The House resumed at 8:01 p.m.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
CONSTITUTION AMENDMENT PROCLAMATION
Hon. Mr. Wells moved, seconded by Hon. Mr. Snow, resolution 10:
That the following resolution, laid before the assembly in accordance with the constitutional accord entered into on March 16, 1983, be adopted: Whereas the Constitution Act, 1982 provides that an amendment to the Constitution of Canada may be made by proclamation issued by the Governor General under the Great Seal of Canada where so authorized by resolutions of the Senate and House of Commons and resolutions of the legislative assemblies as provided for in section 38 thereof:
And whereas the Constitution of Canada, reflecting the country and Canadian society, continues to develop and strengthen the rights and freedoms that it guarantees;
And whereas, after a gradual transition of Canada from colonial status to the status of an independent and sovereign state, Canadians have, as of April 17, 1982, full authority to amend their Constitution in Canada;
And whereas historically and equitably it is fitting that the early exercise of that full authority should relate to the rights and freedoms of the first inhabitants of Canada, the aboriginal peoples;
Now therefore the Legislative Assembly of Ontario resolves that His Excellency the Governor General be authorized to issue a proclamation under the Great Seal of Canada amending the Constitution of Canada as follows:
Proclamation amending the Constitution of Canada
1. Paragraph 25(b) of the Constitution Act, 1982 is repealed and the following substituted therefor:
"(b) any rights or freedoms that now exist by way of land claims agreements or may be so acquired."
2. Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 is amended by adding thereto the following subsections:
"(3) For greater certainty, in subsection (1) 'treaty rights' includes rights that now exist by way of land claims agreements or may be so acquired.
"(4) Notwithstanding any other provision of this act, the aboriginal and treaty rights referred to in subsection (1) are guaranteed equally to male and female persons."
3. The said act is further amended by adding thereto, immediately after section 35 thereof, the following section:
"35.1 The government of Canada and the provincial governments are committed to the principle that, before any amendment is made to class 24 of section 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867, to section 25 of this act or to this part,
"(a) a constitutional conference that includes in its agenda an item relating to the proposed amendment, composed of the Prime Minister of Canada and the first ministers of the provinces, will be convened by the Prime Minister of Canada; and
"(b) the Prime Minister of Canada will invite representatives of the aboriginal peoples of Canada to participate in the discussions on that item."
4. The said act is further amended by adding thereto, immediately after section 37 thereof, the following part:
"37.1 (1) In addition to the conference convened in March 1983, at least two constitutional conferences composed of the Prime Minister of Canada and the first ministers of the provinces shall be convened by the Prime Minister of Canada, the first within three years after April 17, 1982, and the second within five years after that date.
"(2) Each conference convened under subsection (1) shall have included in its agenda constitutional matters that directly affect the aboriginal peoples of Canada, and the Prime Minister of Canada shall invite representatives of those peoples to participate in the discussions on those matters.
"(3) The Prime Minister of Canada shall invite elected representatives of the governments of the Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories to participate in the discussions on any item on the agenda of a conference convened under subsection (1) that, in the opinion of the Prime Minister, directly affects the Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories.
"(4) Nothing in this section shall be construed so as to derogate from subsection 35(1)."
5. The said act is further amended by adding thereto, immediately after section 54 thereof, the following section:
"54.1 Part IV.1 and this section are repealed on April 18, 1987."
6. The said act is further amended by adding thereto the following section:
"61. A reference to the Constitution Act 1867 to 1982 shall be deemed to include a reference to the Constitution Amendment Proclamation, 1983."
7. This proclamation may be cited as the Constitution Amendment Proclamation, 1983.
Que la résolution suivante, déposée devant l'Assemblée législative conformément à l'accord constitutionnel conclu le 16 mars 1983, soit adoptée: Considérant: que la Loi constitutionnelle de 1982 prévoit que la Constitution du Canada peut être modifiée par proclamation du gouverneur général sous le grand sceau du Canada, autorisée par des résolutions du Sénat et de la Chambre des communes et par des résolutions des assemblées législatives dans les conditions prévues à l'article 38;
que la Constitution du Canada, à l'image du pays et de la société canadienne, est en perpétuel devenir dans l'affermissement des droits et libertés qu'elle garantit;
que les Canadiens, après la longue évolution de leur pays de simple colonie à Etat indépendant et souverain, ont, depuis le 17 avril 1982, tout pouvoir pour modifier leur Constitution au Canada;
que l'histoire et l'équité demandent que l'une des premières manifestations de ce pouvoir porte sur les droits et libertés des peuples autochtones du Canada, premiers habitants du pays,
l'Assemblée législative de l'Ontario a résolu d'autoriser Son Excellence le gouverneur général à prendre, sous le grand sceau du Canada, une proclamation modifiant la Constitution du Canada comme il suit:
Proclamation modifiant la Constitution du Canada
1. L'alinéa 25b) de la Loi constitutionnelle de 1982 est abrogé et remplacé par ce qui suit:
"(b) aux droits ou libertés existants issus d'accords sur des revendications territoriales ou ceux susceptibles d'être ainsi acquis."
2. L'article 35 de la Loi constitutionnelle de 1982 est modifié par adjonction de ce qui suit:
"(3) Il est entendu que sont compris parmi les droits issus de traités, dont il est fait mention au paragraphe (1), les droits existants issus d'accords sur des revendications territoriales ou ceux susceptibles d'être ainsi acquis.
"(4) Indépendamment de toute autre disposition de la présente loi, les droits -- ancestraux ou issus de traités -- visés au paragraphe (1) sont garantis également aux personnes des deux sexes."
3. La même loi est modifiée par insertion, après l'article 35, de ce qui suit:
"35.1 Les gouvernements fédéral et provinciaux sont liés par l'engagement de principe selon lequel le premier ministre du Canada, avant toute modification de la catégorie 24 de l'article 91 de la Loi constitutionnelle de 1867, de l'article 25 de la présente loi ou de la présente partie:
"(a) convoquera une conférence constitutionnelle réunissant les premiers ministres provinciaux et lui-même et comportant à son ordre du jour la question du projet de modification;
"(b) invitera les représentants des peuples autochtones du Canada à participer aux 30 travaux relatifs à cette question."
4. La même loi est modifiée par insertion, après l'article 37, de ce qui suit:
"37.1 (1) En sus de la conférence convoquée en mars 1983, le ministre du Canada convoque au moins deux conférences constitutionnelles réunissant les premiers ministres provinciaux et lui-même, la première dans les trois ans et la seconde dans les cinq ans suivant le 17 avril 1982.
"(2) Sont placées à l'ordre du jour de chacune des conférences visées au paragraphe (1) les questions constitutionnelles qui intéressent directement les peuples autochtones du Canada. Le premier ministre du Canada invite leurs représentants à participer aux travaux relatifs à ces questions.
"(3) Le premier ministre du Canada invite des représentants élus des gouvernements du territoire du Yukon et des territoires du Nord-Ouest à participer aux travaux relatifs à toute question placée à l'ordre du jour des conférences visées au paragraphe (1) et qui, scion lui, intéresse directement le territoire du Yukon et les territoires du Nord-Ouest.
(4) Le présent article n'a pas pour effet de déroger au paragraphe 35(1)."
5. La même loi est modifiée par insertion, après l'article 54. de ce qui suit:
"54.1 La partie IV.1 et le présent article sont abrogés le 18 avril 1987."
6. La même loi est modifiée par adjonction de ce qui suit:
"61. Toute mention des Lois constitutionnelles de 1867 à 1982 est réputée constituer également une mention de la Proclamation de 1983 modifiant la Constitution."
7. Titre de la présente proclamation: Proclamation de 1983 modifiant la Constitution.
Mr. Stokes: Mr. Speaker, how about reading the resolution in both official languages in this chamber?
Mr. Speaker: I am not proficient in the other official language and I would not embarrass myself or this House by trying.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I am happy to take part in this debate tonight as we move this resolution.
Mr. Conway: Are these personal or governmental opinions?
Hon. Mr. Wells: These are both personal and governmental.
I am happy to take part in discussion of this resolution tonight, which is to amend the Constitution Act, 1982. Its purpose is to include certain provisions to further define and protect aboriginal rights.
It is an historic event for this House because this is the first opportunity for us to consider amending our own Canadian Constitution which now resides in Canada and which now has within it an amending formula. Therefore we have before us a constitutional amending resolution in both the official languages of Canada.
The introduction of this resolution was preceded by another historic occasion. That was the first ministers' conference held in March of this year. I might say just at this point there were in attendance at that conference, which was the first of its kind held under our new Constitution, the first ministers -- that is, the Premiers of the provinces and the Prime Minister of Canada -- joined at the table by the leaders of Canada's aboriginal peoples as well as by government leaders of the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Never before had nongovernment leaders sat down with first ministers to discuss items involving our Constitution.
I am pleased to say many representatives of the aboriginal peoples in this province assisted us in developing positions. They met with us, consulted with us and were part of our delegation to the various ministers and the first ministers' conference that made up the process which led to the accord which results in this constitutional amendment.
We have in the gallery tonight some of those people: Mr. Joe Miskokomon, president of the Union of Ontario Indians, Mrs. Donna Phillips and Priscilla Simard. Donna Phillips is president of the Ontario Native Women's Association. Mrs. Simard is a member of that organization.
There were many other of our aboriginal peoples from Ontario who were with us during the conference and who also contributed to the meetings held before the conference as we developed positions to be presented at the conference. Some of those spokesmen are here tonight: Grand Chief John Kelly, Treaty 3; Mr. Gordon Peters, President of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians; Mr. Wally McKay, former Grand Chief of Treaty 9; Mr. Fred Kelly from Treaty 3; Mr. Peter Kelly; Mr. Patrick Madahbee, former president of the Union of Ontario Indians; Chief Gary Potts from Bear Island; Mrs. Agnes Mills from the Ottawa region of the Ontario Native Women's Association; Mr. Marty Dunn of the Ontario Metis and Nonstatus Indian Association; and Mr. Duke Redbird, also of the Ontario Metis and Nonstatus Indian Association.
