Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency):


My colleague, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and I have been working jointly on these issues and we hope to be able to put a paper before our cabinet colleagues to address some of these serious situations.


I want to assure the House and hon. members that it is certainly a priority for me and it is certainly a priority for the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development that we will want to pursue this with vigour and creativity. I have spoken to a number of aboriginal groups which have come to me, and I want to underline this, with some very creative and innovative ways in which they as individuals can take control of their own destiny and provide the kinds of quality housing that they need.




Mr. David Chatters (Athabasca): Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a question concerning the minister's comments on aboriginal housing on and off reserve.


The statistical material that I have been able to make available indicates to me that housing on and off reserve for aboriginals has a habitable life span of some 16 to 25 years as compared with 35 to 50 years for other housing, for non-aboriginal housing. This would indicate to me either there is substandard housing being provided in those cases or that housing is not being properly maintained and cared for.


Has the minister taken into serious consideration those statistics in providing the renewal of housing?


Mr. Dingwall:


Mr. Speaker, I am not going to comment on the efficacy of the statistics that my colleague has used, although being in the House for some time I will have to accept them at his word.


The only thing that I can reply to the question is that in my deliberations over the last three months, the last 103 days as a minister of the crown, with aboriginal groups across this country I have found an attitude among aboriginal leaders that they do not want handouts. What they want is an opportunity like we have had over the years to be able to have affordable housing. They are coming forward with creative, innovative, dynamic ideas which will involve the private sector, which will involve governments at all levels, and which will involve other stakeholders to provide that kind of quality housing.


In terms of the substance of the question that the hon. member has asked, there is substandard housing on reserves across this country. Governments should work with aboriginal people, not against them, to provide meaningful solutions to real problems.


To quote a friend of mine who shall remain nameless, shelter in this country, next to water and land and the air we breath, is probably the most important aspect of Canadian life.


I hope I can call upon the hon. member for creative ideas, creative suggestions and support when we put our money where our mouth is.




Mr. Jack Iyerak Anawak (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development):


Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member on his comments. I would also like to point out a couple of things before coming to a question.


I would like to apprise members of a report that was done by the committee on aboriginal affairs on aboriginal and northern housing. Members might want to read and reflect upon the poor state of housing for aboriginal people across the country.


As much as my colleagues from the Reform would probably like us to go back into tepees and igloos because of the poor state of housing, I want to comment that home repairs for rural and low income areas are welcome. However this does not adequately address the northern and aboriginal communities.


Some of those houses that are built in the aboriginal and northern communities almost do not meet the basic standards. It is not necessarily the best idea to repair the homes. It is better to replace them.


When the government fell on October 25 and social housing was cut, Northwest Territories was getting something in the neighbourhood of $47 million for social housing. That cut had a devastating effect on aboriginal and northern housing because although $47 million may not seem all that much, when the total population is 55,000 in Northwest Territories and we are already short by 3,800 units, $47 million means an awful lot.


I know the hon. member supports the resumption of the funding for social housing but more from my point of view we need the $47 million for the Northwest Territories social housing program. As I said, if we do not get the housing our alternative is to build igloos in the winter and tents in the summer. I do not think that is acceptable today.




Mr. Bernard Patry (Pierrefonds-Dollard):


In 1993-94, the federal government will spend some $5.4 billion on native-oriented programs and we will try to do as much as possible because this is very important.



February 22, 1994


Mr. Bob Speller (Haldimand-Norfolk):


At the same time we have taken the opportunity to sit down with Canada's first people to discuss this question with them, rather than just going in hocus-pocus with guns blazing. We are trying to work with Canadians and our aboriginal peoples to find solutions to their problems.



February 23, 1994


Mr. John Duncan (North Island-Powell River):


Mr. Speaker, my statement concerns questions raised in this House yesterday.

I am the spokesperson for my party on aboriginal affairs and I am deeply and personally offended by comments made inside and outside the House about my colleagues in caucus by other hon. members regarding our attitudes toward our native brothers and sisters.


There are philosophical differences between members of parties in this House. Let us not slur each other. Instead, let us hope for light to shine in and assist members in arriving at a reasonable and acceptable conclusion.


I will not rest nor will I be satisfied until one hon. member opposite apologizes for remarks made about me and my colleagues.



March 7, 1994


Mr. Maurice Godin (Châteauguay):


Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.


According to an internal report of the Department of Indian Affairs, the government did a very poor job of managing the estates of aboriginal people of which it was the trustee.


