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Legislative Assembly of Canada
June 13, 2006
Hon. Jack Layton (Toronto—Danforth, NDP): Mr. Speaker, we are 100 days into it and the situation in Caledonia is growing more and more intense by the day. Now we have learned that the provincial government is planning to cancel the scheduled negotiations that were to take place. Where has the federal government been in all of this? It has been missing in action. There is no leadership. There is no plan whatsoever. Caledonia is a powder keg that is about to blow.
I am asking the Prime Minister, where is his commitment to take action to settle this decades old dispute, or has his party learned nothing since Oka?
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada has been working with the Government of Ontario throughout this difficult dispute. I know I have talked with Premier McGuinty. The clerk has talked with his counterpart. The Minister of Indian Affairs has been talking with his counterpart. Barbara McDougall and others are working on our behalf at Caledonia.
We are working closely with Ontario. We support the Ontario government's position that the law must be respected and must be enforced. We would certainly urge all parties to ensure that the law is respected and that anybody who has committed any acts of violence is properly apprehended.
Hon. Jack Layton (Toronto—Danforth, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the government cannot just sit here and wash its hands of this situation. This is a dispute that goes back decades regarding treaties that involve the Crown.
The fact is that the responsibility is not being taken. The government appointed a fact finder three months ago and we have not heard a word. The first nations and the non-aboriginal people in the Caledonia area are waiting to hear the results.
Will the Prime Minister take his responsibility seriously and take some leadership here, and get involved and settle this decade old dispute or not?
Hon. Jim Prentice (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is seriously out of date on the facts that he brings to the House.
I am pleased to advise the House that we are encouraged by the steps taken by Six Nations today, particularly Chief McNaughton and the clan mothers. As the Prime Minister said, we are also supportive of the steps taken by the province of Ontario.
Six Nations has today taken steps to remove the remaining barricades near Caledonia, including the rail line. This goes a long way to removing a huge source of tension in the community and to build trust. We are encouraged. We continue to look forward to making progress. We are hopeful of what lies ahead in the coming days.