There were many others who were there, but I do not have all those names in front of me tonight. If I have missed any of the group, I hope they will forgive me. Perhaps at some time in this debate I can add further names of those I failed to recognize because there were so many of our aboriginal peoples in this province that we met with in these meetings that led up to this historic constitutional conference.
Before I go into more details of the amendments that concern us today, I would like to outline some of the processes that led to the first ministers' conference and share with you my recollections about the agreements reached on the ongoing process and the other constitutional amendments.
The honourable members are well aware that Ontario has had a long-standing commitment to aboriginal matters. This dates back to the first ministers' conference on the Constitution in 1979. In fact, it was due to Premier Davis's initiative that the aboriginal item was included in the constitutional agenda at that time.
During this first phase of constitutional negotiations, Ontario supported inclusion of a section on aboriginal rights in the Constitution. The final version of the Constitution, the version which was presented, mentioned aboriginal peoples in three of its sections. These were section 25, which shields aboriginal and treaty rights from derogation or abrogation by the charter; section 35, which recognizes and affirms the existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples; and section 37, which calls for a first ministers conference to identify and define those rights.
The second phase of constitutional consideration of aboriginal rights occurred after the Constitution was brought home to Canada in April 1982. As members will remember, Ontario still had a commitment to further the rights of aboriginal peoples. In keeping with this commitment, the province began a series of consultations with aboriginal groups from Ontario to ascertain their positions on the issues and to obtain a better sense of priorities.
It was also the government's hope that regular personal contact would lead to a greater mutual understanding of the issues involved on the part of all. At the same time, Ontario took part in a number of federal-provincial officials' and ministers' meetings to discuss and set the agenda for the first ministers' conference.
During the course of these consultations and meetings, it became increasingly apparent that it would be impossible to reach a consensus on all of the agenda items. Thirteen governments and four aboriginal groups were involved, all with differing views. In addition, the working agenda had grown to include 16 or more items, each of which would require extensive and detailed discussion.
Because of this situation, the government of Ontario recognized the need to concentrate on a few items that stood a good chance of being accepted by the provinces, the federal government and hopefully the aboriginal peoples.
We also recognized that it was of the utmost importance to achieve agreement on a further series of conferences or, as we came to term it during our meetings, "on the ongoing process," so that any unfinished business from the agenda could be dealt with in the future at conferences specified by the Constitution and would not be at the whim of any government of the day.
Along with the establishment of an ongoing process, last January the Premier (Mr. Davis) identified two other items likely to obtain agreement at the conference.
The first item we called consultation. The aboriginal groups had been pressing for a constitutional amendment requiring their consent to any future amendments that affected their rights. Since this would in our opinion amount to a veto on certain constitutional changes, the government of Ontario was opposed to the proposal, as were most of the other governments, because we felt that such a provision would be at odds with the parliamentary and federal nature of this country.
We therefore looked for an alternative, and as a practical alternative to consent the Premier suggested a consultation provision. The consultation provision would require that aboriginal peoples be consulted on any proposed amendment dealing with aboriginal rights.
The second item that Ontario felt could receive quick agreement was equal rights for aboriginal women.
During the consultation process, the Ontario Native Women's Association had asked for Ontario's help in establishing the principle of equality between men and women with respect to aboriginal peoples. The group's concerns stemmed from past legislative discrimination under the Indian Act with regard to the determination of band membership, as well as some of the customs and traditions of some of the aboriginal peoples.
I would like to review for members some of the highlights of this year's conference.
In his opening statement, the Premier suggested that the first business of the conference should be to agree on an ongoing process. As other provinces spoke, a general agreement on some sort of ongoing process appeared to be emerging.
To further this growing consensus, it was agreed that the first ministers would begin to consider this long list of about 16 agenda items we had. It was also agreed that an evening meeting of ministers and officials would tackle the questions of the ongoing process and the possibility of a set of principles to guide the discussions under that ongoing process in the years ahead. The difficulty at this time was that there were not the necessary seven provinces with 50 per cent of the population, as required by the new Constitution, in favour of some manner of constitutional change.
At the evening meeting -- and I recall this very clearly -- ministers and aboriginal spokesmen quite quickly reached agreement on the ongoing process, but they differed on how we should achieve that goal. Some provinces preferred an accord approach -- in other words, signing an accord rather than proposing a constitutional amendment. Ontario and some other governments maintained that the ongoing process should be entrenched in the Constitution. Still others felt that the conference should simply be adjourned and continued at a later date and that this would take away the need for either an accord or a constitutional amendment. A few favoured bilateral consultations between governments and aboriginal peoples.
After much discussion, and I guess as we have said many times, in the true Canadian tradition, a compromise was reached on an ongoing process: the compromise was an accord with entrenchment in the Constitution. That is, we said an accord would be signed committing governments to an additional conference within one year from the date of this year's conference, with the stipulation that each government would introduce in its own legislature by December 31, 1983, a resolution to entrench further conferences in the Constitution.
The accord would act as a bridge to ensure that the ongoing process continued until the amendment to the Constitution took effect. General agreement was also reached to include a statement of principles to guide the ongoing process.
I recall again that before the evening session closed an agreement was reached to proceed also with entrenchment of equal rights for aboriginal women and a guaranteed consultation clause.
What then happened was that officials of the federal government, having seen the wish of all the governments and aboriginal groups at our meeting that night, worked through the night to draft an accord that would embody the agreements that we had arrived at.
The next morning, March 16, when this draft accord was presented to the first ministers, it unfortunately met with immediate opposition. It was clear that ministers and aboriginal officials should have reviewed the draft in private rather than seeing it for the first time in the glare of a public meeting.
To my friend, the member for Renfrew North (Mr. Conway), these are my private recollections I am now giving him.
Mr. Conway: It is a peculiar view of cabinet solidarity, this public versus private opinion.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Anyway, I am telling the member what --
Mr. Conway: Leo Bernier said the Premier encouraged you all to have vigorous differences of opinion in cabinet.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I have always respected cabinet solidarity. At times I think it has assisted all of us and it is incumbent upon a minister to indicate his private views and perhaps some of his private opinions.
Mr. Conway: The way you do that in the British parliamentary tradition is resign the executive cabinet and carry on.
Hon. Mr. Wells: None of the positions that I have presented to you would necessitate the drastic action that the ministers of the British House --
Mr. Speaker: We seem to be entering into a private debate here and I would ask the minister to proceed with his remarks.
Hon. Mr. Wells: I am just saying that this is my recollection, and my editorial comment on the events of that conference was that it was clear we should have reviewed the draft in private before all those at the meeting on the morning of March 16 looked at it, because the accord we had thought had been agreed to ran into opposition.
In order to save the accord, ministers, officials and representatives of the aboriginal groups were immediately instructed to reconvene privately to iron out the difficulties. Most of that second day we worked through that process and, thankfully, the final accord was reached just as the conference was scheduled to end.
That final accord is the accord which brings us to the constitutional amendment we are considering tonight.
Therefore, let us turn to the accord which was signed by 16 of 17 governments, the Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit Committee on National Issues, the Native Council of Canada and the Metis National Council.
The first item covered by the accord is a commitment to hold another constitutional conference. This conference will be a first ministers' conference and must be convened by the Prime Minister within one year of the conference completed on March 16, 1983. It is to include on its agenda those items that were not fully considered at this March conference.
The second item dealt with in the accord was an agreement by governments to introduce in their respective legislative assemblies a resolution to amend the Constitution Act, 1982. The proposed amendment was to be in four parts.
It was agreed to amend the Constitution to provide for two further constitutional conferences of first ministers and aboriginal peoples. The first conference required by the Constitution is to be held within three years after April 17, 1982; the second conference to be held within five years after that date. The agenda for each of these conferences shall include constitutional matters that directly affect the aboriginal peoples of Canada.
Second, it was agreed to amend the Constitution to provide that aboriginal and treaty rights are guaranteed equally to men and women.
Third, it was further agreed to amend the Constitution to provide for consultation with aboriginal groups whenever an amendment to the Constitution is proposed which affects their rights. The consultation will take the form of a constitutional conference called for that specific purpose.
Fourth, the final amendment guarantees that modern land claims agreements have the same constitutional status as existing treaties.
I said at the beginning of my remarks that I would comment upon the achievements of the March meeting. As a practising politician, achievement often means not necessarily agreement or consensus but sometimes progress towards an objective, particularly when we know that there will be a succession of meetings all working towards that objective. In this respect I would have to say that the March conference this year was a success.
First, as governments and legislators we did not stand still in terms of our constitutional commitment to aboriginal rights. We agreed to a process to ensure that governments and aboriginal leaders would have to meet to discuss these issues in the years ahead.
Second, we recognized that an innovative measure had to be placed in the Constitution to ensure that amendments desired by the wider Canadian community do not adversely affect the rights of our aboriginal Canadians.
Third, I believe we demonstrated to Canadians that our new Constitution with its amending formula had met the promises contained in it. It had proved in this first examination to be adapted to the evolving demands of nation building.
I want to devote my final remarks to the future and explain briefly some of my thoughts concerning the task ahead of us.
In just over three weeks, 16 governments and the four national aboriginal organizations will gather in Ottawa again to develop an agenda for the 1984 first ministers' conference on aboriginal constitutional matters and to establish a work plan for our respective officials. I expect that self-government, a Metis land base, and culture and language issues will be at the top of the list.
How do these specific issues relate to the more general place of aboriginal rights in the Constitution? At the March 1983 conference, Ontario was not able to secure general support for the inclusion in a constitutional amendment of substantive guidelines which could state the desired relationship between governments and aboriginal peoples. A set of principles, we called them, principles that could have given direction to the future negotiations by indicating areas of common commitment between the governments and the aboriginal peoples, but we were not able to get the general support necessary to include that in this constitutional amendment.
