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Legislative Assembly of Canada
June 16, 2006
Ms. Jean Crowder (Nanaimo-Cowichan, NDP): Mr. Speaker, 100 Ontario first nations chiefs joined the Caledonia blockade last week to show their support for Six Nations. Chiefs in Manitoba announced this week that they will blockade railway lines to protest the lack of action on land claims.
Will the Conservative government admit today that it has the responsibility for land claims in this country and its delay in settling those land claims led to the Caledonia dispute?
Mr. Rod Bruinooge (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, CPC): Mr. Speaker, our government is very committed to the settling of land claims and it should be pointed out that there were many unresolved issues that were inherited by this government from the previous Liberal administration.
We are committed to the communities that are involved in the Caledonia process. The minister has appointed a very senior former minister, Barbara McDougall, to be our representative on the ground and we look forward to seeing this situation resolved peacefully.
Ms. Jean Crowder (NanaimoCowichan, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the government keeps trying to wriggle out of its responsibilities when it comes to this fundamental relationship between the Crown and first nations. The Ontario government has just bought out the Henco lands estimated at being worth $45 million. Yet this government only budgeted $30 million this year to settle land claims in the entire country.
Will the minister admit that the government continues to avoid the settlement of land claims and it has abandoned leadership on this issue?
Mr. Rod Bruinooge (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, CPC): Mr. Speaker, as I have said, we have been very engaged in the process. We have been involved at the table, in terms of the Caledonia discussions, from the beginning and, thankfully, we have seen progress. We have seen many of the barricades removed and some real progress being made.
I would like to once again state that in fact there are a considerable number of outstanding claims and our government will proceed with them as soon as possible.