Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Gary Merasty Profile
Lib. (SK)
I want to pick up on your comment on openness and honesty.
Having come from this community and having been a chief myself and seen the struggles of our community people--women, children, everybody--the openness and the reality is that the government policies, Indian Affairs policies in particular, force human rights violations to occur on the reserves every day, period.
Then we have a government trying to deflect the blame or, maybe even worse yet, assign that blame to the first nations communities. When you peel it back, is it the fault of a mother who under Bill C-31 falls within subsection 6(2) and has a child and does not disclose who the father is, and the child is no longer status? Is that the fault of the band? No, it's government policy.
A disabled child can't get any services, unless they perhaps get apprehended by the state. What is happening to address those issues today by this government?
To me, when you peel it back, if the media were to understand where these violations start, if Canadians were to understand where these violations start, then we would have much more fruitful dialogue, because then Canadians would tell us to consult extensively. They would say we should reconcile these rights, which are real, because 30 years of Supreme Court and Federal Court cases have established them as being real. They would say we should reconcile them in a modern context.
They'd say we should analyze consequential impacts on the Indian Act, because the Indian Act is a racist document. We want to get rid of it, but I don't think the trust is there for this government to actually replace it with something adequate. That's what I hear from the communities.
Then they would say we should design something that's fair, reasonable, with the proper consultation and accommodations made. But I guess instead we have this government exaggerating the sins of first nations administration on this issue.
I guess I ask whether that's a fair assessment, because that's what I've heard from witnesses over the last little while.
View Gary Merasty Profile
Lib. (SK)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I have some short and sweet questions. One of the things I'm concerned with is the messaging and how this is being played out, because I do truly believe there is an assignment of blame to first nations leadership on many of these issues.
Chief Laboucan, is it your fault that no services for children with disabilities are provided on your reserve?
View Gary Merasty Profile
Lib. (SK)
Is it your fault that no services for children with disabilities are provided on your reserve, Chief?
View Gary Merasty Profile
Lib. (SK)
Is it your fault that mothers who do not disclose the father of their child lose their status?
View Gary Merasty Profile
Lib. (SK)
Is it your fault that black mould is rampant in the homes of many of our reserves, perhaps even in yours? Is that your fault?
View Gary Merasty Profile
Lib. (SK)
Is it your fault that you cannot pass laws on child welfare? You can pass laws on weed control, but not on child welfare. Is that your fault?
View Gary Merasty Profile
Lib. (SK)
Do you support human rights applying on reserve--respecting first nations rights, of course, as I've heard you say?
View Gary Merasty Profile
Lib. (SK)
Do you feel that you'd like to provide these necessary services, which are human rights violations today, such as those for people who have children with disabilities and for the inequity in treatment of women? Would you like to be able to address those as chiefs, as communities?
View Gary Merasty Profile
Lib. (SK)
Do you feel that fair and reasonable consultation has occurred in unrolling Bill C-44 forward?
View Gary Merasty Profile
Lib. (SK)
I'm trying to make sense to Canadians, to many out there, because I've heard the government do interviews with media, and media will say, “This is a good thing you're trying to do, Mr. Minister, but it's these Indian chiefs who are blocking it, these bad Indian chiefs.” Mike Duffy, in an interview approximately two weeks ago, said, “Is it the chiefs who are blocking this?”
This is the concern that I have with media and how the spin is occurring. It is difficult for me to hear that, because I know they want to address these as much as I do. I think where we disagree is on the process.
They want me to go and sit over there. Let me think about that for a bit.
View Gary Merasty Profile
Lib. (SK)
I just had seven questions, Mr. Chair. I just had seven or eight questions, Mr. Chair.
View Gary Merasty Profile
Lib. (SK)
That's right; they were the most clear and concise that have come.
It is very disconcerting to me that this fairness is being twisted, that the truth is being twisted. I'm going to finish with this, and maybe you can elaborate on it for the rest of the time. How do you feel about having this twisting of the truth--the spinning, and the attacks on you?
They seem to be almost personalized. They say “chiefs” or they say “leadership”. It's not specific; they don't say “Chief Day Walker” or “Chief Laboucan”. They say “chiefs”. How do you think that makes our communities feel?
View Gary Merasty Profile
Lib. (SK)
Well, I guess I'll make a statement specific to aboriginal issues. The AHRDA agreements, the aboriginal human resource agreements, are frozen. There's no escalator funding. The population is booming. There is no provision to actually capitalize on this emerging population. The aboriginal skills and employment partnership is inadequate, in that it will, if you stick to their criteria, not actually move the money out.
The second point is on the child care issue. There are 7,000 child care spaces right now for aboriginal children. There are 86,000, projected to go to 106,000 over the next 10 years. The plan, the $100 a month and then the tax credit, does not work. So we're ending up with the aboriginal people being much like that mural on the wall of the guys with the map. The aboriginal guy seems to know where he's going, but he's kept on the outside and from actually guiding them properly. So it's unfortunate that this is the situation we find ourselves in when it comes to the labour force and child care.
I know there's no time to respond--
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