I have no intention of prejudging the outcome of the 1984 first ministers' meeting. I do feel personally, though, that our task will be simplified and our route more certain if we can have the benefit of some principles to guide our discussions.
Let me then just indicate to you what I think these principles could be, and these are very close to the principles that we believed should have been included in the constitutional amendment to guide future constitutional conferences. The principles could be stated as follows:
That the aboriginal peoples are citizens of Canada and distinct peoples because of their occupation of the land since time immemorial and as such they have unique cultures and languages;
That the aboriginal peoples be entitled to various institutions of self-government within the Canadian federation;
That the aboriginal peoples be afforded the opportunity to benefit from the use of their land and waters as a base for the enhancement of economic opportunities and living standards of aboriginal communities and families, including the protection of their traditional livelihoods;
That the aboriginal peoples have the opportunity to participate fully and equitably in resource development.
These principles would give us the focus for the leading aboriginal issues that need to be addressed. These issues are the unique culture, language and family life of the aboriginal peoples; the matter of self-government: participation in the benefits of resource development; and the economic use of their lands.
In conclusion, I wish to advise the honourable members that the Ontario Legislature is the seventh legislature to debate this resolution to amend the Constitution. It has been passed in the other six legislatures. The resolution embodies the work and the efforts of many people over a great deal of time. It captures some of the hopes and aspirations of the aboriginal peoples of Canada. It also provides a mechanism through which other goals of the aboriginal peoples may be discussed and, I hope, agreed upon.
Therefore, I would urge each and every member to give this resolution his careful consideration and support so that we may carry on the historic process to which we have committed ourselves.
Mr. Van Horne: Mr. Speaker, I tried as best I could to listen to the words of the minister and I was particularly interested in his closing remarks about what the principles could be. I would have to take it from this that his words mean they have not been totally accepted by the cabinet of the government of Ontario. If I am wrong, I hope he will clear that situation up for me.
Hon. Mr. Wells: Mr. Speaker, I think I said that while we were not able to get acceptance from the other governments of Canada for the inclusion of these principles, these were basically the kinds of principles we felt could have been included in this resolution tonight; in other words, here are the principles that will govern the ongoing discussions that are mandated in the Constitution; but we were not able to get that kind of agreement at the conference, so we reluctantly decided to accept an accord that did not include principles.
Mr. Van Horne: I thank the minister for that clarification. It is important not only to me but also to those people who are in our gallery who have a distinct and direct involvement in this entire process.
The minister at the beginning of his comments made reference to Grand Chief Joe Miskokomon, Donna Phillips and Mrs. Simard, and one or two other names which I did not catch. I believe Dan Russell, too, is in the gallery. For all of those people, this is extremely critical. It is critical for us, too, but they have been living with this situation since time immemorial, it would seem, and I think it is very important that we understand exactly what the minister meant in his final comment.
We on this side of the House are very pleased to join in this debate. It goes without saying that we are all aware of this being the result of the accord reached on March 16, 1983, to amend the Constitution of Canada. We are all aware of the fact that this is a result of dialogue of one kind or another between the aboriginal people and the political leaders of this country that has been going on since the royal proclamation of 1763.
I really had to wonder as I was walking down Wellesley Street at suppertime how I might properly get into this debate tonight because, for whatever reasons, we each have to relate as best we can to the situation that is facing the aboriginal people in this country of ours. I let my mind wander a little bit and I went back to a neighbourhood I live in, a place that has a bit of a ring to it for those people who like literature. It is a little subdivision called Sherwood Forest.
Why I ever ended up in that is hard to say, except that when I look back on where I lived as a young person, in the north part of the city of London, we used to enjoy picnicking and romping around a place that was known, back in the late 1930s and 1940s, as Dead Horse Canyon. It was a place with all kinds of mythology that none of us could really pin down, but it had lots of mystique about it. Lo and behold, as I grew to a point where I could buy a house, I ended up in the subdivision on the edge of what used to be known as Dead Horse Canyon.
Of course, there were all kinds of wonderful stories that circulated about that place and how it got its name. I will recall distinctly forever the day I walked on a Saturday with two of my young children to a place where a foundation for a new home was being dug. I recall the excitement, the what to do with what had happened. What had happened was that the excavator had uncovered what was apparently the site of an Indian burial ground. I watched as the people from the university, from the local hospital and from the law authorities pondered what to do with the skeletal remains.
I wondered then what had changed to clear up the uncertainty that must have been in that person's mind when he or she died, one or two centuries back. Between that point and now, what has really changed between the relationship of the native people or the Indian people and the white man? I thought to myself, "Precious little, really. Precious little has changed." Maybe one thing could be significant in so far as the relationship is concerned, and that is that finally we have reached a point where we are giving serious debate to the rights of these people.
As an aside for the benefit of the people who are members of this House, because I am sure those native people who are in the gallery are already aware of this, not too many yards away from where that discovery was made a few years ago in my neighbourhood, we now have an Indian archaeological museum, which is one of the highlights in our community. We should recognize the efforts of Col. Tom Lawson in the building of that particular spot and the members of the University of Western Ontario who worked along with him to get that museum on site.
Those are the thoughts that fell through my mind as I wandered along Wellesley Street, wondering how I could get into this. The ultimate conclusion that I came to was that, really, not a heck of a lot has changed between 1763 and 1983, except for this Constitution and except for what we are at right now, which is the opportunity finally to direct our attention as politicians -- politicians, it is hoped, being people who can help to shape the destiny of the country and the people who make up the country -- to this very critical issue.
We in the Ontario Liberal Party are committed to advance the justice and the cause of aboriginal people in this country. I want to make that absolutely clear. We in the Liberal Party are committed to advance the justice and the cause of the aboriginal people in this country. As such, we support this resolution. We do not, however, see it as a reason for particular celebration. I say so because this, we hope, is only the beginning of the process that will try to resolve the unfinished business regarding our native people and their rights under our Constitution.
Perhaps the great victory achieved at that conference was the fact that after more than 100 years the leaders of the aboriginal people and the elected leaders of Canada, as I have indicated, have finally got together to resolve this question. When I say the last 100 years, I could go back even further to 1763. I would say it is regrettable that it has taken so long to achieve the basis for a starting point to resolve the question of aboriginal rights.
I listened as closely as I could to the words of the minister, who has given a lot of his time and effort to this particular cause, and I commend him for the work he has done. We are aware that this amendment to the Constitution provides for another first ministers' conference with native leaders to be held within one year, or two or more conferences on native constitutional matters by 1987, to identify and define the rights of Indians, Inuit and Metis under the Constitution.
We are also aware that it guarantees that existing aboriginal and treaty rights would apply equally to men and women. We are also aware that the rights acquired through existing and future claim settlements are recognized and affirmed in the Constitution, and that it will require that native people be consulted prior to any changes in the Constitution affecting their rights.
We hope that future meetings will go farther towards constitutionally defining and guaranteeing native rights. On this point we would hope the government will put forward its position on defining the rights of native people, rather than reacting to native proposals.
We have some specific questions relating to this resolution. We would ask the government of Ontario, will it support the removal of the word "exist" or "existing" concerning aboriginal and treaty rights? This word may limit the definition of aboriginal and treaty rights to just those currently recognized by the courts. We think this is a limitation that should be removed from the amendment as it now sits. If it is not prepared to remove that word, is the government here in Ontario prepared to recommend that some further definition be added to that clause to make it clear that "existing" not be seen as a limitation on the parameters of those rights which it identifies.
Beyond that we would ask, does the government recognize the existence of both aboriginal and treaty rights in Ontario today? Will it specify which aboriginal rights it recognizes in this province? Does the government still support a charter of aboriginal rights for Indian people and does it believe that such rights as enunciated in the charter be entrenched?
At the beginning of my remarks I asked the minister for a clarification of what he had hoped the principles would be, and he explained that the principles were not acceptable to the rest of the country. I would like to go back and ask the government if it is prepared to support a statement of principles which would be written into the Constitution Act and which would deal with the recognition of the rights of aboriginal people? Is the government prepared to go back to the table to try to negotiate such a statement?
The minister made reference to the governments position on Indian self-government. I would like him, if he or one of the speakers from his party has the opportunity, to go back and explain a little more fully his position on Indian self-government. Must we wait for the federal position to come out in front of us before we see the province really clarify its position on Indian self-government?
The government is inclined on occasion to speak in noble phrases on the need to protect native rights. However, we in the opposition on occasion are given to considerable scepticism. We find on occasion that their words are no more than hollow gestures in the light of their past actions in dealing with the problems that are facing the native people within their own jurisdiction.
The professed devotion of the Premier (Mr. Davis) "in finding real and lasting solutions to the problems of native peoples" means little when we examine the province's continuing shameful saga of the mediation process with the Whitedog and Islington bands regarding mercury pollution in the English-Wabigoon river system. Fully 13 years have passed since mercury poisoning contaminated the fish stock throughout that river system. Fully five years have passed since mediation efforts began to redress the damage caused by these events which were beyond the control of the native people.
The minister and, I am sure, the Premier will recall the words of Mr. Justice Patrick Hartt when the Premier accepted the establishment of the mediation process as an emergency situation, "What justification for immediate government action is required here other than decency and the restoration of human dignity?"
Yet all major issues remain unsolved because of the province's unco-operative attitude. This attitude can be summed up with some quotations from government cabinet ministers or former ministers. I should make it clear that some former ministers are included. I am just going to read some of the comments they have made.
I am quoting from 1976 and the Honourable René Brunelle, a former minister of this House. He said, "Economic development on Indian reserves is a federal responsibility." So they do the Pontius Pilate thing and wash their hands. In another quote from 1977, the member for Don Mills (Mr. Timbrell), who is still a minister of this House, said, "We don't know if the symptoms (from which the Indians suffer) have been caused by the fish, alcoholism or venereal disease."