Can the minister confirm that the funds invested were misused because the federal government's monitoring was inadequate?


Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development):


Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. I am aware of the Auditor General's report and I am aware of our response.


Having come from private practice I realize that it was not made well. I am not satisfied that the response is adequate. This will be a priority on our agenda once we get over the initial stages of implementing the new government.


Mr. Maurice Godin (Châteauguay):


Mr. Speaker, as a supplementary question, I would like to know exactly what corrective action the minister intends to take to ensure that the Indians' estates are managed properly by his department.


Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development):


Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, this will be a priority of the government. As to the specific remedy, I cannot answer at this stage. In due course over the next few months I will be prepared to sit down with the hon. member and discuss it and show him what we are doing.



April 25, 1994


Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development)


moved that Bill C-16, an act to approve, give effect to and declare valid an agreement between Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada and the Dene of Colville Lake, Déline, Fort Good Hope, Fort Norman and the Metis of Fort Good Hope, Fort Norman and Norman Wells, as represented by the Sahtu Tribal Council, and to make related amendments to another act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.


He said: Madam Speaker, I rise to address the House on Bill C-16, the Sahtu Dene and Metis Land Claim Settlement Act. I am honoured and pleased to have the opportunity to speak in support of this bill. I urge hon. members to give this legislation their strong support and quick passage so that the Dene and Metis people of the Sahtu region can begin now to build a better future.


This agreement has been many years in the making. The Dene of the Mackenzie Valley filed a comprehensive claim with the federal government in 1976 and the Metis filed a claim the following year. These were among the first claims received after a Liberal government decided in 1973 to end the 50 year hiatus in treaty making in Canada.


This was the right decision. It avoided potentially protracted and expensive litigation. Court decisions have indicated that the best way to resolve land claims is through negotiation. Some 20 years later the settlement of outstanding land claims is an objective this government will be pursuing with a great deal of energy and commitment in the coming months.


The clear definition of aboriginal rights to land and resources is a crucial foundation for the long term success of self-government and the future aspirations and prosperity of dozens of aboriginal communities.


With that in mind we need to move quickly to clarify land and resource ownership in those regions of Canada where aboriginal right to land has not been satisfactorily dealt with, and we are committed to do so both through existing channels and with new approaches to resolve land claims.


We made clear our commitment to address outstanding land claims in ``Creating Opportunity: The Liberal Plan for Canada''. On page 96 of that document there is a very clear and concise statement of this government's intention toward aboriginal people: ``The priority of a Liberal government will be to assist aboriginal communities in their efforts to address the obstacles to their development and to help them marshal the human and physical resources necessary to build and sustain vibrant communities''.


Comprehensive land claim settlements take us a long way toward accomplishing this goal. By ensuring certainty of land ownership and providing fee simple title to large areas of land they remove some of the most significant obstacles to the economic development and diversification of aboriginal communities.



June 1, 1995


Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest, Ref.):


Mr. Speaker, the government's mismanagement of aboriginal affairs in British Columbia has now brought tempers to a boil at Douglas Lake. The Upper Nicola Band is blocking the road to the Douglas Lake ranch and the RCMP is worried that someone will get seriously hurt or killed.


The blockade is just the tip of the iceberg. What we do not want are three or four Okas in B.C. this summer, yet the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development refuses to address this and other similar situations.


What is the government prepared to do to resolve the standoff at Douglas Lake before things get out of hand?


Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.):


Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. leader for his question. As far as jurisdiction is concerned, this demonstration is clearly off reserve and is not within federal jurisdiction. I checked and the Upper Nicola Band does not have a specific claim which would put us in the picture. It is not a part of the B.C. treaty process. On these three grounds it is clearly provincial. However, if requested by the province, we are prepared to go in and do whatever we can to facilitate.


I am encouraged by several things. First, several significant aboriginal leaders have volunteered to help. The hon. member of the Reform Party in whose riding this is has talked to my executive assistant. He has offered some help. I am prepared to delegate someone if Mr. Cashore asks for help.


The other encouraging thing although the situation could get volatile is that Joe Gardner, manager of the Douglas Lake cattle ranch, the person who is most involved, has told the various ranchers to sit still. He has insisted that the dispute be resolved peacefully and we agree with his position. Hopefully we can get it resolved.


Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest, Ref.):


Mr. Speaker, the Liberal red book contained promises which led to unreasonable expectations on the part of the aboriginal people. In Quebec, the Band Council of Kahnawake, with the help of Frank Vieni, one of those in charge of Indian Affairs during the Oka crisis, has presented to the Department of Indian Affairs a land claim asking for millions and even billions of dollars. The co-ordinator of the project for the department, Kate Fawkes, said that the document contains some real breakthroughs.


