Mr. Speaker, we are here in this House today to discuss an important motion, a motion which impacts thousands of aboriginal Canadians across this country.
The motion asks for the House to apologize to the survivors of Indian residential schools for the trauma that they have suffered as a result of policies intended to assimilate first nations, Inuit and Métis children causing the loss of aboriginal culture, heritage and language while also leaving a very sad legacy of emotional, physical and sexual abuse. An apology is the right thing to do.
We must ask ourselves as parliamentarians, why are we here today discussing this motion brought forward by the Liberal Party? We are here in this House discussing this Liberal opposition day motion because the Conservative government has refused to apologize to the thousands of survivors who were affected from the trauma, suffering and embarrassment when they attended residential schools. These survivors deserve an apology.
It is unfortunate that since taking office the Conservative government has actually turned its back on aboriginal Canadians across this country. The Conservatives did it when they cancelled the Kelowna accord. They did it by refusing to apologize as a government to the survivors of those who attended residential schools.
We all know the facts. The residential schools were places of disease. They were places of hunger. They were places where there was overcrowding and there was despair. Many children died as a result of the suffering, the trauma and the embarrassment that they had endured.
It is unfortunate that the government has refused to step up to the plate. Since forming the government, the Conservatives have refused to show any leadership. They have refused to take action and actually do the right thing and apologize to the survivors.
During the Liberals' time in government a new era of cooperation began between the first nations and the government with the establishment of a new aboriginal affairs cabinet committee and a secretariat, as well as a Canada aboriginal peoples round table process. The process was actually based on overarching principles of partnership and of respect, of working in collaboration and in conjunction with each other to address some of the issues. All of those concepts seem very foreign to the Conservative government.
In May 2005 the previous Liberal government and the Assembly of First nations, the AFN, took an important step in recognizing the need for reconciliation and healing. They signed an accord that outlined their joint commitment to compensate for abuses in the Indian residential schools.
We have seen the leadership that was provided by former prime minister Paul Martin. There was leadership provided by Phil Fontaine---