In 1976 the member for Kenora (Mr. Bernier), another of our present cabinet ministers, said, "Ontario's policy is that there will be no compensation for industrial pollution. The courts are open to individuals to take on the polluter." In 1981 the member for Sault Ste. Marie (Mr. Ramsay), also a minister, said, "Any liability for damages would appear to lie with those whose actions led to the presence of mercury in the water and not, I would emphasize, the government of Ontario." In 1982 another former cabinet minister, the member for Lambton (Mr. Henderson), said, "Indians are the children of the federal government."
I ask you, Mr. Speaker, in all sincerity, how there can be any credibility in this government's sincere participation in the dialogue on native rights in view of this record. The minister started with glowing words, and I commended him for his efforts, but I would have to say the efforts of some of his colleagues have fallen far short of the mark. He and his colleagues now have the opportunity as a government and as spokespersons for the government at the debate table to bring some of the comments from the opposition members to light.
I do not want to end on a totally negative note. I want to remind the government of its shortcomings and I want to suggest it should go a little further when it goes back in discussing this resolution. There is a good case to be made for the word "exist" or "existing" to be removed. It is reasonable for the government to show us its sincerity by listening to these comments and to the comments of the Indian leaders, some of whom are with us in the gallery tonight, and to seek that these further changes be brought about.
Finally, this government has a pretty poor record when it comes to assisting our Indian people in their attempts to get organized and to attend conferences such as the one we had in the spring of this year. I would ask that we look at the number of dollars spent in supporting the native people and ask the government if it could show a little more benevolence in this regard and provide adequate funding for the organizational work that is necessary for them, so that they too might be better able to represent the views of all of those people for whom they speak.
Thank you for the opportunity to take part in this debate.
Mr. Wildman: Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to lead off in this debate on behalf of the New Democratic Party, a debate which the government House leader, the Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs (Mr. Wells) described as historic. I agree that this is an historic occasion, the first opportunity that this assembly has had to discuss a constitutional amendment under a new constitution which is Canadian. It is indeed appropriate that the first debate and the first matter of business be one that deals with aboriginal and treaty rights.
I had the privilege of attending the constitutional conference in Ottawa in March at the invitation of the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs as a representative of this caucus and as an observer. I thank the minister and the government for that opportunity. I considered it a privilege to be able to attend and observe what was, as the minister described, an historic meeting.
It is a pleasure as well as a privilege to be able to speak on this debate, but I think it is important for us, when we rise to support the amendment which is in line with the constitutional accord reached in March 1983, that we also bring some important substance to the debate on aboriginal and treaty rights in the province, and that we understand from the debate what the commitments of the provincial government are to the rights of Indian, Metis and nonstatus Indian people in Ontario, as well as their commitments to constitutional change.
During this debate I and other members of our caucus will be raising specific concerns that we have with regard to the commitments of this government to living up to the aboriginal and treaty rights that we believe this government should recognize in Ontario. Our party supports and affirms our commitment to the full involvement of aboriginal peoples in the process of revising the Canadian Constitution, particularly as it affects them and their rights. We see this as an opportunity to develop and strengthen the rights and freedoms of the aboriginal people of this country and this province.
Aboriginal people in Canada have the right to expect to be dealt with justly by Canadian society. In the past Indian peoples have entered into treaties and agreements with the crown, whether that be originally the crown in the name of the British government -- the Imperial crown -- the federal government or in right of the province. They reached those agreements and, unfortunately, all too often those agreements were arrived at without a full understanding by the aboriginal people who were a party to them. If they had been aware of the full implications of some of the terms they agreed to, they would not have accepted them.
Moreover, governments have not even respected those terms or, in some cases, while they have respected the letter of the terms of the treaties and agreements, the spirit of those agreements as they were understood at the time have not been recognized and lived up to by the governments either at the federal or provincial levels in Canada.
In my view, the worst blemish on the history of Canada has been the failure of Canadian governments, federal or provincial, to uphold the rights recognized for native peoples at the time of the negotiation of the treaties. It is my view, and this is shared by many others, that the treaties were really political agreements between political groups. Unfortunately, they have not been treated that way and given precedence by the courts over legislation passed by subsequent white governments. I think we have the opportunity now, while we affirm our commitment to this ongoing process, to right some of the wrongs of the past.
We in this party support the amendment as it is proposed since it is in line with the accord and since it provides for further constitutional conferences involving the Prime Minister and the first ministers and representatives of the aboriginal peoples, as well as representatives of the territorial governments where they are affected.
I also understand this accord and the commitment to further meetings is not in any way intended -- and I certainly hope it is not intended by any governments in this country -- to be an attempt to have an ongoing dialogue on how somehow to limit the rights of aboriginal peoples in this country, but rather to define as widely as possible what those rights are and to entrench them in a Constitution.
Like my friend from the Liberal Party, I have serious concerns about the continuation of the word "existing" as it is used in the Constitution. It does appear this word could be taken to mean that aboriginal and treaty rights are just those ones that are now recognized by the courts to be in existence. I recognize the federal and provincial governments have stated this is not necessarily the case, nor was it the intention of the drafters of that section of the Constitution.
Like my friend from the Liberal Party, I ask the government House leader, is this government prepared to fight for the removal of the word "existing" from the Constitution in order to ensure it does not in any way limit the aboriginal peoples' rights which are to be entrenched in the Constitution? I think it is incumbent upon this government, if it is indeed committed to the recognition of aboriginal and treaty rights that may be so acquired by issue of land claim agreements in the future, that it make it absolutely clear by fighting for the removal of the word "existing," or at least for the added definition of what that word actually means to the extent that it is not meant to limit the rights of the Indian people, the Inuits, Metis and nonstatus Indian people of this country.
I hope that during this debate we will gain some understanding of what this government means by aboriginal rights and what kind of commitment it has, not just to recognizing those rights and to negotiating their inclusion in the Constitution, but to enabling the aboriginal people who live in Ontario to exercise those rights.
I sincerely hope the constitutional conference that is now coming and the subsequent ones will lead to concrete progress. I think we must have concrete progress. We cannot have a situation where we just continue to agree to continue to talk. We must continue to talk, obviously, but I would certainly hope we could move beyond that to actually making some progress in defining what those rights are.
I note that in the government House leaders remarks he talked about the consultative process and referred to the request that has been made by the aboriginal organizations that there be a consent clause included in the Constitution to ensure the rights recognized and entrenched in the Constitution cannot somehow be changed bilaterally by governments, but that they themselves will be able to have the right to say yes or no to a change that affects their rights.
I understand what the minister has said about the difficulties with that in regard to the British parliamentary tradition and the parliamentary tradition of this country, but that does leave the question of what this government means by a guarantee of aboriginal and treaty rights. Does it just mean a guarantee of consultation regarding changes in aboriginal and treaty rights? If that is the case, I doubt that the aboriginal peoples of this country will be satisfied. I hope the minister will be able to clarify that matter before the end of the debate.
One of the great advances made at the conference in March was the commitment of the governments of this country and of the aboriginal organizations, as representatives of the aboriginal peoples of this country, to recognize the equality of the sexes as it relates to aboriginal and treaty rights.
The problems of the past relating to the Indian Act and the definition of band membership are examples of the kinds of problems resulting from the incomprehensible rules made through the years by white governments trying to deal with Indian problems, managing Indian affairs and dictating to Indian communities. We all welcome the change agreed to at the conference which said that female and male persons will be treated equally and their rights guaranteed equally under this constitutional change.
I want to deal at some length with the question of what is meant by the new term "or may be so acquired" when it relates to land claims agreements. This is welcome in the sense that the current subsection does not recognize future negotiated land settlements and resultant rights. The new term makes it possible for those future settlements to be considered the same as treaties and for the rights accompanying them to be entrenched. But it does raise a couple of other questions.
What does it mean, for instance, in speaking of land claims relating to lands that have been or are thought to have been reserved for the Indian peoples of this province and this country in the past but have since been lost, and the rights that are related to those lands? If those land claims are revived and the federal and provincial governments are involved in negotiating settlements that will lead to future agreements, the clause covers it; but what about disputes that cannot be resolved through negotiation? Are we to continue having to revert to the courts, with all the difficulties, expense and waste of resources, in my view as a nonlawyer, that entails?
The member for London North (Mr. Van Horne), who spoke previously, asked a question regarding a charter of rights for Indian people which might be entrenched in the Constitution. I understand the Ontario government has supported this idea in the past, and in the meetings the minister referred to before the conference that was held in March, the meetings with the aboriginal organizations, this question was raised by representatives of the government bureaucracy. But I would like the minister to clarify whether the government still supports this position; and if so, what attempts will be made at the next conference to have this matter dealt with.
The minister's statement, although it reiterates a number of times a commitment to aboriginal rights, leaves unclear what the government of this province means by aboriginal rights. In my view, aboriginal rights stem from the national rights enjoyed by the Indian tribes and Inuit groups that were established on this continent before European colonization. They were not granted, in my view -- as is the view, apparently, of many courts and of many others in this country -- by the British through the proclamation of 1763. It seems to me that aboriginal rights must be related to a relationship of the people with the land that existed long before Europeans came to North America.
The question of aboriginal rights must be defined, and I hope that in this debate the minister will do that. It is not enough to say we are committed to it; we must know what we are committed to. It would be much easier to understand the governments attitude on land claims in this province if we knew its actual definition of aboriginal and treaty rights.
This morning my colleague the member for Lake Nipigon (Mr. Stokes) and I met with representatives of Treaty 9 and the chief of Lansdowne House. We talked briefly with them regarding a problem that has been going on for the so-called satellite communities of the Fort Hope band for some time. If I talk a little bit about this problem, I think I can demonstrate the problem we have in understanding what this government's commitment is to land rights and land claims.
In 1981, the chiefs of Lansdowne House, Webequie and Summer Beaver met with the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope) and the legislative assistant at that time to the federal Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and presented them with a draft memorandum of agreement to negotiate a resolution of the lack of land status for the three communities I mentioned. That was in 1981. This problem is still going on, and it has not been resolved.