Is it the policy of the department to encourage claims of such a large scope when it knows quite well that it will be impossible to meet those expectations?


Some hon. members: Hear, hear.


Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.):


Mr. Speaker, I believe the hon. member is wrong.  Other than the hon. leader making a commendable effort in French, I assume the question is: Are we trying to lift up expectations? Are we trying to settle? Are we trying to do the reasonable thing?


We are trying to do the reasonable thing. We are trying to do what most Canadians want us to do, to deal honourably and to find just and reasonable solutions. Merci bien.


Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest, Ref.):


Mr. Speaker, if there is anything that has soured relations between aboriginal peoples and governments it has been inflated expectations and broken promises.

The current minister appears to be going down the same road as his predecessors. The Liberal red book promises on land claims and self-government raise aboriginal expectations sky high, and then the government simply cannot deliver.


Would the minister not agree it would be better to make one or two simple commitments to aboriginals that he could keep rather than make inflated promises to 600 aboriginal bands that he is simply unable to keep at the end of the day?


Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.):


Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member behind me says, Liberals are optimists, not pessimists. That probably describes the difference between Liberal members and Reform members.


We did an assessment last night. One whole section of the red book deals with aboriginal issues. It has been a difficult year, but I can say to the House that on every promise we made in the red book there has been medium to moderate to significant progress made across Canada.


It makes me proud as a member of the Liberal government and the Liberal Party that we have kept our word and done our job in difficult circumstances.



May 18, 1995


Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest, Ref.):


Mr. Speaker, the Liberal red book promised that the government would move full steam ahead on aboriginal self-government and on resolving outstanding land claims. As predicted, this has led to unrealistic expectations on the part of Indian bands, particularly in British Columbia.


Currently a huge percentage of B.C.'s land mass is claimed by natives but the provincial government says it is only willing to negotiate on 5 per cent and that self-government will not extend beyond the powers enjoyed by municipalities.


Will the minister of Indian affairs now admit that his failure to set realistic parameters for land claim negotiations and self-government is feeding these unrealistically high expectations and it is high time for him to correct these failures?


Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.): No, Mr. Speaker.


Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest, Ref.):


Mr. Speaker, the minister treats this frivolously but he is headed for a disaster in aboriginal relations in the province of British Columbia.


Even his officials recognize that the federal government has raised band expectations to unmanageable levels while keeping the rest of the B.C. community in the dark. Despite memos from the deputy minister and appeals from the Assembly of First Nations, he stubbornly refuses to provide aboriginal groups and Canadians with any limits on the federal position on land claims or self-government.


I ask the minister again. Will he provide realistic guidelines for land claim negotiations and aboriginal self-government at least for the province of British Columbia?


Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.):


Mr. Speaker, I do not agree with the premise of the question. The issue of how much land, which is what we are talking about, will be provided to the First Nations is primarily a provincial responsibility since most of the available land is in the name of the provinces.


The offer, or the leaked offer because I have not seen it, by the province of B.C. is a question of a quantum of land. When the aboriginal people of B.C. get the offer they will respond to it and we will respond to it. But right now we provide money, the provinces provide land and that is their provincial responsibility.


Mr. Preston Manning (Calgary Southwest, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, in its land claim negotiation paper the British Columbia government goes beyond land. It says that privately owned land will not be on the table. It says that aboriginal self-government will be restricted to municipal-like powers. It says that status Indians should lose provincial and federal tax exemptions once their land claims are settled.


Does the minister agree with the positions being taken by the Government of British Columbia on these issues and if not, what is the federal position?


Hon. Ron Irwin (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Lib.):


Mr. Speaker, on the issue of privately owned land, we have been consistent across this country to protect privately owned land and we try to compensate in those cases.


On the issue of taxes I find it passing strange that a province would make an offer on what is clearly our jurisdiction. I have made it clear to the province that the matter of taxation has to be solved with the Minister of Finance, the Minister of National Revenue and Parliament at a national level.


As far as the question of status is concerned, this is something we are always negotiating. The leader of the Reform Party must realize that status is very important to aboriginal people for very legitimate reasons.



November 28, 1995


Mrs. Pierrette Ringuette-Maltais (Madawaska-Victoria, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the motion is:


That, in the opinion of this House, the government should consider the advisability of establishing a new, independent aboriginal land claims commission, as recommended in the 1994-95 annual report of the Indian Claims Commission.


