Mr. Speaker, I will continue my delivery from yesterday. I was discussing some of the many injustices that have taken place in the past. I will deal specifically with the land claims agreement in Saskatchewan and how it continues to fail daily in terms of the obligation of this government. It drives the wedge, a feeling of inequality, between rural Saskatchewan and this government. I am talking about a debt owed by this government to the rural areas of Saskatchewan.
Let us go back 10 years.
A promise was made to the rural governments of Saskatchewan that when the natives would acquire Indian land, the RMs would be paid 22.5 times the assessment for the land taken out of the assessment role.
In other words, the deal was that they would get 22.5 years of taxes in lieu of services they provided. When this government came into power, it changed this so that the rural municipalities of Saskatchewan get a mere 5 years taxes.
That is an injustice. The debt owed to the RMs is owed by the government and the people of Canada. It is a national debt.
How does the government think that 200 or 300 people left in a rural municipality can pick up the entire debt of losing 20% of the assessment of their land forever? It has gone into reserve. The RMs are not quarrelling about the acquisition of land. The quarrel is with this government.
What happens to the remaining farmers in that area? They have to have their taxes raised considerably in order to provide the same services.
The previous minister of Indian affairs flatly refused to meet with the delegation from Saskatchewan. I throw this question out to the minister of Indian affairs now. Would that hon. member now, in her new position, not meet a delegation from Saskatchewan hoping to correct the unfair decision the government has made? That is key to the survival of rural Saskatchewan.
When I want to have an understanding how my rural municipality is doing, I have the right to go down to the office, ask for a financial statement and it would provide that for me.
Since King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta at Runnymede, we have progressed in the democratic way so that we have a type of government, both at the municipal level right to the federal level, in which Canadians are demanding they have accountability.
As we deal with the bill, why are we denying the right of fellow Canadians, grassroots people who live on our native reserves, the same type of accountability we have?
Would any one of us here want to turn back the hands of time to an autocratic way of government? Would we want to go back to even before this century where we did not have the necessities laid out and spelled out of how we have to handle people's money?
I was 20 years on local government. What did we have to do? We had to prepare a financial budget. When that was completed and sent to a superior government, which is the province, we then every year had to have an annual financial statement done by a registered auditor. That had to be returned.
Why are we trying to operate any differently in all of Canada from the privileges that members of this House enjoy as citizens? That is the big question. That is the question the bill does not address.
If a group of us want to go into business, there are guidelines in legislation, both federal and provincial, which require certain things to take place. There are certain checks and balances.
Why would we not, as the senior government, the Government of Canada, ask for the same procedures in business and accountability no matter where people live in Canada? That is the question. We would not want to turn back the hands of time. I would not want to live in a town where I could not get information as to how my tax dollars are being spent. I would not want to live in a municipality where the reeve and the councillors made sure they did not have to report to the people. Why are we accepting this? That is the big question facing Canadians.
In Saskatchewan our local government did not have the right to pass legislation which belonged to the province, just as the province cannot contravene legislation that belongs to the federal government. This is a problem facing all Canadians at this time. When we say natives in Canada are to have a type of municipal government, that simply is not true in the light of how we define municipal government in Canada.
Let us be honest with Canadians. That is not true. With any group of people given sovereign powers within a province, if that is the intent of this legislation, we are creating something which our grandchildren will have to deal with as we will have sovereign areas in an area where sovereignty does not belong. How will we handle this? What are we doing with the series of legislation bills which will be forthcoming?
The people in northern B.C. today are voting on a referendum as it relates to the Nisga'a treaty. I am very much at home there. My wife and I spent our first year of married life in a village with the Nisga'a people. We were both teachers there. Our roots go a long way back. We note that there are positive and negative votes coming in the referendum today. I got back to some of the people I still know there. They are saying they will vote against the treaty because they want the same right as I have as a Canadian citizen to know exactly the amount of money coming in, how it is being spent and how the distribution is taking place.
Can this House not honestly say that we must not deny the grassroots people the same rights we have fought for in two world wars, that we have fought for through the ages since the Magna Carta in having reliable, honest and open government?
It is time for us not to proceed any further in land negotiations. While I admit we are not arguing in Saskatchewan that the land belongs to them, everybody admits that, what I am saying is that we have to—