Over the next few months after that proposal was made, five drafts were made of the original agreement that was proposed. There seemed to be a problem with the question of whether these communities, which are on crown lands, have aboriginal right and/or treaty right to their land. Eventually, though, by the end of 1981 the negotiators for the three parties came up with an acceptable draft for all three parties.
However, when the federal and provincial negotiators took the agreement back to the federal and provincial cabinets for signature, apparently the cabinets at both the federal level and the provincial level balked. The federal department apparently felt it was being asked to write a blank cheque for the land, because it would have to pay the provincial government for the transfer of provincial crown land and it was unable or unwilling to do that.
Subsequent to that, the Minister of Natural Resources took it upon himself to try to resolve the problem all by himself. He decided he was going to transfer community land to the elders of the three communities via a fee simple arrangement. This was done without any warning. After extensive discussions the three communities returned the deeds to the province, saying they did not want land in fee simple; they wanted reserve status. They did not want to own provincial land.
These problems facing these three communities are not unique. There are 15 other communities that are so-called squatters on provincial crown land. The question of their rights to that land remains up in the air.
This problem has been debated back and forth by people from both levels of government for more than 20 years, and it still has not been resolved. The only case where this has been resolved was when the Big Trout Lake communities agreed with the federal and provincial governments for a transfer of land. In that case, the provincial government agreed to allot additional lands to the satellite communities and agreed to their identification as reserves. But that has not occurred with the others.
If the government is committed to the recognition of land claims and to aboriginal rights and treaty rights, as the minister says, why have these problems not been resolved? In general, the provincial government has taken the position that any new reserve lands must be created from already allocated land.
The federal government has argued that Ontario is demanding that land be purchased at inflated market values. The federal government is also demanding that the so-called parent band must agree to the creation of new reserves, and land from the existing reserves should be allotted for new reserves.
In other words, what is being proposed is that if the so-called satellite communities are to be given land that will have reserve status, the so-called parent community will lose land. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, would governments committed to aboriginal rights, as the minister has said, demand that to bring about an agreement?
My colleague the member for Lake Nipigon will be going on in more detail on this kind of problem with regard to the aboriginal peoples' rights to land. I hope we will see something from this province -- before this is debated at the constitutional conference -- which will lead to a resolution of these problems.
I also want to refer to another land claim in another area of the province. It is the Athabaska land claim, which is a claim for a strip of land near the Lake of the Woods, consisting of about 1,600 acres of land.
Apparently this piece of land was originally an Indian reserve; the title of the land was transferred from Ontario to Canada for that purpose. However, in 1930 the provincial government started opening the land for development, apparently through some error in its records which failed to show that the land was really a reserve. In researching the dealings and correspondence between the provincial and federal governments, the federal government also apparently made the same error and came to the conclusion that the land was not a reserve; so the land was sold.
In 1977, however, the land claim was put forward and both the federal and provincial governments admitted their errors. Settlement negotiations started about three years ago and proceeded with some progress to the point where the bands involved put forward their entire position and believed that negotiations were close to a conclusion.
A meeting was set up in early July of this year to receive a response of the federal and provincial governments to the Indian position. That meeting was convened in Toronto, but for some reason the Ontario government was represented by people who had not been party to the previous negotiations and those individuals stated they had no instructions on how to proceed. As a result, they could not reach a settlement of the claim. They were arguing that they would have to start over again and sort out with the federal government who was responsible for the mixup in the sale of the lands and how that responsibility would be divided between the federal and provincial governments.
It seems to me most unfair that the provincial government would make this kind of statement at the 11th hour just before everyone expected there was going to be a settlement of the claim. It certainly does not indicate to me that this government is committed to the settlement of land claims and to aboriginal and treaty rights in this province.
As with many other land claim problems, this matter has been referred to the courts because an out-of-court settlement has not been reached. It seems to me a government that was really committed, and not just committed in rhetoric, would be meeting with the Big Grassy Band and the Sabaskong Band to resolve this and other land claims in the province.
I do not have to mention -- and I will not, because it is before the courts -- the long history of the Bear Island claim, but again it is an example of how committed this government really is.
I want to deal with some other rights which I believe must be recognized by this government and by the federal government and which must be entrenched in the Constitution. This is in no way intended to limit rights or to have me stand up here and say these are the aboriginal and treaty rights that must be recognized; they are ones I think are important and must be dealt with though.
Obviously related to land is the right to the resources on that land, the right to hunt, fish, trap and harvest, without interference. We have seen a long and inconsistent application by the courts and by governments of the treaty rights to hunt and fish in this province. In the not too distant past, we saw the Moraviantown raid. I hope a commitment to the recognition of aboriginal rights will mean we will not have any more of those kinds of activities by peace officers in this province.
I will give the government credit. An attempt was made by the Minister of Natural Resources to resolve fishing rights through negotiations last year, which led to the so-called Indian fishing agreement. I hope this government will make the status of that agreement clear. The Minister of Natural Resources made a statement recently that "the agreement was dead" -- those were the words he used -- as far as he was concerned, because the federal government had not ratified it.
I hope that is not an indication that the Minister of Natural Resources has been under so much pressure from other ministers of this government and from certain other interests in the community not to proceed with the Indian fishing agreement, and that he is now trying to look for a scapegoat and excuse to get out of it.
I congratulated him at the time he brought that forward. While it was anything but perfect, it was his first step towards rationalizing and putting an end to the inconsistency in enforcement of treaty fishing rights. I would hope that eventually it might lead to an agreement in terms of hunting rights, by this government and by the courts.
It was a step towards co-management of the fishing resource by the bands and by the government. There was an attempt to look for ways to have self-regulation, where band councils could be involved in determining what regulations would be set for their people with regard to the harvest of the fishing resource in Ontario. In my view, if we are committed to conservation and to sustained yield, whatever that means, this kind of agreement and involvement by Indian bands across Ontario is essential. We cannot allow the same kind of buck-passing that has occurred so often in the past between the federal and provincial governments to wreck this agreement.
I understand the federal authorities have disagreed with the Ministry of Natural Resources and said: "No, the agreement is not dead. They would like to discuss changes;" and so on. To be frank, I have not seen any great eagerness from that government to resolve whatever differences there are. It certainly leaves the way open for further discussion, and I hope the minister can tell us that this government is indeed going to proceed with trying to bring the Indian fishing agreement into effect through an agreement with the federal government.
I recognize there are some Indian organizations that do not support the agreement. I do not think we are ever going to reach unanimity on these very complex and difficult issues. There was, however, substantial support for the agreement from the Indian community when it was brought out. As I said, despite the pressures experienced by all of us in this chamber with large expanses of northern Ontario as parts of our riding, we in this party support proceeding with that agreement.
I can point to another example of what I think is a lack of commitment by this government towards aboriginal rights. I refer to the sorry tale of the wild rice moratorium. It seems to me that this government, responding to a lot of pressure, agreed rather reluctantly to a moratorium on the issuing of licences for wild rice harvesting over a five-year period. This experiment was to see how that resource could be developed to benefit the Indian people. We know the problems with weather, water levels and so on that made the five-year period inappropriate to carrying out a real experiment, yet the moratorium was allowed to lapse. I do not know the government's present position with regard to wild rice licences. I hope that will be made clear.
In our view, the wild rice resource is part and parcel of the treaty and aboriginal rights of the Indian people. It should be a real economic base for many Indian communities. The Indian people must be involved in the control and development of that industry. They must be on control boards that regulate the water levels in the lakes that are important for the wild rice. We must be moving, especially with Ontario Hydro, to stabilize the water levels in the lakes so that the wild rice resource will be able to grow and be harvested effectively.
I believe this provincial government should be assisting in establishing an integrated wild rice industry in Ontario, involving the harvesting, processing and marketing of wild rice for the benefit of Indian communities.
Aboriginal and treaty rights to land, in my view, must also encompass compensation for the loss of forest and mineral resources from lands reserved for Indian people in this province.
Over and over, ever since I was first elected in 1975, I have raised the question of the status of the 1924 land agreement. In eight years I have never had a straight answer. Frankly, I do not think most of the ministers over there, especially the ones involved with Indian affairs and natural resources, know anything about the 1924 land agreement. I see a member shaking his head. It has been almost 60 years, and we keep getting the whole thing bounced back and forth between the federal and provincial governments.
It may proceed that we will be able to celebrate the bicentennial of the 1924 land agreement without finally getting it resolved. I hope not. My colleague the member from the Liberal caucus mentioned the sorry history of the mediation process with the Whitedog and Grassy Narrows reserves in northwestern Ontario. I think it really does point out the lack of commitment on the part of this government. Since this first started in 1970 we have had three or four Ministers of Natural Resources. I think we have had even more Provincial Secretaries for Resources Development. The matter still is not resolved.
Mr. Martel: What do they do?
Mr. Wildman: They seem to convene meetings between Indian people and Indian organizations and other ministers. It seems to be their job.
I will not refer to the comments of the former secretary about Indian people. I do not think he really understood most of the issues.
In this regard I have just received a copy of a letter, dated August 31, to the Minister of Natural Resources from Chief Isaac Mandamin of the Islington band. I will read it into the record. It says:
"Dear Mr. Minister: It is most unfortunate that I have to bring this matter to your attention. Perhaps you will better appreciate the attitude of your Kenora office district manager and the type of frustrating situations which develop regularly between Kenora chiefs and Mr. D. McGregor.
"Some time ago the province of Ontario agreed to supply fresh fish on a regular basis to the members of my band as a result of the pollution of the English-Wabigoon river system. The last shipment of fish by your ministry was in the early part of May 1983. Since then the band has made two written requests to have the freezer restocked. To date, we have received no fish, and as Chief, I am having difficulty persuading my band members not to set nets for fresh fish on other nearby lakes."