I appreciate the way the hon. member for The Battlefords-Meadow Lake has phrased this motion. We are considering the advisability.


The hon. member knows this is a complex issue. He knows we cannot act precipitously. He knows there are many different perspectives and that First Nations themselves have some reservations about how an independent claims commission would affect the claims process.


The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has been discussing these issues with the First Nations. We hope a consensus will be reached but in the meantime the debate over the hon. member's motion will help this House focus on some of the issues involved.


I would like to remind the House of the process now in place. It is a process that has been used successfully in the past although there is certainly room for improvement. At present, there are six steps to processing a specific claim.

In the first step the First Nation submits a claim along with supporting documents to the specific claims branch of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. The branch then determines whether the claim meets the submission criteria of the policy.


Second, the submitted research contained in the supporting documents is analyzed and verified for completeness. The department works with the First Nation to prepare a historical report and analysis. Both parties must agree on the report. This is what is known as the research step, and it can take a long time to complete.


The third step is acceptance or non-acceptance of the claim. The specific claims branch of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development obtains legal opinions on the claim and a decision is made to accept or not accept the claim for negotiation. If the claim is accepted, we move on to the fourth step: negotiation. The specific claims branch negotiates with the claimant First Nation on the value of the losses and prepares an authority to settle.


In the fifth step, the specific claims branch and the claimant First Nation agree on compensation and provision for settlement and agreement in principle is struck. The agreement is drafted by the Department of Justice and First Nation lawyers into a formal settlement agreement. Finally, the settlement agreement is ratified and implemented.


This is a long and painstaking process. There is a fast-track procedure for claims less than $500,000 in which some of the six steps are shortened.


Where does the Indian Specific Claims Commission come into play? If in the course of these steps Canada turns down the claim, the First Nation has a number of options: it can withdraw its claim; it can move to litigation; it can present new documentation and legal arguments; or the First Nation can request a review of the department's decision by the Indian Specific Claims Commission. The commission has been established to resolve such disputes and it can subpoena records and witnesses. It can help the government and claimant First Nations arrange mediation.


The commission's 1994-95 annual report indicates an involvement in mediation of five claims. The commission also pointed out in this report that it had received 98 requests, 42 of which were in progress. The commission reported eight completed inquiries.


Let me tell members about one case where the ISCC was instrumental. In the Chippewas of the Thames inquiry, the Muncey land claim, the First Nation had rejected settlement twice before the commission became involved. The original point of contention about the surrender of land was resolved early in the ISCC process and a fresh settlement agreement was negotiated and ratified on January 28, 1995.


Let me briefly explain how the commission works. If the department has not accepted a claim, the commission can make recommendations on whether the First Nation has established that Canada has an outstanding lawful obligation. If the department has accepted the claim, but the First Nation disagrees with the compensation criteria, the commission can recommend which compensation criteria should apply to the negotiation and settlement of the specific claim.


There are five steps the Indian Specific Claims Commission goes through. First, it receives a First Nation's request for a review of the Department's decision. Second, it decides whether or not to review the decision. Third, the ISCC gathers all relevant information from the First Nation and Canada in relation to the specific claim, including the opinions of experts. The ISCC will also go into the claimant community and record the testimony or information of the members of the First Nation. Fourth, representatives from both the First Nation and the government argue their case by setting out their interpretation of facts, legal views, and conclusions. Finally, the commission makes its recommendations based on the existing specific claims policy.


The commission does have some limitations. It cannot consider a claim based on unextinguished aboriginal title. These matters would be the subject of a comprehensive claim under a separate policy.


What is the value of the commission? First, it provides an opportunity for a body other than a court to review Canada's decision. Second, the commission has been successful in bringing both sides together with an impartial, neutral third party as a mediator. The mediator has no decision making power, but he or she does have the power to direct and interpret the exchange of information. This influences perceptions, preferences and demands of both parties and it often implies possible lines of agreement.


This is the system that now exists. The system has its challenges. First Nations have expressed a concern that the commission is named by the government and therefore, in spite of the best intentions, cannot shake off the appearance of bias. The process is cumbersome. The commission intervenes only after a First Nation has been turned down by the department.


We will explore many options in the course of debating the motion from the hon. member. However, what we must bear in mind is that no changes should be made without the concurrence of the First Nations.


The minister has been consulting with the First Nations and I am very confident that a consensus will be reached. In the meantime, this exploration of the issues arising from this motion is most welcome.


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger):


The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired. Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.