Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, we are extremely concerned that this bill not only ignores a simple solution, but is overly punitive as well. The punishments spelled out in Bill C-27 are extreme and as bitter as the prescription itself. Consider that bands which do not comply with the demands could have their funding withheld or have a funding agreement terminated by the minister. How would that improve education, housing or the infrastructure challenges that many of these communities face? New Democrats do not see the need to divert more money to a new level of bureaucracy to reproduce much of what has already been done in a new format.
One of those demands is that information be made available online on a website. As someone who represents a northern rural constituency, I can tell members that this is not always possible. People in my riding know that it is enough of a challenge to get service to relatively accessible areas like Manitoulin Island and can see that website reporting could become a hurdle that some bands might not pass.
As we already know, non-compliance could see a funding agreement terminated or funds withheld. We see this as an overly harsh punishment that would do nothing to help those first nations who depend on these funding arrangements to provide safe water, keep their schools operating and pay social assistance for individuals who need it. When viewed that way, the punishment is far too extreme.
Again, New Democrats believe that there are already sufficient reporting processes in place and funding agreements could be modified to address the handful of worst-case scenarios the government seems to be intent on basing this heavy-handed, red-tape-filled legislation on. The government would do well to go back to the drawing board with Bill C-27, beginning with the full consultation of first nations, which is the biggest and most glaring omission in the entire process to date. The government should consult, reflect on the advice of the Auditor General and remember the more pressing needs of Canada's first nations communities.
We have heard over and over again on this side of the House that this is a piece of legislation that should not be implemented. There are already safeguards in place to address this issue and this is just duplication.