They cannot even keep the freezer stocked. After the whole economic base of a community is ruined through the mercury pollution that resulted from the economic activities of the companies in the area, rather than doing something about it the government at one point said, "All right, we'll give you fresh fish so you don't fish in the contaminated waters." They cannot even keep the freezer stocked. What kind of commitment is that?
I understand we have a new Provincial Secretary for Resources Development (Mr. Sterling). I hope he is going to attempt to resolve this problem and get the mediation process on track. I understand the federal minister has made attempts to resolve this problem, but I think it is useful for us to look at the history of this.
The Ontario government signed an agreement to mediate the mercury pollution settlement with the Islington and Grassy Narrows bands on December 15, 1978, eight years after the problem first was identified. This mediation was recommended by the Hartt royal commission in view of the lack of interest by the province and the paper companies between 1970 and 1978.
From the spring of 1979 through November 1982 the Islington band treated the process seriously and attempted to negotiate with the provincial government in good faith. Unfortunately, little was achieved, as the province was not prepared to put forward a package of substance.
In November 1982 the band advised the Premier's office that it would be announcing publicly a final termination of discussions with the provincial government because of lack of provincial commitment to a meaningful process. In his reply to the band the Premier (Mr. Davis) suggested a 60-day process that had been recommended by the band, that process to commence on December 1, 1982, and to terminate on January 31, 1983. The Minister of Natural Resources was designated as the principal Ontario representative.
The band agreed to that proposal and some progress was made. Again I have to give credit in this case to the Minister of Natural Resources, who did attempt to get something going, to the point that in late January 1983 an agreement resulted and a draft was written, dated February 22. After a number of minor alterations the band accepted the draft -- the alterations did not change the intent or the content of the agreement in any way -- and that draft was signed by the chief in council and delivered to the Premier's office on March 14 of this year, right around the time of the constitutional conference.
However, instead of accepting that draft and reaching an agreement, provincial ministers apparently entered unofficial negotiations with a citizens' committee from the Kenora Conservative riding association. It also involved other members of the Kenora community, the mayor, the reeve of Ear Falls and others, apparently a committee of up to 18 people.
The former Provincial Secretary for Resources Development in May 1983 forwarded it to the band stating it had been altered only to clear up the language, but in fact it was drastically changed. A $1-million greenhouse went from ownership of land and buildings to a lease arrangement; the land and the buildings could be recovered by the provincial government at a future date. This, of course, was totally unacceptable to the band and was anything but just an altering of language.
I submit that this process is another example of a lack of commitment by this government to the settlement of land claims and a lack of commitment to aboriginal rights and to the economic base of Indian communities in this province.
The band, as I understand it, is prepared to continue the negotiations and to attend a meeting with the Premier, the Minister of Natural Resources and the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development (Mr. Sterling). They naturally feel betrayed by the actions of the former secretary, which seem to have been aimed at pacifying the people of the town of Kenora rather than at resolving the problem and bringing about a settlement.
If this government really has any kind of commitment to the native people of this province, it will resolve this mediation process once and for all.
Obviously, if we have a commitment to treaty rights, aboriginal rights, the settlement of land claims, then we have to recognize them in terms of resources. Too often in the past the resource rights, whether they be hunting and fishing rights or land rights of the aboriginal peoples of this country, have been overridden by legislation, be it the Migratory Birds Convention Act, the Fisheries Act or by provincial law, so much so that the Supreme Court of Canada has agreed treaty promises have been broken and injustices have been done in the past.
We all recognize injustices have been done; but it is not enough to recognize that, we have to remedy it. We could start by remedying the injustices we have done to the people of Grassy Narrows and Whitedog.
I believe we require constitutional protection for Indian resource rights, not just in relation to hunting and fishing but also in relation to mineral and timber rights on reserves and to the real settlement of land claims.
I would like to point to one other example of the commitment, or lack of it, to aboriginal rights and treaty rights by this government. That relates to the exemption from taxation, which was recognized by the treaty. The fact that income taxes and sales taxes had not been instituted or were considered temporary aberrations when most of the treaties were signed is no excuse to abrogate the spirit of the treaty exemption from taxation, in my view.
We have a history in this province of changing regulations with regard to the sales tax exemption for Indian peoples. At one time or another the government has said that if a person lives on a reserve and purchases goods on a cash-on- delivery basis to his home on the reserve, he will not have to pay sales tax. On other occasions they have changed that and said, "Well, yes, we recognize that there is a treaty tax exemption, so that even if the person lives on the reserve but purchases the goods off the reserve, he should not have to pay sales tax."
I participated in a discussion between officials of the Ministry of Revenue and a number of bands from the north shore of Lake Huron, the north channel area, a few years ago. We finally got agreement from Revenue officials that the sales tax exemption would apply, even if goods were not delivered and paid for on the reserve, as long as the people lived on the reserve.
However, when the sales tax was subsequently changed in the budget, so that we had an ad valorem feature and we also had the application of sales tax to inexpensive meals, that all went out the window. We are back to the point where if you purchase a hamburger at a McDonald's in Sault Ste. Marie, across the road from the Batchawana reserve, the Rankin location, you have to pay sales tax, even though you are a member of the Batchawana band.
I ask you, is that a commitment to the recognition of the treaty rights? I believe we must have not just rhetorical, or even a constitutional commitment to those rights, we must have a substantive one.
I would like to speak for a few moments about the comments made by the minister on Indian self-government. In his statement the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs said this government favoured the recognition, and certainly the aboriginal peoples of this country and their organizations want a recognition of their governments as an order of government within Canada. As we know, a federal special subcommittee on Indian self-government has been travelling around the country having hearings and receiving submissions and that committee is supposed to be releasing a report this fall. I hope this government during this debate can make clear what it means by the Indian self-government it says it favours. I do not think we should have to wait for the federal parliamentary committee to come down with its report.
This party believes aboriginal peoples have the right to control their own affairs and pursue their traditional living undisturbed. In order to do that, they must have sufficient resources to support themselves. They have the right to govern themselves according to their own forms of government. That includes the right to establish and control their own schools and educational programs and other social programs.
I believe education is central to the preservation of culture. In the past, the type of education provided to the native peoples has been subject to the caprice of white politicians and bureaucrats. Fortunately, there now seems to be a general agreement that native people should have maximum control over their own education. The only guarantee that aboriginal peoples have of gaining ultimate control in as culturally important an area as education would be a constitutional guarantee of their right to exclusive jurisdiction over the education of their children.
Obviously, if we believe in the preservation of culture, we must accept the right of aboriginal peoples to safeguard sacred places and to preserve and practice their religion, customs, culture and languages. I believe control of education is necessary for that to take place.
It is not enough, though, for us to say that we favour forms of Indian self-government or even to try to define them if we are not prepared to co-operate with the federal government to provide sufficient resources to enable Indian peoples and other aboriginal peoples in this country to administer the programs over which they are to have control. It is not enough to accept the right to self-government; we must facilitate Indian self-government. The governments of this country must be prepared to provide sufficient resources to make the rhetorical commitment to Indian self-government meaningful.
I may have appeared to be somewhat negative in my comments this evening. I have tried not to be. I have tried to deal with what I see are real problems with regard to the commitment of this provincial government to aboriginal rights and treaty rights in this province. I look forward with optimism, however, to the ongoing process and to the next conference. I believe we must make concrete progress, and I believe if this government makes clear what its commitments really are in this debate and prior to the next conference and the following conferences, concrete progress will be possible.
I believe the alternative to progress at the next conference will be an explosion of legal battles involving both the federal and provincial governments. The costs would be staggering. Not just the financial costs, but the human resources that would be wasted would be far too great. The end results would be unsatisfactory to both the Indian and non-Indian communities in this country.
While I welcome the words of the minister on behalf of the government that there is commitment to the ongoing process, to constitutional change, I do not believe we should be waiting to begin to solve the problems facing the aboriginal peoples of Ontario until the constitutional process is completed. I believe we must institute programs now to deal with the conditions faced by Indians and Metis people in this province. We do not need to wait. I believe we should be reaching the land claims agreements as soon as possible and doing everything we can to facilitate them. If we do that, then we will indeed have achieved a great deal and we will be looked on by other countries in this world as a leader in the recognition and support of aboriginal rights in this country.
Mr. Gordon: Mr. Speaker, it is with a very real sense of pride that I rise to participate in this debate on the proposed amendments to the Constitution of Canada. This is a motion unlike any other which has ever been before this House. This is in the truest sense a historic occasion. For the first time, we in this assembly are being asked to debate amendments to the Canadian Constitution, which may be adopted without recourse to the Parliament at Westminster. In my view, there can be no debate more important, no issue which can make us more aware of our responsibilities as elected representatives of the people than a debate which would result in amendments to the fundamental laws of this great country.
I am also proud to be able to take part in this debate because of the substance and the nature of the amendments themselves. It is only right that the first amendments to our repatriated Constitution should address the rights of the first peoples of Canada.
Finally, I am proud to participate in this debate because it proves that our process for amending the Constitution can work. The fact that these amendments are before this House demonstrates that our Constitution is not cast in stone; rather, both the Constitution and the process for amending it have the flexibility necessary to operate effectively in a country as diverse as Canada.
It is a privilege to be part of that process. All honourable members are aware that in terms of our relations with the aboriginal peoples we have travelled a long road from the royal proclamation of 1763 to those amendments which are before us tonight. No one could pretend that it was an easy road. At times our relations have been strained by mistrust, misunderstanding and bitterness. There are those who would argue that the situation remains unchanged. I, however, reject that view and believe the simple fact that we are debating these amendments demonstrates that our relations have significantly improved. These amendments are themselves no mean accomplishment. The future state of our relations with the native people in our society and the role that they will play in our national life will be determined by these amendments and the meetings that grow out of them.
