Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to my Alliance colleague, I must say that he has repeated at least two clichés that have been around for years regarding aboriginals, things that the general public are being led to believe are true. However, it is false to claim that aboriginals waste more money than Canadians and Quebeckers.
I could give examples of mismanagement. Every year, for the federal government alone, the Auditor General has seven or eight thick volumes full of examples of government bungling, overinflated bureaucracy, waste and financial administration decisions that are totally ridiculous and shameful for us as taxpayers. That is the first thing.
When the Auditor General appeared before the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources, she did not say that there was more waste within aboriginal communities or that management was not as good; she said that these communities were overaudited.
This means that not only are they required to file audit reports and not only do 96% of the 633 first nations meet those audit requirements, but it is excessive. They are overaudited. There is not enough auditing here, and there is too much of it there.
According to another very popular cliché, billions of dollars are handed out to the first nations and yet things do not improve. The Department of Indian and Northern Affairs manages billions of dollars. As I said earlier, the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs is responsible for implementing a shameful, outdated and racist act, the Indian Act, that treats the aboriginal people like children.
One has to wonder why, after spending billions of dollars, we have been unable to assist the plight of the aboriginal people. Is it because we should be getting rid of this infamous act? Is it because we should be getting rid of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs and implementing self-government for the aboriginal people so that we can negotiate with them nation to nation and let them control their own agenda? It does not make any sense: we are not giving them money, we are granting them compensation for all the harm we are causing them on a daily basis. That is what we are doing.
Do members not think that aboriginal Canadians would prefer to have their own government, to be self-governing, to choose their own leaders according to their traditions and customs? They deserve as much dignity as us. We have to be careful here. The Alliance is much too fond of clichés.
I would like to talk about another incident that happened at the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development and Natural Resources. Someone said, “Aboriginals have trouble managing their affairs”. It was a senior official whose name I forget, but it was someone hired by the Liberal government of Canada. Speaking about their finances, he was saying, “Several communities are overly indebted”.
I asked what proportion. It was 30%. I then asked him, “Could you say the opposite? In maths, we say that 100 minus 30 is 70”. We could therefore say that 70% of the aboriginal communities manage their affairs well and are not overly indebted. This is a little more positive, this is a clearer indication of what is going on.
I reminded him that the federal government, with an accumulated debt of $530 billion, cannot be an example for anyone. There is a central government and a huge accumulated debt of $530 billion. As for giving advice to the aboriginal people, 70% of whom manage their affairs properly and have no excessive accumulated debt, I think we can forget about that.
The public hears all these clichés and believes them. Then, when we settle land claims or resource claims or hunting and fishing claims, people say, “This is disgusting. They are being given so much. They already have billions of dollars. They are being given all the land, all our taxpayers' money”. This is the result of the clichés that some friends of the Alliance, even by some individuals who used to sit in this House, are repeating all over the place.
I think we must be very careful when we talk about aboriginals and we must also be honest with what we say about them.