Mr. Speaker, interestingly enough, the work that has gone into this agreement goes back to 1923. As my colleague pointed out, in the last 20 years Canada has played a very active part in that. In fact, Canada seemed to be one of the nations driving the agenda at the UN because of the recognition that first nations people had suffered because of a lack of opportunity. They had been marginalized and were most definitely suffering the effects of colonization.
Exactly why Canada would pull out at the last minute and lobby other nations to ignore this declaration is a mystery in some ways.
However, in response to the member's question about our reputation, I think it is a blight on our reputation. If we look at the last two years, in fact if we look at the last decade, we have moved backward constantly. We saw the cancellation of a national housing policy in 1996. There is the lack of a child care agreement. There have been all kinds of promises, all kinds of surpluses, but absolutely nothing in terms of legislating a national child care program. First nations people are among those who have suffered as a consequence of that.
In the Status of Women Canada department, there have actually been cuts and changes to the mandate and program. As a result, Canada's reputation as a partner in the world community, as a champion of human rights, has deteriorated. The nations of the world are looking with despair at what we are becoming.