I would point out to members that the constitutional accord on aboriginal rights has already been ratified by the national body of Indians in Canada, the Assembly of First Nations. The assembly endorsed the accord on May 17, 1983, at a meeting in Winnipeg. I would also note that the executive council of the chiefs of Ontario have encouraged this House to give prompt approval to this resolution.
In a release dated May 27, 1983, the executive council said, "Today we commend the government of Ontario for being the first non-Indian government in Canada to begin the process of ratifying the accord." The executive council went on to say, "We trust that all legislatures in Ontario and across Canada will act promptly to adopt the resolution to amend Canada's Constitution."
Honourable members and Mr. Speaker, for too long the special rights and status of the first nations of Canada have been denied by settler governments. It is historic that the first amendment to Canada's Constitution should begin to correct this injustice. The 70,000 Indians of Ontario expect and have every right to expect that this House will ratify these proposed amendments. With these amendments, we have indeed arrived at what the national chief of the National Indian Brotherhood has characterized as a watershed in Canada's Indian-white relations.
As members will know, under our amendment process an amendment to the Constitution can only be adopted on the approval of seven provinces with 50 per cent of the Canadian population. I have every confidence that Ontario will be one of those provinces, and I personally can lend my unqualified support to these amendments.
I believe this House would support these amendments for a number of reasons. First, these amendments will build on and enhance the legal recognition afforded native people in the Constitution Act of 1982. That act is in many ways unique, especially section 35, which recognizes and affirms the existing aboriginal and treaty rights of our native people and defines aboriginal peoples to mean the Indian, Inuit and Metis people of Canada. Through that section we became one of the very few nations to recognize and affirm in its constitution the existing rights of aboriginal people. It also represents the first time that an act of parliament defined aboriginal peoples.
Second and most important, these amendments, particularly those proposed in section 37, will establish the means to settle with our aboriginal peoples certain constitutional questions which had been left unresolved by both the Constitution Act of 1982 and the accord of last March. As I am sure all members are aware, there are a number of very important questions which remain to be resolved. To my mind, the most important outstanding issue is a precise definition of the aboriginal rights which will be protected by the Constitution. The additional constitutional conferences provided for by the proposed clause 37(1)(i) will ensure the existence of a forum at the highest level of government where ongoing discussions of this and other issues can occur.
I will leave it to those more qualified to debate the legal implications of these amendments. To my mind, the substance of these amendments might be quite simply stated. By endorsing these amendments, we are being asked to support the process of identifying and defining the rights of aboriginal people. We are being asked to support a process which will give substance to our constitutional principles and commitments. We are being asked to abandon the old paternalism which too often found expression as malign neglect. In its place we are being asked to co-operate with our aboriginal peoples in building new social, legal and constitutional relationships which will enable them to determine their own future with dignity and confidence.
I have no doubt that this Legislature will respond positively to this challenge and opportunity. In Ontario we have always believed that progress in this area is best achieved through consultation with our aboriginal community. The policies of this government are based on and reflect that philosophy. We have a range of programs which focus on the native community in our province. The common element in all of these programs is the emphasis placed on the importance of communication and native involvement.
This commitment to consultation is most evident in this government's participation in tripartite discussions and continued support for the tripartite council established in 1978. The council provides a valuable arena in which matters of interest to the province, the federal government and Ontario's native groups can be reviewed.
I cannot pretend that consultative tripartism or the bilateral discussions which take place between the Provincial Secretariat for Resources Development and Ontario native groups have successfully resolved all the problems in government-native relations in Ontario since there are a number of important issues still outstanding. However, this government is, in all instances, dealing in good faith with Ontario's native peoples.
I would also point out that this government fully supported the efforts of major native associations in this province to prepare for the constitutional conference of March past. As part of the process of preparing the province's submissions to the March conference, the Provincial Secretariat for Resources Development as the lead ministry for native affairs held a series of meetings with the major native groups and associations in the province. In addition to consulting with these groups, the government provided funding to assist them with the costs of consultative meetings, both with their members and the government.
I am sure that the members will be pleased to know that the secretariat will continue to consult with these groups in preparing for the next first ministers' conference on aboriginal rights. I would also bring to the members' attention the fact that this government remains committed to helping native groups in this province adequately prepare for that conference.
Mr. Wildman: Give them some money then.
Mr. Gordon: I note that just last month the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture approved a grant of $27,600 for Grand Council Treaty 3 in Kenora.
Mr. Wildman: Exactly the same amount as last year. What about inflation?
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Cousens): Order.
Mr. Gordon: This grant is intended to be used to assist the Grand Council in its preparations for the 1984 first ministers' conference on aboriginal and treaty rights. This type of activity, this type of support, indicates this government's commitment to constitutional change in the area of native rights extends beyond the mere rhetorical.
I would be remiss if I did not in this debate make note of the lead role the province of Ontario played at the March conference and of the significant contribution made by the province to the attainment of the accord.
Mr. Haggerty: Where has the member been for 40 years?
Mr. Gordon: In particular, I hope we can put aside partisan differences to acknowledge that the Premier of this province (Mr. Davis) was instrumental in keeping aboriginal rights on the constitutional agenda of this nation.
Mr. Wildman: That is right, and also in the courts.
Mr. Gordon: As early as the 1979 first ministers' conference on the Constitution, the Premier of Ontario was arguing that constitutional reform would be deficient unless the issue of aboriginal rights was addressed. Again, in September 1980, during the final debate of the first ministers on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Premier spoke of the obligation to consider aboriginal rights in the broader context of a Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
If any member would care to review the record of the March 1983 conference, he or she would find that Ontarios proposals were not only well received but are much in evidence in the amendments before us tonight.
I would also extend a word of appreciation to the provincial and national aboriginal leaders who participated in the March conference. Their obviously strong commitment to their cause was matched only by their negotiating skill and knowledge of the issues. To them must go much of the credit for the success of the March conference.
These proposed amendments to the Constitution of Canada offer the possibility of a new beginning for relations between our races. They will not in themselves cure all the ills or heal all the wounds. They will, however, provide the foundation on which we can, working together, build a better tomorrow for the native peoples of Canada and Ontario.
Much remains to be done. The terrible social problems that beset our native peoples must be dealt with quickly and effectively. Any solutions, however, will be and must be based on trust and mutual understanding. We still have a long way to go, but we can take a step in the right direction by supporting the resolution that is before us tonight.
Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, it is not my intention to rehash a number of the facts that have been given tonight in recalling the history of the negotiations through the eyes of the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. I also had the privilege of hearing Chief Billy Diamond speak about those negotiations from the point of view of the negotiators for the aboriginal people and it was, I think it is fair to say, a little different story. But the facts are that the results have come out pretty much the same.
In many ways this is a very happy day for us, but it is not a completely happy day. As I listened to some of the speeches, I did so from almost a bitter-sweet or happy-sad point of view. I do not think we should deceive anybody about what we have accomplished. We have not accomplished a great number of substantive reforms. What we have done is to institutionalize a process, and I say that is progress and I very much support it. Given the hundreds of years of no progress, one should be grateful for any movement at all.
It is an indication from all sides of the House, from many levels of government and in many governments across this country that it is our responsibility to rectify historic injustices. It is a sad reality that history cannot be changed, but it must be acknowledged and understood for use both as a foundation on which to build the present and as a measuring stick by which to guide us in the future. The history of Canada is, as well, a history of the natives. We pay homage to that history in the very wording of the resolution before this House.
But as I sat and listened to this debate today, I sensed the agreement on all sides of the House and I thought back to exchanges earlier in the House today and other days and to the same minister who participated in those things. I think we are making progress here; we have recognized the need for a process to solve historic injustices. If we can do it here, why can we not do it in other areas as well?
It is not my intention to dampen the feeling of this debate or the important principles inherent in this debate. But why are we so parsimonious of spirit in other areas as well? There is a new feeling sweeping this country and a new spirit of generosity coming from all quarters of this country. Sure, it is slow in coming in some areas, but I sense that people are prepared to step forward and put behind them a lot of the bigotry -- I was going to use the word "racism" but I do not like to use that word -- a lot of the intolerance of the past.
This is just one example of people of goodwill working together trying to institutionalize a process that will rectify historic wrongs. Many of my colleagues tonight have pointed out that we are making history. When the history of this country is written, this debate may be a tiny footnote. If that is the case, then that is a good thing. I am always interested in the remarks of the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, who is a good and decent man and was a major player in this debate, as he has been in other similar kinds of debates. I think when the history of this is written, he will have a significant role.
I congratulate him for this. I just want to remind him of his responsibilities in other debates in this country and in this province as well because I see the contrast, particularly as it occurred today. I am happy tonight; I was sad this afternoon.
My colleague the member for London North (Mr. Van Horne), who made the lead speech for us, indicated his point of view, as well as my point of view and the point of view of our party. It is not difficult for all of us to find a number of examples where we believe the government of Ontario or, if members prefer to use the collective term, we collectively have failed our native people.
Particularly since I have become leader, I have had the opportunity to involve myself personally in a number of individual problems and a number of individual areas. In all humility, as a private member from London Centre, I did not have the opportunity to involve myself in some of these matters. As leader, however, I have been able to travel. This summer I was in Whitedog and I was in Grassy Narrows. I sat under the tree as Chief Isaac Mandamin was building his new log cabin. We were able to shoot the breeze about a number of the problems in Whitedog. We went to Grassy Narrows and talked with Chief Steve Fobister about some of the problems there. I have been on a number of reserves and I have had some very important learning experiences in that regard. It has substantially widened my own knowledge as well as my own feeling for these problems that need redress now.
I had the opportunity to attend the chiefs' banquet not too long ago where I heard Chief Billy Diamond speak. My wife was with me and her reaction as we left that evening was that it was one of the most moving and meaningful events she had been at since we have been involved together in the political process.
I guess really it has to touch one. I am interested that the members who are speaking are all members with intimate and personal knowledge. It is not that easy for someone who has not run into these problems in a personal way to have the same kind of feelings. Obviously, the more that individual members have the opportunities that some of our northern members and even some of our southern members have, the more we will see more tolerance, more understanding and more reaching in these kinds of issues. I like the tone of what I see tonight. I think it bodes well for successful negotiations in the future.
