Why Kelowna, Mr. Speaker? Because, compared to other Canadians, the aboriginal people of Canada earn nearly 40% less and they have a life expectancy 10 years shorter. They are twice as likely to live in poverty and three times less likely to graduate from university.
Why Kelowna? Because Canada has the means to achieve its goals and the moral responsibility to do so.
Those who were in that room that day in Kelowna included the aboriginal leadership in this country and representatives of all of the political parties in this room and across the country. No one in that room had any doubt as to the significance of the agreement that we came to and the significance of what had been done. Every single person who was in that room, every single person who for close to 18 months through a series of round tables and detailed negotiation put everything they had into it and came to that agreement on that historic day, it demeans them for the government to say that this was not worth the paper it was written on, to say that it had no content.
The Kelowna accord was reached by the aboriginal leadership of our country, by every single one of the provinces and territories without exception, and by the federal government. It set out funding for five years of $5.1 billion, funding that was provided for by the then minister of finance. The Kelowna accord consisted of longer term objectives to be achieved and then measured over a series of shorter term markers to be developed by all of the parties.
That is important because what was incorporated in the Kelowna accord was working with the aboriginal leadership and provinces, all governments coming together. This was not an imposition. This was indeed a significant agreement as Canadians from coast to coast to coast said that no longer were they going to allow to continue the unacceptable conditions in which aboriginals live.
The government has said that it agrees with the principles of the Kelowna accord. I ask it to act on those principles.