Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to address the House in relation to Bill C-16. This agreement was signed on September 6, 1993 and tabled in the House on March 10, 1994.
I know the Sahtu Dene and Metis overwhelmingly supported the bill in a ratification vote. It appears that they are more than satisfied with this settlement. However I believe we would be negligent, as parties in the past have been, if we did not address some of the problems contained within Bill C-16.
Certainly my colleagues and I in the Reform Party are willing to obtain concepts of aboriginal self-determination, but only in situations in which aboriginals will clearly come to a position of self-sufficiency within the Canadian society. Unfortunately Bill C-16 does not address this situation.
Bill C-16 in fact calls for more bureaucracy, huge settlement moneys, continued DIAND programs and extensive future negotiations on self-government. The bureaucracy which will be spawned by Bill C-16 is in a word overwhelming.
There will be seven new boards, panels and councils established to manage the resources of 2,200 people. These new entities will have representatives from the Sahtu Dene, the Metis and the government itself.
One wonders why aboriginal representatives could not be incorporated into existing DIAND boards which manage the resources in the settlement area. The agreement, Bill C-16, appears to propagate bureaucracy in so far as it overlaps existing regulatory boards and threatens to turn a very small population into a community of regulatory bureaucrats.
The potential for bureaucratic havoc in this new regime appears to be very serious, and this is something we want to address. We must take the resource management arrangements in this settlement as something that will set a benchmark for future and existing management agreements in other areas.
As all members can appreciate the resources governed by these boards will traverse a wide area. Accordingly matters concerning wildlife or water would affect a number of distinct settlement areas all sharing in these resources and all having their own regulatory regime, a formula for bureaucratic havoc.
Moreover, the various regions may have different attitudes as to how to deal with a particular problem. Certainly that they have exclusive rights over the resources in their area, claims of mismanagement arising from governments or neighbouring bands may be difficult to establish and address.
In short, there is a huge potential for an interbureaucratic tangle among the various boards in the various settlement areas. The government's position with respect to the decisions of these boards is very unclear and may contribute to the bureaucratic bog already created under the agreement.
The new boards, the territorial government and the federal government will all have input into the process of resource management. The new bureaucracy in Bill C-16 will be responsible to, and I quote the minister, "as the context requires". This could be a minister of the Government of Canada or a minister of the Government of the Northwest Territories.
Aboriginal boards, ministries of the Northwest Territories and ministries of the Government of Canada will all grapple with and decide on such issues as transport, the environment and natural resources. Moreover, bureaucracies within settlement areas and bureaucracies within various levels of government will all vie for the ability to regulate in their respective fields.
The net effect of this bureaucratic web is increased cost, increased confusion and increased time to enact any necessary measures. Further, we must consider the potential harmful
effects of all this regulation and consultation, the effect it may have on future economic development in the country.
Under Bill C-16 companies that may wish to develop subservice resources would have to consult with this bureaucracy, would have to consult with the Sahtu tribal council on such matters as environmental impact and Sahtu employment opportunities. I would suggest that this new extensive bureaucratic structure that is bound to be set up, is destined to be set up under Bill C-16, and the processes established in this agreement may discourage many firms from investing in that region.
In all we create an enormous bureaucracy with a small economic base to support it. This bureaucracy and the control that goes with it are far from this government's notion of self-government. Despite the large settlement area, despite compensation to the tune of $130 million, despite regulatory authority, and despite royalties derived from gas and oil production the Liberals are committed still to the establishment of self-government for the Sahtu as stated in appendix B of this agreement.
An inability to define the term inherent self-government seems to in no way deter the government from undertaking negotiations to implement it.
This voluminous, complicated, expensive agreement is simply the introduction to a more voluminous, more complex, more expensive round of negotiations on self-government. I believe it is our duty to question what type of structure this new level of government will take, what will be its duties and powers.
Is self-government even appropriate for a population of 2,200, of whom some 982 are adults? Does the federal government recognize the time and cost involved in separate self-government negotiations with every native band in Canada as it is committed to? Will the government continue to deny the reality of the situation as it has in not believing that a definition of self-government is necessary before negotiations start to take place?
The government has no definition of aboriginal self-government and yet is prepared to embark on this journey without a map. The government will not be able to sweep this one under the rug. Provisions in this agreement and future self-government negotiations will hit Canadians where they will feel it the most: in their pocketbooks.
Since 1990 the budget of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has increased approximately $400 million a year, the largest increase of any of the ministerial budgets. In 1994-95 DIAND will spend some $5 billion, of which 68 per cent or $3.38 billion are grants and contributions to band and tribal councils, a process which the Auditor General himself criticized in 1991 as faulty since the department could not ascertain whether the funds were used for the purposes intended or managed with due regard to the economy, to efficiency and to effectiveness.
Despite this agreement, despite Bill C-16, it is clear that the Sahtu Dene and the Metis will continue to have access to every DIAND program that is currently offered. This is in addition to the settlement terms of this agreement.
This agreement and the parameters for negotiations on self-government do not address the spiralling inefficient expenditures of DIAND. The government does not address the issue of financial self-sufficiency for the Sahtu. As it now appears future self-government negotiations will do very little to assist aboriginals out from under their continuing dependency on DIAND.
By not addressing the issue of self-sufficiency it seems to me that self-government will simply represent a different instrument for the dispersal of government funds to aboriginals. I would suggest the taxpayer can no longer afford DIAND's huge and inefficient expenditures and I would suggest that aboriginals as well no longer wish to live in the dependency of a federal department.
Bill C-16 does not deal clearly with this issue. The bottom line is that this agreement creates more bureaucracy and thereby more expenditures for DIAND. Furthermore, since this settlement does not concern itself with aboriginal self-sufficiency and since the beneficiaries of this agreement are entitled to all benefits continuing derived from DIAND's programs, agreements such as this will simply push this country further into debt.
I believe it is time to settle all land claims as quickly and as fairly as possible. However, with consideration as to the current financial state of Canada I believe that these claims, every claim, must be settled with an eye to removing aboriginal dependency on government funding. I would apply the same criteria to any negotiations surrounding self-government. Otherwise DIAND simply will become a larger sinkhole for government funds.
We do not need agreements such as this one guaranteeing government funding well into the future. We need a strategy that will break the cycle of dependency. That is what the Canadian people want. That is what the aboriginal people want. I look forward to the day when aboriginals stand as economic equals with all other Canadians. Unfortunately agreements which create more bureaucracy and more expenditures will only exacerbate the dependency that these aboriginals have on the federal government.
This settlement is just one such agreement and I therefore must opposite it.