That being said, I think we should remind ourselves in the middle of all this euphoria that it is only one small step forward for mankind. I grant it is an important one, but we have so much more to do. I very much hope that the spirit of charity, the spirit of understanding that people are demonstrating now will be extended forward in the next two, three, four and five years as we get into some of the really tough problems. In many regards, I think when the history is written, we will see that this was perhaps one of the easy chapters as we try to move forward to rectify some of these historic wrongs.
Many issues have been mentioned tonight. I do not fundamentally disagree with anybody who has spoken, and I do not want to rethresh old straw. I just want to point out in closing that one of the most beautiful pieces I have run into, which touched me very much, is a poem written by George Kenny, a 30-year-old Indian from the Lac Seul reserve in northwestern Ontario who is now residing in Toronto. He writes:
For most of 13 years
dreams of screaming rides
filled my night eyes
that had their birth
in trying to escape
the sneers through public
then high school
"You dirty Indian"
and fighting for respect
an Ojibway youth
who lost as much as
at night he cried into
and through 13 years
dreams of screaming rides
filled his night eyes.
It says so well some of the things that we have created as a society, and it speaks to the road we have to travel.
Mr. Speaker: Just in case there is any concern in the minds of any of the honourable members, I am informed that the fire alarm has gone off. It is a false alarm. The trucks have arrived and everything is in order.
Mr. Stokes: Mr. Speaker, I want to start out by saying that I do share the sentiments expressed by members who spoke previously about the importance of this occasion. I also want to make it quite clear that I think a problem of such urgency, such importance and with such far-reaching ramifications should have been given an airing in this Legislature long before now.
The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, who was responsible for putting this motion on the order paper, for the reasons that he mentioned and that we all know so well, will know that the member for Brant-Oxford-Norfolk (Mr. Nixon) and I have on numerous occasions invited the government of this province -- we have even suggested it to this minister, since he assumed responsibilities for constitutional matters -- to provide this House and its members with a forum to discuss the very things we should be talking about in connection with constitutional change as it affects our first citizens, the aboriginal people of this province and this country. That opportunity, to this point, has not been afforded us.
If one were to address oneself strictly to the wording of this motion, there would be very little of substance or import to talk about in terms of the conditions that affect our aboriginal people residing in Ontario. While I intend to take full advantage of the opportunity during this debate to do just that, I want to say that I was a little bit disappointed, not in what the members who have spoken previously have said -- there was very little I would have disagreed with -- but because, for purposes of this debate, of what must be said by this House as a democratic institution about the importance of the first halting steps we are taking by way of this motion for constitutional reform and the enshrining of treaty and aboriginal rights. We are just taking the first steps.
In the time that is allotted to me, I intend to state in what I hope will be very specific and convincing terms why I think what is going on here this evening and what went on in March are very halting steps.
In speaking to the motion on the order paper in his name, the minister said, "The purpose of this is to include certain provisions to further define and protect aboriginal rights." I really do not know what that means. It sounds very meritorious, but I really do not know what it means. The minister has failed to explain it to me.
I have not seen anything in print or any pronouncement over there or, even more important, in my travels as a member of this Legislature, either within or outside my riding in Ontario, to indicate that any minister over there, including this one here tonight, has a clue about what our first citizens are talking about when they refer to treaty and aboriginal rights.
I intend, going back not to the original treaty, Treaty 9, signed in 1905, or to the adhesion to that treaty signed in 1924, but to 1958, to document in very specific terms what various ministers and civil servants have said in relation to land claims, the alleged illegal occupation of provincial crown land by native people and the significance of that very fact -- and my colleague the member for Algoma (Mr. Wildman) alluded to it briefly in his comments -- for at least 16 communities made up largely of aboriginal people in Ontario that do not enjoy reserve status, that are not even recognized as Indian bands for purposes of the Indian Act, although they are treaty Indians and, if they are treaty Indians, occupying provincial crown land illegally, as many people over there and civil servants going back to 1958 have reminded us.
I want to suggest to the minister that if he does not have the will, the grace or the wit to understand that if we have treaty Indians who cannot get reserve status because the government will not deed provincial crown land over to the federal government in trust for the use of native peoples in Ontario, they are wholly and fully the responsibility of this government.
I just say that for shock effect, because many of our first citizens fall between two stools. The federal government says we are not going to see an extension or proliferation of Indian reserves throughout the province, and indeed it has said that as it applies to all of Canada. The province says it is not going to deed provincial crown land over to the federal government without consideration so that its options will be limited with regard to the use of that land in the future.
The Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Pope), who has aborted more negotiations with regard to Deer Lake and North Spirit Lake in the riding of my colleague the member for Kenora (Mr. Bernier), has done the very same thing with regard to Summer Beaver, Lansdowne House and Webequie, which are considered to be satellite communities of the Fort Hope Indian reserve.
What does the Minister of Natural Resources say? "If the federal crown, in the right of our first citizens, will come up with market value for whatever land it is decided they need for their social, economic and cultural wellbeing, and if the federal government pays for it, we will turn it over."
I am not, by nature, a very uncharitable person. I think I have been a very reasonable person, but for a good deal of the 16 years that I have had the pleasure of being a member of this House, I have travelled to those communities and I have heard what our first citizens have been saying.
Let me give one quote from the text of the travelling show that went on in July of this year in the House of Commons in Ottawa, during presentations made to a committee on self- government. I am going to elaborate on what they found, but for purposes of putting the emphasis on the very kind of thing I am talking about, I want to share with him what a distinguished member of the federal Parliament said in reaction to what he saw and what he heard after a good deal of testimony by some very articulate native people.
Who does the minister think I am referring to? None other than the Honourable Warren Allmand, who is now a member of the committee; but I want to remind members that he is a former Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. He questioned one of the presenters, who happened to be Peter Moonias, the chief of Lansdowne House.
Mr. Allmand said: "First of all, Mr. Chairman and Chief, I must tell you that when I come to a community like this and I see what you have shown us today and I hear what you told us when you were bringing us around, it makes me ashamed to be a Canadian -- to think we have treated a community like this the way it appears we have; and it is still like that today. I think if a lot of Canadians -- it is too bad there are not more than 10 or so of us who come up here and see this, because I think most Canadians would also be ashamed and would want to do something about it. It is not very fair or just, and it should certainly be corrected."
There was more dialogue between Mr. Allmand and the chief. He ended up by saying --
Hon. Mr. Snow: How would he have got there without the airport?
Mr. Stokes: I am not being critical of this minister.
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Stokes: Mr. Allmand went on -- and remember, this is a former federal minister responsible for liaising with native people in the things that he as a minister was responsible for -- to say: "The fact that you have recognized that you have no reserve -- the more we travel around and the more we listen to different communities, the more difficult it is to understand what the policy of the department is."
Now he is a former minister who presided over a lot of the sins of omission and commission perpetrated on our first citizens by the federal government, aided and abetted by a good many of those people, a stream of ministers over the years who were responsible for liaising.
He said: "If I understand, you are all registered status Indians but you have no reserve and you have no band. Because you have been the chief for some time, could you tell us what answer the department gives you when you ask to be recognized as a band? I can see the problems you have had with respect to the reserve land, but why will they not recognize you as a separate band? What answers do they give you?"
It would take me the next hour to explain why the elders and leaders in at least 16 communities lying north of the French River in Ontario find frustration upon frustration every time they have to deal with the bureaucracy and mandarins up in Ottawa, aided and abetted, for some unexplained reason, by a succession of ministers leading from the Provincial Secretary for Resources Development to the Minister of Citizenship and Culture, the Minister of Northern Affairs and the Minister of Natural Resources. I do not know what it is with these people. It is not they do not understand; it is not that there has not been a litany of neglect and indifference all these years.
I just wonder what the minister, who is well intentioned, means by treaty and aboriginal rights when we see the frustration that is experienced by literally every community that is crying for reserve status, looking for its place in the sun. We are talking about self-government for Indians, and they do not even have a place to stand. They do not even have a square centimetre of this great province of ours that they can call their own. When we talk about treaty and aboriginal rights, I do not know whether we are on the same wavelength at all.
On motion by Mr. Stokes, the debate was adjourned.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Hon. Mr. Wells: First, Mr. Speaker, I would like to indicate that when I moved the motion earlier this evening, I failed to indicate it had been agreed that we ask the table to keep the time for this debate, and the time will be split among the three parties. This debate will continue tomorrow morning and next Monday afternoon. It is hoped that it will conclude by six o'clock on Monday.
Mr. Stokes: On a matter of clarification, Mr. Speaker: I asked our House leader specifically what the arrangements were, and he said there was an agreement that the time would be split equally among the three parties. I said, "Does that mean there is a time limit on the debate?" He said, "No, certainly not." I would like the government House leader to clarify that; he said "by six o'clock on Monday."
Hon. Mr. Wells: All the House leaders discussed it. We reviewed the number of speakers and felt that, with the time and the speakers, we were going to try to finish it by six o'clock on Monday.
Mr. Stokes: Is that mandatory?
Hon. Mr. Wells: No. It is not mandatory, but it is what we hoped to do.
The business that has been agreed upon is that on Tuesday, October 18, in the afternoon, we will deal with second readings and committee of the whole on Bills 61, 86 and 87, and if there is time, we will call second reading of Bill 68. On Tuesday evening, we will resume the debate in committee of the whole on Bill 42.
On Wednesday, October 19, the usual three committees have permission to sit in the morning.
On Thursday, October 20, in the afternoon, we will deal with private members' ballot items, and on Thursday evening we will debate government notice of motion 13 respecting interim supply.
On Friday, October 21, we will be doing the estimates of the Ministry of Intergovernmental Affairs.
The House adjourned at 10:33 p.m.