House of Commons Hansard #125 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.


A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

7:05 p.m.


Gary Merasty Liberal Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question tonight is a follow-up one to one I asked the Prime Minister on February 19, regarding the Prime Minister's broken promise to compensate the survivors of the Ile-a-la-Crosse boarding school. I had asked the Prime Minister the question, but he refused to answer. I hope perhaps the parliamentary secretary can be helpful.

I was happy that the minister acted in response to my statement on October 30, 2006, regarding the Primrose Lake Air Weapons Range agreement and then honoured the agreement. I hope this type of cooperation can occur again.

Here is what the Prime Minister promised in a campaign radio ad that ran for a week before the January 23, 2006, federal election, “Under a Conservative government, we will address issues important to aboriginal people. We'll ensure aboriginal war veterans are properly recognized. We'll provide full compensation for residential school survivors, including those who attended the Ile-a-la-Crosse school”.

Unfortunately, not only did the Prime Minister break his promise to aboriginal veterans by quietly ignoring it, his broken promise to compensate survivors of the Ile-a-la-Crosse boarding school is heartless in the way that it was not honoured.

Let us review the facts.

First, in December 2005, the former minister responsible for the residential school negotiation stated that the boarding school did not qualify because the agreement only covered federally funded schools.

Second, on December 7, 2005, the former Conservative member of Parliament in response to the minister stated, “the Conservatives won’t make that same distinction if they’re elected to power”. He went on to say that the Conservatives would give the $10,000 base and $3,000 per year compensation to the boarding school survivors. This clearly established that the Conservatives knew at that time about the agreement's limitations.

Third, to further demonstrate the former member of Parliament and the minister knew the school did not qualify, I present the following. The former MP stated that he and the current Indian affairs minister co-wrote the residential school agreement. If they did indeed co-write the settlement, they would have known that the Ile-a-la-Crosse boarding school did not qualify.

Now I go back to the promise. Remember, the Prime Minister said, “We'll provide full compensation”. On November 28, 2006, I asked the minister if his government intended to keep its promise to the Ile-a-la-Crosse boarding school survivors. He responded, no, because the school did not qualify.

Then, on January 19, the minister stated in a CBC interview:

—[t]he full knowledge of facts that we have today, confirm that the school doesn’t qualify....The ad takes a different assumption that was in error and that’s unfortunate but when one knows the facts of the school, it simply doesn’t qualify under the agreement, and...that full knowledge wasn’t available at the time that the ad was run.

I repeat the minister said, “that full knowledge wasn't available at the time the ad was run”. Not only was full knowledge available, the Conservatives had all the facts, as I have demonstrated. They knew the school did not qualify, as demonstrated by my presentations, but despite that they still made the promise and ran that ad until January 23.

The minister's claim “that full knowledge wasn't available” is misleading to Canadians and, in particular, to those Métis survivors. He is either completely incompetent or he is being deceitful.

To review this, the Conservatives knew the Ile-a-la-Crosse boarding school did not qualify. They promised compensation anyway, a full month and a half after knowing the school did not qualify. They broke that promise. They then proceeded to cover everything up.

If this is not a scandal, I do not know what is. This is an issue of trust. The minister wilfully made statements that he knew were not true.

If there is new information that perhaps the parliamentary secretary can shed on his web of deceit and shadowy conduct, please indulge me.

7:10 p.m.

Winnipeg South Manitoba


Rod Bruinooge ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in response to the question put to this House by my colleague, the member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, regarding the Ile-a-la-Crosse Boarding School.

I will begin by saying that this government is committed to a fair and lasting resolution to this sad chapter of our history and recognizes the importance of bringing closure to the legacy of Indian residential schools in order to move forward in partnership with all aboriginal people.

The Indian residential school settlement agreement, which has just received final approval by the courts in all nine jurisdictions, includes all former students of federal residential schools, whether they are Métis, Inuit or first nations.

The settlement agreement includes a detailed list of the eligible residential schools based on specific criteria. This list was agreed upon by all parties to the agreement, including legal counsel and other representatives of former students of federal residential schools.

The government understands that the question of which institutions to include is complex and the historical record is not entirely complete. Therefore, article 12 of the settlement agreement sets out a process by which anyone can request that an institution be added to the list of eligible residential schools.

Following the implementation of the settlement agreement, the government will research the institution in question and make an initial decision whether it should be added to the list of eligible schools. If for some reason the decision is not satisfactory to the requester, an appeal may be made to the National Administration Committee and, ultimately, to the courts.

With this in mind, it should be noted that research has already been undertaken by the Government of Canada regarding the boarding school at Ile-a-la-Crosse. It was found that there was a federally operated school at Ile-a-la-Crosse until 1906 when this school burned down. At that time, children in the federal care were relocated to the Beauval Indian Residential School, which is included in the list of eligible residential schools.

It is also important to point out that there are no surviving students from this federally operated boarding school at Ile-a-la-Crosse. It is unlikely that the provincially operated boarding school located at Ile-a-la-Crosse would be added to the list using the process outlined in article 12 of the settlement agreement.

In closing, I would like to reiterate the government's commitment to the implementation of the Indian residential school settlement agreement and the individual and collective measures it provides. We are confident that the settlement agreement will be a source of healing for former students and their families and will strengthen relationships as the government moves forward in a partnership with aboriginal communities across Canada.

March 21st, 2007 / 7:10 p.m.


Gary Merasty Liberal Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, I guess that is all fine and dandy but when we look back at the promise, clearly they knew that this school did not qualify. In fact, as the former Conservative member of Parliament stated, “The Conservatives won't make that same distinction if they're elected to power”.

After this broken promise and ignoring the Métis nation for two straight budgets, there is no doubt that the Conservative Party is not ignorant of the Métis nation, it is simply disrespecting them.

I ask the parliamentary secretary to the minister and the Prime Minister for two things.

First, I ask them to keep the promise they made knowing full well the extent of the promise they were going to make. They knew the facts.

Second, I ask them to apologize to the Métis survivors of the boarding school for being so heartlessly disrespected and unfairly treated by the government.

7:10 p.m.


Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, to comment on the assertions of the member opposite, I do find it somewhat dubious for him to make the claim that there was any sort of tampering with the electorate in terms of this approach that was taken. Of course, he would know nothing about tampering in elections.

Clearly, the Métis people of Saskatchewan are important to the Government of Canada, which is why I have taken a very active role in assisting the MNS in being able to have a new election. I have been very active in Saskatchewan as we would like to see the Métis people in Saskatchewan have their former government restored as soon as possible.

I take great offence to his assertion that our government is not in fact supportive of the Métis people.

7:15 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:15 p.m.)