Mr. Speaker, on April 18, I asked the Minister of Indian Affairs why his government was not honouring the Kelowna accord. I also noted the government's broken promise, which the Prime Minister made himself, concerning the residential school at Île-à-la-Crosse. The parliamentary secretary's response was not at all satisfactory.
The same can be said of the government's approach to aboriginal issues generally. Even yesterday, as the House had one of the most extraordinary sittings in the history of this Parliament, the member for Nepean—Carleton made truly regrettable remarks on the public airwaves. I recognize that he has apologized to the House and to all Canadians. Still, it is worrisome that old political attitudes on aboriginal issues are still around.
I mentioned the apology that was given yesterday, which was reinforced by all party leaders, and forcefully so by my own leader. It was graciously responded to by the leaders and elders assembled here yesterday.
At the same time, I think of the situation in my own riding, where there is now a class action lawsuit involving former dormitory schools. There is a real need for resolution on that issue by the institutions and government agencies involved.
In Labrador we still have outstanding land claims. The government has tried to muddy the waters by talking about specific claims, which are also important, but the fact remains that there are comprehensive claims still to be resolved.
The Labrador Métis Nation claim has still not been accepted, despite the findings of the royal commission almost two decades ago and despite important recent court victories.
The Innu Nation claim and self-government negotiations are still unresolved. There are overlapping claims in Labrador by the other umbrella organizations of the Innu and the question of Labrador aboriginal rights on the Quebec side. The situation is complicated, but it can find resolution.
It has been convenient for the Conservatives to coast on the progress made by the previous Liberal government, as they did on the Labrador Inuit agreement or the establishment of reserves for the Innu communities in Labrador. However, that side of the House has made no real progress of its own in Labrador.
We still have substantial social issues to tackle, such as health, housing, social services, and education. The Kelowna accord would have made a real difference if the Conservatives had not ripped it up.
I know the other side is fond of misleading the public and falsely claiming that Kelowna was nothing more than a press release. It was certainly more substantial than the defence plan, which no one has seen and which has been such a disappointment in Labrador and around the country.
In fact, Kelowna was a signed agreement with every province and territory, with aboriginal leaders on board. It was budgeted under our former Prime Minister, the member for LaSalle—Émard, whose commitment to aboriginal peoples should be doubted by no one, and then it was shamefully scrapped.
Kelowna would have made a real difference. It would have helped to implement the healing strategy to build on the residential schools apology. It would have made a real difference in Labrador and throughout northern and aboriginal Canada.
When is the government going to implement the Kelowna accord, which will come into law possibly this week, and build on the apology that was made in the House yesterday?